The Other NFL Abuse Scandal, Ctd

Sep 19 2014 @ 9:57am

A reader lends his expertise to the Adrian Peterson case:

I am a psychologist who works primarily with very young children and their families. It is disturbing to me, especially reading the comments sections of sites that are covering this story, to see how few people seem to have gotten the memo about the impact of early violence on the developing brain. While Mr. Peterson’s son was being whipped, and for some long time thereafter, his nervous system was being flooded with stress hormones (cortisol is the primary culprit). Shame, anger, and fear states cause the body to respond this way, as stress hormones can also help mobilize us into fight or flight states when danger is near. The problem is that sustained, repeated exposure to these hormones causes structural changes to the developing brain, including the hippocampus and the amygdala – structures that are responsible for emotion processing and memory.

The result? A nervous system that is “primed” to scan for danger and ready to fight to protect itself rather than one that can safely engage in play, exploration and learning (these brain states are incompatible). Research is very clear that kids who are exposed to this kind of violence (fear states) are much more likely to be violent as they grow up.

So you want to have fewer future Ray Rices clocking their partners? Figure out ways to keep kids like Adrian Peterson’s safe.

Meanwhile, Margaret Hartmann flags yet another story of an NFL player in trouble for domestic violence:

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Scotland Stays

Sep 19 2014 @ 9:33am

The results from yesterday’s voting:

Scotland Voting

Alex Massie, a Scot in favor of union, reflects:

[A] 55-45 victory is both a handsome margin – wider than the 53-47 I had guessed – and a remarkable repudiation of the Union. It is clear enough to be decisive; close enough to demand modesty in victory.

He is heartened by “the rediscovery that, actually, Britain was something – a place and an idea too – that was worth fighting for.” But Massie also faces uncomfortable facts:

The Union was saved, in the main, by wealthier and older Scots. The poor chose differently. That’s an uncomfortable fact for Unionists and one that requires attention. Plenty of Yes votes were cast in hope more than expectation; many others were votes predicated on the fear that voting No offered no prospect of personal or community improvement.

One lesson of this campaign is that the poor, so often marginalised, have a voice too and that they should be heard. This too, I think, should temper Unionist joy this morning. A sobering, timely, even necessary, reminder that the status quo does not float all boats.

Isabel Hardman looks at Scottish voters’ reasons for voting one way or the other:

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ISIS’s War Games

Sep 19 2014 @ 8:59am

Murtaza Hussain introduces the jihadists’ latest propaganda innovation, which looks to court fans of the Grand Theft Auto video game series:

A new video purportedly released by supporters of the group to Arabic language news media appears to show Islamic State, or ISIS, propaganda mocked up in the style of the popular “Grand Theft Auto” franchise. The video shows footage of explosions, sniper rifle attacks and drive-by shootings all rendered in the style of the GTA series. Arabic commentary included as subtitles contain quotes along the lines of targeting U.S. forces and “the Safavid Army”, a reference to Iranian or pro-Iranian forces. They also show images of an assault rifle riddling a police car full of bullet holes — a scene that would not be altogether unfamiliar to Grand Theft Auto players. …

Though the new video appears to constitute a trailer, there’s no indication yet that a real, playable game is in the offing anytime soon. Nonetheless, coupled with the group’s release yesterday of a new propaganda trailer directed at the United States, it appears that the ISIS media war is continuing to evolve in new and weird directions.

But the viewer is clearly meant to understand that the “real, playable game” is available only in Iraq and Syria. At least, that’s what Jay Caspian Kang suspects:

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Hailing The Space Taxi

Sep 19 2014 @ 8:22am

This week, NASA announced that it would award a combined $6.8 billion “space taxi” contract to Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX:

Essentially, Boeing’s CST-100 Space Capsule and SpaceX’s Dragon will each send a test flight to the International Space Station to demonstrate their space taxi capabilities. Each team will fly to the ISS with a NASA crew member and cargo, show that they can dock to the station, and return to Earth safely. Astronauts could be taking a ride on the space taxi pilot program as soon as 2017.

