Quick hits (part II)

1) We shouldn’t need studies (in this case of Wake County) to know that good schools are good for the economy.  Then again, the NC legislature seems blissfully unaware of this fact.

2) Really good Chait post on why Republicans should be happy about Trump running as an Independent.  Brings in a lot of good observations about the present and future of the GOP.

3) George Will actually wrote a good column about rapacious local government and kept his liberal-bashing to a minimum.

4) A man will face felony charges in NC for absurdly abusive practices at a chicken farm.  Of course, the videotaping that caught his actions will be illegal as of January 1 due to some truly obnoxious legislation from our Republican legislature (fortunately, does seem to be a decent chance it is unconstitutional).

5) David Roberts on Republicans and climate denial:

The phenomenon visible here is what skews the polarization numbers cited earlier in this post: The most committed and ideologically extreme 40 percent (or so) of the GOP isvery strongly committed to climate denial and small-government purism.

In a parliamentary democracy, Tea Party Republicans would probably have their own far-right splinter party, working in coalition with a center-right party that took climate change seriously; that’s roughly the situation in EU countries. But in America’s goofy presidential system, there are only two parties that matter. So the Tea Party took over one of them.

And this is where the US differs from other developed democracies: Not that many more of its people, or even more of its conservatives, are opposed to action on climate change, but rather the far-right faction that is opposed has leveraged its intensity and generous funding to completely occlude the center-right on this issue (as on many others).

6) Anti-Muslim bigotry not so different from Anti-Catholic bigotry of a century ago.

7) Really interesting take on transgender women and feminism.

8) Great take from Drum on why expanding the “no fly” list to the “no gun” list is a terrible idea.  Short-version– total lack of due process.

9) Great post from Jonathan Haidt on campus diversity and the “principle of charity.”  Honestly, I was working with TA’s on grading exams a couple hours after reading this and we all decided we liked the “principle of charity” when it comes to grading essays.  Also, thanks to Jon K’s strong endorsement, I’m pretty sure I want to read Haidt’s new book.

Philosophers often advocate what they call “the principle of charity.” It means that in any discussion we interpret others people’s statements in the way that makes their argument strongest, not weakest. We give them the benefit of the doubt, rather than trying to twist their words to support the ugliest possible implications–as we see happening in most of the ongoing campus crises, particularly at Yale and Claremont McKenna.

So I would like to propose a plan for restoring peace on campus and helping those who want to reform campus life to do so effectively. Over the holidays, from Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Years Day, Let us all read Dale Carnegie’s classic work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie shows us exactly how to get along with those who differ from us–and how to change their minds. Don’t attack people. Be more indirect and psychologically skillful. Try to see things honestly from their point of view, and acknowledge what they are doing right, before you say what you’d like them to change. Appeal to nobler motives.

10) Loved this “what board game to play” flow chart from Vox.

11) Krugman on the Fed and the people who always get it wrong in criticizing the Fed (but we still listen to them anyway).

12) Really enjoyed this essay on “what I learned from 4 years of working at McDonald’s.”

And then I realized.

McDonald’s is supposed to be a job for people who can’t do anything else. I noticed that the majority of entry-level jobs didn’t hire people who looked like the people I worked with.

At McDonald’s, there were people with disabilities, overweight people, people who weren’t conventionally attractive, people who couldn’t speak much English, young teenagers and a lot of racial diversity. These people made up the backbone of the store. They were respected as some of our best workers.

Then I would look at a store like Starbucks, and the majority of the time, I would see people who looked like me. White, early 20s, reasonably attractive, slim, English speakers.

This was the bias that both me and the people around me were applying to my job. I meet the criteria for a “good” job at a clothing store. People who come from good backgrounds aren’t supposed to end up in McDonald’s alongside those who couldn’t do better if they tried.

13) It sounds like a story for a lot of snickering, etc., but when you think about the areas of a body a man will get injured in an IED blast, penis transplants make a lot of sense.  Fascinating stuff.

14) Totally intrigued by this years’ big Christmas gift– hoverboards.  Loved this Planet Money story on them.  And here’s a Wired story on why so many are catching fire.

