Pure Pedantry

Archives for January, 2009

The Collateral Damage of the Drug War

Radley Balko over at Reason summarizes the collateral damage that has been incurred in our nation’s drug war. These casualties include police militarization, repeated foreign policy travesties (read: the entirety of Latin America has good reasons to hate us), the incarceration of hundred of thousands for nonviolent offences, and impediments to the use of to…

Here’s an idea I had never heard about. The government could use an alternative currency that loses value over time to encourage spending. You would spend it like it was burning a hole in your pocket. Apparently there is historical precedent: Based on the theories of Silvio Gesell, a German “quasi-economist”, one such currency, the…

Teens Not Engaging In More Sex

I was struck by this post over at the Well blog. In spite of media attention, teens are not engaging in more sex: The news is troubling, but it’s also misleading. While some young people are clearly engaging in risky sexual behavior, a vast majority are not. The reality is that in many ways, today’s…

I am not usually the type to put pictures of cute animals up. I leave that to Cute Overload. I don’t really even like animals. (I know…shameful coming from a biologist.) But this otter is so cute it…it just defies description. It was rescued from abandonment in Scotland. Frankly, it makes your average puppy look…

The Rat That Would Not Die

Doing behavioral experiments with rats, I can totally understand how this may have happened. This abstract speaks for itself: A single Norway rat released on to a rat-free island was not caught for more than four months, despite intensive efforts to trap it. The rat first explored the 9.5-hectare island and then swam 400 metres…

Dennis Overbye at the NYTimes somewhat unintentionally answers the “what is science’s rightful place?” question in his column. He emphasizes the similarity and symbiosis between science and democracy: And indeed there is no leader, no grand plan, for this hive. It is in many ways utopian anarchy, a virtual community that lives as much on…

Brain Damage in Football Players

Researchers at Boston University have done an autopsy on another former football player and found evidence of severe neurological damage that would likely lead to dementia later in life: Leading medical experts at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) reported today that nine-year NFL veteran,…

Star Wars for the Uninitiated

Apparently there are still people in the world who have not seen Star Wars. I do not know know what these people have been up to for the past 25 years. My only explanation is that they have been living in caves or are Amish or hate joy…something like that. But there are actually people…

In President Obama’s inaugural speech, he announced his intention to “restore science to its rightful place.” In response to Seed Magazine has initiated to The Rightful Place Project whose goal is to recruit scientists and engineers to answer the question: What is science’s rightful place? Available on their website is a form where you can…

Health-infrastructure, information technology, and science research spending are clearly related to the success of our economy. They represent investments into intellectual property and human capital that increase productivity and create long-term growth. For this reason, I don’t object to the government spending money on them as a matter of policy. But Gary Becker makes an…