A few more

Didn’t quite get to finish last night due to attending a soccer game (local minor league team versus a Premier League team– Swansea City– pretty cool) and then watching UMNT vs. Costa Rica.  Got to use my new Canon SX 730 super-zoom at the soccer game.

And nothing super-zoomy about this, but certainly capture the sunset well.

Anyway…

1) Jack Shafer on Spicey:

The White House attracts all manner of toadies, suckups and flatterers seeking the president’s favor, but never did any staffer demean, degrade and humble himself to the chief executive the way outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer did. Abandoning the arts of both persuasion and elision that have served previous prevaricating press secretaries so well, Spicer flung barb-tongued lies in the service of President Donald Trump…

Reviewing Spicer’s tenure as press secretary, we find no Trump transgression so foul that Spicer would not grovel before it. When Trump praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and invited thuggish Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, Spicer dispensed sympathy and understanding upon the despots. No Trump mistake was too mundane for him to correct: He insisted that the word “covfefe,” which appeared in a late-night Trump tweet, wasn’t a typo. When Trump alluded to secret Trump-Comey audio recordings, Spicer dodged all questions about their existence. After the president claimed Obama had tapped his phones at Trump Tower, Spicer created a diplomatic incident by falsely accusing British intelligence of doing the snooping.

Shall I continue? When Trump made the baseless allegation that millions voted illegally in the presidential election, Spicer defended him. He slammed the media in general for a “default narrative“ that was “always negative” and slammed CNN in specific for calling March for Life demonstrators “demonstrators.” He accused the TV press of working harder to create alluring YouTube clips than “getting factual news,” attempted to marginalize the nonprofit investigative outlet ProPublica as a “left-wing blog,” and berated reporter April Ryan for shaking her head at his evasions during a briefing. “Even Hitler” wasn’t as bad as Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad, because he “didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.” Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, he said, had “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” Hillary Clinton’s Russia ties were more troubling than Trump’s. And so on.

2) The genes that makes dogs so sociable may be related to the gene that causes Williams-Beuren Syndrome in humans.

3) Nine-year old boy discovers million year old fossil in the desert.  My 11-year old is pretty jealous.

4) Pretty interesting take on how modern-day economics bears a disturbing similarity Imperial Chinese astrology.  Seriously.

5) NYT Editorial on the bogus voter fraud commission:

The truth can’t be repeated often enough: The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which held its first meeting last week, is a sham and a scam.

It was born out of a marriage of convenience between conservative anti-voter-fraud crusaders, who refuse to accept actual data, and a president who refuses to accept that he lost the popular vote fair and square.

It is run by some of the nation’s most determined vote suppressors, the kind who try to throw out voter registrations for being printed on insufficiently thick paper or who release reports on noncitizen voting that are titled “Alien Invasion” and illustrated with images of U.F.O.s.

Its purpose is not to restore integrity to elections but to undermine the public’s confidence enough to push through policies and practices that make registration and voting harder, if not impossible, for certain groups of people who tend to vote Democratic.

6) Here’s an idea that strikes me as pretty damn obvious, but now science has clearly demonstrated– babies born addicted to opioids fare a whole lot better (and save the government a bunch of money) when they are actually left with their mothers.  Of course, not so long as people like Jeff Sessions make our drug policy.

7) Kristoff on the absurdity of Kushner still having a security clearance:

For all that we don’t know about President Trump’s dealings with Russia, one thing should now be clear: Jared Kushner should not be working in the White House, and he should not have a security clearance.

True, no proof has been presented that Kushner broke the law or plotted with Russia to interfere in the U.S. election. But he’s under investigation, and a series of revelations have bolstered suspicions — and credible doubts mean that he must be viewed as a security risk.

Here’s the bottom line: Kushner attended a meeting in June 2016 whose stated purpose was to advance a Kremlin initiative to interfere in the U.S. election; he failed to disclose the meeting on government forms (a felony if intentional); he was apparently complicit in a cover-up in which the Trump team denied at least 20 times that there had been any contacts with Russians to influence the election; and he also sought to set up a secret communications channel with the Kremlin during the presidential transition.

Until the situation is clarified, such a person simply should not work in the White House and have access to America’s most important secrets.

8) OMG am I glad my tenure-track position does not depend upon obtaining grants.  It’s damn hard out there for the “real” scientists.

9) Good NYT feature on why there are so few women CEO’s.  It’s pretty subtle, but hell yeah there’s still lots of bias:

The parallels with politics are striking. Research in both fields, including some conducted after Mrs. Clinton’s loss, has shown it’s harder for assertive, ambitious women to be seen as likable, and easier to conclude they lack some intangible, ill-defined quality of leadership.

In a Korn Ferry survey in April of 786 male and female senior executives, 43 percent said they thought that continued bias against women as chief executives was the primary reason more women did not make it to the top in their own companies — and 33 percent thought women in their firms were not given sufficient opportunities to become leaders.

At DuPont, Ms. Kullman said, she found that men were being promoted within two years, women in three. “It wasn’t as overt as, ‘She’s too aggressive,’ ” she said. “It came down more to, ‘We’re not sure she’s ready for that job.’ ”

As Wendy Cai-Lee, a banker now running her own investment firm, put it, if she wrote a book about women in business, the title would be “Dependable Back-Up.”

The Lean In survey shows a pervasive sense among women that they face structural disadvantages: They are less likely than men to believe they will be able to participate in meetings, receive challenging assignments or find their contributions valued. The bleakest perceptions are from minority women; only 29 percent of black women think the best opportunities at their companies go to the most deserving employees, compared with 47 percent of white women.

10) This is awesome– North Dakota is embracing Norway’s far more humane, far smarter approach to incarceration:

Warden James Sayler and Joey Joyce, his deputy, were quick to embrace the Norway philosophy. They immediately began devising ways for inmates to earn more freedom—shopping excursions, day passes home, and even the right to wear civilian clothes on-site. They also scaled up an existing work-release program so more men could take real jobs. “Everybody down here is going to be out of here in a short amount of time,” Sayler says. “So how do you want ’em?” This is the crux of Norway’s approach: Once you accept that these people will one day be your neighbors, you might feel more invested in making sure they have the skills to get by on the outside.

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

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