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Monthly Archive: July 2012

Jul 31 2012

The country becomes the new city

Back in the 1960s, satirist Tom Lehrer sang in Pollution about how dirty American cities had become.

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Jul 31 2012

Encouraging sign of the times

News reports say that the Democratic party platform committee has unanimously endorsed same-sex marriage. This reflects the fact that a new Pew poll finds two-thirds of self-identified Democrats support this position.

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Jul 31 2012

Why I don’t watch the Olympics on TV

I first watched the Olympics on TV in 1976, when I was in the US as a graduate student, and quickly became fed up. The inane chatter of the anchors and commentators, the frequent long breaks for commercials, and the excessive focus on only showing events in which Americans had hopes of winning medals, were …

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Jul 31 2012

Cerebral and visceral reactions

When presented with news and other information, we have both visceral and cerebral responses. The visceral comes from the emotional reaction and occurs immediately and almost spontaneously while the cerebral response arises from our intellectual reaction involving conscious thought and takes a while to kick in.

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Jul 30 2012

Another psychology researcher resigns amidst data massaging flap

I wrote recently about University of Pennsylvania researcher Uri Simonsohn who has developed a new, but yet unpublished, statistical technique to detect whether raw data have been improperly massaged to get positive, publishable results.

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Jul 30 2012

The Daily Show on the fighting nuns

Samantha Bee interviews the head of the organization of American Catholic nuns that has earned the ire of Papa Ratzi for their emphasis on helping the poor instead of focusing their efforts on the things the Vatican considers far more important, like upholding the church’s doctrine against contraception and abortion and same sex marriage.

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Jul 30 2012

Learning geography from sports

The Daily Show is fond of pointing out that Americans learn their geography about other countries only when they go to war with them. But international sporting contests are another source of information about countries and the Olympics is a good way to hear about countries that would otherwise never make the news.

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Jul 30 2012

The mixed effects of political satire

Readers of this blog know that I have a fondness for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (as well as other satires) and frequently link to them if I happen to think them funny and informative. But each of them has his faults. Colbert seems to idolize the military while Stewart is terrible when …

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Jul 29 2012

Bear cub rescue

Via Jerry Coyne, I came across this story about a New Mexico couple Tom and Shirley Schenk who came to the rescue of some bear cubs who had fallen into a dumpster and couldn’t get out. The cries of the cubs and of their mother who had waited by the dumpster all night touched the …

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Jul 29 2012

Why should politics stop at the water’s edge?

Mitt Romney on his current trip has made a big deal of saying that he will not criticize Barack Obama while overseas, thus reinforcing the sentiment that ‘politics should stop at the water’s edge’.

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