Recent Articles

Unsurprising new study: homeopathy does not work

| March 14, 2015 | Reply

Here is yet more proof that homeopathy does not work.

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Is NASA’s launch site at risk to go underwater? Science Denying Senator Ted Cruz doesn’t want to know.

| March 13, 2015 | Reply

This is what you get when you empower climate change deniers. Ted Cruz wants NASA to quit gathering data regarding threats to the Earth’s climate. Here’s how NASA Administrator Bolden responded to Cruz:

We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it – and that’s understanding our environment. As Senator Nelson said, it is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place that we have to live.

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Why internet service in the United States is slow and expensive

| March 13, 2015 | Reply

Why is internet service in the United States is slow and expensive? Gizmodo explains.

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Republicans: Motivated by Fear

| March 11, 2015 | 4 Replies

Randa Morris of Addicting Information examines the root of modern right wing ideology:

We know that conservatives respond strongly to negative stimuli. We know that they are motivated by fear, or what researchers describe as ‘perceived threats’. We know that conservatives are often deeply insecure. Hibbings research also suggests that conservatives view themselves as part of a small group, and that they perceive those outside of the group as a threat to the well being of the group itself. That knowledge goes a long way toward explaining conservatives attitudes toward immigration as well as their hatred of minorities, non Christians and others who fall outside of their elite circle. Going one step further, it seems that there is a belief that everyone outside of the group is a threat to the group itself.

One thing we still don’t know is whether conservatives are born with these tendencies or whether they learn them throughout life. Is it nature or nurture? One thing is for sure, those at the top of the right wing food chain know very well how to exploit their base through fear and negativity. The extreme right wing operates very much like a religious cult. The main job of the cult leaders is to keep the members fearful and distrusting of everyone outside of the group, thus ensuring that they can continue to control the message.

I tend to believe that the right wing media is the cause of the underlying psychology that researchers observe in conservative personalities. Logically speaking, how many people would be afraid of absurd conspiracy theories like Agenda 21 or Obamacare death panels or FEMA camps, if the right wing media didn’t disseminate so many lies? The same goes for just about any of things that conservatives fear, from immigrant children to any form of sane gun control, the conservative media keeps these people afraid at all times.

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Public Justice: CFPB should ban mandatory arbitration

| March 8, 2015 | 1 Reply

Arthur Bryant of Public Justice argues that the CFPB should ban mandatory arbitration.

Recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court have given banks, credit card companies, and all other lenders a license to steal billions from consumers and small businesses. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has the power to rescind that license. On Tuesday, at a hearing in Newark, the CFPB is expected to announce whether it will do so. If it does what the facts and law require, it must.

In two cases in the past four years, the Supreme Court allowed corporations to charge allegedly illegal fees to millions of consumers and small businesses, net billions, and walk away with the money. The corporations’ form “agreements” barred all lawsuits against the companies, required consumers and small businesses to pursue their claims individually in arbitration, and banned class actions. The court enforced these agreements, even though that meant the companies would never be held accountable.

Sadly, these two cases weren’t anomalies. Far too many lenders cheat and mislead consumers, charging inflated and illegal fees or interest. But the court has given them near-total immunity.

Thankfully, that can be changed – and should be soon. When Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, it created the CFPB and required the new agency to study the use of arbitration clauses by lenders. Congress said that the CFPB should prohibit or limit their use if it found that they harm consumers. The evidence proves that forced-arbitration clauses hurt consumers badly.

This issue affects everyone in America.

Here’s the bottom line:

The primary effect of mandatory-arbitration clauses is to suppress claims by consumers, allow corporations to break the law, and prevent our civil justice system from providing injunctive relief (like having debts forgiven or credit records cleared) and compensation to millions of consumers;

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The CFPB should ban mandatory arbitration clauses and rescind the lenders’ license to steal. Consumers are entitled to what is engraved on the front of the Supreme Court – “Equal Justice Under Law” – not what the Supreme Court has given them:

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Original version of the “Pledge of Allegiance” recited by Porky Pig

| March 7, 2015 | Reply

No “under God” in the original. That bit of obvious conflation of church and state was jammed into the pledge in the 50’s:

If saying the pledge makes us better citizens or makes our country better, maybe we should say it 20 times per day, bowing in homage as we chatter those words. Or, of course, we could actually do the hard work of making ourselves better citizens or making our country better.

And here is a version of the pledge that reflects my feelings about forcing kids to repeatedly recite jingoistic formulaic speeches they don’t understand:

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Lee Camp takes on apathy

| March 6, 2015 | Reply

Lee camp takes on apathy. In fact, he advocates for a “war on apathy.”

Camp is on a roll. Check out his harpooning of Willie Soon, climate change denier expert who has been on the take from the fossil fuel industry without disclosing this inconvenient fact.

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High ceilings and abstract thinking

| March 5, 2015 | Reply

I’m now living in house with 10 foot ceilings, almost two feet taller than the ceilings in my previous house. I now read that these new tall ceilings might affect the way I think.

Across several experiments, the researchers found evidence that high ceilings seemed to put test participants in a mindset of freedom, creativity, and abstraction, whereas the lower ceilings prompting more confined thinking.

In one test, for instance, participants in the 10-foot room completed anagrams about freedom (with words such as “liberated” or “unlimited”) significantly faster than participants in the eight-foot room did. But when the anagrams were related to concepts of constraint, with words like “bound or “restricted,” the situation played out in reverse. Now the test participants with 10-foot ceilings finished the puzzles slower than those in the eight-foot rooms did.

Another experiment asked participants to identify commonalities among a list of 10 different sports. Those in the high-ceiling group came up with more of these themes, and had their themes judged more abstract in nature, compared with participants in the low-ceiling group. Meyers-Levy and Zhu suspect this outcome emerged from the psychological freedom that comes with taller ceilings—a mindset that might also enhance creative thinking.

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Urban-Suburban Donut changing

| March 4, 2015 | Reply

Inner urban areas are being repopulated and revived.

The long-standing urban-suburban divide in education, income, race and other characteristics is being turned on its head as college-educated Millennials crowd into U.S. cities, new research shows.

Putting urban neighborhoods under a microscope, a University of Virginia researcher has concluded that the traditional urban “donut” pattern — a ring of thriving suburbs surrounding a decaying city center — is being replaced by a new pattern: a thriving urban core surrounded by a ring of suburbs with older housing, older residents and more poverty.

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