What city is the best to raise your kids?

Why Cary, North Carolina, obviously. What was really cool about this best (and worst) places to raise kids list was that not only is Raleigh in the top 10, but even my previous home of Lubbock, TX makes it.  As for Lubbock– who knew?  And, I disagree.  Actually, the great thing about Lubbock is that you can get a nice house for an absurdly low amount of money and I presume that’s carrying a lot of the weight.  Otherwise, I’ll definitely take the Raleigh area.  Here’s the top 10:

Which large American cities are the most family friendly? Generally speaking, according to a recent study by the rental listings site Zumper, you are probably better off living in the Midwest or the South if you have children.

Higher mortgage rates, more expensive child care and longer commutes were among the reasons Northeastern cities didn’t fare as well in the study. Not surprisingly, New York City ranked low — 84th out of 94.

So which cities were the best? After weighing various factors important to family life — including median incomes, housing costs, unemployment and crime rates, and the percentage of the population under 45 — the study ranked Madison, Wis., in first place, followed by Lincoln, Neb., and Lexington, Ky. (Sources included the United States Census Bureau, the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Anyway, interesting food for thought.  No need to leave Chicago and head to Lubbock, though.

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It really is the party of Trump

The latest from Gallup begins with the fairly dramatic headline, “Republican Party Favorability Highest in Seven Years.”  What?!  You might think.  I thought– well, I guess this is Republicans approving now that there party is actually in charge.  And, survey says… yes:

Republican Party Gains Ground Among Those With Republican Views
Percent with favorable view of each party, September 2017 and September 2018
Republican Party Democratic Party
Sep 2017 Sep 2018 Sep 2017 Sep 2018
% % % %
All adults 36 45 44 44
Party ID
Republicans plus leaners 67 85 13 11
Democrats plus leaners 10 10 80 80
Gender
Men 37 50 40 41
Women 35 40 49 48

While Republicans have become significantly more positive about their party over the past year, Democrats’ views of the Republican Party and their own Democratic Party have essentially not changed.

Short version: The GOP is the party of Trump.  The vast majority of Republicans in the electorate have chosen to embrace a political party that if not overtly ethnonationalist and authoritarian supports a leader who indisputably embodies those traits.  I don’t care how much you just want your tax cut.  Republicans own this anti-democratic awfulness.

If life were grade school, girls would rule the world

This was a fantastic piece in the Atlantic about how girls confidence, relative to boys, seems to drop so precipitously in the middle school years.  I loved the quote, I took for the title of this post:

“If life were one long grade school,” Carol Dweck, the Stanford University psychologist who wrote The Growth Mindset, explained to us in an interview for our first book, women “would be the undisputed rulers of the world. But life isn’t one long grade school.”

So, what’s the story?  Great Atlantic piece on research by Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, and Jillellyn Riley:

In our research, we worked with Ypulse, a polling firm that focuses on tweens and teens, to survey more than 1,300 girls from the ages of 8 to 18 and their parents. (The sample was broadly representative of the country’s teen population in terms of race and geographic distribution.) The data is more dramatic than we’d imagined: The girls surveyed were asked to rate their confidence on a scale of 0 to 10, and from the ages of 8 to 14, the average of girls’ responses fell from approximately 8.5 to 6—a drop-off of 30 percent.

Until the age of 12, there was virtually no difference in confidence between boys and girls. But, because of the drop-off girls experienced during puberty, by the age of 14 the average girl was far less confident than the average boy. [emphases mine] Many boys, the survey suggested, do experience some hits to their confidence entering their teens, but nothing like what girls experience. (The Ypulse survey did not break down its findings at a granular enough level to discern if there was any correlation between kids’ race or income level and their self-described confidence.)…

As boys and girls (and men and women) take risks and see the payoffs, they gain the courage to take more risks in the future. Conversely, confidence’s absence can inhibit the very sorts of behaviors—risk taking, failure, and perseverance—that build it back up. So the cratering of confidence in girls is especially troubling because of long-term implications. It can mean that risks are avoided again and again, and confidence isn’t being stockpiled for the future. And indeed, the confidence gender gap that opens at puberty often remains throughout adulthood.

