At the Seattle Times, I’ve really enjoyed Linda V. Mapes’ latest round of features on the restoration of the Elwha River, here and here. It’s fascinating to learn about how the national park plans to restore a landscape that’s been submerged for decades. At present, it’s not exactly fertile ground for the sort of plants that will one day make the river valley flourish.
I’ve scarcely followed March Madness this year, but I did enjoy reading Chuck Klosterman’s take on Kentucky coach John Calipari. The truth is, I’m wildly conflicted about Calipari’s approach to college sports.
Sports fans, beware: if your team wins a hotly contested game, you’re more likely than usual to die in a car crash on the way home.
An analysis of major sporting events (2001–8) shows that closer games are significantly correlated with more fatalities. Importantly, increased fatalities are observed only in locations with winning fans (game site and/or winners’ hometown)… Ultimately, this finding has material consequences for public welfare on game days and suggests that one silver lining for losing fans may be a safer drive home.
The authors hypothesize that post-game testosterone surges can make the winning team’s fans drive more aggressively. So for folks going to Final Four parties: even if you’re stoked that your team won, please keep a cool head on the way home…
Unlike most energy-guru talking-heads, this guy strikes me as actually making sense. Among his points: oil speculators can drive short-term price changes, but the long-term rise in oil prices is due to fundamentals: the big oil producers, especially Saudi Arabia, are producing almost all the oil they can, and there are plenty of real buyers (as opposed to market speculators) willing to pay today’s lofty prices. If this guy is right, oil prices will probably remain high and volatile for quite some time — which is a pretty safe thing to say on TV, considering that prices already have been rising but choppy for the better part of a decade.
When I take one of those tests that measure privilege in our society, I come out within spitting distance of the pinnacle: male, white, straight, tall, blond, blue-eyed, native-born, physically abled, highly (and expensively) educated, and upper-middle class. So this letter by a white mom to the mom of Trayvon Martin spoke to me.
For parents, when it comes to toxics there’s a fine line between OCD-style paranoia and vigilant (and arguably quite reasonable) protection. This NYT piece looks at both sides—from the borderline neurotic new mom who tries to purge all toxics from her baby’s world (“Would anyone trust a finger puppet that doesn’t come from Sweden?”) to legions of experts who remind us that there’s been a “wild proliferation of chemicals…[with] one thousand to three thousand new chemicals…introduced into our environment every year over the past 30 years.” Way too many are not well tested or are grandfathered in (an ironic term), but plenty of common toxics are detectable in newborns’ umbilical cords. Scary.
But it’s expensive—and probably impossible—to rid your life of chemical dangers. You get a $25 BPA-free rubber ducky but the cash register receipt is laced with the stuff. In the end it may be more effectual to worry less about your own house and spend that energy cleaning our shared House—a.k.a. Congress, which “has been a graveyard for proposals to update the Toxic Substances Control Act.”
Parenting is indeed political—or should be. Here’s a success story. Thanks to pressure by a coalition of parents, farmworkers, scientists, and others, strawberries our families eat just got a whole lot safer! Arysta LifeScience has pulled cancer-causing methyl iodide off the US market—a pesticide used for many years in strawberry fields and one of the “most toxic chemicals on earth.”
Is Walmart really going organic and local like they claim? Tom Philpott says not so fast. In the sheer bulk of their sales, they do a fair deal of business in organic—and local is counted as anything in-state (not exactly the same as your neighborhood farmers’ market). But, they may simply be trying to get “eco” credit for stuff they’ve already been doing.
Anna points out that your strawberries might be safer, but who picked them? Here’s some irony: “a 13-year-old child is permitted to work in 100-degree heat in a strawberry field but not in an air-conditioned office.” There’s a good chance children harvested your food.
A look at how Google designs its cafeteria with healthy choices in mind.
Finally, more Google-related goodness: a beautiful, nearly real-time map of winds in the US.