Quick hits (part II)

1) There’s quite the consensus from the public health establishment that travel bans in the face of Omicron are bad.  Thus, interesting for Zeynep to suggest otherwise:

The United States, the European Union and many nations have already announced travel bans on several African countries. Such restrictions can buy time, even if the variant has started to spread, but only if they are implemented in a smart way along with other measures, not as pandemic theatrics.

The travel ban from several southern African countries announced by President Biden on Friday exempts American citizens and permanent residents, other than requiring them to be tested. But containment needs to target the pathogen, not the passports. As a precaution, travel should be restricted for both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens from countries where the variant is known to be spreading more widely until we have more clarity.

We need stricter testing regimens involving several tests over time and even quarantine requirements for all travelers according to the incubation period determined by epidemiological data. We also need more intensive and widespread testing and tracing to cut off the spread of the variant. This means finally getting the sort of mass testing program that the United States has avoided and which has been part of successful responses to Covid in other countries.

If we aren’t willing to do all that, there is little point in a blanket ban on a few nationalities.

The reason we can even discuss such early, vigorous, responsible attacks on Omicron is that South African scientists and medical workers realized it was a danger within three weeks of its detection, and their government acted like a good global citizen by notifying the world. They should not be punished for their honest and impressive actions. The United States and other richer countries should provide them with resources to combat their own outbreak — it’s the least we can do.

The U.S. government should also be clear about when and by which benchmarks these restrictions will be modified. Travel bans can remain in place too long because they become more a matter of political signaling than public health.

2) And a good look at travel bans in this New Yorker article:

In general, Markel said, when testing was available it allowed public-health authorities to follow the medical imperative “Don’t use a bazooka when a BB gun will do.” But, in the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic, many countries opted for the bazooka. Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand all imposed severe travel restrictions, in many cases pairing them with aggressive contact tracing and testing regimes. The economic, social, and political costs of these policies could be extreme: Australia closed its borders to all non-residents, and some Australians living abroad faced fines or prison time if they tried to return home. New Zealand shut out even those foreign nationals married to New Zealand citizens. As a public-health measure, though, these restrictions appear to have been effective. In Taiwan, fewer than nine hundred people have died of covid-19. Japan’s population is thirty-seven per cent that of the United States, yet it has had 2.3 per cent of the deaths. Australia, a vast country of twenty-six million people, has had just over two thousand deaths from covid. In New Zealand, just forty-four people have died.

This week, as many countries began to impose new travel rules in response to Omicron, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, asked them to refrain from the most restrictive versions. “Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of Omicron, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” he said on Wednesday. But that is at least somewhat contradicted by the experience of the Pacific Rim countries during the pandemic. Peter Baldwin, a historian at U.C.L.A. who last year published a book on the first wave of global response to the pandemic, said, of the W.H.O.’s position, “I just do not get this logic because the travel bans, it seems to me, have proven that they’re quite effective.” Of course, no travel ban, Baldwin added, was airtight. “It doesn’t hermetically seal a country off—some virus will sneak in for sure—but they still managed to get a grip on the problem in a way that the countries that don’t do it, don’t.” The choice about whether to institute travel bans would be easy if they did not ever work—the humanitarian position of maintaining open borders would also be the prudent one. But in this pandemic, that hasn’t seemed exactly the case. Baldwin said, “It’s a political decision on W.H.O.’s part to not advocate travel restrictions, and you can see that because most countries totally ignore it.”

My take: there’s clearly some very real negatives to travel bans which might well outweigh the positives of just buying a few weeks.  But, I don’t love the whole public health community defaulting to a “travel bans are bad and don’t work” when it’s really not that simple.

3) Good free Yglesias post, “Omicron is a reminder of how little we’re doing on pandemic prevention”

“Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics”

I took a class in college called “War” taught by an eccentric right-winger with an old-fashioned affection for pure military history. He liked to say that “amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.”1

And we’ve seen this again and again during the pandemic.

The creation of the mRNA vaccines on a record timeline was a scientific miracle. But actually manufacturing and distributing these vaccines at a massive scale was an enormous challenge. You hear a lot about patent protection from left-wing types, but I think that’s a case of starting with a general view (patent protections for medications are bad for poor countries) and then strong-arming it to apply to a case where it doesn’t really fit. The signature symptom of an IP-induced deadweight loss is that the product is available, but poor people can’t get it because the market price is too high. That was the situation with AIDS medications in the late-1990s, and it’s a very real issue in the world. But mRNA vaccines are genuinely scarce. It’s not a fake scarcity where if Malawi would just fork over some more cash they’d get more vaccines. Poorer countries ended up at the back of the line because they are poor, but the line exists because there aren’t enough doses.

