Infographic of the day

Via Wired.  The color-coded path of every hurricane to hit the U.S. in the past 160 years.  At the link, you can see the graphics separately for each level of hurricane.

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Quick hits (part II)

Sorry for the delay.  Very busy, very fun weekend.

1) More Arpaio Mark Joseph Stern on Arpaio and Trump’s white nationalism:

Considering the president’s praise of Arpaio, and promise to consider a pardon for the ex-sheriff, Monday’s overdue, undercooked rebuke of racial animus registers as even more risibly insincere. During his 24-year tenure as sheriff, Arpaio proudly strove to implement white nationalism through a brutal assault on Maricopa County’s Latino population. His barbaric tactics included extreme racial profiling and sadistic punishments that involved the torture, humiliation, and degradation of Latino inmates. Courts repeatedly found that Arpaio violated the United States Constitution, but the sheriff often ignored their efforts to rein him in. There are few more potent symbols of mainstream white nationalism than Arpaio. Taken together with Tuesday’s unhinged press conference, Trump’s praise of Arpaio proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the president has made common cause with white nationalists.

2) I enjoyed this local column, “The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is.”

3) Pete Wehner on Trump, our “child-king.”

4) Sessions and the resurgence of civil asset forfeiture.  Not much worse than this.  Except maybe pardoning racists who show contempt for the Constitution.

5) A $1 price increase in a pack of cigarettes leads to a 20% increase in quitting.  Clearly, time to raise cigarette prices even more.

6) Really enjoyed this piece on the downside of using modern technology (Powerschool, in our case), to keep constant check on your kids’ grades.  I went through a phase with this, but it just wasn’t worth it and my son needed (needs?!) to learn to take responsibility for his own grades.

7) Margaret Talbot on Arpaio:

But Trump probably also likes Arpaio because the former sheriff represents in miniature what the President would like to be more maximally—a successful American authoritarian. Earlier this month, in a conversation with Fox News, Trump called Arpaio “an outstanding sheriff” and “a great American patriot.” It’s worth considering what it takes, in Trump’s view, to deserve such tributes. Arpaio, who served as the sheriff of Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, from 1993 until he was voted out of office, in 2016, has a long-standing reputation for flouting civil rights, particularly those of Latinos.

In 2011, an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Divisionfound that Arpaio’s sheriff’s department engaged in egregious racial profiling in its traffic stops and discrimination in its jailing practices. In Maricopa County, Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than “similarly situated non-Latino drivers,” and about a fifth of traffic stops, most of which involved Latino drivers, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable seizures. Sheriff’s department officers punished Latino inmates who had difficulty understanding orders in English by locking down their pods, putting them in solitary confinement, and refusing to replace their soiled sheets and clothes. The investigation found that sheriff’s department officers addressed Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.”

Arpaio, throughout his tenure, specialized in meting out theatrical punishments both petty and cruel.

8) Latest research suggests that it is healthier to frontload your calories earlier in the day.  Of course, not long ago I read research that suggested breakfast had no special value relative to other meals.  When I have been dieting and calorie counting, I actually found one of the easiest ways to cut calories was to downsize breakfast.  Sated in the morning with a greek yogurt and no hungrier by lunchtime than with a larger cereal and fruit breakfast.

9) Interesting essay on how our modern culture has basically ruined mindfulness.  A lot of good points, but our modern culture kind of ruins everything, but the basic mindfulness stuff– if correctly understood– still works and still has (modest) empirical support behind it.  I’ve been doing it for almost exactly one year and love it with no plans to stop.  But I’m under no illusions that it has transformed my life and is the secret to everything.  I think Dan Harris’ modest idea of 10% Happier is about right (I think I’m at about 12-13%).

10) Now, this is a fascinating prospect, “Pacific Islanders Appear to Be Carrying The DNA of an Unknown Human Species.”  Somehow, just learned about this November 2016 news.

11) Love this NPR story on how snobbery ruined (took the spice out of) European cooking.  This just rings so true.

Back in the Middle Ages, spices were really expensive, which meant that only the upper class could afford them. But things started to change as Europeans began colonizing parts of India and the Americas.

“Spices begin to pour into Europe,” explains Krishnendu Ray, an associate professor of food studies at New York University. “What used to be expensive and exclusive became common.”

Serving richly spiced stews was no longer a status symbol for Europe’s wealthiest families — even the middle classes could afford to spice up their grub. “So the elite recoiled from the increasing popularity of spices,” Ray says. “They moved on to an aesthetic theory of taste. Rather than infusing food with spice, they said things should taste like themselves. Meat should taste like meat, and anything you add only serves to intensify the existing flavors.”

12) As James Fallows puts it, “The Republican Party Is Enabling an Increasingly Dangerous Demagogue.”  Why yes, yes they are.

