Quick hits (part I)

Friday night travel means a truncated quick hits. Sorry.  And to be clear, this is an entirely pre-Dobbs quick hits.  Still, some good stuff here.  Enjoy…

1) Yglesias on pipelines and structural racism:

Lots of people, of course, just don’t care about diversity. But today if you are a manager and you have stakeholders who do care about diversity and you tell them that there is a pipeline problem, members of the care-about-diversity community will get mad at you. And in fact experienced managers know that this is the wrong thing to say, so they won’t say it.

The problem, though, is twofold. One is that if every organization simultaneously stops making excuses and diversifies, organizations do run up against a pipeline problem after all. The other is that accepting failure to meet diversity goals as evidence of an internal culture of white supremacy sets organizations up for the kind of destabilization Grim details.

There is a large population-level educational skew

In its most generic form, the “pipeline problem” in all kinds of white-collar occupations stems from the fact that educational attainment varies significantly by race. So whether it’s a tech company or a media outlet or a progressive nonprofit, white-collar workplaces typically have a larger percentage of Asian employees than the population at large but a smaller percentage of Black and Hispanic employees…

Structural racism is structural

In a different context, the people who publish articles about how the pipeline problem is a myth would probably agree that it is harder to grow up in a poor household than in a middle-class household. They would note that Black families with middle-class incomes tend to have dramatically less wealth than similar-earning white families. They would say that residential segregation has negative impacts on children’s lives. They might note large racial disparities in exposure to air pollutionnoise pollutionwater contamination, and violence, all of which are associated with worse life outcomes.

The way a lot of public school systems operate exacerbates this.

If a school is full of poor kids with single parents who don’t have much education themselves, the teachers have a more difficult job. The teachers are also less likely to be supported by an active and well financed parent-teacher organization. So the teaching staff is more likely to have high turnover. And the vacancies are more likely to be filled by assignment from the central office with the teachers who the principals in the nice neighborhoods didn’t want to hire. So you have an objectively more difficult job being done by a mix of teachers, a significant number of whom are below average in experience or ability.

The thing about all these structural problems that progressives like to draw attention to is that they are real problems that are genuinely structural. They don’t just go away if managers at some organization chant the right incantations or if elite universities add enough staff to their diversity and inclusion offices.

And they’re also not going to go away if the issue advocacy groups who work on relevant problems are in a constant state of meltdown and infighting or if they compromise their efficacy by merging into a totalizing leftist borg that alienates everyone.

2) When I wrote Tuesday’s piece on trans issues, I had forgotten how much it was David Roberts (an excellent journalist on energy policy– unreadable when it comes to anything else) who perfectly symbolized the problem.  Jesse Singal with an epic takedown in only the way good satire can:

Overall, I believed Bazelon’s piece to be a highly competent, well-executed treatment of an impossibly fraught subject.

Believed

I don’t believe Roberts has ever written anything about youth gender dysphoria, if Google is any indication — this doesn’t appear to be an area of particular interest for him. And yet he issued a searing public condemnation of Bazelon. “The wild thing about this is that @emilybazelon is a great journalist on other topics,” he tweeted in response to Michael Hobbes (who we shan’t be discussing today), making sure to tag her. “Something about this just absolutely breaks people’s brains.” (Note that right around when I was finishing up this piece, a bunch of the tweets I’m going to be referencing disappeared, apparently deleted by Roberts. They were all live earlier today. I tried to archive them beforehand using archiv.ph but ran into some technical difficulties. Either way, I have screenshots of them — apologies if the archived links don’t work. It doesn’t look like Roberts offered any explanation for why he deleted the tweets, which had been up for almost a week, but if he does say anything I’ll update the piece here.)…

What I’d failed to account for in my old path toward understanding this issue, which had involved antique methods like “talking to people” and “reading research” and “accepting that not every question is going to have a clear, easily summarized answer,” is that the world isn’t nearly so complicated. I’d been seduced by the siren call of Nuance, that incorrigible bitch, and she had led me down a slimy rabbit hole to a very bad place, fraught with bigotry. How the hell had I become the sort of journalist who raises questions? It’s disgraceful behavior.

