Graduate from college – going home, staying or moving on?

net-migration

❝ This year’s election has forced Americans to take notice of class divisions between workers. And while these divisions may at first ring of lazy stereotypes — the rural Rust Belt worker without a college degree and the coastal urban college-educated worker — they’re rooted in a real dynamic. Many of the most skilled workers — young people with college degrees — are leaving struggling regions of America for cities, specifically for cities in Southern and coastal states.

There are clear economic reasons for their choice. Dense metro areas tend to produce more jobs and make workers more productive. Wages, for all kinds of workers, are also higher.

❝ In theory, these incentives should prompt workers of all levels of education to move to metro areas. But moving outside one’s region is relatively rare these days, and even more rare for someone without a college degree

❝ For America’s first century, internal migration was largely driven by farming — moving west to new land. But toward the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century, migration began to be driven by people moving to American cities — small and large.

This pattern added a twist after World War II, when more people began moving outside their local region, particularly to the Sunbelt. Before the 1940s, roughly 15 percent of Americans lived outside a census division in which they were born, and by 1970 that had jumped to 25 percent.

❝ But in the 1980s, people started moving less. Internal migration has been in gradual decline ever since across all demographic groups…In the regional competition for the most skilled and most mobile workers in America, noncoastal states are at a disadvantage. Although they have some large cities, they tend to be farther from other large cities than is the case in the coastal areas…This advantage provided by clusters of cities is helpful for coastal states, which tend to contain many big metro areas, like San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco in California, or the so-called Acela corridor stretching from Washington to Boston. But it can be bad news for inland areas with one or two large cities that are farther apart…

Folks in the article make the best point – for me – and that is the jobs also have to be someplace you want to live. Otherwise, it’s just a stop along the way…

American students unable to differentiate between fake news and real

❝ Stanford researchers assessed students from middle school to college and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.

❝ If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.

That’s one implication of a new study from Stanford researchers that evaluated students’ ability to assess information sources and described the results as “dismaying,” “bleak” and “a threat to democracy.”…

❝ Middle school, high school and college students in 12 states were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. More than 7,800 student responses were collected.

In exercise after exercise, the researchers were “shocked” — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.

The students displayed a “stunning and dismaying consistency” in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren’t looking for high-level analysis of data but just a “reasonable bar” of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles.

More than 80 percent of middle schoolers believed that ‘sponsored content’ was a real news story…

RTFA and spoil your weekend. Or not. Maybe you’re not surprised. The details are kind of overwhelming.

Ready for silicon-carbon lifeforms?


Click to enlargeLei Chen, Yan Liang

❝ A new study is the first to show that living organisms can be persuaded to make silicon-carbon bonds–something only chemists had done before. Scientists at Caltech “bred” a bacterial protein to make the man-made bonds–a finding that has applications in several industries.

❝ Molecules with silicon-carbon, or organosilicon, compounds are found in pharmaceuticals as well as in many other products, including agricultural chemicals, paints, semiconductors, and computer and TV screens. Currently, these products are made synthetically, since the silicon-carbon bonds are not found in nature.

Well – not on Earth. As far as we know.

❝ The new study demonstrates that biology can instead be used to manufacture these bonds in ways that are more environmentally friendly and potentially much less expensive…

The study is also the first to show that nature can adapt to incorporate silicon into carbon-based molecules, the building blocks of life. Scientists have long wondered if life on Earth could have evolved to be based on silicon instead of carbon…Carbon and silicon are chemically very similar. They both can form bonds to four atoms simultaneously, making them well suited to form the long chains of molecules found in life, such as proteins and DNA…

❝ In the new study, the goal was not just to improve an enzyme’s biological function but to actually persuade it to do something that it had not done before…

After only three rounds, they had created an enzyme that can selectively make silicon-carbon bonds 15 times more efficiently than the best catalyst invented by chemists. Furthermore, the enzyme is highly selective, which means that it makes fewer unwanted byproducts that have to be chemically separated out.

Evolution is an opportunist process. To me, it seems logical that elements with solid mutating capabilities are as likely to evolve into life forms as readily as carbon given a realistic setting.

Love for an educator is more powerful than the ignorant can understand

Dawson Tamatea had been a teacher at New Zealand’s Palmerston North High Boys School for nearly 30 years when he passed away suddenly of natural causes at the age of 55…The boys’ performance is a version of a “haka:” a traditional dance of the New Zealand aboriginals, called Maori. Originally performed to intimidate enemies, the haka is a powerful symbol in New Zealand culture and a fitting tribute to Mr. Tamatea’s impact.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In — by Bernie Sanders

❝ When Bernie Sanders began his race for the presidency, it was considered by the political establishment and the media to be a “fringe” campaign, something not to be taken seriously. After all, he was just an independent senator from a small state with little name recognition. His campaign had no money, no political organization, and it was taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment.

❝ By the time Sanders’s campaign came to a close, however, it was clear that the pundits had gotten it wrong. Bernie had run one of the most consequential campaigns in the modern history of the country. He had received more than 13 million votes in primaries and caucuses throughout the country, won twenty-two states, and more than 1.4 million people had attended his public meetings. Most important, he showed that the American people were prepared to take on the greed and irresponsibility of corporate America and the 1 percent.

❝ In Our Revolution, Sanders shares his personal experiences from the campaign trail, recounting the details of his historic primary fight and the people who made it possible. And for the millions looking to continue the political revolution, he outlines a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that will create jobs, raise wages, protect the environment, and provide health care for all―and ultimately transform our country and our world for the better. For him, the political revolution has just started. The campaign may be over, but the struggle goes on.

As usual, I will be wending my own Leftward way through this life politic. Been this way for over 60 years. May as well keep it up.

