Comparison you didn’t notice (2) …

Matthew Dowd
@matthewjdowd

We are not in the top ten countries in the world in rankings on freedom, democracy, health, happiness, quality of life, education, income and sex and race equality. Maybe we should let go of American exceptionalism and begin to learn from countries that are doing better than us.

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…unless you wander through TWITTER

How much of the world’s porn traffic is directed to the GOUSA?

So, all the protestations of piety from our politicians, blathering self-congratulation [or is it self-gratification?] from priests and pundits, seems to come to naught. Just maybe it’s because most Americans don’t consider porn a big deal in their lives.

They’re wrong, of course. Especially since it seems to be about 99% constructed to service male supremacy. Though, I also think that’s another expression of the lameness of individual feelings of power and voice in this society. Frankly, not the highest priority for economic analysis on my horizon.

Anyway – here’s the link to Pornhub’s Annual Report to the congregation. Some of it is worth a chuckle.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Our plastic crap ends up in the Arctic


BURP! — Wildest Arctic

❝ Of course, all our plastic crap ends up in the Arctic.

It isn’t freaking Narnia!

❝ The Arctic, in our popular imagination, is a frozen expanse teetering figuratively and literally on the edges of human culture. It remains primal and wild and unsullied by human contagions…

The Arctic, as a physical place, is directly connected to the same ecosystems that we humans are polluting closer to home. It’s foolish to think that harming one part of a connected ecosystem doesn’t harm the others, as a study released on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances makes clear. The study found that even in the remote Arctic we can’t escape the megatons of plastic waste humanity unleashes upon the world…

❝ Plastic in the world’s oceans has been a growing concern since at least 1997 when Charles Moore stumbled across the Great Pacific Garbage patch as he crossed the Pacific after competing in the Transpacific Yacht Race. Today we know that there are at least six main garbage patches filled with plastic plaguing the seas. By some estimates as much as 300,000 tons of plastics are in the world’s oceans…

❝ Plastic in the ocean isn’t just unsightly. In fact, the plastic debris that we see is less of a problem than the plastic that is too small to see easily. That’s because plastic never biodegrades. It doesn’t revert back to its molecular elements the way other materials do.

Given enough time a leaf laying on the soil floor will be eaten by bugs and microbes to become soil that once again provides the tree with nourishment. Given enough time plastic will become a smaller piece of plastic. That’s it – this stuff never goes away. Eventually, after being buffeted about by sun and salt water, it becomes small enough that sea animals confuse it with morsels of food such as seaweed, or plankton. A 2015 study found that roughly 20 percent of small fish have plastic in their bellies. Researchers have also found that some northern fulmar’s, a sea bird that hangs out mostly in the subarctic, have elevated levels of ingested plastic. Plastic it seems, is not just an occasional snack, but a steady part of their diets. Tasty.

Most societies, most governments – which you might think would know better – still think of oceans as an open sewer. You can throw any of your society’s debris in and it will somehow disappear.

Wrong.

Tobacco users increase their own marginalization in society

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research shows a new dimension to the marginalization of smokers: people who smoke are less likely to vote than their non-smoking peers.

“On one hand, the result is intuitive. We know from previous research that smokers are an increasingly marginalized population, involved in fewer organizations and activities and with less interpersonal trust than nonsmokers. But what our research suggests is that this marginalization may also extend beyond the interpersonal level to attitudes toward political systems and institutions,” says Karen Albright, PhD…Colorado School of Public Health…

The data comes from the Colorado Tobacco Attitudes and Behaviors Study (C-TABS), a questionnaire administered by Arnold Levinson, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center, director of the University Health Smoking Cessation Program, and the paper’s senior author.

Through random digit dialing, the study reached 11,626 people who completed a telephone survey querying a range of demographic, social, and behavioral factors. Questions included smoking behaviors and whether the respondent had voted in a recent election. Overall, 17 percent of respondents were smokers. Holding all other variables constant (included variables of socioeconomic status that were strongly associated with smoking), daily smokers were 60 percent less likely to vote than nonsmokers.

