Photo of the day

Boxing fan or not, this is just an amazing iconic image:

A limited edition print of the fight between Ali and Liston in the famous 1965 ‘Phantom Punch’ bout in Lewiston, Maine (Heritage/BNPS)

Also, really enjoyed this take from N&O Sports columnist Luke Decock, as it reflected my experience:

By the time my boxing consciousness awakened, Muhammad Ali had long ago entered the elder-statesman phase of his life. I remember Holmes and Cooney. There was a menacingly dominant heavyweight of my childhood and adolescence, but it was Tyson, not Ali.

The Ali I knew was a gentle man trapped in the throes of Parkinson’s, a shadow of what he once was physically but with every bit of the presence that melted both presidents and paupers alike. He was no longer a boxer, but had transcended sports to become a national icon, whose surprise, trembling appearance to light the Olympic flame could bring people of all ages and races to open tears.

So to discover that Ali was once widely reviled, as divisive a figure as there was in America at the time, came like a slap in the face. It was less an education about Ali than about an America my generation never knew: an angry, segregated America where an outspoken black superstar was seen not as the man of principle he would become but a threat to the established order.

 

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Quick hits (part II)

1) Could Republicans please stop trying to win elections by making it harder to vote?!  Ohio’s voter-roll purge.

2) Good take on the Gorilla news and our “parent-shaming culture.  And the take in the NYT Well blog.

3) Life, indeed, is really hard out there for adjunct faculty.  Though, this is very much a supply and demand issue.  As long as thousands of PhD’s are willing to sell their services for $2000-$4000 per class it’s not surprising that universities would be willing to take advantage of this.

4) Our War on Drugs, sub-war on Cocaine, subjected to costs-benefit.  Needless to say, the American taxpayer has been ripped off on this:

American taxpayers got a dismal return on their $4.3 billion investment in the Colombian drug war between 2000 and 2o08, according to a new analysis by economists at MIT and Colombia’s Universidad de los Andes.

In the paper, which will be published in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Daniel Mejia and Pascual Restrepo analyzed the cost to U.S. taxpayers of the two big U.S.-funded anti-cocaine efforts in Colombia: eradication of coca plants via the aerial spraying of herbicides, and interdiction efforts to block cocaine transit routes and seize shipments of cocaine. These efforts took place under the umbrella of Plan Colombia, a decade-long U.S.-backed initiative to fight the drug trade and organized crime in Colombia…

Mejia and Restrepo found that between 2000 and 2008, it cost the U.S. government $940,000 to eliminate a single kilogram of cocaine from the domestic market via herbicide spraying in Colombia. Eliminating that kilo via interdiction was considerably cheaper, at $175,000.

5) The headline says it all, “Most For-Profit Students Wind Up Worse Off Than If They Had Never Enrolled in the First Place.”

6) Speaking of students getting ripped off– Trump U.

7) Perhaps the wannabe swindler-in-chief does not want to release his tax returns because he’s not nearly as rich as he wants everybody to think.

8) Maybe Oregon is more generous than most states with welfare because it is mostly white:

But Soss and his co-authors have also found a more troubling explanation for the differences between Oregon’s strong safety net and those in other states. Their research shows that states with a higher percentage of minorities on the welfare rolls are more likely to be punitive, implementing policies that reduce welfare caseloads, such as strict time limits on TANF;  family caps that deny benefits to additional children; and benefits disqualification for small violations, like a child’s poor school performance. By contrast, states with poor populations that are predominately white are more likely to be generous, adopting the federal government’s five-year lifetime limit, waving work requirements if participants have young children, and continuing to give benefits to children even if the parents reach the time limits.

The demographics of Oregon, where the population is 86.6 percent white, may help explain why the state’s safety net is so strong. In 1995, the year before welfare reform passed, 79 percent of families receiving welfare were white in Oregon. In Arkansas, by contrast, which is 80 percent white, 55 percent of families receiving welfare in 1995 were black and 44 percent were white. People, it seems, are much less giving when it comes to helping out people who don’t look like them.

The case of Oregon highlights what can happen when federal programs are turned over to the states: They help some Americans more than others, depending on where people live, and, often, depending on the color of their skin.

9) You don’t hear a lot about Ben Stein these days.  In this Guardian interview he basically says that Trump is horrible on the economy; Hillary is way better; but he’ll vote for Trump anyway because “I think he does personify a kind of national pride which I think has been lacking in the Obama days and would be terribly lacking under Bernie Sanders and terribly lacking under Hillary Clinton.”  Idiot.

10) Chait makes the case that Trump’s lies and his authoritarianism are basically the same thing.

11) LA Times on the UCLA shooting:

In this case, it was only two dead. Murder-suicide in a small office. And so America shrugs. Just another incident in the daily parade of gun violence that defines contemporary America. And so two families, and two circles of friends, and a community of students and faculty are left to their grief, and their confusion, and maybe a touch more fear than usual at the recognition that violence can and will strike so close to home.

Ultimately, we should be glad this was a tragedy for fewer people than feared when the phrase “campus shooting” first popped up on screens. But that society will just shrug this off is tragic in its own way. That the nation accepts gun violence as commonplace, as a reasonable trade-off for some romanticized view of every gun owner as a soldier against tyranny, is the continuing tragedy.

And so the deaths will mount.

12) Elon Musk argues that it is more likely than not we are all living in a really sophisticated simulation.

13) The case for dogs originating not just once, but multiple times.  Makes sense to me.

14) Jamelle Bouie argues that Donald Trump is flailing.

15) James Surowiecki with a really nice take on Prospect Theory and support for Trump:

Trump is playing to one of the most powerful emotions in our economic life—what behavioral economists call loss aversion. The basic idea, which was pioneered by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, is that people feel the pain of losses much more than they feel the pleasure of gains. Empirical studies suggest that, in general, losing is twice as painful as winning is enjoyable. So people will go to great lengths to avoid losses, and to recover what they’ve lost…

The other surprising thing is that you might expect loss-averse voters to be leery of taking a risk on an unpredictable outsider like Trump, since loss aversion often makes people cautious: offered the choice between five hundred dollars and a fifty per cent chance at a thousand dollars or nothing, most people take the sure thing. However, loss aversion promotes caution only when people are considering gains; once people have sustained losses, impulses change dramatically. Offered the choice between losing five hundred dollars and a fifty per cent chance of losing a thousand dollars or nothing, most people prefer to gamble—the opposite of what they did when presented with the chance to win a thousand dollars. As one study puts it, “People are willing to run huge risks to avert or recover losses.” In the real world, this is why people hold falling stocks, hoping for a rebound rather than cutting their losses, and it’s why they double down after losing a bet. For Trump’s voters, the Obama years have felt like a disaster. Taking a flyer on Trump actually starts to feel sensible.

16) Really thorough take on the Constitutional crisis that is the appalling lack of resources for criminal defense in Louisiana.

17) Noted torture-apologist and all-around embarrassment as public servant and human being (and former Attorney General), Alberto Gonzales, takes to the Washington Post to defend Trump’s anti-Hispanic racism.  It’s as pathetic as you’d expect.

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