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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.

http://www.stateintegrity.org/newyork_embedded_report

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: chris@artvoice.com