Quickies: Star Trek Conventions, Tote Bags and the Environment, and Birth Control Pricing Loopholes

  • Welcome to the Weird and Wonderful World of a 1970s Star Trek Convention – I wish there were more photos, but this is still a pretty neat collection!
  • Are Tote Bags Really Good for the Environment? – “Whether they’re delicately handled designer goods or a promotional product dirtied by daily wear, few totes are made to last long enough to obtain the number of uses required to reach resource-expenditure parity with the plastic bags they were meant to supplant. Though they promise timelessness and sustainability, they develop holes, straps come undone, seams disintegrate. They become fouled with stains and grime.”
  • The Difficulty Of Enforcing Laws Against Driving While High – “That’s why adapting drunk driving laws to marijuana makes for bad policy, says Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. ‘You can be positive for THC a week after the last time you used cannabis,’ he says. ‘Not subjectively impaired at all, not impaired at all by any objective measure, but still positive.’ “
  • How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards Came Tumbling Down – “In a searing investigation into the once lauded biotech start-up Theranos, Nick Bilton discovers that its precocious founder defied medical experts—even her own chief scientist—about the veracity of its now discredited blood-testing technology. She built a corporation based on secrecy in the hope that she could still pull it off. Then, it all fell apart.”
  • Obamacare was supposed to make all birth control free. As a doctor, I see it’s not happening. – “I currently work primarily with low-income patients — now at a clinic in Indianapolis, and previously at one in California. I am reminded every day how hard it is for my patients to obtain birth control. Too often, I have patients return or call my office telling me that their insurance didn’t cover the birth control I prescribed, that there was a copay they could not afford or some roadblock has appeared that effectively denied them the method of contraception we had discussed.”
  • Ivanka Trump’s advice for working women: change yourselves, not the world – “On her site, you won’t find hot takes or angry critiques, no rants against patriarchy or commiserations over working motherhood. Everything is how-to and can-do. Each post is angled to be constructive, even if the topic seems miserable. According to IvankaTrump.com, you can make the most of those boring jobs and unpaid internships! Daunted at having to return to work after having a baby? There’s a list of tips for that too, including: Have the sitter text you pics during the day or start planning for your next vacation.”
  • Why Northerners Think All Southerners Have One Accent – “The tiny island of Ocracoke, off the coast of North Carolina, is unimpeachably Southern. The most remote of the Outer Banks islands, founded by Sir Walter Raleigh and the point of capture for Blackbeard the pirate, it’s a favorite vacation destination throughout the South—sort of the Nantucket for those below the Mason Dixon line. And yet if you were to speak to an Ocracokian, you wouldn’t necessarily know it by their accent.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. ‘Not subjectively impaired at all, not impaired at all by any objective measure, but still positive.’

    I well recall news reports in which drivers ran an obstacle course as they took measured amounts of alcohol, duly checked with blood tests. One of the biggest problems with alcohol is that grossly impaired drivers are NOT ‘subjectively’ impaired. And many kept drinking until they were slurred and staggering, without perceiving that their driving had deteriorated.

    I don’t know how this might play out with THC, but the lead in the story includes references to the smell of weed, and bloodshot eyes, though the driver didn’t ‘feel high.’

    With such a long metabolic half-life. Legislation to deal with marijuana-impaired driving is going to be a big problem.

  2. The article about tote bags is nonsense. It only cites one 8-year-old study from England that says people own tote bags but don’t use them. Then it rants endlessly about hyper-expensive designer tote bags that are too nice and fragile and small to be useful. It claims that re-using disposable plastic (HDPE) bags is the most environmentally sound method of transporting groceries, without citing any evidence that people do so, while citing only anecdotes that people don’t re-use reusable tote bags specifically designed and sold for that purpose.

    It doesn’t talk at all about 99 cent Trader Joe’s bags, that I saw everyone using this morning. (Cambridge has a new law that bans non-reusable plastic bags and has a minimum charge for paper bags.) I’ve been using them for at least 10 years and have never have one wear out or develop a hole that made it unusable.

    Several free bags distributed as fund-raising gifts by various NPOs have had their straps break off, sometimes on first use. Things like this give charities a bad name. Guys, don’t do that!

    Buy the good, relatively cheap ones and use them. You can easily get 50 to 100 uses out of each, far exceeding the break-even point.

    There’s my anecdote.

  3. It’s not entirely without merits. We have a shitload of totes at home. Most are too small to be much good for groceries and some are of questionable quality.
    I get given one nearly every time I go to a conference as a goody bag filled with promotional items and conference info and suchlike. (This year I got a really nice umbrella which my girlfriend has subsequently hijacked).
    I tend to use them for grouping things that I need in different situations in my backpack. So for example if I’m going to go and play D&D after work, I pack work stuff into one, D&D stuff into another, then put both bags into my backpack and get on my bike.
    And we usually do bring a few totes to buy groceries in case we can’t fit all the groceries into our backpacks.

    But we really have a fucking lot of them and in a year, we’ll inevitably have even more.

  4. It just now occurs to me that we should recycle our surfeit of totes by turning them into something else. I may well have enough surplus totes that somebody with sewing skills could make a jacket or maybe even a whole suit out of them!

    1. Rebuild two of them into one tote with much greater volume: (2^(3/2)) ~ 2.8 times the volume, and double up the straps for durability. When life gives you lemonade, make shandies. (A six-pack should fit easily into the bigger tote.)

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