Sofi’s Choice

At a Border Patrol holding facility in El Paso, Texas, an agent told a Honduran family that one parent would be sent to Mexico while the other parent and their three children could stay in the United States, according to the family. The agent turned to the couple’s youngest daughter — 3-year-old Sofia, whom they call Sofi — and asked her to make a choice.

“The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad,” her mother, Tania, told NPR through an interpreter. “And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, ‘You said [you want to go] with mom.’ “

New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered

This article about the brief history of New Coke is actually kindof fascinating.

Coke executives, in their D-Day planning, always expected a small but vocal faction of Never-Cokers. What they miscalculated was the effect that those people would have on neutrals. Nine out of 10 Coke drinkers might have no problem with the change if you asked them individually. But put them in a room, and then put Andy Rooney in that room, and suddenly four of them are banging their fists on the table and talking about glass bottles. That’s how social influence works. It’s how containable brush fires become a blowup.

And Coke certainly didn’t count on the backlash linking up with larger currents of grievance in American life. Listen again to the words people used to describe how they felt—“heritage,” “freedom,” “tradition,” “American,” “Yuppies,” “tofu,” “New York,” “green pasta.” (Green pasta?)

This is how people talk when they’re channeling their resentment at something big into anger at something small. They invoke tradition when someone proposes a new taste, or when the tastes of some different audience or some new generation are appealed to. The dynamic is at the heart of basically every American culture war battle. The language can’t help but reveal its origins: a sense of dispossession on the part of people who possess plenty. Unhappy that the modern world no longer fully indexes itself to their preferences, they express their frustration in a way that only a largely unthreatened group would have the time for.

The Stupidity of Nationalists

New Delhi—The most widely discussed talk at the Indian Science Congress, a government-funded annual jamboree held in Jalandhar in January, wasn’t about space exploration or information technology, areas in which India has made rapid progress. Instead, the talk celebrated a story in the Hindu epic Mahabharata about a woman who gave birth to 100 children, citing it as evidence that India’s ancient Hindu civilization had developed advanced reproductive technologies. Just as surprising as the claim was the distinguished pedigree of the scientist who made it: chemist G. Nageshwar Rao, vice-chancellor of Andhra University in Visakhapatnam. “Stem cell research was done in this country thousands of years ago,” Rao said.

His talk was widely met with ridicule. But Rao is hardly the only Indian scientist to make such claims. In recent years, “experts” have said ancient Indians had spacecraft, the internet, and nuclear weapons—long before Western science came on the scene.

Such claims and other forms of pseudoscience rooted in Hindu nationalism have been on the rise since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. They’re not just an embarrassment, some researchers say, but a threat to science and education that stifles critical thinking and could hamper India’s development. “Modi has initiated what may be called ‘Project Assault on Scientific Rationality,’” says Gauhar Raza, former chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) here, a conglomerate of almost 40 national labs. “A religio-mythical culture is being propagated in the country’s scientific institutions aggressively.”

Wrong man taken off life support: mistaken identity

This sounds like a Twilight Zone episode.

They thought they had lost their beloved brother for good, taking him off life support and painfully watching him die.

Then he showed up for a family barbecue.

In a shocking bungle, Chicago police misidentified a badly beaten and unconscious patient, leaving a family to mistakenly think he was their relative and remove him from life support, a new lawsuit charges.

The stricken kin only realized the mix-up when the man they thought they had watched die, Alfonso Bennett, strolled up to their home for a family party seven days later, according to court papers.

Precision

Five years ago I got a bug report complaining that our geocoding results on Windows differed from our results on Linux by one digit in the 6th decimal place. That’s a difference of ~10cm.

The bug is still unfixed.