Mega Quick hits (part I)

1) I know the Food Babe is low-hanging fruit, but her scientific illiteracy is so bad it’s truly laughable (in this case her advice for air travel).

2) Apparently there’s nothing to lose in applying to literally dozens of colleges.  Well, nothing but thousands of dollars in applications fees.  Oh, the rich.

3) John Judis argues that it is unlikely that Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election in 2016.  He makes a pretty good argument, but I still think you have to consider her the odds-on favorite.

4) Another great column from Kristoff on how whites don’t get it.

WE all stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We’re in a relay race, relying on the financial and human capital of our parents and grandparents. Blacks were shackled for the early part of that relay race, and although many of the fetters have come off, whites have developed a huge lead. Do we ignore this long head start — a facet of white privilege — and pretend that the competition is now fair?

Of course not. If we whites are ahead in the relay race of life, shouldn’t we acknowledge that we got this lead in part by generations of oppression? Aren’t we big enough to make amends by trying to spread opportunity, by providing disadvantaged black kids an education as good as the one afforded privileged white kids?

Can’t we at least acknowledge that in the case of race, William Faulkner was right: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

5) Of course we are all now well familiar how our justice system is corrupted by elected judges.  It only makes sense that it is also corrupted by elected state attorneys general.  Depressing NYT editorial.

6) Some smart analysis from Thomas Mills on the elections in NC.

7) XKCD guide to dimensions.  Pretty cool.

8) So, this was interesting.  An article about how hot air hand dryers spread germs (I hate them).  The end of the article reveals the research was funded by the paper towel industry and performed under conditions not at all like the real world.

9) A couple good TNR pieces on the Jon Gruber health care mess.

10) How Republican outside spending groups are using twitter to get around the no coordination issue.  Devious.

11) Nice profile of John Oliver and his HBO show.

12) In response to a clueless NYT column, Seth Masket explains why the South is no longer Democratic (hint: it involves race).

13) Is there anything lamer than climate change deniers bringing it up every time we get a cold snap.  It’s so depressing that people this stupid serve in the US Congress.

14) Are TV and video games bad for children’s development.  Maybe, but if so it’s a really small effect.

15) Sure, LARCs are pretty awesome, but if you stop and think about it there’s really been very little development in the basic aspects of birth control.

16) I assume that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith believe lots of crazy stuff but are smart enough to keep it too themselves.  Their kids, however, don’t know that you just don’t talk like this.  This interview is pretty hilarious.

17) I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid.  Creator of the series, RA Montgomery just died.  Nice obituary in the Times.

18) Kids aren’t what’s holding back career women– it’s lame husbands.

19) So, maybe you are not really guilty of that capital murder?  Get your appeal in a day late due to a bad lawyer.  Tough luck.  Excellent and depressing series from the Post and the Marshall Project.

20) Australian TV anchor wears exact same outfit for a year and nobody notices because he’s a man.

21) Heard a really intersting story on NPR during the week about attempts to revitalize Atlantic City.  In truth, it’s pretty hopeless.  It’s success was built entirely on having an East Coast monoploy on casino gambling.  No there’s basically a gambling arms race and nobody is winning.  States are doing themselves no favors in thinking that casinos are going to solve all their problems.  Read this one.

22) This light of my life is 4 today.


Quick hits (part II)

c1) I listened to a fascinating Fresh Air recently by the author of a new book about the birth control pill came to be– and it’s no simple story.  And if you don’t want to listen, here’s a nice piece about it in the New Yorker.

2) Speaking of which, one of the key figures in creating the Pill has this to say:

Sex could become purely recreational by 2050 with large numbers of babies in the Western world born through IVF, the professor who invented the contraceptive pill has claimed.

Prof Carl Djerassi, the Austrian-American chemist and author, said he believes that the Pill will become obsolete because men and women will choose to freeze their eggs and sperm when young before being sterilised.

Yeah, I just don’t think so.  I think he’s better off sticking to inventing contraceptives than predicting the future.

