How the shutdown is viewed in China

Politicians in the US love to prate on and on about how the US is the world’s greatest system of government. The US senate is routinely referred to, by its own members of course, as the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’, despite all evidence to the contrary. But things like having periodic government shutdowns must surely make such boasts ring hollow. How can any government fail at its most basic task of keeping the lights on? I myself am aghast that such a thing could happen at all in any country, let alone one with the largest economy and military, and yet we have had a shut down in 2013, almost another one in 2015, and yet another one going on right now. It is becoming routine.
[Read more…]

What to do if you are trapped in quicksand

Quicksand used to be a common plot device in adventure films, with people inadvertently stepping into it and being slowly sucked under while others were helpless to extricate them. But it turns out that what is more likely to happen is that as long as you don’t thrash around, you will sink about halfway and stop. But getting yourself out is not easy and requires considerable force. This is what a paper in the 29 September 2005 issue of Nature (vol. 437, p. 635) says.
[Read more…]

Trumpers don’t like being called a cult

What happens when you put a group of old white people who voted for Donald Trump in a room and one of them who is disillusioned with him calls them a cult? Pretty much what you’d expect. (If you cannot access the video below, try this.)

Forcing students to attend classes

A Chinese college has stirred some controversy by putting photographs of seven people on the final exams and asking students to identify the one who is their teacher and write the name underneath. Those who were unable to do so were penalized. The goal was to see who had been attending classes, because apparently skipping classes has become a problem.
[Read more…]

The important role of the cricket pitch

I am sure that all the cricket fans out there (yes, both of you) have been waiting for another post about his game.

One of the key things that distinguishes cricket from baseball is that after the bowler releases the ball, it bounces on the ground before it reaches the batter. This has enormous consequences because how the ‘pitch’ (which is how cricket aficionados refer to the central playing area between the wickets) is prepared can greatly affect the motion of the ball after hitting the ground. Pitches that result in the ball bouncing a lot and/or unpredictably or allows the ball to change direction sharply after bouncing makes life harder for the batters and easier for the bowlers. Conversely, pitches where the ball bounces a predictable low height and does not produce much turn are easier for the batters.
[Read more…]

Christian group seeks to roll back transgender prisoner rights

Aviva Stahl writes that a Christian advocacy group known as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is seeking to roll back protections that had been put in place in prisons that had enabled transpeople to petition to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

For Lagan and the other trans women locked up at Carswell, the new policies were a lifeline. They were allowed to escape the pervasive risks they faced in male custody, including sexual and physical assault from prisoners and guards; they frequently ended up in solitary confinement, either as punishment or, perversely, for “protection.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than one third of transgender people held in prisons and jails experience sexual violence, the highest reported of any demographic group studied; the new policies were meant to ease this burden.

Today, however, a Christian legal advocacy group with a growing national profile, called Alliance Defending Freedom, is working to undo the regulations and policies that helped Langan move to Carswell. Now she is at risk of being sent back into the male prison population.
[Read more…]