My new hero

Had an interesting discussion with colleagues at lunch today as to how much lattitude government officials should have in a genuine infectious disease emergency.  Thing is, Ebola in the US is not an infectious disease emergency.  The policy of quarantining non-symptomatic health care workers just doesn’t have any real science behind it.  It’s the politics of fear.  So, whether Maine has the right to quarantine Kacey Hickox or not, doing so is stupid policy.  And stupid policy calls for civil disobedience.  Hooray for Knox for taking a bike ride.  And shame on the state of Maine for making it absurdly difficult to get a pizza delivered.  Vox:

Now, it is Hickox’s pizza is being held captive. ABC News reports that a local pizza place called the Moose Shack (it gets 2.5 stars on Yelp) would like to send Hickox a pizza. This is a very thoughtful thing for a local business to do for a nurse who helped battle a vicious pandemic.

While Hickox told reporters last night she would enjoy a pizza, it still hasn’t been delivered. This is because the Moose Shack is still “in contact with the police department to see whether they can deliver a pizza.” We’re now at about 20 hours since the ask was made — and no pizza.

Yes, we’ve learned that Ebola can be transmitted in ways we didn’t expect before this outbreak had begun. But it is literally impossible to imagine how Ebola could be transmitted in this particular scenario, which involves a health worker who has twice tested negative for Ebola and a pizza delivery person who has not recently traveled to West Africa. The risk of transmission is non-existent because nobody involved in the exchange has Ebola.

This is arguably the height of absurdity in how the United States has treated returning health care workers. Hickox came home from a harrowing experience and she just wants to get a pizza from a local place that she likes. And for some reason, the Maine police’s response is not a clear yes, of course you should have access to a comfort food. So, hurry up and do the right thing, Maine: let Kaci Hickox have a pizza

House of Cards in NC

I don’t think I can embed this video attacking my friends Sarah and Dan Crawford, but it really has to be seen to be believed.  And House of Cards fans should love it.

Just follow the link and watch.

Some commentary from NC political strategist Gary Pearce:

Chad Barefoot must have asked his team: “What can we do that will so anger and offend women that they’ll vote AGAINST me?”
They came up with an ad that has backfire potential approaching the “child molester” ad against Justice Robin Hudson. It portrays Sarah Crawford’s husband as a cigar-smoking lobbyist laughing about how his little woman will vote the way he tells her to in the Senate.
Kimberly Reynolds of the Senate Democratic caucus pounced: “Evidently in Senator Barefoot’s world, corporate lobbyists rule and women are expected to simply follow their husbands’ orders.”
The ad could be a caricature of the Negative Ad. It’s not only sexist and over-the-top, it’s hypocritical: Yes, Sarah’s husband is a lobbyist – for the League of Conservation Voters. And, I’m told, Chad Barefoot’s mother-in-law also is a lobbyist – for the outfit that passed Amendment One.
In a district where women already are motivated – and make up a high number of swing voters – Chad & Co. may have pulled off one of the biggest bonehead plays of this election year.
Honestly, I don’t think it will actually change many votes either way, but the implicit sexism is indeed pretty powerful.  It’s hard to imagine the same ad arguing that the lobbyist wife would be telling the husband how to vote.
It’s also amusing to keep painting an environmental lobbyist as a shady dealer.  “Vote for clean air and clean water, Sarah!”  Otherwise, I’m sure she never would.

Less women are in office because women don’t want to run for office

Here’s a nice little video summarizing some of the most recent research on political campaigns especially a pretty cool little experiment showing that women are significantly less interested than men in engaging in a competitive campaign environment while be no less likely to volunteer overall.

And here’s a nice summary in the Upshot:

Research from two political scientists at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that women may be more “election averse” than men. Among men and women with similar qualifications, ambitions and political environments, the study said, “the fact that representatives are chosen by electoral means is enough to dissuade women from putting themselves forward as candidates.”

The study, by Kristin Kanthak and Jonathan Woon, both associate professors of political science, does not assert that this aversion is the sole cause for the gender gap among elected officials, nor that it represents an innate characteristic of women. But they place the election aversion theory among the variety of factors that have been cataloged by other research.

Drawing on earlier research on competition and women, Ms. Kanthak wondered whether aversion to competition extended to the political arena. “What if there is something about women that makes them not want to run for office that doesn’t have anything to do with external factors?” Ms. Kanthak said in an interview. “What if we could completely level the playing field — would women be as likely to run as men?”

The answer, according to the experiment they designed, is no. In the experiment, members of a group volunteered to do math problems (with the possibility of a reward) on behalf of their group. In some cases, the person doing the problems was selected at random from among the volunteers; in other cases, the group elected one of its volunteers to do the problems.

