Last week was a big week in science. Bionic eyes. 3-D stem cell printers. The possibility of billions of earth-like planets in the galaxy. And a reconstruction of the first placental mammal. It’s a big, interesting world out there, folks.
Lots of research has shown that marriage is good for you. But this study suggests that it may just be companionship, and not marriage per se, that boosts wellbeing; and that there are few measurable differences between cohabitation and marriage. More quotes here.
On the incompatibility of cars and cities. From the article:
In the early 1960s – when highway construction was at its peak and cars were just beginning to leave their mark – a handful of critics predicted there would be irreconcilable tensions between vibrant cities and their motorized inhabitants. Nearly 50 years later, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published research validating this idea.
I enjoyed this profile of the uber-wonk Ezra Klein in The New Republic.
While doing some lunch-hour reading, I came across a suggestion for a new punctuation mark, expressing enthusiasm between that of a period and an exclamation point. Then, I learned about the Interrobang to express incredulity. Say what‽
Samuel James’ photo essay of makeshift oil refining in the Niger Delta is mandatory viewing.
I am seriously re-thinking my longstanding desire to visit Brazil.
At Cascadia Weekly, Bob Simmons has a first-rate profile of labor leader Mark Lowry, an outspoken booster for the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal. I thought it did a great job of illuminating labor’s support for the terminal despite the fact that the coal industry does not have a great track record of support for labor. (You can see a pdf version of the Cascadia Weekly story by clicking on this link and then scrolling to page 8.)
Writing about David Leonhardt on the federal deficit, Matthew Yglesias perfectly expressed my main worry about contemporary politics:
…But neither party explicitly avows either of those agendas, and neither gets enough time in office to properly play them out. The mainstream concern elected officials have is not, “What would I do if I got to do what I wanted but was accountable to the voters for the consequences?” but rather, “What negotiating position best suits my aims in an endless series of standoffs?”
That’s a deeply problematic question for people to be asking themselves, and I don’t know what to do about it.
I’ve long dreamed of writing a blog about the products (and the product packaging) I consume: where they come from, how they’re disposed of, who makes them. And two excellent reports this week reminded me that as a consumer, I can’t just trust the convenient labels to assure me that someone has done the homework on the quality of the product I’m buying. NPR produced a great three-part series on “sustainable”-fish-labeler Marine Stewardship Council, whose standards for awarding their coveted approval label have recently come under hot criticism.
And a new report charged that local “fair trade” favorite Theo Chocolate irresponsibly managed safety and overworking complaints from employees and then retaliated against workers who wanted to unionize. The company responded in a lengthy, point-by-point letter that refuted all of the report’s major claims.