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Why Just Legalizing Weed Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Legalize Weed

The Article: Don’t just legalize marijuana, free prior offenders by Matthew Fleischer in The LA Times.

The Text: With pot now legally for sale in Colorado, and Washington state gearing up to follow suit, marijuana legalization activists across the country are pushing hard to replicate these political successes in other states. Voters in Massachusetts could ratify legalized marijuana as early as 2016.

This is undoubtedly a sign of progress. Our nation has capriciously squandered far too many precious national resources combating a green weed that makes people feel good.

As welcome as a more widespread regulated marijuana industry would be, however, one thing that no one seems to be considering is what to do with those already convicted of marijuana crimes. It’s estimated that 750,000 people are arrested every year on marijuana-related charges and up to 40,000 are currently in prison for marijuana crimes.

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MTV, Effective Birth Control?

Teen Pregnancy

The Article: So MTV reduces teen pregnancy. Why are we surprised? by Kat Keene Hogue in The Guardian.

The Text: In our polarized age, reality television may be the only thing all of America agrees on: it’s disgusting, fake, bottom-dwelling, voyeuristic trash that rots our minds and brainwashes our kids.

But, despite the hypocrisy, most of America tunes in. For a tenth of the cost of a network drama, reality TV’s repetitive formulas serve horror, humor, and overwrought emotion to tens of millions.

Well, exciting news: we can all feel a little less remorseful about our guilty pleasure. It turns out reality TV can accelerate cultural progress – not just cultural decay.

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How The Court Killed Free Speech On The Internet

Internet Killed

The Article: Today, A Federal Appeals Court Killed Free Speech on the Internet by Ben Collins in Esquire.

The Text: Today, a federal appeals court handed over control of free speech on the Internet to a handful of companies. This is why it matters.

Say you’re an NRA Republican. You’re from Tennessee. The websites you go to on a daily basis are Yahoo for your email and news, ESPN for your sports, and TNGunOwners.com, a message board to talk about your day at the range.

What if one day your access to your email is fine, your Tim Tebow coverage from ESPN is as loud as ever, and TNGunOwners.com inexplicably took 4-to-6 times longer to load? What if you called your Internet service provider and their answer was, “That’s just the way it is now”?

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How Movie Sex Replaced Movie Violence

Sex Violence

The Article: The Movie Club by Wesley Morris in Slate.

The Text: So because I’m miserable at scheduling and really good at overscheduling, this has to be my last post. I leave for the Sundance Film Festival today. But before I go I want to pick up a strain from Dana’s post and talk about something very important. Concussion is very smart and often very hot. That was something I felt over and over this year: It was a good year for the libido. Sometimes, it was an actor, sometimes a mood, sometimes a whole movie.

For two or three years toward the end of the last decade violence had replaced sex as the most viable way for characters to communicate with each other. A distributor can better circulate gunfights, shootouts, etc. than it can sex, especially as our movies have become international mega-productions. But this year, you can feel sensuality in both the masterpieces and the crap. The biggest thrill in American Hustle is the way these actors keep burning holes into each other. Amy Adams, who somehow acts her way past all that cleavage, slinks back into Christian Bale’s office, locks eyes with him, and becomes another woman.

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Where Does Obesity Come From?

Obesity

The Article: Where Does Obesity Come From? by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

The Text: A new article by John Cawley in NBER Reporter, “The Economics of Obesity,” poses an interesting question right at the top. Why study obesity like an economic problem, anyway?

There are two broad answers. The first is simply methodological. Understanding the causes and consequences of obesity is hard because scientists like randomized experiments—e.g.: give one group drug X, give another group a placebo, and observe the difference. But this is almost impossible to do with weight. It’s unethical to randomly make participants obese just to watch what happens to them. So, it’s useful to study compare data and try to find out how income and obesity are actually related. Essentially: To study weight like an economist.

The second answer is that obesity is an economic problem, plain and simple. Obese Americans costs the U.S. $190 billion in annual medical costs attributable to their weight—or 20 percent of national health-care spending, according to Cawley’s research. That’s a shockingly high figure, and it implies that unpacking the relationship between income and obesity could save America even more money and anxiety than many researchers estimate.

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