Monday, June 27, 2022

Here’s how to meet Biden’s 2030 climate goals and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions – with today’s technology

  Unprecedented forest fires in the drought-stricken western United States. Tropical storms and rising seas threatening the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Sizzling heat across large swaths of the country. As climate change unfolds before our eyes, what can the U.S. do to sharply and rapidly reduce its share of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing it?

  The Biden administration has committed to reduce those emissions 50% by 2030 below 2005 levels. That’s a critical first step of a global energy transition that must achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) and thereby avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Virginia Military Institute’s culture is forced to change — but how much?

  Graduates of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) include some of the United States’ most illustrious leaders in government, business, education, and professional sports – Nobel Prize laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners among them. Founded in 1839 as the nation’s first state military college, VMI even trained a young Mel Brooks during World War II.

  But VMI graduated the infamous, too – leaders who fought during the Civil War to preserve slavery and destroy the U.S. – men like Edward Edmonds, Confederate colonel of the 38th Virginia Infantry; John McCausland, a brigadier general who served under the “unrepentant rebel” Gen. Jubal Early; and Walter Taylor, aide-de-camp to Gen. Robert E. Lee and later a state senator and staunch defender of the Confederacy.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

How your race, class and gender influence your dreams for the future

  In Disney’s “Pinocchio,” Jiminy Cricket famously sings, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.”

  But Jiminy Cricket got it wrong.

  We’re often taught that we are free to dream – to imagine our future possibilities.

Friday, June 24, 2022

5 things to know about the Fed’s biggest interest rate increase since 1994 and how it will affect you

  The Federal Reserve on June 15, 2022, lifted interest rates by 0.75 percentage point, the third hike this year and the largest since 1994. The move is aimed at countering the fastest pace of inflation in over 40 years.

  Wall Street had been expecting a half-point increase, but the latest consumer prices report released on June 10 prompted the Fed to take a more drastic measure. The big risk, however, is that higher rates will push the economy into a recession, a fear aptly expressed by the recent plunge in the S&P 500 stock index, which is down over 20% from its peak in January, making it a “bear market.”

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Privacy isn’t in the Constitution – but it’s everywhere in constitutional law

  Almost all American adults – including parents, medical patients, and people who are sexually active – regularly exercise their right to privacy, even if they don’t know it.

  Privacy is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. But for half a century, the Supreme Court has recognized it as an outgrowth of protections for individual liberty. As I have studied in my research on constitutional privacy rights, this implied right to privacy is the source of many of the nation’s most cherished, contentious, and commonly used rights – including the right to have an abortion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Social stress can speed up immune system aging – new research

  As people age, their immune systems naturally begin to decline. This aging of the immune system, called immunosenescence, may be an important part of such age-related health problems as cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as older people’s less effective response to vaccines.

  But not all immune systems age at the same rate. In our recently published study, my colleagues and I found that social stress is associated with signs of accelerated immune system aging.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

State government on pace for another record surplus; will it give Alabamians a break?

  State government continues to take more money from Alabamians than ever before. Will it use that money to continue the historic expansion of state government or finally take less taxes from citizens? 

  As first reported by Alabama Daily News, 2022 is on pace to be another banner year for state government. Through the end of May, state revenues totaled nearly $1.4 billion more than they did at this point last year. The state has already collected almost $8.7 billion in gross revenue. With four months remaining in the fiscal year, that revenue surplus will likely grow.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Juneteenth celebrates just one of the United States’ 20 emancipation days – and the history of how emancipated people were kept unfree needs to be remembered, too

  The actual day was June 19, 1865, and it was the Black dockworkers in Galveston, Texas who first heard the word that freedom for the enslaved had come. There were speeches, sermons, and shared meals, mostly held at Black churches, the safest places to have such celebrations.

  The perils of unjust laws and racist social customs were still great in Texas for the 250,000 enslaved Black people there, but the celebrations known as Juneteenth were said to have gone on for seven straight days.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Nurturing dads raise emotionally intelligent kids – helping make society more respectful and equitable

  When my oldest son, now nearly 14, was born in July of 2008, I thought I could easily balance my career and my desire to be far more engaged at home than my father and his generation were. I was wrong.

  Almost immediately, I noticed how social policies, schools, and health care systems all make it difficult for dads to be highly involved and engaged at home. Contradictory expectations about work and family life abound.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Money is the icing, not the cake

  Despite the advice of preachers and philosophers warning us of the shortcomings of money, it’s hard to argue with Gertrude Stein’s observation: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”

  Although money is better at reducing suffering caused by poverty and relieving anxiety caused by debt than it is at making us happy, it can buy lots of things that make us feel good and important.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Fertilizer prices are soaring – and that’s an opportunity to promote more sustainable ways of growing crops

  Farmers are coping with a fertilizer crisis brought on by soaring fossil fuel prices and industry consolidation. The price of synthetic fertilizer has more than doubled since 2021, causing great stress in farm country.

  This crunch is particularly tough on those who grow corn, which accounts for half of U.S. nitrogen fertilizer use. The National Corn Growers Association predicts that its members will spend 80% more in 2022 on synthetic fertilizers than they did in 2021. A recent study estimates that on average, this will represent US$128,000 in added costs per farm.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

People overestimate groups they find threatening – when ‘sizing up’ others, bias sneaks in

  Places are not just physical, but also social.

  For instance, around the North Carolina campus where we met, we knew certain bars based on the students who frequented them — the “Duke bars” versus the “UNC bars.” Or, when traveling, we may try to guess whether most of the patrons at a restaurant are tourists – and if so, go elsewhere.

  This common way of thinking about our environments seemed fairly reasonable to us until a few years ago when we noticed something that gave us pause.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Immigrants are only 3.5% of people worldwide – and their negative impact is often exaggerated, in the U.S. and around the world

  Ernesto Castañeda is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at American University and the Director of the Immigration Lab. Castañeda explains why immigration is an important force counteracting population decline in the U.S. and why that matters to the economy and America’s global power. Below are highlights from an interview with The Conversation. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

There is no one ‘religious view’ on abortion: A scholar of religion, gender and sexuality explains

  The Catholic Church’s official line on abortion, and even on any artificial birth control, is well known: Don’t do it.

  Surveys of how American Catholics live their lives, though, tell a different story.

  The vast majority of Catholic women have used contraceptives despite the church’s ban. Fifty-six percent of U.S. Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances, whether or not they believe they would ever seek one. One in four Americans who have had abortions are Catholic, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for reproductive health.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Decades after special education law and key ruling, updates still languish

  It has been 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court first took up a case about special education in public schools, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley. In that case, the court ruled that a deaf student didn’t qualify for a sign-language interpreter because the student was doing well enough even though an interpreter could have helped the student learn more and do better.

