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In the News 29.12.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 29.12.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 29.12.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 29.12.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A Plan to Make America 1953 Again

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It is axiomatic that if someone is sufficiently eager to disbelieve something, there is no Everest of evidence too large to be ignored. This explains today’s revival of protectionism, which is a plan to make America great again by making it 1953 again.

This was when manufacturing’s postwar share of the labor force peaked at about 30 percent. The decline that began then was not caused by manufactured imports from today’s designated villain, China, which was a peasant society. Rather, the war-devastated economies of competitor nations were reviving. And, domestically, the age of highly technological manufacturing was dawning.

Since 1900, the portion of the U.S. workforce in agriculture has declined from 41 percent to less than 2 percent. Output per remaining farmer and per acre has soared since millions of agricultural workers made the modernization trek from farms to more productive employment in city factories. Was this trek regrettable?

Read the rest of this article at The Washington Post

Police Memoirs: How Officers Are Making Crime Pay

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You like smoking dope, have no particular educational qualifications, have designed your own knuckledusters, threatened to kill your dad with a knife and your gang has overturned a car with a rival gang inside it – so what do you choose as a career? The police, of course. This is what we learned from An Inspector Recalls by Graham Satchwell (The History Press), one of a batch of increasingly frank police memoirs; the genre goes back two centuries and provides an invaluable prism through which we can see how and by whom our laws are enforced. Once the most senior detective working the railway beat, Satchwell gives us Life on Mars through the eyes of a remarkably frank Martian and much of it is winsomely light-hearted. We meet one of his colleagues whose specialty in chasing villains was shouting “Stop or I’ll let the dog loose!” followed by a realistic alsatian bark.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

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‘Duck Dynasty’ vs. ‘Modern Family’:
50 Maps of the U.S. Cultural Divide

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If you had to guess how strongly a place supported Donald J. Trump in the election, would you rather know how popular ‘Duck Dynasty’ is there, or how George W. Bush did there in 2000? It turns out the relationship with the TV show is stronger.

That’s how closely connected politics and culture can be.

The cultural divide largely falls along urban/rural lines. We saw a similar divide in November, with Hillary Clinton winning in cities, college towns, Native American reservations and areas with black and Hispanic majorities. Mr. Trump earned more votes in rural areas.

When we looked at how many active Facebook users in a given ZIP code “liked” certain TV shows, we found that the 50 most-liked shows clustered into three groups with distinct geographic distributions. Together they reveal a national culture split among three regions: cities and their suburbs; rural areas; and what we’re calling the extended Black Belt — a swath that extends from the Mississippi River along the Eastern Seaboard up to Washington, but also including city centers and other places with large nonwhite populations.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

The Case Against Sugar

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‘Virtually zero.’ That’s a reasonable estimate of the probability that public health authorities in the foreseeable future will successfully curb the worldwide epidemics of obesity and diabetes, at least according to Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) – a person who should know. Virtually zero is the likelihood, Chan said at the National Academy of Medicine’s annual meeting in October, that she and her many colleagues worldwide will successfully prevent ‘a bad situation’ from ‘getting much worse’. That Chan also described these epidemics as a ‘slow-motion disaster’ suggests the critical nature of the problem: ‘population-wide’ explosions in the prevalence of obesity along with increases in the occurrence of diabetes that frankly strain the imagination: a disease that leads to blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and premature death, and that was virtually non-existent in hospital inpatient records from the mid-19th century, now afflicts one in 11 Americans; in some populations, as many as one in two adults are diabetic.

Read the rest of this article at aeon

Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?

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In 2012, network scientist and data theorist Samuel Arbesman published a disturbing thesis: What we think of as established knowledge decays over time. According to his book “The Half-Life of Facts,” certain kinds of propositions that may seem bulletproof today will be forgotten by next Tuesday; one’s reality can end up out of date. Take, for example, the story of Popeye and his spinach.

Popeye loved his leafy greens and used them to obtain his super strength, Arbesman’s book explained, because the cartoon’s creators knew that spinach has a lot of iron. Indeed, the character would be a major evangelist for spinach in the 1930s, and it’s said he helped increase the green’s consumption in the U.S. by one-third. But this “fact” about the iron content of spinach was already on the verge of being obsolete, Arbesman said: In 1937, scientists realized that the original measurement of the iron in 100 grams of spinach — 35 milligrams — was off by a factor of 10. That’s because a German chemist named Erich von Wolff had misplaced a decimal point in his notebook back in 1870, and the goof persisted in the literature for more than half a century.

By the time nutritionists caught up with this mistake, the damage had been done. The spinach-iron myth stuck around in spite of new and better knowledge, wrote Arbesman, because “it’s a lot easier to spread the first thing you find, or the fact that sounds correct, than to delve deeply into the literature in search of the correct fact.”

Read the rest of this article at FiveThirtyEight

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @adashofdetails, @lindseybrunk, @lenaterlutter