Quick hits (part I)

1) Unsurprisingly, Congressional Republicans’ ideas on “reforming” higher education are horrible.  Pretty sure this would take 60 votes in the Senate, but in some bad reporting from the NYT, that isn’t even mentioned.

2) Really, really, really good article on problems of over-treatment in modern medicine.  It’s one thing to treat when physicians are unsure, what’s really dispiriting is the interventions that continue even with solid evidence against them.  Also, a great discussion of the misleading “relative risk” versus the infinitely more useful, “number needed to treat.”

3) Who even knew there was so much that could be written about electric razors.  I actually found this quite interesting.  I swear by the Mach 3 Turbo blade myself, but my blade-phobic firstborn uses a rotary electric.

4a) Really enjoyed this take on Mark Hamill and his role in Last Jedi.  Easily the best thing about the movie for me.

4b) And a very interesting take that Last Jedi “redeems the prequels.

5) Why we’re at it, the cognoscenti are always hating on Return of the Jedi, as they always do when a new Star Wars movie comes out.  Empire will always be my favorite, but I quite like this defense of Jedi from Drum.

6) Yglesias on the tax bill, “We’re witnessing the wholesale looting of America: Unchecked by norms or political prudence, it’s smash-and-grab time for the GOP.”

7) Tomasky on the dangerous differences between Nixon and Trump:

Donald Trump is a lawless president. It’s obvious to anyone who’s watching and isn’t in a state of contemptible denial that he feels constrained by no law. He cares nothing about the Constitution and he’ll lie about anything to anyone at anytime. That’s difference one.

Difference two: Nixon had no “news” channel defending and egging on his every lawless act. Trump, of course, does. That Fox chyron over the weekend, “A Coup in America?”, was shocking even for Fox. Referring to law enforcement agencies, to the FBI, as carrying out a coup? Because they have the audacity to investigate Dear Leader?

Difference three: Nixon also didn’t have a lawless Republican Party defending his moves and attacking his critics and trying to shut down an obviously legitimate investigation, but that is what we have now.

8) In a surprise to nobody who’s been through it, traditional workplace sexual harassment training doesn’t work.  On the bright side, some better approaches do work.

9) Aarron Carroll on the problematic new blood pressure guidelines:

The Sprint study essentially showed that people truly at high risk should have their blood pressure managed more aggressively than we thought. But that has not been the message of news on the new guidelines. That has focused far more often on the many newly reclassified people with mild blood pressure, who were not the focus of the Sprint intervention.

In fact, almost none of the newly labeled hypertensive people (those with systolic blood pressure between 130 and 140) should be placed on medications. These people should be advised to eat right, exercise, drink responsibly, and not smoke.

That’s exactly what physicians would have been advising people before these changes. Is there anyone left who doesn’t know those things are important for good health?

10) Pretty awesome McSweeney’s guide to asking questions at public events.

11) Excellent NYT editorial on the awfulness of the tax bill and how it exacerbates our huge inequality problem.  Was going to give it it’s own post, but now seems like a good time to mention that I hate the way NYT using a funny format for it’s charts that prevents easy copy/paste.  But you should click through and check out the charts.

12) This is why I so hate so much of what Evangelical Christianity has come to represent today.

13) Dan Harris (my original mindfulness guru– I’ve switched over to Headspace because I love that I can always keep it to 10 minutes) on meditation and rushing his 2-year old to the ER.

14) John Williams score for the Star Wars films is some of the best music there is.  Period. And it does so much to enhance the films.  More than worthy as a subject of academic study.

15) Frum on the tax bill awfulness:

If the idea behind tax reform is to eliminate favoritism from the tax code, then the tax law of 2017 is anti-reform: an aggressive loading of the costs of the state upon disfavored persons, groups, and regions. It leaves behind an unstable legacy, both economic and political. Economically, the system invites gaming. Politically, it accelerates the exodus of college-educated professionals out of the Republican Party. It will tint the blue states ever bluer, up and down the income scale.

States like California and New York desperately need a competitive Republican Party—especially at the state level—to challenge the lazy and often corrupt practices of local Democratic machines. This new tax law will have the opposite effect, wrecking whatever little remains of GOP strength in the states that motor American innovation and growth. It threatens to push New Jersey, Colorado, and Virginia into single-party blue rule as well, by painfully demonstrating that the party of Trump is not only obnoxious to their values but implacably hostile to their welfare.

16) I’ve been meaning to do a post on the Economist’s “The State of Marriage.”  I’ve failed long enough.


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