That’s also the source of the raging controversy in the public health community about booster shots. Because the doses are genuinely scarce, every booster shot that goes into the arms of a non-elderly westerner can be seen as depriving a person in a poor country of their first dose.

We need much more focus on and investment in actually increasing vaccine throughput. Not just to address Covid-19, but to address future illnesses. We want enough infrastructure in place that we can start churning out a billion doses of any new vaccine within a month. There may well be an intellectual property reform component to that, but getting to the good place here involves making the vaccine manufacturing business more profitable rather than less.

We need huge amounts of excess capacity in vaccine manufacturing, and someone has to pay for that. You could do it with explicit subsidy or you could do it with windfall profits when the vaccines are needed. But right now, on both vaccines and antivirals, we just can’t make them quickly enough to unlock the full potential of the underlying science, and it would be worth spending tons of money to be able to do so. For context, Pfizer is anticipating about 36 billion in vaccine revenue in 2021If handing them 10 times that revenue made it possible to triple vaccine production, it would be money well spent…

Build the supervaccine

If you want an even less generous assessment of the CDC, I really recommend Noah Smith’s interview with Dr. Eric Topol in which he puts forward the theory that CDC reluctance to recommend booster shots wasn’t about vaccine equity at all.

Instead, Topol thinks it was just parochialism: the CDC didn’t want to recommend action based on Israeli data, so it waited for American data, which meant waiting for Delta to spread far and wide. I hope he is wrong because that is frankly a very stupid reason.

But in the most important part of the interview, Topol talks about how his lab and several others are working on a candidate vaccine that would offer protection against all coronaviruses. Not just all variants of SARS-Cov-2, but SARS and MERS and HCoV-OC43 and future animal coronaviruses that could make the jump to infect humans. Science did a good overview of this research program back in the spring, including the upsetting fact that the NIAID doomed a 2017 similar grant proposal purely on the grounds that “the significance for developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine may not be high.”

Of course it’s easy to see the significance now, but this ought to be the kind of major research priority that requires congressional legislation, not just smarter NIAID grantmaking. Huge sums of money should be made available through the normal NIAID channel and a whole other DARPA-for-biodefense channel and a third channel that’s just prizes or whatever. It’s a huge deal!

But we ought to be thinking even bigger. While coronaviruses are hot right now, there are only 26 virus families, and we ought to be funding research programs to target the other 25 families as well. We should also claim to believe that over and above the inherent virtues of supervaccines, they are a huge prestige project where success will help us defeat the Chinese. Hopefully, that will inspire the Chinese to invest in their own supervaccine programs. And then maybe Japan and Korea get in the game.

I don’t necessarily want to disparage Build Back Better’s aspiration to spend $150 billion on reducing waiting times for in-home rather than institutional care services for the elderly and disabled. But I’d rather spend $150 billion on supervaccines if I had the choice.

4) Love this from Paul Waldman, “It’s time to say it: The conservatives on the Supreme Court lied to us all”

They lied.

Yes, I’m talking about the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, and the abortion rights those justices have now made clear they will eviscerate.

They weren’t just evasive, or vague, or deceptive. They lied. They lied to Congress and to the country, claiming they either had no opinions at all about abortion, or that their beliefs were simply irrelevant to how they would rule. They would be wise and pure, unsullied by crass policy preferences, offering impeccably objective readings of the Constitution.

It. Was. A. Lie.

We went through the same routine in the confirmation hearings of every one of those justices. When Democrats tried to get them to state plainly their views on Roe v. Wade, they took two approaches. Some tried to convince everyone that they would leave it untouched. Others, those already on record proclaiming opposition to abortion rights, suggested they had undergone a kind of intellectual factory reset enabling them to assess the question anew with an unspoiled mind, one concerned only with the law.

Unfortunately, that lie was and is still enabled by the news media. Even in the face of what we saw at the court on Wednesday — when at least five of the six conservatives made clear their intention to overturn Roe — press accounts continued offering euphemisms and weasel words, about “inconsistencies” or “contradictions.”

