LinkFest 2016-02-05

Caesar was Blonde

Caesar was Blonde

This session of LinkFest is a week delayed, so I have included a double dose of love.

Why Hilary's EmailGate Matters

John Schindler continues to do yeoman's work on the true cost of Hillary Clinton's negligent handling of classified material on email.

EMA will Assess ANSM review of botched clinical trial in France

There have been a number of scandals related to healthcare in France. This should probably give pause to anyone who holds up France an exemplar of how to do modern healthcare. Understandably, the French government agency charged with pharmaceutical and medical device safety, ANSM, has tightened up its requirements of late.


My re-post of John Reilly's reflections on the Columbia disaster in 2003 has been a pretty popular piece. Greg Cochran recently published a scathing accusation against NASA that I cannot fault: they just gave up instead of trying to do something. As John pointed out in his followup piece, any sort of rescue would have been difficult, and there was a lot of ignorant pontification at the time, but Greg knows enough about orbital mechanics and the state of American space technology to know what was actually possible. This is no longer the NASA of Apollo 13.

Staying Classy

Class is real in America, even if we don't want to talk about it. Scott Alexander at SlateStarCodex decided to talk about it after reading an essay about Class in America, and then he noticed that people who have decided to think about class in America tend to have pretty similar insights about it even when coming from different perspectives. I read Paul Fussell's Class, so this isn't surprising to me. It probably helps that my wife really, really likes English period drams, which are all about class.

More than 3 million US women at risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancy

The CDC pushed on an open door regarding alcohol use during pregnancy, since popular opinion in America has long since turned against drinking during while pregnant. Since I assess medical risks for a living, I feel like I am entitled to an opinion on this. Frankly, I think the CDC is nuts, and so are most Americans. The absolute risk of FAS, or FAS spectrum, or whatever the hell you want to call it, is really low. The relative risks are higher [a lot higher] if your ancestors didn't drink much. Also if you drink a lot, but you would be surprised how shitty the relationship is between drinking a lot and giving your baby fetal alcohol syndrome. There are sound evolutionary reasons to think this isn't surprising. Unfortunately, this scientific fact makes heads explode, so we have to make blanket recommendations that probably won't work, in my opinion.

Trump, Sanders, and the Revolt against Decadence

Ross Douthat revives Jacques Barzun's definition of decadence: when a society wills ends for which it cannot will the means. Almost everyone forgets that Caesar was one of the populares, a man of the people. We should expect populism to increase as democracy wanes, and Trump and Sanders are symptoms, not causes of this. On a side note, history records that Julius Caesar was blonde-haired. Remember that before you complain about the actors used to portray either ancient Romans or Greeks, who differed somewhat in phenotype from their descendants.

Walgreens cracks down on Theranos

I find it hard to avoid morose delectation on this subject. I am unusually immune to the reality distortion field that sells in Silicon Valley, so maybe that isn't fair, but I never bought Holmes' line.

The Arab Spring, Five Years On

This was entirely predictable.