13) NPR on the Bernie Sanders voters who voted for Trump.

14) Vox did a whole big article on what a great song Despacito is.  Actually, it’s not.  The tune just really isn’t all that catchy (and I love a catchy tune as much as the next guy).  Drum agrees.

15) John Warner says we already know how to teach writing.

I think I[3] can generate a list of statements regarding the teaching of writing that the vast majority of those in the rhetoric-composition and writing instruction field will agree with:

  1. The more reading and writing we do, the better.
  2. Writing is best taught as a recursive process which includes (but isn’t necessarily limited to) pre-writing, drafting, revision and editing.[4]
  3. Writing should engage with the rhetorical situation: message, audience, purpose and genre.
  4. Reflection and metacognition are key ingredients to developing as a writer.
  5. Isolated exercises in grammar and mechanics that don’t engage with the students’ own writing are not helpful.
  6. Sentence diagramming is not an important skill for good writing.
  7. Peer response and collaboration are useful tools in helping developing writers
  8. Writers write best when engaging with subjects they are both interested in and knowledgeable about

16) Terrific Alec MacGillis Pro Publica article on HUD under Ben Carson.  Short version: it’s not good.

17) I really don’t think people should actually lose their jobs for making fairly innocuous “dongle” jokes.  Of course, this whole damn think spiraled way out of control.  Enough with on-line public shaming.

18) Of course Trump supporters know that it is white Christians in America who are the real victims of discrimination.

19) Ezra with an interesting interview of a DLC guy that is all for ideological flexibility in exchange for actually winning elections.  Count me in for that.

20) Even recent crazy events always seem so long ago in the world of Trump.  Charles Pierce’s blistering take on Trump supporters in the wake of his Arizona speech:

Before we get to the other stuff, and there was lots of other stuff, I’d like to address myself to those people represented by the parenthetical notation (Applause) in the above transcript, those people who waited for hours in 105-degree heat so that they could have the G-spot of their irrationality properly stroked for them. You’re all suckers. You’re dim and you’re ignorant and you can’t even feel yourself sliding toward something that will surprise even you with its fundamental ugliness, something that everybody who can see past the veil of their emotions can see as plain as a church by daylight, to borrow a phrase from that Willie Shakespeare fella. The problem, of course, is that you, in your pathetic desire to be loved by a guy who wouldn’t have 15 seconds for you on the street, are dragging the rest of us toward that end, too…

A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you’re sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades. Especially, I guess, people like me who practice the craft of journalism in a country that honors that craft in its most essential founding documents. The President of the United States came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him. You’re on his team, by god…

I have no more patience, and I had very little to start with. I don’t care why you’re anxious. I don’t care for anybody’s interpretation of why you voted for this abomination of a politician, and why you cheer him now, because any explanation not rooted in the nastier bits of basic human spleen is worthless. I don’t want any politicians who seek to appeal to the more benign manifestations of your condition because there’s no way to separate those from all the rest of the hate and fear and stupidity. (And, for my colleagues in the Vance-Arnade-Zito school of Trump Whispering, here’s a hint: They hate you, too.) I don’t care why you sat out in a roasting pan since 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to whistle and cheer and stomp your feet for a scared, dangerous little man who tells you that your every bloody fantasy about your enemies is the height of patriotism. You are now the declared adversaries of what I do for a living, and your idol is a danger to the country and so are you. Own it. Deal with it. And, for the love of god, and for the sake of the rest of us who live in this country, do better at being citizens.

Damn!  And right-on!

Trump vs. the Constitution

I’m late on Quick hits part 2.  For now, read this on Arpaio.

Law Professor Noah Feldman’s take has been, deservedly, drawing a lot of attention:

To see why pardoning Arpaio would be so exceptional — and so bad — you have to start with the sheriff’s crime. Arpaio wasn’t convicted by a jury after a trial for violating some specific federal statute. Rather, he was convicted by a federal judge on the rather unusual charge of criminal contempt of court…

Judge Bolton convicted Arpaio of criminal contempt. She found he had “willfully violated” the federal court’s order “by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.” And she held that Arpaio had “announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

This is the crime that Trump is suggesting he might pardon: willful defiance of a federal judge’s lawful order to enforce the Constitution. [emphases mine]

It’s one thing to pardon a criminal out of a sense of mercy or on the belief that he has paid his debt to society.

It’s trickier when the president pardons someone who violated the law in pursuit of governmental policy, the way George H.W. Bush pardoned Iran-Contra participants, including Caspar Weinberger and five others.

