from the world's big
Secular Help for Trafficking Survivors
I've written in the past about the phenomenon of people who think that their religious beliefs excuse them from doing their job. The correct solution, of course, is to not accept a job whose duties you won't perform; but the religious privilege that pervades society often leads people to expect that their employer should accommodate them, rather than vice versa, and that they should be paid for work they refuse to do.
Usually, this happens in service positions: pharmacists who won't fill prescriptions for birth control, town clerks who refuse to certify same-sex marriage licenses (or, even more horrifyingly, Muslim doctors and nurses who refuse to bare their arms to wash their hands).
What makes this even worse is that, not only will these people not provide the service, they take up a spot that could have been filled by someone who will. Of course, that's very much the point: many religious groups would love nothing better than to have a world where technically legal services are completely unavailable. And it's not just on an individual level that religion pursues this strategy. When government money is made available to provide social services, religious organizations inevitably line up to try and displace secular groups by taking the money and then not offering the services that contract was supposed to provide.
That's why I was pleased to read this week that the U.S. government has dropped a Catholic bishops' group from a $19 million program to provide assistance to victims of human trafficking. The contract stated that the applicant was supposed to provide "the full range" of legally permissible obstetric and gynecological care - and contraception and abortion are still legal in the U.S. - but the church refused to offer either.
This is especially revolting because the contract was intended to provide aid and counseling to victims of human trafficking - modern-day slaves, women who were abducted or sold to brothels and forced to work as prostitutes. If they've become pregnant through rape, they have every justification to get an abortion if that's what they choose, but even now, the church wants to deny them the information and the means to control their own bodies. Fortunately, the grant has instead been given to three secular aid groups, which will provide all the help that trafficking survivors need and not just the kind of help that the Roman Catholic church thinks they should be allowed to have.
This story parallels the trend of Catholic adoption agencies closing down because the church would rather see children remain homeless than place them with same-sex couples, and secular groups stepping in to take up the slack. These are positive developments, not just because it means more people can be helped, but also because it helps erode religion's assumption of privilege and moral superiority. As it becomes more obvious that churches are constrained by their own prejudices from helping people in need, more people will stop turning to those churches for aid and start going to secular groups and charities that put a higher value on this life.
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.