Chart of the day

I tend to resist the “oh, the kids today!” complaints, and I think the perils of kids and their phones can be overblown, but… I think this chart is… not good.  Via Axios:

I don’t think texting and other technologically-aided communication is in and of itself a bad thing, but if it displacing face-to-face, in-person communication, than it almost surely is.  Now, this doesn’t specify actual usage, but “preferred” communication, but still, humans are evolved to form social bonds through face-to-face communication and today’s teenagers (and adults) ignore this at their peril.

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Kavanaugh: the big picture

Good stuff from EJ Dionne:

Senate Republicans and President Trump share the same inclinations when it comes to one of the worst habits in our politics: placing ideology and partisanship above the health of our institutions.

While Trump is destroying the honor and reputation of the presidency, Senate Republicans are doing all they can to destroy the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. [emphases mine]

When it comes to this last line of appeal in our legal system, the GOP has treated court appointments in the same way machine politicians once treated jobs in city sewer departments: If you have the clout, you use it to place your people. Period…

Conservatives are willing to bend and break the rules, violate decorum and tradition, hide information and push Judge Kavanaugh through at breakneck speed. They want a Supreme Court that will achieve their policy objectives — on regulation, access to the ballot, social issues, the influence of money in politics and the role of corporations in our national life — no matter what citizens might prefer in the future.

This is not fantasy. The Roberts court again and again has swept aside precedent to foil the wishes of the elected branches of our government on the Voting Rights Act, campaign finance reform, environmental rules and a host of other issues. We are witnessing conservative judicial activism on a scale not seen since the New Deal era brought about a crisis over the Supreme Court’s authority.

Kavanaugh will push the court much further right. Everything we know about him points to a man who is fierce and unapologetic in his partisanship and relentless in advancing his ideology. His confirmation will be the equivalent of handing the court over to the Heritage Foundation and the legal staff of Koch Industries…

If the Trump era produces a backlash so strong that a Democratic president and Congress pass breakthrough economic and social policies, conservatives will count on their court majority to block, dismantle or disable progressive initiatives. And short of impeachments or court-packing, there will be nothing officials elected by the people will be able to do about it.

This is a fight about democracy itself. Right now, democracy is in danger of losing.

Ugh.  And that leaves aside entirely the issue of whether Kavanaugh already perjured himself before the Senate and whether he has any business sitting in judgment of Donald Trump on major Constitutional issues the court will surely see.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Reformed right-wing attack dog, David Brock, spent time in the trenches with Brett Kavanaugh and knows him for a hopeless partisan:

But I don’t need to see any documents to tell you who Kavanaugh is — because I’ve known him for years. And I’ll leave it to all the lawyers to parse Kavanaugh’s views on everything from privacy rights to gun rights. But I can promise you that any pretense of simply being a fair arbiter of the constitutionality of any policy regardless of politics is simply a pretense. He made up his mind nearly a generation ago — and, if he’s confirmed, he’ll have nearly two generations to impose it upon the rest of us.

2) Intellectually, I know how bad poll response rates are.  Still, it is something to see that in real-time with this really cool NYT feature.

3) Guns kill people.  With bullets.  Glad California is taking this fact seriously.  And I feel not bad at all for all the “law abiding” hunters and sportsmen who have to be modestly inconvenienced in their purchase of amazingly lethal technology.

4) Person walks into the wrong apartment and shoots someone and a few days later is still not arrested?!  White off-duty cop shoots black person and there you go.

5) This veteran on the flag and anthem kneeling is so good:

But while most veterans have been measured in their responses, one strand of criticism is particularly disturbing: the notion that kneeling during the anthem is a specific affront to veterans and service members. As Kurt Schlichter, a combat veteran and contributor for Fox News, put it, Kaepernick “is targeting us. He knows what this means to us. He knows how insulting it is. He knows how disrespectful it is, and Nike is empowering it.” In a Facebook group for veterans that I belong to, someone wrote: “Anyone not respecting our flag should be deported. Many veterans and servicemen and women have died and suffered grievous wounds for this flag and anthem and constitution. Have some respect.” This argument isn’t new: Last year the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion chastised the protests as disrespectful.

This reasoning is rooted in a premise that is both wrong and dangerous. If kneeling for the anthem and the flag is a direct offense toward the military, that means veterans have a stronger claim to these symbols than Americans in general do. The argument insists that American iconography represents us more than it represents anyone else.

Yet the flag is not a symbol reserved for the military. It is a symbol of the United States of America, and it belongs equally to all citizens, including Americans who kneel during the anthem, or those who wear flag shirts (which is also in violation of the unenforceable flag code), or even those who burn the flag. [emphasis mine]

If we accept the idea that the military and veterans have authority over American symbols, we enforce a very narrow minority view of America and the American experience. Our cultural fabric is as rich as it is because the American myth has been interpreted, reinterpreted, criticized, praised and challenged by Americans of all backgrounds.