I decided to lash myself to the mast of Twitter certitude — a much firmer option, in these troubled times, than “curiosity” or “critical thinking” (you know who else was curious and “just asked questions”?). Once I did, I realized that I was completely wrong; I had misjudged David Roberts.

When it comes down to it, there are Good People and Bad People. David Roberts is, unlike me, a Good Person. Being a Good Person, he not only possesses moral clarity (which I sorely lack), but a moral clarity so clear it’s practically invisible. And if you have a gift like this — an ability to see the truth without doing any of the legwork usually required to get to that point — why on God’s green earth would you withhold it from others? Wouldn’t it be unethical to do so? Like not administering penicillin to a patient dying from an infection? So whereas I initially criticized Roberts for his harsh treatment of Bazelon — whereas I previously, but definitely no longer, considered his behavior to be what would happen if a mad scientist conducted a freak genetics experiment mating a gadfly with an asshole — I now have to thank him. 

I have to thank him for showing me how wrong I was to think that things can be complicated, and for teaching Emily Bazelon the same invaluable lesson.

3) Loved this Atlantic discussion on marriages:

Havrilesky: I think people want to keep marriage in a very clear binary where there are good marriages and bad marriages. And if your marriage is good, everything should be easy. And if your marriage is bad, it’s doomed and you should get divorced right now. A lot of married people understood, and a lot of married people were like, That’s not how I run my marriage. My marriage is perfect, and I never have feelings of anger or rage. I’m never disappointed in my wonderful, perfect, glorious spouse.

Maybe some people really do have really effective rose-colored glasses that they always use with their spouse, and that’s what works, you know, and they have the best sex in the world because they’re always looking through these filtered lenses at this beautiful person. I mean, in some ways, they’re basically saying the same thing, which is: “I prefer this filter. It helps me to love my spouse more when I reject the idea that there is any hatred in any marriage, except a bad one.”

Khazan: I take Heather’s point: I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing there’s one perfect person out there for you. A soul mate, if you will. Psychological research suggests that this belief in soul mates can actually impact whether we think our relationship is capable of change or if it’s doomed.

Spike W.S. Lee, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, spoke with me about the concept of “love frames” and how different perspectives of love can determine how well your relationship can weather conflict. Specifically, people who see love as a “journey” tend to take the good with the bad.

Spike W.S. Lee: In a journey frame, conflicts become more meaningful. They are part of the growth process. In love fiction, “happily ever after” really appears only at the end of the novel. It doesn’t appear in the middle, because after the happily ever after—there’s not much of a story to tell, right? Before happily ever after is all the twists and turns to conflict that make the story interesting.

People who think of love as a perfect fit—well, when conflicts arise, I start questioning: Are we really such a good fit? Did I choose the right partner? They’re more likely to think about alternatives.

4) I enjoy women’s sports, but an effort to completely overhaul American’s relationship to sports (and ignore the simple and pervasive biological advantages men have) seems misguided:

What would this look like? I propose a New Deal for women’s sports — with a women-first approach. This must go beyond creating entitlements and enforcing parity, as Title IX does. We must dismantle the grandfathered-in systemic advantages that male athletes and male-dominated sports infrastructures continue to enjoy. We must cultivate tastes for other sports, the ones that women excel in and even dominate. And we must broaden our definition of what athletic prowess looks like.

A New Deal for women’s sports would bring more women into leadership roles — in coaching, management and media. It would expand investment in women’s sports categorically. It would increase athletic and other brand endorsement opportunities. It would transform the broadcasting and coverage of women’s sports, elevating female sports journalists and improving the quantity and quality of reporting on women’s sports.Women’s sports would be built for women, with athletic feats that suit our bodies.