  In the decades since Rowley, court orders and a few adjustments to federal laws have clarified the rights of students to get accommodations for various conditions and disabilities affecting their education. But the law governing these rights, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, has not been updated significantly since its original passage in 1975 and has never gone so long without a full congressional review.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Did the assault weapons ban of 1994 bring down mass shootings? Here’s what the data tells us

  A spate of high-profile mass shootings in the U.S. has sparked calls for Congress to look at imposing a ban on so-called assault weapons – covering the types of guns used in both the recent Buffalo grocery attack and that on an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

  Such a prohibition has been in place before. As President Joe Biden noted in his June 2, 2022 speech addressing gun violence, almost three decades ago, bipartisan support in Congress helped push through a federal assault weapons ban in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Biden throws US solar industry a lifeline with tariff relief, but can incentives bring manufacturing back?

  The Biden administration announced it was putting a two-year freeze on the threat of new solar tariffs, throwing a lifeline to U.S. solar installers – and likely to the country’s ability to meet its climate goals.

  The tariff threat involved imported solar panels and components from four Asian countries that supply about 80% of photovoltaic cells and modules used in the U.S. The administration also announced new plans on June 6, 2022, to use the Defense Production Act to help industries ramp up production of solar panels in the U.S. and give U.S. solar manufacturers other incentives through federal purchasing.

Friday, June 10, 2022

State auditor heading to runoff; what does the auditor do?

  Katie Britt and Congressman Mo Brooks are headed to a runoff. Most people in Alabama know that. And if they don’t, the flood of advertising that is sure to hit Alabama residents every time they turn on the radio or television will soon make it known. 

  Another statewide race that is headed to a runoff, though it will get far less attention, is the race for State Auditor.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Genetic paparazzi are right around the corner, and courts aren’t ready to confront the legal quagmire of DNA theft

  Every so often stories of genetic theft, or extreme precautions taken to avoid it, make headline news. So it was with a picture of French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting at opposite ends of a very long table after Macron declined to take a Russian PCR COVID-19 test. Many speculated that Macron refused due to security concerns that the Russians would take and use his DNA for nefarious purposes. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz similarly refused to take a Russian PCR COVID-19 test.

  While these concerns may seem relatively new, pop star celebrity Madonna has been raising alarm bells about the potential for nonconsensual, surreptitious collection and testing of DNA for over a decade. She has hired cleaning crews to sterilize her dressing rooms after concerts and requires her own new toilet seats at each stop of her tours.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Should we protect nature for its own sake? For its economic value? Because it makes us happy? Yes

  As spring phases into summer in North America, with trees flowering and birds migrating, nature seems abundant. In fact, however, the Earth is losing animals, birds, reptiles, and other living things so fast that some scientists believe the planet is entering the sixth mass extinction in its history.

  This fall, the United Nations will convene governments from around the world in Kunming, China to establish new goals for protecting Earth’s ecosystems and their biodiversity – the variety of life at all levels, from genes to ecosystems.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

5 ways to reduce school shootings

  After the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, psychology professor Paul Boxer and his colleagues reviewed research to see what could be learned from what they refer to as the “science of violence prevention.” In the wake of the May 24, 2022 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Boxer has revisited that research anew – and other research conducted since then – for insights on what can be done to reduce the risk of school shootings in the future. Here he offers five policy changes – based on his findings – that can be implemented to achieve that end.


1) Dramatically limit access to guns

  Gun regulation matters.

  When my colleagues and I looked at gun regulations on a state-by-state basis, we found that more restrictive gun laws are associated with lower rates of homicides by guns.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Grocery store ethics

  You can tell a lot about people’s character by how they act at the grocery store. I remember being in a crowded store when there was a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow was pushing a cart when another man stopped him.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

When parents turn children into weapons, everybody loses

  Domestic abuse can involve one parent using a child as a weapon against the other parent, which harms the child in immense ways. My research has identified how these dynamics play out and examines the damage.

  There are approximately 5.7 million cases of domestic abuse in the U.S. each year, and in some of those, mothers and fathers use children to manipulate and harm the other parent. This behavior can include directly pressuring the child to spy on the abused parent or threatening the abused parent that they will never see the child again if they leave the relationship.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Deaths and injuries in road crashes are a ‘silent epidemic on wheels’

  The COVID-19 pandemic has generated mind-numbing statistics over the past two years: half a billion cases, 6 million deaths, 1 million in the U.S. alone. But another, less-publicized global scourge preceded it and is likely to outlast it: traffic deaths and injuries.

  Around 1.35 million people die each year on the world’s roads, and another 20 million to 50 million are seriously injured. Half of these deaths and many of the injuries involve pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists – the most vulnerable users of roads and streets.

  Around the world, someone dies from a road accident every 25 seconds. The head of the United Nations Road Safety Fund has called road deaths and injuries a “silent epidemic on wheels”.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Modern-day struggle at James Madison’s plantation Montpelier to include the descendants’ voices of the enslaved

  On May 17, 2022, after weeks of negative stories on Montpelier in the national press, the foundation that operates the Virginia plantation home of James Madison finally made good on its promise to share authority with descendants of people enslaved by the man known as “the father” of the U.S. Constitution.

  This agreement is the result of a long struggle by this descendant community to make enslaved people more prominent in the history Montpelier offers the public.

  Though presidential plantation museums began addressing the topic of enslavement over 20 years ago, descendants were not given power over their ancestors’ stories.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Alabama charter schools: A slow roll-out

  When Alabama enacted its Charter School Law in 2015, did state legislators expect there to be only seven active charter schools statewide seven years later? 

  In 2015, SB45, more commonly known as the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, passed both chambers on partisan lines, with zero Democrats voting in support of the bill. The Act created the Alabama Public Charter School Commission (APCSC), which intends to provide all children in the state with high-quality education outside of the traditional public school setting.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Cleveland Indians changed their team name – what’s holding back the Atlanta Braves?

  In October 1995, as the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves prepared to face off in the World Series, a group of Native Americans rallied outside Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to protest what they called both teams’ racist names and mascots. Some protesters carried signs, including one that said, “Human beings as mascots is not politically incorrect. It is morally wrong.”

