Quick hits (part I)

Boxing Day will not stop quick hits.  Lots of Star Wars stuff today and tomorrow, sorry if that’s not your thing.  It’s mine (as are Pez dispensers).


1) Erika Christakis (the woman who kicked off the Yale Halloween costume controversy) on how preschool is crushing our kids (I’m pretty sure Sarah’s preschool isn’t this bad, but I do worry with the upper SES, overly-concerned parents).

2) Yeah, there’s a lot of really good TV out there now, but Drum is right, some TV critics probably need to be a bit more critical.

3) Stop blaming food deserts for obesity.  It would be nice if it were that simple.  It’s not.

4) Fascinating Atlantic piece on the history of Christmas gift-giving:

Christmas gift-giving, then, is the product of overlapping interests between elites who wanted to move raucous celebrations out of the streets and into homes, and families who simultaneously wanted to keep their children safe at home and expose them, in limited amounts, to commercial entertainment. Retailers certainly supported and benefited from this implicit alliance, but not until the turn of the 20th century did they assume a proactive role of marketing directly to children in the hopes that they might entice (or annoy) their parents into spending more money on what was already a well-established practice of Christmas gift-giving.

In the nearly two centuries since New Yorkers instigated the invention of today’s Christmas rituals, American families have invested gift-giving and other widely practiced holiday traditions with their own unique meanings. Identifying the origins of these rituals as historical rather than eternal reinforces their power to do so.

5) Another take on why Trump performs better in on-line polling.

6) Super PAC’s are becoming ever more integral to presidential campaigns.  No, this is not a good thing.

7) This Hidden Brain episode on the psychology of recruiting terrorists is about the best thing I’ve heard or read on the topic.  This Atlantic piece on the matter is good, too.

8) I’d never really thought much about it, but the accents in the Star Wars movies are important [Spoilers for the new one].  That said, a little more research on the matter, and Yglesias seems to be conflating Received Pronunciation with the Trans-Atlantic accent of mid-20th century movies.

9) Cruel irony– they turn your book into a huge movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and the ethics rules of your federal job forbid you from talking about it.

10) Mint to freshen your breath?  It’s all marketing.  And the cool sensory illusion created by mint.

11) If you like legal stuff, fascinating intellectual profile of Richard Posner.

12) Surprise cameos in the new Star Wars film [and for the record, pretty much everything I post about Star Wars will have spoilers]

13) Here’s a great idea for Star Wars– reboot the prequels.  And some interesting suggestions on how to do it.

14) Chait thoroughly rebuts the latest conservative criticisms of Obamacare.

15) Hana Rosin’s recent Atlantic cover story on the Silicon Valley suicides is terrific.  It is about so much more than a viral suicide cluster, but a enlightening examination of class, race, parenting style, etc.

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