[snip] Things the appellate court has to tell immigration judges these days. On November 1 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the decision of an immigration judge who’d denied the request for asylum from the Mamedovs, a family from Turkmenistan. Ahmed Mamedov claimed he’d been fired whenever an employer found out he was Jewish; his wife, a Muslim, claimed she was fired because she was married to a Jew. “Being excluded from all employment…and being beaten by the police to boot, could amount to persecution,” wrote Judge Richard Posner in the opinion that gave the family another chance.

[snip] Mommy, what’s a frog? An October 14 Conservation International press release summarizes the results of the Global Amphibian Assessment done by more than 500 scientists from 60 countries. Number of known amphibian species worldwide: 5,743. Number threatened with extinction: at least 1,856. Number for which data are lacking: nearly 1,300. Number of species with declining populations: 3,469. Number of species with growing populations: fewer than 57.

[snip] Let’s use our tax dollars to finance the growth of Tampa and San Diego. The October issue of Mechanical Engineering reports that “in order to make the process of turning seawater into healthy drinking water affordable for these municipalities, a group of utilities is pushing for expanded government funding for research. The U.S. Desalination Coalition recently sponsored a legislative proposal–H.R. 3834, the Desalination Energy Assistance Act of 2004–that would provide grants for publicly owned companies committed to developmental programs.” Evidently the projected $70 billion world market for desalinated water hasn’t attracted enough real investors.

[snip] Evidence the Canadians are doing something right. Economists Sandra Decker and Dahlia Remler write in an August National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, “We find that being below median income raises the likelihood that a middle aged person is in poor or fair health by about 15 percentage points in the U.S., compared to less than 8 percentage points in Canada.” That gap is cut in half after age 65, when Americans get what Canadians had all along: universal basic health insurance.

[snip] The perfect excuse for watching Monday Night Football. “There are those, said Plato, who go to the Olympics to compete; there are those who go to watch; and there are those who go to buy and sell things,” writes Oxford classicist Jasper Griffin in the New York Review of Books (October 21). “Of the three, he characteristically adds, the noblest are those who go to watch, for their activity is closest to pure contemplation, the highest activity of the human mind. It is a striking thought that in our own time many would vote to give the most honored place to the competitors, the jocks who work out, while others would prefer to single out the entrepreneurs who promote economic progress (and often benefit themselves); but few or none would vote for the observer.”