Map of the day

Love this map from the Economist of Europe before and after WWI.  If you go to the link , it’s actually a really cool single map with a slider, but here it is in pure before and after.



Mars needs women and the US needs immigrants

Okay, I cannot actually speak to the former, but the latter is definitely true.  Nice piece in TNR taking a look at how important immigration is the demographic/economic health of the US (and by the way, so annoying that TNR bothers with blog posts, but then let’s you see all you want if you just follow the twitter links).

The policy implications of immigration are complex, as any expert will tell you. But there’s one reason to think that Hewitt and Will are onto something. It’s a demographic fact that gets surprisingly little attentionthe fact that, if not for immigrants and their children, the U.S. child population would be shrinking

There are more than 17 million children with at least one immigrant parent in the U.S. They represent over a quarter of the 70 million people under 18 years old. Their proportion will grow over time, as the number of children born to non-immigrant parents declinesin both relative and absolute terms.

Changes in US child population

This matters, because today’s young people make up tomorrow’s productive workforce, generating economic activity and supporting retirees. We already face a declining young-to-old population ratio, putting huge strain on Social Security and other safety net programs. The children of immigrants will provide a crucial and growing buffer against this demographic shift.

Rather than embrace this fact, though, our current immigration system isactually quite harmful to children, often separating them from their parents and harming, rather than nourishing, their development.

Now, obviously, we would strongly prefer people to immigrate legally rather than illegally, but it is desperately clear that major reform is needed to our immigration laws.  Yet one political party (I won’t tell you which one) is being entirely obstructive in the matter.  It is complex, but in the end, the US economy and therefore almost all of us, benefit from immigration and therefore a sensible immigration policy.

Religiosity, race, and PID

Nice look at religiosity, race/ethnicity, and PID from Gallup.  First, I think it is kind of interesting that although we know that the very religious are clearly Republican and the non-religious are a very Democratic groups, the moderately religious (hey, that’s me!) also lean Democratic on balance:

Political Party Affiliation, by Religiousness, Monthly Trend, February 2008-June 2014


What I thought was particularly interseting, though, is when they break this down by race.  There is no effect on religiosity for Black Americans.  For other minority groups, in contrast, the whole chart is essentially shifted in a Democratic direction, but more religious still means more Republican (relatively speaking):

religiousness among black americans

Political Party Affiliation, by Religiousness, Race and Ethnicity

Also, notable when you take out the minorities and look at whites only the moderately religious whites are a very Republican group.  It’s also interesting that the impact of religion on whites is huge (a full 57 point swing!) as compared to the impact of religion on Hispanics (15 point swing) and Asian-Americans (21 point swing).  I almost feel like there’s some Political Science research to be done here.

Photo of the day

From a very cool Wired gallery.  These are not living birds, but paper:

One of Diana Beltran Herrera’s exquisite paper birds. Yes, that’s paper. This one’s an Eastern Meadowlark. DIANA BELTRAN HERRERA

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s photos of the week:.  Now that’s what I call juxtaposition:

Czech photographer Radek Kalhous' photo of the Dukovany nuclear power station in the Czech Republic. The 40-year-old uses nothing more than clever lighting and a tilt-shift lens to capture the ugly power station.

Czech photographer Radek Kalhous’ photo of the Dukovany nuclear power station in the Czech Republic. The 40-year-old uses nothing more than clever lighting and a tilt-shift lens to capture the ugly power station.Picture: Radek Kalhous/Caters

(And by the way, photos lovers, lots of great shots in this gallery– well worth checking out all of it).


Quick hits (part II)

1) Very nice Vox animated short explaining the political uniqueness of North Korea.  Some really interesting historical perspective I was totally unaware of.

2) Eminent health care expert Victor Fuchs on why the US spends so much more on health care than other nations.

3) New York Times on why Americans are not so great at math.

4) It’s really just pathetic and amusing to see conservatives try and explain politics with regards to race by pretending that today’s Democratic party is of a piece with the virulently racist Democratic Party of the pre-Civil Rights era South.  Nice takedown from Jamelle Bouie.

5) Speaking of race, I’m feeling pretty confident these pre-school boys would not have been suspended so much if they were white (and so is their mom).

