Mandatory Vacations?

Oct 31 2014 @ 11:10am

Megan McArdle proclaims that employers “shouldn’t just give their employees vacation days; they should force them to actually leave the office and go on vacation”:

I don’t really need to extol the benefits to an employee of a few days off, but I will say that everyone needs to take a break. Over time I’ve noticed that if I go too long between holidays — more than about three months — I start to feel like I’m forcing it, plodding through the day’s stories rather than actually attacking something I’m interested in. That’s a pretty common experience among the people I know. Periodically, you have to stop and give the well a chance to refill. I don’t think it’s an accident that creative people frequently report having breakthroughs after they’d stopped working for a bit and started thinking about something else.

She insists that “even the most upstanding, outstanding employee should not be so vital to your firm’s operations that you cannot afford to let them go for a week or two”:

What if this person leaves the firm? What if they are killed in a car crash? Periodically preparing to do without this person means that if and when they do depart, you will not be plunged into an instant crisis.

The Business Of Coming Out

Oct 31 2014 @ 10:47am

Apple Unveils iPhone 6

Apple CEO Tim Cook officially exited the closet yesterday:

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Leonid Bershidsky points out that “Cook is the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to come out in public”:

Members of this exclusive club are still unsure whether that’s wise, and just a few years ago, it wasn’t. In 2007, John Browne resigned as chief executive of BP after being outed by a British tabloid. He has since written a book about being a closeted gay in big business. “To a headhunter I would have been seen as ‘controversial,’ too hot to handle,” Browne wrote. “Sadly, there were some people, mostly from the business world, who never again displayed any warmth to me.”

Browne regretted choosing to live a double life rather than setting himself up as a role model for other gay executives — something Cook has done now with his candid, touching essay. Still, he had strong motives for staying in the closet — stronger ones than an inclination toward privacy, which Cook, no publicity hound either, has successfully overcome. As head of a large corporation, one has to deal with important people from cultures where homophobia is a way of life. Under Browne, BP had a major joint venture in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has approved laws against the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.”

Along those lines, one Russian lawmaker has already proposed banning Cook from the country. And Chinese social media users widely ridiculed the announcement:

Read On

Colorado’s Black-Market Cannabis

Oct 31 2014 @ 10:24am

Jacob Sullum reports on its persistence:

“The black-market prices are definitely lower than recreational prices,” says Michael Elliott, executive director of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Group. “The taxes are a big reason why, the new testing requirements, the packaging requirements, and basically this whole hurdle of the extraordinary expenses people have had to go through to open these businesses. Another reason is that the businesses have had limited supply.”

But, as prices fall, the black-market is going to shrink:

Read On

Serial Killers Aren’t That Sharp

Oct 31 2014 @ 9:42am

Criminologist Scott Bonn concludes that “the image of the evil genius serial killer is mostly a Hollywood invention”:

Hollywood has established a number of brilliant homicidal maniacs like John Doe in the acclaimed 1995 film Se7en. Doe personifies the berkowitz_arrest201stereotype of the evil genius serial killer who outsmarts law enforcement authorities, avoids justice and succeeds in his diabolical plan. … Real serial killers generally do not possess unique or exceptional intellectual skills. The reality is that most serial killers who have had their IQ tested score between borderline and above average intelligence. This is very consistent with the general population. Contrary to mythology, it is not high intelligence that makes serial killers successful. Instead, it is obsession, meticulous planning and a cold-blooded, often psychopathic personality that enable serial killers to operate over long periods of time without detection.

One famous example of less-than-brilliant planning:

Read On

Over-Salt Of The Earth

Oct 31 2014 @ 9:04am

Brian Merchant flags a study claiming that salt degradation “has caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage, mars an area of cropland the size of Manhattan every week, and has hit nearly one-fifth of the world’s farmland so far”:

“Salts have damaging effects whether they are in excess amounts in the human body or in agricultural lands,” Manzoor Qadir, the lead author of an eye-opening new study on the subject, published by the United Nations’ Institute for Water, Environment and Health, told me in an email conversation. “If salt degradation goes on unchecked, more and more land will be highly degraded leading to wasteland,” he said. “Restoring such lands will not be economically feasible at all.”

Alison Bruzek provides more details:

Read On

The Trappings Of Mourning

Oct 31 2014 @ 8:14am

Hillary Kelly muses on an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum:

Mourning clothesalong with other facets of griefwere highly regimented in Victorian England and nineteenth-century America. As the curator’s note explains, “Mourning through sartorial display, a duty chiefly assumed by women, followed a series of stages marked by changes in fabrics and colors.” Exacting codes defined which fabrics and colors were acceptable at particular stages of grief: For the first months after a death, only “lusterless” black dresses were acceptable. As time passedand for a widow one expected to wear mourning clothes for a full two yearsthe strictures slowly loosened, and the severity of the attire deceased.

The loss of such traditions has its drawbacks:

Read On

Sarah Varney covers Mississippi’s experience with Obamacare:

“There are wide swaths of Mississippi where the Affordable Care Act is not a reality,” Conner Reeves, who led Obamacare enrollment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told me when we met in the state capital of Jackson. Of the nearly 300,000 people who could have gained coverage in Mississippi in the first year of enrollment, just 61,494—some 20 percent—did so. When all was said and done, Mississippi would be the only state in the union where the percentage of uninsured residents has gone up, not down.

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 30 2014 @ 9:15pm

Today, I compared the current mid-terms to a “primal moan“. A reader differs:

I see it as a long belch prompted by indigestion, with a bile finish. And it will only get worse with the prospect of Hillary vs. the GOP nut jobs looming on the horizon. I’m 49 years old and I’ve always been highly engaged politically, but I am perilously close to saying “fuck it” and not paying attention anymore. I will always vote but I feel my energy is better spent elsewhere.

I feel his pain and blog through it every day.

Meanwhile, the “catcalling” video remained a Rorschach test for Dish readers; as did the question of “sexual assault” while both parties are drunk. In another fascinating round of responses to our book club discussion of Waking Up, Sam Harris’ scientific Buddhism got knocked around a bit today by actual Buddhists. I rather enjoyed the spectacle. Oh, and this helps.

The most popular post of the day was Catching Catcalls On Camera; followed by A Declaration of War On Francis.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 22 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here.

See you in the morning.

Cool Ad Watch

Oct 30 2014 @ 8:39pm

Bonus points for the bipod:

SHAKE PUPPIES by Carli Davidson from Carli Davidson on Vimeo.

Prescriptive Measures

Oct 30 2014 @ 8:04pm

Virginia Hughes investigates the purpose of drug warning labels:

Does anyone actually read them?

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of research on that question, though the data that does exist suggests that some patients are more conscientious than I am. One report I stumbled on, surveying 1,500 patients from a community pharmacy in Germany in 2001, found that 80 percent always read the inserts. A 2007 study looked at 200 patients in Israel who were prescribed antibiotics, analgesics or antihypertensives. It found that just over half of participants read the inserts. And a 2009 study in Denmark found that 79 percent of patients “always or often” read them. On the other hand, a 2006 report of American consumers reported that just 23 percent looked at this info.

Even if patients are interested in reading those materials, they might not understand the information.

Read On