AP calls out White House officials for anonymized press conference.

From the AP: “The White House organized a conference call with two senior administration officials to preview an announcement by President Barack Obama about an important China trade issue but told reporters that no one could be quoted by name. The officials were U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the deputy national security adviser for …

PPP’s survey of likely Republican voters in Mississippi and Alabama is really something.

Forget the presidential race—the other responses are pretty amazing. Only 14% believe that the presidentis is Christian (45% believe he’s Muslim, 41% don’t know). Just 26% believe in evolution. One in five believe that interracial marriage should be a crime, with just 67% supporting its legality. It’s little wonder that these two states generally show …

That little waving cat sculpture in Chinese restaurants is called a “Maneki Neko.”

The “beckoning cat” turns out to be Japanese, not Chinese, and is properly rendered as a ceramic sculpture, rather than shiny, gold plastic. It’s beckoning passersby to enter the establishment, although the gesture doesn’t really translate, since in the West, that’s how we wave hello and goodbye. They appear to date to the 1870s. →

Peanut allergies are fantastically rare, even among people who ostensibly have peanut allergies.

It’s been known for some years now that very few people who believe that they have peanut allergies actually have peanut allergies, but the precise number hasn’t been known. The University of Manchester tested this by giving peanuts to a bunch of kids with peanut allergies (a bold move, to be sure) and found that …

CBS News calling a spade a spade.

Further to this happy trend of media outlets pointing out when the subject of their coverage is lying comes a piece by Lucy Madison, writing for CBS News, regarding Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke: “In her testimony, Fluke largely discussed the high cost of contraception and the important medical benefits it can offer women. She …

An archive of reports issued to the General Assembly.

The state legislature routinely puts together commissions that conclude by issuing a report about its assigned topic. Dozens of reports have been published this year, on topics as varied as “Management of State-owned Bottomlands on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore” and “Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors in Virginia.” Although most of the older …

Clouds are getting lower.

Here’s something I never thought to wonder about: the average height of clouds. From March 2000–February 2010, clouds got 100–130 feet lower. There’s no long-term monitoring, so it’s not clear whether this is part of a larger trend. One theory is that this might be part of a negative feedback loop as the planet responds …