More examples of bias against Bernie Sanders in the Washington Post

I discussed in an earlier post how this newspaper’s ‘Fact Checker’ section showed an egregious example of deception in giving Bernie Sanders’s accurate statement about health care bankruptcies three Pinocchios. But that is not the only case. The Sanders campaign has demanded the retraction of that statement plus two other false assertions made by it.
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The color of cars and accidents

Whenever I have bought a car, I tend to choose the color purely on the basis of how it looks and, of course, on my personality. Given the dullness of the latter, it should be no surprise that my choices in the past have been either steel gray or more recently dark gray. I had never considered the issue of how color relates to crash frequency. It appears that white cars are the least prone to accidents while black cars are the most.

Black cars are notably more dangerous to drive than white cars for reasons of visibility already. A study by Monash University Accident Research Centre in Australia, which studied crash data across the country from 1987 to 2004, found that compared to white cars as a baseline, crash risk was higher for just about every other common color, including red, blue, silver, green, gray, and, yes, black. Black performed the worst by every measure: In daylight, the chance of crash is 12% higher than that of white cars. At dawn and dusk, that jumps to 47%—though your relative risk of getting into an accident at that time is lower at those hours, the authors point out. Monash’s study was consistent with at least one other, from the University of Granada, which determined that yellow was a safe alternative to white.

I was surprised that black was worse even in daytime.

My dark grey car looks black at night which means that my choice was not good as far as accidents go. To be frank, I just do not like white or any of the other colors so I may just have to stomach the increased risk and hope that careful driving partially compensates.

Film review: The Unknown Known (2013)

I recently watched this documentary that features Donald Rumsfeld, who served as secretary of defense in the administration of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, and thus oversaw the origins of two disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that created massive destruction in those countries and killed and injured and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The film was produced and directed by documentarian Errol Morris who did a similar documentary called The Fog of War (2003) about Robert McNamara who was secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and oversaw the massive escalation of the Vietnam war.
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A gross miscarriage of justice

It is well known that women have a very difficult time having their accusations of being sexually abused and even raped being taken seriously. We also know that police officers who commit abuses of any kind are very unlikely to suffer any serious consequences even for the most egregious actions. Natasha Lennard writes about the predictable outcome when both those conditions occur in a single case.
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The challenge of finding community in a secular world

Ryan Bell, national organizing manager for the Secular Student Alliance, writes in The Humanist magazine that while young people are becoming more and more secular, they face challenges in finding a community that shares their values and provides the kind of camaraderie that religious institutions used to provide. Various forms of alternatives are being created in colleges across the country to fill that need. One of those are the Secular Student Fellowships sponsored by the SSA. He discusses the case of several students who have experiences like that of a young woman named Sophia.
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The Washington Post‘s visible anti-Bernie bias

We know that the mainstream media, even so-called ‘liberal’ ones, tend to be strongly supportive of the status quo and of the interests of the political-business establishment and thus totally against the candidacies of progressives. And one of the ways to observe this bias in action is to note how differently it scrutinizes the statements of candidates it prefers to those it dislikes, setting a low bar for truthfulness for the former and a high bar for the latter.
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This is so infuriating

One of the big successes of science has been the steady eradication of diseases that once ravaged so many people across the world. So it is frustrating when some diseases are making a comeback because of the misinformation spread by opponents of vaccinations. The latest example of this backsliding is that four European countries (Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the UK) that once had been declared measles-free have had that status revoked by the World Health Organization because of new outbreaks.
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A little computer knowledge is a dangerous thing

A California tried to use his vanity license plate to get out of paying for parking tickets. He chose the license plate NULL in the belief that when his ticket was entered into the database, it would end up in some computer dustbin and he would not get the bill. It did not quite work out that way.

It’s the story of a security researcher known as Droogie, who presented his experience at the recent DEF CON conference in Las Vegas. Droogie decided his new vanity plate should read “NULL.”

Droogie’s hope was that the new plate would exploit California’s DMV ticketing system in a similar manner to the classic xkcd “Bobby Tables” cartoon. With any luck, the DMV’s ticket database would see “NULL” and consign any of his tickets to the void. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened.

First, Droogie got a parking ticket, incurred for an actual parking infraction—so much for being invisible. Then, once a particular database of outstanding tickets had associated the license plate NULL with his address, it sent him every other ticket that lacked a real plate. The total came to $12,049 worth of tickets.

Although the initial $12,000-worth of fines were removed, the private company that administers the database didn’t fix the issue and new NULL tickets are still showing up.

Lesson: Don’t try to outsmart the DMV.

New study suggests that optimists tend to be healthier and live longer

According to a large-scale longitudinal study, people who are optimistic tended to live longer than those who are not, and it even increased the chances of ‘exceptional longevity’, the term used for people who live to be 85 or more.

The team split about 70,000 women into four equally sized groups, based on their scores for optimism. They then compared lifespan for the most optimistic with the least, taking into account factors including age, sex, race, education, depression and other health conditions present at the outset.

The results show the most optimistic group of women had a lifespan almost 15% longer than the least.

Similar results were seen in men, even though optimism was measured slightly differently. When the team compared the fifth of men boasting the highest optimism scores with the least optimistic, they found the most positive men had lifespans almost 11% longer.

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