Death To Monarchs, Ctd

Aug 29 2014 @ 8:33pm
by Sue Halpern


Finally a little good news to offset the bad news in my earlier post about the precipitous decline of the eastern monarch butterfly population. The first is that this year’s population appears to be more robust than last year’s, which plummeted to an all-time low. Monarch watchers at Ontario’s Point Pelee Park, a traditional migratory jumping off point for the butterflies on their way to Mexico, have seen many more monarch butterflies and monarch caterpillars, as has Professor Chip Taylor of the University of Kansas who runs the monarch conservation organization Monarch Watch. Taylor estimates that the numbers could be up by thirty or forty percent, though he points out that even so, the increase won’t offset last year’s precipitous decline.

Awareness of the monarch’s plight has reached the highest echelons of government, which is the other bit of good news. In a letter circulated today, the naturalists Gary Nabhan and Ina Warren who have spearheaded Make Way For Monarchs, an international effort to protect the monarch from, especially, the deleterious effects of habitat destruction, note that “The White House has appointed Fish and Wildlife Director Ashe to head up the ‘high-level working group’ to work with Mexico and Canada on recovery plans, and 14 federal agencies have formed work groups and “communities of practice” to reorient their work plans toward monarch recovery.”

The Executive may not have a plan to deal with ISIS. It may be backing off on immigration reform and pretending it never heard of the Keystone XL pipeline, but at least it understands the value of monarchs.

(Photo by Joel Olives.)

Abortion By Mail

Aug 29 2014 @ 8:02pm
by Dish Staff

Emily Bazelon profiles doctor and reproductive-rights activist Rebecca Gomperts, who “started Women on Web, a ‘telemedicine support service’ for women around the world who are seeking medical abortions.” Why Gomperts’ work matters:

Almost 40 percent of the world’s population lives in countries, primarily in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Persian Gulf, where abortion is either banned or severely restricted. The World Health Organization estimated in 2008 that 21.6 million unsafe abortions took place that year worldwide, leading to about 47,000 deaths. To reduce that number, W.H.O. put mifepristone and misoprostol on its Essential Medicines list. The cost of the combination dose used to end a pregnancy varies from less than $5 in India to about $120 in Europe. (Misoprostol is also used during labor and delivery to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, and global health groups have focused on making it more available in countries with high rates of maternal mortality, including Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nepal, Cambodia, and South Africa.) Gomperts told me that Women on Web receives 2,000 queries each month from women asking for help with medical abortions. (The drugs are widely advertised on the Internet, but it is difficult to tell which sites are scams.)

The Slums Of The Future, Ctd

Aug 29 2014 @ 7:41pm
by Dish Staff

We know that the world’s slums are growing, but are the world’s major urban centers growing into slums? Joel Kotkin details the massive social, economic, and environmental challenges facing most emerging megacities:

Emerging megacities like Kinshasa or Lima do not command important global niches. Their problems are often ignored or minimized by those who inhabit what commentator Rajiv Desai has described as “the VIP zone of cities,” where there is “reliable electric power, adequate water supply, and any sanitation at all.” Outside the zone, Desai notes, even much of the middle class have to “endure inhuman conditions” of congested, cratered roads, unreliable energy, and undrinkable water.

Read On

The Relentless Warmongers

Aug 29 2014 @ 7:13pm
by Dish Staff

Matt Steinglass sighs at the aimless hawkishness of American foreign policy elites when it comes to the Middle East:

William Kristol, as ever, manages to distill the rot down to its ludicrous essence: “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there. We could kill a lot of very bad guys!” No doubt the Americans could. Drop enough bombs and you are guaranteed to kill some very bad guys, and probably some good guys, as well as a lot of guys who, like most, fit somewhere in between. But simply bombing areas when the emerging powers prove bloodthirsty, and hoping that a better sort of power replaces them, isn’t very promising.

Conor Friedersdorf outlines the many questions interventionists aren’t bothering to ask, let alone answer:

After the decade-long, $6-trillion debacle in Iraq, you’d think Congress and pundits would be pressing the Obama administration for figures:

Read On

White Lady Makeovers

Aug 29 2014 @ 6:44pm
by Dish Staff

Linda Holmes saves her readers the trouble of watching a new reality show that involves black women making over white ones:

The black women on Girlfriend Intervention, like the gay men who did the work on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, are supposedly being saluted for their (stereotypically) superior style and knowledge and backbone, but are cast as helpers and facilitators for the benefit of, respectively, white women and straight men, valued for what they can offer and required to display sass at all times in sufficient amounts. (Among other things, it’s unfortunate that other than Thomas being the loudest, they don’t much distinguish the four stylists from each other, either.)