But sometimes the right puts its purposes in the open. There was a particularly striking exchange between Laura Ingraham and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Fox News, where Ingraham grew inexplicably enraged over the mere possibility that Roe might not be overturned.

“If we have six Republican appointees on this court,” she said, “after all the money that’s been raised, the Federalist Society, all these big fat-cat dinners — I’m sorry, I’m pissed about this — if this court with six justices cannot do the right thing here,” then Republicans should “blow it up” and pass some kind of law limiting the court’s authority.

In other words: We bought this court, and we’d better get what we paid for.

5) Bernstein on the electoral implications of overturning Roe:

As far as the 2022 elections are concerned, the conventional wisdom is that those who would be losing in court — abortion-rights supporters — would be more energized, all else equal. How much will that mitigate the energizing effects of policy loss among Republicans after two years of unified Democratic government? My guess is that the plausible answers range from “some” to “just a little.” As far as voting is concerned, most of those who care strongly about abortion are already sorted to the corresponding parties, so I wouldn’t expect much of a short-run shift.

But that doesn’t mean there will be no effects at all. For one thing, abortion is about to become a much more significant policy issue in state and national elections. Yes, candidates have run on the issue up to now, and state legislatures have acted on it. But even though some of the laws that survived court scrutiny did have significant effects, there was always a sense that the campaign talk amounted to shadow-boxing, since there were severe limits on what any politician could actually accomplish. That will change.

There may also be real possibilities for change within each party’s coalition. On the Republican side, it’s possible that we’ll eventually get some demobilization of single-issue party actors — but it’s also possible that continued fighting at the state and national level could energize those voters further. It’s unknown whether overturning other court decisions on social issues, from contraception to marriage and more, will generate the same politics within the party that abortion has.

On the Democratic side, the effects seem easier to predict. Over the past few years, as women have become more central to the party coalition, so have the policy questions they care about. It sure seems like the demise of abortion rights would only accelerate that trend while providing common ground for various different groups of women within the party. (There are plenty of women who strongly oppose abortion rights or are relatively indifferent, but among Democratic party actors there’s a pretty united front, and if anything the court’s decision should solidify that consensus.)

In the long run, we’ll see how decreased access to abortion will shift public views, as people begin to see stories in the media — and examples within their own lives — of the effects of new restrictions. For 50 years, those stories have mostly dropped out of the national conversation. Meanwhile, I don’t see any particular reason to expect an increase in either media stories or personal experiences sympathizing with the other side — we shouldn’t see an increase, for example, in stories about women who regret abortions, but we could see more women harmed from illegal procedures. Over time that might change things significantly, and could have unpredictable effects on voting coalitions and on the parties themselves. But whether that will actually happen? There’s no real way to know.

6) Humidify, baby!! “Indoor humidity levels and associations with reported symptoms in office buildings”

Abstract

Moderate indoor relative humidity (RH) levels (i.e., 40%–60%) may minimize transmission and viability of some viruses, maximize human immune function, and minimize health risks from mold, yet uncertainties exist about typical RH levels in offices globally and about the potential independent impacts of RH levels on workers’ health. To examine this, we leveraged one year of indoor RH measurements (which study participants could view in real time) in 43 office buildings in China, India, Mexico, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and corresponding self-report symptom data from 227 office workers in a subset of 32 buildings. In the buildings in this study, 42% of measurements during 9:00 – 17:00 on weekdays were less than 40% RH and 7% exceeded 60% RH. Indoor RH levels tended to be lower in less tropical regions, in winter months, when outdoor RH or temperature was low, and late in the workday. Furthermore, we also found statistically significant evidence that higher indoor RH levels across the range of 14%-70% RH were associated with lower odds of reporting dryness or irritation of the throat and skin among females and unusual fatigue among males in models adjusted for indoor temperature, country, and day of year.

7) I saw a poll saying half of Americans are feeling hardship over higher prices.  Complete BS, I thought.  Drum not just thought that, but wrote a post:

The Washington Post summarizes the results of a new Gallup poll today:

As prices creep higher for food, gasoline and other necessities, nearly half of U.S. households say they are feeling the financial strain, according to a Gallup survey released Thursday.

Roughly 45 percent of households are being hurt by price increases, according to a survey of nearly 1,600 people conducted Nov. 3 to Nov. 16. About 1 in 10 said that hardship was severe enough to affect their standard of living, while 35 percent described the hardship as “moderate.”