Men’s bodies are different from women’s; men are generally bigger, faster and stronger. And currently, the sports that make the most money and see the largest audiences in the United States are suited to a male body’s physical strengths: football tackles, basketball dunks. Sports built for women’s bodies would be different. Compared with men, women have superior flexibility and resilience. Women excel at enduring.

Endurance sports are boring– there’s a reason we don’t watch them.  Yeah, give me a dunk or a 60-yard TD pass.

5) Rick Hasen on prosecuting Trump:

There’s no denying that prosecuting Mr. Trump is fraught with legal difficulties. To the extent that charges like obstructing an official proceeding or conspiring to defraud the United States turn on Mr. Trump’s state of mind — an issue on which there is significant debate — it may be tough to get to the bottom of what he actually believed, given his history of lying and doubling down when confronted with contrary facts. And Mr. Trump could try to shift blame by claiming that he was relying on his lawyers — including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani — who amplified the phony claims of fraud and who concocted faulty legal arguments to overturn the results of the election. Mr. Trump could avoid conviction if there’s even one juror who believes his repeated lies about the 2020 election.

And yes, there are political difficulties too. The “Lock her up!” chants against Hillary Clinton at 2016 Trump rallies for her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state were so pernicious because threatening to jail political enemies can lead to a deterioration of democratic values. If each presidential administration is investigating and prosecuting the last, respect for both the electoral process and the legal process may be undermined.

That concern is real, but if there has ever been a case extreme enough to warrant indicting a president, then this is the case, and Mr. Trump is the person. This is not just because of what he will do if he is elected again after not being indicted (and after not being convicted following a pair of impeachments, one for the very conduct under discussion), but also because of the message it sends for the future.

Leaving Mr. Trump unprosecuted would be saying it was fine to call federal, state and local officials, including many who have sworn constitutional oaths, and ask or even demand of them that they do his personal and political bidding…

What Mr. Trump did in its totality and in many individual instances was criminal. If Mr. Garland fails to act, it will only embolden Mr. Trump or someone like him to try again if he loses, this time aided by a brainwashed and cowed army of elected and election officials who stand ready to steal the election next time.

Mr. Trump was the 45th president, not the first American king, but if we don’t deter conduct like this, the next head of state may come closer to claiming the kind of absolute power that is antithetical to everything the United States stands for.

6) Some good friends of mine in here: “Why Conspiracy Theories Flourish in Trump’s America”

Joanne Miller, a political scientist at the University of Delaware, wrote by email that she and two colleagues, Christina Farhart and Kyle Saunders, are about to publish a research paper, “Losers’ Conspiracy: Elections and Conspiratorial Thinking.” They found that “Democrats scored higher in conspiratorial thinking than Republicans after the 2016 election, and Republicans scored higher in conspiratorial thinking after the 2020 election.”

One factor contributing to the persistent Republican embrace of conspiracy thinking, Miller continued, is that Trump loyalists in 2020 — who had suddenly become political losers — abruptly understood themselves to be on “a downward trajectory.” Miller writes that “perceiving oneself to be ‘losing’ (culturally, politically, economically, etc.) is likely one of the reasons people are susceptible to belief in conspiracy theories.”

Also, love the way that Jon Jost is always out there doing solid social science that makes Republicans look bad:

Haidt added another dimension to Miller’s argument:

I don’t think there’s anything about the conservative mind that makes it more prone to conspiracies. But in the world we live in, the elites who run our cultural, medical and epistemic institutions — and particularly journalism and the universities — are overwhelmingly on the left, so of course Democrats are going to be more trusting of elite pronouncements, while Republicans are more likely to begin from a position of distrust.

Are there partisan differences in connection with conspiracy thinking?