15) The fastest rising athletic department expense for universities?  Paying money to coaches they have fired.

16) Fascinating historical perspective via a Seth Masket FB update:

Great points by my colleague Nancy D. Wadsworth:

“It’s great that people are speaking out against Trump’s latest attack on Muslims. But this line everyone’s spouting about religious tests violating the fundamental values of the ‘founding fathers’ or whatever is, frankly, hogwash. We could understand the present better if we could recognize its continuity with aspects of our past. Couple things to know: 1) Most American settler-colonists could not conceive of extending religious freedom to non-Christians, Indian nations, and enslaved Africans; their religions were considered pagan, dangerous, or heretical. Distrustful and racist attitudes toward Muslims (and others, especially of color) are a direct legacy of those views. 2) Almost all of the original colonies *happily* imposed religious tests, taxes to support the dominant church, and persecution of religious minorities. 3) This continued many decades AFTER the passage of the 1st Amendment–which was passed primarily because it concerned limits on the federal government, not the states; otherwise, delegates would have rejected it. That didn’t really change until 1925 under the incorporation doctrine, when the courts extended the Bill of Rights to the States. 4) The few founders, like Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison, who were the most serious about applying religious freedom universally (which is to say, for whites) were considered radical nut jobs for it in most colonies. The point is, our ‘religious freedom’ story has always been wound up with white supremacy, and the concept of religious freedom beyond Christianity didn’t become universally accepted until much later–and, for some of our fellow citizens, including the GOP frontrunner, never.”

17) Handy advice for when you get pulled over a cop (especially handy if you have something to hide).

18) I’ve long hated the super-facile “everything happens for a reason.”  Hell no.  Loved this essay on the matter (emphatically endorsed by a young widow I know):

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. These things can only be carried.

Let me be clear: If you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way that your tragedy was meant to be, happened for a reason, will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

19) How Scotland responded when a madman shot up a bunch of school kids.

20) Immigration and social media:

WASHINGTON — Tashfeen Malik, who with her husband carried out the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., passed three background checks by American immigration officials as she moved to the United States from Pakistan. But none uncovered what Ms. Malik had made little effort to hide — that she talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad.

She said she supported it. And she said she wanted to be a part of it.

American law enforcement officials said they recently discovered those old — and previously unreported — postings as they pieced together the lives of Ms. Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, trying to understand how they pulled off the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country. But immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks, and there is a debate inside the Department of Homeland Security over whether it is even appropriate to do so.

What?!  How is this even a debate?!  Check the stuff.

21) A checklist manifesto for peer review.  That said, I think it is ridiculous to argue that peer review basically doesn’t work.  Of course there’s many ways to improve it, but that doesn’t mean we are “pretending it works.”

22) Loved this interview with the young stars of the new Star Wars movie, especially John Boyega:

When some people criticized the “Star Wars” trailer — even threatened to boycott the movie — because it showed a black actor in a stormtrooper uniform, how did that make you feel?

It made me feel fine. I’m grounded in who I am, and I am a confident black man. A confident, Nigerian, black, chocolate man. I’m proud of my heritage, and no man can take that away from me. I wasn’t raised to fear people with a difference of opinion. They are merely victims of a disease in their mind. To get into a serious dialogue with people who judge a person based on the melanin in their skin? They’re stupid, and I’m not going to lose sleep over people. The presale tickets have gone through the roof — their agenda has failed. Miserably.

23) Rutgers thought moving to the Big 10 was going to be awesome.  They were wrong.




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

One Response to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Jon K says:

    #9 Just to clarify The Happiness Hypothesis is Haidt’s first book. His most recent, and also excellent, book is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
    you can see a TED talk he did on the Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives at http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind

    I have become quite the Haidt fanboy as of late. I really like what he has to say on a variety of subjects. For a liberal atheist he has very interesting takes on things like the benefits of religion, viewpoint diversity, and human nature in general. All of his ideas are grounded in evidence based on research in science and social science as well as wisdom literature from all religions.

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