Quick hits

1) I feel like I wrote something on the stupidity of American lawns pretty recently.  But given drought conditions in much of the country, lawns are dumber than ever.  And this is a nice story on it (that also links to a great 99% episode on the matter).

2) Speaking of wasting water.  Stop drinking bottled water.  Seriously.

3) And stop trying to be so original with your baby names.  Today’s uncommon may well be tomorrow’s top 10.

3) Re-thinking addiction not as a disease after all.  Really interesting take.

The title of his manifesto lays out Lewis’s basic argument, which he insists upon throughout the book. “I’m convinced that calling addiction a disease is not only inaccurate, it’s often harmful,” he writes (repeatedly). “Harmful first of all to addicts themselves.” The alternative, he asserts, is to call addiction what it is: a really bad habit caused by a constellation of variables and a brain that is receptive to compulsively reinforcing really bad habits. Most important, that habit is possible to break, not by becoming a “patient” getting medical attention in order to “recover” but by becoming a responsible adult with a solid vision of the future who has at last decided to break a destructive habit.

4) Destroying mountains for coal removal?  All good for this Southwestern, Virginia community.  “Ruining” the view with windmill farms?  Not so much.  Oh, and wasting an absurd amount of money to build a modern “technology park” in basically the middle of nowhere?  Oh, yeah, on that.  Tech workers love locating to extremely rural areas.  Surely a great way to attract business development.

5) Bojack Horseman is my new TV obsession.  Season 1, down.  Starting season 2 tonight.  How can I not love comparing Bojack to Mad Men.

6) Donald Trump as the political equivalent of chaff.  Love it.

Donald Trump is the political equivalent of chaff, a billion shiny objects all floating through the sky at once, ephemeral, practically without substance, serving almost exclusively to distract from more important things — yet nonetheless completely impossible to ignore.

7) Speaking of Trump, nice take from Yglesias comparing him to the far right movements in Europe.

8a) So much wrong about college football (but I just keep watching it)

All of which makes Gilbert M. Gaul’s “Billion-Dollar Ball” a hard and challenging book, but one that I hope college football diehards will join me in reading. Gaul, a former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post, forces us to confront what major college football has become. When we cheer for our schools and our teams, we’re also supporting a powerful and autonomous entertainment business that monetizes every aspect of the game, an operation that is not only divorced from the mission of higher education but that often undermines it.

8b) Much of which can be seen in Under Armour’s relationship with University of Maryland.

9) You’ve all read me brag about the great diversity in my kids’ schools, but sadly, Wake County is going in the wrong direction on this.

10) I hope some graphic designer was fired over this.

11) Nice essay on how we need to move past the idea that the ideal worker is one who sacrifices family life.

Mr. Groysberg and Ms. Abrahams found that “even the men who pride themselves on having achieved some degree of balance between work and the other realms of their lives measure themselves against a traditional male ideal.” They quoted one interviewee as saying, “The 10 minutes I give my kids at night is one million times greater than spending that 10 minutes at work.” Men who are counting their caregiving in terms of the last 10 minutes of a day are not playing a caregiving role on a day-to-day basis.

12) Time for the media to start treating the names of mass murderers like the names of rape victims?  There’s definitely something to be said for the idea.

13) Irony is when the guy wearing the “less government; more freedom” t-shirt has his butt saved by firefighters.


14) Love this metaphor in the case for teaching ignorance.

Michael Smithson, a social scientist at Australian National University who co-taught an online course on ignorance this summer, uses this analogy: The larger the island of knowledge grows, the longer the shoreline — where knowledge meets ignorance — extends. The more we know, the more we can ask. Questions don’t give way to answers so much as the two proliferate together. Answers breed questions. Curiosity isn’t merely a static disposition but rather a passion of the mind that is ceaselessly earned and nurtured.

Mapping the coast of the island of knowledge, to continue the metaphor, requires a grasp of the psychology of ambiguity. The ever-expanding shoreline, where questions are born of answers, is terrain characterized by vague and conflicting information. The resulting state of uncertainty, psychologists have shown, intensifies our emotions: not only exhilaration and surprise, but also confusion and frustration.

15) Not the least bit surprised that a documentary about the evils of sugar is chock full of pseudo-science (not to argue that sugar is all great shakes, but anytime something gets demonized like this, you should probably be skeptical).

16) The Duke freshmen who can’t read handle reading a book with lesbian sex(!!) in it need to get over themselves.  Local columnist Barry Saunders with a nice take.

17) I’ve been meaning to give this Ezra Klein piece on how conservative media helped the far right take over the Republican Party it’s own post for a long time.  I’ve failed long enough.  To quick hits it goes.  Read it.

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

9 Responses to Quick hits

  1. Jon Kiess says:

    In fairness to the Duke students it was a graphic novel (comic book) so it was more the visual depiction of sex they had a problem with. Yes it is sad they think it is against their religion to see depiction of sex, but not that outrageous. My question is who picks a comic book as summer reading?

    • Jon K says:

      I double checked it is a comic book. Here is the review from amazon:

      That Alison Bechdel kept a childhood journal made Fun Home a perhaps more true-to-life project than it would have been if she’d relied on memory alone. A powerful graphic novel-memoir, Fun Home documents Bechdel’s childhood experiences and coming-of-age as a woman and lesbian. At its center lies her heartbreaking relationship with her distant father, which produces emotionally complex and poignant reflections and clean, bitonal images. While detractors cited confusing chronology and repetition of events, literary buffs enjoyed the challenging references to Albert Camus, James Joyce, and classical mythology. In the end, Fun Home “is an engrossing memoir that does the graphic novel format proud” (New York Times).

      its not a novel it is a picture book and I really question why that is summer reading?Comic Books are not novels. I don’t care if you call them that or not. I could see why some people would be offended by the fact it is a comic book.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Wow– you are really anti graphic-novel. I personally don’t read them, but respect them as an alternate form of novel/memoir. Pictures or not, this deals with complex themes, etc., just like any good memoir. It’s not Spiderman vs. Green Goblin.

      • Jon K says:

        I really don’t like comic books. I still can see how a comic like that could be too much for a segment of the population…I’m just saying some super religious students don’t plan on even kissing until they get married, so being forced to look at cartoon lesbian sex is really just a step too far for them. I know of people who get their tv/movies edited with all the sex and language removed so they and their families won’t be exposed to it.

      • Steve Greene says:

        I’m just not all that sympathetic to those people. Sex is a big part of the human condition no matter how much some people would like to pretend otherwise.

      • Jon K says:

        ok but if microagression and trigger warnings have to be tracked, tolerated and respected dont we have to tolerate and respect that this makes this student uncomfortable? remember words are like bullets and students need to be protected from ideas that make them uncomfortable. the atlantic had a great take onthis

      • Steve Greene says:

        Just read that story two days ago. And, hey, none of the examples from Duke :-). I told my class the other day, “this is not a safe space.” Lest I get in trouble, I qualified by saying that if by safe they didn’t want their views challenged.

      • Jon K says:

        you better be careful… if the Technician is a thought leader on campus it is only a matter of time until no syllabus is safe. The student paper has recently taught me about concepts like ‘stare rape’ and that being called honey or sweety by a clerk in a store constitutes a form of sexual harassment.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Stare rape??!! I never pick up the Technician. I had no idea.

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