If you were thinking about buying some birth control pills or even getting an IUD inserted today, it might be the wise choice to wait until tomorrow, when the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act starts its big rollout. Starting tomorrow, any new insurance policies sold to individuals or employers must cover contraception without a co-pay as part of a larger package of mandatory co-pay-free women’s preventive care benefits. After tomorrow, insurance plans that have already been purchased will have to start offering no-co-pay contraception when they renew.
Let’s be clear about something. Sex happens whether or not women have access to contraception. This isn’t about whether folks will have more or less sex… this is about preventing unwanted pregnancies.
If you remove sexual hysteria from the equation, it’s the equivalent of the government requiring seatbelts in cars, even if that does technically mean all car purchasers are on the hook for covering this car feature whether they want it or not.
Of course, just as people who resisted mandatory seatbelts have benefited along with the rest of us from lower rates of traffic fatalities, they will also benefit from the reduced social and health care costs that stem from reducing unplanned pregnancies. Luckily, public health advocates have learned not to hold their breath waiting for a thank you.
With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.
But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.
Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgoguns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.
In other news, it seems Colorado has learned its lesson from the horrible recent events… BUY MORE GUNS. Background checks for concealed weapons are up 41%.
"It’s been insane," Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, said Monday.
When he arrived at work Friday morning — just hours after a gunman killed 12 and injured 58 others at the Century Aurora 16 theater — there already were 15 to 20 people waiting outside the store, Meyers said.
Finally, here’s a link to excerpts from myriad studies talking about the multiplying impact of guns-related deaths more easy access to guns has.
One of the employees at Laurie’s Planet of Sound, a record store in Chicago, posted this photo on Instagram. If you were buying music in the 90s there’s a good chance you have at least a few of these. Good luck unloading them on some poor sucker.
State Farm, for the purposes of teaching their adjusters to how to tell the difference between a proper car restoration and a crappy bondo-mobile, painstakingly built this car. It looks like a photoshop job, but I assure you it’s very real.
If you’ve ever tried to buy car insurance for a classic ride, you know it’s a complicated process, and one fraught with potholes. The universe of classic cars runs from rusted rat rods not worth their value in scrap to multimillion-dollar machinery; some owners want to drive them as much as possible, others won’t roll them any further than the garage door. In most cases, any insurance on a classic vehicle begins with a guess about its value, and one owner’s chromed wheels and nitrous-injection system is another’s crime against history.
A NEW paper published in the Lancet on July 18th, timed to coincide with the Olympics, compares countries’ rates of physical activity. The study it describes, led by Pedro Hallal of the Federal University of Pelotas, is the most complete portrait yet of the world’s busy bees and couch potatoes.
The hosts of the Hollywood Prospectus podcast have each put together a britpop playlist on Spotify for the London Olympics… especially for those of you who remember anxiously awaiting the new NME or Mojo rather than the latest music-blog song leak… otherwise known as “grandpa hour”.
“When I make my first entrance, I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I’m walking on and stands straight up, by itself; but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.”—Gene Wilder explaining his one condition when offered the role of Willy Wonka by director Mel Stuart in 1970. When asked why Wilder explained: “Because from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.” He had more suggestions, too.
“We’re not going to kill Big Bird, but Big Bird is going to have advertisements, alright?” —Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in Iowa
1. In the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission determined that advertising to children under the age of 6 was unfair and deceptive.
2. Research has also shown that children under the age of 8 have no defenses against advertising and often take advertising claims at face value.
3. Some countries like Sweden and Norway ban all advertising directed at children under 12, while other countries such as the United Kingdom, Greece, Denmark and Belgium place restrictions on advertising.
“We think it’s because people are a little repentant about their weekend,” says Colin McCabe, founder of Chop’t, a salad company in New York and Washington, D.C. Chop’t usually sells 10 percent more salads on Mondays than on other days of the week…
A USMC Sargeant responds to the Quora question "What are the optimal siege tactics for taking Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle?" with a five-phase plan.
This is great. Here’s a snippet:
Phase 2: The next phase would be the first two infantry companies sneaking in through the wooded area in the Southeast between Tomorrowland and Mainstreet, USA. Their primary targets are the train station and entrance to the park (to prevent enemy escape or reinforcements.) The Tomorrowland company’s objective is to secure the square and and buildings, as well as any advanced technologies it may hold. Marines and soldiers are advised to not use the teleporters. They’re a trap. They will only kill your unit and replace him with an evil alien. Their main attack route will be through the stage. Also important is that troops remember to take all underground entry points and gas them to prevent surprise attacks from the tunnels.
