Let the kids sleep (again)!

It’s good to know that at least some school systems are willing to put up with whiny blowback and do what’s best for the kids, i.e., let teenagers sleep a little later.  And, in Seattle, they’ve done some cool research to demonstrate the clear benefits.  Via NPR:

Researchers at the University of Washington studied the high school students both before and after the start-time change. Their findings appear in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. They found students got 34 minutes more sleep on average with the later school start time. This boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes.

“This study shows a significant improvement in the sleep duration of students, all by delaying school start times so they’re more in line with the natural wake-up times of adolescents,” says senior author Horacio de la Iglesia, a University of Washington researcher and professor of biology.

The study also found an improvement in grades and a reduction in tardiness and absences. [emphasis mine]

Enough excuses and status quo bias.  We need to do this everywhere!  (My take from last year in the N&O.)

Quick hits (part I)

1) Emily Bazelon and Miriam Krinsky on the steps that new reform-minded prosecutors should be taking:

Our recommendations begin with the premise that the level of punishment in the United States is neither necessary for public safety nor a pragmatic use of resources. Prosecutors can address this first by routing some low-level offenses out of the criminal justice system at the start. For the cases that remain, they can help make incarceration the exception and diverting people from prison the rule, a principle advanced by the district attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y., Eric Gonzalez. Finally, prosecutors should recognize that lengthy mandatory sentences can be wasteful, since most people age out of the period when they’re likely to reoffend, and also don’t allow for the human capacity to change.

As prosecutors know, locking people up makes them more prone to committing offenses in the future. They can lose their earning capacity and housing, leaving them worse off, often to the point of desperation. And so the community is often better served by interventions like drug or mental-health treatment, or by restorative justice approaches, in which a person who has caused harm makes amends to the victim. In some cases, the best response is to do nothing.

2) Slate essay, “How I Went From Graduate School Student to Amazon Warehouse Janitor: Why is it so hard for black women like me to find full-time work in our chosen fields?”  It just might have something to do with the fact that her degrees are a BA in English and MFA in creative writing with a plan to, “start my own company doing what I love: writing and creating opportunities for other artists. I wanted to create a space where emerging visual and performing artists could receive professional development and education, network with local companies and potential clients, and expand their portfolios with themed exhibitions and performance opportunities.”  To be fair, there’s some real data on the under-employment of Black women, but this should not be the exemplar.  I quite enjoyed the comments on this one.

3) Vox reviews a bunch of Democratic health plans for (near) universal coverage.  You will be unsurprised to learn my favorites were the two center-left thinktank plans.  And, yes, Medicare for all would be great if we were starting from scratch.  But we’re not and that therefore imposes huge non-monetary costs (in addition to the financial ones, that I am fine with).

4) Of course the Trump administration wants to roll back clean water regulations.

5) Didn’t do much more than skim Andrew Sullivan’s essay on how we all have religion and we have replaced real religion with political tribalism.  But, damn, Pesca’s takedown was good.  Ezra Klein is on the case, too.

6) Yeah, it’s not just the name-brand big Pharma ripping us off. The generic makers have quite the cartel:

What started as an antitrust lawsuit brought by states over just two drugs in 2016 has exploded into an investigation of alleged price-fixing involving at least 16 companies and 300 drugs, Joseph Nielsen, an assistant attorney general and antitrust investigator in Connecticut who has been a leading force in the probe, said in an interview. His comments in an interview with The Washington Post represent the first public disclosure of the dramatically expanded scale of the investigation.

The unfolding case is rattling an industry that is portrayed in Washington as the white knight of American health care.

7) This is really cool from Wired, “How the CIA trains spies to hide in plain sight.”

8) Great Yglesias essay on the growing anti-democracy problem of the GOP:

The steady erection of a system of minority rule that Republicans are implementing is not as dramatic as a populist putsch. But it’s actually happening before our eyes. And it’s led not by the rabble-rousing president or the unwashed masses who thrill to his rallies, but by the elite network of donors, operatives, and politicians who run the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

9) George Packer (what’s with him at The Atlantic instead of the New Yorker) hits on similar issues, “The Corruption of the Republican Party: The GOP is best understood as an insurgency that carried the seeds of its own corruption from the start.”

10) Former federal prosecutor, on the National Enquirer publisher: “AMI’s Immunity Deal Is a Disaster for Donald Trump.”

11) So, Americans way over-freakout about stranger abductions of children.  But every now and then it does happen and it’s horrible.  Like this 13-year old NC girl who was raped and murdered.  What’s even more awful is that if local law enforcement had followed through on a DNA hit on a rape case in 2016, the murderer would already surely have been in prison.  So sad all around.  And some heads should roll.

12) Enjoyed the science of growing a perfect Christmas tree.  Do love the NC fraser firs we get every year.

13) I love Melissa and Doug’s classic wooden toys.  Our kids have gotten lots of enjoyment out of them over the years.  Enjoyed this Vox feature on the company.

14) Well, ain’t this interesting, “Movies Starring Women Earn More Than Male-Led Films, Study Finds.”  My son applies the Bechdel test to pretty much everything we watch.

The research also found that films that passed the Bechdel test — which measures whether two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man — outperformed those that flunked it.

“The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true,” said Christy Haubegger, a C.A.A. agent who was part of the research team. “They’re a marketing asset.”

15) Prediction, Mark Harris will never represent North Carolina in the U.S. Congress.  The Post, “N.C. congressional candidate sought out aide, despite warnings over tactics.”

16) New breakthrough means maybe Moore’s law is safe for a while yet.

17) My home county, Wake, is geographically quite large.  It’s not uncommon for parts of the county to have snow and ice while others are safe to drive.  This invariably leads to calls to break up the county into smaller districts.  Our recent absurd (for December) amounts of snow led to a terrific tweetstorm about the history of the unified county schools and the role of this system in desegregation.   WCPSS is still overly cautious on weather (especially when somebody says, “hurricane!”), but this was a great education for local residents.

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