Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Farming: Baby, Not Bored

Warren Buffett has said, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.”

Via Kevin Roberts - Two of his favorite storytellers have new albums out. Leonard Cohen's "You want it darker" is teasing out on Apple music. Title track is available now…

And John Prine's "For Better or Worse" is the definitive album for aging relationships. Leonard and John have plenty of miles on them (like me) and are still living life, loving life

What High-Fat Foods Should I Be Eating?


Ted Kaptchuk, a professor at Harvard Medical School who ran the experiment, said his colleagues initially thought he was crazy at the beginning of the study. But it worked: He says roughly 60 percent of the subjects in his study reported getting better, even though they knew they were taking a placebo.
A placebo, Kaptchuk explained, is an inert substance, usually something like cellulose, starch or sugar. But the “placebo effect” goes well beyond the actual pill.
“Placebo effect is everything that surrounds that pill — the interaction between patient, doctor or nurse,” Kaptchuk said. “It’s the symbols, it’s the rituals. These are powerful forces.”

“For me it is a real problem when we don’t reflect the society we live in. It’s not good for books, or culture, or commercially. We are going to become irrelevant. We know we have a real issue, and we have been slow. We have to address it.” Publishing risks becoming irrelevant warns penguin random house boss
ecurity Administration (SSA): FY2017 Appropriations and Recent Trends, William R. Morton, Analyst in Income Security, October 5, 2016

Our industrialized food system nourishes more people, at lower cost, than any comparable system in history. It also exerts a terrifyingly massive influence on our health and our environment. Photographer George Steinmetz spent nearly a year traveling the country to capture that system, in all its scope, grandeur and dizzying scale.
That is the introduction to an excellent NYTimes photo essay on farming

There's the rule of three, which is a pretty good guide; we can generally survive for three minutes without oxygen, three days without water and three weeks without food. That said, people have been known to survive longer while going without - take poor Andreas Mihavecz for instance, who was accidentally left in a prison cell without food or water for 18 days...

THE FIRST EFFECT OF NOT BELIEVING IN GOD, IS TO BELIEVE IN ANYTHING*: Our Post-Christian Culture Often Replaces Faith with Nonsense.

*not actually a Chesterton quote or paraphrase
Surveys from the Pew Research Center show that Americans are much more positive about diversity than Europeans. Remarkably only 7% of Americans think that diversity makes America a worse place to live–the next closest on that score is Spain where more than three times as many people think diversity makes Spain a worse place to live.

‘Stewardship’: buzzword, inkblot, or a new way to deliver human services?  

Accomplish more by doing less - High Brow

Baby, Bomenian Baths - the secret world of bird baths 

A study released at the end of September found that 30 percent of women aged 16 to 24 in the U.K. suffered from mental illness. This is similar to the rate at which women in America reportedly suffer from mental illness.
The study found that 1 in 5 young women in the U.K. have anxiety, depression, panic disorder, a phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Men suffer at about half that rate. Also, 12.6 percent of women screened positive for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and nearly 20 percent reported self-harm

LIGHTER, TOO: Study Shows Inflatable Bike Helmets Are Great at Preventing Concussions: Even better than traditional bike helmets. “A helmet that is basically invisible and then inflates only when you need it? It sounds too good to be true. But researchers at Stanford have been studying this style of inflatable helmet’s efficacy, and the results are promising.”

This will be familiar to readers of Snow Crash

Have you ever noticed that when you ask someone in your company, “How are you?” they are more likely to answer “Busy!” than “Very well, thank you”? That is because the norm in most companies is that you are supposed to be very busy – or otherwise at least pretend to be – because otherwise you can’t be all that important. The answers “I am not up to much” and “I have some time on my hands, actually” are not going to do much for your internal status and career 5 Strategy Questions Every Leader Should Make Time For

Living the Life LRB. On Hollywood agents and CAA. “Show me the money.”

Via sms ...Since Roman times the rich do not pay taxes. Aside from the advisers the rich can buy, they can always fix the tax rules to their advantage. It is always easier and more profitable for all governments to tax the poor. That has always been the case, in all nations, and will be forever.

