Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 10th, 2009

Good riddance, abstinence-only sex ed

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Phoenix Woman at Firedoglake:

That howling you hear is coming from the throats of outraged abstinence-only non-sex-education welfare recipients program managers, who just had their Federal gravy train taken away from them after years of Federally-subsidized uselessness courtesy of George W. Bush.

As you may remember, Bush pumped hundreds of millions every year into abstinence-only "sex education" programs, despite ever-mounting evidence that they do nothing to lower teen pregnancy rates. Now, Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, has decided to stop throwing good money after bad — and The National Abstinence Education Association started howling immediately (h/t Amplify Your Voice):

Today’s release of the 2010 Budget by the White House disregards the growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of abstinence education. Unfortunately, the president’s budget ignores research that documents a 50% decrease in sexual onset among teens that are enrolled in abstinence programs.

****

"With seemingly plausible intentions, this budget places rhetoric over reality by ignoring clear and compelling evidence that abstinence education *does* work", adds Huber.

Except that there’s no evidence it does — and lots and lots of evidence to show it doesn’t. And you don’t even need to see the case of Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin’s daughter and a teen who was taught abstinence-only programming and who went on to become an unwed mother anyway, to see that. However, as Joe over at Amplify Your Voice warns, this doesn’t mean they won’t stop pushing it — especially to Congress. If you want to push back, click here and tell your congresscritters to back Obama’s decision to stop throwing hundreds of millions each year down a rathole.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education, GOP

Cool idea via Luc Besson

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A "Keep Clear" area on the desk—with tape. Check it out.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

Congress hates change

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Gates’s realignment of our military so that it can effectively fight the wars that we face today will trigger a great fight by Congress. From a NY Times story, a key paragraph:

… Mr. Gates predicted more of these messy, unconventional wars, and he argued that this kind of conflict requires America to shift spending to items like mine-resistant vehicles, surveillance drones and medical-evacuation helicopters, at the expense of tanks, bombers and aircraft carriers.

But as Mr. Gates returned to Washington on Saturday for what will mostly likely be a lengthy, detailed and often hostile series of Congressional budget hearings this week, opponents of his risk assessment are attacking the spending plan as rendering America unprepared for traditional war.

They say the proposal goes too far in shifting money to unconventional warfare from the weapons needed to deter and defeat an enemy nation. And Mr. Gates’s focus on counterinsurgency training, they say, means that troops have not spent enough time honing their skills for conventional conflict…

Let’s see: what nations are threats to the US? China? An economic threat, but not a military threat: the US spends far more than China on its military, and Gates’s changes would not leave the US unable to fight a traditional war—but would greatly increase our capability to fight the kinds of wars we’ve been fighting for the past 30 years.

The whole article at the link is worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 4:01 pm

US will continue airstrikes in Afghanistan, regardless of civilian deaths

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The Air Force really doesn’t care that much about civilian deaths, so long as the civilians are not Americans—or so it seems. From this story in the NY Times:

“We’re going to take a look at trying to make sure we correct those things we can correct, but certainly to tie the hands of our commanders and say we’re not going to conduct airstrikes would be imprudent,” General Jones said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back,” he said, without flatly ruling out the possibility of a change in approach.

As you can see, General Jones loves metaphor. Let’s translate:

What he’s saying: “We can’t fight unless we are free to kill innocent bystanders, including women and children,” he said.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 3:56 pm

Who should run the economy?

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april-payroll

Click graph to enlarge—click again to enlarge more.

The graph is from a very interesting post by Stirling Newberry, which begins:

To read the British press is to realize how fundamental the failure the theory of libertarian economic thinking has been. In this theory, the wealthy possess a special insight into the allocation of capital, and governments should abandon their role in allocating effort to a small extremely wealthy elite. It was a theory adopted by Iceland, which was lauded for its open laws and “flat tax.” It was adopted by Lithuania, and to a lesser extent, by Spain. One country that embraced this idea more than any other, was Ireland, which took neo-liberal policies as virtually a doctrine. It attracted 40% of all American direct foreign investment in Europe, which liked it’s educated English speaking population, proximity to the UK, and low prices. For its part, the government of Ireland threw the doors open. As the Guardian reports by piecing together individual stories the plunge has been swift and dramatic. A new Irish diaspora has begun, as the weight of debt and the utter absence of an internally driven capital system, leaves behind the husk of an economy.

