How tall will your kids be

I didn’t realize there was a handy formula for estimating the height of children based on their parents.  There is.  From the NYT:

For boys, the formula combines the height of both parents, adds five inches (or 13 centimeters) and divides by two.

For girls, it combines the height of the parents, subtracts five inches and divides by two. A more complex formula accounts for extremes in parental height.

Obviously, not all children of the same parents, nor even those of the same sex, end up the same height. Adult height tends to decrease in younger siblings, and younger children may grow more slowly.

Other factors are involved in growing taller, most notably nutrition, but genetics is estimated to account for 60 percent to 80 percent of one’s final height. A 2000 study of 8,798 pairs of adult Finnish twins, published in the journal Behavior Genetics, found that heritability accounted for around 78 percent of height in adult men and 75 percent in women.

According to this, my boys should be about 5’11.5″  (half an inch shorter than me) and Sarah should check in 1/2 in inch taller than her mom, at 5’6.5″.  We’ll see.  I actually think only Alex will make it, though.

Photo of the day

I love the photos of ordinary people in ecstasy at meeting a political candidate.  This is surely one of the best ever (from In Focus’ photos of the week gallery):

Audience member Robin Roy reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets her at a campaign rally in Lowell, Massachusetts, on January 4, 2016.

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Marco and Me

So, Marco Rubio came to the NC State fairgrounds to give a speech yesterday.  Not nearly the spectacle of the Trump speech, but definitely glad I went.  Anyway, various observations…

First, thanks to the NC Republicans (seriously!) for moving our primary up to March.  Highly doubtful I would have already seen Trump and Rubio if we had stayed with our traditional May date.

So, Trump was at the NC State Fairgrounds as well, but had the much larger Dorton Arena (about 7,000 capacity) and the full secret service security and all that.  Rubio filled the Holhouser building (notable for housing the Village of Yesteryear, to you NC State Fair attendees).  I’m thinking maybe 1000 people.  Or at least 700-800.  Enough so that it got hot in there!  Unlike Trump, they actually checked for tickets, but I was amused at how easily I was able to talk myself in without one (they were not available anymore when I found out about the event yesterday).  Anyway, excited crowd, but felt more “normal.”  For one, no protesters or hint of them.

As for Rubio, the man certainly knows how to give a good speech.  As I’m said before, he is truly a talented politician.  He came across as super-relatable and also in command.  Definitely solid on the “candidate you want to have a beer with” test.  And pretty funny, too.

That said… the lies, my God the lies.  For most of his speech, the distortions, half-truths, extraordinarily mis-leading cherry-picked statistics, and occasional just-plain outright lies were endless.  Of course the crowd just ate it up.  You know why Hillary Clinton should not be president?  That’s right, Benghazi.  Common Core is a federal government take-over.  Obama has gutted the military, etc.  Ugh.  A nice reminder that when Rubio first rose to prominence he was a Tea Party darling.  Oh, my you really would have thought Obama was a communist agent planted to destroy America.  And, oh, we should definitely go back to you being in control of your healthcare, not the government after we repeal Obamacare and replace it with…. well, nothing apparently, except you being back in control (and, yes, Jon K, he was particularly happy with screwing up your health insurance).

Rubio’s last 15 minutes was almost none of that and it was Rubio at is best.  Painting an optimistic version of America and the future masterfully interwoven with his own personal story.  That’s the Rubio that scares Democrats.  Not the one that relies on scaring Republicans.

Quick hits (part II)

1) On the overlooked importance of curriculum in K-12 education.

2) I’ve enjoyed people’s reactions the past couple weeks when telling them I’m reading a book about super-intelligent ants that take over the world through the use of highly-evolved/super-intelligent dogs and cats that they ants created through a chemical in the water.  It was really great stuff.  Mort(e) is a both a page-turner and a thought-provoking exploration about the nature of humanity, friendship, religion, and more .

3) I kind of feel like (but am unsure) I already posted this amazing essay by John McWhorter on why English is so unique.  But if I did, there’s a lot worse things I could post twice.

4) Nice Connor Friedersdorf post on the mis-guided local politics of housing in San Francisco.

5) Drum on Saudi Arabia.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is our great and good ally. They flog apostates. They export Sunni extremism. They treat women as chattel. They flog and imprison gays. They import slave labor from abroad. They have no truck with freedom of religion or freedom of speech. Their royal family is famously corrupt. And they really, really want to start up a whole bunch of wars that they would very much like America to fight for them.

6) The partisan politics driving the NC Supreme Court.

7) On bird-watching, public lands, and the Oregon stand-off.