But it would be an altogether different matter if Trump pardoned Arpaio for willfully refusing to follow the Constitution and violating the rights of people inside the U.S…

Such a pardon would reflect outright contempt for the judiciary, which convicted Arpaio for his resistance to its authority. Trump has questioned judges’ motives and decisions, but this would be a further, more radical step in his attack on the independent constitutional authority of Article III judges.

An Arpaio pardon would express presidential contempt for the Constitution. Arpaio didn’t just violate a law passed by Congress. His actions defied the Constitution itself, the bedrock of the entire system of government. For Trump to say that this violation is excusable would threaten the very structure on which his right to pardon is based.

Fundamentally, pardoning Arpaio would also undermine the rule of law itself.

Photo of the day

This Wired gallery of photoshopped images of multiple shots of birds in flight stitched together is so cool:

Audouin’s Gull.  Ebro delta Catalonia.  XAVI BOU.

Although he appreciates their plumage and mating habits and everything else nature photographers love about the animals, he isn’t especially interested such things. He’s far more interested in the hypnotic patterns birds create while flying.

Bou snaps hundreds of photos of birds in flight and stitches them together in Photoshop, compressing several seconds of movement into one frame. The photos in *Ornitographies*are as stunning as they are haunting. “[It] shows the hidden beauty of nature,” Bou says.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Some of the last victims (i.e., the heinously, wrongly accused) of the Satanic day care scare of the 80’s and 90’s are finally exonerated and getting paid millions.  Not enough. I’d be far happier with some of the legal professionals responsible for this travesty facing some accountability.

2) On a related note, I just finished reading Dan Chaon’s terrific novel, Ill Will, in which a false accusation of a ritual Satanic murder plays a central role.  It was excellent, but Chaon’s Await Your Reply was even better.

3) A woman was awarded over $400 million by a jury that agreed talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.  This, despite the fact that the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute believe that any link ranges from non-existent to small.   Who needs science?  Not our legal system.

4) Loved this article on all the ways Indiana Jones would actually have died were he in a nearby refrigerator for a nuclear blast.

5) I had not really appreciated just how remarkable Roger Federer’s career resurgence had been till I read this great feature.

6) You will not be surprised to learn I score low on Social Dominance Orientation.  Trump and Neo-Nazis, on the other hand…

7) Haven’t had time to fully digest the utterly deplorable Arpaio pardon yet, but the NYT Editorial is a good start:

The Constitution gives the president nearly unlimited power to grant clemency to people convicted of federal offenses, so Mr. Trump can pardon Mr. Arpaio. But Mr. Arpaio was an elected official who defied a federal court’s order that he stop violating people’s constitutional rights. He was found in contempt of that court. By pardoning him, Mr. Trump would show his contempt for the American court system and its only means of enforcing the law, since he would be sending a message to other officials that they may flout court orders also.

Mr. Arpaio could not be less deserving of mercy. In addition to the dragnets of Hispanic-looking people that ultimately led to his contempt conviction, he racked up a record of harassment, neglect, mistreatment and other flagrant abuses of office that should have ended his career years ago.

8) On the “last great newspaper war” between the Post and the Times.  Winner?  All of us.

9) Drum on statue creep:

This is a quick note to New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio and everyone else: don’t tear down any statues of Christopher Columbus. Ditto for George Washington, the Puritans, George Custer, or anyone else you can think of who might be problematic. Just don’t.

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, this stuff plays into the hands of the Trumpies. The whole “Who’s next?” meme is an almost childishly transparent attempt to distract attention from Confederate statues; build support among moderates; and sow division among liberals. Don’t play the game. The answer to every question about statues is: I don’t know. Let’s tear down the memorials to Confederates who fought a war in defense of slavery, and then we can decide later if we ought to do anything more. OK?

That’s it. Easy peasy. We have a moment right now when we might be able to get some low-hanging fruit and make a difference. Let’s not screw it up by thinking it’s also a chance to redress every historical offense that Howard Zinn ever taught us.

9) Likewise, I entirely endorse MB’s sentiments on the idea of removing a Columbus status in Buffalo:

Is there any political/ideological group that is better at winning a battle but losing the war? Do these do-gooder, hyper-sensitive, ahistorical, and politically tone-deaf uber-liberals have any judgment whatsoever? Why not remove every statue or memorial that depicts a man since they all represent patriarchal societies that oppressed women? The impact of this type of petition is to make people like me angry about being lumped together with Nazi/racist/white supremacists because I am not sufficiently offended by a statue of Columbus to demand its removal. And people wonder how “political correctness” gets such as bad reputation.

10) Mike Pesca was also great on the statue issue in his “spiel” during his Gist podcast.  (The sexual assault conversation that was the main feature of the podcast is also worth a hearty recommendation).

