Carolina Rules the Waves and other short notes

Mindful of the warning from Cracked, I try not to get too excited about proposed state laws that haven’t passed at least one house. The 50 states have around ten thousand legislators, so one is bound to be proposing something crazy whenever you happen to look. That shouldn’t be news.

King Canute orders the tide not to come in

Still, this might pass if sane people don’t pay attention: North Carolina is trying to regulate the rise in sea level.

OK, that’s not exactly true. Scientists say sea level is rising at a slow-but-exponentially-increasing rate. So by the end of the century it will most likely be 1-to-2 meters higher. That’s important if you’re building coastal infrastructure that’s supposed to last a long time, like a bridge or a highway. You don’t want it to be underwater in 50 years.

But North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties (and the beachfront developers who dominate politics there) want to reject that reality and substitute their own. So Replacement House Bill 819 says:

Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.

As Grist’s Jesse Zimmerman explains, linear estimation

will lead to predictions that are much less catastrophic, and much more reassuring for people building resorts in the Outer Banks. The predictions will also be flat-out wrong, but that’s nothing new for North Carolina.

So North Carolina’s planners could consider seas rising 8 inches, but would be legally bound to ignore science’s 1-2 meter best guess. Any sane North Carolinians might want to notice RHB-819 and do something about it before it becomes law.


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So imagine you’re a pregnant woman and your boyfriend deserts you. You get so depressed you attempt suicide. The ER doctors save you, but not your fetus. What should happen next?

Well, in Indiana you get charged with murder.


An unexpected consequence of having an African-American president: People’s opinions on race are starting to affect their opinions on everything, even the president’s dog.


At the end of a fascinating New York Magazine story about turmoil at the top of the New York Times Corporation, we find this:

That has led to speculation, and not for the first time, that Mayor Bloomberg, a long-fabled white knight for beleaguered Times staffers, could swoop in and save the paper from itself

According to the story, the current market capitalization of NYT-corp (which also owns the Boston Globe) is about $1 billion. So if you’ve got a billion dollars jangling around in your pocket (as Mayor Bloomberg does) you can remake two of the most prestigious newspapers in the country however you want.


Komen continues to suffer from its dip into partisan politics. Participation in the Race for the Cure is down.


The unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act is working its way up the ladder. A 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeals in Boston unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of legally married same-sex couples who are being denied federal benefits. Next stop: Supreme Court.



Insurance mandates have been part of the healthcare reform debate since the early 90s, when they were a conservative alternative to single-payer proposals for achieving universal health care. So when did the idea that mandates might be unconstitutional surface for the very first time? July of 2009, a few months after President Obama proposed his plan. Until Obama got involved, nobody published any doubts about a mandate’s constitutionality.


Nicholas Kristof is also interested in Michael Sandel’s “What Money Can’t Buy” (book, article), which gave me the Sift quote two weeks ago, and I discussed in “Citizen of the Highest Bidder“.


Follow-up to last week’s “Food-eaters Are Not a Special Interest Group“: John Robbins asks “Why are twinkies cheaper than carrots?“.

24 states have considered taxing sugary drinks. In the face of massive lobbying by Coke and Pepsi, only one proposal passed (in Washington state). It was repealed after an expensive and deceptive referendum campaign financed by the big beverage companies.

What if we taxed unhealthy foods and subsidized healthy ones? Nobody would be forced to eat brocoli, but the incentives would change a little.


About that big increase in federal spending under Obama … it never actually happened.


The list of former Republican senators critical of their party’s radical turn is getting longer: Alan Simpson, Chuck Hagel, and John Danforth, in addition to the recently defeated Dick Lugar.


Glenn Beck never went away. He’s just behind a paywall.


You know who are uniquely qualified to discuss women’s health issues? Men.

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  • By The Authority of Women « The Weekly Sift on June 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    […] Carolina Rules the Waves and other short notes. North Carolina considers ordering planners to ignore rising seas. Adopt a uterus. Indiana charges a suicide-survivor with murdering her fetus. Everything is about race now. Who’s worth talking to about women’s health? Men. The spending increase that never happened. And more. […]

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