Uscinski argues that in his view there is little difference in the susceptibility of Democrats and Republicans to conspiracy thinking, but:

The issue here isn’t about conspiracy theories so much. These ideas are always out there. The issue is about Donald Trump. The numbers are so high because Trump and his allies inside and outside of government endorsed these election fraud conspiracy theories. Trump, his many advisers and staff, Republican members of Congress, Republican governors and state legislators, conservative media outlets, and right-wing opinion leaders asserted repeatedly that the 2020 election would be and then had been stolen.

This has a lot more to do, Uscinski contended, “with the power of political and media elites to affect their followers’ beliefs than anything else.”

 

John Jost, a professor of psychology, politics and data science at N.Y.U., strongly disagrees with Uscinski, arguing that there are major differences between Democrats and Republicans on measures of conspiratorial thinking.

Jost wrote by email:

My colleagues and I found, in a nationally representative sample of Americans, that there was a .27 correlation (which is quite sizable by the standards of social science) between conservative identification and scores on a scale of generalized conspiratorial mentality.

In a separate study, Jost continued:

We observed a smaller but clearly significant correlation of .11 between conservative identification and a clinical measure of paranoid ideation, which includes items such as “I often feel that strangers are looking at me critically.” Furthermore, we found that paranoid ideation was a significant mediator of the association between conservative identification and general conspiratorial mind-sets.

Jost pointed to a January 2022 article — “Conspiracy Mentality and Political Orientation Across 26 Countries,” by Roland Imhoff, a professor of psychology at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, and 39 co-authors — that examined the strength of the “conspiracy mentality” at the extremes of left and right based on a sample of 104,253 people in 26 countries, not including the United States.

7) The libertarian in me really doesn’t like the FDA saying “no Juul vapes.”  But, Drum brings some valuable context here:

But I think the data is in on this:

Most teen vaping (roughly 80%) is nicotine vaping, and it’s obviously bad to get kids hooked on nicotine. On the other hand, vaping is better than cigarette smoking, so if more vaping leads to lower cigarette use then it might be a net positive.

But as the chart shows, that’s not the case. Teen cigarette smoking has been declining steadily for the past couple of decades and doesn’t appear to be influenced even a tiny bit by vaping. This means that vaping has gotten more teens hooked on nicotine with no corresponding drop anywhere else to make up for it.

This doesn’t mean you have to support a ban on vaping, or even a ban on non-prescription nicotine vaping. But as you think about it, this is the factual background to consider.

8) Of course, I’ve always taken any opportunity to rant against originalism.  Certainly one of the biggest intellectual frauds ever perpetrated against the American people.  But, damn, I had missed this nice piece that makes a compelling case for the literal racist roots of it.  

9) Adam Winkler interview on guns and the Supreme Court. This part is the best!

In terms of the decision itself, what was notable about how the Court presented the history of the Second Amendment and guns?

Most notable is that the Court says it is going to look to history and tradition, but then ignores history and tradition. The Court says that only gun laws which have historical precedent are constitutionally permissible, and then the Court dismisses all of the historical precedents for heavy restrictions on concealed-carry laws as outliers. The Court says that it is going to look to history, but dismisses early English common law as too old. The Court says that it is going to look to history, but dismisses any laws that were adopted after the mid-eighteen-hundreds as too young. The Court says that it is looking to history, but also says that shall-issue permitting is constitutional, even though shall-issue permitting is a twentieth-century invention. So the Court says that it is doing history and tradition analysis, but conveniently ignores any history it doesn’t like…

This is singular. The Court says that history and tradition analysis is the way that constitutional rights should be analyzed. But all you have to do is go back to Tuesday’s decision on the funding of religious schools. The Court didn’t do any history and tradition analysis to show that there is a First Amendment requirement that states finance religious schools. [In the gun case,] the Court rejects the kind of interest-balancing that is commonplace in constitutional law more generally…

Look, this ruling is going to have its biggest impact on blue states, such as California and New York, that have relatively restrictive gun regulations. Those states will still try to regulate guns. The political movement in those states is still very strong. I think this ruling will not only lead to a lot of litigation but lead to a lot of litigation on the concealed-carry issue in particular. This is not the final word but the beginning of a long battle over it. States such as New York are going to pass laws that broadly define “sensitive places,” to make it very hard to carry a gun in New York City. Those laws will be subject to constitutional challenge. States might impose burdens on licensing requirements.

