Quick hits (part I)

1) Derek Thompson’s take on Hillary, the working class, and identity politics:

The long-term future of the U.S. involves rising diversity, rising inequality, and rising redistribution. The combination of these forces makes for an unstable and unpredictable system. Income stagnation and inequality encourage policies to redistribute wealth from a rich few to the anxious multitudes. But when that multitude includes minorities who are seen as benefiting disproportionately from those redistribution policies, the white majority can turn resentful. (This may be one reason why the most successful social democracies, as in Scandinavia, were initially almost all white.) Nobody has really figured out how to be an effective messenger for pluralist social democracy, except, perhaps, for one of the few American adults who is legally barred from running for the U.S. presidency in the future.

So, the country is wobbling between two extremely different futures: pluralist social democracy on the one hand, and white nativist protectionism on the other. The election’s bizarre schism, with Clinton winning the popular vote and Trump winning the electoral college, is a sign of how razor-thin the margin between those dramatically opposed futures is.

Rising diversity isn’t going away. Income inequality isn’t going away. Support for redistribution isn’t going away. For liberals, pluralist social democracy is the project of the future, and any alternative falls somewhere between xenophobic and amoral. But what if the vast majority of white voters who voted for Trump aren’t interested in any version of that future, no matter who the messenger is?

2) It is kind of funny that you cannot tell the gender of a human nipple when you only see a close-up of the nipple.

3) Yglesias‘ take on why Clinton lost based on what he wrote when he thought she was going to win.  The subhead captures it well, “A workhorse, not a show horse, which is great — except winning the election is important.”

4) Systematic racism found in the granting of parole in New York.  Glad to know systemic racism is just a liberal fantasy.

5) I quite understand the inter-relation between shutter speed, F-stops, ISO, etc., by this point.  But if you are looking to improve your photography and understand how all these actually work, this interactive website is very, very cool.

6) I love this idea– self control is empathy for your future self:

Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You…

This tells us that impulsivity and selfishness are just two halves of the same coin, as are their opposites restraint and empathy. Perhaps this is why people who show dark traits like psychopathy and sadism score low on empathy but high on impulsivity. Perhaps it’s why impulsivity correlates with slips among recovering addicts, while empathy correlates with longer bouts of abstinence. These qualities represent our successes and failures at escaping our own egocentric bubbles, and understanding the lives of others—even when those others wear our own older faces.

7) Speaking of which, when it comes to kids, we really need to be thinking about self-regulation, not self-control.  Not sure I would have learned about that if not having a kid with autism.  But it’s a super-important and super-helpful concept.

8) And, while I’m at it, I think I might have quick-hitted this article once before, but now that I have read Ross Greene’s Raising Human Beings, I can definitely endorse the concepts here.

Another Greene concept that challenges preconceptions is “incompatibility”—that is, the idea that when children misbehave, what’s going on is that their skills are incompatible with the expectations they’re under or the environment they’re in. But rather than viewing incompatibility as a problem, he sees it as an opportunity—indeed, struggling with a crisis is what helps people cement their identities and leads to the most growth. In that moment, adults can help the child identify the root of the incompatibility and find a solution…

So many adult-child conflicts ultimately boil down to a power struggle. The child is doing something the adult doesn’t like and resists attempts to make him change. By shifting the goal from power to collaboration, Greene opens a whole new world of possibilities. Instead of trying to be in charge, parents simply seek to influence their children. In so many ways, it’s a relief to admit that I’m not truly in control and to stop feeling that I should be.

9) Huge fan of Kahneman and Tversky, of course.  And, of Michael Lewis’ writing.  So, the latter doing a biography of the former?  Yes, please.  And Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler writing a review of the book in the New Yorker.  A trifecta.

10) Charles Blow is sure on a post-election roll:

And be clear: It is not the job of the defiant to conform to a future president who makes them completely uncomfortable. The burden of unity lies with Trump, not his detractors.

“Just wait and see.” “Give him a chance.” But what if what you’ve already seen is so beyond the pale that it’s irrevocable? What if Trump has already squandered more chances than most of us will ever have?

What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn’t about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn’t about damaging the country, but protecting it.

11) Some Onion headlines are just too good:

Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions

12) Farhad Manjoo on the gadget apocalypse.  Blame your IPhone.

13) Jeffrey Toobin on the “real” voting scandal of 2016.

14) Love this video showing why maps inevitably distort the globe.

15) James Fallows’ magazine piece on Trump’s election:

I view Trump’s election as the most grievous blow that the American idea has suffered in my lifetime. The Kennedy and King assassinations and the 9/11 attacks were crimes and tragedies. The wars in Vietnam and Iraq were disastrous mistakes. But the country recovered. For a democratic process to elevate a man expressing total disregard for democratic norms and institutions is worse. The American republic is based on rules but has always depended for its survival on norms—standards of behavior, conduct toward fellow citizens and especially critics and opponents that is decent beyond what the letter of the law dictates. Trump disdains them all. The American leaders I revere are sure enough of themselves to be modest, strong enough to entertain self-doubt. When I think of Republican Party civic virtues, I think of Eisenhower. But voters, or enough of them, have chosen Trump.

16) Paul Ryan is ready to dismiss and move past any egregious thing Trump says now that he’s president-elect.  Dahlia Lithwick on just how wrong this is.

17) I was reading a poorly-researched paper on performance pay for teachers (basically argued it’s a panacea) when I decided I’d see what would come up in two minutes of google searching.  Among other things, this great OECD summary:

The bottom line: Performance-based pay is worth considering in some contexts; but making it work well and sustainably is a formidable challenge. Pay levels can only be part of the work environment: countries that have succeeded in making teaching an attractive profession have often done so not just through pay, but by raising the status of teaching, offering real career prospects, and giving teachers responsibility as professionals and leaders of reform. [emphasis mine] This requires teacher education that helps teachers to become innovators and researchers in education, not just civil servants who deliver curricula.

18) I’m pretty excited to be a part of this citizen-science project that examines the microbial life living in your shower head.  Since Evan’s current stated future career is microbiologist, I was especially pleased to be able to carry out our investigation with him.

19) Depressing series of vignettes in NY Times on what it is like to be the unlucky few left out of Obamacare by heartless (non Medicaid-expanding) state governments.

20) Conor Friedersdorf on the hung jury in the shooting of Walter Scott.  Utterly depressing.  Though, I guess there is something to the fact that 11 of 12 got this right.

21) Very happy 40th birthday to DJC who loves quick hits more than anybody I know.  Glad to know this post is doing a little bit for birthday happiness.



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

4 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. Damon Circosta says:


    Damon Circosta

    Likely dictated to Siri. Typos are her fault.


  2. Jon K says:

    19) I read this and compared it to my own experience. When you apply for Obamacare it asks you to estimate what you anticipate your earnings for the year are likely to be. For the last three years I have estimated that I would make 12,500 which is the minimum necessary to qualify for Obamacare. When I reconciled my taxes I have declared income between 900-2000 for each of those years. The IRS took no action to force me to return any subsidy money.

    I believe that they are only interested in people who underestimate their income and therefore have received too much subsidy based on their income. The IRS hasn’t been interested in punishing me for making less money than I estimated that I would earn.

  3. Jason says:

    Wait, I love Quick Hits, too! Ever since Andrew Sullivan decided to seek peace and contentment, I count on your dedication to provide the most open tabs for me.

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