Let’s talk some more about racism

When Obama was elected in 2008 there was a brief moment when (mostly white, mostly conservative) folks celebrated the end of racism. “A black man is president!” they said. “That must mean racism is over!” I don’t think these folks ever really believed that racism existed in the first place. They read it instead as an excuse — it was just a scam by black people to get a free ride from the government and shut people up.

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Comparison shopping while sick

It can be difficult to impossible to know who is treating you and why.

Earlier this month I went to the doctor for a checkup. I left with medications that I will probably take for the rest of my life. Most were cheap, but one — a statin — costs $2 a dose. As near as I can tell, I don’t need it and am better off without it. My cholesterol numbers are quite good. Even the doctor said so. But he prescribed the statin any way, because why not? I can think of about 720 reasons annually.

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Format Wars

Textbook companies are eager to replace their paper books with electronic ones, but apparently it is harder to learn from an ebook than it is a paper one. Stavanger University researchers, for example, find it is harder to put plot points in order when the text is read through an electronic device. They say it might be the haptic qualities of paper that improve memory:

[The differences for Kindle readers] might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story, is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you are reading. Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.

The source material for the study was only twenty-eight pages, though, so how much physicality plays into it is debatable. And with only fifty people in the study, even significant differences could be statistical noise.

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Just Like Starting Over

My son, standing in the New River while my web site dies.

I was wading in the New River this weekend when I got an automated email message saying my web site was down. The New River is huge and ancient. It’s the third oldest river in the world. And it’s been in my metaphorical back yard for about eleven (non-continuous) years, but this weekend was the first time I had actually ever touched the water while it was still in the actual river.

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