  They marched outside the ballpark, where some vendors were selling the foam tomahawks that Braves fans wave during the “tomahawk chop” – a cheer in which they mimic a Native American war chant while making a hammering motion with their arms.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

What we know about mass school shootings in the US – and the gunmen who carry them out

  When the Columbine High School massacre took place in 1999. it was seen as a watershed moment in the United States – the worst mass shooting at a school in the country’s history.

  Now, it ranks fourth. The three school shootings to surpass its death toll of 13 – 12 students, one teacher – have all taken place within the last decade: 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary attack, in which a gunman killed 26 children and school staff; the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 people; and now the Robb Elementary School assault in Uvalde, Texas, where on May 24, 2022, at least 19 children and two adults were murdered.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Day of gratitude

  Our nation was conceived by idealistic and courageous political leaders, but it was preserved by the immense and immeasurable sacrifice of millions of soldiers who fought and died to transform the democratic principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence into a country we proudly call the United States of America.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Is intermittent fasting the diet for you? Here’s what the science says

  What if I told you that all you need to do to lose weight is read a calendar and tell time? These are the basics for successfully following an intermittent fasting diet.

  Can it be that simple, though? Does it work? And what is the scientific basis for fasting? As a registered dietitian and expert in human nutrition and metabolism, I am frequently asked such questions.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The big exodus of Ukrainian refugees isn’t an accident – it’s part of Putin’s plan to destabilize Europe

  More than 6.3 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia first invaded in late February 2022.

  The European Union has welcomed Ukrainian refugees, allowing them to enter its 27 member countries without visas and live and work there for up to three years.

Friday, May 27, 2022

1 in 6 US kids are in families below the poverty line

  In the United States, children are more likely to experience poverty than people over 18.

  In 2020, about 1 in 6 kids, 16% of all children, were living in families with incomes below the official poverty line – an income threshold the government set that year at about US$26,500 for a family of four. Only 10% of Americans ages 18 to 64 and 9% of those 65 and up were experiencing poverty according to the most recent data available.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

How the NRA evolved from backing a 1934 ban on machine guns to blocking nearly all firearm restrictions today

  The mass shootings at a Buffalo, New York supermarket and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, just 10 days apart, are stirring the now-familiar national debate over guns seen after the tragic 2012 and 2018 school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida.

  Inevitably, if also understandably, many Americans are blaming the National Rifle Association for thwarting stronger gun laws that might have prevented these two recent tragedies and many others. And despite the proximity in time and location to the Texas shooting, the NRA is proceeding with its plans to hold its annual convention in Houston on May 27-29, 2022. The featured speakers include former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

US child welfare system is falling short because of persistent child poverty

  Although government spending on the child welfare system totaled US$33 billion in 2018, the most recent year for which an estimate is available, it’s still failing to meet all children’s needs because of overwhelming demand.

  Abuse and neglect investigations, foster care, and the other activities and services that comprise the child welfare system can harm children and the rest of their families. Communities of color are the most susceptible to this damage: 37% of all children – including 53% of African American children – experience a child protective services investigation by the time they turn 18.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Public education is supposed to prepare an informed citizenry – elementary teachers have just two hours a week to teach social studies

  The founders of the United States were intentionally building a nation based on the ideals of the Enlightenment, a movement centered on individual happiness, knowledge, and reason. This new approach to defining a country – rather than basing it on language, ethnicity, or geographic proximity – meant the new United States would have to educate its citizenry with the ideas, skills, and values necessary to build and grow their democracy.

  As a result, the founders called for schools to be established and funded. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and others believed it was the responsibility of the government to provide that education. Jefferson believed that education would serve as the moral foundation of the nation and redress the effect of poverty because education would be available to all children.

Monday, May 23, 2022

A shrinking fraction of the world’s major crops goes to feed the hungry, with more used for nonfood purposes

  Rising competition for many of the world’s important crops is sending increasing amounts toward uses other than directly feeding people. These competing uses include making biofuels; converting crops into processing ingredients, such as livestock meal, hydrogenated oils, and starches; and selling them on global markets to countries that can afford to pay for them.

  In a newly published study, my co-authors and I estimate that in 2030, only 29% of the global harvests of 10 major crops may be directly consumed as food in the countries where they were produced, down from about 51% in the 1960s. We also project that, because of this trend, the world is unlikely to achieve a top sustainable development goal: ending hunger by 2030.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

There are two kinds of people

  There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who think those who think there are two kinds of people in the world are self-righteous jerks.

  A listener called me to task concerning a story about a man who told his son there are two kinds of people: those who return their shopping carts and those who don’t.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

How media reports of ‘clashes’ mislead Americans about Israeli-Palestinian violence

  Israeli police attacked mourners carrying the coffin of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 13, 2022, beating pallbearers with batons and kicking them when they fell to the ground.

  Yet those who skimmed the headlines of initial reports from several U.S. media outlets may have been left with a different impression of what happened.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Online data could be used against people seeking abortions if Roe v. Wade falls

  When the draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to the press, many of us who have been studying privacy for vulnerable individuals came to a troubling realization: The marginalized and vulnerable populations whose online risks have been the subject of our attention are likely to grow exponentially. These groups are poised to encompass all women of child-bearing age, regardless of how secure and how privileged they may have imagined themselves to be.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

US schools are not racially integrated, despite decades of effort

  Nearly seven decades after the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the court’s declared goal of integrated education is still not yet achieved.

  American society continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse. But many of the nation’s public K-12 schools are not well integrated and are instead predominantly attended by students of one race or another.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

What is fentanyl and why is it behind the deadly surge in US drug overdoses? A medical toxicologist explains

  Buying drugs on the street is a game of Russian roulette. From Xanax to cocaine, drugs, or counterfeit pills purchased in nonmedical settings may contain life-threatening amounts of fentanyl.

  Physicians like me have seen a rise in unintentional fentanyl use from people buying prescription opioids and other drugs laced, or adulterated, with fentanyl. Heroin users in my community in Massachusetts came to realize that fentanyl had entered the drug supply when overdose numbers exploded. In 2016, my colleagues and I found that patients who came to the emergency department reporting a heroin overdose often only had fentanyl present in their drug test results.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

These strategies and life hacks can help anyone with ADHD, as well as those who struggle with attention problems but don’t have a diagnosis

  Imagine that it’s 4:59 p.m., only one minute before your deadline. You swore you’d never put yourself in this position again, and yet you have. This isn’t your best work, and you’ll be lucky just to turn anything in. What would you do differently if you could turn back the clock?