Today the Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for dairy is a mere three cups daily — still 1½ pounds by weight — for every man, woman and child over age 9. This in a country where as many as 50 million people are lactose intolerant, including 90 percent of all Asian-Americans and 75 percent of all African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Jews. The myplate.gov site helpfully suggests that those people drink lactose-free beverages. (To its credit, it now counts soy milk as “dairy.”)
There’s no mention of water, which is truly nature’s perfect beverage; the site simply encourages us to switch to low-fat milk. But, says Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”
Three months ago he gave up dairy as a test as he tried to break his reliance on acid-reducing drugs like Prevacid to treat his gastric reflux.
… three months ago, I decided to give up dairy products as a test. Twenty-four hours later, my heartburn was gone. Never, it seems, to return. In fact, I can devour linguine puttanesca (with anchovies) and go to bed an hour later; fellow heartburn sufferers will be impressed. Perhaps equally impressive is that I mentioned this to a friend who had the same problem, tried the same approach, and had the same results. Presto! No dairy, no heartburn! (A third had no success. Hey, it’s not a controlled double-blind experiment, but there is no downside to trying it.)
Osteoporosis? You don’t need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine. Most humans never tasted fresh milk from any source other than their mother for almost all of human history, and fresh cow’s milk could not be routinely available to urbanites without industrial production. The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.
… and at the end of the day he says “There’s nothing un-American about re-evaluating those commitments with an eye toward sensibility. Meanwhile, pass the water.”
If you’ve never listened to The Memory Palace now’s a good time to start. It was just added to to the Maximum Fun group of podcasts (along with others like Judge John Hodgeman and Jordan, Jessie, Go!). It’s a wonderful, small podcast that, with each, gives you new, pointedly short, surprising story about the past. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical, often an wonderful mix of both, each episode aims to be the best kind of day-changing, watercooler story. For history buffs, fact-fans, fans of This American Life and RadioLab.
As of today, July 11, 2012, the Memory Palace is part of the Maximum Fun family of podcasts. Maximum Fun is a network of sorts, but I think of it as a collective. There are a bunch of podcasts. A guy named Jesse Thorn (whom you may know from his own podcast and public radio show, Bullseye, nee The Sound of Young America, or any number of other fine cultural whatnots) has brought them all together under one umbrella. It’s all rather punk rock (in economic sense of the word; it is decidedly un-punk rock in most others).
So, what does that mean for you, Memory Palace listener? Well, the best thing is that it means you’ll be getting a new episode at least once a month. Which is great. And I do think the web community, commenting, sharing, etc. will be cool for a lot of you. Maybe there’ll be T-shirts. I don’t know. I haven’t figured it all out yet.
To commemorate this change Nate DiMeo (the guy that creates these) has put together a 19-minute version with three favorite stories from old episodes.
… so there’s a bit of a dust-up in the British Parliament over the reform of the House of Lords and a writer for The Awl has hilariously summarized it. If you have even a passing interest in seeing the inner workings of a government other than our own (or jsut like funny writing) you should check it out.
The government is trying to push the law through the various procedural hoops necessary, but is facing rebellion in their own ranks. 91 Tory MPs—nearly a third of their caucus—voted against moving it to the next stage of the process last week, despite the fact that doing so will mean getting fired from leadership positions for some of them. David Cameron chewed out rebel leader Jesse Norman in front of everyone else; afterwards, an anonymous Tory (according to the Guardian) called Cameron’s behavior “‘disgraceful’ and a return to his ‘Flashman character,’” the latter referring to a posh bully in a 19th century British novel. “Flashman” is what Labour MPs usually shout at Cameron, so you know things are bad.Labour is ostensibly in favor of the bill, but keeps voting to extend debate on it, which is the opposite of useful in terms of getting it passed, because Labour enjoys nothing so much as watching the Tories tear themselves to bits.
Two really neat features on the n+1 website right now for all you architecture and urban planning geeks…
1. BERMAN’S CHILDREN about the Brooklyn Heights Historic District and the first for (and against) the Atlantic Yards project.
