(Better late than never) Quick hits (part II)

1) Thomas Edsall with hone if his trademark deep-dives into political science.  This time on negative partisanship.

Hostility to the opposition party and its candidates has now reached a level where loathing motivates voters more than loyalty.

The building strength of partisan antipathy — “negative partisanship” — has radically altered politics. Anger has become the primary tool for motivating voters. Ticket splitting is dying out. But perhaps the most important consequence of the current power of political anger is that there has been a marked decline in the accountability of public officials to the electorate.

2) It does seem that all these active shooters drills can be problematic for children’s psyches.

3) There’s hundreds of frozen dead bodies on Mt Everest because it is so hard to remove them.

4) I get that the social science says your co-workers may actually know you better than you do.  But, I nonetheless believe I know myself– strengths and weaknesses— better than other people do.

5) Josh Barro’s take on why corporations are taking socially liberal stances:

The main reason that companies have been increasingly willing to take one side of hot-button social issues (the left-leaning side) is that’s increasingly a good strategy to please customers and employees.

Partly this is because certain policy issues have disproportionately left-leaning polling. Gay rights are popular. Most of the gun regulations on offer in the current debate poll well, too.

But it’s also because socially liberal segments of the public punch above their weight as potential customers (and, in some cases, as potential employees) for these companies.

Think about who companies most want to advertise to: people who have a lot of disposable income and aren’t too old. This advertiser preference is why television ratings are reported in terms of adults 25 to 54 (or sometimes even 18 to 49) and it’s why networks like Bravo tout their unusually upscale viewer base to prospective advertisers.

Appealing to senior citizens is a good way to win an election, but it’s not a good way to sell most consumer products and services. [emphasis mine]

6) Pretty cool the way this Bird of Paradise puts science to work.  And watch the video here, too!

Other species of birds of paradise may vary in their plumage and tactics, but they share something remarkable: their black feathers. OK, maybe not remarkable at first glance, but a study out today in the journal Nature Communicationsreveals that those feathers absorb 99.95 percent of light. That’s nearly none more black, and virtually identical to the 99.965 percent of light that Vantablack, the world’s darkest artificial substance, can absorb. And it’s all thanks to black feathers structured like a forest of chaos.

The black feathers of the male bird of paradise eat light. Which again, metal. That’s because unlike your typical bird feather, which is more or less neatly structured with branches that branch off of branches, kind of like a fractal, the bird of paradise feather looks like an irregular forest of trees (see the image below for a comparison).

7) Some new political science arguing its all identity politics (i.e., for white people, too).

8) And, on a related note, more political science arguing that the racialization of American politics well pre-dates the Obama presidency:

In this article, we examine the relationship between racial resentment and a host of political attitudes, predispositions, and behaviors across 28 years and 7 presidential elections. We find, contrary to the suggestions of recent work of the role of race in the Obama era, that the racialization of seemingly nonracial political issues began many years before the debut of Barack Obama and extends beyond his presidency. More specifically, we find, controlling for other factors, that the relationships between racial resentment and partisan and ideological self-identifications, evaluations of the major party presidential candidates, and attitudes about health insurance and governmental services have strengthened each subsequent year beginning in 1988 through 2016. This trend reflects the growing extent to which racial considerations are brought to bear on individual evaluations of and orientations toward the political world.

9) I’ve posted about humanity’s “mistake” of agriculture before and James Scott’s new book on it, but since my son Evan keeps asking about it (ahhh, he’s still just a bit young for Sapiens), here’s a nice Vox interview with Scott on how civilization is over-rated.

10) Among the more preposterous Trump ideas– that Ivanka— one of the President’s closest advisers and purported advocate for women– should not have to answer questions about her father’s behavior towards women.

11) Krugman on how the media so pathetically fell for the “our company is giving out bonuses thanks to Trump’s tax cut” story.

12) Leonhardt on the challenges of getting Democrats’ historically less-participatory constitutency to show up at the polls in November:

Voter turnout is the biggest opportunity — and biggest challenge — for the new progressive movement. The problem is easy enough to describe: Progressives don’t vote as often as conservatives do.

Americans under age 30, for example, lean notably left. They are socially liberal, worried about climate change and in favor of higher taxes on the rich. But most of them don’t vote, especially outside of presidential elections. In the 2014 midterms — when Republicans took control of the Senate and held the House — only one of every six citizens between 18 and 29 voted. One in six! The same year, more than half of people aged 60 or older voted.

The pattern also holds among Latinos and Asian-Americans. They’re mostly liberal and vote at lower rates than whites. African Americans are the exception — a big, left-leaning demographic group that votes at fairly high rates, despite the barriers they often face.

Yet if the turnout problem is easy to describe, it’s hard to solve. Young people, Latinos and Asian-Americans have long voted at lower rates. (The gap didn’t used to matter so much, because political views didn’t split as sharply by age and ethnicity.)

13) Really enjoyed Ezra Klein’s interview with Amy Chua about her new book on American tribalism.  And David Frum’s NYT review:

“For 200 years,” Chua writes, “whites in America represented an undisputed politically, economically and culturally dominant majority. When a political tribe is so overwhelmingly dominant, it can persecute with impunity, but it can also be more generous. It can afford to be more universalist, more enlightened, more inclusive, like the WASP elites of the 1960s who opened up the Ivy League colleges to more Jews, blacks and other minorities — in part because it seemed like the right thing to do.

“Today, no group in America feels comfortably dominant. Every group feels attacked, pitted against other groups not just for jobs and spoils but for the right to define the nation’s identity. In these conditions, democracy devolves into zero-sum group competition — pure political tribalism.”

Chua professes no concern that America will be swept by outright white nationalism. But she does perceive that “a kind of ‘ethnonationalism lite’ is widespread among white Americans today. It does not dream of an all-white America; it opposes racism and celebrates tolerance and exults in the image of America as a ‘nation of immigrants.’ But it is nostalgic for a time when minorities were not so loud, so demanding, so numerous — a time when minorities were more grateful.”

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