Quick hits (part II)

1) I’m not sure how I feel about the term “predatory” journals.  The prey seem quite willing– as this article points out.  But I still don’t get the point of publishing in journals that won’t actually fool anybody actually in academia.  Oh, wait, apparently it does.  Ugh.

Call it a classic case of supply meeting demand.

Universities, colleges, even community colleges insist that faculty publish scholarly research, and the more papers the better. Academics and the schools they teach at rely on these publications to bolster their reputations, and with an oversupply of Ph.D.’s vying for jobs, careers hang in the balance.

Competition is fierce to get published in leading journals. But what about the overworked professors at less prestigious schools and community colleges, without big grants and state-of-the-art labs? How do they get ahead?

As it turns out, many of their articles are appearing in “journals” that will publish almost anything, for fees that can range into the hundreds of dollars per paper. These publications often are called predatory journals, on the assumption that well-meaning academics are duped into working with them — tricked by flattering emails from the journals inviting them to submit a paper or fooled by a name that sounded like a journal they knew.

But it’s increasingly clear that many academics know exactly what they’re getting into, which explains why these journals have proliferated despite wide criticism. The relationship is less predator and prey, some experts say, than a new and ugly symbiosis…

Participating in such dubious enterprises carries few risks. Dr. Pyne, who did a study of his colleagues’ publications, reports that faculty members at his school who got promoted last year had at least four papers in questionable journals. All but one academic in 10 who won a School of Business and Economics award had published papers in these journals. One had 10 such articles.

Academics get rewarded with promotions when they stuff their résumés with articles like these, Dr. Pyne concluded. There are few or no adverse consequences — in fact, the rewards for publishing in predatory journals were greater than for publishing in legitimate ones.

Dr. Pyne does not know what role those studies played in the promotions. But, he said, “I can say that such publications do not seem to hurt promotion prospects.”

2) 538 on the indisputable rise in mass shootings.  I can’t help but think some of this is social contagion.  Abetted, of course, by the fact that it is so absurdly easy to get a gun in the U.S.

3) Republican politicians alternate reality in which corporate tax cuts are popular.

4) This twitter thread from David Frum on sexual harassment is great.

5) The social science evidence that Donald Trump is full of it on voter fraud.  Exactly zero surprise.  On the one hand, worth demonstrating.  On the other, almost anything else would be a better use of time for scholars.  We don’t have scientists demonstrating that the atmosphere is mostly nitrogen.

6) Robert Draper on the struggles of the post-Obama Democratic party.

7) Great take on Roy Moore in the National Review:

The allegations against Roy Moore are disgusting — and if you find yourself reluctant to say so because of your politics, then you’re pretty gross, too…

Now, I’ve had far too many people shouting, “Guilty until proven innocent!” at me over my comments on this issue, as if they’re too dumb to know that the second half of that phrase is “in a court of law.” Not to blow your mind here, but I’m actually not a court of law, and I’m allowed to believe whatever I want — and personally, I believe that Roy Moore was a predator with a penchant for teenage girls. No, not because I’m some p***y-hat-wearing snowflake (as eloquent as that argument is) but because of logic. As my colleague David French notes, there are a lot of reasons to believe these allegations: There are multiple accusers. These women didn’t come to the press seeking attention, they simply answered the questions when the press came to them. They have witnesses corroborating their stories. Finally, the woman with the most serious allegations, Leigh Corfman, voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — making the political-hit-job storyline laughable at best.

8) The link between domestic violence and mass shootings.

9) A Vox video on how Southern socialites, quite successfully, rewrote Civil War history.  I appreciate that my Duke history professor, Robert Durden, despite being an older Southern Gentleman if there ever was one, taught me much better than this.

10) Robin Wright on what the recent NYC attack tells us about ISIS:

The lesson from the New York attack is that the military campaign against isis—the numbers killed or the territory lost—should not be the only measure of success, Hassan Hassan, a co-author of the best-selling “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” told me. “isis has received blows on many levels. Ideologically, it’s weaker than it was in 2014. Financially, it’s not as rich as it was in 2014. And it’s not as deadly as in 2014, despite its ability to kill and maim and attack,” he said. “It’s lost the space to operate and breathe and think and plan and train and indoctrinate millions of people.”…

Yet, largely through its propaganda machine, isis has evolved since 2014, from a state focussed on ruling in Iraq and Syria, into a full-fledged jihadi organization “with the ability to project power and images globally,” Hassan told me. “It’s evolved from a corner grocery store to an international chain.”…

isis was never going to defeat its enemies on the battlefield, Bruce Hoffman, a political scientist at Georgetown University and the author of the book “Inside Terrorism,” told me. “It has a long-term strategy of attrition—creating polarization and divisions in society and getting liberal states to embrace illegal tactics,” he said. “That’s what isis is all about now—how it survives. It defaults to a lower level that still plays into the terrorist narrative and maintains relevance.”