At the northern edge of the District sits the construction site of Atlantic Yards. Infamously, the twenty-two acres of land were in part purchased by Forest City Ratner (FCR) and in part handed over by the state of New York through the exercise of eminent domain. Announced in 2003, Atlantic Yards was initially to contain a Frank Gehry–designed complex of residential towers and an arena for the Brooklyn (née New Jersey) Nets. Since then, largely economic troubles have led to a cost-conscious redesign — Gehry’s out, prefab’s in — and a de facto extension of the completion schedule from ten to twenty-five years.
Efforts to designate the Prospect Heights Historic District began in 2006 and came to fruition in the summer of 2009. The Yards, in some sense, created the District.
2. THE OTHER MODERNISM about the Brutalistic style that has become the red-headed stepchild of the Modernism movement in the 50’s and 60’s.
These days, when architecture is supposed to be either pleasant or slick, it can be startling to remember that for a brief, brilliant moment, the reigning style, particularly for civic buildings, was something called Brutalism. It’s worth considering what we’ve gained and lost since that moment, especially with the passing away, reported at the end of June, of Gerhard Kallmann, one of the authors of Boston City Hall (1968), which represented perhaps the apex of that style in the United States.
Remember how, in 2007, you didn’t know what CDOs and credit default swaps were? Remember how you heard what was going on and you were amazed how there were no safeguards in place to prevent folks from so clearly gaming the system… and how it seemed as though regulators just played along?
Replace CDO with LIBOR and welcome to 2012. Here’s how the folks at Planet Money (you can hear their run-down of the situation here) describe it.
There’s a certain amount of trust underpinning the financial markets. But recent news out of the United Kingdom has shaken the world’s faith in a key element of the system.
That element is the number banks use to determine how much to charge their customers — think of it as the measuring stick that determines nearly every other other interest rate around: mortgages, credit cards, corporate loans, complex derivatives transactions. It’s called LIBOR, or the London Interbank Offered Rate, and it pretty much underpins everything.
As said by Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, in the wake of the LIBOR scandal:
It is time to do something about the banking system… Many people in the banking industry are hardworking and feel badly let down by some of their colleagues and leaders. It goes to the culture and the structure of banks: the excessive compensation, the shoddy treatment of customers, the deceitful manipulation of a key interest rate, and today, news of yet another mis-selling scandal.
How CNN and Fox screwed up the Obamacare reporting
If you’re not done with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act just quite yet, there’s a really good blow-by-blow report on the SCOTUSblog on how some folks got the reporting on the ruling so wrong initially.
The Court’s own technical staff prepares to load the opinion on to the Court’s website. In years past, the Court would have emailed copies of the decision to the Solicitor General and the parties’ lawyers once it was announced. But now it relies only on its website, where opinions are released approximately two minutes later. The week before, the Court declined our request that it distribute this opinion to the press by email; it has complete faith in the exceptional effort it has made to ensure that the website will not fail.
But it does. At this moment, the website is the subject of perhaps greater demand than any other site on the Internet — ever. It is the one and only place where anyone in the country not at the building — including not just the public, but press editors and the White House — can get the ruling. And millions of people are now on the site anxiously looking for the decision. They multiply the burden of their individual visits many times over — hitting refresh again, and again, and again. In the face of the crushing demand, the Court cannot publish its own decision.
The opinion will not appear on the website for a half-hour. So everyone in the country not personally at 1 First St., NE in Washington, DC is completely dependent on the press to get the decision right.
The organization went through several homes as it grew, ending up at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley streets in the Back Bay. The 1883 map below shows the location, opposite the Museum of Natural History and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Men could find housing, read in the library, attend lectures, take classes and exercise. This was part of the ‘muscular Christianity’ movement of the time.
… and the second (and current) location on Huntington Ave. This picture is c.1920
I was reading about that new Boeing airliner (the 787) and found out that, because it’s skin is carbon fiber rather that metal, it allows for higher cabin pressures (like Denver atmospheric pressure rather than that above 8,000 feet) and higher humidity because the carbon fiber is resistant to corrosion. All of this means that folks on flights shouldn’t be quite so parched and exhausted upon arrival at their destination. Pretty neat.
Blake Emery, the Boeing director who drove the 787 cabin improvements, said the company’s research showed passenger discomfort on today’s regular flights — where the air pressure at high altitude is typically set to the equivalent of about 8,000 feet — shows up in the form of headaches, muscle cramps, and feelings of fatigue after three to five hours.
Boeing is able to pressurize the cabin more because the composite plastic fuselage can better withstand the constant up-down cycle of pressure changes.Also, the debut flight in the US was a non-stop flight to Tokyo originating here in Boston. Go Logan!