6) Say what you will about Texas justice (and I’ll say a lot), but give them credit for doing a lot more than many other states to remedy their history of gross injustice.  Here’s an interesting case of a man who was exonerated via DNA and didn’t even know about it until after the fact (he had already finished his prison sentence).

7) Nice essay from national security reporter extraordinaire, Tom Ricks, on why he has found himself moving leftward in recent years.

8) Really interesting analysis of “kidspeak.”  Let’s just say “like” means so much more than you may realize.

9) I talked to the NYT reporter who wrote this story for a good 30 minutes, but not even a single quote.  That said, it was a really interesting conversation and hopefully it will lead to some NYT quotes in the future.  Oh, and it’s a good story on NC politics.

10) This is wild.  Apparently we harvest the blood of horseshoe crabs to create a basic and widely-used test for the presence of bacteria.

11) Really enjoyed this Amy Davidson comment on Republicans and immigration policy:

It is one thing for Republicans to decide that they will not be the party of immigration reform, but it is another to decide that they will be the anti-immigration party. If they do, they will define themselves in opposition to America’s future and, incidentally, to its past—one built by newcomers like the gold prospector from Canada who, in 1876, sailed on a ship around South America and staked a claim that became the town of Oracle. In the short term, there may be benefits, in the form of an energized base, but enjoying them requires a distinct lack of shame. If Adam Kwasman was abashed by his Y.M.C.A. mixup, many of his allies don’t think that chasing down a busload of kids was a mistake at all. No children had been brought to Oracle since then, and that was enough for some to call the episode a victory. For the Republican Party as a whole, it might be better described as a dangerous temptation.

12) There does seem to be a place for “broken windows” policing.  But it seems clear that place is not always and everywhere.  Circumstances matter– who would’ve guessed.  Nice NYT editorial:

Mr. Bratton is a pioneer of broken windows policing and Mr. de Blasio is a stout defender. The tactic was embraced in the crime-plagued New York of 20 years ago. But while violence has ebbed, siege-based tactics have not. The Times reported on Friday that the Police Department made 394,539 arrests last year, near historical highs.

The mayor and the commissioner should acknowledge the heavy price paid for heavy enforcement. Broken windows and its variants — “zero-tolerance,” “quality-of-life,” “stop-and-frisk” practices — have pointlessly burdened thousands of young people, most of them black and Hispanic, with criminal records. These policies have filled courts to bursting with first-time, minor offenders whose cases are often thrown out, though not before their lives are severely disrupted and their reputations blemished. They have caused thousands to lose their jobs, to be suspended from school, to be barred from housing or the military. They have ensnared immigrants who end up, through a federal fingerprinting program, being deported and losing everything.

13) And lastly, the NYT is beginning a series on how we need to end our prohibition on marijuana.  Let me reiterate– I’ve never smoked dope, never will, and will strongly discourage my kids, but our current policy is an utter failure on so many levels and needs to be changed.  Here’s the first of the NYT series on state-by-state policy.

Why Putin won’t suffer any serious consequences

Because Europe is just too dependent on Russian gas and oil.  Here’s a map/infographic from Vox:


And Slate’s Daniel Gross on the issue:

But a look inside the trade numbers reveals that Europe’s ability and willingness to punish Russia economically is severely compromised. Simply put, Russia is Europe’s gas station. If you refuse to patronize the gas station, you’ll certainly inflict some pain on the owner. But then you wouldn’t be able to get to work or drive to the mall or get your kids to school…

In fact, the trade between Europe and Russia largely consists of fuels. In 2013, the EU imported 166.3 billion euros of fuels from Russia, accounting for about 80 percent of Russia’s total exports to the EU. In 2011, Netherlands—which has the most reason to be angry at Russia—imported virtually all the petroleum it used, and about one-third of that oil came from Russia. The Netherlands also runs the largest trade deficit with Russia of any EU country.

And I love this conclusion:

Taking serious steps to reduce purchases of Russian energy would require European leaders to show both moral courage and an overt willingness to inflict financial pain on large and well-connected companies. But both of these things are in short supply—just like natural gas and oil.

Again, just amazing what your country can get away with if you have enough gas and oil.  Pretty depressing.

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