Tipping and your name

Okay, time for something a little more fun.  Very interesting research on how servers using your name (first name or Mr/Mrs ____) from your credit card affects tipping amounts.  To my surprise, that first name thing really works.  I like it when people call me “Steve” and I try to use names a fair amount myself, but not with people I don’t actually know.  I do not want a server or retail employee telling me “thank you, Steven.”  Not really, “Mr. Greene” either, but I’ll take it.  Here’s the key chart:

tip1

 

That said, this may be because I’m a crotchety old man.  This effect is mediated by age:

tip2

 

Kind of funny that first name begins to perform worse than Mr. ____ somewhere in the early 40’s– right where I am.

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Contemptible

This time, I’m talking about the US Congress, not the North Carolina General Assembly.  Great, great column from Norm Ornstein.  Read it.

When Mike Lee pledges to try to shut down the government unless President Obama knuckles under and defunds Obamacare entirely, it is not news—it is par for the course for the take-no-prisoners extremist senator from Utah. When the Senate Republicans’ No. 2 and No. 3 leaders, John Cornyn and John Thune, sign on to the blackmail plan, it is news—of the most depressing variety…

It is important to emphasize that this set of moves is simply unprecedented.

What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing…

But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one’s breath away.

In a similar vein, Drum:

Here’s the latest conservative brainstorm to make Obamacare fail:

With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage.

….”We’re trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange,” said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic “Obamacare card” that college students can burn during campus protests.

“Socially acceptable” indeed. So not only are they going to be encouraging people to break the law, they’re literally going to be encouraging people not to buy health insurance. Nice. I wonder if FreedomWorks plans to help out the first person who takes them up on this and then contracts leukemia? I’m guessing probably not.

What’s next? A campaign to get people to skip wearing seat belts? To skip using baby seats in cars? To skip vaccinations for their kids? It’s times like this that words fail those of us with a few remaining vestiges of human decency.

Republicans don’t like people voting

There’s honestly little else to conclude from their latest legislation on the matter.  This is just banana republic stuff.  Absolutely shameful in a democracy.  As Chris Fitzsimon puts it in a great post,

It’s startling that in 2013, a major political party can have as part of its agenda making it more difficult to vote.

Seriously.  Just think about that fact.  Especially disturbing to me– all the educated Republicans who know better and just shrug.   Anyway, I was very excited to get my Op-Ed in the N&O today.  Here’s my favorite parts.  (But damn it, I wrote it, you really should read the whole thing):

What has early voting with same-day voter registration done for North Carolina? A lot, according to data from Michael McDonald’s voter turnout project (http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm). Only 31 percent of North Carolina’s eligible voters participated in the 2006 midterm election and 58 percent in the 2004 presidential election (placing us 38th out of the 50 states).

In 2007, though, North Carolina began allowing voters to register to vote at the same time they participated in early voting, i.e., one-stop voting, thereby eliminating an extra step and barrier to participation. The results? In 2008 almost 66 percent of eligible voters participated in the election and in the 2010 midterm 39 percent participated. Turnout remained high in 2012 with 65 percent participation (pushing us up to 11th out of 50 states).

These are huge increases that represent literally hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians being brought into the political process. So, why on earth would anybody want to change this?  …

This week the Republicans in the state Senate have revealed a proposal to dramatically shorten the early voting period and eliminate the ability to register when early voting. If this legislation passes, it will mark a huge step backward for citizen participation in our state.

What has early voting with same-day voter registration done for North Carolina? A lot, according to data from Michael McDonald’s voter turnout project (http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm). Only 31 percent of North Carolina’s eligible voters participated in the 2006 midterm election and 58 percent in the 2004 presidential election (placing us 38th out of the 50 states).

In 2007, though, North Carolina began allowing voters to register to vote at the same time they participated in early voting, i.e., one-stop voting, thereby eliminating an extra step and barrier to participation. The results? In 2008 almost 66 percent of eligible voters participated in the election and in the 2010 midterm 39 percent participated. Turnout remained high in 2012 with 65 percent participation (pushing us up to 11th out of 50 states).

These are huge increases that represent literally hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians being brought into the political process. So, why on earth would anybody want to change this?

I gotta say, one of my favorite things to do is to be able to bring forward solid Political Science research and apply it to contemporary policy debates.  What we do really does matter.  Even if Republicans choose to ignore (or defund) it.  And again, anybody who cares about democracy should be offended.

