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Science

I Am a Mole Person

And therefore, quite fucked. Link

Studies first uncovered a link between myopia and limited outdoor time during childhood just a few years ago.
...
Some scientists say the benefit could come from exposure to natural light, a relaxation of the eye gained from viewing things at a distance or the visual tableau that reaches the eyes' peripheries while outdoors. Or it could be a mix of all those factors.
...
Aside from spending time outdoors, a person's other behaviors might matter too. The higher myopia rates documented today coincide with a whole generation of children raised on computers, video games and, especially in the Far East, intense pressure to achieve in school. Some researchers cite a long-debated theory linking myopia to excessive reading or other "near work."

So, not only can i blame my parents for poor genetics in the eye department, they're also to blame for all that studying they made me do. *shakes fist* And apparently, once you're near-sighted, it's too late to fix it with more outdoor time. Gah!

Between this and my growing inability to determine what direction a sound is coming from, i'm going to have to learn to be Helen Keller.

This part of the article amused me.

As these theories get vetted, some scientists are already encouraging action. "We need to get the message out to parents," Stell says. "Kick the kids outside."

Morgan agrees, but says cultural expectations might block the way in some of the countries where myopia rates are already soaring. "It's just stunning how strongly organized the life of a Chinese child is toward study," he says. In school, children nap indoors for an hour or two at lunchtime, resting up to do hours of homework later. It would be hard to change this pattern, he says. "When I floated the idea of stopping naps at lunchtime in China, the response was almost like I was advocating child cruelty." Western kids may work hard, Morgan says, "but you ain't seen nothing until you've seen China."

My god, i could have used a lunchtime nap in school. It is cruelty to try taking it away. Course, trying to convince Chinese parents to let their kids run around outside after school is out of the question. No play time until all your homework is completed. At most, you get a snack when you come home, but then it's homework until dinner and then more homework if you didn't finish. Duh.


By min | January 25, 2013, 10:57 AM | Science | Comments (2)| Link



False equivalency alert: the liberal war on science

Scientific American has an article called The Liberals' War on Science. After pointing out that some liberals believe in Creationism (a very legitimate concern: 41% of Democrats apparently believe this) and don't accept global warming as fact (19%), the author says:

On energy issues, for example, the authors contend that progressive liberals tend to be antinuclear because of the waste-disposal problem, anti-fossil fuels because of global warming, antihydroelectric because dams disrupt river ecosystems, and anti-wind power because of avian fatalities. The underlying current is "everything natural is good" and "everything unnatural is bad."

(For what it's worth, min and i use a power provider that uses wind, hydro, and a little solar.)

Maybe worrying about avian fatalities and river ecosystems is extreme, but i think the disposal of nuclear waste is a legitimate concern, and certainly one hopes the author agrees that global warming is. I also think that more liberals would accept nuclear power if an adequate answer to "what happens to the radioactive waste" is provided.

The (short) article then goes on to mention liberal opposition to GMOs. I've also seen similar articles reference people who don't give their children vaccines due to fear that it causes autism. I think both of these are more about distrust of corporations (Monsanto has heavily resisted the idea of the FDA testing their food products, and the pharmaceutical industry weirdly snuck the provision into the Homeland Security Bill that prevented parents from suing them over autism links) but more importantly, the author is comparing fringe views on the left with very mainstream views on the right. There are members of Congress, and even more in the state houses, who don't believe in evolution, believe in Creationism, and deny global warming (and that's not getting into "legitimate rape" biology). I don't think you can find any such equivalent among elected Democrats (just look at the FDA's lack of interest in testing GMOs during the Clinton and Obama administrations; whatever opposition to GMOs there has been, it's a far cry from blocking all efforts to deal with global warming).

I think Scientific American has a legitimate interest in combating all anti-science beliefs. And as liberals we shouldn't just pat ourselves on the back and mock the other tribe; clearly we ought to be doing something about that 41% number! But i think running quotes like "if it is true that conservatives have declared a war on science, then progressives have declared Armageddon" is really counter-productive.


By fnord12 | January 23, 2013, 9:46 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0)| Link



No free time for you

Matthew Yglesias points to a possible new drug that will reduce the need for sleep. But if you were thinking that means i could stay up all night doing comic reviews, Yglesias has a wet blanket of you:

People in certain kinds of high-status professions--CEOs and Ezra Klein and such--will presumably be de facto required to work 18 hour days if they can get by on two hours of sleep. All the way at the other end of the spectrum, people like migrant factory workers in China (or whatever the new China is in terms of sweatshop work) will probably do the same, working super-long workweeks in order to save up money and go back home.

If anything, i think Yglesias underestimates who would have to work longer hours. The advent of cell phones and telecommuting and "work-life balance" initiatives really just resulted in more working hours for people in my non-high status but also non-sweatshop job category, and i have no reason to think this latest innovation would be any different.


By fnord12 | January 15, 2013, 1:26 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (1)| Link



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