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October 05, 2009

The secret behind Chicago's epic Olympic fail: Nerds win

The battle between jocks and nerds over Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. - By Brad Flora - Slate Magazine
The debate here wasn't best understood as an honest disagreement over what's best for Chicago. Rather, the rhetoric was indicative of a more fundamental clash: the eternal battle of jocks vs. nerds. For two years, wonks like Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader and Tom Tresser of No Games Chicago have denounced Chicago's Olympics gambit as poorly conceived and wasteful. These stalwarts of the city's nerd opposition have couched their arguments in numbers, rules, and historical precedent, hoping to persuade the Games' supporters through tireless skepticism. ... According to that recent Tribune/WGN poll, 84 percent of Chicagoans oppose the use of public funds for the Olympics. Yet nearly 50 percent of city residents support bringing the games to the Midwest. The pro-Olympics crowd has been won over by the jocks of the Chicago 2016 bid committee, a group led by Aon Corp. founder and part-owner of the Chicago Bears Pat Ryan.* The jocks have offered a much simpler message than the nerds: The 2016 Olympics represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show the world how fantastic Chicago really is. ... A recent Huffington Post article by bid chairman Ryan has no numbers. Rather than explain the committee's financial plan, Ryan simply calls it "strong" and cautions readers from throwing in with the naysayers who are too afraid of the scale of the Olympics to take them on. Translation: "Shut up, nerds. The Games are going to be awesome!"

What is the actual rate of false rape accusations?

It isn't 0 percent, nor 2 percent, but neither is it 20 percent. The best estimate is 8-10 percent but even that is on shaky ground. Why it's so hard to quantify false rape charges. - By Emily Bazelon and Rachael Larimore - Slate Magazine
But isn't the rate of false rape charges an empirical question, with a specific answer that isn't vulnerable to ideological twisting? Yes and no. There has been a burst of research on this subject. Some of it is careful, but much of it is questionable. While most of the good studies converge at a rate of about 8 percent to 10 percent for false rape charges, the literature isn't quite definitive enough to stamp out the far higher estimates. And even if we go by the lower numbers, there's the question of interpretation. If one in 10 charges of rape is made up, is that a dangerously high rate or an acceptably low one? To put this in perspective, if we use the Bureau of Justice Statistics that show about 200,000 rapes in 2008, we could be looking at as many as 20,000 false accusations.
I graduated from Antioch College at the height of the Sexual Offense Policy implementation, but missed the nationwide scorn and derision heaped upon my alma mater. I'm still of a mind that false rape accusations are fairly rare, but also that one is too many. I'm also still very much in favor of private institutions being able to remove those suspected of sexual battery at their discretion.

Massive flooding in India leaves 2.5 million people homeless

India floods leave 2.5 million homeless, 250 dead - Yahoo! News
HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) – Rescue workers used sandbags to stop a raging river from breaching its embankment near a southern Indian city on Monday as floods triggered by heavy rains over the last week left 2.5 million people homeless. The flooding, described by officials as the worst in many decades in south India, has killed some 250 people, mostly in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. At least five million people are crammed in temporary government shelters. Flood waters swamped millions of acres of cropland, including sugarcane plantations, prompting worries of a fall in sugar output in Karnataka, the country's third-biggest producer. Traders also estimated the flooding would hit corn output by at least one million tonnes in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for about 35 percent of India's total corn production.

Canada ranks fourth on UN quality of life survey, the U.S. is 13

Canada ranks fourth in quality of life - The Globe and Mail
Norway enjoys the world's highest quality of life, while Niger suffers the lowest, a United Nations agency said today, as it released a ranking that highlights the wide disparities in well-being between rich and poor countries. Canada was listed fourth. . . . “A child born in Niger can expect to live to just over 50 years, which is 30 years less than a child born in Norway. Furthermore, the differences in per capita income are huge for every dollar earned per person in Niger, US $85 are earned in Norway,” UNDP said. Canada’s life expectancy was among the highest with a child at birth expecting to live up to 80 years. Norway was followed by Australia and Iceland on the overall list, which drew on statistics dating from 2007, before Iceland was hit hard by the global economic crisis. Afghanistan and Sierra Leone rounded out the bottom of the ranking. The United States was in 13th place.