In California, if you want to get a cosmetology license that gives you the ability to put chemicals in someone’s hair, you have to go through a thousand hours of training. You could imagine California saying that, if you want to carry a gun, you have to do extensive training and go to a certain kind of class before you have the ability to carry firearms. So I think we are going to see states continue to try to regulate firearms, but this opinion will make it much easier for Second Amendment advocates to go to court and strike these laws down.

10) Really liked Yglesias on AI, “We’re asking the wrong question about AI sentience”

Max Read points out that all these science fiction stories about human encounters with sentient AI are in the LaMDA corpus. And it’s certainly cool and impressive that when Lemoine started acting like a sci-fi protagonist who’s interested in exploring the depths of the AI’s humanity, LaMDA was able to match the pattern and generate an appropriate sci-fi response.

That said, you could do an improv scene with someone where they pretend to be an experimental pattern-matching AI trained on a vast corpus of human texts. Depending on who your partner was, it might be convincing or it might not. And how convincing it is would be a function of the partner’s skills as an improv actor. Some people, probably most people, would be terrible at it because improv is hard. But if you ranked 10,000 people based on the convincingness of their performance in this scenario, you wouldn’t call this a rank-ordering of the performers’ level of sentience. Only some humans are good at improv and only some humans are familiar with the functioning of Transformer-derived language models, so the people in the intersection of those circles would do well.

By the same token, Gary Marcus, who knows far more about AI than I ever will, offers this deflationary account:

Neither LaMDA nor any of its cousins (GPT-3) are remotely intelligent. All they do is match patterns, draw from massive statistical databases of human language. The patterns might be cool, but the language these systems utter doesn’t actually mean anything at all. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean that these systems are sentient.

As a description of how these systems work, that seems great. But the assertion that GPT-3’s utterances are meaningless seems untenable to me.

Nobody thinks Siri is sentient after. But if you ask Siri what tomorrow’s weather forecast is, she will tell you. And the words she utters mean things; the program wouldn’t be useful if the words weren’t meaningful and the words clearly are meaningful. There’s a longstanding debate in philosophy over internalism versus externalism about semantics: do words mean things separate from intentions or does meaning essentially rely on communicative intent? I think that AI systems, including ones that nobody is making grandiose claims about, are basically just a counterexample to semantic internalism.

GPT-3 is not trained to mimic the real rhythms of a human conversation, so I always find chatting with it somewhat frustrating. But the language it utters clearly has meaning.

The claim that the reason Goodfellas is better than the Departed because Goodfellas is more closely based on real-life events is absurd as film criticism1, but it’s absurd precisely because it’s perfectly cogent — it’s just dumb.

The face in the clouds

 

The very next paragraph from Marcus offers what I think is a much more tenable claim — not that language models’ utterances are meaningless but that humans’ tendency to anthropomorphize them is a bug in our own software:

Which doesn’t mean that human beings can’t be taken in. In our book Rebooting AI, Ernie Davis and I called this human tendency to be suckered by The Gullibility Gap — a pernicious, modern version of pareidolia, the anthropomorphic bias that allows humans to see Mother Theresa in an image of a cinnamon bun.

That is clearly correct. Humans notoriously perceive order in things that are actually random, looking to the sky and seeing crabs and bears and all sorts of things in the stars.

We are hyperactive pattern-matchers, seeing patterns that aren’t there. Certain animals like dogs and cats have evolved to manipulate us into feeding them, in part through mannerisms that we tend to interpret as expressing a wide range of human-like thoughts and emotions, even though scientists tell us that these are not particularly intelligent animals.

