Monday, October 20, 2014

Gay marriage vs. religious freedom, the latest installment | Power Line

Gay marriage vs. religious freedom, the latest installment | Power Line: "The ministers operate a chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The city has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, in public accommodations. Recently, the ministers turned down a gay couple’s request to perform their marriage ceremony. They now face legal jeopardy.

It’s an indictment of the gay rights movement that these sorts of dispute arise at all. Who in his right mind would want to have his marriage ceremony presided over by someone who thinks the union is sinful? A wedding is supposed to be a joyful occasion, not an opportunity to punish one’s ideological opponents.

 The Jewish community faces essentially the same pseudo-civil rights issue all the time. Many rabbis won’t preside over a ceremony that weds a Jew to a non-Jew. How do Jews respond? Not through legal proceedings. They respond the same way my daughter did when she married a non-Jew — by finding a rabbi who will perform the ceremony."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Science, Science, SCIENCE!

In this country, we don't get that all decisions present trade-offs, and we especially don't get it when it comes to decisions about raising children. If there's something you can do that will give your child even a slight better chance of being safe or successful, you're supposed to do it, no matter the cost.

Our obsession with child seats is one example. When I was growing up, I'm pretty sure it was still okay for kids to ride in the back of a pickup truck. Now It's absolutely unacceptable to take your kids in the car without the exact right weight-rated seat for your child, installed by a certified expert.  A few years ago, I scandalized my co-workers by telling them I took my then 5-year old to school buckled in, but without a booster seat. This was wildly dangerous. Never mind, that the school was less than a mile away and the speed limit was never more than 35 mph. Am I really supposed to believe that I'm being reckless by taking this tiny risk? Am I supposed to believe that my kid is really in significantly more peril if he gets into a 25 mph crash with no booster seat than he would be in  a 70 mph crash with a booster seat?

Our cult-like belief that good mothers must breastfeeding in particular bad in this regard.  My wife felt particularly guilty for not being able to breastfeed our kids without supplementing them with formula. Then we had twins. After a couple of sleepless days because our crying babies were not getting enough food, she broke down in tears in the lactation nurse's office. (Yes, we have nurses who specialize in teaching breastfeeding to a mother of four, in Oregon anyway.) To preserve our sanity, we started supplementing their diets with formula almost immediately, and really it got to the point before too long where they just refused breast milk so we gave up.

As I said she felt guilty about it, but I didn't because I was pretty sure it didn't matter. Yes I know there are studies that show breastfeeding leads to better outcomes for children. And you know what? I haven't even bothered to read any of the studies! So I must be anti-science. I just figured, it was pretty unlikely that my otherwise healthy, well-fed children with a fixed set of DNA and the same environment they would otherwise have, were really going to turn out much different based upon whether they were breastfed. And it also just seemed to me that breastfeeding is probably highly correlated with a number of other factors that could be driving the result, unrelated to whether the children were actually getting better nutrition from breastfeeding. Whether a mom stays at home, the father's ability to earn an income that allows the mother to stay at home, and the physical health of the mother to be able to breastfeed are all variables that could be driving this correlation. It just seems to me that is was very unlikely those studies had actually isolated the effect of breast milk.

On top of all that, I'm generally pretty skeptical of our ability to suss out the effect of one variable on outcomes that are the result of multiple causes, especially when we are not performing controlled experiments, but instead performing regression analysis. Who knows what "outliers" were thrown away, or how many regressions were performed before the "scientist" got the results that showed statistical significance.

So I was glad to see this article confirms some of the skepticism I've long had about the benefits of breastfeeding. Turn out when you do the study comparing kids from the same families, there is no difference between kids that are breastfed and those that weren't, other than the ones that are breastfed seem to have a higher rate of asthma. Take that, you uppity soccer moms who claim the mantle of science because your friend read some Yahoo! article saying breastfeeding is better than formula. Science is on my side now!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network:

"“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’

I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’

They said, ‘What’s in the box?’

I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.

So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’

I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh.

Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’

Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”"

'via Blog this'

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Plague of Memoirs | National Review Online

A Plague of Memoirs | National Review Online: "The lowest forms of literature are, in descending order: pornography, the staff recommendations at the Tribeca Barnes & Noble, diet/fitness books, celebrity cookbooks, books of poetry written by pop stars, and, at the bottom of this unsavory slag heap, political memoirs, which have all of the narrative sophistication of pornography with none of the enjoyable bits."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Perils of Being Neil deGrasse Tyson | National Review Online

The Perils of Being Neil deGrasse Tyson | National Review Online: "That the final suggestion was illustrated with a link to a fan post on Reddit is almost too perfect for words. As for “taking notes for my next book with quill and fountain pens by candlelight,” this strikes me as a level of self-indulgence that even Ron Burgundy would have considered unseemly."

