Quick hits (part II)

1) This is really cool– there’s a a reason that Americans smile so much:

But there’s an interesting line of research that helps explain outliers on the other end of the spectrum, too: Specifically, Americans and their stereotypically mega-watt smiles.

It turns out that countries with lots of immigration have historically relied more on nonverbal communication—and thus, people there might smile more…

After polling people from 32 countries to learn how much they felt various feelings should be expressed openly, the authors found that emotional expressiveness was correlated with diversity. In other words, when there are a lot of immigrants around, you might have to smile more to build trust and cooperation, since you don’t all speak the same language.

2) The prosecutor in the Cameron Todd Willingham case may be sanctioned.

3) When it comes to birds, a little brain packs a big punch.

4) A longer post I’ve been meaning to write.  Increasingly the lesson of the Trump presidency is just, lie, lie, and lie some more.

5) Here’s a thought… more drug treatment, less drug punishment.  Some NCSU research:

A recent study finds that even small, day-to-day stressors can cause an increase in illegal drug use among people on probation or parole who have a history of substance use. The study could inform future treatment efforts and was conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of Texas, the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco and Policy Studies, the Truth Initiative, Gateway Foundation Corrections and Texas Christian University.

“Our findings suggest that drug and alcohol treatment are valuable tools for those on parole or probation, and that even if people relapse, the treatment helps them limit their substance use over time,” [emphasis mine] says Sarah Desmarais, an associate professor of psychology at NC State and co-lead author of a paper describing the work.

6) I’ve always thought the most amazing thing about elite marathoners is how fast they are running for two hours straight.  I can probably barely run that fast period.  I do like this idea in Wired of seeing how long you can actually maintain the 13.1 mph pace.

7) Great NYT editorial on the phenomenal wrongness of our current cash bail system:

As a result, poor people charged with a misdemeanor end up stuck behind bars, while people with money who are charged with the same offense walk free.

The county’s lawyer defended this policy by arguing that poor defendants — who are disproportionately black and Latino — stay in jail not because they can’t buy their way out but because they “want” to be there, especially “if it’s a cold week.” Judge Rosenthal called this despicable claim “uncomfortably reminiscent of the historical argument that used to be made that people enjoyed slavery.”

The real explanation is straightforward: As cash bail has fueled a politically influential, multibillion-dollar industry, courts are relying on it more, and people who can’t afford it are getting locked up at ever greater rates. Judge Rosenthal noted that only two decades ago, less than one-third of people in Texas jails were awaiting trial; today, it’s three-quarters. Forty percent of all misdemeanor defendants in Texas are locked up until their cases are resolved, at a huge cost to the state, and most because they can’t afford bail.

8) Philip bump points out that the AHCA breaks pretty much every promise Trump made on health care.  Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

9) Richard Skinner with a nice assessment of Trump so far:

Instead Donald Trump increasingly seems to be governing like a conventional Republican president—albeit one who is showing signs of incompetence and contempt for governing norms. He is maintaining the existing cleavages on economic and cultural issues that define our party system, while adding a new one based on immigration and race. Republicans had already been trending in a restrictionist direction on immigration for about a decade—going back to the congressional revolt against George W. Bush’s “amnesty.”  It’s relatively easy for Trump to impose his will on immigration; much can be done through executive action, and few Republican constituencies would be upset by a wave of deportations. Around the world, there are plenty of right-of-center political parties that take a hard line on immigration.

So far, Trump has largely prioritized the most traditionally Republican items on his agenda. His one major accomplishment has been the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. His greatest defeat has been the failure of the American Health Care Act—the ignominious outcome of years of GOP war against the Affordable Care Act. Trump’s budget was written by an OMB director taken from the House Freedom Caucus, and with its draconian cuts in domestic spending, reads almost like a caricature of conservative governance. His Cabinet is mostly filled with Republican stalwarts. His economic proposals are heavy on tax cuts and deregulation. His abrupt shifts on Syria, NATO, and China have been mostly in the direction of GOP orthodoxy. By contrast, his populism has been almost entirely limited to rhetoric.

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

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