Lunch Links: Bill Nye, CVS, Sochi, iWatch, Coke, dumplings and Captain America…

For your Wednesday lunch today-


  • Bill Nye, my childhood science mentor via PBS, debated Ken Ham last night on the science of evolution vs. creationism. Ham is the president of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, where the debate took place and was livestreamed. Um, yeah. Mashable has a recap here.
  • You can also watch the debate on youtube, embeded below.

  • We have our own share of science-deniers here in the Tar Heel state… The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences denied to show a documentary Shored Up, about the impacts of climate change on places like our lovely Outer Banks, also one of my personal favorite places in the world… But hey, you can still catch it tonight at NCSU or tomorrow at Full Frame Theatre in Durham. More here from WRAL.
  • Trailer below.

Health and Technology:

  • Rumor has it Apple hired an expert on sleep research, Dr. Roy J.E.M. Raymann, onto its team developing the ‘iWatch’ project. So I guess you better watch out cause soon Santa will not be the only one who sees you when you’re sleeping. More here from The Telegraph.
  • Read more

Lunch Links: Mind-bending facts about your brain, the 2016 presidential race, and the Olympics in Sochi

Ever have a day where you go from one meeting to the next? Well that’s a pretty good description of today at Policy Watch, so we’ll keep things short and sweet with five quick lunch links.

We’ll start out with 12 mind-bending facts about your brain.

Another mind-bender, we’re two years out from the next presidential race and Politico reports the 2016 contenders are already off and running in the money race.

The North Carolina State Board of Education holds its February meeting on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Get up to speed on the state’s new “Read to Achieve” law by reading this commentary by education policy advocate Matt Ellinwood published just moments ago over at N.C. Policy Watch.

We’re days away from the kick-off of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and AsapSCIENCE offers a few amazing facts about the history of the games.

Finally, even though the Super Bowl was a lopsided victory for the Seahawks last night, we’ll leave you with Bruno Mar’s red-hot  halftime show:

Enjoy the remainder of your Monday!


Some serious journalism for Lunch Links

For Lunch Links today, I thought I’d take a bit more time to point out some incredible pieces of journalism that have caught my attention this week.

First, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism, one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism awards, were given out this week.

The finalists included this bilingual report, Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño about the prevalence of sexual assaults amongst migrant farm works. The piece was put together as an joint investigation between the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), FRONTLINE and Univisión Documentaries.

It’s a sobering look at the dangers that many women face as they work providing our nation’s food supply.

A little more locally, WRAL’s Mark Binker boiled down how top dollars flooded into legislative races, with a profile of the $1 million that led to Republican state Sen. Chad Barefoot’s win in 2012 over a Democratic incumbent Doug Berger.

The piece (click here) is lengthy, but boils down some of the rules and workarounds of campaign finance that can so often be confusing to the larger public.

If campaign finance and the emergence of behind-the-scenes election dollars is your thing, make sure you check out this report from ProPublica, “Buying Your Money: Dark Money and Big Data.” There are loads of interactive features to look at how races across the nation are getting propped up from corporate and political party money.

All of that campaign finance talk is a good reminder that today’s the deadline for North Carolina state elected officials to turn in their campaign finance reports for the second half of 2013.

The state Board of Elections compiles the forms electronically here, and will be uploaded in coming days.

Happy sleuthing!

Lunch Links: Omaha, concussions and unions

The snow day’s over, but the Super Bowl’s just days away. Here’s a few off-the-beaten path football bits to chew on.

They may not look it, but offensive linemen are the smartest players on the field. So says the author of  this story, free over at Byliner:

Offensive linemen, their socks drooping down to their ankles, jerseys stretched tight over their guts, waddle to the line of scrimmage and briefly get in the way of the defense before falling to the ground and struggling to get back up. They come walking off the field and plop down on the bench, steam curling up around them like smoke from a barbecue pit.