I don’t want to be in the business of telling other people how to feel, but this is crazy. Here are pay and prices since the beginning of the year:

As a God-fearing liberal, I am always unhappy when pay falls behind inflation. I want to see working and middle-class folks making more money, not less. That said, a net decline in spending power of 2% just isn’t enough to cause very much hardship for anyone who wasn’t feeling it already. These poll results make no sense.

Now, obviously this is a bell curve, and some people are feeling inflation worse than others. It all depends on what you buy a lot of. But the number of families facing any noticeable hardship has still got to be tiny.

This is the kind of thing that should make us question the role of the media in all this. Please note: I’m not saying that no one would notice higher prices if the media didn’t report it. The price of both a pound of hamburger and a gallon of gasoline have gone up 50 cents since May, and that’s something people are going to notice. Nevertheless, the media’s job should be to put highly visible price increases like this into context—and in this case the context is that there are some outliers, but on average prices have gone up only slightly more than wages.

But it’s been just the opposite. If anything, reporting has made inflation look worse than even the outliers suggest. This is why you get people vaguely guessing that prices in the supermarket have gone up 100% or so. And it’s why people report serious hardship from inflation even though the vast majority of us are feeling only a tiny effect.

8) Just let your young kids watch screens and chill! Melinda Wenner Moyer,

There’s another good reason for us to stop berating ourselves about screen time, too: The research really does not back up all the alarmist claims we see in the media. Yesterday I spoke with a psychologist and parent I very much respect who had just finished reading my book, and she said that the chapter that made the biggest impact on her was my chapter on screen time — it was quite reassuring, she said.

So because it’s Friday, and Omicron is stressing us all out again, I’m going to share some of my research on screen time so that you have one less thing to worry about this weekend. (And if you want to read more, including tips on how to help kids develop good relationships with technology and social media, read my book!)…

So What Can We Conclude?

On average, the size of possible screen effects on kids appears quite small — perhaps even too small to be meaningful. In a study published in January 2019, Orben and Przybylski analyzed data involving more than 350,000 adolescents. They found that digital technology use is associated with only 0.4 percent of the overall variation known to exist in adolescent well-being — meaning that kids who use screens a lot are, on average, only very slightly different on measures of well-being compared with kids who rarely use screens.

In fact, when Orben and Przybylski compared the association between screen time and well-being with other things, they got amusing results. They found, for instance, that screens are linked with decreases in well-being that are about the same size as the decreases in well-being associated with eating potatoes, and that wearing glasses is linked with even bigger well-being drops.

In other words, when people argue that screens ruin kids’ brains, they should also know that eating potatoes and wearing glasses are potentially just as dangerous — the size of the possible effect is about the same. Now, importantly, we’re talking about average effects — so screens could be particularly harmful or helpful for certain kids, and again, the impact almost certainly depends on the content and the context.

In a way, from what we know about how different kids can be from one another and how broad and heterogeneous the term “screen time”is, parents, not scientists, are probably the best equipped to assess how screens affect their kids — because the impact largely depends on details that parents know best. Parents are also the best equipped to tell if their kids are becoming anxious or depressed, at which point they can investigate whether screen use or social media might be a cause.

All these same limitations, by the way, apply to research investigating the link between violent video games and aggression. Studies do suggest that kids who play more violent video games are more aggressive — but we don’t really know what that means yet.

9) So, so stupid for Biden to have a plan where you can file for a reimbursement with your health insurance for at-home Covid tests.  What a pain in the ass!  Just make them cheap already!

10) A fascinating issue, where I don’t’ think there’s a clearly easy/correct answer, for our increasingly gender fluid world, “Who belongs at a women’s college in 2021? Students want admissions policies to change”

11) Nice to know these are the people running my state, “As a leading UNC epidemiologist reiterates the benefits of vaccination, conservative legislators push for Ivermectin

12) This was pretty fascinating to me, “The Teenagers Getting Six Figures to Leave Their High Schools for Basketball: The new pro league Overtime Elite is luring young phenoms with hefty salaries, viral success and — perhaps — a better path to the N.B.A.” And let’s be honest, in plenty of other elite sports teenagers forgo a normal childhood and high school life to focus completely on becoming a professional in their sport.  Why not basketball?

13) This is cool, “An AI Finds Superbug-Killing Potential in Human Proteins: A team scoured the human proteome for antimicrobial molecules and found thousands, plus a surprise about how animals evolved to fight infections.”