For most, early in your life of confronting the conformity of capitulation in the American class struggle – I suggest you at least stay in touch with Bernie. He’s one of the few in Washington worth listening to. Or reading.

The Dutch have a prison crisis — they’re running out of prisoners

❝ While the UK and much of the world struggles with overcrowded prisons, the Netherlands has the opposite problem. It is actually short of people to lock up. In the past few years 19 prisons have closed down and more are slated for closure next year. How has this happened – and why do some people think it’s a problem?…

…Learning to cook is just one of the ways the prison helps offenders to get back on track after their release…”In the Dutch service we look at the individual”…says Jan Roelof van der Spoel, deputy governor of Norgerhaven, a high-security prison in the north-east of the Netherlands.

“If somebody has a drug problem we treat their addiction, if they are aggressive we provide anger management, if they have got money problems we give them debt counselling. So we try to remove whatever it was that caused the crime. The inmate himself or herself must be willing to change but our method has been very effective. Over the last 10 years, our work has improved more and more.”…

He adds that some persistent offenders – known in the trade as “revolving-door criminals” – are eventually given two-year sentences and tailor-made rehabilitation programmes. Fewer than 10% then return to prison after their release. In England and Wales, and in the United States, roughly half of those serving short sentences reoffend within two years, and the figure is often higher for young adults…

❝ A decade ago the Netherlands had one of the highest incarceration rates in Europe, but it now claims one of the lowest – 57 people per 100,000 of the population, compared with 148 in England and Wales.

But better rehabilitation is not the only reason for the sharp decline in the Dutch prison population – from 14,468 in 2005 to 8,245 last year – a drop of 43%.

❝ The peak in 2005 was partly due to improved screening at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, which resulted in an explosion in the numbers of drug mules caught carrying cocaine.

Today the police have new priorities, according to Pauline Schuyt, a criminal law professor from the southern city of Leiden. “They have shifted their focus away from drugs and now concentrate on fighting human trafficking and terrorism,” she says.

In addition, Dutch judges often use alternatives to prison such as community service orders, fines and electronic tagging of offenders…”Sometimes it is better for people to stay in their jobs, stay with their families and do the punishment in another way,” says Angeline van Dijk, director of the prison service…

“We have shorter prison sentences and a decreasing crime rate here in the Netherlands so that is leading to empty cells.”

The desire to protect prison service jobs has sparked another surprising solution – the import of foreign inmates from Norway and Belgium.

In a thoughtful society, one considering useful employment to be available for all, the question of prison closures is significant. One of the bright spots on that front – is importing prisoners from other countries. In the Netherlands, prisoners from Belgium and Norway are taking up residence in cells empty of local prisoners.

RTFA. Lots of anecdotal discussion. It surely would be nice in many Western nations to have a “problem” like this one.

New Hampshire now the least religious state in the United States

❝ New Hampshire is the least religious state in the U.S., edging out Vermont in Gallup’s 2015 state-by-state analysis…Mississippi has extended its eight-year streak as the most religious state, followed closely by neighboring Alabama…

Hmmm. Think education has anything to do with this?

❝ Gallup classifies Americans into three religious groups based on their responses to a question measuring religious service attendance and how important religion is in their daily life.

Very religious Americans are those who say religion is important to them and who attend services every week or almost every week.

Nonreligious Americans are those for whom religion is not important and who seldom or never attend religious services.

Moderately religious Americans meet just one of the criteria, either saying religion is important or that they attend services almost every week or more.

❝ Gallup began tracking several religious indicators on a daily basis in 2008. Some of these indicators have shown significant change over this time, most notably the percentage of Americans who report no formal religious identity when asked to name their religious preference. But the percentage classified as very religious on the basis of their attendance and view on the importance of religion has stayed remarkably stable.

Yup. My view on the not-usefulness of religion hasn’t changed since 1951. Been an atheist ever since. Extended the depth of that understanding through studies in science and philosophy in following years.

More and younger first-timers than expected are now buying homes


Click to enlarge [har]This is what 1265 sq.ft. can get you, for example

❝ For years, the U.S. housing market looked bleak for young couples hoping to buy their first homes but struggling with high student debt, low pay and meager down-payment savings.

But a new survey by the real estate firm Zillow suggests that first-time buyers may be entering the market in greater numbers than industry watchers had assumed.

❝ Over the past year…nearly half of home sales have gone to first-timers. That’s a much higher proportion than some other industry estimates had indicated. And it comes as a surprise in part because ownership rates for adults under 34 are at their lowest levels since the government began tracking the figure in 1994.

Zillow’s survey results suggest that the trend is shifting, and that some of this year’s growth in home sales has come from a wave of college-educated couples in their 30s, who are the most common first-time buyers…

❝ If the pattern in Zillow’s survey holds, it could raise hopes that today’s vast generation of 18-to-34-year-old millennials will help support the housing market as more of them move into their 30s.

The 168-page report…also found that home ownership is increasingly the domain of the college-educated. And it reported that older Americans who are looking to downsize are paying premiums for smaller houses…

Gradually, oh so gradually, Americans are beginning to comprehend the sense of smaller homes. Letting size in and of itself describe your lifestyle is as silly as voting for Trump. The reality TV portion of American culture still seems to believe every 1950’s advertisement left in the hopper. But, smaller homes are cheaper to heat and cool. They take less effort to keep clean and healthy.

Yes, we’re still a country that buys the biggest car or truck on the lot when gasoline prices drop below $3/gallon. So, while I wish folks well – those first home-buyers of new or not-so-new homes – I hope they continue to learn about energy efficiency, environmental sanity. Maybe even a lifestyle comfortable enough for our species in tandem with the rest of Earth’s species.