What created this collapse was the pure corruption at the top.  A corruption seen in the expenses scandal now unfolding in Great Britain is destined to topple the ruling New Labor party — as was seen in the borrowing binge of the very wealthy in Ireland. These two pieces are not unconnected: the culture of flowing money lubricated politicians, who naturally saw that its continuation was essential for their own secure life style. This is not an issue of left or right in the context of the age. There was no left, merely a right that wanted slightly more of the money to flow to socially useful causes.

The aftermath? Spanish unemployment hits 17.4%, that is not a mistake. It is a number that is associated with the Great Depression, or the devastation of the post-war era. An economic bomb has hit what was a go go periphery. Ireland’s economy is projected to contract by a total of 9% this year, with the decline extending into next year.

These however, are the branches. The trunk was …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government

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American who cannot read and write

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This shows the need for national educational reform:

For the first time, a detailed portrait of America’s least literate adults is emerging.

About 30 million people – 14 percent of the US population 16 and older – have trouble with basic reading and writing. Correlating factors that were explored in a new government report include poverty, ethnicity, native language background, and disabilities.

Of these 30 million people, 7 million are considered "nonliterate" in English because their reading abilities are so low. When shown the label for an over-the-counter drug, for instance, many in this subgroup cannot read the word "adult" or a sentence explaining what to do in the event of an overdose.

Adult literacy "is a core social issue that if we could fix as a nation, we would make inroads into fixing many other social problems," says David Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy, an advocacy group based in Syracuse, N.Y. "Low literacy levels are correlated with higher rates of crime, problems with navigating the healthcare system, problems with financial literacy. We know that some of the folks who signed subprime mortgages didn’t understand what they were signing."

In the coming months, Congress is expected to retool and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which includes a section to help fund adult literacy and basic education programs. Funding has steadily decreased in recent years, Mr. Harvey says. Since the original WIA in 1998, "we’ve had a radical change in the economy," he adds. "These folks who are on the lowest ends of the literacy scales are the first to lose their jobs…. Employers now require a higher level of reading, writing, math, and technology skills in order to do low-skilled jobs in America."

The government report, which was released Wednesday, looks at specific skills such as …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 2:55 pm

Effective reform of urban schools

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Fascinating article about one particular reformer and his success—a reformer who’s moving to the national stage. This was in the 11 May issue of the New Yorker. It begins:

Steve Barr stood in the breezeway at Alain Leroy Locke High School, at the edge of the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, on a February morning. He’s more than six feet tall, with white-gray hair that’s perpetually unkempt, and the bulk of an ex-jock. Beside him was Ramon Cortines-neat, in a trim suit-the Los Angeles Unified School District’s new superintendent. Cortines had to be thinking about last May, when, as a senior deputy superintendent, he had visited under very different circumstances. That was when a tangle between two rival cliques near an outdoor vending machine turned into a fight that spread to every corner of the schoolyard. Police sent more than a dozen squad cars and surged across the campus in riot gear, as teachers grabbed kids on the margins and whisked them into locked classrooms.

The school’s test scores had been among the worst in the state. In recent years, seventy-five per cent of incoming freshmen had dropped out. Only about three per cent graduated with enough credits to apply to a California state university. Two years ago, Barr had asked L.A.U.S.D. to give his charter-school-management organization, Green Dot Public Schools, control of Locke, and let him help the district turn it around. When the district refused, Green Dot became the first charter group in the country to seize a high school in a hostile takeover. ("He’s a revolutionary," Nelson Smith, the president and C.E.O. of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said.) Locke reopened in September, four months after the riot, as a half-dozen Green Dot schools.

