Quick hits (New Year’s day edition)

1) Really enjoyed Austin Murphy’s account of what it’s like to go from a successful Sports Illustrated  journalist to delivering packages for Amazon.

2) Why it’s not a good idea to tie allowance to chores.  In our case, it’s a huge parent fail in not having my kids do more chores.  But at least we’re not giving them an allowance for it 😉

A range of experts I consulted expressed concern that tying allowance very closely to chores, whatever its apparent short-term effectiveness, can send kids unintentionally counterproductive messages about family, community, and personal responsibility. In fact, the way chores work in many households worldwide points to another way, in which kids get involved earlier, feel better about their contributions, and don’t need money as an enticement.

Suniya Luthar, a psychologist at Arizona State University who studies families, is skeptical of the idea of paying kids on a per-chore basis. “How sustainable is it if you’re going to pay a child a dime for each time he picks up his clothes off the floor?” she says. “What are you saying—that you’re owed something for taking care of your stuff?”

Luthar is not opposed to giving allowances, but she thinks it’s important to establish that certain core chores are done not because they’ll lead to payment, but because they keep the household running. “It’s part of what you do as a family,” Luthar says. “In a family, no one’s going to pay you to tie your own shoes or to put your clothes away.” Whatever the approach, she adds, it’s important to acknowledge that parenting is confusing and exhausting work, and it can be difficult to broker household labor agreements without ever resorting to bribery of some sort.

3) Christian nationalists (and their love of Trump) are the worst:

I have attended dozens of Christian nationalist conferences and events over the past two years. And while I have heard plenty of comments casting doubt on the more questionable aspects of Mr. Trump’s character, the gist of the proceedings almost always comes down to the belief that he is a miracle sent straight from heaven to bring the nation back to the Lord. I have also learned that resistance to Mr. Trump is tantamount to resistance to God.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.

They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

4) This NYT interactive series on women’s reproductive rights is amazing (honestly, I get more value from my $15/month for NYT than for about anything).  There’s too much here to take all on, but I found the part about feticide laws and how they take away women’s rights especially compelling:

Nine states recognize feticide only in later periods of a fetus’s development, such as when it could survive outside the womb. In 2004, Congress passed the first federal statute to give victim status to fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses, in cases of violent crime against pregnant women.

These laws have meant that pregnant women who were addicted to drugs, were suicidal, were in car accidents, fell down stairs, delivered at home, refused C-sections or went about their lives in ways that were perceived to harm their pregnancies have been detained and jailed for a variety of crimes, including murder, manslaughter, neglect, criminal recklessness and chemical endangerment.

5) The war between abstinence and medication-assisted-therapy approaches to drug addiction.  The fact that science has shown the latter approach to be far more effective does not always matter.

Anti-craving medications are not a silver bullet; relapse is common even among people who take them, and some in fact do better with an abstinence approach. But there is substantial evidence that buprenorphine and a similar drug, methadone — which has faced ideological resistance on and off for decades — reduce the mortality rate among people addicted to opioids by half or more; they are also more successful at keeping people in treatment than abstinence-based approaches.

6) Had a recent argument with my stepmom about how Trump was actually not making America great again.  I kind of wish I had these charts to show her.  Of course, it wouldn’t matter.  As my NeverTrump sort-of-still Republican sister tried to convince her mother and said, “but I’m right,” I explained that being right never convinced anybody.  But, still… facts.

7) Ezra Klein with a great summary of Hetherington and Weiler’s work a couple weeks ago.  Meant to do a post.  You should read it.  On a related note, I’ve assigned Prius or Pickup for my upcoming Public Opinion & Media class.

“Of the many factors that make up your worldview, one is more fundamental than any other in determining which side of the divide you gravitate toward: your perception of how dangerous the world is. Fear is perhaps our most primal instinct, after all, so it’s only logical that people’s level of fearfulness informs their outlook on life.”

That’s political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, writing in their book Prius or Pickup, which marshals a massive trove of survey data and experimental evidence to argue that the roots of our political divides run so deep that they make us almost incomprehensible to one another. Our political divisions, they say, aren’t about policy disagreements, or even demographics. They’re about something more ancient in how we view the world.

Hetherington and Weiler call these worldviews, which express themselves in everything from policy preferences to parenting styles, “fixed” versus “fluid.” The fixed worldview “describes people who are warier of social and cultural change and hence more set in their ways, more suspicious of outsiders, and more comfortable with the familiar and predictable.” People with a fluid worldview, by contrast, “support changing social and cultural norms, are excited by things that are new and novel, and are open to, and welcoming of, people who look and sound different.”

What’s happened in recent decades, they argue, is that politics in general, and our political parties in particular, have reorganized around these worldviews, adding a new, and arguably irreconcilable, difference into our political divisions. That difference is visible in everything from what we think to where we live to how we shop, but it’s particularly apparent in how hard it is for us to understand how the other side views the world.

8) I’m not going to read this biography of John Marshall (pretty much never read biographies), but I really enjoyed what I learned in this review.

9) Vox recently recycled it and for all I know, I’ve linked it before, but I really like it.  Current American society/culture makes it too damn hard to make adult friendships.  David Roberts, “How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult.”  Very true.  I’m very lucky that I have several truly good friends at NC State, but I really wish I know more people in my neighborhood.

10) I loved this essay from Jennifer Weiner on the value of re-learning piano and middle age.  A lot of it resonated with how I feel about taking up guitar.

11) So, as you know, I’m re-working my way through Breaking Bad (love it even more the 2nd time) with my firstborn and reader of this blog.  This time I went and found the video for this song that serves as the music for a terrific scene in a 4th season episode.

I think that will do it for now.  A few more that I wanted to put here, but I’m still hoping to find the time/incentive to give their own post.  Plus, still vacation for today.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to Quick hits (New Year’s day edition)

  1. Jim Nickelson says:

    Christian nationalists used to be called dominionists, and some have been ringing the alarm bells about them for a very long time.

  2. Mika says:

    #2 We discussed allowance with our daughter few years ago. She said that she doesn’t need one because her grandma gives her so much money [that’s a fact]. End of discussion.

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