What makes confidence building so much more elusive for so many tween and teen girls? A few things stand out. The habit of what psychologists call rumination—essentially, dwelling extensively on negative feelings—is more prevalent in women than in men, and often starts at puberty. This can make girls more cautious, and less inclined toward risk taking. Additionally, at an early age, parents and teachers frequently encourage and reward girls’ people-pleasing, perfectionistic behavior, without understanding the consequences. Often, this is because it just makes parents’ and teachers’ lives easier: In a busy household or noisy classroom, who doesn’t want kids who color within the lines, follow directions, and don’t cause problems? But perfectionism, of course, inhibits risk taking, a willingness to fail, and valuable psychological growth. “If life were one long grade school,” Carol Dweck, the Stanford University psychologist who wrote The Growth Mindset, explained to us in an interview for our first book, women “would be the undisputed rulers of the world. But life isn’t one long grade school.”

In fact, later in life, the goalposts shift considerably. “It rewards people who take risks and rebound,” Dweck added. And the boys in our survey seemed to have a greater appetite for risk taking: Our poll shows that from ages 8 to 14 boys are more likely than girls to describe themselves as confident, strong, adventurous, and fearless.

Wow– that’s all disturbing and distressing.  The solution?  Girls soccer.  Okay, not exactly, but:

There’s evidence that tweaking the status quo, and acclimating girls at this critical age to more risk taking and failure, makes a difference. Some of the most compelling data links participation in sports to professional success.

Okay, obviously not just sports (though, I sure hope Sarah wants to stick with soccer as long as possible):

It’s not only through athletics that young girls can gain confidence; sport is simply an organized and easily available opportunity to experience loss, failure, and resilience. But the same skills can be acquired by participating on a debate team, learning to cook, or speaking up on behalf of a cause like animal welfare—as long as there is a move outside of her comfort zone, and a process of struggle and mastery, confidence will usually be the result…

It’s essential to close the gap, and to do so early, because the long-term effects of these dynamics hurt not only girls, but the women they become, many of whom, within a few years of entering the workforce, experience another confidence drop, and a drop in aspirations. Their rule-following, good-girl methods have been celebrated, rewarded by a structured educational and societal system. It’s a shock to arrive in the adult world and discover a dramatically new playing field: Failure is okay. Risk is worth it. No wonder they struggle: Their whole life, to date, they’ve internalized just the opposite, a societal bait and switch that should be recognized. Girls are adept at learning—they just need the right study guide.

Of course, is this all just society?  Is there some nature vs nurture going on here (obviously, there’s some pretty dramatic biological changes– and yes, the brain is biological– for both genders that kick in at puberty).  Would love to see more of this across different countries and cultures.  Of course, even if there is a genuine biological component, that doesn’t mean we we should respond any less to trying to overcome this gap, but I’m pretty curious.  Anyway, for know, all of us need to do our part to turn confident, kick-ass, grade school girls into confident, kick-ass, young women.

Single payer reality

We interrupt you from all Brett Kavanaugh all the time to highlight Jon Cohn’s excellent piece on Taiwan’s single-payer health care system.  There’s a lot we could learn from Taiwan.  They are relatively new to single-payer, actually.  Back in the 1990’s they realized they needed to create a high-quality, national health care plan and studied countries around the world to see what made the most sense.  Their conclusion: single-payer.  The results: not perfect, but really, really good:

More than 99 percent of people living in Taiwan now have insurance through the NHI. They pay premiums based on a sliding scale, with employers contributing additional premiums, and they have to pay modest out-of-pocket costs for everything from prescriptions to hospitalization.

That last part might surprise people who think that single payer necessarily means “free” health care. It doesn’t, though the NHI waives copayments and deductibles for several key populations: the poor, pregnant women, children younger than three and people with serious, long-term conditions like diabetes or cancer.

“It protects the disadvantaged, it protects the sick, really well,” Cheng said. “When they set up the program, they said, ‘We should feel sorry for those who are sick ― on top of that pain and suffering, it’s an awesome financial burden. We should take care of that.’”

