Quick hits (part I)
April 8, 2017 4 Comments
2) Evidence for democracy in early Meso-American societies.
3) Totally buy that filling up escalators with two people standing on every step is way more efficient for moving large numbers. Alas, try getting Americans with our cultural ideas of personal space to do that.
4) In case you missed the fabulous LA Times anti-Trump editorial:
What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.
Although his policies are, for the most part, variations on classic Republican positions (many of which would have been undertaken by a President Ted Cruz or a President Marco Rubio), they become far more dangerous in the hands of this imprudent and erratic man.
5) Hua Hsu says we shouldn’t want perfect robot referees. I am entirely unpersuaded. For example, you cannot completely take the referee out of soccer, but we should so have a chip in the ball and every player– no more bad offside calls for starters.
6) Excellent Emily Bazelon and Eric Posner (what a combo!) take on the problem with Gorsuch’s views on the administrative state.
7) This long, informative piece on the history of Republicans totally bogus war on almost totally non-existent voter fraud is really, really good. Surprise– it’s in Politico. I definitely learned stuff (or re-learned stuff I had forgotten).
8) Terrific and interactive NYT feature on how Uber uses psychological techniques to get more out of its drivers.
9) Greg Sargent with the headline captures it all, “Why is Trump flailing? Because Americans hate his agenda, and it’s based on lies.”
10) Pretty cool story and video on Seattle’s giant tunnel boring machine breaking through after 3 years.
11) Excellent Jennifer Victor post on how modern partisanship is all about hating the other side and how that makes functional politics so much harder.
12) Since I do a lot of research on the gender gap it’s always especially important for me to control for religiosity as women are always more religious than men. Yet, I’ve never really come across much seeking to explain that. Until this Pew interview:
Can you explain in a little more detail what exactly you’re talking about when you suggest a possible biological basis for religious differences between men and women?
I’m not an expert in genetics, but there appears to be some fairly compelling evidence (for example from studies of twins) that genes do affect our disposition to be religious. And if that’s the case, it’s at least plausible that the gender gap in religiosity is partly a matter of biology. If true, though, I doubt that it’s because there’s a “God gene” and women are more likely to have it than men. It seems easier to believe that physiological or hormonal differences could influence personality, which may in turn be linked to variations in “spirituality” or religious thinking…
Does this mean that Christianity is more appealing to women than to men, and if so, why do you think this is the case?
Christianity presents itself as a religion of the powerless: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Depending on your point of view, that’s appealingly feminine or appallingly effeminate. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in his characteristically abrasive way that women need “a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and … humble as divine.”
It’s true that some religions are more appealing to women – or men – than others. If we look at alternative spirituality, some varieties attract mostly women and others are of more interest to men. (Satanism falls into the latter category.) Christianity, too, comes in many forms, to such an extent that it is difficult to generalize about its appeal. The more patriarchal versions are possibly better at keeping men involved. Where men are mostly responsible for public worship, as in Orthodox Judaism and Islam, then of course the gender gap will look different. Overall, though, I doubt that there are important differences between the major world religions in their appeal to men and women. They have all survived and thrived for centuries.
13) Love this story about high school journalists who busted their new principal’s fake degree (and shame on the school system for ever hiring her!!)
14) Never been a fan of the filibuster and I won’t cry to see it go. Good take. Even better, though, was how JP introduced this column in his FB share:
I agree, but would go further. The filibuster is an anti-democratic tool of obstruction and unaccountability, and the Senate would be better off without it. However, the Senate itself is an anti-democratic tool of obstruction and unaccountability, as Madison argued at the convention, and also needs to go if we really care about representative democracy.
Sorry to be short and late. In Chicago learning fascinating new developments in Political Science. Or something like that. If you need more to read, just find a copy of Sapiens.
Or wait, if you are not DJC, you probably haven’t read the great Atlantic piece on Woolly Mammoths and climate yet. It is as good as DJC told me (read it on the plane here).