Quick hits (part I)

1) I used to be so fascinated by scientific research on the differences between male and female brains.  The latest research as to those differences?  Pretty simple– not so much.

2) Actually finished reading the Bernie Sanders piece I linked a few weeks ago.  I really like this part.  Bernie Sanders is no socialist.

In­deed, when asked by Steph­en Col­bert this past Septem­ber about be­ing a so­cial­ist, Sanders replied, “I prefer the term, ac­tu­ally, to be a ‘pro­gress­ive.’ ” This puts him very much in a tra­di­tion that has coursed through Amer­ic­an polit­ics for more than a cen­tury—from Teddy Roosevelt to the New Deal to Ral­ph Nader. Pro­gress­ives want to sub­or­din­ate the im­per­at­ives of the mar­ket and of private busi­ness to the pub­lic in­terest, and to re­move the spe­cial in­flu­ence of busi­ness from the polit­ic­al arena. They want to achieve liberty and equal­ity. They do not seek to elim­in­ate cap­it­al­ism but, through reg­u­la­tion and very se­lect­ive na­tion­al­iz­a­tion, to re­duce the in­equit­ies of wealth and power that a mar­ket sys­tem cre­ates.

3) David Frum on what Europe should do to combat terrorism (and it starts in Europe, not the Middle East).

4) Remember the Mark Foley scandal?  The story of the Congressional page who made it happen.

5) Think you know the 2nd Amendment?  Jeffrey Toobin says otherwise.

6) College Bowl games are more meaningless than ever.  There’s so many that now even teams with losing records will be in bowl games.

7) Not sure this is actually the solution to our gun problem.  But damn straight we should expect more out of the owners of devices designed to kill people.

8) I had no idea what a racist Woodrow Wilson was.  And not just because of when he lived.  Even for then.

9) Love Mike Pesca’s take on guns.  Still waiting to disagree more than mildly with him on anything.

Guns. A lot of people have a lot of terrible ideas: Sometimes it’s getting revenge on an ideology, sometimes it’s getting revenge on the police, sometimes it’s getting revenge on people you personally know. But without guns, the death toll would be much lower. I’m not saying that all the hateful rhetoric around Planned Parenthood didn’t unfairly nudge them closer to the crosshairs. But it’s not just bad ideas and angry men that lead to these obscene death tolls. It’s that the ill heads with these twisted ideas can so easily access a means of lethality uncommon in the civilized world. We are an aggrieved, worked up, angry people. But an American who is aggrieved or enraged or unmoored is more deadly that an Englishman or an Australian not because of the extremes of our discourse, or the extent of our aggrievement. The bad idea that people are most dying from is not an anti-abortion idea or an anti-cop idea or anti-Western, anti-Christian.  It’s anti–gun control. That’s the deadliest and most ignorant idea of all.

10) Pretty much everyone who has ever actually known Ted Cruz hates him.

11) Epigenetics is crazy stuff.  How a man’s weight changes can alter his sperm.

12) Seth Masket on how Americans always fear refugees.

The thing is, basically every ethnic or racial group that has sought to come to the U.S. has been, at some point, singled out for being too different. Nineteenth-century journalists like Thomas Nast warned of the evils of Catholicism and thedegeneracy of the Irish. Indeed, the Irish were widely caricatured as sub-humanswho were incapable of understanding or participating in democracy and preferred the dictatorship of the Papacy…

The general point is that attitudes toward Syrian refugees are pretty much exactly the same as they have been toward any group seeking refuge within the U.S. (with the notable exception of those requesting asylum from America’s adversaries like Cuba and the Soviet Union). The attitude is generally, “Look, we’re a generous and open nation, but this new group is just too different and thus presents a danger.” Admission of refugees, more often than not, has occurred in spite of public opinion, rather than because of it. It is notable that one of the country’s proudest traits—its willingness to accept new people into the “melting pot”—has often developed against the wishes of most of its citizens.

13) So tired of law enforcement and social services freaking out when kids are actually safe.  Like playing in a community playground in sight of the mother’s front door.

14) Great Linda Greenhouse on sex (i.e., abortion, birth control, etc.) and the Supreme Court.

15) Actually enjoyed these 5 takes on 2016 from Politico.

16) John Cassidy on Rubio and Cruz’s government-bashing nihilism.

Now Cruz and Rubio are locked in a battle against each other as they court the Republican primary electorate in their runs for President. Each is seizing on the other’s legislative accomplishment as evidence that his opponent is a dangerous sellout to the conservative cause…

It now appears that we are entering a period of the campaign in which the two Republican senators who may have the best shot at unseating the front-runner, Donald Trump, and winning their party’s nomination are veering into a potential murder-suicide pact over who was more complicit in actually trying to get something accomplished in Washington. The lesson for any senator who aspires to higher office is clear, and depressing: it’s safer to do nothing at all than it is to try to solve a big problem.

17) I used to be sure it was a horrible idea to work doctors so long without sleep.  Turns out, it’s not.  Apparently even dangerous than a tired care is the discontinuity in care that comes from more frequently changing doctors during a hospitalization.

18) Transforming Illinois politics through gobs of rich peoples’ money:

The families remaking Illinois are among a small group around the country who have channeled their extraordinary wealth into political power, taking advantage of regulatory, legal and cultural shifts that have carved new paths for infusing money into campaigns. Economic winners in an age of rising inequality, operating largely out of public view, they are reshaping government with fortunes so large as to defy the ordinary financial scale of politics. In the 2016 presidential race, a New York Times analysis found last month, just 158 families had provided nearly half of the early campaign money…

Most of them lean Republican; some are Democrats. But to a remarkable degree, their philosophies are becoming part of a widely adopted blueprint for public officials around the country: Critical of the power of unions, many are also determined to reduce spending and taxation, and are skeptical of government-led efforts to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and everyone else.

19) Remember all that stuff about middle-aged white people and mortality a few weeks ago.  Turns out, this was actually super mis-leading.  Drum is on the case.

20) I used to be so afraid of being naked in locker rooms.  The (in grad school) I got over it.  According to Mark Joseph Stern, that makes me an adult.  Apparently, another way in which Millenials are not so adult-like (I did get a kick out of seeing an NCSU student head over to a stall to change the other day).

21) Peter Beinart on how other GOP contenders are afraid of Trump supporters.

22) Recently listened to the This American Life version of this story.  Here’s a great Pro Publica report on how not current racism, but past racism– resulting in the wealth gap– makes life so much harder for many Black families.

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