It’s easy to see how such a system could get expensive. But the Taiwanese government establishes a hard limit on overall health care spending, then negotiates fees for every medical service and supply. It’s cost control by brute force, and it works. In 2016, the overall budget worked out to less than 7 percent of Taiwan’s gross domestic product, compared to 16 percent in the United States. [emphases mine]

Some of the difference shows up in superficial ways, like Taiwan’s conspicuously spartan and utilitarian facilities. A popular pediatric clinic in northwest Taipei that I visited had curtains, not doors, on some room entrances, plus a waiting area that consisted of a bench crammed into a hallway. The large, cartoonish sign bearing the clinic’s name looked like it belonged on a fast-food restaurant or gas station.

But patients in Taiwan have the kind of access to medical care most Americans would envy. They can see any doctor or visit any hospital anytime they want, and pay just a small additional fee for specialty care without a referral.

And, hey, because Cohn (and me) are fair and balanced, there’s some definite downsides:

Every health care system has its trade-offs, and in Taiwan one of those is the effect of low fees on physicians, who have basically tried to make up in volume what they can’t get in price. The Taiwanese end up seeing the doctor more frequently than people in most other countries but spend less time in the office when they do. Doctor burnout is becoming a problem and a small but growing group are making regular trips to clinics in mainland China, where they can make more money because the People’s Republic, desperate to meet their fast-growing population’s need for care, now offers better pay.

Another place Taiwan has saved money is on cutting-edge treatment ― in particular, the latest cancer drugs. Taiwan’s government negotiates pharmaceutical prices directly with manufacturers, as pretty much every country except the U.S. does. But it typically waits a year or two after the release of a new drug before approving it, and then bases its payment on a mix of what other, larger countries are already paying. That has the effect of steering more people to older, cheaper therapies, even when newer ones are available.

Also, the politics in the US for something like this are really, really hard:

Proposals like the one Bernie Sanders has outlined envision wiping out private insurance, which would mean getting rid of the employer benefits through which the majority of working-age Americans now get coverage. It might be a change for the better, providing more comprehensive coverage, with no networks, and for lower cost overall. But making that case to the tens of millions who currently have employer benefits they like is difficult, and some people would inevitably feel, justly or not, like the transition left them worse off.

Yep.  That said, well short of single-payer, there’s some really good steps we could and should take in this direction:

A good place to start might be taking the critical step that Taiwan did. Policymakers could make sure that people with cancer, diabetes and other chronic, economically-crippling conditions don’t face out-of-pocket costs ― protecting those people from financial duress and reducing the likelihood they postpone necessary care because of cost. Introducing fixed fees and global budgets slowly, as Maryland is already doing on its own and California is contemplating, might also work. That could also help ensure that cuts were done in a way that didn’t deter important innovation.

Neither of those features is unique to Taiwan or even, as it turns out, to single payer. Many of the public-private hybrid systems in Europe have them too. One very real possibility is that a push for single payer could leave the U.S. with a system that looks more like what those other countries have, simply because the politics and policy of dislodging the current system would prove too difficult. It’d still be cheaper, and a lot more humane, than what exists now.

There’s lots of ways to go.  A couple things are for sure– currently, sadly, Republicans have absolutely zero answers to solving the real health care problems we face as a country and as individuals, and, we really could learn a lot from places like Taiwan.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Loved this NYT story about the amazing science and technology behind the decades-long effort finally create a pizza MRE.  Now that’s a worthy cause.

2) Sebastian Mallaby on how “Trumponomics” is not working:

So is Trumponomics working? With one significant caveat, the answer is no. For one thing, Trump’s trade policy is turning out to be worse than expected. For another, the growth surge mostly reflects a temporary sugar high from last December’s tax cut. Economists are already penciling in a recession for 2020

But the greatest damage stems from Trump’s trade war with China. His opening demand — that China abandon its subsidies for strategic high-tech industries — was never going to be met by a nationalistic dictatorship committed to industrial policy. His bet that tariffs will drive companies to shift production to the United States is equally forlorn. If manufacturers pull out of China, they are more likely to go elsewhere in Asia. And even if some manufacturing does come to the United States, this gain will be outweighed by the job losses stemming from Trump’s tariffs, which raise costs for industries that use Chinese inputs. In short, Trump isn’t helping the American workers he claims to speak for. Instead, he is battering the rules-based international system that offers the best chance of constraining China.