  Living with ADHD can feel like this on a daily basis, but it doesn’t have to.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Legacy of Jim Crow still affects funding for public schools

  Nearly 70 years ago – in its 1954 Brown v. Board decision – the Supreme Court framed racial segregation as the cause of educational inequality. It did not, however, challenge the lengths to which states went to ensure the unequal funding of Black schools.

  Before Brown, Southern states were using segregation to signify and tangibly reinforce second-class citizenship for Black people in the United States. The court in Brown deemed that segregation was inherently unequal. Even if the schools were “equalized” on all “tangible factors,” segregation remained a problem and physical integration was the cure, the Court concluded.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Too poor to give

  When Teresa, a widow with four young children, saw a notice that members of her church would gather to deliver presents and food to a needy family, she took $10 out of her savings jar and bought the ingredients to make three dozen cookies. She got to the church parking lot just in time to join a convoy going to the home that was to receive the congregation’s help.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Elon Musk says relaxing content rules on Twitter will boost free speech, but research shows otherwise

  Elon Musk’s accepted bid to purchase Twitter has triggered a lot of debate about what it means for the future of the social media platform, which plays an important role in determining the news and information many people – especially Americans – are exposed to.

  Musk has said he wants to make Twitter an arena for free speech. It’s not clear what that will mean, and his statements have fueled speculation among both supporters and detractors. As a corporation, Twitter can regulate speech on its platform as it chooses. There are bills being considered in the U.S. Congress and by the European Union that address social media regulation, but these are about transparency, accountability, illegal harmful content, and protecting users’ rights rather than regulating speech.

Friday, May 13, 2022

When it comes to spending, Alabama is ‘bluer’ than New York and California

  When you rank states in terms of their political leanings, places like California and New York are probably near the top of the list of liberal states. And that’s certainly true in terms of social issues.

  And while Alabama may be one of the most socially conservative states, would it shock you to know that when it comes to spending and tax issues, Alabama’s state government is about as blue as it gets?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Getting out of jury duty

  Last week, I dyed my hair orange - not red, not the subtle hue of a delicate tiger lily bloom, but bright, shiny traffic cone orange. This is actually not an unusual occurrence. I've dyed my hair various less-than-conservative shades on the color wheel, and invariably I have received contrasting responses that have ranged from "Hey, cool!" to genuine concern from those who believe that I am yet another victim of the devil's crack rock.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

How shops use psychology to influence your buying decisions

  You might think that you only buy what you need, when you need it. But whether you are shopping for food, clothes, or gadgets, the retailers are using the power of psychological persuasion to influence your decisions – and help you part with your cash.

  If you think back, I’ll bet there’s a good chance that you can remember walking into a grocery store only to find the layout of the shop has been changed. Perhaps the toilet paper was no longer where you expected it to be, or you struggled to find the tomato ketchup.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Why we can’t ‘boost’ our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic for the long term

  With yet another COVID-19 booster available for vulnerable populations in the U.S., many people find themselves wondering what the end game will be.

  The mRNA vaccines currently used in the U.S. against COVID-19 have been highly successful at preventing hospitalization and death. The Commonwealth Fund recently reported that in the U.S. alone, the vaccines have prevented over 2 million people from dying and over 17 million from hospitalization.

  However, the vaccines have failed to provide long-term protective immunity to prevent breakthrough infections – cases of COVID-19 infection that occur in people who are fully vaccinated.

Monday, May 9, 2022

I just have to outrun you

  During a camping trip, Sam and Tom saw a bear coming their way. Sam started to take off his backpack and told Tom he was going to run for it. When his surprised friend said, “You can’t outrun a bear,” Sam replied, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Sunday, May 8, 2022

We need to reclaim the original intent of Mother’s Day

  I vividly recall the first time my kids made me breakfast for Mother’s Day. I lay in bed patiently listening to them giggle and rustle around the kitchen … wait, was that the blender? They brought their creative concoction out to the yard, where we had an idyllic, quiet morning in the May sunshine. As a single mother, I cherished this moment of respite and respect.

  But as a sociologist, I know that my longing for the ideal Mother’s Day was cultivated by the ubiquity of Hallmark’s sentimental greeting cards, by traditional notions of the family and motherhood, and by a historical amnesia that has buried the origins of both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

When are book bans unconstitutional? A First Amendment scholar explains

  The United States has become a nation divided over important issues in K-12 education, including which books students should be able to read in public school.

  Efforts to ban books from school curricula, remove books from libraries, and keep lists of books that some find inappropriate for students are increasing as Americans become more polarized in their views.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Police presence on school grounds poses potential risks to kids

  In fall 2020, I got an email from the Phoenix Elementary School District #1, a K-8 school district, requesting feedback on whether to continue using school resource officers in seven of the district’s 14 elementary schools.

  As a researcher who specializes in the policing and development of children and adolescents, I responded by sharing a summary of the research on the subject of police in schools and offering my consultation. The school board president asked me to present research to the board on the effects school resource officers had on overall student well-being, school safety, and school climate.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Americans might love Cinco de Mayo, but few know what they’re celebrating

  Many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but how many actually know the story of the holiday?

  Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t mark Mexican Independence, which is celebrated on Sept. 16. Instead, it’s meant to commemorate the Battle of Puebla, which was fought between the Mexican and French armies in 1862.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Store credit cards generate corporate profits and disgruntled workers

  Clothing retailers sell their shoppers more than jeans and sweaters.

  Major apparel companies also sell credit, often with very high fees, like The Gap’s 21.7% starting interest rate, and US$27 to $37 late payment charge. In 2019, Macy’s store credit card revenue of $771 million accounted for more than half of Macy’s operating income.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The application of religion to work, home and your daily life

  Most Americans say they’re religious and their beliefs are important to their lives, yet I’m astonished at how many blatantly ignore the moral expectations intrinsic to their religion.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Food pantries that give away stuff people can’t or won’t cook have an ‘acorn squash problem’

  A major problem with how food donation currently works in the United States is that a lot of the calories in those boxes and bags come from items that aren’t particularly healthy, such as packaged snacks.

  This arrangement is troubling in part because of the high rates of nutrition-related illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, among low-income people who rely on donated food.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Leading by inspiration

  Why are negative management practices so prevalent?

  They include yelling, cursing, insults (sometimes masked in sarcasm or masquerading as jokes), criticizing subordinates in front of others, threatening demotion or termination, and talking to adults as if they were children.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Why gardening is good for your mind as well as your body

  More than half the planet’s population now live in cities, with limited access to the natural world. For Europe and Latin America, the figure is more than 70%. Yet contact with nature has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health.