Christian Davenport explains what makes the move so significant:

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Richard Conniff rejects conservationist arguments that imply “animals matter only because they benefit humans, or because just possibly, at some unknowable point in the future, they might benefit humans”:

I understand the logic, or at least the desperation, that drives conservationists to this horrible idea. It may seem like the only way to keep what’s left of the natural world from being plowed under by unstoppable human expansion and by our insatiable appetite for what appears to be useful.

But usefulness is precisely the argument other people put forward to justify destroying or displacing wildlife, and they generally bring a larger and more persuasive kind of green to the argument. Nothing you can say about 100 acres in the New Jersey Meadowlands will ever add up for a politician who thinks a new shopping mall will mean more jobs for local voters (and contributions to his campaign war chest). Nothing you can say about the value of rhinos for ecotourism in South Africa will ever matter to a wildlife trafficker who can sell their horns for $30,000 a pound in Vietnam.

Finally, there is the unavoidable problem that most wildlife species – honey badgers, blobfish, blue-footed boobies, red-tailed hawks, monarch butterflies, hellbenders – are always going to be “useless,” or occasionally annoying, from a human perspective. And even when they do turn out, by some quirk, to be useful, that’s typically incidental to what makes them interesting.

Tweet Of The Day

Sep 18 2014 @ 11:59pm

Live-Tweeting The Scotland Vote

Sep 18 2014 @ 8:49pm

Originally posted at 8.49 EST. Scroll down for the latest updates, in rough chronological order:

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Face Of The Day

Sep 18 2014 @ 8:41pm

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND-INDEPENDENCE-VOTE

Ballots are counted at the Emirates Sports Arena in Glasgow on September 18, 2014, after the polls close in the referendum on Scotland’s independence. The question for voters at Scotland’s more than 5,000 polling stations is “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and they are asked to mark either “Yes” or “No”. The result is expected in the early hours of Friday. By Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images.

Defaulting On Venezuelans

Sep 18 2014 @ 8:09pm

This article by Ricardo Hausmann and Miguel Angel Santos is getting attention from Venezuela-watchers (and President Maduro, who hated it – so you know they’re on to something). The pair argue that the country should default on its sovereign debt, because the government’s commitment to paying its creditors effectively means it’s defaulting on its citizens:

Severe shortages of life-saving drugs in Venezuela are the result of the government’s default on a $3.5 billion bill for pharmaceutical imports. A similar situation prevails throughout the rest of the economy. Payment arrears on food imports amount to $2.4 billion, leading to a substantial shortage of staple goods. In the automobile sector, the default exceeds $3 billion, leading to a collapse in transport services as a result of a lack of spare parts. Airline companies are owed $3.7 billion, causing many to suspend activities and overall service to fall by half.

In Venezuela, importers must wait six months after goods have cleared customs to buy previously authorized dollars. But the government has opted to default on these obligations, too, leaving importers with a lot of useless local currency. For a while, credit from foreign suppliers and headquarters made up for the lack of access to foreign currency; but, given mounting arrears and massive devaluations, credit has dried up.

Felix Salmon likes their way of thinking about defaults, which squares with his own formulation of last year’s US sequester:

America eventually cured its default, and never graduated to defaulting on Treasury bonds. But Venezuela’s problems are harder to fix. And at some point, it simply won’t make sense to spend desperately-needed billions on foreign bondholders any more.

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Sleep Is For The Rich

Sep 18 2014 @ 7:41pm

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 9.55.44 AM

Olga Khazan explains:

Though Americans across the economic spectrum are sleeping less these days, people in the lowest income quintile, and people who never finished high school, are far more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night. About half of people in households making less than $30,000 sleep six or fewer hours per night, while only a third of those making $75,000 or more do.

Unsurprisingly, shift workers face the greatest risk of sleep deprivation; they get two to four hours less sleep than average. The consequences can be dire:

Exposure to bright light when it’s time to sleep makes it harder for the body to produce melatonin, a sleep hormone. Over time, this sleep deprivation translates to an increased risk for heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and reproductive issues. … For some, a sleep shortfall can lead to narcolepsy-like symptoms. One study found that 53 percent of night-shift workers report falling asleep accidentally on the job.