"Last year, there was graffiti everywhere," Barr said. "You’d see kids everywhere-they’d be out here gambling. You’d smell weed." He recalled hearing movies playing in classroom after classroom: "People called it ghetto cineplex." Barr and Cortines walked to the quad, where the riot had started. The cracked pavement had been replaced by a lawn of thick green grass, lined with newly planted olive trees.

"It’s night and day," Cortines said…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Inspecting the Florida legislature

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Good article for political junkies, pointing out reforms that are needed by most state legislatures, not excepting California. By Howard Troxler of the St. Petersburg Times, it begins:

"I’m tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work. We are supposed to work it." — Alexander Woollcott

How bad is the Florida Legislature these days?

It’s historically bad — the worst since the infamous "Pork Chop Gang" that was in charge of our state during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Legislature of recent years is simply incapable of governing Florida wisely. It lacks the intellectual horsepower, the will, even the desire. It’s a machine for collecting laundered campaign money, paying back that money with favorably written laws, and getting itself re-elected.

Good grief! The joint lacks gravitas, ballast. It is a collection of superficial sloganeers. These days, a wacky idea pops up on a Tuesday and is a proposed amendment to the state Constitution on a Thursday, no questions asked.

Look at the major policy areas challenging our state. Insurance? We’re worse off than ever, a sitting duck for storms. Taxes? The tax structure is as brutally unfair as ever, thanks to attempts to govern by gimmick and catch phrase ("drop like a rock").

Not only are we not planning for Florida’s future — the 2009 Legislature’s biggest idea was to weaken the past quarter-century of growth-management laws. Our current Legislature shows a perverse hostility to the future, cutting university budgets, attacking the state’s land-buying program and the Lawton Chiles tobacco trust, and even out of the blue at the last minute, without the slightest study or deliberation, trying to throw open Florida waters to oil drilling.

On top of it all, this spring a grand jury in Tallahassee indicted the immediate past speaker of the state House and in a critical report blasted the way the Legislature operates. The Legislature’s response has been, more or less: Yawn.

On the bright side, if your biggest concern is whether Florida should ban "truck nuts," which was last year’s headline fight, or this year’s attempt to plaster an image of Jesus on a state license plate — well, this is just the Legislature for you.

Sheesh!

And yet the age-old question recurs:

What can we do about it? In the civics textbooks, the answer is: Vote for better candidates. But in the real world, there’s not much chance to elect "somebody else." The system is rigged.

So here are some suggestions on how to reform that system — not with a bunch of top-down laws and impractical new rules, but with fundamental, bottom-up changes geared toward electing a better Legislature in the first place.

Four points: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 2:46 pm

GOP solidarity melting

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Interesting article by Carl Hulse in the NY Times:

After being stingy with their support in the early days of the Obama administration, significant numbers of House Republicans have begun breaking from their party leaders and voting for legislation moving through the Democratic-led Congress.

Scores of House Republicans joined Democrats in recent days in pushing through measures meant to rein in credit card companies, increase federal resources to pursue financial fraud and crack down on predatory housing lenders — all legislation opposed by top House Republicans. On the credit card and financial fraud bills, only a minority of Republicans ended up opposing them.

“It is hard to say we shouldn’t put in more stringent standards on mortgage lending, given what has happened in the past,” said Representative Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican who backed all three measures.

Democrats say the fracturing suggests that rank-and-file Republicans are growing nervous about their leadership’s near-blanket opposition to the agenda that Congressional Democrats and President Obama are pursuing, particularly on measures that have obvious popular appeal.

“Look at credit cards,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “A good number of Republicans understand this is something important to voters and consumers. If you are getting ripped off by a credit card company, it doesn’t matter if you are Democratic, Republican or independent.” …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 2:41 pm

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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Good post by Satyam Khanna at ThinkProgress:

In January, Sandy Tsao, an army officer, told her superiors that she is gay — a violation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) law. On May 5, Tsao received a handwritten letter from President Obama stating that he is “committed to changing our current policy,” but that “it will take some time to complete (partly because it needs Congressional action).”

