Cool Links

I have never smoked a cigarette so I got no dog in that fight, but I have long wondered - 'why not just ban the things?'

I get the whole libertarian aspect of it, people should be allowed to be as stupid as they want, and they are only hurting themselves, hype about second- and even third-hand smoke aside, but we are penalizing tobacco companies more and more each year and have created an entire industry funded by the tobacco industry and that industry exists to demonize tobacco. Now they have even extended their reach to smoking cessation products like e-cigarettes.
Most people don't realize it, but "GMO" is essentially a legal definition and only a vague scientific one. After all, what food has not been 'genetically modified' by now? When is the cut-off date that food remains "organic" and when it becomes icky science?

GMOs are in some instances banned in Europe, for example, but they did not want to put European farmers out of business in their zeal to penalize American companies, so they created a precise definition of GMO that excluded things made using mutagenesis, a less precise (and therefore more risky) form of genetic modification that preceded modern GMOs. So what have European companies gone back to in order to create new products? Mutagenesis.
Fast food often won't be great for you if you eat it too often but some options are okay. An article in Buzzfeed recently identified 26 things that were healthier than regular fare at just about every chain. 

Most are common sense and only one (trans fats) reads like the kind of thing Buzzfeed writers educated by Google searches would say.

• Low in calories: For lunch, that means about 500 calories or less.
• Protein, to help you build muscles: Each of these meals has at least 10 grams of protein (ideally more!).
Why does the moon look bigger when it’s near the horizon?

It's a mystery at least 3,000 years old. Physicists attributed it to refraction while the “angle-of-regard” hypothesis said it was due to the angle that our eyes (or head) make relative to the horizon. The more your eyes are angled upward, the thinking goes, the smaller something looks, due to the physiology of our visual system.

And then some psychologists today say it is a conflict between the conscious and subconscious mind, because, as Kepler said, “Perception does not belong to optics but to the study of the wonderful.”
In 2013, archaeologists working in Alsace, in eastern France discovered the tomb and skull of an aristocrat who died some 1,600 years ago. Her skull was heavily deformed, with the front flattened, and the rear rising into a cone shape.

An amateur digger might have been forgiven for thinking they had found one of the “Grey aliens” that UFO-spotters regularly claim to see. Instead, this was this was an example of “artificial cranial deformation,” or in layman’s terms, the practice of altering the head’s natural shape through force.
Michael LaCour, the UCLA graduate student at the center of a bizarre "science" scandal - we'd do science a real favor if we stopped calling political science and sociology science, even if they get published in Science - apparently made up data in a different study about political bias in the media. The one that got people looking into his other work was his claim that if we just talked to each other, people would change their minds. It was a delight for the truly gullible and cultural activists and it made political science feel relevant.
It's time to end the federal porn subsidy.

You might be asking, What federal porn subsidy? Fair question. Technically, there isn't a federal porn subsidy. However, if we borrow some of the logic commonly used by politically driven economists discussing fossil fuels, we can redefine the word subsidy to mean whatever we want.
That the Tennessee Valley Authority, arguably one of American history's most famous public works projects, has been pursuing the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, Tennessee after 36 years is testament to endurance, namely being willing to persist in the face of bizarre government obstacles that the modern Nuclear Regulatory Commission, run by people without nuclear expertise, exists to create.

Though approved in 1973, the near-disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979 put Democrats squarely against nuclear science and concerns - some manufactured (quality assurance records with incomplete information) and some real (concerns about welding in non-critical areas) - led to delays.
Slate used to be a trusted source for in-depth science journalism, writes Dr. Alex Berezow at Real Clear Science, so much so that the Real Clear aggregator even used multiple articles per week, but now it has devolved into "angry, opinion-driven reportage that is mostly aimed at insulting Republicans and Christians."
A pat on the head is better than some kind words to your dog, found a study from January. If they have a choice, dogs will always take petting over praise, and that was found among shelter dogs and those with owners.

