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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,029

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Segregation’s Long Shadow

By Colin Gordon

As the ongoing protests in Ferguson, Missouri subside from national attention, the conditions that fostered them have only come into clearer view. Greater St. Louis, as I noted in my last blog post at Dissent, has always been a remarkably segregated city; in this regard, it epitomizes the broader patterns of inequality crisscrossing the United States.

By almost any economic metric, the gap between white and black Americans is sustained and substantial. It’s no secret that African Americans earn less; more telling still, the wage gap has widened over the last three decades. In 1979, the median black wage was $13.57, or 82.5 percent of the white median ($16.44). Since then, the median white wage has grown to just over $18.00, while the black median ($14.08 in 2013) has barely budged—slipping to just 76.6 percent of the white median.

The gap widens further when we move from individual wage earners to family or household incomes. In 1967, median black family income was $29,032, or 59.2 percent of the white median of $42,492. In 2012, median black family income ($40,517) was 61.5 percent of white median income ($53,706).

But the jaw-dropping gap is that of wealth. Depending on the survey instrument and the exact definition of “wealth” used, median black wealth sits somewhere around 10 percent of median white wealth. So while the black worker earns about three-quarters the wages of his or her white counterpart and the black family or household claims just under two-thirds the income of its white counterpart, the gap in wealth—with all of its implications for economic security and intergenerational mobility—is dramatically wider. New data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, released earlier this month, confirms this dismal fact.



The Master Of The Art Of Diatom Arrangement

"The Diatomist" is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement. Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.

Police Have a Much Bigger Domestic Abuse Problem Than the NFL

Should the National Football League suspend or ban any player caught assaulting a wife or girlfriend? That seems to be the conventional wisdom since video emerged of running back Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator, even as reports surface that many more NFL players have domestic-abuse records.

While I have no particular objection to a suspension of any length for such players, the public focus on NFL policy seems strange and misplaced to me. Despite my general preference for reducing the prison population, an extremely strong person rendering a much smaller, weaker person unconscious with his fists, as Rice did, is a situation where prison is particularly appropriate. More generally, clear evidence of domestic abuse is something that ought to result in legal sanction. Employers aren't a good stand in for prosecutors, juries, and judges.

Should ex-convicts who abused their partners be denied employment forever? I think not. Our notion should be that they've paid their debt to society in prison. Pressure on the NFL to take a harder line against domestic abuse comes in the context of a society where the crime isn't adequately punished, so I totally understand it. Observing anti-NFL rhetoric, you'd nevertheless get the impression that other employers monitor and sanction domestic abuse incidents by employees. While I have nothing against pressuring the NFL to go beyond what the typical employer does, I fear that vilifying the league has the effect of misleading the public into a belief that it is out of step with general norms on this issue. Domestic violence is less common among NFL players than the general population.

And there is another American profession that has a significantly more alarming problem with domestic abuse. I'd urge everyone who believes in zero tolerance for NFL employees caught beating their wives or girlfriends to direct as much attention—or ideally, even more attention—at police officers who assault their partners. Several studies have found that the romantic partners of police officers suffer domestic abuse at rates significantly higher than the general population. And while all partner abuse is unacceptable, it is especially problematic when domestic abusers are literally the people that battered and abused women are supposed to call for help.



If there's any job that domestic abuse should disqualify a person from holding, isn't it the one job that gives you a lethal weapon, trains you to stalk people without their noticing, and relies on your judgment and discretion to protect the abused against domestic abusers?

Friday TOON Roundup 2 -The Rest




Mr. Fish

Friday TOON Roundup 1 - One thing R's and D's can agree upon

Mike Luckovich Toon- Don't Leave Mad

Google Surprises LA Teachers By Funding All Classroom Requests On DonorsChoose.org

Google has fully funded the classroom requests of every Los Angeles Unified School District teacher on the education crowd-funding site DonorsChoose.org. As a result of Google’s nearly $1 million donation, 769 Los Angeles teachers will receive materials for their 75,108 students — ranging from paper, pencils and books to laptops, musical instruments and microscopes.

On DonorsChoose.org, teachers post projects requesting materials they need for their classrooms, and donors support the projects that inspire them. Among the projects funded on Monday were bird guides and binoculars for Mrs. Vibbert ‘s students and a bilingual classroom library for Mrs. Perez’s students. Special guest Kevin McHale of Glee was on-hand to surprise Marina Del Rey students with supplies.

“We are so humbled and grateful to Google for their devotion to our teachers and students,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, who also saw similar funding sprees by Google over the past few months for San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin, and Kansas City.

In addition to their project funding initiatives, Google has also supported several DonorsChoose.org programs over the years, including a $5 million AP STEM Access program, which launched over 500 new AP STEM courses at high poverty schools nationwide.


Grand Prairie Homecoming Queen Shares Her Crown with Bullied Classmate

Two friends at a North Texas high school vowed to make up for their classmates' cruel prank by awarding the Grand Prairie High School homecoming crown to one of their best friends.

Lillian Skinner, 17, is described by friends as "just an amazing girl" and "one of the nicest people I've ever met."


But Skinner's sweet and innocent nature also made her the target of a recent prank in which some unnamed girls told her she had been nominated for the homecoming court alongside her longtime best friends, Alvarez and Naomi Martinez, also a GPHS senior.

After learning of the prank, Alvarez and Martinez, who have been friends with Skinner since 7th grade choir, hatched a plan to pass their crown to Skinner should either of them be named homecoming queen.

"We promised each other and we were like, 'No matter what, no backing down. If one of us wins we're giving Lillian the crown,'" Martinez said.



Why dentists are speaking out about the plastic beads in your toothpaste

By Abby PhillipThe tiny plastic beads found in many popular toothpaste brands are approved by regulators, but dentists are becoming increasingly alarmed that the beads could cause more dental hygiene problems than they solve.

Polyethylene plastic beads became all the rage in personal care products -- including toothpastes, face washes and body scrubs -- a few years ago. And the Food and Drug Administration says they're safe.

But the beads do not disintegrate and are not biodegradable, and dentists are concerned that they're getting suck in the tiny crevices of teeth.

"They’ll trap bacteria in the gums which leads to gingivitis, and over time that infection moves from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth, and that becomes periodontal disease," dentist Justin Phillip said, according to Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV. "Periodontal disease is scary.”

The beads are similar to the slightly larger exfoliating beads the Illinois legislature banned this year because the products can't be sifted out of the water supply and can end up in large bodies of water, where they can harm marine life.


This is Stunning: Greenland's Black Snow

By Eric Holthaus
Jason Box knows ice. That’s why what’s happened this year concerns him so much.

Box just returned from a trip to Greenland. Right now, the ice there is … black:

The ice in Greenland this year isn’t just a little dark—it’s record-setting dark. Box says he’s never seen anything like it. I spoke to Box by phone earlier this month, just days after he returned from his summer field research campaign.

“I was just stunned, really,” Box told me.

The photos he took this summer in Greenland are frightening. But their implications are even more so. Just like black cars are hotter to the touch than white ones on sunny summer days, dark ice melts much more quickly.

As a member of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Box travels to Greenland from his home in Copenhagen to track down the source of the soot that’s speeding up the glaciers’ disappearance. He aptly calls his crowdfunded scientific survey Dark Snow.


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