The study is the first to link a health-risk behavior with electoral participation, building on the work of a previous Swedish study that found an association between smoking and political mistrust. Voting is a direct behavioral measure of civic and political engagement that at least partly reflects trust in formal political institutions.

Albright points out that, like many studies that use statistics to describe the behaviors of a population, the current study creates as many questions as it answers, most notably why smokers are less likely to vote. One possibility is that smokers may view political institutions as oppressors, given widespread enactment of tobacco taxes and clean indoor air laws. Somewhat similarly, the stigma associated with smoking may create social withdrawal or feelings of depression or fatalism among smokers, which could decrease voting.

Or…given the key social question asked most often at this blog, “are they ignorant or stupid?” – the pretty generalized understanding of the dangers of smoking seems to indicate these people are stupid.

America is a Christian nation — Really?

Christian nation, har!
Click to enlarge

I’m so sick of the Christian Right not understanding that being a Christian nation and a nation that is majority Christian are two different things. From Paws and Claws, a newsletter by Ursarodinia

Couldn’t agree more. I was raised in a mostly Christian family. Folks studied other religions as part of understanding the whole world. Some stayed Christian – in mainstream churches. A few, like me, moved on to materialist philosophy and science, atheists.

No one wandered off into the rejection of knowledge and science, history and progress, so characteristic of American Christian fundamentalists.

The only way you get to be “smarter” than folks from the 14th Century is to study and learn what brought humanity out of the Dark Ages and into modernity.

Why are young American women more ambitious than men?

In a headline that calls out for attention — “A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations” — the Pew Research Center reports that two-thirds of young women now say “being successful in a high-paying career or profession” is one of the most important goals in their lives.

While it may not be surprising that these women express more ambition than their mothers and grandmothers, it is surprising when they also display more ambition than their male peers. Is this a sign, then, that we are witnessing “a gender reversal”? Or does it represent a kind of denial — on the part of young women and men — about the obstacles they will ultimately face at the workplace and in life..?

Yet…young people are not only postponing marriage, they are also far more likely than earlier generations to believe it is better to stay single than to enter or stay in a dissatisfying relationship. Moreover, while young women see marriage as desirable, they do not believe it is essential to their own happiness or to becoming a parent…

Women are particularly aware of how hard it is to sustain a relationship, especially in the context of persistent work-family conflicts and rising financial uncertainty. An egalitarian partnership may be the ideal, but most young women see self-reliance through paid work as essential to their survival, offering the option to choose the right relationship, maintain a measure of autonomy within it and go it alone if nothing better comes along…

Men’s prospects have dimmed in finding the kind of stable jobs and careers their fathers and grandfathers took for granted. With the uncertainties of the new economy, where few jobs offer lifetime security, men’s scaled back aspirations are as understandable as women’s rising goals. Men, too, are caught on the horns of a dilemma, torn between the difficulty of establishing a steady career and strong pressures to define their worth by the size of the paycheck.

As women’s career aspirations rise and men’s tumble, this declining gender gap should serve as a wake-up call. Younger generations want to combine the personal pursuit of challenging, well-rewarded paid work with the pleasures and responsibilities of a committed family life. In fact, earlier Pew surveys found 73% of Americans believe that women’s employment has been a “change for the better,” while 62% say that sharing the responsibilities of paid work and rearing children is “more satisfying than a more traditional marriage.”

RTFA. Combine this analysis with the number of women beginning to surpass men in collegiate training, learning – and we may well be seeing the start of something new in the character of our society.

I’ve actually witnessed something similar, a parallel in Eastern European countries as education freed up many young women from traditional definitions. I remember a party I attended after an opening night at the Warsaw Opera notable for a drunken lout, the male spouse of the lead soprano – who also had a second career as a physician. His friends referred to him in a newly-current phrase as “the husband of the wife”.