6) Love this– your chances of dying ranked by sport and activity.  I’m going to stay away from hang gliding.

7) On the other hand, tennis seems to be the best activity (good exercise plus a strong social component) for a long life.

8) Ummmm, so this article about how the Gulf Stream current may be changing is kind of scary.

9) Loved this on why you should stop yelling at your kids.  Of the differences I noticed since I started practicing mindfulness, way less yelling at my kids is near the top:

How many times in your parenting life have you thought to yourself, after yelling at your kids, “Well, that was a good decision…”?

It doesn’t make you look authoritative. It makes you look out of control to your kids. It makes you look weak. And you’re yelling, let’s be honest, because you are weak. Yelling, even more than spanking, is the response of a person who doesn’t know what else to do.

But most parents — myself included — find it hard to imagine how to get through the day without yelling. The new research on yelling presents parents with twin problems: What do I do instead? And how do I stop?

Yelling to stop your kids from running into traffic is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about yelling as a form of correction. Yelling for correction is ineffective as a tool and merely imprints the habit of yelling onto the children. We yell at our kids over the same stuff every day, and we yell at them some more because the original yelling doesn’t work. Put your clothes away. Come down for dinner. Don’t ride the dog. Stop hitting your brother.

The mere knowledge that yelling is bad, in itself, won’t help, said Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale. Yelling is not a strategy, it’s a release.

“If the goal of the parent is catharsis, I want to get this out of my system and show you how mad I am, well, yelling is probably perfect,” Dr. Kazdin said. “If the goal here is to change something in the child or develop a positive habit in the child, yelling is not the way to do that.” There are other strategies, and they don’t involve screaming like a maniac.

Many think of positivity as a form of laziness, as if parents who are positive aren’t disciplining their children. But not yelling requires advance planning and discipline for the parents, which yelling doesn’t.

10) Loved this from an umpire on this whole absurdity of “judges just call balls and strikes” business (I’ll always resent John Roberts for fooling everybody with that):

Then there are the other plays, on the bases and at the plate, that require rule interpretations and judgment calls: catches and no catches, fair and foul balls, safes and outs, and base-running.

For example, the rule book states that a runner must avoid a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball. If you collided with a shortstop who was bent over in the act of fielding a ground ball, you would be guilty of interference. But if the shortstop had completed the act of fielding and was attempting to tag you when the collision occurred, there would be no penalty. Among elite athletes, this all happens in milliseconds, and to the untrained eye, the plays look the same — both violent collisions with the ball on the ground. This requires an interpretation of when one act ended and another began, and whose rights are in effect. This is a judgment call…

As an umpire, you learn to position yourself on the field so that you’re in the most advantageous location to observe a pitch or a play. You learn to read cues and make the proper adjustments when something changes. It can take years of experience, an exhaustive understanding of the rules and consistency in your calls to become a credible umpire, and even then, you’re going to be in the middle of a lot of arguments and controversies. As a mentor of mine reminded me when I started: There was only ever one perfect man, and they crucified him, so umpires have to learn how to handle criticism. As with judging, the tough calls are hardly ever obvious. Balls and strikes are elusive creatures.

11) Loved this Atlantic piece on cognitive biases and the human brain.  I’m pretty tempted to read Richard Nisbett’s Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinkingbut, then again, I kind of suspect I won’t learn anything.  I may be biased, but I am pretty damn sure that I am way better than the average bear (though far from perfect), at avoiding all these cognitive biases.  Because, damnit, the first step definitely is recognizing them.

12) David Frum, great, as always, on Trump,, “The President Is a Crook The country now faces a choice between the Trump presidency and the rule of law.”

13) Relatedly, Dana Milbank on the amazingly amoral and craven Paul Ryan.

14) Margaret Sullivan with a good take on the New Yorker festival-Steve Bannon controversy:

No one wants a festival of ideas to turn into a cozy chat among like-minded friends. That’s pointless.

But also utterly pointless is the notion that Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, might have something new or valuable to offer.

That’s why it was a thoroughly lousy idea for the New Yorker magazine to offer a high-profile perch — an onstage interview by top editor David Remnick — at next month’s annual festival to the deposed Svengali.

There is nothing more to learn from Bannon about his particular brand of populism, with its blatant overlay of white supremacy.

While we’re at it, there is also nothing more to learn from the die-hard Trump voters in what I’ve called the Endless Diner Series — the media’s recidivistic journeys to the supposed heartland to hear what we’ve heard a thousand times before about blind loyalty in the face of all reason.

Yes, it’s time, well past time, to stop lending the media’s biggest and most prestigious platforms to this crowd of racists and liars.

Shut them down — not because of ideology or politics, but because there is no news value there.

 

 

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