The Return Of The Morning Grumpy – 3/22/2012

22 Mar

Sorry for the hiatus, I spent the past two weeks working a rigorous schedule on the road for my company and just couldn’t set aside the time to write.

Anyhow, here’s all the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy…

1. Government corruption? Thy name is New York State.

Albany is a dirty word.

When the capital is mentioned anywhere in New York state, there’s usually a guffawing rejoinder followed by “rats,” “bums,” or “thieves.”

The 19.5 million citizens of the Empire State can agree on one thing: Albany is defined by dysfunction and corruption. It won’t surprise anyone that New York fares poorly in the State Integrity Investigation conducted by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International. New York received a grade of D and a numerical score of 65, ranking it 36th among the states.

While we came in 36th in overall ranking which includes transparency, accountability, and nearly a dozen other metrics, we did finish 1st in the ranking of the most corrupt states. So, we have that going for us, which is nice. Check and see with how we compare with other states in this landmark study.

2. Why do those without health insurance fight so hard against reforms that will assist them in getting the insurance they so desperately need? America is an odd country…especially weird in the red states.

Nationally, 17.1 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2011. But that rate is not spread equally across the country. Indeed, there is something of an “uninsured belt” running through much of the deep south and the Sunbelt.

The data show some interesting correlations.

  • Uninsured states are significantly more religious
  • Conservative states have a higher percentage of uninsured citizens.
  • There is a positive correlation between the percent of a population that is uninsured and the poverty rate

These states also predictably demonstrate higher costs of healthcare delivery due to lack of access to preventive care, higher levels of bankruptcy due to health care debt, higher rates of teen pregnancy, etc. They’re costing you higher premiums and higher taxes.

3. The hidden cost of “clean coal”.

Each year, the US sets off the equivalent of 20-30 atomic bombs worth of explosives, effectively obliterating entire features of its own landscape. Why? To get at the coal that’s inconveniently located beneath the mountains of Appalachia.

Melissa Ahern of Washington State University described some of the environmental impacts that have resulted from the mountaintop removal process in Appalachia: over 500 peaks gone, 2,000 miles of streams eliminated, and over 140 billion gallons of coal slurry currently held in storage ponds.

Absolute insanity.

4. The “dark side” of Facebook, socially aggressive narcissism.

Researchers at Western Illinois University studied the Facebook habits of 294 students, aged between 18 and 65, and measured two “socially disruptive” elements of narcissism – grandiose exhibitionism (GE) and entitlement/exploitativeness (EE).

GE includes ”self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionistic tendencies” and people who score high on this aspect of narcissism need to be constantly at the centre of attention. They often say shocking things and inappropriately self-disclose because they cannot stand to be ignored or waste a chance of self-promotion.

The EE aspect includes “a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others”.

I’m fascinated by research into social media and how it reflects who we are, how it magnifies our flaws, and how it has fundamentally altered our interpersonal relationships. Each new study is incredibly revealing.

5. Heavy Internet use is partially rewiring our brains and the effects are surfacing in the workplace.

Research suggests that excessive, long-term exposure to electronic environments is reconfiguring young people’s neural networks and possibly diminishing their ability to develop empathy, interpersonal relations, and nonverbal communication skills.

With more time devoted to computers and less to in-person interactions, young people may be understimulating and underdeveloping the neural pathways necessary for honing social skills. Another study shows that after long periods of time on the internet, digital natives display poor eye contact and a reluctance to interact socially.

Might want to take a break from the computer a little more often. Go outside, talk to real people…perhaps join us at a cash mob. See what I did there? Long set up for a simple reminder to join us at Ulrich’s on Saturday at 5PM.

Fact Of The Day: Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital.

Quote Of The Day: Americans are much better at standing against what they think is wrong than they are at standing for what they think is right.

Video Of The Day: Chapter 9 of The Sagan Series, “The Humans”. Humbling, indeed.

Cartoon Of the Day: “The Two Mouseketeers” – Tom & Jerry

Song Of The Day: “The Rake’s Song” – The Decemberists

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas:

9 Responses to “The Return Of The Morning Grumpy – 3/22/2012”

  1. peteherr at 9:19 am #

    All of these studies about internet and social media use just serve to reinforce that I am a disaster. Oh well. I think I’ll start a Facebook support group.

  2. Sol Sasscer (SSaint) at 9:35 am #

    Honored to be the quote of the day!

  3. Chris Smith at 9:48 am #

    SSaint, do you have a blog or webpage I can link to?

  4. King Kong at 9:53 am #

    I think though that there has been some progress since Cuomo took office. Having worked in Albany during the abysmal Paterson years, where chaos and ineptitude ruled the day from the Governor on down, I can say that everything coming out of Albany now and from what I hear from friends still there that there has been improvement. It’s good to know that we have a Governor who understands how to play the game and isn’t afraid to knock some heads to get things done in Albany.

  5. Joseph Coppola at 9:57 am #

    I like my mother’s spaghetti. Her meat balls are the best. Her Eggplant parmigano is wonderful, when I was stationed up in Scotland,I’d dream about it.

  6. Jesse at 9:57 am #

    Anyone else completely unsurprised by the ‘fact’ that all the internet use studies come with “stern warning” side effects?

  7. Eric P. at 10:12 am #

    In defense of NYS Report Card / low marks:

    NYS was assured there would be no math.

  8. Ethan at 10:53 am #

    Sure, The Rake’s Song is a bit on the shocking side, being a tale of infanticide and general, well, rakishness. But for the full impact of Colon Meloy’s ability to wrap horror up in sweetness, you really ought to have posted A Cautionary Song from their first album:

    Rakes are bad, but songs for children about how their mother is a whore? Priceless.

  9. RaChaCha at 2:53 pm #

    Could #4 (help) explain Ricchiazzi–?

    #5: Segue of the week

    LOVE the quote — so it’s yours then, Sol?

Contribute To The Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: