Quick hits (part II)

1) Drum on how easily Donald Trump is “disgusted.”  (And this sure makes me worry about the political future of my third boy):

This brings to mind Jonathan Haidt’s theory of moral foundations, which suggests that although liberals and conservatives share a set of five innate moral roots, they prioritize them quite differently. Conservatives, for example, are especially sensitive to moral foundation #5:

Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology ofdisgust and contamination….It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants.

I wonder how strongly Donald Trump scores on this particular moral foundation? Pretty strongly, I’d guess. I wonder how much it explains his approach to politics? And I wonder how much it explains his popularity with a certain subset of conservatives?

2) It costs $200,000/year to keep Lenin’s corpse looking good.

3) Enjoyed this Op-Ed on NC Republican Legislators.

4) Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely had a recent NYT Op-Ed endorsing Bernie.  This part really grabbed my attention.  I’m sorry, but Bernie or no Bernie, the world has changed dramatically and it is hard to see how Bernie returns us to a time when a single, non-college educated head-of-household could typically support a comfortable, middle-class American life.

I grew up in working-class Oregon. On a single income, my parents could buy a home, take a vacation and help pay for college. My father worked with his hands as a millwright and built a middle-class life for us.

My parents believed in education and they believed in the United States. When I was young, my father took me to the grade school and told me that if I went through those doors, and worked hard, I could do just about anything because we lived in America. My dad was right.

Years later, my family and I still live in the same working-class community I grew up in. But America has gone off track, and the outlook for the kids growing up there is a lot gloomier today than 40 years ago.

5) If your Alabama daycare is unregulated for religious reasons, you can get away with pretty much anything.

6) Cannot say I was the least bit surprised to learn that the social support that comes from marriage helps cancer survival rates.

7) The educational power of making our students uncomfortable.  Amen.

What we should not do is shelter our students. There is so much talk about “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” in academe today. Many suggest that a classroom should be devoid of anything that could make students feel uncomfortable or unsettled. But history is unsettling. The present is unsettling. It unsettles with its crimes against humanity, its wars, its sex trafficking, even its presidential debates. There should be more being said about the power of discomfort.

Isn’t college by nature an uncomfortable experience? You leave your parents, your friends, your siblings, your neighborhood, even your dog. You live in a dorm where you may or may not know your roommate, you get a job, you lose a job, you date, you make love, you drink too much, you get sick, you fail a class — all of these experiences are discomforting but necessary for your development.

8) Just in case you missed the story of the student removed from a Southwest flight simply for speaking Arabic.  America at it’s worst.

9) The idea that felons cannot vote after they have paid their full debt to society strikes me as preposterous and thoroughly anti-democratic.  Good for Terry McAuliffe for remedying this in Virginia.

10) Conor Friedersdorf on how Americans have become so sensitive to harm.

11) Nice NPR piece on science and the loss of our shared reality.

Our ability to deal with climate change has clearly been adversely affected by this rejection of scientific endeavor. But facing into the winds of this strange primary season, we can see how this denial yielded other consequences, too.

If the point of science is to provide us with a method for establishing public knowledge, then its rejection is also the rejection that such public knowledge is possible. [emphasis in original] If we hold science in esteem because it represents a best practice for establishing shared facts that hold regardless of ethic, religious or political background, then denying science means denying the possibility of such facts. It implies there can be no means for establishing facts about the world and no reason to award authority to mechanisms that deliver those facts.

This wholesale rejection of a shared reality was always the great danger lying in organized, politicized climate science denial. After all, why stop with climate science? Once you get started down this road, who or what determines that it’s gone too far?

12) It’s pretty clear what HB2 is all about.

13) That phase where you are just falling asleep and in the bizarre liminal state between awake and asleep is so cool.  Should yield some interesting research.

14) How is it that B-52‘s are still in service after all these years?  Just the right engineering.

The bomber’s staying power can be attributed to many things, not least of which, according to officers in charge of maintaining the airplanes in the Command’s Directorate of Logistics, is its uniquely forward-thinking original design. “The build of the B-52 was one of both over- and, conversely, under-engineering,” said a directorate representative, who chose not to be identified, per directorate guidelines. “Its flexibility has led to its continued relevance and ability to adapt to current and emerging global threats.”

Under-engineering simply means the B-52 has plenty of physical room for growth and additional systems and components. Most aircraft are designed with tight tolerances, densely packed with hardware the airframe was designed to accommodate. You can’t just remove one thing and throw in something else, whereas the B-52 allows for that kind of swapping…

Even with the modernization, the currently flying B-52s are all about 55 years old, about the age humans start getting calls from the AARP. This is where the over-engineering comes in. “The airframe itself remains structurally sound and has many useful flying years ahead of it,” the directorate official says. “Most of the B-52 airframes are original and their longevity is a testimony to the original design engineers.” In other words, they did a killer job making a durable airplane.

15) Sadly, too many Senators seem to foolishly think the “tougher is better” approach will somehow work as effective drug policy.  Nope.  Tried that.

16) Liked this Vox post on the Harriet Tubman $20:

The $20 is a perfect incident to prompt this divide precisely because it has very little real content. There’s nothing in Tubman’s life or legacy that contradicts any points of modern-day conservative ideology or Republican Party policy ideas. But the very idea of going back through history and finding white male heroes to demote in favor of black female heroes rubs some people the wrong way.

Fox’s Greta Van Susteren’s negative reaction to the news, and conservative journalist Philip Klein’s negative reaction to Van Susteren, captures the dynamic very well.

Trump himself denounced the move as “pure political correctness,” a term that has little specific content but that allows Trump to affiliate himself with the view — shared by most Republicans but not by most Americans overall — that anti-white discrimination is as big of a problem in America as anti-black discrimination.

17) Just watched The Big Short.  Just like all the critics, thought it was really, really good (of course, also very much enjoyed Michael Lewis’ book).  Also, wanted to mention, that when the film ends and “When the Levee Breaks” comes up, that is just an awesome moment.  Enjoyed reading about how hard it was to secure the rights from Led Zeppelin.

18) A two-year old kills himself with a gun.  Just another day in America.

19) An experienced water quality expert in NC complains about the anti-science approach to cleaning water in NC and loses his job.  But don’t worry, it wasn’t political.

20) Donald Trump really does have New York values– as can be seen in his acceptance of gays.

21) Don’t really like Liberal’s undue skepticism of nuclear power equated with the flat-out anti-science of conservative global-warming skeptics, but this is an interesting column from Eduardo Porter.

22) Drum says we need to stop trying to cut middle-class income taxes.  He’s right.

23) Jamelle Bouie makes the case that there is no Bernie movement.

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

8 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Jon K. says:

    13) That stage of sleep can also be terrifying. I will never forget the first time I experienced sleep paralysis. I honestly thought I had locked-in syndrome. Once I knew it was something that would go away I didn’t get as freaked out, but it is still never fun to be conscious and unable to move. Thankfully it hasn’t happened to me since I got my good medicine. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-paralysis

  2. Jon K says:

    21) I see clear parallels between the two movements because neither is willing to accept scientific evidence that proves them wrong. I have an uncle, who is a nuclear physicist, that I recently visited in Washington DC. He made the point that we know how to build safe nuclear plants, and we have done so all over the world. For the most part these plants have operated without issue. The incident in Japan wasn’t something that should undermine confidence that nuclear plants can be operated safely. It was a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions.

    Nuclear power is carbon neutral, and it is our best hope for transitioning away from fossil fuels. The French have even demonstrated that the “waste” can be recycled in a responsible manner. If we really want to put a dent in carbon emissions we should be emphasizing nuclear power wherever it is feasible.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Yes, clear parallels. Whereas conservatives don’t even believe the scientists, I suspect most nuclear-opposing liberals don’t realize most scientists consider it safe. But, yeah, I almost feel like the position of a liberal on nuclear power is a good indication of how, real-world, fact-based their approach to politics is.

    • rgbact says:

      And on the basis of one freak incident…..Japan is now turning to coal and Germany also has largely gotten rid of nuclear and going to coal. More anti science alarmism Now people are dying in Europe from freezing to death

  3. ohwilleke says:

    14) The engineering turns out to be a pretty minor point. The biggest issue is that long range bombers are used far fewer hours per year than any other kind of aircraft in the Air Force. Why?

    Fighter pilots need lots of training hours for air to air combat and have to be recycled with new waves of fighter pilots regularly because it is not an old man’s game (even more so for carrier based fighter pilots). Cargo and refueling tanker planes are used constantly and heavily for their intended purpose of moving people and equipment around.

    Long rage bomber crews require far, far less training than fighter pilots but are used very infrequently in combat (especially since the late 1990s when “smart bombs” reduced the number of bombing runs required to hit a target by a factor of five to ten). Lots of their flying takes place on autopilot and there is little tricky flying compared to fighters or refueling planes. Despite their great age, many of the B-52s that are in service have less hours of flight time than many of the fighter planes and cargo planes in service.

  4. R. Jenrette says:

    It does seem to me that when building a safe nuclear power, it might be advisable to avoid making them ocean front or to sit on a fault line.

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