Too bad fans can’t peer inside the players’ heads, because then they’d see complicated circuitry that operates without a kill switch. The behemoths of the offensive line are thinking men, forever processing defensive formations and alignments and calculating how to attack them, while simultaneously obsessing about things such as which foot to move first at the snap and how to position the hips for optimum leverage.

Is the same true for the players on the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks?  Or are they too clever by half? Check out this discussion at the Wall Street Journal about how the teams have avoided plenty of calls on their controversial pass plays. (Can you say “Omaha”?)

The $765 million settlement in the widely-reported NFL concussion litigation is in jeopardy, as U.S. District Judge Anita Brody rejected the deal earlier this month as inadequate for the more than 4800 players who sued the league. Read more about what that means for the players and the lawsuit here.

Benefits from that settlement will not, of course, inure to college football players – the only people in a billion-dollar industry who do all the work and reap none of the gains. Not only do they lack funds for medical costs associated with concussions, in many instances they’re on the hook for their own medical expenses incurred because of a football-related injury. This week, though, some of them are pushing back. Here’s Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter this week announcing player requests to be represented by a union. It’s not about getting paid, Colter said; it’s about giving players a seat at the table to negotiate things like better medical coverage and academic support.

Finally, no Super Bowl would be complete without the commercials. No spoilers here, just some of the best over the years.

Go Broncos!!

Lunch Links: Whiparound coverage of the courts

Supreme court

Courts across the country stepped into 2014 in earnest this past week, taking on several of the hot-button issues that have been percolating in arguments and through decisions.

So with a nod to ESPN, we offer our own version of whiparound coverage of the week’s activity for today’s Lunch Links.

Abortion rights were front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court this past week, as the court took a new case brought by a pro-life group challenging a state law prohibiting lying in campaign materials, refused to hear an appeal concerning an Arizona law that banned most abortions at the 20-week mark, and struggled through arguments about whether buffer zones keeping pro-life protesters a set distance away from  abortion clinics violated the right to free speech. 

These cases, plus the one brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor challenging the contraceptive mandate, show just how women’s health issues are now playing out in the free speech arena, leading Slate’s court commentator to ask this question: “Do we have the right to choose about how we talk about the right to choose?”

Proponents of same-sex marriage got yet another victory yesterday when a federal judge in Oklahoma found that  the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. That ruling comes on the heels of a similar decision in Utah in late December, leading one constitutional law professor to forecast a trend in this CNN report:

Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond, said that federal district judges striking at state bans “looks like a trend” that, ironically, is kicking into gear in the generally conservative states of Utah and Oklahoma.

“It seems to be moving much more quickly than people thought,” said Tobias.

The health care law got a boost from a federal judge in Washington, who ruled yesterday that subsidies were available to eligible income consumers regardless of whether they bought their insurance through a state or federal exchange. Calling the position taken by those challenging the subsidies “absurd,” U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman wrote that “The plain text of the statute, the statutory structure and the statutory purpose make clear that Congress intended to make premium tax credits available on both state-run and federally facilitated exchanges.”

“Net neutrality” took a hit on Tuesday when the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the federal government could no longer require Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally. Not quite sure what that means?  Elise Hu at NPR can help you, with this primer.

And in a largely under-reported decision, state Attorneys General landed a win from the Supreme Court when it confirmed that they have the right to bring so-called “parens patriae” actions in state court — not necessarily in federal court, as the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had held.

State AGs typically bring actions to enforce consumer, antitrust and other state laws, in the state’s name but for the benefit of its residents.  A maker of LCD crystals used in flat screen televisions and computer monitors, with the support of the defense bar and manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies, had argued that because AG actions inured to the benefit of large numbers of people, they were more akin to mass actions that had to be litigated in federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act. Wrong, said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for a unanimous court in Mississippi v. AU Optronics Corp.

That’s plenty to chew on for a lunch hour, but wait . . . . there’s been plenty of Bruce in the news this week too:

The album, the  interview, the heroes’ list and, of course, the skit with Jimmy Fallon.  I couldn’t resist.