The cost of avoiding a financial meltdown

November 24, 2014

On the last Wednesday of October, the Federal Reserve Bank announced the end of its controversial quantitative easing program using the kind of delightfully prolix language that can only come from an economist or a robot:

Too many people, too few bees

November 21, 2014

This weekend’s Data Dive features a science theme, replete with visualizations and facts from the past week on the Web.

The problem with core inflation and endless election campaigns

November 21, 2014

Another week, another legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Today House Republicans filed a lawsuit challenging two executive actions that President Obama has taken in implementing his administration’s signature healthcare legislation. After unsuccessfully voting to repeal the 2010 law over 50 times, House Speaker John Boehner finally found  an attorney willing to take the case. When combined with the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on healthcare subsidies, today’s suit maintains GOP hopes that a piecemeal approach can dismantle the law that is destroying liberty by keeping people from dying.

Be a decent person: go shopping this weekend

November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving is a week away, which has the consumerist industrial complex eagerly looking forward to squeezing every last penny out of this year’s shortened holiday shopping season. But how much is too much, and how early is too early?

Why dangerous jobs aren’t always that dangerous

November 19, 2014

It should come as little surprise that special attention is being paid to the accident that left four dead at a chemical plant in LaPorte, Texas, over the weekend. By the force of their possible magnitude and hideousness, fatalities from chemical leaks can be especially frightening. But while chemical deaths can be nightmarish, their status in the ledger of workplace dangers tends to be less spectacular. 

Unwrapping the sweet science of sugar pricing

November 18, 2014

If you’re like me, the past few days of social media have featured a handful of friends and follows who are positively aghast at a threat to our very way of life. I’m not talking about Ebola-carrying ISIS warriors infiltrating America’s porous borders to deliver dastardly deaths. Instead, I speak of the impending chocolate crisis.

Japan’s surprise recession had historical hints

November 17, 2014

Japan woke up this morning with a seven-month-old hangover.

The news that Japan slid into a recession during the third quarter of this year came as a surprise to many, but a closer look shows that historical data may have been helpfully predictive.

Of hamburgers, pizza, turkeys and romance

November 14, 2014

Working on this weekend’s Data Dive made me think of the word mimesis—”representation or imitation of the real world in art and literature”—which I first remember hearing in romantic literature class in 1996. I Googled “mimesis” and was delivered a Google Books interactive of references to the word in books published between 1800 and 2008; it peaked in 1997. We truly live in wondrous times.

Blocking Obama’s mission to reduce emissions

November 14, 2014

A recalcitrant FCC chairman is only one way to undermine policy.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping announced a “largely symbolic plan” to reduce carbon emissions in the coming decades. Although the U.S. pledged only modest increases to already-declared goals, the demands placed on the Chinese were even more squishy, and the disparity was enough to leave presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “particularly distressed,” concerned that his home state of Kentucky might be shackled with burdensome regulations while the Chinese run free.

The drive to help you survive your drive

November 13, 2014

With the midterm elections over, Americans can bravely step out from beneath the shadow of ISIS and Ebola fear mongering and concentrate on the mundane, everyday threats to our lives.