MondayWe aren’t very smart about risk. Studies show people overestimate the dangers of rare events yet underestimate the dangers of more common events like driving a car. People are more afraid of illegal drugs, but they are far more likely to die from misuse of prescriptions drugs. They’re scared of the levels of pesticides in foods when they should really be worried about their lousy diets.
So here comes Ebola, and we’re absolutely freaking out about it. Two Americans who contracted the disease while helping fight it in Africa are being let back into the country for treatment, and to see the panic on social media sites you’d think we were on the brink of another Black Death scourge.
TuesdayIt has become obvious that Indiana’s ethics law is riddled with gaps that must be closed.
In three highly publicized cases, state officials have engaged in practices that would have gotten them into serious trouble in the private sector. But in two of the cases, it was blandly stated that “no state law was violated,” and the officials went on their merry way.
Troy Woodruff’s family sold nearly 3 acres of prime land to the state near an Indiana highway project he oversaw as a top state transportation official. House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, whose family owns a nursing home business, lobbied to beat back legislation that would have barred construction of new facilities of the kind his family builds.
WednesdayWhat can we do about the homeless? Probably nothing as long as we keep thinking in such sweeping terms, seeing “the homeless” as one undifferentiated mass of humanity,
Homelessness is down by 3.7 percent nationwide, according to one advocacy group, but there are still a lot of them: 610,042 were counted on a single night in January 2013. They are each homeless for a different reason, so the “comprehensive solution” approach seems like not the best course.
Consider, for example, the case of John Boggs, a 38-year-old from Salem, a town of 6,000 in southern Indiana. He went on the road 14 years ago and ended up homeless on the streets of Broward County, Fla.
ThursdaySo, are you happy? No? Too bad. Just get on with your life and quit your whining, OK?
Indiana cities, alas, figure prominently on one of those dreadful lists social scientists and hack journalists keep themselves busy with. Three Indiana cities rank in the “bottom 10” of unhappy cities, according to researchers from Harvard University and the University of British Columbia. South Bend ranks 3rd, Evansville comes in at No. 5, and Gary makes the cut at No. 9. Fort Wayne and Indianapolis are near the bottom, too, with Indianapolis scoring as the sixth most unhappy city with a population larger than 1 million.
And it gets worse. Rural areas also rank high on the unhappiness.