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.