And since we anthropomorphize everything, we will of course anthropomorphize chat bots, too.

And while corporations have a range of motives that will shape their chatbot design decisions, to the extent that they want the people who interact with the chatbot to anthropomorphize it, they can select for one that has prone-to-anthropomorphization qualities. That appears to be the story with LaMDA which, much more so than GPT-3, is designed to “seem like” you’re talking to a real person.

11) I love getting free Jesse Singal posts.  If you were a “Reply All” fan you should read this. “No One Can Explain Exactly What PJ Vogt Did Wrong, But The Point Is We Should Now Judge Him Guilty Forever”

If you’re new to my newsletter or to this controversy, you might have to read this first (unlocked version here). I’ll give the tl;dr, but I can’t promise it’ll be enough:

-Vogt co-created and co-hosted Reply All, a Gimlet Media podcast about internet culture that was one of my favorites (if you’re new to it, start here)

Reply All, as (I would argue) part of the racial reckoning, launched a reported series on the climate of alleged racial insensitivity at Bon Appetit called “Test Kitchen” that was hosted by Sruthi Pinnamaneni

-Halfway through that series’ planned run, a former Gimlet staffer named Eric Eddings posted a tweetstorm calling out Vogt and Pinnamaneni for ignoring the fact that Gimlet has similar issues with racial insensitivity, mostly centered around the pair’s initial opposition to a unionization drive at Gimlet (though by the time of Eddings’ tweetstorm, they had both changed their minds and supported it)

-The tweetstorm was circulated far and wide by journalists outraged at the injustice Vogt and Pinnamaneni had supposedly perpetrated against their vulnerable colleagues at Gimlet; both quickly apologized and went on leave before departing Gimlet entirely, with Vogt reemerging with Crypto Island

[-editorializing on my part:] Reply All has been basically unlistenable since Vogt left, though I can’t give a truly fair account of its output over the last year because I stopped listening and because so few episodes are released these days (Unnecessary update: A couple people have told me the show’s been solid lately. I will check it out! I have not listened for quite some time, because there were some real duds in there)

[-further editorializing on my part:] As I wrote here, no one anywhere provided solid evidence Vogt or Pinnamaneni had done anything remotely bad enough to warrant being run out of their professional community amidst a carnival-like explosion of seething online rage and gleeful unpersoning (more of it directed at Vogt, I think, perhaps because he’s more famous and/or because he’s a white guy and therefore a bit easier of a target in this type of situation)

Okay, you’re all caught up! Sort of.

After Nicholas Quah praises Crypto Island in his review, he continues:

On the other hand, there remains the “Test Kitchen” of it all. It isn’t hard to plug Crypto Island into the ongoing question about what should happen after someone gets so publicly taken to task for a wrong. In Vogt’s case, it was a situation in which he had placed his professional needs in front of those of others, a stance that resulted in him opposing an effort within Gimlet to unionize and improve conditions for co-workers who did not have the same power, privileges, and security that he did. It was the hypocrisy of subsequently trying to make a journalistic work dissecting similar injustices in another workplace, seemingly before having accounted for his own actions, that sparked the brouhaha which ultimately led to Vogt’s departure.

There are layers, of course, to the question of what happens to the ousted after something like this, and we rarely get good opportunities to process this question with the appropriate sense of proportion or nuance. Now that we have one such opportunity, I’m struggling with the tension. I don’t think someone in Vogt’s position should necessarily be side-eyed from making things or working again. At the same time, the straightforwardness of his return gives me pause.