Phrased in fancy science talk: "We first assessed preference using a concurrent choice procedure in which dogs were able to choose between interacting with a person providing petting or a person providing vocal praise. The time allocated to available alternatives can be used as a measure of preference (Baum and Rachlin, 1969), in this case dogs’ preference for different types of human social interaction. By measuring proximity, our results might point to interactions that could be relevant in producing attachment behaviors."
The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that U.S. labels on meat put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage, rejecting a U.S. appeal after a similar WTO decision last year.  

Americans say they want more transparency in labels but the WTO wants less.

And so the House Agriculture Committee voted 38-6 to repeal a "country-of-origin" labeling law for beef, pork and poultry Wednesday. The labels tell consumers what countries the meat is from: for example, "born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States" or "born, raised and slaughtered in the United States."
The KFC Tray Typer is a paper thin, durable, rectangular, standard QWERTY keyboard that you link to your device via Bluetooth and use it to type answers, questions, stories, thoughts or impressions to your personal contacts. Use SMSes, emails, tweets, or whatever else you have on your phone. You can echarge it via USB when it runs out of juice.

Most importantly, you won't get your device all greasy because, you know, you can't go 5 minutes without showing people your chicken bones on Instagram.

Being organic is not the hardest thing in the world; fill out some paperwork, pay a fee and assure the world you only use toxic organic pesticides rather than toxic synthetic ones.

Thanks to having their own special niche under the USDA, with standards created by a panel of organic insiders, even dozens of synthetic ingredients are allowed. 
DogTilligent has developed the All-in-One Smart Dog Collar with GPS, WiFi capability, an accelerometer, a thermometer, a speaker, LED lights, and a microphone.

It helps a dog owner keep track of the dog by warning when the collar has traveled beyond a predetermined location. The Virtual Leash warns the dog when it’s moving away from a human companion by whistling, vibrating, and simulating a tug on the collar.

H/T Neatorama
Organic food is a $100 billion industry yet so far has been able to consistently raise prices and maintain its health halo without issue.
In 1849, Abraham Lincoln was still 11 years from becoming President but his experience as a deck-hand on a Mississippi flat-boat would make him the first U.S. President to have a patent - No. 6,469 for utilizing inflated cylinders to float grounded vessels through shallow water - "buoying boats over shoals".

Also of note: 

In 1649 the famed French mathematician, physicist and inventor Blaise Pascal obtained a monopoly by royal decree for his computing machine.

And Orville and Wilbur Wright received the first airplane patent in the USA, for "new and useful improvements in Flying Machines" (U.S. No. 821,393).
What happened when scientists put African-Americans on a diet from the long-ago "motherland" and African-Africans on an American diet? Nothing good for the Africans.

20 African-Americans and 20 South Africans switched diets for two weeks. The African-Africans consumed traditional American food, meat and cheese high in fat content, while African-Americans took on a traditional African diet, which was high in fiber and low in fat, with vegetables, beans, and cornmeal but little meat. 
What if everyone ate an American diet?

Well, it would mean the developing world finally has parity with the developed world, which has been the entire goal of progressive culture. But now that it is achievable, progressive doomsday prophets who have taken over an alarming chunk of the environmental movement (and there are hundreds of these sites, all of them making money and paying people) are saying that we need to go back in time, when only rich elites had a healthy normal diet and everyone else ate rich or bread or whatever.
Just a few years ago, molecular biologists hoping to alter the genome of their favorite organisms faced an arduous task and likely weeks of genetic tinkering.

Today, those scientists can quickly destroy or edit a gene with a new technology called CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat)/Cas9.

CRISPRs were interesting mainly to microbiologists until 2012 when a team figured out they could combine crRNA and tracrRNA into a single, artificial guide RNA, which they could then use to aim the DNA-slicing enzyme at a sequence of their choosing.

The implications were thrilling...

Amber Dance at PNAS has the history.
It's hard to imagine that people on food stamps are buying lobsters and crab but Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin want to make sure it happens a lot less: a new bill would require that two thirds of food be from a restricted list like beef, pork, poultry, potatoes, dairy products and foodstuffs available under the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.