Photo of the day

Even though EG is a Republican who somehow refuses to disavow the anti-democratic actions of the NC legislature, she is right that this is a great set of photos of the Pony Swim at Chincoteague:

Ponies swim across the Assateague Channel in a heavy downpour on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 during the 88th Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim. A portion of the herd will be auctioned on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jay Diem, Eastern Shore News)  

I may vote against women, but at least I hire a lot of them

Interesting piece in the NYT about how Mitch McConnell is trying to address head-on potential problems with women voters (e.g., voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Violence Against Women Act) in his Senate re-election race against a young, female challenger.  What I found so amusing is how totally devoid of policy his defense it.  It all seems to boil down to, well, hey, I surround myself with strong women (so what does it matter if I vote against their best interests).  E.g.,

Mr. McConnell’s aides see the situation differently. They not only say that they are eager to defend his record on votes like the one against the Violence Against Women Act — asserting that he supported an even stronger alternative [ed.  riiiiiight] — but also say that a full accounting of his time in Washington will show that he is the candidate who best represents both the men and women of Kentucky.

They say it is impossible to tell the story of Mr. McConnell without talking about the accomplished, powerful women who have always been integral to his life, including his mother, who devoted herself to helping a young Mitch overcome his polio diagnosis; Ms. Chao; and many of his top female staff members.

Pathetic.  It’s practically like saying, I’m not racist, I’ve got lots of Black friends.

Spot-on

My oh my this is really, really good:

Siers cartoon: Education Budget

Yes, race still matters

One of my friends from way back freshman year at Duke has gone on to become a law professor who regularly contributes to the New York Times.  And now the Atlantic.  Not bad.  Anyway, he wrote a great essay on what it’s like to be racially profiled:

Three years ago, on a balmy summer night in Palm Beach, I went for a midnight bike ride. Earlier that day, I presented a paper at a law professor conference at the Breakers Hotel. The whole day and early evening was crammed with intense intellectual schmoozing, so I was glad to have some solitary time to explore the long, narrow island. I hopped on my rented beach bike and headed south and over a bridge…

Americans love to say “it’s not about race.” Unless there is a cross burning and people wearing “I’m racist” t-shirts, it has to be about something else. Complaining minorities, so the refrain goes, have chips on their shoulders.

I told him that I had been stopped twice in a matter of minutes, within .25 miles of each other, with a total of three cars, for being suspected of burglary while on a bicycle. Then I politely ask him to call his colleague who had stopped me only 3 minutes before — albeit on the other side of the bridge — to send out an APB that there was a dark bicyclist on Palm Beach. He said that was unnecessary.

Nothing violent happened. But this incident showed me something about bias and perception. Though it’s common to hear race described as just one “factor” in profiling, it’s a factor that seems to outweigh all others: age, education, class, occupation, and just plain common sense–remember, rental bike. It’s utterly exasperating to realize that how hard you work, how much money you have, where you went to school, who your friends are mean nothing at crucial times. The values of colorblindness and merit–which conservatives, including black conservatives, rely on in other race-based debates, for example those about affirmative action–wouldn’t even save Clarence Thomas on the street in these moments: Cabs will pass, police will stop, and as we painfully know, neighbors will shoot.

After sharing this on FB, it inspired a great rant from Big Steve:

I am not saying that if you deny that race matters that it makes you a racist.  It just makes you so deeply ignorant and in denial that you pretty much lose all credibility.Race just simply matters in the U.S., just as other ethnic divides matter in other countries.  Slavery is the foundational sin of the US and it still has heaps of consequences to this very day.  Obama’s talk last week was so simple but so powerful because he was the first President to be able to articulate the difficulties of being black in America.  And some on the right crapped all over it as being divisive.  Um, #voterfraudfraud is f***ing [ed. my edit] divisive.  A President saying that folks of different races have different experiences is common sense and basic social science.

There has been tremendous progress made, so much so that people can claim that race does not matter.  But we are not there yet, not even close to there yet.  I have no patience for anyone who says otherwise.  What to do about it?  We can argue about that.  We can disagree on whether government has a role in addressing the inequalities that the history of US racial relations has fostered.  We can disagree on how to fight crime in ways that do not discriminate against minorities.  But, dammit, we simply should not disagree that race matters.  Of course it does.

Ummm.  Yeah.
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