Links for 2010-11-07

  • "Politicians have tried and failed for decades to enact universal health care. This time, they succeeded. In 2008, Democrats won the presidency and both houses of Congress, and by the thinnest of margins, they rammed a bill through. They weren't going to get another opportunity for a very long time. It cost them their majority, and it was worth it.
    And that's not counting financial regulation, economic stimulus, college lending reform, and all the other bills that became law under Pelosi. So spare me the tears and gloating about her so-called failure. If John Boehner is speaker of the House for the next 20 years, he'll be lucky to match her achievements."
  • "Although I can rationalize away that closet full of Mexican Coke bottles (thank you, Costco!), the psychology of taste perception suggests those rationalizations are wrong. Consider this clever study of soft drinks led by Samuel McClure and Read Montague. The experiment was a recreation of the Pepsi Challenge, except this time all the tasting was being done in a brain scanner. Each person swallowed sips of cola from a plastic tube while their brain was being scanned. When Coke and Pepsi were offered unlabeled, the subjects showed no measurable preference for either brand. Most of the time, they couldn't even tell the two colas apart. But Montague's second observation was more surprising: subjects overwhelmingly preferred drinks that were labeled as Coke, no matter what cola was actually delivered through the tubes. In other words, brand trumped taste. We cared more about the logo than the actual product."
  • "Two days ago, a young man about to finish high school told me he couldn't decide whether to study mathematics, informatics or physics. If I would have any advice? Though physics is interesting at school, he doesn't really like it because there is so much to learn, he said. Math on the other hand he likes better because once understood, one just has to do it.

    My first reaction was if you dislike learning, a university isn't the right place for you no matter what field you chose. Then I thought he might be disliking not learning in general, but a particular sort of learning. It might be useful to distinguish the following four types of learning:"

  • "But who needs MTV in the digital age? We're here, the time's right, and the videos are waiting for us. Even better; this week's list was democratically determined by the Popdose Staff in honor of election week across the U.S. The terms were simple. The songs that get the most votes get the spots, except for the #1 of the year. And because this is a retroactive deal, you won't have to vote again in four years to throw these bums out."

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