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Social liberals gain upper hand

May 22, 2015

As recently as 1999, social conservatives outnumbered social liberals almost 2 to 1. I would not have guessed that. We were at the start of the first internet boom. The genomics revolution was in sight. All my friends had long since stopped caring about who slept with whom, and in what fashion. I guess I didn’t account for the hinterland. The good news from Gallup is that social liberals have caught up, and that the trend is the right direction. As the graph below shows. The one caveat is that this measures self-description, so there may be as much change in how people view themselves, as in actual views.

Nokia to sell its maps?

May 20, 2015

One of the features I like about my Nokia phone, one of their last models, is that the mapping works fine whether or not it is in cell range, whether or not there are data services. So long as it has cached the local maps — easily done over wifi before traveling — they are there for normal use. That includes finding your location, if your phone has GPS. That flexibility seems to me the right way to build mapping software, and is called out as one reason Nokia’s maps might be a lucrative asset:

One of the biggest advantages of HERE Maps compared to Google Maps is its ability to store maps of certain locations completely offline but still offer users navigational capabilities.

I just hope, if HERE maps are sold, that they remain available for Android phones.

Texas State Aquarium sues Fishman

May 19, 2015

For killing their fish. No surprise this ended up in the courts. Fishman Chemical is owned by David Fishman.

State and religion

May 18, 2015

A strong majority of Republicans favor abandoning the Constitution and making Christianity the national religion, according to a recent PPP poll (pdf). The Christian religious right is a far larger threat to liberty in this nation, than the Islamic religious right ever will be.

Norway has done the right thing in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders, formally eliminating its blasphemy laws.

Who wants an adult conversation?

May 15, 2015

Last Tuesday, Georgetown University hosted a panel on poverty, with President Obama, AEI president Arthur Brooks, and political scientist Robert Putnam. Transcript here. As one aside, Obama pointed out, quite accurately, the way Fox News portrays the poor. Fox took umbrage and Jon Stewart stepped in with the appropriate skewering.

Which has made for quite popular noise on the intertubes. All well and good. Except, as Dara Lind points out, that it completely misses the meat of what was discussed.

For-profit colleges: worse than payday loans

May 14, 2015

There are a surprising number of industries whose business plan is some twist on how to extract money from the poor and the foolish. But most of these, such as the payday loan industry, at least provide some initial value to their marks. The for-profit colleges that are designed to originate student loans not only saddle their marks with long-term debt, but also divert their time to earning what typically are useless vocational degrees. Fortunately, their reputation now precedes them. Community colleges are the much better alternative, with real vocational programs from med tech to welding, and with real concern for their students. Now that federal regulators have forced Corinthian College out of business, they should pursue the rest. Ultimately, we need to revamp or eliminate the student loan system that feeds this beast. Future generations will look back on this time and wonder how we so mismanaged higher education policy that it opened the door to a blatant scam on our young. Shame on Mark Rubio for getting behind this industry. And shame on Bobby Jindal for the same.

The wilderness and the stooges

May 12, 2015

Quoting Muir and Orwell, an Australian pens a paean to the origin of America’s parks and public lands. Alas, modern Republican politicians have never encountered a wilderness, except that they want to fence it, drill it, develop it, or pave it. They had best hope there is no afterlife, for if there is, the president most responsible for our parks and wilderness areas will make it hell for them.

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