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1. Several articles I saw this week are reflecting on data presented in The Pew Forum's The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Here is one interesting chart from the survey, showing what percentage of each religions's adherents live in minority religious status in their own country.
2. This is really fascinating. Smithsonian: Why Japan is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas. “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!)
3. Four Harvard and MIT grads are experimenting with direct aid to the poor. "GiveDirectly, the brainchild of four Harvard and MIT graduate students, is so simple, it's genius. Give poor Kenyan families $1,000 -- and let them do whatever they want with it." Can 4 Economists Build the Most Economically Efficient Charity Ever?
4.From the Guardian, Private healthcare: the lessons from Sweden
its reputation as a leftwing utopia, Sweden is now a laboratory for
rightwing radicalism. Over the past 15 years a coalition of liberals and
conservatives has brought in for-profit free schools in education, has
sliced welfare to pay off the deficit and has privatised large parts of
the health service.
Their success is envied by the centre right in Britain. Despite predictions of doom, Sweden's economy continues to grow and its pro-business coalition has remained in power since 2006. The last election was the first time since the war that a centre-right government had been re-elected after serving a full term.
As the state has been shrunk, the private sector has moved in. Göran Dahlgren, a former head civil servant at the Swedish department of health and a visiting professor at the University of Liverpool, says that "almost all welfare services are now owned by private equity firms". ..."
5. Scott Annan writes in The Future Of Business Is Morality, And The Future Is Now
have reached a point in our economy where it is becoming increasingly
clear that businesses are being measured not just for their profit, but
also for their impact. And I’m not just talking about writing a check or
funding a charity; I’m referring to business models for which community
involvement and inspirational brand building are the profit centers.
(Think Warby Parker, TOMS, and startups such as SOMA.) I recently went
to a conference where the founders of a startup posited a powerful idea:
the future of marketing is philanthropy. But I think the even bigger
idea is the future of business is morality. My grandfather saw this
At a time when the moral framework of America appears to be fractured – or at the very least confused – businesses are in the propitious position to espouse cultural standards that can help restore values that our youth can use to build the next generation of positive enterprise. In fact, whether businesses succeed in creating and promoting positive cultures might determine whether they stay in business at all. The future of business is morality, and the future is now.
Whether it’s the job of the corporation or not to set the moral tone for society, the expectation is trending towards companies setting the right example for others to follow. With the sharp rise in entrepreneurship, young companies have the opportunity to establish strong cultures early on and share them with their communities. Money must have a moral center, and from greater consciousness in business, greater profit will follow. ..."
6. Scientific American asks, After 40 Years, Has Recycling Lived Up to Its Billing?
7. AOL has a short piece about the rise of small nuclear reactors. The Next Big Thing in Nuclear Power: Going Small
8. Scientific American has a list of The Top 10 Science Stories of 2012.9. Depression Surpasses Asthma as Top Disability Problem among U.S. and Canadian Teens
"New data show an increasing contribution of mental and behavioral disorders to deterioration in the health-related quality of life among teens in the U.S. and Canada over the past two decades, and increases elsewhere around the globe."
11. Interesting piece on Why We Prefer Masculine Voices (Even in Women).
12. Atlantic Cities looks into The Mystery of Our Declining Mobility.
More people moved out of California in 2011 than moved in, according to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau, signaling that the Democrat-run state’s economic woes continue to drive residents away.
Most statisticians attribute California’s net loss of 100,000 people last year to its high cost of living, increased population density and troubling unemployment rate.
The widening middle class in Mexico is also encouraging some immigrants to remain in that country instead of moving to California.
Texas — home to lower taxes, less regulation and what the Manhattan Institute calls a “labor pool with the right skills at the right price” — is one of the most attractive destinations for companies departing from California, according to the Census Bureau. ...
"The country reported 85 executions in 2000 but only 43 in 2012, according to a new report released by the Death Penalty Information Center. Plus, far fewer people are being sentenced to death row in the first place. The year 2000 saw 224 new inmates sentenced to death, while 2012 saw only 78, according to the report."15. Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic had a great piece Why 'If We Can Just Save One Child ...' Is a Bad Argument, referring to a statement President Obama made at Newtown, CT. When we deal with complex topics like gun control, we are always talking about tradeoffs. For instance, I know how we can save more than 30,000 lives. The were 32,367 traffic fatalities last year. Let's set the speed limit to 5 miles per hour. Nearly all those lives would be saved. Should we do this "if we can save just one more life"? I, like Friedersforf, am not advocating any particular policy. I'm just pointing out the absurdity of making statements like this, as politicians often do.
16. The New York Times has an opinion piece by John Dickerson, The Decline of Evangelical America
"I found that the structural supports of evangelicalism are quivering as a result of ground-shaking changes in American culture. Strategies that served evangelicals well just 15 years ago are now self- destructive. The more that evangelicals attempt to correct course, the more they splinter their movement. In coming years we will see the old evangelicalism whimper and wane."
He speaks of an Evangelical "collapse" having happened. That may be a bit premature but I think his articulation of trends is right.17. I saw two interesting posts on the sociology Facebook this week. The New York Times had a piece about announcing bad news on Facebook: On Facebook, Bad With the Good. Mashable reports that Socioeconomic Status Predicts Number of Facebook Friends.
18. Gangnam Style hits one billion views on YouTube. K pop rules!