The team tested 55 of those candidates in tiny vials, and a majority of them eliminated bacteria. Then, Torres tested two of them in lab mice and found that they stopped infections from growing. “The results are compelling,” says Daria Van Tyne, an expert in bacterial evolution at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who was not involved in the work. “It’s certainly opening a new class of antimicrobial peptides, and finding them in an unexpected place.”

This is the first time anyone has so thoroughly explored the human body for antibiotic candidates. But in using AI to guide the search, the team stumbled upon a mind-bending discovery of something more basic: Many of our proteins that are seemingly unrelated to immunity may have evolved to live double lives as protection against invaders. “The fact that they found so many of them,” Van Tyne says of the peptides, “suggests very strongly that it’s not just coincidence—that they exist for a purpose.”

14) Apparently you can get married to make college loans way more affordable.  Who knew?  Apparently, some college students.

15) The human brain is pretty awesome, “Your Brain Is an Energy-Efficient ‘Prediction Machine’: Results from neural networks support the idea that brains use predictions to create perceptions—and that they work that way to conserve power.” 

HOW OUR BRAIN, a three-pound mass of tissue encased within a bony skull, creates perceptions from sensations is a long-standing mystery. Abundant evidence and decades of sustained research suggest that the brain cannot simply be assembling sensory information, as though it were putting together a jigsaw puzzle, to perceive its surroundings. This is borne out by the fact that the brain can construct a scene based on the light entering our eyes, even when the incoming information is noisy and ambiguous.

Consequently, many neuroscientists are pivoting to a view of the brain as a “prediction machine.” Through predictive processing, the brain uses its prior knowledge of the world to make inferences or generate hypotheses about the causes of incoming sensory information. Those hypotheses—and not the sensory inputs themselves—give rise to perceptions in our mind’s eye. The more ambiguous the input, the greater the reliance on prior knowledge.

“The beauty of the predictive processing framework [is] that it has a really large—sometimes critics might say too large—capacity to explain a lot of different phenomena in many different systems,” said Floris de Lange, a neuroscientist at the Predictive Brain Lab of Radboud University in the Netherlands.

However, the growing neuroscientific evidence for this idea has been mainly circumstantial and is open to alternative explanations. “If you look into cognitive neuroscience and neuro-imaging in humans, [there’s] a lot of evidence—but super-implicit, indirect evidence,” said Tim Kietzmann of Radboud University, whose research lies in the interdisciplinary area of machine learning and neuroscience.

So researchers are turning to computational models to understand and test the idea of the predictive brain. Computational neuroscientists have built artificial neural networks, with designs inspired by the behavior of biological neurons, that learn to make predictions about incoming information. These models show some uncanny abilities that seem to mimic those of real brains. Some experiments with these models even hint that brains had to evolve as prediction machines to satisfy energy constraints.

And as computational models proliferate, neuroscientists studying live animals are also becoming more convinced that brains learn to infer the causes of sensory inputs. While the exact details of how the brain does this remain hazy, the broad brushstrokes are becoming clearer.

16) I don’t read enough books to weigh in on whether these are the 10 best books of 2021.  But, it sure does look on the surface that the picks may be guided by ideology.  The comments from NYT readers– definitely not a conservative bunch, on average– are also fascinating.  

17) Some parts of this country just really, really suck. Like criminal justice, deep South style. “‘A humanitarian crisis’: Why Alabama could lose control of its dangerous prisons
Alabama sends so many people to prison that the state can no longer safely house its inmates, consequences of a tough-on-crime mentality among politicians and the public that keeps aggressive sentencing laws on the books.”

18) Have I mentioned that civil asset forfeiture is the worst? (Yes, I have).  Here’s a disturbing video of it in action. “Watch Cops Seize Combat Vet’s Life Savings”

19) Freddie deBoer, “Racial Disparities in the SATs Are Exactly What Antiracists Should Predict”

The SAT is officially gone from the University of California because they’re desperate to reduce the Asian student population they want greater racial diversity. Many prominent liberals have celebrated this news, largely because they already went to college and don’t mind pulling up that ladder behind them. (Also a lot of them didn’t get the scores they wanted and never got over it.) Unfortunately for them, essentially all educational metrics show the racial and income stratification that the SAT shows. That includes GPA, which the people who complain about the SAT constantly nominate as an alternative to… the racial and income stratification of the SAT!

