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Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Water Cooler

Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given Antipsychotics (nytimes.com). "Almost 20,000 prescriptions for risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), and other antipsychotic medications were written in 2014 for children 2 and younger, a 50% jump from 13,000 just one year before." Total madness. Not to mention medical malpractice. Parents can't be expected to know the potential harms of these medications. Doctors are on the hook here. Totally.

Declassified U.S. Government Report Prepared a Week After Fukushima Accident: “100% of The Total Spent Fuel Was Released to the Atmosphere from Unit 4” (washingtonsblog.com). There was “more cesium in that [Unit 4] fuel pool than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground.”

From the declassified report written by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on March 18, 2011. Click to enrage.
Why Pollution is Good for China (nybooks.com). It's not literally good, of course. But good things might come from it.

Cheap Oil Gives Little Help to U.S. Spending (wsj.com). Paywalled WSJ story. But the thrust is clear. "When oil and gasoline prices began to tumble in mid-2014, experts widely expected it would jolt spending by U.S. consumers and businesses. It hasn’t turned out that way." Consumers are pocketing the gains from reduced fuel spending, much the way businesses have pocketed the gains from increased productivity without returning those gains to the economy (as higher wages, e.g.) either. Which raises the question: What would it take to stimulate the economy now?

From 2004 to 2014, Over 2,000 Terror Suspects Legally Purchased Guns in the United States (WaPo). "Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law," according to the Government Accountability Office.

Guns purchased by terror suspects since 2004. Click to enrage.

How to Instantly Calm a Crying Baby (mashable.com). Does not involve guns.

Buybacks Enrich the Bosses Even When Business Sags (reuters.com). NAB: Not a bug. Will not fix.

University Presidents Are Making Extravagant Salaries While Professors Earn 'Unlivable' Wages (businessinsider.com). NAB. Will not fix.

The Economy Is Improving, So Washington Has Decided It's Time To Screw You (huffingtonpost.com). Why you'll soon be flooded, if you're not already, with texts and calls from Navient and other Education Department loan contractors (and also IRS contractors).

The Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Is a Garbage Policy (vox.com). What used to be a helpful policy for middle class Americans is now a subsidy for the wealthy.

When Inequality Kills (project-syndicate.org). Joseph Stiglitz comments thoughtfully on the seminally important, widely reported Case-Deaton results (showing early death on the rise in middle-aged white Americans). We all need to understand this. Unfortunately, this is just the kind of discussion that doesn't tend to happen when everyone's attention is diverted to the "threat of terrorism."

Who Will Fight the Islamic State? (tomdispatch.com). Of course, this assumes Isil is, in fact, legitimately Islamic, and is a state, but the point is well taken: No one in the region can be expected to pursue Western objectives per se. It's not realistic.

CBS Chief Cheers Trump: “Go Donald! Keep Getting Out There!” (theintercept.com). Our unbiased media.

GOP Prepares for Contested Convention (WaPo). This underscores what I've long believed will happen, which is that the RNC will ensure that the rug is pulled out from under The Donald at the convention, as chaos reigns:
Many of the delegates are “bound” on the first ballot, meaning they must support the candidate they chose in primaries or at state conventions. But that restriction would lift if no nominee is chosen. The jockeying for delegates on a second ballot — or third, fourth or fifth — would be intense and full of political dealmaking, thus the term “brokered” convention.
The only sure way for Trump to avoid being ambushed is to split from the Republican Party well ahead of time (and plan to run as a third-party candidate), something we should not be surprised to see happen at any moment, given Trump's mercurial temperament and penchant for punishing those who dare disagree with him. (I know, I know, an independent run without Texas or Ohio "isn't feasible." We'll see.)

When Catholics Were America’s Muslims (thebrokenelbow.com). Lest we forget.

Pew: White Christians No Longer a Majority (politico.com). They just act like they are.

Bulletproof Backpacks for Kids! (rawstory.com) And 9 other must-have products, including a bulletproof Bible.

Scientists have performed the first full-scale genome analysis of the Ebola virus (businessinsider.com). Totally misleading triumphalist bullshit headline. Ebola virus genome has been sequenced over a thousand times before, and the only surprise to come out of this particular study is that "that there was not much evidence to suggest the virus adapted to the human host, say researchers from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases."

If you want to read something truly surprising to come out of Ebola research, check out Unexpected Inheritance: Multiple Integrations of Ancient Bornavirus and Ebolavirus/Marburgvirus Sequences in Vertebrate Genomes (journals.plos.org), a study from 2010 showing that Ebola-derived genes have been in human DNA (yes, part of our own DNA) for millions of years. Turns out, integration events from RNA viruses are not limited to retroviruses. And we know very little about what these genes do.

Giant Mushroom Had to be Chopped Up and Carried by Four People (dailymail.co.uk).

In Vietnam, this mushroom, sold to a local resident for £800, had to be carried home by four people.
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