  Gardening is an opportunity for everyone to experience this kind of regular contact with nature, even if they live in built-up areas. For those without a garden of their own, allotments, or community gardens are a highly valuable resource. Demand for allotments is increasing and in some locations, waiting times have reached as much as 40 years.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Righteousness is revealed in conduct, not rhetoric

  It's hard to look at the world and some of the people who seem to get ahead without occasionally asking ourselves why we should be ethical. However normal it is to think like this, the question should be off limits for people who profess strong religious beliefs. After all, what religion does not mandate morality?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Wearing shoes in the house is just plain gross. The verdict from scientists who study indoor contaminants

  You probably clean your shoes if you step in something muddy or disgusting (please pick up after your dog!). But when you get home, do you always de-shoe at the door?

  Plenty of Australians don’t. For many, what you drag in on the bottom of your shoes is the last thing on the mind as one gets home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The essence of sportsmanship

  In the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, six-time medalist Eugenio Monti from Italy was favored to win the gold medal in the bobsledding pair event. After his team’s last run, it looked like they were going to make it.

  The British team, led by Tony Nash Jr., still had a chance, but before their final run, Nash discovered a critical axle bolt had broken on their sled. They were done.

Monday, April 25, 2022

How much are you willing to pay for money?

  Disdain for money is a common theme among moralists and philosophers. But money’s not the problem. It’s what people do to get it and what they do with it when they get it.

  In "Fiddler on the Roof," a poor man sings of his daydreams of the wonderful life he’d have if he were a rich man. And surely it would be better. As someone once said, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.”

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Black Lives Matter protests are shaping how people understand racial inequality

  Considered to be the largest social justice movement since the civil rights era of the 1960s, Black Lives Matter is more than the scores of street protests organized by the social justice group that attracted hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the world.

  From its early days in 2014 after Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, Jr. to the protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Black Lives Matter has opened the door for social change by expanding the way we think about the complicated issues that involve race.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The parable of Brother Leo

  An old legend tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores.

Friday, April 22, 2022

‘Every day feels unsettled’ – educators decry staffing shortage

  The COVID-19 pandemic, with its multiple waves of remote, hybrid, and in-person education, increased students’ needs for support, revealed political minefields in teaching, and heightened labor tensions for educators. And in the 2021-2022 school year, staffing shortages have made all of that worse, as our work details.

  Our long-term research with hundreds of teachers and school administrators reveals that persistent staffing shortages are leading professionals to feel burned out and to worry about students missing learning opportunities.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Who is Mike Durant?

  Many of you have asked the question, “Have you ever seen anyone simply run a media-only campaign and avoid campaigning like Mike Durant has done in this year’s U.S. Senate campaign?”  Surprisingly my answer for many of you is, “Yes, I have.”

  Ironically, the man that Richard Shelby beat for this U.S. Senate seat 36 years ago, Jeremiah Denton, was almost a carbon copy of Mike Durant. Denton was a POW/national war hero of the Vietnam era.

  Like Durant, Denton had very distant ties to and knowledge of Alabama. They were both national war/POW celebrities who wanted to be a United States Senator from whichever state was convenient.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Psychological tips aren’t enough – policies need to address structural inequities so everyone can flourish

  “Languishing” is the in-vogue term for today’s widely shared sense of pandemic malaise. According to some psychologists, you can stop languishing with simple steps: Savor the small stuff. Do five good deeds. Find activities that let you “flow.” Change how you think and what you do, and today’s languishing can become tomorrow’s flourishing.

  But in an unjust world burdened by concurrent threats – war, a pandemic, the slow burn of climate change – does this argument ring true? Can simple activities like these really help us – all of us – flourish?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The forgotten story of Black soldiers and the Red Ball Express during World War II

  Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a problem. In June 1944, Allied forces had landed on Normandy Beach in France and were moving east toward Nazi Germany at a clip of sometimes 75 miles (121 kilometers) per day.

  With most of the French rail system in ruins, the Allies had to find a way to transport supplies to the advancing soldiers.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Your digital footprints are more than a privacy risk – they could help hackers infiltrate computer networks

  When you use the internet, you leave behind a trail of data, a set of digital footprints. These include your social media activities, web browsing behavior, health information, travel patterns, location maps, information about your mobile device use, photos, audio, and video. This data is collected, collated, stored, and analyzed by various organizations, from the big social media companies to app makers to data brokers. As you might imagine, your digital footprints put your privacy at risk, but they also affect cybersecurity.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday

  The date of Easter, when the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place, changes from year to year.

  The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Lying is like drunk driving

  Sometimes lying makes our lives easier. If you want the day off, just call in sick. If your boss asks if you’ve finished a report, say you left it at home. And if an irate customer calls, just make up a good cover story. Technically these are lies, but since no one’s hurt, what’s the big deal?

Friday, April 15, 2022

How Gen Z activists are living and protecting the First Amendment

  Zanagee Artis says he got into climate activism too late in life. The senior at Brown University co-founded Zero Hour, a youth-led climate movement, in 2017 when he was 17.

  Teigan Blaine, a high school junior in Minnesota, started organizing in eighth grade and is now part of MN Teen Activists, which unites young voices to speak up about injustice.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The 1 in 10 U.S. doctors with reservations about vaccines could be undermining the fight against COVID-19

  American attitudes toward scientific expertise have become increasingly contentious in recent years. But many people across the political spectrum still place high levels of trust in their personal physicians. Correspondingly, both popular media and public health officials have encouraged physicians to serve as strong advocates for COVID-19 vaccination.

  At the same time, however, there have been several cases of doctors expressing skepticism about vaccines in the media. Though the American Medical Association found that 96% of physicians reported being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in June 2021, some high-profile physicians have spread misinformation about vaccine safety. Some patients have also reported that their personal physicians discouraged them from getting vaccinated on both medical and non-medical grounds.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Paid family leave makes people happier, global data shows

  The U.S. remains the only advanced economy without federal paid leave despite overwhelming support for this benefit.

  Employers are free to provide this benefit at their own expense. But only 1 in 4 U.S. workers, including federal employees, can take paid time off to care for a newborn or a newly adopted or fostered child. That’s problematic for many reasons, including the abundant evidence that paid leave boosts healthy childhood development and economic security.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

How QR codes work and what makes them dangerous – a computer scientist explains

  Among the many changes brought about by the pandemic is the widespread use of QR codes, graphical representations of digital data that can be printed and later scanned by a smartphone or other device.

  QR codes have a wide range of uses that help people avoid contact with objects and close interactions with other people, including for sharing restaurant menus, email list sign-ups, car and home sales information, and checking in and out of medical and professional appointments.