Note too that this is before adjustment via the black-box algorithms that elite universities use to adjust for the inherent noise in GPA. (I say again: some big-time publication should absolutely send someone to report that story out for a year. It’s an area of major public interest in which the industry works under remarkable secrecy.) It’s such an audaciously dishonest conversation that we’re having, attacking one quantitative indicator for demonstrating the same dynamics as the quantitative indicator that’s been nominated to replace it. But then, of course GPA and SAT data agree. It would be bizarre and concerning if the SAT did not agree with GPA data, NAEP data, state standardized test data, attendance and behavioral data, data from academic research, and sundry other educational data that shows these racial and income dynamics. The SAT showing racial and income stratification isn’t a mark of the SAT’s weakness but of its strength. That the SAT demonstrates these effects shows that the test is accurately measuring its construct. It can’t assess the broader sociopolitical conditions that created this dynamic, nor their fairness, as it wasn’t designed to do that.

Now, I suppose my saying that the SAT and other metrics show that poorer students and Black and Hispanic students are genuinely less prepared (on average) would inflame the sensibilities of people who identify as antiracists. But I find that strange – such students being held back in the classroom by structural disadvantage would seem to fit perfectly well with the antiracist worldview. Antiracists (an obnoxious term but let’s roll with it) will tell you that many Black students face all manner of disadvantages in life that can depress their academic performance, and they are correct to do so. But then isn’t it profoundly odd that they’re so angry at the SAT for demonstrating the outcome of that disadvantage? If the test shows Black and poor students struggling, it’s only an indicator of precisely the conditions they think are real and meaningful and troubling. Why would they want to silence that indicator? How does it help them? …

And that gets at the essential point that while these disparities are the product of unfairness they are nevertheless real. The average Black student really does struggle more with reading and algebra etc. than the average white student, and the average rich student really does perform better than the average poor student. Again, this is absolutely what you’d expect if you have a progressive outlook on structural disadvantage. But we can’t get anywhere if we pretend that these gaps are the product of measurement error, nor by positing an immense conspiracy among millions of teachers and administrators to pretend that Black and poor students are struggling when they aren’t. In the long run, such denialism hurts precisely the students it ostensibly helps, as it does nothing to fill in the gaps of human capital under which they suffer. I have very few good things to say about old guard education reform types, but they have always been willing to look at such gaps and understand that the gaps themselves, the underlying lack of ability, are the core problem, the core injustice. Disadvantaged students struggling to get into college is a symptom, not the disease. And the SAT are merely a thermometer that diagnoses that disease.

Flogging the SATs for failing to fix disparities that it can’t possibly be blamed for, like insisting that we just need to spend more money when we’ve been trying to spend our way out of our problems for 40 years, says more about the problems we refuse to look at than anything else, our commitment to myopia.

20) When Vox goes full Vox.  And, oh my, the comments on the tweet.

21) And speaking of twitter, your essential Omicron thread of the day.

22) I really enjoyed this ranking of all of R.E.M.’s songs.

23) Yesterday was Beatles documentary part 2 for me.  Enjoyed it much more.  Nothing like some narrative tension. Also, I’m’ pretty obsessed with artists and their creative process lately.  I quite enjoyed the HBO documentary on Alanis and “Jagged Little Pill” and loved listening to Sondheim talking about his songwriting process.  And to round a theme, I’m not even that much of a Foo Fighters fan, but I’m a big Dave Grohl fan and I found his interview with Terry Gross absolutely delightful.

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

5 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. itchy says:

    22) Haven’t even read all of this yet, but I had to stop and comment. I Believe should be much, much higher. One of my favorites.

  2. Mika says:

    #15 Fascinating piece this one. https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-be-energy-efficient-brains-predict-their-perceptions-20211115/

    #21 I see why you liked this thread 😉
    “…which I believe risk oversimplifying the much more nuanced picture set out…”

  3. Jim Danielson says:

    4)(ish) Is it just me or does there seem to be a worrying number of Americans who still think “both sides” are the same and don’t see how extreme the Republican party has become?

    • Steve Greene says:

      Not you at all. And this is very much a symptom of “both sides!” mainstream media bias. I honestly think there’s a built in “symmetry bias” in that, yes, huge partisanship, but *lots* of people just want to see symmetry in political parties even where it doesn’t exist.

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