Links for January 20th through January 26th

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on January 26, 2010). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Sometime between January 20th and January 26th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Here comes the new cell phone etiquette: "It's easy to be rude with a cell phone. A visitor from another planet might conclude that rudeness is a cell phone's main purpose. Random, annoying ring tones go off unexpectedly. People talk too loudly on cell phones in public because of the challenge of holding a conversation in a noisy environment with someone who's not present. Cell phones need their own rules of etiquette, or we'll descend into social barbarism. But cell phones — and the ways we use them — change. In the past three years, the whole world of cell phones has evolved so much that we need some additional rules of etiquette."
  • Menifee school officials remove dictionary over term ‘oral sex’: "After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across 'oral sex' in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week. School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the 'sexually graphic' entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. 'It's just not age appropriate,' said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district. 'It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,' Cadmus said." Ugh. See also: the followup article, in which a committee will determine the curriculum applicability and educational appropriateness of the dictionary.
  • The Cost of Care: "The United States spends more on medical care per person than any country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and many developing ones. Lack of health insurance is a factor in life span and contributes to an estimated 45,000 deaths a year. Why the high cost? The U.S. has a fee-for-service system–paying medical providers piecemeal for appointments, surgery, and the like. That can lead to unneeded treatment that doesn't reliably improve a patient's health. Says Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies health insurance worldwide, 'More care does not necessarily mean better care.'"
  • The Science & the Fiction: "It is impossible to determine just how much science misinformation audiences retain, but it’s safe to say the minuscule amount of good science in the movies is entirely outgunned. After combing through a vast library of science fiction flicks both sublime and ridiculous, your intrepid Bad Astronomer sat down to explain the best and worst of movie science. So grab some popcorn, relax, and be glad that when the lights go back up, the real universe will still be out there for us to enjoy."
  • Christopher Hitchens on "Like": "The actual grammatical battle was probably lost as far back as 1954, when Winston announced that its latest smoke 'tasted good, like a cigarette should.' Complaints from sticklers that this should have been 'as a cigarette should' (or, in my view, 'as a cigarette ought to do') were met by a second ad in which a gray-bunned schoolmarm type was taunted by cheery consumers asking, 'What do you want, good grammar or good taste?' "