Map of the day

Amazing maps had a cool map of median income by county.  But it’s too small!

Well, wikipedia has a map with the same information that is bigger and one more year recent data.  So here you go:

File:US county household median income 2012.png

Man, that DC to Boston corridor is where it is at.  Silicon Valley is not doing too bad either.  Also, here in NC Wake County (Raleigh) and Mecklenburg (Charlotte) clearly stand out.


Why gay marriage will be legal everywhere before too long

Depends upon what you mean by too long, but this issue is just over among younger Americans.  From Pew:

Young Republicans support gay marriage 2014

Just to be clear here, that’s 61% of young Republicans.

Special elections are special

In a special election for a US House seat in Florida this week,  Republican candidate narrowly defeated a Democratic candidate in a hotly-contested race in a swing district.  And, what does this tell us about the coming 2014 midterm elections?

Yeah, that.  Of course, from all the breathless political journalists, there’s all sorts of great portents about Obamacare, etc.  Drum:

Yep. Basically, it was a tight race in a district previously held by a Republican but won by Obama in 2012. And Jolly ended up winning by two percentage points. There’s really not much of a lesson to be learned here aside from the fact that (a) it was truly a tossup district, and (b) Democrats have a really tough time with turnout in non-presidential elections. Eventually they’re going to have to figure out what to do about that.

Or from a PS professor friend on FB:

Alex Sinks in #FL13. As special elections go, this was a typical outcome — close seat held onto by incumbent party.

Special elections are special circumstances.  Trying to predict the fortunes of the midterms 8 months away based on that is a fools errand.  Until now, there’s been reason to think the midterms should treat the Republicans well.  Tuesday’s result doesn’t change that at all.

Common Core = Obamacare?

Really enjoyed this piece from Seth Masket on how the politics of Common Core are (very sadly) becoming all too much like the politics of Obamacare.  Seth:

But that’s not at all what you’ll hear about it in the conservative media. For them, not only is the Common Core a massive federal intrusion into state and local education policy (a debatable point, but one roughly grounded in reality), but it’s a primary tool of President Obama and the Left (and possibly the United Nations) to fundamentally transform education, to undermine the authority of religion and parents, to track the location and behavior of children who’ve committed thought-crimes (perhaps using iris scans), and to essentially impose collectivism upon America. As Glenn Beck sums up, “This is like some really spooky, sci-fi, Gattaca kind of thing.”

None of this is true, of course, but that hasn’t stopped some people from believing it. In this sense, it’s very much like “Obamacare.” I’m not referring to the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, but rather the cartoonish version of it that’s a federal takeover of the health care system, replaces the capitalist economy with socialism, and establishes government death panels that determine who gets life-prolonging treatment and who doesn’t. Many people are terrified of Obamacare even as they sign up with health insurance exchanges, enjoy access to insurance despite having pre-existing conditions, or sign their children up even if they’re 25 years old—that is, take advantage of the provisions actually contained in the Affordable Care Act. It seems quite possible that “Obamacare” will continue to be unpopular even as the provisions of the ACA gain in use and acceptance.

So it is with the Common Core, which many on the right will continue to associate with Obama’s perceived socialist agenda at least until he leaves office (and despite the fact that it was first developed before he was even an Illinois state legislator). Every complaint about education, from the rise of standardized tests to an annoying assignment by a random teacher, gets blamed on the Common Core.

This is so damn frustrating.  Sure, the common core is not perfect, but I refuse to accept that having some high-quality national standards on education is a bad thing.  Last I checked, the quadratic formula was the same in Minnesota and Mississippi and subject-verb agreement was the same in North Dakota and North Carolina.  Also, there’s still no national tests, just national learning objectives that states, of their own volition, have agreed to.

The other day I heard a little bit of the truly moronic Jim Demint on Diane Rehm giving conservative complaints about Common Core:


Well, it depends on what those standards are. Certainly, equality, justice, opportunity, we need to make sure that everyone gets a fair chance. And that’s one of the roles of the federal government is justice. But what I found in the industry — and I was a consultant to a lot of companies on quality improvement — is it was a standards often kept quality down. That sounds counterintuitive, but what you want is a continuous improvement process where you’re constantly competing with others.


If you have 50 states competing for the best education system, they’ll tend to pull each other up. If you create one-size-fits-all at the federal level, then people start teaching to the test. They try to game the system. We’ve seen that with almost every federal program, Republican or Democrat. And the quality of our schools has not gone up. But the cost has. And what we see when you break out from under that one-size-fits-all mold — even in New York right now, with their charter schools, these were poor disadvantaged children that are scoring a lot better than those in the traditional schools.

So, standards are bad when the federal government does it, but okay when state governments do it?  And the only educational standards that should be national are equality, justice, and opportunity?!  Please!  Is it too much to want all American students to know certain basic mathematical concepts, critical thinking, good writing, etc?!

Photo of the day

Love this recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of an Amazonian royal flycatcher

Royal Crest

Photograph by Andrew Snyder, National Geographic Your Shot

“For the last three years, I have spent my summers conducting biodiversity surveys with a team of other biologists and research assistants in the rain forests of Guyana,” says Your Shot contributor Andrew Snyder, whose picture was featured in the Daily Dozen. “For our bird surveys, we set up a series of mist nets through the understory, and this Amazonian royal flycatcher was one of the birds caught [over the] summer. From previous experience, I knew that this species typically puts on its remarkable crest displays when handled, so while the team was taking their necessary measurements, I was able to make this photograph.”


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