Phases in economic history are remembered by their labels: the go-go ’60s, the stagflationary ’70s and so on. The current populist era in the United States will turn out no better than populist projects elsewhere: in Britain, where a self-harming experiment in deglobalization has dragged down the national growth rate; in Italy, where expensive promises to voters could bring on a debt crisis. So do not be surprised if the populists are temporarily popular: Popularity is what they crave most, after all. But recall that, everywhere and throughout history, the populists’ folly is unmasked in the end.

3) This is a great point, with NC’s post-Florence problems, “North Carolina’s Problem Isn’t Florence, It’s Poverty: The floodplains read like maps of inequality and race.”

4) I’m pretty sure I walk faster when I’m with DJC.  NYT, “Faster. Slower. How We Walk Depends on Who We Walk With, and Where We Live.”

People move differently when they walk in groups than when they walk alone. And their walking style is especially distinct when they walk with children, according to a fascinating new cross-cultural study of pedestrians in several nations.

The study, which also shows that men tend to walk differently with other men than with women and that some cultures may promote walking speed over sociability, underscores that how we move is not dependent solely on physiology or biomechanics.

It is also influenced to a surprising extent by where we grew up and who we hang out with…

Given this complexity, exercise scientists have long been interested in how we manage the physical demands of walking. In laboratory studies, they have determined that each of us has a particular pace at which we are most biologically efficient, meaning that we use the least energy.

In theory, this is the pace that we naturally would settle into when we walk.

But other, real-world studies and observations indicate that people rarely perambulate at their most efficient pace. Impediments such as crowds, streetlights and scheduling concerns affect walking speed, of course.

But even on uncrowded pedestrian pathways, people often choose walking speeds that are slower or faster than their physiological ideal. Men, for instance, tend to slow their natural pace when they walk with women who are romantic partners, a few past studies show, but hasten their velocity when walking with other men.

5) It’s cool that there’s a Raleigh teacher on the cover of Time’s cover story about under-paid teachers.  That said, I think it’s a real mistake to choose a teacher making $69,000/year as the face of under-paid teachers.

6) Good parenting advice (and for certain progeny of the blogger who read this) here from NYT– how to help teenagers embrace stress:

But the conventional wisdom is that stress does harm and so, accordingly, we should aim to reduce, prevent or avoid it. Not surprisingly, this negative slant on stress can shape parenting and also leave teenagers feeling stressed about being stressed.

“Especially within the last five years,” says Sarah Huss, the director of human development and parent education at Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles, “we’ve seen a rise in the number of parents who feel that it’s their job to rescue their child from situations that are stressful.”

To reframe how we think about a phenomenon that has been roundly, and wrongly, pathologized, we should appreciate that healthy stress is inevitable when we operate at the edge of our abilities. Stretching beyond familiar limits doesn’t always feel good, but growing and learning — the keys to school and much of life — can’t happen any other way. [emphases mine]

According to Jeremy P. Jamieson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who studies how stress impacts emotions and performance, “Avoiding stress doesn’t work and is often not possible. To achieve and grow, we have to get outside our comfort zones and approach challenges.”

Stress is also known to have an inoculating effect. Research shows that people who overcome difficult life circumstances go on to enjoy higher-than-average levels of resilience. In short, achieving mastery in trying situations builds emotional strength and psychological durability.

How students themselves regard stress — whether they see it as positive or negative — has powerful downstream effects. Studies find that when faced with steep intellectual tasks, individuals with a stress-is-enhancing outlook outperform those with a stress-is-debilitating one…

Happily, studies also find that it’s not hard to convert people to the stress-is-enhancing perspective. To do this in my own work with adolescents, I liken the demands of school to a strength-training program. Everyone understands that lifting weights to the point of discomfort is the only way to build muscle; the process of developing intellectual ability, including the ability to manage the stress that comes with it, works just the same way.

