Thursday, January 02, 2014

Speed Blogging, 1/2/2014. Assorted Topics.

1. This New England Journal of Medicine article is useful reading.  It is about how anti-abortion legislation affects what is expected of physicians.

2. This is the  kind of piece about gender differences in the brain which doesn't get pulled out and dissected under the glaring lights of the popular media.  When certain studies are ignored and others pushed we get a false impression of what it is that research actually is establishing.  My New Year's promise is to try to cover stuff more fairly.

3. A piece which reminds us about certain oddities in federal voting behavior by state.  The red (Republican flavor) states are more likely to be net recipients of federal aid, the blue (Democratic flavor) states are more likely to be net donors.  It's not the direction of the transfers which matters here but the way the voting patterns go in its reverse.

4. Rhode Island did something good:

With the new year came the implementation of a new bill: Rhode Island’s paid family leave legislation, passed in July, is now in effect. That means that three states have paid family leave programs in place, as Rhode Island joins California, whose law went into effect in 2004, and New Jersey, which started its program in 2009.
Rhode Island’s law expands its previous Temporary Disability Insurance program, which only covered those who needed time off for work-related illnesses or injuries. Temporary Caregiver Insurance will now offer paid family leave, covering about 80 percent of the state’s workforce. Workers can now pay into into the program through a payroll deduction, which would cost someone who makes $43,000 a year 83 cents a week. They can then take up to four weeks of paid leave, although that number will climb to six weeks next year and eight weeks by 2015. The minimum weekly payment someone could receive is $72, while the maximum is $752.

As I've written before, American workers need proper annual paid vacations and proper parental and related leaves.  Many other countries have them already and manage to compete in the international markets.  Besides, well-rested and less stressed workers are healthier and more efficient workers.

5.  On the Ani DiFranco debacle.  This is the gist of what happened:

Singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco has officially canceled her four-day “righteous feminist songwriting retreat” after fans and non-fans alike rightfully took issue with the event’s location — the Nottoway Plantation, one of the largest former slave plantations in the South. DiFranco posted a lengthy message on her Facebook page announcing the cancelation and offered a pretty weak explanation for why the retreat was ever scheduled at such a historically problematic location in the first place.
DiFranco has offered a second apology, the one that should have been her first apology.

For more views on this (also on Ani's Facebook page), check here, here, and here, and, for the sake of covering all views, here