Archive for The New York Times

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2017 by xi'an

“An internal Interior Department memo has proposed lifting restrictions on exploratory seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a possible first step toward opening the pristine wilderness area to oil and gas drilling.” NYT, Sept 17, 2017

“The Trump administration opened the door to allowing more firearms on federal lands. It scrubbed references to “L.G.B.T.Q. youth” from the description of a federal program for victims of sex trafficking. And, on the advice of religious leaders, it eliminated funding to international groups that provide abortion.” NYT, Sept 11, 2017

“On Aug. 18, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine received an order from the Interior Department that it stop work on what seemed a useful and overdue study of the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining.” NYT, Sept 9, 2017

“Last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dissolved its 15-member climate science advisory committee, a panel set up to help translate the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete guidance for businesses, governments and the public.” NYT, Sept 9, 2017

Climate contrarians, like Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, don’t understand how scientific research works. They are basically asking for a government handout to scientists to do what scientists are should already be doing. They are also requesting handouts for scientists who have been less successful in research and publications – a move antithetical to the survival of the fitness approach that has formed the scientific community for decades. ” The Guardian, Aug 31, 2017

Monty Hall closes the door

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2017 by xi'an

Among much more dramatic news today, I learned about Monty Hall passing away, who achieved long lasting fame among probabilists for his TV game show leading to the Monty Hall problem, a simple conditional probability derivation often leading to arguments because of the loose wording of the conditioning event. By virtue of Stigler’s Law, the Monty Hall game was actually invented earlier, apparently by the French probabilist Joseph Bertrand, in his Calcul des probabilités. The New York Times article linked with the image points out the role of outfits with the game participants, towards being selected by the host, Monty Hall. And that one show had a live elephant behind a door, instead of a goat, elephant which freaked out..!

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by xi'an

“Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes (…) With more than 70 million people enrolled in Medicaid, the program certainly faces long-term financial challenges. Certainly, nursing homes would be part of those cuts, not only in reimbursement rates but in reductions in eligibility for nursing home care.” NYT, June 14, 2017

“…the architects of the Trump contraceptive reversal, Ms. Talento, a White House domestic policy aide, and Mr. Bowman, a top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services, have the experience and know-how that others in the administration lack. As a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, Mr. Bowman assailed the contraceptive coverage mandate on behalf of colleges, universities and nonprofit groups that had religious objections to the rule. Ms. Talento, a former aide to Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, spent years warning about the health risks of birth control pills.” NYT, July 11, 2017

“Mr. Trump’s revised executive order, issued in March, limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. The time was needed, the order said, to address gaps in the government’s screening and vetting procedures. Two federal appeals courts have blocked critical parts of the order. The administration had asked that the the lower-court ruling be stayed while the case moves forward. The court granted part of that request in its unsigned opinion. NYT, June 24, 2017

The proposed legislation, which Planned Parenthood labels “the worst bill for women’s health in a generation,” would strip the organization of federal funding for one year and bar any federal tax credits from being used to help buy private health plans that cover abortions.” NYT, June 23, 2017

Trump lies

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by xi'an

“Trump achieved something remarkable: He said something untrue, in public, every day for the first 40 days of his presidency.” David Leonhardt

Today, I spotted in the NYT this interactive catalogue of lies uttered publicly by Trump since he became President.

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2017 by xi'an

“Four years after Texas gave up millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funds so it could ban Planned Parenthood from participating in a family planning program for low-income women, the state is asking the Trump administration for the money back. If the administration agrees to restore the funding for Texas, it could effectively give states the green light to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid family planning programs with no financial consequences.” NYT, May 16, 2017

“According to budget documents obtained by the Washington Post, the Trump administration plans to end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which more than 400,000 people are counting on as part of their financial future. Signed into law in 2007 by George W Bush (…), the program offers those whose jobs benefit society – government and non-profit employees – the chance to have their student loans forgiven after 10 years of on-time, income-based payments.” The Guardian, May 20, 2017

The analogy is pervasive among his critics: Donald Trump is like a child. Making him the president was like making a 4-year-old the leader of the free world. But the analogy is profoundly wrong, and it’s unfair to children. The scientific developmental research of the past 30 years shows that Mr. Trump is utterly unlike a 4-year-old. Four-year-olds care deeply about the truth (…) are insatiably curious (…) can pay attention (…) have a strong moral sense.” NYT, May 21, 2017

“If any president tries to impede an investigation — any president, no matter who it is — by interfering with the F.B.I., yes, that would be problematic,” Senator Marco Rubio, on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN. “It would be not just problematic. It would be, obviously, a potential obstruction of justice that people have to make a decision on.”  NYT, May 21, 2017

“A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would leave 14 million more people uninsured next year than under President Barack Obama’s health law — and 23 million more in 2026. Some of the nation’s sickest would pay much more for health care.” NYT, May 25, 2017

the fifth season [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by xi'an

When in Oxford two months ago, I dropped by the original Blackwell bookstore on my way to the station and rather hurriedly grabbed a few books from the science-fiction and fantasy section! One of them was The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, which sounded exciting [enough] from the back cover and gave a sort of reassurance from the Hugo Award label on the front cover.

While I end up being rather disappointed with the whole book, there are redeeming features, from the universe conception, where massive earthquakes destroy civilisations now and then and where some races can locally control or unravel telluric forces, to the multifaceted conception of the story, with three women blessed or plagued with this ability, to the exposition of the exploitation of those women by the ruling class and the rejection by most of their society. This ends up however too much of a ping-pong game, when moving from one character to another character is more and more of a nuisance, with a predictable reunification of the three viewpoints at the end and just too many deus ex machina moments, even for people controlling earthquakes.

Coincidentally [not really!], the author, N.K. Jemisin, also happens to be the science-fiction and fantasy book editor for The New York Times, with a compilation of her favourite titles every trimester or so. And a tendency towards short stories, anthologies and graphic novels that makes the entries mildly appealing to me. But still managed to signal to me a recent publishing of some short stories by Ursula Le Guin.

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2017 by xi'an

The State Department said on Monday it was ending U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund, the international body’s agency focused on family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.Reuters, April 3, 2017

“When it comes to science, there are few winners in US President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal. The plan, released on 16 March, calls for double-digit cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It also lays the foundation for a broad shift in the United States’ research priorities, including a retreat from environmental and climate programmes.” Nature, March 16, 2017

“In light of the recent executive order on visas and immigration, we are compelled to speak out in support of our international members. Science benefits from the free expression and exchange of ideas. As the oldest scientific society in the United States, and the world’s largest professional society for statisticians, the ASA has an overarching responsibility to support rigorous and robust science. Our world relies on data and statistical thinking to drive discovery, which thrives from the contributions of a global community of scientists, researchers, and students. A flourishing scientific culture, in turn, benefits our nation’s economic prosperity and security. ​” ASA, March, 2017