In talking with teenagers, I matter-of-factly point out that their teachers should be giving them hard academic workouts, because that’s what will transform them from wobbly middle school colts into graduation-ready racehorses.

To be sure, some days will be light on challenge and others will feel overwhelming. But I try to reassure students by telling them this: If, on balance, they are feeling stretched at school and asked to step up to a new level once they’ve mastered an old one, then things are going exactly as they should.

7) Open tab for too long– Sean McElwee on the power of “Abolish Ice.”

The Voter Study Group also asks respondents whether undocumented immigrants make a contribution to society or are a drain on it. In 2011, 40 percent of white Democrats said undocumented immigrants make a contribution, 16 percent said neither and 31 percent said “mostly a drain” (the rest were unsure). By 2016, 61 percent of white Democrats said undocumented immigrants made a contribution, 10 percent said neither and 22 percent said mostly a drain.

The abolish ICE debate is a product of the way American policymaking has changed in our hyperpartisan age. Debates and dialogue hardly every occur across the aisle, but activists in each party form a collective vision, often when they are out of power, and implement it when they gain power. Though the Republican Party seems to think it can use the Abolish ICE movement against Democrats everywhere, the idea that it will provide a bludgeon in the midterm is a phantom. For one, ICE is rapidly losing popularity and political capital, with 49 percent of Americans expressing a positive view and 44 percent a negative view in recent Pew polling. That’s the lowest of any agency they examined. Even the I.R.S. has 57 percent positive views and 36 percent negative views.

Data for Progress also commissioned a national survey from YouGov Blue. We asked respondents, “Would you support or oppose defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and enforcing immigration violations like other civil infractions?” We found 32 percent of respondents in support and 38 percent opposed (with another 30 saying neither or they didn’t know). Half of Democrats supported defunding ICE (18 percent opposed) and among people under 45, 33 percent supported the idea and 27 percent opposed it…

8) Love this “Be Better at Parties” guide from NYT, especially the part on making good conversation:

3 TIERS OF GOOD CONVERSATION

Tier one is safe territory: sports, the weather, pop culture, local celebrities and any immediate shared experience (that free information Ms. Fine talks about).

Tier two is potentially controversial: religion, politics, dating and love lives. “Test the waters, and back away if they’re not interested,” he warned.

Tier three includes the most intimate topics: family and finance, buckets into which Mr. Post Senning includes health and work life. “Some people love to talk about what they do and their kids, but don’t ask a probing question until the door has been opened,” he advised. Those sorts of questions can also become exclusionary, so think about everyone involved in the conversation before you start.

Knowing the tiers can save you from making the most embarrassing faux pas, e.g., “I notice you’re not drinking, are you pregnant?” Note also that while “So, what do you do?” is a pretty common and acceptable question in America, in Europe it’s as banal as watching paint dry.

They’ll think, “Why would you ever talk about that?” Mr. Post Senning said. Instead of “What do you do?,” Ms. Fine suggested “What keeps you busy?,” which applies to people whether or not they have traditional jobs, are stay-at-home-parents or are currently employed.

Ms. Fine has another basic rule: “Don’t ask a question that could put somebody in a bad spot: ‘Is your boyfriend here?’ ‘Did you get into that M.B.A. program?’” Instead try: “Catch me up on your life,” or, “What’s going on with work for you?”

BE MORE INTERESTED TO BE MORE INTERESTING

Don’t head to a party with the intent of leaving everyone in stitches, unless perhaps you’re a professional comedian. Instead, as Ms. Aarons-Mele puts it, “Channel your inner Oprah.” This is especially helpful advice for introverts.

“If you just talk a lot you might get exhausted, but if you ask questions and listen and draw people out, they’ll think you’re a great conversationalist,” she said.

“For me it comes down to being aware that I should be more interested than I should be interesting,” Mr. Karia said. He brought up a study in which two researchers from the psychology department at Harvard University found that talking about yourself triggers the same pleasure sensation in the brain as food. “People would forgo money in order to talk about themselves,” he said. You can use this to your advantage simply by listening.

