Cutting edge

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The emptiness of A-Rod

Doug Glanville at The New York Times Opinionator blog says the drug allegations against the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez "[illuminates] the emptiness of his choices.

"You can take performance-enhancing drugs to fool the game into believing that you dominated and endured. You can break records that seemed unbreakable. It can all lead to a contract that surpasses the gross domestic products of some nations. But as the drugs give your stats greater value, they take away everything else. ... Numbers mean nothing when you stop knowing what they are actually counting and why."

Do nothing, rest up

Satirist Andy Borowitz at The Borowitz Report: "As House Republicans began their five-week summer vacation, their leader, House Speaker John Boehner, urged them to rest up for 'the many symbolic and meaningless votes that lie ahead.' Mr. Boehner, while congratulating his colleagues on having voted to repeal Obamacare 40 times, reminded his fellow Republicans that their work is 'far from over. I want you to come back from vacation rested and refreshed, because we've got another year of futile, time-wasting votes to cast,' he said. 'Only the strong will survive.' "

Trolls vs. innovation

James R. Copland at Politico: "When America's system of patent litigation has gotten so dysfunctional that President Barack Obama and Republican Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte agree on the need for reform, something is amiss. Make no mistake: Patents are important. Inventors' ability to protect and exploit their discoveries has long been an essential driver of American prosperity -- deemed so vital by the founding fathers that granting patents was one of the new federal government's few enumerated legislative powers."

One big problem, Mr. Copland writes, is "patent trolls -- people or companies that produce no goods or services themselves but exist to acquire patent rights and seek to enforce them against businesses that are producing goods or services using related technologies. Over the last six years, the number of lawsuits filed by such patent-assertion entities has increased 526 percent ..."

GOP vs. the government

Aaron Renn, an urban analyst and publisher of The Urbanophile policy website, says Republicans should stop writing off the city, and start thinking seriously about how to remake it and reinvest in it:

"Republicans tend to see big cities as corrupt and incompetent and, judging by recent election results, the feeling seems to be mutual. ... Under Tea Party influence and opposition to President Obama, Republicans have come increasingly to view government purely as a fiscal machine, and their guiding ambition is simply to reduce the amount of money flowing through it. ... This message doesn't work at the local level. Most city dwellers are happy, not terrified, to see the fire department, or an EMS crew, or even a garbage truck, show up to help. [People] rely on their local governments to deliver services that they rightly consider to be highly valuable. By treating government as a fiscal machine, Republicans neglect the need to think of ways to make government operations more efficient and effective."

Got history?

Our collective eurocentric worldview -- and view of world history -- is one part ancestry, and one part lactose intolerance. So says Andrew Curry, at Nature.com: "During the most recent Ice Age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because -- unlike children -- they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase -- and drink milk -- throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed.

"This two-step milk revolution may have been a prime factor in allowing bands of farmers and herders from the south to sweep through Europe and displace the hunter-gatherer cultures that had lived there for millennia."

opinion_commentary

Compiled by Greg Victor (gvictor@post-gazette.com) and Bill Toland (btoland@post-gazette.com).


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