Building a shed

Building the Shed from RH on Vimeo.

This was really cool! And this is how I learned to use tools – by helping my dad.

Ryan Haskell says:

I’m trying to install the maker ethos in my kids. When the need came up for a garden shed, rather than buy a pre-built big-box store job or have a contractor come in, I enlisted the help of my 3 and 5 year-olds (and some backyard chickens) to build one from scratch. 32 lbs of screws and 4 weekends later, we had a nice 160 square foot shed. I documented the effort using a homemade arduino-controlled dolly platform to capture 15,500+ digital photos with my DSLR, assembled here into a 9 minute timelapse video.

Waiting for the trickle down. Oh wait, that’s….

Oh dear. I guess this means Mike Fitzpatrick won’t get to relax and enjoy himself:

LEVITTOWN/TAMPA—Republican delegates and politicians won’t be the only Pennsylvanians descending on Tampa for the Republican National Convention. A group of unemployed and outsourced Bucks County residents will travel to the RNC, along with a delegation from western PA, to march in the streets, rally outside high-dollar fundraisers and call on elected leaders to make the economy work for everyone, not just the richest 1%.

A send-off event is scheduled for Friday, August 24 at 5pm at the Levittown SEPTA station. Community members will wish the “delegates” well and contribute items to a “gift basket from the 99%” meant to connect with Mitt Romney, a candidate who is often seen as out-of-touch with regular people. The gift basket will be filled with items that represent the struggles of local working families like empty pill bottles, tax returns and keys to foreclosed homes.

WHAT: RNC 99% Delegation Send-Off Event

WHEN: Friday, August 24, 5:00pm

WHERE: Levittown SEPTA Station, 801 Oxford Avenue (Bristol Pike & Levittown Parkway) Bristol

Raised on Ritalin

As I’ve said many, many, many times, ADD is really a “disease” of capitalism, where those gifted in certain areas have trouble fitting into the designated slot of good little student and corporate cog. We can’t sit still that long, we’re distractable, and we’re highly opinionated. We’re hyperfocused on some tasks, but only when they interest us.

So what does society do when you don’t fit in? They medicate you.

You may have been reading me long enough to know that the only reason I stopped taking Ritalin was the side effects – namely, that I started to develop Tourette’s symptoms. The symptoms lasted for quite some time after I stopped taking the drug. Now, years later, if I take any drugs with stimulant qualities, the tics come back. So I avoid them.

But here’s the thing: Ritalin was a miracle drug for me. It kept me focused, calm and even relaxed. I could finish mundane tasks, and the drug even lit up parts of my brain that I’d never used (I was able to write songs, which I’d never done before). I think it would have helped a lot with my self-esteem if I’d been able to take it as a child, although of course we’ll never know. And it has a short life, so you only have to take it when you need help – which I found ideal.

So what do we do with the ADDers, especially when they can’t take drugs?

Back in 1999, Rob Waters documented ‘the Ritalin Revolution’ in Salon. “Last year, more than 2.5 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written for children and adolescents, according to IMS Health, a research firm that tracks prescription drug sales. That’s despite the fact that most of these drugs have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with children, and that no one knows what the long-term effects might be on developing brains.” Though the drugs undoubtedly helped some children, Waters argued, “it also seems clear that powerful medications are being given far too easily to some children, fueled by a variety of forces, from managed care to overworked parents. In a culture addicted to drugs, but reluctant to address children’s pain unless they start shooting up schools, it’s become easier and cheaper to deal with troubled kids by medicating them than by providing the personal attention of a sympathetic professional.”

That same year in the New Yorker Malcolm Gladwell pushed back against the common belief that the rise of A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. were resultant of our fast-paced society. “As a result of numerous studies of twins conducted around the world over the past decade, scientists now estimate that A.D.H.D. is about seventy per cent heritable. This puts it up there with the most genetically influenced of traits—traits such as blood pressure, height, and weight,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, the remaining thirty per cent—the environmental contribution to the disorder—seems to fall under what behavioral geneticists call ‘non-shared environment,’ meaning that it is likely to be attributable to such factors as fetal environment or illness and injury rather than factors that siblings share, such as parenting styles or socioeconomic class. That’s why the way researchers describe A.D.H.D. has changed over the past decade. There is now less discussion of the role of bad parents, television, and diet and a lot more discussion of neurology and the role of specific genes.”

