Archive for January 31st, 2012

Toilet Texting

January 31, 2012

This is an article I wish I hadn’t read.From Yahoo News.

We know where some of you are reading this.

A recently released survey of the mobile phone habits of Americans, going where few other surveys care to go, has found that 75 percent of the populace have used their mobile devices while on the toilet. Among those aged 28 to 35, the figure is 91 percent.

The survey of 1,000 people by the marketing agency 11mark found that private contemplation has given way to toilet-time talking, texting, shopping, using apps, or just surfing the Web, by both sexes and most ages. Among those 65 and older, however, only 47 percent have used their mobile devices on the toilet.

It gets weirder. One-quarter of Americans say they will not go to the bathroom without their devices. While 63 percent have answered calls, 41 percent have called someone else while enthroned. Sixteen percent in the 28-to-35 group, the youngest sample surveyed, have made purchases there. A mere 8 percent of the oldest group have felt such retail urgency. Understandably, given their infrequent chances at privacy, people with children are more likely to talk on the phone than are the childless. Single people are far more likely than the mated to text.

Hope you are sitting down for this: 20 percent of males have at one time joined a conference call from the toilet. Thirteen percent of American women have participated in meetings from the john. That is every fifth male co-worker, and every eighth female colleague. Be grateful that location-based tracking is not yet so prevalent. Be worried about the rise of video on mobile devices. Ignore all background noises. Really.

I’ll admit to answering my cell phone while I was in there, for important calls that is. I don’t believe I have ever initiated any calls. I generally don’t text at all.  If I ever hear certain noises while I am talking, I’m hanging up.


Erin Brockovich Invetigating Illness

January 31, 2012

The story is here on

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has launched her own investigation into the mysterious illness causing facial tics and verbal outbursts among 15 teenagers in Le Roy, N.Y.

Most of the teens have been diagnosed with conversion disorder — a psychological condition that causes physical symptoms like jerky tics, convulsions and even paralysis. But Brockovich suspects groundwater contamination from a chemical spill from more than 40 years ago may be behind the Tourette-like symptoms.

“They have not ruled everything out yet,” Brockovich told USA Today. “The community asked us to help, and this is what we do.”

Don Miller, whose 16-year-old daughter, Katie, still suffers from debilitating tics, said his sister contacted Brockovich for help.

“We’re just trying to eliminate everything, and she wants to eliminate that it’s the environment,” said Miller. “It’s a possibility and she wants to either prove it is or it isn’t something in the environment.”

Maybe I am getting too cynical, especially about lawyers and activists, but I have a feeling that whatever she turns up will earn her law firm a pile of money.



The Screwtape Letters

January 31, 2012

There is really not much I can add to all of the commentary on this spiritual classic by C. S. Lewis. I imagine that nearly everyone knows at least the premise, a series of letters by the experienced demon Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, the inexperienced tempter.  The Screwtape Letters is my personal favorite of Lewis’s books, even more so than the Chronicles of Narnia.

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Image via Wikipedia

I must confess though, that I find reading The Screwtape Letters a slightly frightening experience. I keep imagining my own tempter sitting on my shoulder, writing glowing letters about his success in guiding his “patient” to Hell.


Most Polarizing President

January 31, 2012

I know that Obama has been a fairly polarizing president, but ever? This article in the Washington Post argues so.

President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.

For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent; in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.

Here is the chart they included.

Note the chart only goes back to 1953. Before that they either had not divided approval rating by party or polling techniques were less certain. I think that this is the sort of conclusion that one develops when not considering historical perspective. I can think of a few presidents who were at least as polarizing as Obama is now. Abraham Lincoln was such a polarizing figure that half the country seceded when he was elected. Franklin Roosevelt was loved by many and just as deeply loathed by many.

I am just a little skeptical by claims that present day politics is somehow uniquely divisive. It couldn’t be worse than the 1850’s.

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