February 19, 2013 |
On Tuesday, attorneys for the largest agrochemical corporation in the world, Monsanto, will present arguments before the Supreme Court asserting the company's rights to the generations of seeds that naturally reproduce from its genetically modified strains. Bowman vs. Monsanto Co. will be decided based on the court's interpretation of a complex web of seed and plant patent law, but the case also reflects something much more basic: Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life?
September 15, 2013 |
Would you be willing to share with your employer how much you eat, drink, smoke or exercise? And would you be willing to make lifestyle changes in return for a break on the cost of your health insurance? The University of Minnesota offered such discounts to its workers. Actions such as completing a health questionnaire, biking to campus or setting personal fitness goals earned insurance discounts beginning at $300. Nearly 6,000 employees accepted the bargain. But do such programs have the intended effect of healthier employees and lower healthcare costs?
July 9, 2013 |
It's a common experience in cities like Los Angeles. You raise your hand to hail a cab. One goes by. Then another. You contemplate giving up and heading to the closest bus stop or Metro subway station. And you're left frustrated, thinking that there's got to be a better way. Enter Uber. Uber's mobile app lets consumers arrange for a ride in a Town Car-like vehicle from their phone. Ride-sharing services Lyft and Sidecar operate in similar fashion but use privately owned cars. One plus is that the app allows you to see whether any available cars are nearby and how long it'll take before one can pick you up. Another is the payment system: Funds are deducted automatically from your pre-linked credit card, so there's no need to carry a wallet (a receipt is emailed to the customer)
July 18, 2011 |
Before John Lennon imagined "living life in peace," he conjured "no heaven … / no hell below us …/ and no religion too. " No religion: What was Lennon summoning? For starters, a world without "divine" messengers, like Osama bin Laden, sparking violence. A world where mistakes, like the avoidable loss of life in Hurricane Katrina, would be rectified rather than chalked up to "God's will. " Where politicians no longer compete to prove who believes more strongly in the irrational and untenable.
April 4, 2012 |
Joining my 9-year-old daughter and a sizable slice of the American population, I queued up last week to watch"The Hunger Games. "My daughter had just read the book and was giddy with excitement. Reviewers had reassured me that scenes in the film showing children fighting each other to the death on orders of a totalitarian state had been carefully edited. Still, the movie turned my stomach - and not because of what I saw on the screen. What flashed through my mind were images of North Korea.
August 22, 2013 |
Contrary to stereotypes, there is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy. Indeed, surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job. But there is also evidence that many are reluctant to accept available employment opportunities. Despite work requirements included in the 1996 welfare reform, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says less than 42% of adult welfare recipients participate in work activities nationwide. Why the contradiction? Perhaps it's because, while poor people are not lazy, they are not stupid either.
November 24, 2009 |
Today, a century and a half after Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," the overwhelming majority of scientists in the United States accept Darwinian evolution as the basis for understanding how life on Earth developed. But although evolutionary theory is often portrayed as antithetical to religion, it has not destroyed the religious faith of the scientific community. According to a survey of members of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center in May and June this year, a majority of scientists (51%)
June 13, 2013 |
Any day now, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the Fisher vs. University of Texas case, which could invalidate the use of race-conscious policies in college admissions. Some Asian American groups, such as the 80-20 Education Foundation, have been among the most vocal and visible in opposing what's broadly termed affirmative action. They believe getting rid of race considerations will work to the advantage of Asian Americans, who on average have held more extracurricular leadership positions and have higher test scores and grade-point averages than whites, yet have the lowest acceptance rate to elite private universities.
May 19, 2013 |
Imagine that you woke up tomorrow morning to discover $1 million under your mattress. Leaving aside the obvious lumpiness issue, take a moment to think: What would you do with that cash? If you're like many people, contemplating your newfound wealth would probably make you think about one thing above all else: yourself. A growing body of research shows that the mere whiff of money draws out our selfish sides, focusing us on what that money can do for us, and us alone. Perhaps you imagined buying a raft of new possessions: a faster car, a high-end gas grill with rear rotisserie or even a new house, with a fancy rain shower in your commodious bathroom.
September 22, 2013 |
It's easy to grasp that in a national park, balance must be maintained between predators and prey, lest the ecosystem crash. But when we're talking about our own species, it gets harder. The notion that there are limits to how much humanity this parkland called Earth can bear doesn't sit easy with us. The "nature" part of human nature includes making more copies of ourselves, to ensure our genetic and cultural survival. As that instinct comes in handy for building mighty nations and dominant religions, we've set about filling the Earth, rarely worrying that it might one day overfill.