Quick hits (part I)

Okay, good thing I wrote most of quick hits before actually leaving to go to a Political Science conference in Philly.  Far too much other things to do, rather than blog.  I’ll have part II out Sunday or Monday once I’m back.

1) Drum on how states use block grants to screw the poor.

2) Interesting libertarian take on how over-regulation has led to the Epipen problem.  Though given that they mention there are 8 versions available in highly-regulated Europe, the problem strikes me as more poorly-designed regulation than regulation per se.

3) Chait on U Chicago an the anti-anti PC left.

4) Robert O’Connell on Kapernick and the national anthem:

When asked about Kaepernick’s actions, his ex-teammate and now-Minnesota Viking Alex Boone, whose brother served as a Marine, spoke passionately. “That flag obviously gives him the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some fucking respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom.”

The response rests on certain assumptions. The anthem is, in Boone’s presentation, a means of honoring America’s military—not the country’s ideological foundation or its cultural or political history—and so Kaepernick is offending the military. Contrast this understanding with, say, that of the national anthems played for the victors at the Olympics…

Boone’s criticism of Kaepernick surely stemmed in part from his brother’s time serving, but it also reflected his league’s conception of national pride. The armed forces figure heavily in the NFL’s weekly presentations. The flyovers are joined by salutes to servicemen and women in the crowd, reunions between returning soldiers and their families, televised cutaways to units stationed overseas enjoying satellite feeds of the games, and recruitment ads during commercial breaks.

5) And Ben Mathis-Lilley on the intellectual lameness of so many of the criticisms leveled against Kapernick.

6) At least some federal judges are now questioning the wisdom of our incredibly unwise sex offender laws.

7) On supporting Trump because of the Supreme Court:

The idea that every issue will end up at the Supreme Court is not borne out by experience. Among the many consequential decisions of the Obama administration, the Supreme Court had nothing to do with the Stimulus, the auto bailout, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate change accords, the intervention in Libya, or the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Let’s call these arguments for what they really are: a transparent attempt to defend the indefensible.Donald Trump would be a disastrous President in a myriad of unprecedented ways. He has a hair trigger in a world with infinite provocations. He threatens to upend the post-war security regime that has thus far averted world war. And his explicitly racist policies on immigration, law enforcement, and combating foreign terrorism threaten domestic unrest and foreign upheaval. The only way to brush aside such profound threats to our national security and tranquility is to elevate the importance of something else. The Supreme Court is an incredibly important institution in our democracy. But it is far from the most important. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. [emphasis mine]

8) Our roads would be so much safer if we actually enforced left lane for passing policies.  Apparently, some states are finally figuring this out.  Good for them.  Nice video on the matter from Vox.

9) Lynn Vavreck on how much Trump is hurting the Republican party.

10) Apparently historians are not so interested in politics these days.

11) Both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are fundamentally unserious on policy (of course, so is Trump).

12) Really enjoyed Emily Nussbaum’s take on “Stranger Things.”

13) And Alexis Okeowo’s take on Riz Ahmed in “The Night Of.”  And some praise for the show from Wired for just having a single, very good season.

14) A plan from Boeing to fight forest fires with a howitzer loaded with chemical fire retardants.

15) Ron Fournier takes on false equivalence between Clinton and Trump in calling for Trump’s defeat

On one hand, Clinton. On the other hand, Trump. That’s the unfortunate choice facing voters in a system rigged heavily in favor of the two major parties.

But there’s no equivalence.

On one hand, Benghazi and email and lies.

On the other hand, mendacity, bigotry, bullyism, narcissism, sexism, selfishness, sociopathology, and a lack of understanding or interest in public policy—all to extremes unseen in modern presidential politics.

I like to remind readers that there are other choices. While Green Party’s Jill Stein, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and independent Evan McMullin are unlikely to win, people should ignore partisans who say backing anybody other than Clinton or Trump is a wasted vote. That’s the duopoly protecting its selfish interest. The only votes wasted are the ones not cast.

On the other hand, Trump shouldn’t be president.

16) All true (on the Trump side), and a nice response from Drum:

I don’t mean to criticize Fournier for anything here, but he uses a formulation that I’ve seen all too often and it puzzles me. Critics of Hillary Clinton always mention that she “lies.” But Trump? It’s all bigotry, ignorance, and narcissism. Why? Trump lies practically every time he opens his mouth. Without getting into the question of how often or how seriously Hillary lies, there’s really no question that Trump outclasses her about a thousand to one on this score.

Fournier actually does better than some, since he at least mentions “mendacity” in his list. But why not just say Trump is a liar? And not just any liar. By a wide margin Trump is the most consistent, brazen, serial liar in presidential campaign history. He’s so far off the charts it’s hard to even describe what he does. This really deserves to be called out more often.

17) Love this Julia Belluz piece summarizing all the research on aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.  As I suspected, ibuprofen rules and acetaminophen little more than a placebo.  I was actually surprised aspirin did not perform any better.  That said, I am really wondering about the combination of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine, i.e., Excedrin.  Anyway, I love my ibuprofen and I’m sticking with it.

18) Very interesting and thoughtful Daniel Engber piece about the replication problem in social psychology.

19) A series of takes from Education policy experts on how to improve the school calendar.  This take was definitely my favorite (short version: smarter use of time, not more time):

Carol Burris, the executive director of the Network for Public Education

Students in high-performing nations like Finland, Korea, and Japan spend the same or less time as American students in school. The myth that American students spend less time learning than students in other industrialized nations is not true. It is also clear from studies that increasing school time is very expensive and there is little return in achievement. Reductions in class size and peer tutoring, for example, have been found to be far more effective.

That being said, we do know that students from disadvantaged homes experience summer reading learning loss, while students from affluent homes experience small gains, and all students lose a little bit of knowledge in mathematics in the summer. Rather than lengthening the school day, which exhausts young children and deprives older children of the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities and sports, a better alternative is to provide targeted, enriched learning activities, especially in the summer.

We will fund summer day camps for disadvantaged students that are staffed by certified teachers that integrate enrichment and recreational activities with some reading, science, and mathematical experiences intertwined. Similar programs will be designed for students who are learning English. Good after-school childcare that provides enrichment and recreation within neighborhood schools will be available for every child.

20) Good NYT piece on how Russia uses disinformation as a weapon.

21) The optimum amount or running to be healthy?  Pretty much what I settled on years ago just because it seemed to work well for me:

Over all, Dr. Lavie says, the best advice based on the latest science is that for most of us, “running for 20 to 30 minutes, or about a mile-and-a-half to three miles, twice per week would appear to be perfect.”

Okay, I actually to about 30-35 minutes 3-4 times a week, but still, sounds pretty good to me.

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