3) We keep hearing about how important the “ground game” is in campaigns now.  But are they doing it right?  Very good piece in Vox.  Speaking of which, really enjoyed Nate Cohn’s take:

Turnout was, of course, far less favorable for Democrats than it was in 2012. But it is preposterous to suggest that Democratic field efforts could produce an electorate that was anywhere near as young or diverse as the one that re-elected Mr. Obama two years ago. If Democratic candidates like Ms. Hagan, Ms. Nunn, Mr. Braley and Mr. Udall needed a 2012-type electorate to win, then they were doomed from the start.

4) I remember learning about infanticide among mammals way back in my “Evolutionary Biology” class at Duke.  Fascinating stuff.  A summary of the latest research on the matter.

5) Excellent Jon Cohn piece on the fact that the US is Ebola free and so many people way over freaked-out.

6) Speaking of which, a Durham teenager was barred from his private school because his dad had recently been to Nigeria.  A judge ordered the school to end the idiotic policy.

7) Then again, maybe school administrators had simply fallen prey to the virus that makes people stupid.  Seriously!

8) The ocean keeps getting louder due to human activity.  Thus, fish have to talk louder now.  Really.

9) The pointlessness of most college essay questions.

10) Too many women in a society for the number of women seems to mean more males committing suicide.

11) What soccer/football fan doesn’t love a good assist.  According to this thorough analysis, assists do not actually tell us much about the quality of a player.

12) A rundown of the many zombie parasites that actually change the behavior of their hosts.

13) The trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving to get a head start on Black Friday is just reprehensible.  Bravo to those fighting the trend (and being fined for it).

14) Senator’s son responsible for the truly horrible deaths of dogs under his care at an Arizona kennel.

15) Enjoyed Chait’s take on Republicans being so upset at China agreeing to reduce carbon emissions.

16) Tim Wu on “consumer sinkholes” and the case of the horrible customer service of United Airlines.

17) I’m reading Chomp to the boys and a main character has an Australian accent.  I love doing accents, but I’ve really been butchering this one (except when I can say G’day Mate).  Watched this last night and did much better.




Quick hits (part II)

1) My mysterious illness?  Pretty sure I’ve got the chicken pox.  So itchy!

2) Jerome Groopman on what we don’t know about Ebola and on how learning more could really help.

3) Why Republicans keep telling everyone “I’m not a scientist

“It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who has advised House Republicans and conservative political advocacy groups on energy and climate change messaging. “Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything. Most politicians aren’t scientists, but they vote on science policy. They have opinions on Ebola, but they’re not epidemiologists. They shape highway and infrastructure laws, but they’re not engineers.”

4) How Princess Bride won the internet.

5) A good piece on the Political Science Montana mailer mess.

6) Nice TNR piece on the fact that we always want politicians to “do something!” means we under-appreciate Obama’s crisis management.

7) Did NBC News cut live to a reporter in the midst of peeing?  Why yes they did.

8) Yet more stories of how it is not easy to get ID to vote for many voters.  So wrong.

9) Daniel Radcliffe is one hell of a rapper.  Seriously, you need to watch this.

10) It is a great time to be listening to podcasts!

11) A little old, but new to me.  Mississipi conservatives explain why they hate Obama.

12) After watching lots of ads for juridical races, Gary Pearce figures out what judges spend their time doing:

Don’t ever say campaign ads aren’t educational. We’ve learned a lot this year, for example, about what judges do.
Judging (so to speak) from their ads, judges spend a lot of time reading things out of big books and copying them down on paper. They apparently must do this by hand, which seems laborious and time-consuming and may explain why it takes the courts so long to do anything.
This work may sound easy, but try doing it while sitting down in your choir robe.
Also, judges apparently spend a lot of time conducting serious conversations with serious-looking people who pay close attention to what they say. That makes sense, as the judge can throw them in the pokey for looking at His or Her Honor wrong. Many of these conversations occur when the judge is sitting at a bench, and some happen as they walk along marble-lined corridors.