Today, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about his views on DADT. McCain did not commit to changing the policy, saying, “in all due respect, right now the military is functioning extremely well” without openly-gay service members. McCain concluded that the policy “is working well”:

McCAIN: But in all due respect, right now the military is functioning extremely well in very difficult conditions. We have to have an assessment on recruitment, on retention and all the other aspects of the impact on our military if we change the policy. In my view, and I know that a lot of people don’t agree with that, the policy has been working and I think it’s been working well.

Watch it:

McCain’s statement defending the efficacy of DADT comes in the wake of news that the military is about to discharge Dan Choi — a gay Arabic speaker –- simply for being openly gay. Choi’s dismissal is “the first known case” of a “mission-critical specialist” being discharged under DADT by the Obama administration. Last week, Choi told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow why the policy is problematic:

CHOI: But the biggest thing that I’m angry about is what it says about my unit. It says that my unit suffered negative good order — negative actions — good order and discipline suffered. That’s a big insult to my unit. I mean, all the insult that the letter can do, to say that I’m worthy of being fired, you know, that’s nothing comparing to saying that my unit is not professional enough, that my unit does not deserve to have a leader that is willing to deploy, that has skills to contribute.

Choi isn’t alone. Since 1994, DADT has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services, including approximately 800 with skills deemed “mission critical,” such as pilots, combat engineers, and linguists. According to a 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office, “the cost of discharging and replacing service members fired because of their sexual orientation during the policy’s first 10 years totaled at least $190.5 million — roughly $20,000 per discharged service member.

It’s unclear how these facts led McCain to conclude that the policy is “working well.”

The US military took the lead in racial integration: under Truman, the military was integrated in 1948, long before most of the country could accept such a thing. Today, the country is quite accepting of gays and lesbians, but the military continues to fight. The fight is stupid, and losing valuable soldiers for no reason other than that they are gay or lesbian undercuts the mission.

Here is an interesting report: US Military Integration of Religious, Ethnic, and Racial Minorities in the Twentieth Century. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Military

Progressive ideas need help

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Good post on Firedoglake by masaccio:

What lessons can we learn from the failure of the bankruptcy cramdown bill? It is neither a conservative nor a liberal idea. It is unconventional, and goes against the existing rules, but there is nothing in it that speaks to the base of either party. There are several possible reasons it failed so badly in the Senate. One is the gross amount of money the financial elites have poured into Congress and lobbyists. One is the general good will that community banks retain with Congress. Another is the arguments put out by the Mortgage Bankers Association and the financial elites, which appeal to the conventional wisdom, and easily hook the non-expert congressional staffers and their even less-expert bosses. It’s partly due to the fact that Republicans vote as a block against any proposal from the Democrats. And there is the very clear fact that the financial elites don’t want the citizens of this country to have the tools to protect themselves. I see two other problems.

Progressive and pragmatic ideas do not have a workable launching point. When we come up with a good policy, like cramdown, that doesn’t easily fit into the conventional wisdom, we don’t have a way to make our idea understood. The idea of cramdown came from the bankruptcy bar. But as soon as it started to move in Congress, the financial elites lined up against it. It was a trivial exercise to get the Republican blowhards fired up against cramdown on the most specious grounds imaginable. How many people, including some of our commenters, said that it wasn’t fair to people who were paying their mortgages if other people could reduce their obligations by filing bankruptcy. That argument didn’t occur to me, but it should have, and if it had, I would have been able to provide an explanation. Once that idea was out there, the elites just supplied nonsense arguments and killed cramdown even among Democrats.

Smart policy should be able to get support. It doesn’t because the people who think up policy are rarely politicians: they are wonks. They, and we, need a way to give progressive ideas a chance of passing…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 2:01 pm

Is the GOP now a cult?