Monday, April 11, 2022

What countries have nuclear weapons, and where are they?

  The Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised fears among the public about the use of nuclear weapons in Europe or against the United States. This level of concern has not been seen since the end of the Cold War.

  NATO countries have been taken aback by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s implied threats to use nuclear weapons against “whoever interferes with us” in Ukraine, and his placement of additional nuclear officers on shifts under a “special regime of combat duty.”

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Accountability in the workplace

  Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time consulting with large companies concerned with strengthening their ethical culture.

  Although I’m sure the leaders I work with care about ethics and virtue for their own sake, I know the driving force to seek outside assistance is self-interest. The risk of reputation-damaging and resource-draining charges resulting from improper conduct is so high that it’s a matter of prudence and responsible stewardship to stress ethical values and moral principles.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Fob James and the 1978 governor's race

  The crowded field for governor striving to oust incumbent Kay Ivey includes Tim James. He has run before. In fact, this is his third try for the brass ring. His last race was in 2010 when he barely missed the runoff by a few votes. He was edged out by Robert Bentley, who went on to win. 

  Tim James’ primary calling card has always been that he is the son of former Governor Fob James. The elder James was an ultra-successful businessman, who was first elected governor in 1978 as a Democrat and then elected to a second term as governor as a Republican in 1994. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Supreme Justice: Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation is historic

  The historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is an essential step toward a more inclusive America that reflects the strength of our diverse nation and recognizes the unique and often overlooked role African-American women have played in building and shaping this country.

  Justice Jackson is the first Black woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in its 233-year history and will be the sixth woman out of the 116 justices to serve on the high court. Justice Jackson’s elevation to our nation’s highest court is a cause for celebration and an encouraging signal to future generations that aspire to the highest offices in our nation.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Biden bets a million barrels a day will drive down soaring gas prices – what you need to know about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

  The Biden administration on March 31, 2022, said it plans to release an unprecedented 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat the recent spike in gas and diesel prices. About a million barrels of oil will be released every day for up to six months.

  If all the oil is released, it would represent almost one-third of the current volume of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It follows a release of 30 million barrels in early March, a large withdrawal until the latest one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Smart devices spy on you – 2 computer scientists explain how the Internet of Things can violate your privacy

  Have you ever felt a creeping sensation that someone’s watching you? Then you turn around and you don’t see anything out of the ordinary. Depending on where you were, though, you might not have been completely imagining it. There are billions of things sensing you every day. They are everywhere, hidden in plain sight – inside your TV, fridge, car, and office. These things know more about you than you might imagine, and many of them communicate that information over the internet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Behind the crypto hype is an ideology of social change

  Ads for blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin seem to be everywhere. Crypto technologies are being promoted as a replacement for banks; a new way to buy art; the next big investment opportunity, and an essential part of the metaverse.

  To many, these technologies are confusing or risky. But enthusiasts ardently promote them.

Monday, April 4, 2022

What the new science of authenticity says about discovering your true self

  After following a white rabbit down a hole in the ground and changing sizes several times, Alice finds herself wondering “Who in the world am I?”

  This scene from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” might resonate with you.

  In a world that is constantly changing, it may be challenging to find your authentic self.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Soaring crude prices make the cost of pretty much everything else go up too because we almost literally eat oil

  The price of oil has been spiking in recent weeks in response to concerns that the war in Ukraine will significantly reduce supply. But what happens in oil markets never stays in oil markets.

  The price of U.S. crude oil jumped to a 13-year high of US$130 on March 6, 2022. It has come down but has been trading above $110 since March 17. That’s over 60% higher than it was in mid-December before fears of a Russian invasion began to mount.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Using all your strength

  A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that branch?”

  His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.”

  So the boy tried mightily to lift, pull, and push the branch, but he couldn’t move it. Discouraged he said, “Dad, you were wrong. I can’t do it.”

Friday, April 1, 2022

Local governments are attractive targets for hackers and are ill-prepared

  President Joe Biden on March 21, 2022, warned that Russian cyberattacks on U.S. targets are likely, though the government has not identified a specific threat. Biden urged the private sector: “Harden your cyber defenses immediately.”

  It is a costly fact of modern life that organizations from pipelines and shipping companies to hospitals and any number of private companies are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and the threat of cyberattacks from Russia and other nations makes a bad situation worse. Individuals, too, are at risk from the current threat.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Tornadoes, climate change and why Dixie is the new Tornado Alley

  Tornadoes tore up homes in New Orleans and its suburbs and were reported in communities from Texas to Mississippi and Alabama as severe storms swept across the South in late March 2022. We asked tornado scientist Ernest Agee to explain what causes tornadoes and how the center of U.S. tornado activity has shifted eastward from the traditional Tornado Alley in recent years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Vaccine hesitancy is complicating physicians’ obligation to respect patient autonomy during the COVID-19 pandemic

  Sitting barely six feet away from me, my patient yelled angrily, his face mask slipping to his upper lip: “No, I will not get vaccinated. And nothing you do or say will change that fact.” He provided no reason for why he was so opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.

  As a primary care resident physician working in an underserved area of Reading, Pennsylvania, I have seen patients of all age groups refusing to follow COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing a mask, social distancing, or getting the vaccine.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Benefactor or idealogue

  Over the years, I have discussed my observations and concepts of the two different roles or routes taken by a U.S. Senator or Congressman during their tenure in Washington.

  One clearly chooses one of two postures in their representation of you in Washington. Our delegates to DC are either benefactors or idealogues.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Planned abandonment

  Management guru Peter Drucker advocated a practice he called planned abandonment. He stressed how important it is that managers develop the wisdom and courage to regularly review what their organization is doing and determine whether it’s worth doing. He urged executives to note and resist the systemic and emotional forces that make it difficult to abandon activities that drain resources, detract from central goals, or otherwise impede progress.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Older Americans are given the wrong idea about online safety – here’s how to help them help themselves

  Recently, the U.S. Social Security Administration sent out an email to subscribers of its official blog explaining how to access social security statements online. Most people know to be suspicious of seemingly official emails with links to websites asking for credentials.

  But for older adults who are wary of the prevalence of scams targeting their demographic, such an email can be particularly alarming since they have been told that the SSA never sends emails. From our research designing cybersecurity safeguards for older adults, we believe there is legitimate cause for alarm.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Fewer Americans are hunting, and that raises hard questions about funding conservation through gun sales

  Gun and ammunition sales in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent years. And although it may come as a surprise, this trend has supported conservation activities.

