etc.

In a May 2018 post I provided a link to a Pacific Standard story about the pros and cons of using more technology in the 2020 U.S. Census. I have recently encounter a CityLab story that presents a visual history of the U.S Census. The editors note,

The United States Justice Department is adding a highly contested citizenship question into the 2020 Census, which will likely lead to an undercount in places with undocumented workers and families. The political and social consequences of such an undercount in vulnerable communities would be significant and—as CityLab’s visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger reports—an all-too-familiar story.

The next U.S. Census is shaping up to be a very important one…as they have all been.

“Once upon a time in America, unions were a force to be reckoned with. In 1954, labor union membership in the United States hit a peak of 34.8 percent…” So begins a Pacific Standard introduction to a series on the status of labor unions in the Unites States. “Today,” the introduction continues, “the footprint of unions has shrunk dramatically due to both the general decline of traditionally unionized private-sector industries in this country, and more concerted efforts to weaken unions. In 2017, only 10.7 percent of U.S. workers belonged to a union.” Check out the site for several additional articles, such as “What caused the decline of unions in America?”

In collaboration with The Marshall Project, the Pacific Standard has published a powerful story about recently retired U.S. District Court judge Thelton Henderson, who is credited with transforming California’s criminal justice system. Sadly, his legacy is in danger of being undone.

Smartphones are heavily used for checking social media, taking pictures, and playing games. Now it appears that they are also being used to increase our health and wellness. The Pacific Standard website has an interesting article about a new app for those who have survived heart attacks. The app reduces those patients’ hospital re-admission rates, which creates the potential to save lives, improve outcomes, and reduce expenses. Hopefully many more apps like this are in development!

February 14 is recognized around the world as Valentine’s Day to celebrate romance and romantic love. It’s also International Quirkyalone Day (IQD), “a celebration of romance, freedom and individuality. It celebrates true romance (as opposed to the fake versions presented to us in reality dating shows), independence, creativity, friendship and all kinds of love,” according to a blog post by IQD founder Sasha Cagen. Read the blog post for more information about a wonderful alternative to the more traditional celebration that causes so many people angst. Happy Quirkyalone Day!

The Urban Institute recently released a report about how three million Americans are disconnected from higher education. The report notes, “this study demonstrates what many Native Americans, rural Americans, and other Americans living in education deserts already knew: the internet has not untethered all of us from our geographic location. As long as broadband access depends on geography, place still plays an important role in access to higher education.” There is still a lot of work left in closing the digital divide.

I recently discovered a blog sponsored by the Consortium of Social Science Associations. The Why Social Science blog seeks to “to share the benefits and contributions of federally-funded social and behavioral science research with the public and encourage its widespread use for tackling challenges of national importance.” The latest entry — “Because Social Science Helps Us Enhance Diversity in the Interest of Positive Societal Outcomes” — was penned by a graduate school classmate, Dr. Jean Shin!

“Who among us has not experienced the silent embarrassment of struggling to push open a door, only to realize it is clearly marked ‘Pull’? Or perhaps you’ve puzzled over an unfamiliar faucet, or been flummoxed by a light switch that defies logic.” So begins a Pacific Standard article about “Norman Doors,” beautifully designed but dysfunctional objects. See a bad door design video for additional information; the video references a 99% Invisible podcast about Norman Doors.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has posted an interesting article, “Can Social Science Tell Us How Much Gerrymandering is Too Much?” The article examines how social science research might impact pending Supreme Court arguments in the case Gill v. Whitford [No. 16-1161], which could have major political implications. For the article the Chronicle interviewed Philip Rocco, an assistant professor of political science at Marquette University. The author closes the interview with, “should we hold out hope that social science can really making a meaningful difference in some of these intractable problems we have in society?” Professor Rocco responds:

Social science begins with what people used to refer to as the social question. And especially in the early 20th century, there were a lot of examples where social scientists were working not to dictate the problems of society from on high, but working kind of in collaboration with people both in government and in social society, actors from philanthropies and labor-oriented interests, and large stakeholders, to solve social problems.

When social scientists extensively collaborate with others we can productively tackle contemporary social problems such as gerrymandering.

The National Parks Service has issued a report about the Reconstruction Era that followed the U.S. Civil War. According to a Pacific Standard article about the report, “a new initiative by the National Parks Service seeks to designate sites for their historic significance in the Reconstruction era. It’s a bold and vital move for an agency that has only recently begun to seriously address the racial complexities of the Civil War.” Indeed!