Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Water Cooler

Subway pitch man Jared Fogle:
15.5 years in prison.
In the wake of Jared Fogle's sentencing, I became curious: How many Americans are registered sex offenders? The answer may shock you. It shocked me.

One in every 427 Americans is a registered sex offender. The math is easy. U.S. population: 318.9 million. Registered sex offenders: 747,408.

But the number of registered offenders increased by almost 25% in just the last 5 years. Which seems strange. Has human behavior changed by that much in five years?

Turns out, it's actually quite easy to get convicted of a crime requiring registration as a "sex offender."  Some of the offenses that result in a mandatory sex-offender classification are: sending or receiving sexual SMS text messages (sexting); sending nude selfies; sexual harassment between young adults and teens, resulting in "corruption of a minor" (if the age between them is greater than 1,060 days); public urination; sex in public (e.g. sex on a beach, even if consensual); flashing your breasts; mooning someone; and sexual contact with a house pet or farm animal. Among others.

So think twice about sending those nude selfies to whomever you were thinking about sending them (even to yourself). Think twice about peeing in public, mooning someone, flashing your breasts, or having sex outdoors. Don't walk around with your fly undone. You don't have to be a hardcore pedophile (like Jared) to wind up on the "registered offender" rolls. You just have to be foolish and unlucky.

Scientists at Marie Curie University in Paris and the University
of Montreal in Canada have stumbled onto a mystery involving
microbial DNA in the human gut.

Mystery microbes in our gut could be a whole new form of life ( Article requires free registration, but if you're a biogeek, it's worth checking out. Shotgun analysis of gut-microbe DNA shows a large subgroup of genes with low homology to "like" genes in the other groups (so, genetic "dark matter"), leading one to wonder whether there might be a fourth domain of life, heretofore unknown. My take? (Bear in mind I have some relevant training here.) We could be looking at virus genomes. (See, for example, A Virus Where It Shouldn't Be.) Or we could be seeing a heretofore unsuspected class of archeons. A completely new domain of life? That's a bit of a stretch. Regardless, we need to get busy investigating.

Contractors That Defraud the Government the Most Also Spend the Most on Lobbying ( Boeing is one of the biggest offenders. But also:
  • ExxonMobil has 84 resolved instances of misconduct and paid $2.8 billion in penalties since 1995. ExxonMobil is the ninth biggest spender on lobbying this year among individual firms.
  • Lockheed Martin has 79 resolved instances of misconduct and paid $751 million in penalties since 1995. Lockheed Martin is the seventh biggest spender on lobbying this year among individual firms.
  • General Electric has 59 instances of resolved misconduct and paid $638 million in penalties since 1995. GE has spent more than any other individual company on lobbying this year.
Hey. It takes money to make money!

How do you smuggle 48,000 cans of Heineken into Saudi Arabia? Answer: Disguise it as Pepsi. (WaPo).
Why babies should sleep in cardboard boxes, explained in 2 charts (WaPo).

How taxpayers prop up Big Pharma, and how to cap that ( Contrary to drug company propaganda, the bulk of drug research is funded by government. (Also: It's well known that Big Pharma spends far more on marketing than on "the high cost of drug development.") We, the people, have a right to demand some payback. That, or just nationalize the most predatory offenders.

How Many Deaths from Mistakes in U.S. Health Care? ( Try 210,000 per year. Maybe more.

It’s Way Too Easy to Hack the Hospital ( "In one case, hackers penetrated the computer at a nurses’ station, and from there the malware spread throughout the network, eventually slipping into radiological machines, blood gas analyzers, and other devices. Many of the machines ran on cheap, antiquated operating systems, such as Windows XP and even Windows 2000."

Western Illinois University Predicts a Bernie Sanders Landslide in 2016 ( The famously accurate mock election correctly predicted the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 elections.

One in 14 Children in U.S. Has Had a Parent in Jail or Prison (

Colorado to vote on universal healthcare ( Under the plan, known as ColoradoCare, the state would provide health insurance for all citizens, eliminating private-insurance parasites who collect rents for injecting needless friction into the system.

The one thing about ‘matching’ algorithms that dating sites don’t want you to know (WaPo). Wait, dating-website algorithms are a hoax? But I was told . . .

The only affordable retirement for most Americans isn’t in America (

Use the Post Office to Help the Unbanked ( A great idea.

Uber Is Not the Future of Work ( Contains some surprising stats about Uber and its non-impact on the economy.

Are Successful CEOs Just Lucky? ( Really crappy article on a really interesting topic.

To Fix Inequality and Steady the Economy, Think Radically ( "The process of debt-fueled booms and busts is a very effective way of periodically redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich." Great interview, but I struggled to find anything radical in it. Apparently, proposing a ramp-up in fiscal spending is radical now.

Enjoy today's roundup? Share the link! And check out last week's awesome Friday Water Cooler.

A big thank-you to all the great people who retweeted me yesterday:

Buy my books (or click to find out more, at least):

Have you added your name to our mailing list?