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Steve Benen writes:

CNN’s Bill Schneider is hardly a liberal voice in media. He’s a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, and has offered some nasty anti-Democratic rhetoric on the air. So, when the CNN analyst spoke at UCLA yesterday, these weren’t the kind of remarks most expected.

"The Republicans aren’t a party, they’re a cult."

"The moderates aren’t a wing of the Republicans, they’re a feather."

In each case, Schneider said he was quoting what people in Washington are saying to him. But he didn’t seem to disagree.

As for the "cult" comment, Kevin Drum twists the knife: "[T]oday’s GOP does seem to check most of the boxes in the International Cultic Studies Association’s ‘Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups.’ Except for this one: ‘The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.’ That doesn’t seem to be much of a priority for them these days."

Ouch.

Mark Kleiman notes:

Schneider also had a good line about what "pragmatism" means in American politics:

"Americans are pragmatists. A pragmatist thinks that if something works, it’s right. An ideologue believes that if something is wrong, it can’t possibly work, even when it’s working."

The possibility that something might "work" in the short term and be morally wrong or disastrous in the long term or both wasn’t mentioned. Yes, there are ideologues who insist on fitting the world to their views rather than vice versa. But the belief that whatever works is right, no matter how well that belief "works" politically, is wrong.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Studying hypnosis

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From Mind Hacks:

A new article from Trends in Cognitive Sciences explores how cognitive neuroscientists are becoming increasingly interested in understanding hypnosis and are using it to simulate unusual states of consciousness in the lab.

Hypnosis was typically treated with suspicion by mainstream cognitive science, although an important turning point came when a 2000 study demonstrated that people hypnotised to see colour on grey panels showed activity in the colour perception areas of the brain.

Myths about hypnosis are still common, but it is nothing more than a participant’s willing engagement in a process of suggestion. The hypnotic induction, sterotypically the counting backwards and the ‘you are feeling sleepy’ patter, helps but is not necessary.

Crucially, and for reasons that are still unclear, we all vary in our hypnotisability. This characteristic is known to be more stable than IQ, and normally distributed, like many other psychological traits.

In other words, we can all experience the relaxation and focus, and we can all imagine what the ‘hypnotist’ is suggesting, but only more highly hypnotisable people experience the suggestions as involuntary, as if they’re happening ‘by themselves’.

Recent research has suggested that highly hypnotisable people can disengage the process that looks out for rival demands on our attention, from the process that allows us to focus on which of the competing tasks we need to home in on.

In other words, in highly hypnotisable people, suggestions to experience things contrary to everyday reality may be able to take effect because the normal detect and disentangle mechanism has been temporarily suspended.

Combined with carefully crafted suggestions, this ability allows researchers to simulate certain mental states and experiences in the lab.

For example, hypnotically suggested paralysis, blindness or loss of feeling have been used to simulate the symptoms of ‘hysteria’ or conversion disorder, a condition where neurological symptoms appear without any damage to the nervous system being present.

Other studies have used hypnosis to simulate the feeling that the body is being controlled by outside forces, a common symptom in psychosis, or where a patient thinks their reflection in the mirror is another person, a delusion called mirror misidentification.

And we covered a fantastic study last year, where researchers used hypnosis to simulated psychogenic amnesia, a loss of memory just for old information despite the fact that the patients have none of the brain damage associated with the classic amnesia syndrome.

This new in-depth article covers research attempting to understand hypnosis itself, and science that uses hypnosis as a lab tool, and is a great introduction to the neuroscience research in this developing area.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Left brain, right brain

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Very interesting article at Discover, which begins:

Today Corballis readily admits he was wrong. Lateralized brains are not unique to humans. Parrots prefer picking up things with their left foot. Toads tend to attack other toads from the right but go after prey from the left. Zebra fish are likely to look at new things with their right eye and familiar things with their left. Even invertebrates are biased. Pinar Letzkus, a vision researcher at Australian National University, rewarded bees with sugar whenever they extended their tongue at the sight of a yellow rectangle on a computer screen. He then fashioned tiny eye patches and put them on a new set of subjects. Bees with their left eye covered learned almost as quickly as did bees without a patch. But bees with their right eye covered did far worse.