Security Fatigue, Issue No. 05 – Sept.-Oct. (2016 vol. 18) ISSN: 1520-9202pp: 26-32 DOI Bookmark

$255 Million Worth Of Old Master Paintings May Be Fakes$255 Million Worth Of Old Master Paintings May Be Fakes 
A late comment from reader reslez in Lambert’s VP debate live blog that I thought should not be
Two politicians, alike in infamy,
In fair Virginia where we lay our scene,
From Wall Street partisan to Trumpeteer,
Where Syrian blood makes all hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of grasping gasbags takes their place;
Whose misadventured podiums overthrow
Do with their wind inflate their pilots’ strife.
The groaning drivel of debt hysteria,
And the continuance of the voters’ rage,
Which, but their leaders’ end, nought could remove,
Is the ninety minute traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient eyes attend,
What here shall miss, our blogger’s toil shall mend.

A three-year investigation by the FBI and Maryland’s U.S. Attorney revealed a sweeping Wednesday indictment against 80 correctional officers, inmates, and accomplices allegedly involved in massive smuggling ring in the state’s largest prison. Correctional officers kept many exchanges cash-free, handing out cell phones and asking inmates to purchase contraband using PayPal, the indictment reported. Other officers allegedly extorted inmates in sex-for-drug trades, and forced them to use contraband knives on inmates who threatened to snitch.
People in the know called contraband “donuts,” the indictment charged. The catch-all codeword encompassed cocaine, heroin, marijuana, a long menu of prescription pills, cell phones, pornography, and knives.
And for inmates on the guards’ good side, the racket meant good money.
Not even prison conditions can stop the power of black markets to deliver weapons, drugs, and porn to those who want them.
There might be a lesson in that.

Career Corner. Should CPA Firms Allow Employees to Wear Shorts? A Brief Debate (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). Sure. We are talking underwear, aren’t we?

That's a baby, but not a real one. It's something known as a "Baby Think It Over" -- an "infant simulator" in the words of Ars Technica. Baby Think It Over (now "RealCare Baby 3"), according to the company that makes it, cries when it has to be "fed, burped, rocked or changed" (all poops are, of course, simulated) and coos "when its needs have been met." One of the target audiences for the product is teenagers, with the goal being (again per the company's website) "teen pregnancy prevention." The theory is that if you have to care for a Baby Think It Over for a while, you'll, well, think it over before decided to have a kid (or not take measure to not get pregnant). Because raising a baby takes a lot of work -- even if the baby is just a robo-babie.

But there's a problem. Remember how Tamagotchis were fun? Well...

Like any other public health initiative, the Baby Think It Over one was subject to summative research, as academics and epidemiologists hoped to see if the intervention was an effective one. In 2016, researchers in Western Australia published their findings in a medical journal called the Lancet, available here. And the bad news was that Baby Think It Over didn't seem to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies.

The good news? There wasn't any. But there was more bad news. While Baby Think It Over got the teenagers thinking, they may have thinking about how much fun it might be to have the real thing. Ars Technica summarizes the findings:
Of the 1,267 teens that had to care for, burp, change, and feed the robot babies over a weekend, 17 percent (or 210 girls) had at least one pregnancy by the age of 20. That’s a slight jump from the pregnancy rate of the 1,567 girls in the control group who received a standard school curriculum on sex education and parenting. Their pregnancy rate was just 11 percent (or 168 girls).
The researchers wouldn't offer a reason why this happened -- the data they collected was anonymous, so there wasn't an opportunity to do a qualitative review of the experiences of the girls who used the robot babies and ended up with real pregnancies. But the study's author, researcher Sally Brinkman, shared a thought with the Sydney Morning Herald: "Anecdotally, a lot of the students really enjoyed the program … there was a lot of positivity around the program, so it didn't really work in putting the kids off." Further, per the Morning Herald, "the students got quite a lot of positive attention from family and even strangers on the street and they went about their weekends toting the electronic dolls."

The makers of Baby Think It Over, in the words of WNYC, "distanced the company from the results;" a spokesperson wrote off the study as "not reflective of our product nor its efficacy." 

5 tips for writing for TV scripts

Judges Push Brevity in Briefs, and Get a Torrent of Arguments – “The Constitution of the United States clocks in at 4,543 words. Yet a number of lawyers contend that 14,000 words are barely enough to lay out their legal arguments. That’s the maximum word count for briefs filed in federal appellate courts. For years, judges have complained that too many briefs are repetitive and full of outmoded legal jargon, and that they take up too much of their time. A recent proposal to bring the limit down by 1,500 words unleashed an outcry among lawyers.”

V.P. debate moderator lays off fact-checking as candidates interrupt each other

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