Men and women volunteered at the same rate when problem-doers were chosen at random, but not when they were chosen by election. (The replication data for the experiment is here.) Ms. Kanthak compared the aversion to becoming a candidate to that of asking for a raise: “If women aren’t willing to ask for raises, we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re not willing to ask for votes.”

Previous research on female candidates has identified several factors that cause women not to enter the political arena. A report released by researchers at American University in March 2013 concluded that the gender gap among elected officials was unlikely to be closed in the near future because young women have fewer political ambitions than young men.

External social factors, including traditional gender roles, exposure to political news and participation in organized sports, were among the experiences influencing young women not to pursue political careers, based on a survey of more than 2,100 college students. That survey found another factor: that “young women are less likely than young men to think they will be qualified to run for office.”

I’ve got a good friend running for state Senate and damn it is hard.  I cannot imagine anybody wanting to do this.  But given what we expect of women in our society it is no wonder than fewer of them than men want to undertake this.  It is certainly, interesting though, that to some degree it may well be a disinclination toward any  competitive electoral environment, even divorced from politics.

Just how deadly is Ebola?

I mentioned in a previous quick hits that at least one expert thinks that Ebola might only have a 10% fatality rate with first-world health care.  More on that from Jon Cohn today:

The relatively high survival rate of U.S. patients (7 of 9 with hopefully 8 soon) so far could reflect a bunch of factors, like age or the small sample size. That is one reason not to get carried away and assume the standard regimen can save all patients. It can’t. But physicians and public health experts say it should be able to save most of them. “An Ebola diagnosis need not be a death sentence,” Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard, wrote in an influential essay for the London Review of Books. “If patients are promptly diagnosed and receive aggressive supportive careincluding fluid resuscitation, electrolyte replacement and blood productsthe great majority, as many as 90 percent should survive.”…

The higher death rate has a relatively simple explanation, one familiar to anybody who has studied health disparities around the world. Health care facilities in the affected countries lack what Farmer has identified as the four S’s: Staff, stuff, space and systems. Except in the most developed areas, the clinics and hospitals don’t have access to even routine medications, common to any American emergency room, let alone newfangled medicines like ZMapp. They may also lack the standard diagnostic tools necessary to adjust treatments. “Right now, many [Ebola treatment units overseas] are not monitoring electrolytes including sodium, potassium, and calcium that are essential to deliver accurate and adequate care,” says Charles van der Horst, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina.

Of course, even those facilities with the right drugs lack supply and capacity to handle the patient load.

There’s also a very nice explainer over at Vox on why we are so much more successful at treating the disease in America than in Africa.  What I was especially interested to learn was that in large part Ebola kills you through fluid loss leading to organ failure.  All the vomiting, diarrhea, etc., mean that you lose water faster than you can take it in.  Give a person enough IV fluids, restore electrolytes, and thereby keep blood pressure up and organs functioning and you stand a good chance of hanging in there long enough for your immune system to fight off the disease.  Absent those things (i.e., health care in a deeply impoverished nation) and you are in a lot of trouble.  Of course, Cohn’s point is that we could be doing a lot more to help Africans keep infected people from dying.  Ebola is certainly a super-scary and horrible disease, but the evidence seems pretty clear it does not have to be nearly as fatal as it currently is in the effected nations.

Teachers on the Common Core

Gallup also took a look at what teachers specifically think about the Common Core.  As it turns out, they are pretty split.  But just to show how damn important partisanship is, Republican teachers (presumably, regardless of classroom experiences) are far more negative than Democratic teachers:

U.S. Public School Teachers' Impressions of the Common Core State Standards -- by Party ID

That’s really pretty amazing to presumably see political ideology trump actual experiences in the classroom.  What I also find quite interesting (and encouraging) is that the teachers most familiar with the Common Core are the most supportive:

U.S. Public School Teachers' Impressions of the Common Core State Standards

Finally, it is also interesting to see the strong support for actual national standards:

Teachers were given an opportunity on the poll to state what they consider to be the most positive aspect of the Common Core, as well as the most negative aspect.

These open-ended responses paint an unambiguous picture of what teachers consider to be the most positive aspect, as 56% of all public school teachers say that sharing the same standards across states is the main advantage. This is followed by 12% saying the Common Core fosters critical thinking, and 10% saying it sets higher standards or is more rigorous.

So, regardless of the actual nature of the standards, teachers seem to feel quite strongly that national standards are very much a good idea.  Alas, the Republican party has made it quite clear it feels differently.  Because, you know, algebra functions so differently depending upon what state you are in.

Photo of the day

Really cool photo from the Chicago Tribune’s twitter feed of the Antares rocket explosion.  And, if you haven’t watched the video yet.

Embedded image permalink

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, Walmart.com 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.

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