Mr. Ford wrote of this in his Medium post. At one party, he found himself saying: “Wow. That sounds hard,” after a stranger told him what she did for a living. It worked brilliantly. “Maybe a hundred times since I’ve said, ‘Wow, that sounds hard’ to a stranger, always to great effect.”

9) Presumably you’ve heard about the Flynn effect of IQ rise over the 20th century.  Now there’s evidence for an anti-Flynn effect of IQ decline.  Ruh-roh.

Quick hits (part I)

1) This WP story/essay about a high school rape in Texas 12 years later is like a gut punch.  Just read it.

2) Paul Waldman, “Why do all these racists keep joining the GOP?”

Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has a problem, one he shares with a lot of Republicans these days: For some reason, racists are attracted to his campaign and seem eager to give him money and lend their vocal support.

Why does this keep happening to members of the Republican Party who desire nothing but equality and respect for all people? It’s a real mystery…

But you know who doesn’t have to worry about getting endorsed by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and racists? People who don’t give neo-Nazis, white nationals and racists any reason to believe that they share their views. [emphases mine]

Now, it’s true that there are Republican elected officials who don’t. But just by virtue of being Republicans in 2018, being lumped in with racists is a risk they run. Their favored news outlets are positively saturated with white nationalist rhetoric. Their party is led by a man who is not only an obvious bigot but who also turned himself into a political figure by advocating the racist lie that Barack Obama is not actually an American, who ran a presidential campaign built on xenophobia and racial resentment, and who, in office, continues to stoke fear and hatred of immigrants. President Trump doesn’t get celebrated on white nationalist websites because they’re laboring under some misimpression about who he is. So, if you’re a Republican standing enthusiastically behind Trump, racists have every reason in the world to think you’re on their side.

3) Normally, Americans, collectively, are not so smart.  So, for Americans to have figured out the truth of the Republican tax cuts, means, damn were they really bad:

“On average, it looks great. We’re as wealthy as we’ve ever been,” Zandi says. “But that’s not representative of many, many American households. The very skewed distribution of wealth is as skewed today as it was five years ago.”

4) Hillary Clinton speaks out on Trump.  And she’s right on the details which are worth your time:

It’s been nearly two years since Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president of the United States. On the day after, in my concession speech, I said, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” I hoped that my fears for our future were overblown.

They were not.

In the roughly 21 months since he took the oath of office, Trump has sunk far below the already-low bar he set for himself in his ugly campaign. Exhibit A is the unspeakable cruelty that his administration has inflicted on undocumented families arriving at the border, including separating children, some as young as eight months, from their parents. According to The New York Times, the administration continues to detain 12,800 children right now, despite all the outcry and court orders. Then there’s the president’s monstrous neglect of Puerto Rico: After Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, his administration barely responded. Some 3,000 Americans died. Now Trump flatly denies those deaths were caused by the storm. And, of course, despite the recent indictments of several Russian military intelligence officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016, he continues to dismiss a serious attack on our country by a foreign power as a “hoax.”

Trump and his cronies do so many despicable things that it can be hard to keep track. I think that may be the point—to confound us, so it’s harder to keep our eye on the ball. The ball, of course, is protecting American democracy. As citizens, that’s our most important charge. And right now, our democracy is in crisis…

5) I love the idea that we need to take our “social infrastructure” libraries, public parks, etc., more seriously.

6) This story of a woman who’s 1-year old child was literally ripped from her hands and drowned in post-Florence floods is heart-rending.  Also, sad, is just how cruel people are in their “just world biases” and doing everything they can to blame the mother.  Sorry, sometimes bad stuff just happens and it could happen to you, too.

7) Really liked the NYT’s “how to build strength” guide.  I think I need to modify my routine and start pushing myself a little harder.  On the bright side, this linked site said I have the health of a 32-year old. Yeah, me!

8) OMG, so much wrong with our criminal justice system.  But “felony murder” when you can get a murder conviction without actually taking any actions to kill someone (e.g., you are the lookout for a robbery, but then the robber decides to shoot the victim– sure you should be punished, but murder?!) is often so wrong.

