Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Morning Links

There's a lot of interesting stuff to read this morning.

1. More troubling violence in Iraq, as sixteen Iraqi soldiers die in a suicide attack in Anbar province.

2. This is very interesting; George Mitchell, U.S. Middle East envoy, is in Israel today. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Obama administration will communicate to Israel that they intend to link the issue of Iran's nuclear program to illegal Israeli settlements. As in, if Israel wants help with Iran, they're going to have to make concessions on settlement activity. That message probably won't go over very well.

3. More on the "truce" with the Taliban in Swat: unsurprisingly, militants who pledged to surrender their arms...aren't.

4. Science news: researchers report setbacks in their explorations of the genetic underpinnings of many inherited diseases. Apparently, it's impossible to link some common conditions (like Schizophrenia) to one or two genetic markers. Scientists suspect that interactions between a countless number of genes can produce or make people vulnerable to disease, making it considerably more difficult to predict the possibility of disease in certain individuals, as well as fashion targeted treatments. Also, Nicholas Kristof (who's had some great columns recently) writes about recent research showing that the IQ's of poor children living in chaotic households suffers, and has suggestions for what we can do about that. And lastly, the "last voyage" of an astronaut whose job has been to tend the Hubble Space telescope, a scientific achievement that has made incalculable contributions to our understanding of the universe.

5. Jonathan Capehart dismisses the tired arguments for intolerance that underpin opposition to allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

6. Legislation that would create a new University of North Texas law school in Dallas passes the Texas Senate, but could face stiff opposition in the House. Despite the downturn in the legal market, I'm not entirely opposed to the idea. North Texas could use a less expensive public law school, and unless we really are in the Great Depression II, the economy should improve in time for the first graduates of the school. Still, it seems like a difficult time to ask for money to produce lawyers who right now couldn't find jobs.

7. John Madden to retire after thirty years in the booth. Madden's an easy target for ridicule, but I've always liked his earnestness and his understanding of the game. Clearly the guy loves football, and has always done a good job of explaining the game to football amateurs like myself. He'll be missed.

8. Bonus music review: the new Metric album "Fantasies" came out on Tuesday. It's good. The hooks are catchier, the themes are gloomier, and song structure is tighter. I especially like the darker and fuzzier synth sounds, which give the album a somewhat more ambient feel. On other Metric albums I've found there's usually 2-3 good songs and a lot of filler. Not so here; all the songs are keepers. Anyway buy it, or listen to it here.

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