As Hoffman told me, “Terrorism is here to stay—at one level or another—for the foreseeable future.” The fact that the attack was carried out in New York, which has “iconic stature for terrorist groups,” also counters some of the recent isis losses, he said. Yet in the sixteen years since 9/11, terrorism is notably smaller in scale, less deadly, and less impactful in the United States. And all the isispropaganda in the world won’t change that.

11) Can labor unions stop the far right?  Apparently so in Germany.

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Quick hits (part I)

1) Interesting take on how to parent our kids— a lot more gender neutrally– to prevent our boys (mostly) from becoming sexist pigs.  Whatever my mom did certainly worked and I’d like to think I’m carrying that on another generation.

2) That said, when you start getting into posts saying that nobody should have to hug anybody because it’s all about consent and bodily autonomy, you are going too far.  Wanting all my kids (boys or girl) to hug their grandparents when they visit does not make me a sexist pig.

3) There’s just sooooo  much everything that Russia revelations that would have dominated weeks of news in a different presidency hardly get any notice.  Drum on the latest:

Russians were behind the email hacks. They were behind the social media agitprop. They were behind the attempts to compromise polling places. There’s really not any doubt about this anymore.

Did Donald Trump collude with the Russians? Did Wikileaks know they were acting as a Russian pawn? Did the Russian hacks do enough damage to steal the election from Hillary Clinton? Nobody knows. It’s possible we’ll never know. But we do know that Russian officials were behind all this, and that their goal was to weaponize a personal grudge and ensure that Clinton never became president of the United States. This should outrage you even if you support Trump. The fact that an awful lot of Republicans don’t seem to care is a grim harbinger of a decadent political system on the precipice of decline and collapse.

4) Nice to see that the regional University accrediting body (SACS) is now paying attention to the fact that UNC said its totally illegitimate classes were legit to escape NCAA sanctions.

5) The gruesome world of 19th century surgery.  Not for the faint of heart.

6) This David Roberts piece is the scenario that really scares me, “What if Mueller proves his case and it doesn’t matter?”

7) Of course Trump’s EPA is ignoring its own scientists in favor of industry shills.

8) What ICE is doing is not good for our criminal justice system.

9) This is one of those social science findings you just want to like so much that it really makes me wonder how true it is.  Would love to see some replication in a variety of realms.  Short version– being a loser (at least when playing video games) makes men far more likely to lash out at women in sexist ways.

10) Let’s stick with the social science deserving of extra skepticism because it confirms my priors.  I really like this one because I think Just World bias is a huge and under-appreciated factor in political beliefs:

It is commonly assumed that political attitudes are driven by self-interest and that poor people heavily favor policies aimed at redistributing wealth. This assumption fails to explain the popularity of economic conservatism and the degree of support for the capitalist system. Such outcomes are typically explained by the suggestion that most poor people believe they will become rich one day. In a representative sample of low-income Americans, we observed that less than one-fourth were optimistic about their economic prospects. Those respondents who believed that they would become rich one day were no more likely to endorse the legitimacy of the system and no more supportive of conservative ideology or the Republican Party, compared to those who did not believe they would become rich. From a system justification perspective, we propose that people are motivated to defend the social systems on which they depend, and this confers a psychological advantage to conservative ideology. Providing ideological support for the status quo serves epistemic motives to reduce uncertainty, existential motives to reduce threat, and relational motives to share reality with members of mainstream society. We summarize evidence from the United States, Argentina, Lebanon, and other countries bearing on these propositions—including a survey administered shortly before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election—and discuss political implications of system justification motivation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

11) Of course Republicans are approving conservative bloggers with no courtroom experience as Federal judges.

12) The Virginia exit polls.  Lots of goodies in here.

13) Seth Masket on the rural white “no shows” in Virginia.

14) I liked the way David Brooks described the divide in Virginia:

One way to capture the emerging divide is by using the British writer David Goodhart’s distinction between Somewheres and Anywheres.