The felony-murder doctrine is “one of the most widely criticized features of American criminal law,” the University of Buffalo School of Law’s Guyora Binder wrote in a 2011 law-review article. “Some have concluded that felony murder rules impose unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment by ascribing guilt without fault, or that they violate conditional due process by presuming malice without proof.”

There’s no shortage of cases where people were convicted of felony murder despite no demonstrated intent to kill. In 1980, 18-year-old Orlando Stewart and nine other teenagers approached a stranger in Pennsylvania, planning to mug him. One of the teens hit the man, knocking him to the ground and causing a skull fracture that led to his death two days later. Stewart was convicted of felony murder and will remain in prison for the rest of his life.

And this April in Alabama, Lakeith Smith was sentenced to 65 years in prison, including 30 for felony murder. In 2015, the then–15-year-old burglarized two homes with several friends. When the police approached, one of the teenagers fired and was shot and killed by an officer. Smith was convicted of the felony murder of his friend, based on the felony burglary he was committing when his friend was shot.

Felony-murder rules disproportionately affect young people like Brooks, Stewart, Holle, and Smith, who are more likely to commit crimes in groups and are more impulsive than adults, increasing the chances someone in the group pulls a trigger. A law-review article from 2017 described felony murder as “the quintessential juvenile crime, capitalizing on the developmental vulnerabilities of adolescents.”

9) Is this, maybe, karma for Kavanaugh:

It is on this point that the cosmos may be having a laugh not just at Kavanaugh’s expense but at many other people’s. After decades of competitive moralizing and situational ethics—in which every accuser in due course becomes the accused, and anyone riding a high horse can expect to be bucked off—even the concept of fairness in American politics seemingly is defunct.

Three decades of remorseless ideological and cultural combat—over Robert Bork, over Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, over Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, over Bush v. Gore, and, at last and above all, over Donald Trump—have made the question virtually irrelevant.

Fairness is rooted in the idea of principles, precedent, proportionality. Few people in American life witnessed at closer range than Kavanaugh the modern reality that when things really matter—in the way that the balance of the Supreme Court matters—all these fine notions matter less than the cold, hard exercise of power.

So here was Kavanaugh—who spent his early 30s as a Ken Starr warrior pursuing Bill Clinton for the political and legal implications of his most intimate moral failings—now in his early 50s facing a political crisis over disturbingly vivid, passionately contested, decades-old allegations about Kavanaugh’s own possible moral failings.

Few prosecutors, it seems likely, would ever open an assault case—36 years later—on the basis of Christine Blasey Ford’s account of being pinned down on a bed by a drunken Kavanaugh, then 17, and being aggressively groped until a friend of his physically jumped in.

But few prosecutors in the 1990s would have pursued an extensive criminal investigation over perjury into a middle-aged man’s lies about adultery if that person had not been President Bill Clinton. In his zeal at the time, Kavanaugh, like Starr, may have worked himself into a belief that this was about sacred principles of law, but to many others—and ultimately to a clear majority of the country—it was obvious that the case was fundamentally about political power.

10) Chevy Chase wants to work, but nobody really wants him.  Recently re-watched “Fletch” and “Fletch Lives” with my oldest.  Still love them (much to my wife’s dismay), and to my great pleasure, so did David.  But they are oh-so-1980’s in so many ways.

Let the kids sleep!

So Fully Myelinated super-reader, DJC, sent me this article about school start times yesterday.  And today, an NYT Op-Ed and Facebook reminds me that I had my own Op-Ed on school starts times exactly a year ago.  And, the good news is that there’s some serious movement– the whole state of California:

This much appears to have been recognized by California lawmakers, who’ve passed a bill that, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, will see many middle and high schools moving to later start times over the next few years. This is a milestone that would send a clear message to the rest of the country: Sleep deprivation is an issue with profound implications for public health.

