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Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday leftovers.

* The director of a leading US cancer research institute has sent a memo to thousands of staff telling them to listen to Ze Frank and use a cell-phone headset (even if Salon is right and it won't really make you a safer driver).

* Hometown heroes Hurwitz and Hayden are writing another Harold & Kumar—which is a good thing, because it was always conceived as a trilogy. (I'm told they actually have nine H&K movies planned out, including the three prequels.)

I regret to admit I missed the second in theaters, but I plan to make up for that error when the DVD is released in just four days.

* Now that its competing Facebook application is up and running, Hasbro has renewed its lawsuit against the makers of Scrabulous. More at Slashdot, which notes: "EA's version has netted fewer than ten thousand players, versus Scrabulous' estimated 2.3 million." I still say they ought to just buy Scrabulous and be done with it.

* Math may be hard, but there's no gender difference in math performance, according to a new study in Science. Via MeFi, where the poster adds: "Bite me, Larry Summers."

* And the Edge of the American West continues to impress: here's a look back at the decision in United States of America v. Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, handed down 24 years ago today.

* The minimum wage: a disgrace and a scandal.

Here is how the political and economic system has been ripping off workers. Once upon a time, if you worked hard and were productive, that translated directly into your paycheck. Not anymore. From 2000 to roughly 2007, productivity went up 20 percent -- while the median hourly wage was up 3 percent. My friend Joel Rogers,director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, made a stunning calculation not too long ago: Had wages tracked productivity as they have over the past 30 years, "median family income in the U.S. would be about $20,000 higher today than it is." Check this out: Taking into account productivity, the minimum wage should be $19.12 -- which would make it almost 50 percent above today's median wage (not to mention the pathetic $6.55).

That's right. The minimum wage should be more three times what it is today. At that level, you would make almost $40,000 a year. Not an outstanding amount given all the other costs and the likelihood that you would not be in a job with health care and a pension (that's another issue). But, beginning to be in the realm of respectable.