  That’s because every firearm and bullet produced or imported into the U.S. is subject to an excise tax dedicated to wildlife conservation and restoration. In 1998, these taxes generated about US$247 million in inflation-adjusted apportionments to state fish and wildlife agencies from the federal U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which collects and manages these funds. By 2018, these revenues had more than tripled to $829 million.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Unpacking cancel culture: Is it censorship, civil right or something else?

  There’s no shortage of passionate opinions about cancel culture.

  Depending on who you ask:

  There isn’t agreement on what “canceling” means.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Incumbency reigns supreme in the Alabama Senate

  Being an incumbent state senator in Alabama is like owning that seat. The level of reelectability odds is probably better than that of an incumbent congressman, which is about the same as being elected to a seat in the Russian Communist Politburo.

  Being a freshman state senator in Alabama is a more powerful position than being a freshman U.S. congressman, especially if you want to affect public policy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s path to Supreme Court nomination was paved by trailblazing Black women judges

  Just five women and two African Americans, both men, are among the 115 people who have served on the United States’ highest court over more than two centuries. Both of those numbers may change in 2022, with President Joe Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a 51-year-old Washington, D.C., native raised in Miami, to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

  Jackson’s rise is, in part, due to the work of those women and Black men – and to Black women judges dating back almost a century.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

What you eat can reprogram your genes – an expert explains the emerging science of nutrigenomics

  People typically think of food as calories, energy, and sustenance. However, the latest evidence suggests that food also “talks” to our genome, which is the genetic blueprint that directs the way the body functions down to the cellular level.

  This communication between food and genes may affect your health, physiology, and longevity. The idea that food delivers important messages to an animal’s genome is the focus of a field known as nutrigenomics. This is a discipline still in its infancy, and many questions remain cloaked in mystery. Yet already, we researchers have learned a great deal about how food components affect the genome.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Pollen season is getting longer and more intense with climate change – here’s what allergy sufferers can expect in the future

  Brace yourselves, allergy suffers – new research shows pollen season is going to get a lot longer and more intense with climate change.

  Our latest study finds that the U.S. will face up to a 200% increase in total pollen this century if the world continues producing carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, and other sources at a high rate. Pollen season, in general, will start up to 40 days earlier in the spring and last up to 19 days longer than today under that scenario.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Plantations could be used to teach about US slavery if stories are told truthfully

  State legislatures across the United States are cracking down on discussions of race and racism in the classroom. School boards are attempting to ban books that deal with difficult histories. Lawmakers are targeting initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.

  Such efforts raise questions about whether students in the U.S. will ever be able to engage in free and meaningful discussions about the history of slavery in America and the effect it had on the nation.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Truth matters and trustworthiness matters

  Truth matters, and it's your moral responsibility to find it. Trustworthiness matters, and it's your moral duty to insist on it.

  Never in my lifetime has truth been more important or more elusive.

  Though hard to find, within every mountain of careless claims, unsubstantiated assertions, fallacious reasoning, and outright lies, there are true facts and credible sources. It is your moral duty to find them.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Affordable housing in the US is increasingly scarce, making renters ask: Where do we go?

  The United States is facing an expanding gap between how much workers earn and how much they have to pay for housing.

  Workers have faced stagnant wages for the past 40 years. Yet the cost of rent has steadily increased during that time, with sharp increases of 14% to 40%  over the past two years.

  Now, more than ever, workers are feeling the stress of the affordable housing crisis.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The truth about St. Patrick’s Day

  In 1997, my students and I traveled to Croagh Patrick, a mountain in County Mayo, as part of a study abroad program course on Irish literature I was teaching for the University of Dayton. I wanted my students to visit the place where, each July, thousands of pilgrims pay homage to St. Patrick, who, according to lore, fasted and prayed on the summit for 40 days.

  While there, our tour guide relayed the story of how St. Patrick, as he lay on his death bed on March 17 in A.D. 461, supposedly asked those gathered around him to toast his heavenly journey with a “wee drop of whiskey” to ease their pain.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The American founders could teach Putin a lesson: Provoking an unnecessary war is not how to prove your masculinity

  President Vladimir Putin of Russia loves shows of machismo. He constantly pumps up his swagger. He is wont to disparage women. And he has repeatedly appeared on the public stage bare-chested or as a formidable judo athlete.

  Putin likely carries out such performances for a series of reasons: to reassure himself that he belongs to a group of famous strongmen; to demonstrate his theory that a good leader is one who thrives on flamboyant, unchecked virility; and to show his constituents – including many international acolytes – that male authority isn’t really under threat.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Ukraine war and anti-Russia sanctions on top of COVID-19 mean even worse trouble lies ahead for global supply chains

  Francis Fukuyama, the American political scientist who once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “end of history,” suggested that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might be called “the end of the end of history.” He meant that Vladimir Putin’s aggression signals a rollback of the ideals of a free Europe that emerged after 1991. Some observers suggest it may kick off a new Cold War, with an Iron Curtain separating the West from Russia.

  As an expert in global supply chains, I think the war portends the end of something else: global supply chains that Western companies built after the Berlin Wall fell over three decades ago.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Battles over book bans reflect conflicts from the 1980s

  A conservative leader found fault with how “respect for our nation’s heritage” had been mostly stripped from the textbooks of public schools.

  “From kindergarten right through the total school system, it almost seems as if classroom textbooks are designed to negate what philosophies previously had been taught,” the conservative leader lamented. “[M]any textbooks are actually perverting the minds of literally millions of students.”

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Do you know when to back off?

  I’ve talked before about the ethical obligation to treat others with respect by attentive listening. Today, I want to talk about the flip side of respect: the duty to back off and accept the fact that while others should listen to us, we can’t demand that they agree with us.

  Such unreasonable demands are especially prevalent when someone in authority (boss or parent) lectures, criticizes, sermonizes, or berates an employee or child well past the point of legitimate communication. But it isn’t just people of authority who seek to impose their ideas through bulldozer tactics.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Why daylight saving time is unhealthy – a neurologist explains

  As people in the U.S. prepare to turn their clocks ahead one hour in mid-March, I find myself bracing for the annual ritual of media stories about the disruptions to daily routines caused by switching from standard time to daylight saving time.

  About a third of Americans say they don’t look forward to these twice-yearly time changes. An overwhelming 63% to 16% majority would like to eliminate them completely.