13) Is it so wrong to judge somebody by their political party?

Quick hits

Sorry for the tardiness.  I’ve got some weird virus with no symptoms beyond the fact that I’m so tired it takes all my energy to walk across the room.  Anyway…

1) How tech companies may be the key to expanding renewable energy in NC.

2) I try to be carefull when choosing my photo of the day and never knowingly select a photo where it would be violating copyright for me to paste, but it’s not always clear on-line.  That said, it is pretty clear one should not be using other people’s images uncompensated in any sort of commercial manner.

3) Nice NYT interactive feature on all the ways the ACA is working.

4) Courts keep giving police more powers to conduct illegal searches.  That’s not good.  And if that’s not enough, the FBI will shut off your cable so they can go in without a warrant as phony cable repair guys.  What is this– the Soviet Union?!

5) You know I’m a firm believer in legalizing marijuana.  But we really do need to pay careful attention to how it may impact young brains.

6) Why the blood test for Ebola doesn’t offer all that much value– Ebola only shows up in your blood at the point from your symptoms where it is pretty clear you have Ebola.

7) I’m always happy to read articles that confirm all the bad stuff I think about fraternities and sororities.   In this case a NYT article on all the ways sororities waste time and money.

8) So, the universe will end when some tiny bubble appears, expands, and then consumes the whole universe.  Or something like that.

9) Bill Maher suggests that Sheldon Adelson should cure Ebola.

10) What your favorite websites would have looked like in the 80′s.

11) How public opinion polls can be self-fulfilling.

12) Is the fact that the vast majority of social-psychologists are liberals creating a problem for the discipline.  Maybe.

13) Holy Cognitive Dissonance Batman, U2 sort-of-disses Neutral Milk Hotel:

Some of the more strange hippie stuff wasn’t that great. Neutral Milk Hotel, you know them? If you were sort of one of the faithful, you could sort of get excited about it. It didn’t really have a universal appeal at all. And that might be its appeal.”

14) I so cannot wait to see Interstellar.  The most excited I’ve been about a movie in a while.

15) On a related note, Europa Report is streaming on Netflix and it’s quite good.



Mid-week quick hits

The quick hits queue is piling up fast and furious this week, so I’m going to do an extra-special bonus early version.

1) How billionaires are becoming political parties unto themselves.

2) Back when I went through my phase of reading classic Sci-Fi I hit A Canticle for Leibowitz.  One of those books you appreciate on an intellectual level far more than on an emotional one.  I really enjoyed this essay about it, though.

3) How a heroic Nigerian doctor was essential in preventing an outbreak in her country.  And she died for her trouble.

4) Really terrific Post story about the front-lines of trying to stop the spread of Ebola in Liberia.

5) Don’t know that I agree with all of this, but interesting piece on Reza Aslan, and the Bill Maher Islam flap.

6) Could non-citizens decide the November election?  Unlikely.

7) Age is a mindset.  And the physical deterioration of your body.  But also a mindset.

8) The link between terrorism and mental illness.

9) Advocating for feudalism among Iowa Republicans.

10) Yes, really did have a “fat girls costumes” section for Halloween.

11) Note to PS professors, when doing field experiments try not to mislead voters and/or break state law.  Though it is a shame this will hurt the ability to do election field experiments which really tell us so much.

12) How Iceland’s history of feminism may lead to a ban on violent and degrading pornography.

13) I’ve started trying to re-learn the Chopin Prelude I recently linked.  It’s hard, but do-able, I think.  That said, I wanted to show Evan what was probably the most difficult piece I ever learned.  I do not think I will be re-learning Chopin’s “Military” Polonaise, Opus 40 anytime soon.

Quick hits (part II)

1) I told myself if I found time yesterday, this would get it’s own post.  It didn’t.  So make sure you read it.  Great Garret Epps post on John Roberts and race.