'via Blog this'

Neil deGrasse Tyson's flaw is a self-indulgence, perfect for lampooning. My flaw is enjoying the spectacle a little too much.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

9 Absurd Edit Justifications By Wikipedia's Neil Tyson Truthers

9 Absurd Edit Justifications By Wikipedia's Neil Tyson Truthers: "What’s the difference between Jesus Christ and a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote? For starters, we have historical evidence that Jesus Christ existed."

'via Blog this'

Another Day, Another Quote Fabricated By Neil deGrasse Tyson

Another Day, Another Quote Fabricated By Neil deGrasse Tyson: "“I’m beginning to think this Neil deGrasse Tyson fellow is a serial fabricator of quotes.” — President Thomas Jefferson, “Stuff Jefferson Said: The Prequel,” Originally self-published at in 1573"

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yale Needs Remedial English | National Review Online

Yale Needs Remedial English | National Review Online: "Not to belabor the obvious but always-worth-reiterating point: If Dick Cheney had deployed a defamatory ethnic stereotype in the course of denouncing some political enemies, the media’s pound of flesh would have been extracted with a degree of giddiness and brutality not seen since Trent Lott had the bad sense to say something nice about some decrepit old Dixiecrat coot on the occasion of his 100th birthday. One suspects that the exquisitely sensitive ladies and gentlemen of the Times would be rather less baffled, too."

'via Blog this'

Obama’s Reluctant Rush to War | National Review Online

Obama’s Reluctant Rush to War | National Review Online: "We are through the looking glass when it is okay to say that opposition to requiring elderly nuns to pay for birth control is part of a “war on women” but airstrikes and coordinated ground attacks by allied militias aren’t like a “war” on terrorists."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MTV Uncovers Incredible, Inexplicable 'Paradox' | National Review Online

MTV Uncovers Incredible, Inexplicable 'Paradox' | National Review Online: "A survey conducted by MTV asked 3,000 Millennials ages 14 to 24 their thoughts on race-related issues, including affirmative action for college acceptance, in May. And what it found was seemingly paradoxical: 90 percent of Millennials surveyed “believe that everyone should be treated the same regardless of race,” yet 88 percent opposed affirmative action."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Raise the Minimum Wage, Raise it Now «

Raise the Minimum Wage, Raise it Now «: "When I first started writing here at TUW in earnest nearly a decade ago, I actually used to spend time writing up the very simple economic arguments, rooted in price theory and the empirical literature, regarding the minimum wage and many other proposed policies. There was once a time that I persuaded myself that a good dose of pure logic was enough to “win” an argument. Certainly a lot has changed. I don’t try to “win” arguments anymore – I probably spend a lot of energy just evading them now."

'via Blog this'

Ian Paisley, R.I.P. | National Review Online

Ian Paisley, R.I.P. | National Review Online: "I suppose that Paisley will have to spend a fair tranche of eternity in Purgatory for his sins. As we have established, however, he would say exactly the same about me."

'via Blog this'

Friday, September 5, 2014

REVIEW: ‘Mr. Go,’ The Korean Movie About A Home-Run-Hitting Gorilla

REVIEW: ‘Mr. Go,’ The Korean Movie About A Home-Run-Hitting Gorilla: "Are gorillas even allowed to play professional baseball?

Excellent question. The answer is yes, apparently, as we find out during some sort of sports roundtable show that starts with the host saying “It doesn’t say anywhere that a baseball team has to be made up of nine humans” and features the agent saying “Man is his own worst enemy. A trained animal is much safer than an irrational man.”


'via Blog this'

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind | National Review Online

Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind | National Review Online: "On the evening of August 31, 1939, Nazi SS personnel pretending to be Polish partisans seized the station, which was about four miles inside Germany (Gliwice is now in Poland), proclaiming that Poland was invading Germany to achieve “our just [territorial] claims,” and shot a German prisoner dressed in a stolen Polish uniform, giving Hitler his pretext for declaring war the next day."

'via Blog this'

Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind | National Review Online

Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind | National Review Online: "The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin’s fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West’s capacity to decide.

Putin’s serial amputations of portions of Ukraine, which began with his fait accompli in Crimea, will proceed, and succeed, until his appetite is satiated. Then the real danger will begin."

'via Blog this'