Weekend Thoughts - 6.6.15

Image by  Holger Ejleby , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Holger Ejleby, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all. Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. A great article from iRunFar that focuses on the health benefits and overall importance of ensuring that runners get sufficient sleep each night. Sleep is something that I really need to focus on, myself. This article was a great reminder that it is extremely important.

2. A fairly thorough guide for referring to transgender people, which is timely due to Caitlyn Jenner's announcement of her gender transition that was published this week. This certainly isn't one of my most knowledgeable topics, but I've been interested with the language that is used in the trans community for a few years after listening to several episodes on the C-Realm Podcast that cover this topic.

3. Although I'm getting to this one a week late, the United States Justice Department has indicted 14 FIFA soccer officials with accusations of rampant corruption. It really makes you wonder if the matches themselves are fixed, as well...

4. Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast published a fairly decent piece titled "Can Ecstasy Replace Xanax?" that discusses the potential for using MDMA as a replacement for common pharmaceuticals used to treat health issues ranging from PTSD to social anxiety. A good overview for someone unfamiliar with the topic, although I was surprised that it didn't mention the hard work that MAPS has been doing with regard to MDMA research.

5. An internal investigation has reported that undercover investigators were able so smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through TSA checkpoints 95% of the time. That means the organization is only catching 5% of truly dangerous items at the security gate. My opinion? Shut them down. They're not effective at their jobs, so why should we still be dealing with them?

6. A somewhat provocatively-titled article on The Atlantic, "Why Pot Smokers Are Skinnier" examines the results from research at the University of Nebraska that analyzed participants' fasting insulin and glucose levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, and waist circumference. The results show that current cannabis users sported significantly smaller waist circumference than participants who had never used cannabis and had higher levels of HDL, also known as "good cholesterol". Although it's not exactly clear how this happens, the findings suggest that cannabis may improve insulin control and regulating body weight, which may explain why cannabis users have a lower incidence of diabetes.

7. From Re/code, AT&T Says Subsidized Phones, 2-Year Contracts Going Away. From the article: "Like unlimited data plans, the two-year contract and the subsidized cellphone are on the endangered species list." If this signals an overall trend in the mobile phone industry, we may be paying much higher prices up-front for our devices, but less money in the long run.

8. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published an article detailing its opinion about the passing of the USA Freedom Act that is worth a read.

9. An interesting bit of research on disinfo about how plants know when they are being eaten. As a member of the vegan community, one of the things that frustrates me is when fellow vegans get on their high horses about how morally superior eating plants is over an omnivorous diet. I'm glad that research is being done to determine how much harm we are causing to the plants that we consume. My personal take is that all life must consume other forms of living (or dead) matter to survive, and while it is nice to be in a camp that strives to minimize the harm that we are causing to other life forms, I find it foolish to think that eating a vegan diet is completely harmless.

10. I also really enjoyed this article from disinfo about how pseudoscience and conspiracy theories are not victimless crimes against science. It served as a good reminder for myself to judge the sources of my information. There is an explanation of the efficacy of the scientific method, and I really enjoyed this quote: "Science might not be perfect but it is the best tool mankind has developed to understand itself and the world around us."

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.