I’ve got nothing of great relevance to Sightline, but I did come across two interesting things recently:
- The Stranger’s Brendan Kiley has a riveting piece, “The Long Con,” on a highly dubious undercover sting operation in Seattle.
- And a Hamilton College report finds that Paul Krugman is the most accurate prognosticator of the pundits they evaluated. As Krugman might say, the money quote is: “…being a good prognosticator seems to be a product of choices, not birth. Anyone can be good; all they need to do is avoid law school and buy into liberalism as an overarching philosophy.” Sound advice, that.
Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, argues that the burgeoning food movement isn’t elitist, but the highly undemocratic system of food production in the US is. To spoil his punchline:
Calling these efforts elitist renders the word meaningless. The wealthy will always eat well. It is the poor and working people who need a new, sustainable food system more than anyone else. They live in the most polluted neighborhoods. They are exposed to the worst toxic chemicals on the job. They are sold the unhealthiest foods and can least afford the medical problems that result. A food system based on poverty and exploitation will never be sustainable.
I already linked to Mark Bittman’s latest in the New York Times in my post suggesting that we don’t call junk food “food”, but the whole piece is worth a read. He dissects the new, voluntary FTC guidelines suggesting that the food industry shouldn’t market junk to kids.
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After seeing a particularly awesome science project at my daughter’s school science fair, I am now obsessed with a solid state heat pump called a Peltier Plate. It’s the McDLT of thermoelectronics, since the hot side gets hot and the cold side gets cold. Any practical applications? These kids won a science prize for designing a Peltier-based car air conditioner. The teen science whiz argued that you could heat a home more efficiently with Peltier plates than with regular electric resistance heat. I’m not convinced—yet—but it’s still cool.
Oil prices took a big tumble yesterday. Will other commodities follow?
We can’t ignore extreme weather forever, no matter how reluctant scientists are to attribute any particular event to climate change. The Center for American Progress has created a very cool—and sobering—map that shows just how whacked-out the weather has gotten in the United States—including the number of human deaths and the enormous price tag of the damages.
Tweeting about, well, birds. Andrew Revkin posted today about an ornithology class where students are required to tweet every time they witness an interesting bird behavior. It’s an ingenious way to use technology to get students engaged in science—and possibly a pretty effective tool for tracking animal behavior. (See also: Revkin’s own communications students’ documentary on shrimp farming and their tweets, @got_shrimp.)