Eric dP:

If by chance you’re disgusted by the mendacity on display at the Republican convention, take a moment of bipartisanship to be appalled by this radio ad Obama is running in Ohio.

Yep, Obama is running on an aggressively pro-coal and (apparently) pro-fracking platform. He even goes so far as to attack then-governor Mitt Romney for correctly saying that pollution from coal plants kills people. I especially love that the spot ends with this chin-scratcher: “Who’s been honest and who’s playing politics?”

Do you really want an answer to that, President Obama?

I thought David Pogue nailed it in his enumeration of five ways Hollywood can stop digging its own grave. I’m particularly galled by #2 for just the reasons he mentions.

I also liked Knute Berger’s argument that cities need less grid. He focuses on Olmsted-style boulevards, but I’ve long believed that the greatest urban places are the ones with chaotic and messy streets.

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  • Some stuff was less edifying. For example, I’m pretty sure I got dumber by reading the much-forwarded NYT debate about whether modern parents are self-absorbed. (Kevin Noble’s piece was a small exception.) On the plus side, I have now decided conclusively that opinion pieces about child-rearing – a domain overrun by people who fill their time by being offended – are a genre I will henceforth ignore in good conscience.

    I was pleased to see the American Meteorological Society finally acknowledge scientific consensus clearly:

    There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking… The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research.

    Thanks weather people. Can you cc the president on this one?

    And a great cartoon on coal trains in the Northwest:


    Congestion sucks…but can it keep us alive? The manager of Portland’s traffic signals acknowledges the fact—well known in the traffic management profession but little known outside it—that congestion can make streets safer

    Peter Koonce, Portland’s signals and street lighting manager…is well aware of the inverse correlation between congested and dangerous intersections.

    “Sometimes congestion can be a really good thing because it lends itself to a safer environment,” he says.

    That’s not to say that I like to be stuck in traffic…but better red light than dead, I say.

    Does language affect culture? Scholars who believe in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis say it does: the structure of language has a major influence on how we think and what we do. And new research backs that up: countries in which the dominant language forces speakers to think about gender tend to have fewer women in the labor force,  and are more likely to have quota and sanction systems to regulate women’s participation in politics.

    Scientists find a chimpanzee genius.

    And in other primate news, chimps (unlike humans) don’t seem to punish misdeeds unless they themselves are the victim—and even then, they only inflict punishment if the miscreant is of lower social status.


    Bill Moyers asks: Where is the outrage about money in politics?

    Bill Nye the Science Guy is getting lots of hits on YouTube after a comment about creationism and the necessity of voters and taxpayers who are science-literate—especially young Americans. (The video had over a million views in less than a week.)

    From the “Buy Nothing New” Department, here’s a New York Times art critic talking about buying art at thrift shops, garage sales, and flea markets. (Thanks, Nicole!)

    Identical twins. Rising political stars. Latinos. And outspoken advocates for clean energy in a deeply red state. Meet Julián and Joaquín Castro.