Quick hits (part I)

1) So, maybe princess movies are good for boys, but princess culture is bad for girls (though, I’ve not seen any truly negative consequences in my princess-loving daughter).

2) Among other silliness, our state’s Republican leaders now seem to think we need a constitutional right to hunt and fish.  Seriously?  Honestly, this just makes an absolute mockery of what a Constitution is supposed to be about.

3) Should we even allow citizens in a democratic republic the power to make major policy– without checks– via referendum such as the Brexit case?

4) Are family friend policies for professors unfairly friendly to male professors?

5) Wedding gifts as a sign of social connection (I admit I feel lame choosing off the registry for someone I know well, but usually do it anyway):

VEDANTAM: Well, Ward and her adviser Susan Broniarczyk conducted a series of experiments, Audie, that found that close friends are indeed more likely than strangers to buy things that they think we want or need rather than simply listen to the preferences that we’ve expressed ourselves.

They also found interestingly that when gift-giving is anonymous, when volunteers give gifts anonymously, this effect disappears, meaning close friends are now OK with buying off of a registry. In other words, when our close friends depart from a registry, they say they’re doing it because they know what we really want more than we know ourselves. But if that was the case, they should still buy those gifts when they’re giving anonymously.

The fact that they don’t suggests the real reason close friends depart from the registry is to send a signal to us, to the world, maybe even to themselves that they have a special relationship with us and the unique gift is an advertisement for that special relationship.

6) People talk a lot about private prisons, but it really is so much more than prisons.  Of course, the real problem is that it creates incentives to increase human suffering (i.e., less quality in supervision, etc.) to make more profit.

7) Is our criminal justice war on poor people really a war on poor Black people?

8) Just a reminder that Donald Trump’s economic policies are phenomenally bad.

9) Oh it feels good to see Ken Starr get his comeuppance.

10) Oh, my I love this formulation from law professor Stephen Carter, via Conor Friedersdorf:

Law professors and lawyers instinctively shy away from considering the problem of law’s violence.  Every law is violent.  We try not to think about this, but we should.  On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.

This is by no means an argument against having laws.

It is an argument for a degree of humility as we choose which of the many things we may not like to make illegal. Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff – or the SWAT team – or if necessary the National Guard. Is this an exaggeration? Ask the family of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a decision to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. That’s the crime for which he was being arrested. Yes, yes, the police were the proximate cause of his death, but the crackdown was a political decree.

The statute or regulation we like best carries the same risk that some violator will die at the hands of a law enforcement officer who will go too far. And whether that officer acts out of overzealousness, recklessness, or simply the need to make a fast choice to do the job right, the violence inherent in law will be on display. This seems to me the fundamental problem that none of us who do law for a living want to face.

But all of us should.

11) Love this WRAL editorial— abolishing local government is simply the logical conclusion of the actions of the NC Republican legislature.

12) Great– and horribly depressing– NYT story about municipalities bidding out essential services– ambulances, etc.,– to private equity firms who then, not surprisingly, do a piss-poor job of serving essential public needs.  Merica.

13) Syphilis, yes syphilis, is making a comeback in America.  I wonder which political party we can blame for failing to properly fund our public health infrastructure.

14) How Trump systematically stiffed small businesses in the building of his casinos.

15) Really liked this Atlantic article about our “war on stupid people.”  We truly have come too highly value intelligence in this country (and I say that as one who very much used to suffer from that particular bias– largely inherited from my parents).

16) The Supreme Court’s three most conservative members really seem to be willing to let pretty much anything go in the name of freedom of religion.

17) Really enjoyed this article on how the Washington Post has changed under Jeff Bezos.

 

18) Garrett Epps with a very interesting piece on the genuinely evolving jurisprudence of Anthony Kennedy.

19) Friedman on Brexit (and Trump):

A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the E.U.

These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-E.U. crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.

Like I said, not the end of the world yet, but if a few more E.U. countries try this trick we’ll have quite a little mess on our hands. Attention Donald Trump voters: this is what happens to a country that falls for hucksters who think that life can just imitate Twitter — that there are simple answers to hard questions — and that small men can rearrange big complex systems by just erecting a wall and everything will be peachy. [emphasis mine]

20) Really meant to do a post on this fascinating interview in Vox about IQ.  But, it’s been sitting in an open tab since May, so onto quick hits it goes.

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

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