  But the effects go beyond simple inconvenience. Researchers are discovering that “springing ahead” each March is connected with serious negative health effects.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Is ‘headline stress disorder’ real? Yes, but those who thrive on the news often lose sight of it

  It began with a basic “news you can use” feature from National Public Radio. Titled “5 ways to cope with the stressful news cycle,” producer Andee Tagle’s piece, published in late February, offered tips on how to cope with anxiety caused by news consumption in tense times.

  Among Tagle’s tips: “Do something that feels good for your body and helps you get out of your head.” Also: “The kitchen is a safe space for a lot of us. Maybe this is the weekend that you finally re-create Grandpa’s famous lasagna … or maybe just lose yourself in some kitchen organization.”

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Being decisive

  Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it.

  Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, and Pat quits. Frank feels victimized, but he has no one to blame but himself.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Grassroots activists educate voters in Alabama city, despite losing fight for inclusive district map

  One by one, the impassioned residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, stood to challenge the majority-white city council.

  The residents who spoke represented a multiracial coalition and supported an increase in representation on the city council elected by Black voters for this city with a growing population of color.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Indiana, Iowa and Texas advance anti-transgender agendas – part of a longtime strategy by conservatives to rally their base

  Transgender girls in Iowa will no longer be allowed to compete in girls’ sports – the latest in a rash of anti-trans initiatives sweeping across the United States.

  On March 3, 2022, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law legislation that affects transgender girls and women wanting to compete in accordance with their gender identity.

  It comes just days after legislators in Indiana advanced a similar bill aimed at K-12 trans students.

Monday, March 7, 2022

How much damage could a Russian cyberattack do in the U.S.?

  U.S. intelligence analysts have determined that Moscow would consider a cyberattack against the U.S. as the Ukraine crisis grows.

  As a scholar of Russian cyber operations, I know the Kremlin has the capacity to damage critical U.S. infrastructure systems.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

1 in 10 Americans say they don’t eat meat – a growing share of the population

  About 10% of Americans over the age of 18 consider themselves vegan or vegetarian as of January 2022.

  That’s the main finding of an online survey we administered to 930 Americans, selected to be representative of the U.S population in terms of gender, education, age, and income. The margin of error is plus or minus 2%.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Transgender youth on puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones have lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, a new study finds

  Recent studies estimate that 1.8% to 2.7% – or approximately 750,000 to 1.1 million – adolescents in the U.S. identify as transgender or nonbinary. Many of these trans youth experience high levels of negative mental health symptoms due to anti-transgender stigma, discrimination, and lack of family or peer support. A 2021 study found that as much as 72% of trans youth were depressed and half had seriously considered suicide.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth, UN climate adaptation report warns: Which path will humanity choose?

  Governments have delayed action on climate change for too long, and incremental changes in energy and food production will no longer be enough to create a climate-resilient future, a new analysis from scientists around the world warns.

  The world is already seeing harmful impacts from climate change, including extreme storms, heat waves, and other changes that have pushed some natural and human systems to the limits of their ability to adapt. As temperatures continue to rise, transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth. Countries can either plan their transformations, or they can face the destructive, often chaotic transformations that will be imposed by the changing climate.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - 2022 Senate race will be the most expensive in state history

  The marquee race in this big 2022 election year is for our open U.S. Senate seat. It is beginning to percolate.

  The race has been raging for over a year already and we are getting poised to begin the final press to the finish line. The Republican Primary is three months away on May 24 with a monumental runoff on June 21. The winner on that day will be Richard Shelby’s successor.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

How scammers like Anna Delvey and the Tinder Swindler exploit a core feature of human nature

  Maybe she had so much money she just lost track of it. Maybe it was all a misunderstanding.

  That’s how Anna Sorokin’s marks explained away the supposed German heiress’s strange requests to sleep on their couch for the night, or to put plane tickets on their credit cards, which she would then forget to pay back.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Joseph O. Patton: How I survived Mardi Gras in Mobile

  I will freely admit that I had strong misgivings about letting loose on the grand city of Mobile, Ala., during the madness of Mardi Gras -- especially with my girl-crazy coworkers, Matt ("lookin' for love in all the wrong places").

  The sky was clouded over Montgomery before we hit the road, and it was under those foreboding skies that some idiot at the Super Lube overfilled my oil tank, causing my baby, the Buick, to overheat and take an unexpected rest stop in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. If it weren't for a kindly gentleman with a spray bottle full of water and whatever voodoo he worked under the hood, the four-doored wonder would still be taking a nap.

Monday, February 28, 2022

How to succeed by failing forward

  The best way to teach our children to succeed is to teach them to fail.

  After all, if getting everything you want on the first try is success and everything else is failure, we all fail much more often than we succeed.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Joe Cain returned Mardi Gras to Mobile

  Though Mardi Gras had been celebrated for nearly a century and a half in both New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, as with many things, the Civil War had nearly ended this celebration permanently. Though no one ever gets to know what might have been, one thing is certain, Mardi Gras was no longer being celebrated once the long and gruesome war had come to end.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Taxpayers should expect serious delays from the IRS this year – a tax scholar offers tips but says only Congress can fix the underlying problem

  No one likes tax season. It’s complicated, it’s stressful, and it’s getting worse.

  Last year was already the “most challenging year taxpayers and tax professionals have ever experienced,” according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent part of the Internal Revenue Service. According to the agency’s annual report, taxpayers had trouble reaching the IRS, tax returns took months to process, almost a quarter of refunds didn’t go out until 2022, and collection notices were sent out even after the tax owed was paid.

Friday, February 25, 2022

What’s insider trading and why it’s a big problem

  There’s a growing bipartisan push to prohibit members of Congress from buying or selling stocks. The shift follows news reports that several senators sold stocks shortly after receiving coronavirus briefings in early 2020 and that at least 57 lawmakers have failed to disclose financial transactions since 2012 as required by law.

  Congress passed that law – the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, also known as the STOCK Act – in 2012 to fight insider trading among lawmakers with increased transparency. But a chorus of legislators and governance watchdogs argue that it didn’t go far enough and isn’t working.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Calling the coronavirus the ‘Chinese virus’ matters – research connects the label with racist bias

  No one wants their geographic region to be associated with a deadly disease. Unfortunately, this has happened in the past with diseases such as “German measles,” “Spanish flu,” and “Asiatic cholera.”

  It happens today, too, even though the World Health Organization advises against naming pathogens for places to “minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.” By Feb. 11, 2020, the WHO had announced that the official name for the novel coronavirus just starting its spread around the world would be severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 – or SARS-CoV-2. The illness it caused would be called COVID-19, short for Coronavirus Disease of 2019.