Quick hits (part II)

1) Really enjoyed this very personal essay (from dealing drugs on a corner to the NBA in four years) from former NBA player Steve Francis, whom I remember well from his ACC days at Maryland.

2) Sure, concerns about kids watching porn on their smartphones at school are real.  But if you give a kid a smartphone– or let them hang with any other kids at all– that’s a risk you take.  Talk to your kids.  The solution is not to suggest schools ban smartphones as a solution.

3) Nice piece from Nate Cohn on how the exit polls way over-estimated Trump’s support among college-educated whites, leading to a current false conclusion that his support has slipped among them more than it has.

4) Trump would not even get within smelling distance of a security clearance if he wasn’t president.  Seriously.

5) Paul Waldman, “All the crazy things Trump wants you to believe about the Stormy Daniels scandal.”

This scandal provides a vivid reminder that in the Trump era, not only are we lied to constantly, we’re also asked to believe lies that are so obvious and absurd that one can only marvel at their epic shamelessness. Granted, if you had an affair with a porn star and paid her $130,000 in hush money, you might be spinning out a few implausible excuses to explain the whole thing away, too. But the preposterousness of the Stormy lies really sets them apart.

Here are some of the things Trump and his defenders would have us believe:…

[you get it, preposterous lies.  Click through if you are curious]

While the Stormy Daniels affair may not seem as momentous as some other Trump scandals, we have to keep reminding ourselves that the president allegedly had an affair with a porn star and paid her $130,000 in hush money to cover it up. It would have ended the presidency of just about any of his 44 predecessors, and yet we treat it like it’s somewhat amusing but not really any big deal.

Just as important, Trump and his allies are acting like we’re all idiots and we’ll believe any ludicrous claim they make. But at this point, what else would we expect from them?

6) I would so never take my family on a Disney cruise.  Though, the best part of this piece from a sceptical travel-writer who did just that is all the hating on each other from the commenters.

7) Americans may not prefer sons over daughters any more:

The new study, a working paper published in September, used the same technique, but with fertility data from 2008 to 2013. “We were surprised to find that it was not true anymore that having a girl encouraged additional births,” said Francine Blau, an economist at Cornell and one of the paper’s authors. “There could be a daughter preference.”

Ms. Blau and her colleagues said the new data shows that other factors now outweigh the preference for sons. That could indicate a preference for daughters, or it could be a combination of things.

In general, Americans — especially men — have been more likely to say they want a child of their own gender. In the 2011 Gallup survey, 31 percent of women wanted a boy and 33 percent a girl, while 49 percent of men wanted a boy and 22 percent a girl.

Part of the reason is parents want to share interests and hobbies with a child, research shows, and think this will be based on gender. Now that girls play sports and do other things that used to be considered masculine, fathers might feel more of an affinity for them. Stereotypes about what boys spend their time doing have not changed as much.

As women have gained more decision-making power in marriages, and become more likely to be single mothers, they might be exercising their daughter preference more often than they used to. That could explain the difference between the Gallup survey responses and the results from the new research. (Gallup said it was planning another survey on this question this year.)

8) Farhad Manjoo spent two months getting all his news from print newspaper and recommends it.  I love print newspapers, but sure not giving up my on-line NYT and WP.  I think the key is to not have a “breaking news” addiction.

9) This is so good.  Pro-gun moron writes stupid email to teacher blaming teacher’s anti-gun stance on lack of masculinity.  Teacher uses it as opportunity to teach his students how to actually argue:

A North Carolina teacher who was accused in a letter of having a “lack of testosterone” and being a “wuss” for not wanting to arm teachers got the last laugh by having his seventh-grade students critique the letter.

Justin Parmenter, a language arts teacher at Waddell Language Academy in Charlotte, argued in an opinion piece in The Charlotte Observer that more counselors and social workers are needed instead of armed teachers following the Valentine Day’s mass school shooting in Florida.

A person who said he was a parent of two public school students emailed Parmenter to say that based on the educator’s picture, the teacher had “never even saw a barbell, much less lifted one, and most likely gets queasy at the sight of a gun.”…

Parmenter said his students gave advice such as “work to understand opposing points of view,” “take a fact-based approach if you want to persuade” and “refrain from name calling. It’s often cover for a weak position.”

Parmenter, who used to be a gun owner, said he was amazed and inspired by the civil discourse shown by his students. He said it reminded him of how some survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, have become advocates against gun violence.

“I’m inspired by the ability of the Parkland students and my own students to cut through the noise and focus on what’s most important: our need to be courageous and unite in the face of our shared challenges,” he wrote.

Parmenter’s response to the email has drawn praise from fellow educators. James Ford, a former North Carolina Teacher of the Year, tweeted that the email exposes “the fragile masculinity at the root of so much of this debate.”

10) Thanks to Mika for sharing this MoJo report on the Obama administration response to the Russians in 2016.

11) I’ve always been intrigued by the gender gap in political knowledge.  Some nice new PS research on the matter:

Gender-based differences in political knowledge are pervasive in the United States and abroad. Previous research on the source of these differences has focused on resource differentials or instrumentation, with scholars arguing either that the gender gap is real and intractable, or that it is an artifact of the way the concept is measured. Our study differs from past work by showing that (1) male–female differences in political knowledge persist even when knowledge is measured with recommended practices, but that (2) knowledge gaps can be ameliorated. Across laboratory, survey, and natural experiments, we document how exposure to information diminishes gender-based differences in political knowledge. The provision of facts reduces—and often eliminates—the gender gap in political knowledge on questions covering a range of topics.

12) Find out by how much teachers in your state are underpaid (and, unless you are in one of a handful of states, they probably are).

13) This Aaron Carroll twitter rant on the amoral wrongness of Medicaid lifetime limits is so good.  Click and read the whole thread.



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