Again: No one has explained exactly what Vogt did wrong that could possibly justify the shitstorm he faced. Quah accuses Vogt of “plac[ing] his professional needs in front of those of others, a stance that resulted in him opposing an effort within Gimlet to unionize and improve conditions for co-workers who did not have the same power, privileges, and security that he did.” If you actually unpack this, there’s almost nothing there: Who doesn’t “place their professional needs in front of others,” at least part of the time? That should be enough to ruin your reputation? As for the hypocrisy charge, wouldn’t that apply only if Vogt engaged in the same sort of behavior Bon Appetit staffers claimed took place there — that is, acts of explicit and implicit racial discrimination? Where’s the evidence for those acts?

12) This is good and important, “How Houston Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own”

Houston has gotten this far by teaming with county agencies and persuading scores of local service providers, corporations and charitable nonprofits — organizations that often bicker and compete with one another — to row in unison. Together, they’ve gone all in on “housing first,” a practice, supported by decades of research, that moves the most vulnerable people straight from the streets into apartments, not into shelters, and without first requiring them to wean themselves off drugs or complete a 12-step program or find God or a job.

There are addiction recovery and religious conversion programs that succeed in getting people off the street. But housing first involves a different logic: When you’re drowning, it doesn’t help if your rescuer insists you learn to swim before returning you to shore. You can address your issues once you’re on land. Or not. Either way, you join the wider population of people battling demons behind closed doors.

“Before I leave office, I want Houston to be the first big city to end chronic homelessness,” Sylvester Turner told me. In late January, Mr. Turner, who is serving his final term as mayor, joined Harris County leaders in unveiling a $100 million plan that would use a mix of federal, state, county and city funds to cut the local homeless count in half again by 2025.

Mr. Turner chose his words with care, and it’s important to parse his phrasing. “Chronic homelessness” is a term of art. It refers to those people, like many in the Houston encampment, who have been living on the streets for more than a year or who have been homeless repeatedly, and who have a mental or physical disability. Nationwide, most of those who experience homelessness do not fall into that narrow category. They are homeless for six weeks or fewer; 40 percent have a job. For them, homelessness is an agonizing but temporary condition that they manage to resolve, maybe by doubling up with relatives or friends.
 
 
 
 

There are at the same time many thousands of mothers and children, as well as couch-surfing teenagers and young adults who are ill-housed and at risk. These people are also poor and desperate. Finding a place to sleep may be a daily struggle for them. They might be one broken transmission or emergency room visit away from the streets. They’re in the pipeline to homelessness. But they are not homeless according to the bureaucratic definition. They are not sleeping on a sidewalk or in their cars or in shelters. Houston can offer these people a hand, but Mr. Turner is not promising to end the precariousness of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

2 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. Nicole K says:

    7: I really don’t like the idea that we have to ban adults from using a product or completely remove products from the market in order to “protect” teenagers.

    I don’t use Juul products for vaping, but I do vape daily. I used to be a pretty heavy smoker (most people with narcolepsy smoke because it helps to stay awake, especially when driving) until I started vaping. Since then I went from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to not having had one in the past 6 years.

    It makes me extremely angry that the FDA and anti-smoking zealots apparently want to force me to back to smoking cigarettes instead of vaping. One of last year’s COVID bills that nobody read snuck in language to ban sending vaping products using the USPS. As a result, UPS and FedEx both also banned shipping vaping products. That law would have completely shut down the entire vaping industry had it not taken the USPS over 6 months to implement it. Fortunately that gave enough time for new logistics companies to start up. However, it now takes 3+ weeks for any vaping products I order to arrive via the new alternative shipping companies. I also have to use a credit card, pay an $8 age verification fee, 20% state excise tax, and I also have to show the delivery driver a photo ID and sign for it when it finally shows up at my house.

    But that’s apparently not good enough for the antismoking zealots. They want to ban the menthol flavor I have been using for years and force me to use a disgusting tobacco flavored product in order to protect teenagers from using a product that does not actually cause cancer, COPD, or any of the other life threatening diseases that smoking does.

    I don’t understand why having my age verified at the time of purchase and again when the product is delivered to my house isn’t sufficient to prove that the product is being used by an adult.

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