•Ezra Klein makes a good point about how difficult it is to dissuade voters of the ridiculous notion that the government should be run like a household, which leads to cutting back spending precisely when the economy needs it the most: "People ... have looked at the increase in the deficit and assumed it was the product primarily of new spending, as most people’s incomes don’t fluctuate very much and so big debts tend to imply big expenses."
That's true. In Massachusetts, a huge deficit opened up a few years ago because of a sudden drop in taxable capital gains income. But it was pretty much futile to explain that to most people, who thought the budget mess had to be because of a huge increase in state spending.
•Sunday's New York Times Magazine has a long piece by Columbia University professor Siddhartha Mukherjee, who gently and patiently tries to debunk the idea that cellphones cause brain cancer. (For one thing, the incidence of brain cancer hasn't risen with cellphone use.) But it's unlikely that anyone with a strong opinion on the subject will change his or her mind. Boing Boing's Glenn Fleishman explains why:
Mukherjee's article is intended to make a larger point: that there is a reasonable desire to want to find a true cause for an inexplicable illness or impairment, whether it's autism in your child or cancer in your partner's brain. We reach out for what we think are causative effects, whether or not the research ultimately backs this up.
•The AV Club's "Very Special Episode" feature has a nice appreciation of one of my favorite shows from childhood, The Rockford Files, though it concentrates on a rather atypical installment of the series. In retrospect, it's almost unbelievable that star James Garner didn't go insane during the production of Rockford; he's in almost every scene (no CSI-type team of sleuths), he gets beat up regularly, and he gives a nuanced performance at a time when most crime dramas had lead-weight leads. (Barnaby Jones, anyone?)
•Boing Boing reports that "shrooms" work by restricting blood flow to your brain. Caffeine also restricts blood flow, but I think it was a lack of caffeine that caused me to misread the headline as "Sitcoms limit brain blood flow and connections." If that were true, of course, I would have been dead at age 12.