Hooray for California!  And why this matters:

Three out of every four students in Grades 9 to 12 fail to sleep the minimum of 8 hours that the American Academy of Sleep Medicinerecommends for their age group. And sleep deprivation is unremittingly bad news. At its most basic, insufficient sleep results in reduced attention and impaired memory, hindering student progress and lowering grades. More alarmingly, sleep deprivation is likely to lead to mood and emotional problems, increasing the risk of mental illness. Chronic sleep deprivation is also a major risk factor for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. As if this weren’t enough, it also makes falling asleep at the wheel much more likely…

Excessive screen use is compounded by a dangerous tradition: starting high school abnormally early. Based on data available from 2015, 86 percent of high schools started before 8:30 a.m., and one in 10 high schools had a start time before 7:30 a.m. Prying a teenager out of bed at 6 a.m. to get to school is the equivalent of waking an adult at 4 a.m. The brain will be at its least active in the 24-hour cycle, which explains the monosyllabic grunts of teenagers as they lumber to the school bus.

Also, my go to criminologist Mark Kleiman regularly points out this would also cut down on crime.

The Atlantic article suggests we not just shift start times, but re-think the whole schedule:

It’s not entirely clear who the school day does revolve around. The schedules that dictate most of American K-12 life descend from times when fewer households had two working parents. The result is a school day that frazzles just about everybody. But a few changes could mitigate that frazzling significantly. “I don’t know about making everyone perfectly happy,” says Catherine Brown, the vice president of education policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “But I think that we could get much closer to optimizing for students, parents, teachers.” The school day, Brown says, could be improved in two main ways: It could start later, and it could go longer…

A later start, in both middle and high school, would help with the later sleep cycles that are typical in teenage years. Most teens don’t naturally fall asleep until about 11 p.m., and are supposed to get about nine hours of sleep per night. But when class starts before 8:30—as the most recent federal data indicates it does at 87 percent of American public high schools—waking up in time for school cuts into needed sleep. Postponing the start of the school day, researchers have found, does lead middle and high schoolers to get more rest—they don’t just stay up later. And then, once better-rested, studies show that teens do better in schoolget in fewer car crashes, and are less prone to depression.

Half past eight—the target for many start-school-later advocates—is actually still earlier than would be totally ideal. Kyla Wahlstrom, a lecturer at the University of Minnesota who conducted the first study examining the effects of later start times on high schoolers back in the late 1990s, told me that, taking only teens’ sleep needs into account, the best start time would be around 9:00 or 9:30; that would give them the optimal amount of time to sleep and get ready. “8:30,” she says, “is a compromise that allows more sleep, but does not impinge on the after-school activities.”

As for the later day, that’s to help with the reality of two working parents and single working parents:

I asked Brown what her ideal school-day schedule would look like, if she could start from scratch. She told me it’d start later, at 8 or 8:30—not just for teens, but also for younger kids. The day would end at 5 or 5:30, but the extended day’s extra hours wouldn’t be spent solely in the classroom. Brown says she’d “have a period in the afternoon where they’re doing creative activities and they’re doing physical activities, sports, arts, music—I would bake all that stuff into the day, as opposed to the after-school being plopped on, disconnected from the rest of the learning goals of the school.” (In Brown’s hypothetical ideal school day, teachers wouldn’t be asked to work longer days, but would instead work in shifts.)

Today’s standard 6.5-hour school day looks quite different. “I’m not pretending this is a utopia,” Brown says. “I’m just repeatedly struck, as a mother and as an education policy wonk, [by] how schools don’t often consider the needs of parents’ work schedules when they’re designing all kinds of policies.”

Early start and end times have remained the norm in part because inertia is powerful—it’s “a problem in the sense that this is how we’ve always done it, so this is the way we’ll keep doing it,” Brown says. And the obstacles to changing it usually fall under three general categories: sports, buses, and funding.

Personally, I’d settle for starting with a later start.  Especially because the evidence is so damn compelling.  My poor son, Alex, who started HS this year is grumpy getting up that early.  Alas, the status quo bias on this one is so strong.  Wake County NC is a pretty progressive place, but no progress whatsoever here.  My guess is they school board feels they’ve got enough to do just to keep up with growth (and angering lots of parents in the process) that they don’t want to try and take this on, too.  Even though they know.  Maybe the California results will be compelling enough that other states can’t help but follow.

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