The broken symmetry of the nervous system may thus be as old as the symmetry itself. If so, it is an ancient puzzle. Being biased to one side would seem like a serious handicap: A toad that hopped to the left whenever it was startled by a predator, for instance, would be easy prey for an attacker that could anticipate which way it would go; the same holds for any other kind of ingrained behavioral imbalance. A number of scientists have run experiments to find the benefits that might offset such costs.

One hypothesis is that a lateralized brain is more powerful than one that works like a mirror image. Instead of two matching parts of the brain performing an identical task, one can take charge, leaving the other free to do something else. Lesley Rogers, a biologist at the University of New England in Australia, tested this hypothesis on chickens. The birds use their left hemisphere to peck for seeds and their right hemisphere to detect predators. Some chickens have more lateralized brains than others, and there is a simple way to make any chicken more lateralized: Just shine a light on it while it is still in the egg. Chick embryos usually develop with the left eye tucked inward and the right eye facing out. The stimulation of light on the right eye alters the developing left-brain hemisphere but not the right…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:53 pm

Chinese and American views on Chinese education

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Interesting post by James Fallows. Go read.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Bees and shift work—particularly the night shift

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Very interesting post, which begins:

Most people are aware that social insects, like honeybees, have three "sexes": queens, drones and workers.

Drones are males. Their only job is to fly out and mate with the queen after which they drop dead.

Female larvae fed ‘royal jelly’ emerge as queens. After mating, the young queen takes a bunch of workers with her and sets up a new colony. She lives much longer than other bees and spends her life laying gazillions of eggs continuously around the clock, while being fed by workers.

Female larvae not fed the ‘royal jelly’ emerge as workers.

Workers perform a variety of jobs in the hive. Some are hive-cleaners, some are ‘nurses’ (they feed the larvae), some are queen’s chaperones (they feed the queen), some are guards (they defend the hive and attack potential enemies) and some are foragers (they collect nectar and pollen from flowers and bring it back to the hive).

What most people are not aware of, though, is that there is a regular progression of ‘jobs’ that each worker bee goes through. The workers rotate through the jobs in an orderly fashion. They all start out doing generalized jobs, e.g., cleaning the hive. Then they move up to doing a more specialized job, for instance being a nurse or taking care of the queen. Later, they become guards, and in the end, when they are older, they become foragers – the terminal phase.

This pattern of behavioral development is called "age polyethism" (poly = many, ethism = expression of behavior), or sometimes "temporal polyethism" (image from BeeSpotter): …

Continue reading to find out about shift work.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Waterboarding is torture

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As Paul Begala pointed out, we actually executed Japanese soldiers following WWII for the crime of waterboarding prisoners. See this post on Crooks & Liars for an interesting interchange, and read Begala’s Huffington Post column. From that column:

On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, "Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."

Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times‘ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:

"McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."

The folks at Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts." Bottom line: Sen. McCain was right in 2007 and National Review Online is wrong today. America did execute Japanese war criminals for waterboarding.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:47 pm

One year in 40 seconds

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Images from the same spot through one year. Audio captured at the same place. All details on how this video was made, another video of these images and a place to download all the footage here: eirikso.com/2008/12/27/one-year-worth-of-images-give-some-amazing-videos/The images are creative commons licensed and available for you to download and play with.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "One year in 40 seconds", posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Best wishes for a happy day for all mothers

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Mothers are rightly honored today. The Eldest, I know, does fine mothering: I know the kids. She has been thoughtful about creating a growth mindset in the boys—see Carol Dweck’s fascinating book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. (You can see a summary of some of the ideas in this post.) A happy day to her and to all mothers.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2009 at 10:10 am

Posted in Daily life

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