Quick hits (part II)

1) Who actually funds college athletic programs?  At non power conference schools, it’s excessively high student fees.

2) Excellent Brendan Nyhan post on how we expect too much from presidents, especially in the modern era.  Love that he also hits the fundamental attribution error:

That’s why it’s a mistake to personalize Mr. Obama’s failures so much, as his critics often do. Critics suggest that Mr. Obama is too aloof and hasn’t done enough to solicit Republican support or build relationships with legislators. Both may be true, but as John Harwood recently noted in The Times, Bill Clinton’s more successful outreach to his opponents didn’t keep him from getting impeached. Likewise, George W. Bush was more gregarious than Mr. Obama, but it didn’t make him any more popular among Democrats once the post-9/11 glow had worn off.

It’s a common mistake to attribute other people’s behavior to their inherent characteristics in this way. We seem especially prone to this pattern, which is known as fundamental attribution error, with presidents. But as recent history shows, our current political system tends to produce division and conflict no matter the circumstances.

3) Nobody seems to have noticed we don’t need the Ebola Czar anymore.  I don’t blame Obama for the appointment, but it was always pure political theater that he felt he had to go along with.

4) You know why torture is okay?  Because America is awesome, damnit.  Gotta love Fox news.

5) I also think Eric Posner is right about why Obama should not prosecute torture (even though these guys really are war criminals):

But Obama’s best argument for letting matters rest is the principle against criminalizing politics. This is the idea that you don’t try to gain political advantage by prosecuting political opponents—as governments around the world do when authoritarian leaders seek to subvert democratic institutions. Of course, if a Republican senator takes bribes or murders his valet, the government should prosecute him. But those cases involve criminal activity that is unrelated to the public interest. When the president takes actions that he sincerely believes advance national security, and officials throughout the government participate for the same reason, then an effort to punish the behavior—unavoidably, a massive effort that could result in trials of hundreds of people—poses a real risk to democratic governance.

Obama’s problem is that if he can prosecute Republican officeholders for authorizing torture, then the next Republican president can prosecute Obama and his subordinates for the many questionable legal actions of the Obama administration

6) There’s a famous saying that when it comes to elections, all politics is local.  Seemingly not so anymore.

7) Maybe depression is not really about serotonin deficiency.  Regardless, it surely is a hell of a lot more neuro-chemically and biologically and psychologically complicated than we’ve come to believe.

8) Love this confessional Op-Ed from an Abu Ghraib torturer.

9) Of course Adam Gopnik’s commentary on torture is spot-on.

10) Forget the seven minute workout– the one minute workout?  Yes.  Science.   (I was too lazy for even that yesterday– though I did at least get a bunch of grading done.  And a nap).

11) I found the Supreme Court decision that Amazon does not have to pay its workers why they wait in long lines for Amazon-required security checks to be pretty deplorable.  That said, Congress could actually easily fix this via legislation.  Sadly, I’m quite sure they won’t.

12) Why stores once beloved by teens, e.g., Abercrombie, are all struggling.   My wife worked as a temp for their corporate office 20 years ago.  What a nasty place.

13) Another in Kristof’s excellent series columns on race in America.

14) Climate change is almost the perfect problem for us to do nothing about do to psychological biases in human reasoning.  Wonkblog explains.

15) Mike Munger on over-criminalization.

16) It’s really kind of astounding the way so many conservatives have deluded themselves into thinking that racism is basically over.  I recently heard David Plotz suggest that a downside of Obama being president is that those so inclined can offer this as proof that “racism is over” and ignore all the obvious racism that persists.  Among other things in his response to this problem, Chait nicely sums up various empirical evidence on the matter.

This is not some vague liberal notion, or merely an inference made by liberals to explain the persistent racial income gap. It is the inescapable conclusion of a vast trove of evidence. Employers are less likely to call back an equally qualified candidate whose résumé has a black-sounding name. Policein simulations are more likely to shoot black suspects. White medical staff are less likely to perceive pain by African-Americans. Despite having similar rates of marijuana use, blacks are more than three times as likely to be arrested for it.

17) Apparently flu vaccine denial is a thing among people who know better.  Here’s all the reasons you should get vaccinated even though this year’s vaccine is off.

18) Just how psychological versus physical is fatigue?  And does it explain why the world record marathon time is not 5 minutes faster?


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

6 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Damon Circosta says:

    Oh how I love quick hits. FYI the link on one minute exercise pointed somewhere else, but I was curious enough to Google it good article

    Damon Circosta

    Likely dictated to Siri. Typos are her fault.


  2. Nancy Coughlin says:

    What a feast! Thanks!

  3. R. Jenrette says:

    If I were one of the torturers, I think I’d keep my vacations in the USA.

  4. itchy says:

    2. I love unmasking the fundamental attribution error. It’s so universal and persistent. I think it tops even confirmation bias as the most common logical trap.

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