Quick hits (part II)

1) Nate Cohn on Trump’s real potential with working-class white voters.

2) John Dickerson makes the case for restraint.

3) Best way to get out of rip current to swim parallel to the shore– right?  Maybe not.

 4) Lee Drutman suggests that the over-population of lawyers in politics in America may be partially responsible for our high inequality.

5) NYT Op-Ed on bringing basic principles of deterrence to corporate crime (I love my Jetta, but some VW execs need some prison time):

If we are serious about preventing corporate crime, we must change the corporate calculus. First, we need to increase the chances that white-collar criminals will be punished. One approach is an “enforcement pyramid” in which corporate infractions are met with graduated responses that start with education and end, if necessary, with prosecution.

Second, corporate executives must face the very real prospect of doing time in prison and not just pay fines. Judges have handed out very long sentences in well-publicized cases — Bernie Madoff and Jeff Skilling of Enron, for example. But these few severe penalties are not nearly as effective a deterrent as imposing relatively short prison sentences on a much larger number of white-collar defendants.

6) Dressers that can fall over when not anchored to the wall are not “defective” dressers, they are just plain dressers.  Physics.  Seems to me Ikea is doing due diligence through anchoring kits and public awareness.  I’ve put together a number of Ikea products in the past few years and they all come with anchor systems built in and very strong encouragement to use them.

7) Fascinating detective story to try and uncover if “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is real.

8) Nobel Laureate scientists take on Greenpeace over their anti-science, anti-GMO agenda (there’s a reason I contribute to environmental causes but never Greenpeace):

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter states…

Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Post, “I find it surprising that groups that are very supportive of science when it comes to global climate change, or even, for the most part, in the appreciation of the value of vaccination in preventing human disease, yet can be so dismissive of the general views of scientists when it comes to something as important as the world’s agricultural future.”

9) Interesting take on why GOT’s High Sparrow is so hated.

10) Okay, yes, it seems wrong to mention female pubic hair “grooming” in this family-friendly blog ;-), but what I found disconcerting in this NYT article about the amazing prevalence of the practice was just how many women seemed to think that allowing your body to keep it’s natural hair is somehow unhygienic.  On a quasi-related note, it is interesting that in TV and movies about dystopias, there’s not always enough razors for men to shave their beards, but there’s always something for the women to shave their legs and armpits.

11) In case you weren’t clear, the government’s no-fly list is a horribly Orwellian policy utterly lacking in due process.  Should we keep dangerous people from flying?  Sure.  Should there be due process?  Hell yes.

12) OMG we have a lot of people in military bands.  The Republicans might not be wrong to suggest we could have some cutbacks here.  For what it’s worth, when I was a kid, I first took percussion from a drummer in the US Navy Band before moving to a teacher in the US Air Force Band.

The Pentagon fields more than 130 military bands worldwide, made up of about 6,500 musicians, and not just in traditional brass and drum corps like the kind that will march in many Fourth of July parades on Monday. There are also military rock acts with artsy names, conservatory-trained military jazz ensembles, military bluegrass pickers, even a military calypso band based in the Virgin Islands.

All of this cost about $437 million last year — almost three times the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts.

13) Former Bush administration CIA official explains why not saying “radical Islam” is smart strategy.  I’m sure Donald Trump is listening.

14) On the challenges of adult male friendships.  I find it just sad that so many men feel they cannot discuss matters beyond sports, etc., with their male friends.  I have friends with whom I just discuss sports, work, politics (hey, that’s work!), etc., with, but my truest and closest friends are certainly those with whom I can share (and listen) what’s actually going on in my life that matters.  I cannot imagine not having that in my friendships.

From childhood on, Dr. Olds said, “men’s friendships are more often based on mutual activities like sports and work rather than what’s happening to them psychologically. Women are taught to draw one another out; men are not.”

15) As I mentioned in an earlier post, the best predictor of future violence is uncontrolled anger.  Here’s a take from a psychologist on using mindfullness to help control anger.  Policies that help encourage this sort of psychological treatment with populations prone to anger can surely help.

16) Jordan Weissman on how Bernie doesn’t really get global trade.  And Drum on how to do Free Trade better.

17) This was a really interesting/disturbing review of a new Mercedes with self-driving technology.  Seems that the car does not do such a great job of letting you know whether you, the human, or the computer is in charge.  That’s just asking for trouble.   Reminded me of a terrific 99% Invisible from just about a year ago about how the real difficulty in autonomous control systems is the impact that has on human psychology and decision-making.

18) One hell of an optical illusion.

19) Seriously, we have to find some way to limit the amazing amount of damage Saudi Arabia is doing to the world through relentlessly exporting their awful form of Islam.

20) Ended up attempting to explain “literary fiction” to my oldest son yesterday.  He was not impressed with my answer, even though I thought I did pretty well.  It’s complicated!  Anyway, I actually liked this take as much as any I came across.

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

4 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Jon K says:

    I would be interested in your explanation of what literary fiction. I find myself in the camp that sees plot less whining being a key feature, but I only have limited experience with the genre. Perhaps you could recommend some examples that were interesting and that have some type of discernable story that has a beginning, middle, and satisfying resolution at the end?

    • Steve Greene says:

      Oh, there’s plenty of truly awful literary fiction (but that’s true of all types of fiction). For starters, Anna Karenina. Or Station Eleven. http://www.newyorker.com/books/joshua-rothman/better-way-think-genre-debate. Or, The Road (one of my very favorite books ever). Or most anything by Richard Russo. Or The Corrections. Or most works by Ian McEwan. So, there’s a start :-).

      • Jon K says:

        I’ve read The Road and Anna Karenina (I’ll read anything by Tolstoy he understands what it means to be a person better than just about anybody who has ever written about it.) I didn’t realize those were ‘literary fiction’. I thought literary fiction were the type of books English professors write papers about. I was thinking it was books like Ulysses which is about the worst thing I’ve ever attempted to get through.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Well, part of the interesting debate is how you define “literary fiction.” But I think most anybody would include any Tolstoy and Cormac McCarthy. And I think you are exactly right about what makes Tolstoy so brilliant. He simply “gets” the human condition better than about anybody ever.

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