8) Seth Masket on how campaign finance reform contributed to partisan polarization.

9) Really enjoyed this Vox post about reading books.  Had not thought of the idea that if a book gets translated to English, that’s a pretty damn indicator that it’s good.  And, of course, the idea that books only get so long to prove themselves.

Reading is amazing; it shouldn’t be a chore, and when it became one, I stopped doing it.  The few times this year that I felt my reading stall came after spending too long with a book that failed to move me. It’s important to recognize that not every book will be a page-turner from the start, but my benefit of the doubt rarely lasts more than 100 pages…

Last year, the BBC reported that translations comprise just 2 to 3 percent of English publishing, compared with 27 percent in France and up to 70 percent in Slovenia.

In my readings this year, I noticed the flip side of the 2 to 3 percent statistic, which is this: Books translated into English are almost guaranteed to be excellent.

10) A millionaire on how extreme wealth is over-rated (hedonic treadmill!)

11) Austan Goolsbee makes the case for a new Morrill Act.  Working at one Morrill Act institution, with a degree from another this strikes me as a particulary good idea.

12) Really like Joe Nocera’s plan for how to pay college athletes.

13) Yglesias makes the case for poor, forgotten Martin O’Malley.

14) Love Joseph Stiglitz’s ideas for addressing inequality:

Instead, he swings for the fences, suggesting a massive revision in the way the U.S. economy does business. First up is the attempt to tame what is called rent-seeking—the practice of increasing wealth by taking it from others rather than generating any actual economic activity. Lobbying, for example, allows large companies to spend money influencing laws and regulations in their favor, but lobbying itself isn’t helpful for the economy besides creating a small number of jobs in Washington; it produces nothing but helps an already rich and influential group grow more rich and more influential. Stiglitz suggests that reducing rent-seeking is critical to reining in inequality, especially when it comes to complex issues such as housing prices, patents, and the power that large corporations wield.

To overhaul these behaviors and the policies that support it, Stiglitz says that America should give up what he deems the “incorrect and outdated” belief in supply-side economics, which grows from the premise that regulation and taxes dampen business opportunities and economic growth. Instead, massive changes to tax laws, regulations, and the financial sector are needed, he says, in order to curb rent-seeking. For instance, increasing tax rates, ending preferential treatment for top earners, and refining the tax code would decrease incentives to amass extreme amounts of wealth, since it would be so heavily taxed, and that tax would be difficult to shirk. Stiglitz suggests a 5 percent increase to the tax rate of the top 1 percent of earners—a move that he says would raise as much as $1.5 trillion over 10 years. He also calls for a “fair tax,” which would eliminate preferential tax treatment for money earned from capital gains and dividends—perks enjoyed primarily by people who can afford to own a lot of stock.

15) Greg Mankiw’s take on why college is so expensive.

16) Drum’s take on a little debate last week about the liberal-ness of college campuses.  From my perspective this is overwhelmingly self-selection and I’ll stick with that till I see data that suggests otherwise

17) Nice essay on the fact that we are far too ready to consider the other side in political debates to be just plain dumb.  (True, but when the leading contender on the other side is Donald Trump?  Just sayin…)

18) Loved this Linda Greenhouse column on the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to have the Constitution actually protect people:

All these years later, the decision continues to immunize government from the kind of accountability that common sense and justice would seem to require. A Colorado woman, Jessica Gonzales, tried to steer around the DeShaney obstacle in a case she brought against the town of Castle Rock after her estranged husband snatched their three children from her front lawn and murdered them. Ms. Gonzales had obtained a protective order against her husband, but even though she knew he had taken the children and knew where he had gone with them, the police ignored her repeated pleas to find and intercept him. The Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that Ms. Gonzales had no constitutional claim against the police.

So Joshua DeShaney Braam leaves a haunting legacy. The court receives regular requests to revisit or modify the decision, and turns the cases down without comment. For several years after the decision, I kept track of each new appeal that invited the justices to change course, but eventually, I abandoned the project. I can’t imagine the Roberts court revisiting the case.

19) This song came up on my Satellite radio the other day.  I was fascinated to learn it’s called “Ah! Leah!” I had no idea that’s what Donnie Iris was saying!  (I haven’t heard the song for years, but I’m sure I did a bunch back in the day).  Promptly went and purchased from Itunes.

20) Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, you are well aware how our prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill.  Still useful to read Dahlia Lithwick’s look at how serious the problem is.

21) Solid methodology (it’s really worth reading the link to see how a study like this is designed) comes to the disturbing conclusion that attractive female students get better grades due to their attractiveness.

And yet there’s more, but that’s enough for a weekend.  I’ll save the others for later.


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