Read On

Injury To Insult

Aug 29 2014 @ 6:23pm
by Chas Danner

As the tallest staffer (6’4″) here at the Dish, feels like I should be the one to steer us into the airline legroom debate that’s flared up this week. For the uninitiated, on Monday a Newark-to-Denver flight was diverted after a scuffle broke out between two passengers when one used a $21.95 device called a Knee Defender to prevent the other’s seat from reclining. In short, a laptop’s airspace was temporarily defended, a little plastic cup of water was thrown, and an airplane full of helpless bystanders was annoyed when the flight had to land to eject the combatants. Then another recline-related fracas happened yesterday with a similar result. Anyway, because the Internet exists and we lucky few get paid to put things on it, a civility war has broken out between pro and anti-recline advocates. In one corner were tall people like Bill Saporito:

I don’t travel with a Knee Defender, but I do travel with knees. Just being an airline passengers makes everyone cranky to begin with. Being 6 ft. 2 in. and long of leg, I’m in a near rage by the time I wedge myself into a coach seat. And now you want to jam your chair back into my knees for four hours? Go fly a kite. It’s an airline seat, not a lounge chair. You want comfort, buy a business class seat. What’s surprising is that there haven’t been more fights over Knee Defender. Or perhaps these incidents haven’t been reported. I’ve gotten into it a few times with people in front of me who insist that the space over my knees is theirs, as if they have some kind of air rights. And I’m sure I will again.

In the other corner, the air-libertarians going on about the “social contract”:

Buying a Knee Defender is cheating. It is like insider trading, but worse, because not everyone expects to get rich. Everyone does expect to recline.

Christopher Ingraham notes that most Americans probably agree with that. Here’s Barro examining an economic angle:

When you buy an airline ticket, one of the things you’re buying is the right to use your seat’s reclining function. If this passenger so badly wanted the passenger in front of him not to recline, he should have paid her to give up that right. I wrote an article to that effect in 2011, noting that airline seats are an excellent case study for the Coase Theorem. This is an economic theory holding that it doesn’t matter very much who is initially given a property right; so long as you clearly define it and transaction costs are low, people will trade the right so that it ends up in the hands of whoever values it most. That is, I own the right to recline, and if my reclining bothers you, you can pay me to stop. We could (but don’t) have an alternative system in which the passenger sitting behind me owns the reclining rights. In that circumstance, if I really care about being allowed to recline, I could pay him to let me.

Rejecting that argument, Damon Darlin stands up for knee defense:

Read On

Face Of The Day

Aug 29 2014 @ 5:55pm
by Dish Staff


William Grijalvas, 10, uses an iPad during Mathis Santella’s forth grade math class at Ashley Elementary in Denver, CO, August 29, 2014. Photo By Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post.

The Short Shrift

Aug 29 2014 @ 5:33pm
by Phoebe Maltz Bovy

Alice Robb flags some research that says short men make better boyfriends and husbands:

[A] preliminary new study suggests that shorter men might actually make better partners: They do a greater share of housework, earn a greater proportion of household income, and are less likely than their taller peers to get divorced. In a working paper (it has not yet been peer reviewed), Dalton Conley, a sociologist at NYU, and Abigail Weitzman, a Ph.D. candidate, used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamicsa University of Michigan project that’s been collecting demographic data on 5,000 families for almost 50 yearsto look at how a man’s height impacts different areas of his relationship after the initial dating period. …

Divorce rates for tall and average men were basically indistinguishable, but 32 percent lower for short men. Weitzman explains this by saying that women who are “resistant” to marrying short men are more likely to “opt out” before it gets to the point of marriage: “There’s something distinct about the women who marry short men.”

But… isn’t it anti-feminist to ask women to care less about male appearance? So argues Kat Stoeffel:

Read On

Inconsolable In Islamabad, Ctd

Aug 29 2014 @ 5:12pm
by Dish Staff

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 1.34.37 PM

Tim Craig doubts the long-running anti-government protests in Pakistan will achieve their goal of ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who’s actually pretty popular:

The annual Pew Research Center survey of Pakistan finds that 64 percent of residents have a favorable view of Sharif, a solid rating that has essentially remained constant since Sharif’s returned to power last year. Perhaps even more important in Sharif’s bid to hold off the demonstrators, led by former cricket star Imran Khan and firebrand cleric Tahirul Qadri, Pakistanis’ positive views about the economy have risen dramatically over the past year.

Read On

Class In The Classroom

Aug 29 2014 @ 4:44pm
by Dish Staff

Jesse Singal flags a new paper wherein “sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco writes about what she saw when she observed a bunch of third-through-fifth-graders in a public school”:

Crucially, she only studied white kids — she wanted to isolate the effects of socioeconomic class. What she found, as McCrory put it in the study’s press release, is that “Middle-class parents tell their children to reach out to the teacher and ask questions. Working-class parents see asking for help as disrespectful to teachers, so they teach their children to work out problems themselves.”

The natural question, she said in an email to Science of Us, is why working- and middle-class parents give their kids different sorts of guidance about proper behavior in school. “What I found was that middle-class parents were deeply involved in their kids’ schooling, and as a result, had a lot of detailed knowledge about what today’s teachers expect,” she said. “Working-class parents tended to be less involved and, as a result, relied on their own experiences in school to gauge what teachers would expect (i.e., ‘My teachers used to yell at students if they asked for help’).”