In a 2005 The Wall Street Journal article Jeffrey Zaslow pointed out that abnormal thinkers are often our society’s most influential. “Ritalin and other drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have helped many children improve their focus and behavior—to the great relief of parents and teachers. ADHD support groups offer long lists of out-of-the-box thinkers who had classic ADHD traits such as impulsivity, a penchant for day-dreaming, and disorganized lives. Among those who are believed to have had the disorder: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, Winston Churchill.” Zaslow continued, “The question is whether the Ritalin Revolution will sap tomorrow’s work force of some of its potential genius. What will be the repercussions in corporations, comedy clubs, and research labs?”




Around the world, the catch-all measure used to proxy for parental commitment to education is the number of books in a child‘s household. This measure predicts student educational outcomes better than class sizes, or expenditures per student, the length of the school day or better class monitoring. Hanushek and Woessman have found that among 27 rich countries, the United States sees one of the strongest relationships between parental book ownership and child learning outcomes. In the U.S., kids from homes where there are more than two full bookcases score two and a half grade levels higher than kids from homes with very few books.

Don’t worry, I’m sure we’re cutting all the programs that allow students to pick out and take home their own books!

Quote of the day


Let this be a lesson to all you young ladies out there: If you evangelize for torture and unjust wars, you too can play 18 holes with Lou Holtz.

An unserious man

Via Greg Mitchell:

The NYT columnist, just back from vacation, with first column for print in tomorrow’s paper, picks up theme I’ve harped on for past week: the “accolades” for Paul Ryan from pundits based on…what exactly?  “Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket…

“What Mr. Ryan actually offers, then, are specific proposals that would sharply increase the deficit, plus an assertion that he has secret tax and spending plans that he refuses to share with us, but which will turn his overall plan into deficit reduction. If this sounds like a joke, that’s because it is. Yet Mr. Ryan’s ‘plan’ has been treated with great respect in Washington. He even received an award for fiscal responsibility from three of the leading deficit-scold pressure groups. What’s going on?

“The answer, basically, is a triumph of style over substance….Also, self-proclaimed centrists are always looking for conservatives they can praise to showcase their centrism, and Mr. Ryan has skillfully played into that weakness, talking a good game even if his numbers don’t add up.”

Paul Krugman has had it with Niall Ferguson

Krugman is pretty ticked off at conservative historian-for-hire Niall Ferguson for a “plain misrepresentation of the facts, with an august publication letting itself be used to misinform readers.” He wonders if Newsweek will call for an apology. (Yeah, I’m sure it’s coming right up.)

In the past, Krugman has called the Harvard professor a “poseur” who, when it comes to economics, “hasn’t bothered to understand the basics, relying on snide comments and surface cleverness to convey the impression of wisdom. It’s all style, no comprehension of substance.”

I have to agree. Ferguson’s area of expertise is history, but frequently opines on economics, and has a long-standing feud with Krugman. As anyone who follows his frequent pronouncements knows, Ferguson is frequently wrong – and I haven’t seen an apology yet. (Fun trivia fact: The Times reports that Ferguson encouraged Paul Ryan to run for president!)

There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek — I guess they don’t do fact-checking — but this is the one that jumped out at me. Ferguson says:

The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.

Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.

Now, people on the right like to argue that the CBO was wrong. But that’s not the argument Ferguson is making — he is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true.

More than that: by its very nature, health reform that expands coverage requires that lower-income families receive subsidies to make coverage affordable. So of course reform comes with a positive number for subsidies — finding that this number is indeed positive says nothing at all about the impact on the deficit unless you ask whether and how the subsidies are paid for. Ferguson has to know this (unless he’s completely ignorant about the whole subject, which I guess has to be considered as a possibility). But he goes for the cheap shot anyway.

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