2) Really enjoyed this New Yorker article on the director of the Susan B. Anthony list (a pro-life PAC).

3) Not surprisingly, “ancient grains” are for suckers.  I’m sure the people who buy this are plenty scared of GMO’s.

4) Paul Farmer says that with first-world health care 90% of Ebola victims should actually survive.  We’re doing pretty well in the US so far.

5) I must admit to always being a little more fascinated by Mormon sacred undergarments than I should be.  Now the church is coming clean on the topic.

6) A nice PS study that shows how the Tea Party has moved the Republican party to the right.

7) Emily Bazelon on the complications of yes means yes on college campuses.

8) Vox summarizes a Pew study demonstrating that there are basically no swing voters in this year’s election.

9) FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub came to my class a couple weeks ago.  That was pretty cool.  Here’s a nice piece about her and her visit to NC.

10) NYT with one of the better pieces I’ve read on the UNC athletics scandal.  I went to Duke and teach at NCSU, but UNC is a flagship for our whole state and this is so unfortunate for the whole state.  And as an academic, I hate to see academic integrity so undermined.

11) When is a debate not a debate?  How about when one candidate never  agrees to it but one organization basically pretends otherwise.

12) Peter Beinart putting Voter ID into the long American tradition of trying to keep poor people from voting.

13) Two nice takes on Iowa Senatorial candidate Jodi Ernst and welfare.  The idea that private charity can make up for government is not just wishful thinking, but simply preposterous and ahistorical.

14) You can never have too much fun with Kansas‘ supply side experiment gone awry.  Seriously, it’s not like anybody who’s not a complete drunk-the-kool-aid ideologue didn’t see this coming.

15) Republicans would really just prefer college students don’t vote at all.  There’s been all sorts of news about the on-campus voting at Appalachian State, but meanwhile nobody has talked at all about the large inconvenience for NCSU losing it’s polling location.

16) While helping Evan practice piano, I haven’t been able to get this tune out of my head for a couple of days.  Took me forever to figure it out because I was thinking it was Beethoven. Than I realized it must be some Chopin.  This is one of many Chopin pieces I loved to play back in the day.

Quick hits (part I)

1) How does a law professor get arrested for standing in a Wal-Mart?  When he’s a young black man and part of a Ferguson protest.

2) Marc Thiessen– the right’s leading torture apologist– thinks it’s only  a matter of time before ISIS starts using Ebola as a weapon.  Of course, this is simply Thiessen’s fantasy.

3) This Planet Money episode on how women started getting way less into computers in the 1980′s (when me and all my male friends loved them) was really, really interesting.

4) I’m an extrovert.  Do I look that way?

5) Who knew that Philosophy departments were bastions of sexism?!

6) On reading actual books.

7) One of the better pieces on Renee Zellweger’s plastic surgery.  All sorts of things are wrong with our ideas about famous females and their appearance, but all that said, if plastic surgery chances your appearance to the point that people don’t even recognize you, well, that’s worthy of some commentary in it’s own right.

8) Want teenagers to wait longer to have sex?  (I do).  Then let Planned Parenthood teach them Sex Ed.

9) A couple of my FB friends are totally pushing this ridiculous new competitor to FB that monetizes your posts in a pyramid scheme.  Seriously!  How many people are looking to make money off FB?  There’s far more psychic value in posting photos like this and getting dozens of likes.

10) Interestingly, breast self exams have no value added beyond that which comes from simply paying attention to any changes in your breasts.

11) I’m fascinated by the business of fast food.  Good article on why Chipotle is thriving and McDonald’s is not.

12) Lawmakers who support Voter ID and not so interested in responding to their minority constituents.  Surprise, surprise.

13) I’ve only read one Percy Jackson book and was way disappointed.  Not that that’s the point of this essay on Rick Riordan books and YA fiction.

14) On Ginsburg’s dissent on Texas Voter ID and the Texas Election Law blog via Hasen.

15) I want some Breaking Bad action figures!

16) More on the Republican attack on science funding.


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