Quick hits (part II)

1) Rick Hasen on Hillary Clinton and campaign finance reform (short version: a Constitutional amendment is not a serious proposal but “red meat” for Democratic activists).

2) Experimental proof of the power of peer pressure— for good and ill– in schools.

3) I buy this argument that the bar exam is basically about keeping lawyering a cartel to protect the earnings of attorneys, rather than anything meaningful to protect legal consumers.

4) So, now I know that Art Pope’s people are the “intellectual” push behind the ludicrous idea that all public college professors in NC should teach 8 courses a year.

5) Focusing on early childhood programs is great and lead to life-long benefits.  But here’s some interesting evidence that counseling and teaching self-control to young adult males can actually still make a meaningful difference.

6) NYT magazine on just how crazy the new era of campaign finance is getting.

7) Enjoyed this Nicholas Lehman take on the challenges Hillary Clinton faces in uniting Democratic voters:

The announcement video indicates that the Clinton campaign believes that in this cycle, the core appeal to Democratic and potentially Democratic voters has to be based on economics. Voters want to hear that the generation-long stall-out of the American working and middle classes’ fortunes is somehow going to end. The problem is that, right now, the Democratic coalition seems to be in agreement on the formerly radioactive social issues—ethnicity, sexuality, values—but not on the economic issues that will define the election. In the video you can detect the hope that it will be possible to declare that the campaign is all about economics, and then to spend it talking mainly about other things. Does Hillary Clinton want to raise taxes on the rich? More heavily regulate financial institutions? Make unions more politically powerful? Throw some sand in the gears of globalization by restricting free trade? These are the kinds of questions that have historically gone along with an overriding concern with the welfare of “everyday Americans,” but they are not pleasant ones for the campaign, because in each case, a clear answer would alienate an element of the Democratic Party.

8) Was fascinated by this visual analysis of how the studio ruined the color palette of the most reason Superman movie.

9) It’s pretty clear that aspartame is essentially harmless.  But enough people are scared of it that Pepsi is eliminating it from Diet Pepsi.  All the more reason to stick with my preference for Diet Coke (and especially Coke Zero).  The Vox post also does a nice job running through the non-evidence for aspartame being harmful.

10) Nice Lee Drutman Op-Ed on how to (partially) counter-balance the huge influence of corporate lobbyists by investing in Congressional staff:

It doesn’t need to be this way. We can give the House and Senate (which account for a minuscule 0.06 percent of the federal budget) the resources to hire and keep enough of the best people, especially in key committee positions. We can bolster independent capacity for technical analysis by giving a boost to the research arms of Congress, like the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office.

While congressional salaries can’t possibly equal lobbying salaries, they don’t have to. The thrill of being on the inside is enough of a draw that congressional offices have little trouble filling openings. The problem is that staffers burn out quickly. More money, shorter hours and better working conditions wouldn’t keep everyone, but they’d keep enough good people.

11) Apparently they’ve finally changed the presidential physical fitness test as it never actually made any sense.  That said, I spent most of my 4th grade year practicing my broad jump and gained almost a foot to earn the presidential award.  One of the proudest moments of my childhood.

12) I find the concept of a bucket list somewhat silly, but if I were to start one, this place would go right to the top.  Also a nice article on it in Smithsonian.

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