11) I like to think I’m a good feminist and fully embrace women’s equality.  But is it so wrong to have different pronouns for males and females?  We really are different in some ways.  In Sweden, the answer to that question is, increasingly, “yes.”

12) A study from Texas suggests that ballot order matters to a disturbing degree.  It is, of course, so easy to rotate the order of names– nothing else should be acceptable.

13) Okay, back to the “how extreme liberals ruin it for everybody” theme.  ACLU tweets out a photo of an adorable toddler wearing an ACLU onesie and holding a flag and gets raked over the coals on twitter.  Well, the toddler was white and blonde, so clearly an act of white supremacy.  Yes, seriously.  Just sad reading the comments.  A lot of people thought this was in poor taste because the ACLU is all about defending neo-nazis these days.  They are not!  The ACLU is about defending free speech damn it.  The whole point is that you don’t get to pick and choose whose speech we can hear and whose we cannot (the damn neo nazis make it more complicated with Virginia’s open carry, etc., but that’s a different, yet related, issue).  Alas, many on the left increasingly think that the ACLU should only defend free speech for some.

14) The rather copious evidence that Exxon quite intentionally tried to mislead the public on climate change.

15) I really enjoyed this effort to follow-up on just how much the eclipse affected tourism in cities within the zone of totality.

 

 

Photo of the day

Amazing.  Via Wired.

Hickory Bay, South Island, New Zealand
PAUL WILSON

The statues will eventually come down

Did you know I have a favorite historian?  It’s Columbia University History Professor, Eric Foner, an expert in the Civil War and Reconstruction.  I was first introduced to Foner when I read Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, for my senior seminar in 19th century US History.  As a Political Scientist, this remains my favorite work of political history I’ve read.  Anyway, Foner has done plenty more great work since then.  And here’s some bits from a terrific NYT column on the statues:

But the advent of multiracial democracy in the Southern states inspired a wave of terrorist opposition by the Ku Klux Klan and kindred groups, antecedents of the Klansmen and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville. One by one the Reconstruction governments were overthrown, and in the next generation white supremacy again took hold in the South.

When Mr. Trump identifies statues commemorating Confederate leaders as essential parts of “our” history and culture, he is honoring that dark period. Like all monuments, these statues say a lot more about the time they were erected than the historical era they evoke. The great waves of Confederate monument building took place in the 1890s, as the Confederacy was coming to be idealized as the so-called Lost Cause and the Jim Crow system was being fastened upon the South, and in the 1920s, the height of black disenfranchisement, segregation and lynching. The statues were part of the legitimation of this racist regime and of an exclusionary definition of America. [emphases mine]

The historian Carl Becker wrote that history is what the present chooses to remember about the past. Historical monuments are, among other things, an expression of power — an indication of who has the power to choose how history is remembered in public places.

If the issue were simply heritage, why are there no statues of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, one of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s key lieutenants? Not because of poor generalship; indeed, Longstreet warned Lee against undertaking Pickett’s Charge, which ended the battle of Gettysburg. Longstreet’s crime came after the Civil War: He endorsed black male suffrage and commanded the Metropolitan Police of New Orleans, which in 1874 engaged in armed combat with white supremacists seeking to seize control of the state government. Longstreet is not a symbol of white supremacy; therefore he was largely ineligible for commemoration by those who long controlled public memory in the South.

As all historians know, forgetting is as essential to public understandings of history as remembering. Confederate statues do not simply commemorate “our” history, as the president declared. They honor one part of our past. Where are the statues in the former slave states honoring the very large part of the Southern population (beginning with the four million slaves) that sided with the Union rather than the Confederacy? Where are the monuments to the victims of slavery or to the hundreds of black lawmakers who during Reconstruction served in positions ranging from United States senator to justice of the peace to school board official? Excluding blacks from historical recognition has been the other side of the coin of glorifying the Confederacy.

So, here’s what’s great about Charlottesville and the statue controversy… What Foner writes above (and similar analyses I have shared from others) clearly demonstrate is the meaning and symbolism of these statues.  It’s white supremacy.  Our country was just pretending otherwise for decades.  We cannot pretend any longer.  Many who value their Southern heritage may not like that RE Lee and others have been ultimately used as symbols of white supremacy, but that is, undoubtedly, what Lee, Stonewall Jackson, etc., have been used for.  And now that this fact is clearly out in the open, we cannot persist in pretending otherwise.  It won’t be pretty.  There will be a lot of conflict.  And, I think it may take a long time.  But with our country finally having an honest reckoning about the meaning and symbolism of these monuments, there long term survival becomes untenable.  Because, fortunately, while our country may keep monuments while blithely pretending their are just about heritage, our country will not keep monuments which many Americans have come to properly understand are a direct contradiction of our commitment to equality.

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