Chart of the day

Okay, I don’t know what I was thinking thinking that I was done with gay marriage.  Reading so many interesting things to day.  Anyway, the Dianne Rehm show had a very good episode on the topic this morning and they had Michael Dimock of Pew as a guest talking about the public opinion.  Never met the guy, but I owe my great circumstances to him– he left this very position at NCSU to take the job at Pew.  Anyway, it got me thinking about the ever-increasing support for gay marriage and wondering how much of this due to generational replacement (gay marriage opponents dying and being replaced in the public by young adults who support gay marriage) versus actual attitude change within age cohorts.  I thought I might run some data, but then Dimock mentioned the data on this.  Quick google, and here we go:

As you can see, there’s been some fairly substantial change in each of the age groups (I have to think the 49% for Gen X in 2001 is a random outlier– patterns look much cleaner without that).  Anyway, it’s not like older Americans are ever going to come all the way over to the side of supporting gay marriage, but it is interesting to see that there’s been some real shifts among every age group.

You go, Hillary!

I think this (i.e., what Hillary says here) is awesome:

On a stop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Clinton appeared with no makeup, natural hair, and glasses – and she made no apologies.

Published pictures from the trip have sparked a flurry of articles opinions about her looks. Comments have ranged from Clinton looks “like a schoolgirl” to she looks “tired and withdrawn.”

Clinton, responding to the controversy on CNN, said, “I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now, Jill, because if I want to wear my glasses, I’m wearing my glasses. If I – you know, want to pull my hair back, I’m pulling my hair back. And, you know, at some point, it’s just not – it’s just not something that deserves a whole lot of time and attention. If others want to worry about it, I’ll let them do the worrying for a change.”

What’s not awesome is that there’s a flurry of media activity/controversy about the matter.  The media obsession with the physicial appearance of female politicians, relative to male politicians, remains one of the most pervasive and problematic biases that women in politics face.  Good for Hillary for standing up to it.

Thank you, NYT

I wonder if some of the pushback about the routinization of the filibuster is having some much-needed impact.  Instead of oh-so-typical, “Bill to extend lower student loan rates falls short,” we get:

Now, that’s more like it.  Not because it’s partisan, but because it is an accurate reflection of reality.  This bill received more than 50 votes in the Senate.  Nice lede to the story, too:

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of somestudent loan interest rates, leaving the legislation in limbo less than two months before rates on subsidized federal loans are set to shoot upward.

Along party lines, the Senate voted 52 to 45 on a key procedural motion, failing to reach the 60 votes needed to begin debating the measure.

Good for the Times.  I hope we keep seeing more of this and less of the “falls short” “fails” etc., that have been serving as weak synonyms for “was filibustered by Republicans.”

Photo of the day

My PS mentor wrote on FB this morning:

There are a lot of religious folks in that state and my friends in overwhelmingly white midwestern farm states, you don’t seem to realize that African Americans and Hispanics have not yet been won over to the gay marriage cause.

Yep.  Hence, this photo from today’s N&O tells us a lot, I think:

Dr. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Upper Room Church of God In Christ, and his wife Pamela Wooden celebrate early returns that show strong support for Amendment One during an election night party at the N. Raleigh Hilton on Tuesday May 8, 2012.


My limited hope for thinking more rationally

This is a pretty cool finding:

To judge a risk more clearly, it may help to consider it in a foreign language.

A series of experiments on more than 300 people from the U.S. and Korea found that thinking in a second language reduced deep-seated, misleading biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived.

“Would you make the same decisions in a foreign language as you would in your native tongue?” asked psychologists led by Boaz Keysar of the University of Chicago in an April 18 Psychological Science study.

“It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases,” wrote Keysar’s team.

Psychologists say human reasoning is shaped by two distinct modes of thought: one that’s systematic, analytical and cognition-intensive, and another that’s fast, unconscious and emotionally charged.

In light of this, it’s plausible that the cognitive demands of thinking in a non-native, non-automatic language would leave people with little leftover mental horsepower, ultimately increasing their reliance on quick-and-dirty cogitation.

Equally plausible, however, is that communicating in a learned language forces people to be deliberate, reducing the role of potentially unreliable instinct. Research also shows that immediate emotional reactions to emotively charged words are muted in non-native languages, further hinting at deliberation.

Alas, I’m out of luck.  Four years of German 20+ years ago doesn’t actually give me the ability to pull this off.  I’ve been trying to convince David he should want to start Spanish next year before his brain gets all adult and freezes up on the language-learning ability, but he’s not interested.  Maybe if I could get him to rationally consider the results of this study in a different language?  But damn, he only knows English!  Ahh, the Catch 22.

Final final thoughts on gay marriage and NC

Darn it, I knew I was forgetting something when I wrote that last post!  Here’s what I wanted to say…

Although democracy is a great thing, there’s a reason we don’t have direct democracy and last night is a very good indication why.  First, it all too easily allows a tyranny of the majority.  A FB friend nicely pointed out that the last time North Carolinians voted to change the state Constitution on marriage it was to make sure that there was no inter-racial marriage.   Secondly, the fact that so many votes were cast out of ignorance and people voting against their own preferences does not speak well for government (directly) by the people.  From PPP:

In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.

Honestly, I’d feel more comfortable with this result if I felt that it accurately reflected the considered beliefs of a majority of North Carolinians.   I really don’t think a majority of North Carolinians wanted to ban any legal union, but that’s exactly what we got.

Final(?) thoughts on gay marriage and NC

Well, final for now.  Gotta type these out and put this to metaphorical bed for a while.

1) Surprised (and disappointed) at the size of the margin.  Wow, 61% for hate.  Voting against any legal unions is so anti-family.  Gay people and their partners and children won’t go away– they just won’t be able to have any legal protections for their families.

2) I always expected this result, but that doesn’t mean I like it any less.  Primary elections always see even more disproportionate turnout from older relative to younger voters.  When you combine that with the fact that most support for gay marriage comes from civil unions, this was always going to be a steep hill to climb.

3) I hate that the Catholic Diocese or Raleigh was a major contributor to the pro-amendment fund.  That  really makes me think about my contributions to my parish.  I don’t know how much just gets funneled to the diocese, but if its significant, that’s going to be less from me.

4) I feel really bad for my gay friends.  How dispiriting for them. It’s easy to take this in a fairly analytical bent when one is a happily married heterosexual white male.

5) I’ll close with what proved to be very popular sentiments I shared on FB last night:

Hey saddened NC friends, take heart. This issue is only going in one direction. Look at the trendline here, but even more importantly, look at the age breakdown. All the young people will be running the show before too long– and the older people who so strongly oppose gay rights, not so much.

1996-2011 Trend: Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?

Support for Legal Same-Sex Marriage by Age and Gender, 2010 vs. 2011

Those in favor of treating gays like equal human beings lost an important battle tonight.  But don’t forget, these charts above suggest that a positive outcome for the war is basically inevitable.

UPDATE: I forgot one of the things I wanted to say.  Added it here.

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