Somewheres are rooted in their towns and have “ascribed” identities — Virginia farmer, West Virginia coal miner, Pennsylvania steelworker. Anywheres are at home in the global economy. They derive their identity from portable traits, like education or job skills, and are more likely to move to areas of opportunity.

Somewheres value staying put; they feel uncomfortable with many aspects of cultural and economic change, like mass immigration. Anywheres make educational attainment the gold standard of status and are cheerleaders for restless change…

These days, only a tiny percentage of Northern Virginia workers are government employees. Instead, the region is defined by the two big drivers of Anywhere culture: highly educated information age workers and fiercely energetic immigrants. In Bailey’s Crossroads, there are Korean grocery stores near Persian, Indian and Salvadoran restaurants. The Dulles office corridor is a hub of the global economy.

Trump’s party is not at home on this ground and can’t play on it. Trumpians just want to wall it off. “DC should annex NOVA and return the governance of Virginia to Virginians!” Jerry Fallwell Jr. tweeted, referring to Northern Virginia, after the election results.

Populism has made the Republicans a rural party and given the Democrats everything else. In Virginia, Democrats won by a landslide among anybody who grew up in the age of globalization. Among voters 18-29, they won by an astounding 69 to 30 percent. Among voters 30-44, they won by 61 percent to 37 percent.

We could be seeing the creation of a new Democratic heartland, exurbia, and this alignment could hang around for a while. The stain Trump leaves on the G.O.P. will take some time to wash away. But this is bigger than Trump; it’s an alignment caused by the fundamental reality of the populist movement.

15) The Republican tax bill, “House Republican: my donors told me to pass the tax bill ‘or don’t ever call me again’: Chris Collins is saying the quiet part loud.”

16) Of course the tax plan is a huge giveaway to the rich that raises taxes on many middle-income Americans.

17) Michelle Goldberg’s election anniversary column was really good:

A secular Turkish journalist told me, her voice sad and weary, that while people might at first pour into the streets to oppose Trump, eventually the protests would probably die out as a sense of stunned emergency gave way to the slog of sustained opposition. The Russian dissident writer Masha Gessen warned that there’s no way, with a leader who lays siege to the fabric of reality, to fully hold on to a sense of what’s normal. “You drift, and you get warped,” she told me.

They were both right. The country has changed in the past year, and many of us have grown numb after unrelenting shocks. What now passes for ordinary would have once been inconceivable. The government is under the control of an erratic racist who engages in nuclear brinkmanship on Twitter. He is dismantling the State Department, defending the hollowing out of the diplomatic corps by saying, on Fox News, “I’m the only one that matters.”

He publicly pressures the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents. He’s called for reporters to be jailed, and his administration demanded that a sportscaster who criticized him be fired. Official government statements promote his hotels. You can’t protest it all; you’d never do anything else. After the election, many liberals pledged not to “normalize” Trump. But one lesson of this year is that we don’t get to decide what normal looks like.

18) David Simon’s “The Deuce” is no “The Wire” but it did grow on me a lot.  Perhaps, because like the greatest TV show ever, it is ultimately about capitalism.

19) Ezra Klein takes a look at the political science research on partisanship versus ideology (partisanship wins):

In theory, ideology comes first and party comes second. We decide whether we’re for single-payer health care, or same-sex marriage, or abortion restriction, and then we choose the party that most closely fits our ideas. You’re a liberal and so you become a Democrat; you’re a conservative and so you become a Republican.

The truth, it seems, is closer to the reverse: We choose our party for a variety of reasons — chief among them being the preferences of our family members, core groups, and community — and then we sign on to their platforms. In this telling, write Kinder and Kalmoe, “ideological identification is primarily an effect, not a cause, of a person’s political views.”

This theory makes a prediction: If party identification is stronger than ideological identification, then as parties change their ideological identities, their loyalists will change with them, rather than abandoning them. And that’s a lot closer to what we see…

Trump’s ideological heterodoxies were a key reason pundits assumed he would eventually be wiped out in the Republican primaries. Many believed Republicanism was conservatism, and so a non-conservative could never win over Republican voters. But party trumps ideology. Republicanism is Republicanism, and for most voters, it is based more on group attachments and resentments than it is on ideology. These were the voters Trump understood and political elites didn’t, and he understood them because he is one of them: His group allegiances were tribal even as his ideology was flexible.

Trump was far better than Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz at expressing his distaste for Democrats, for immigrants, for Black Lives Matter protesters, for condescending cosmopolitans, for President Obama. That Rubio and Bush and Cruz were better at expressing their fealty to conservative ideology didn’t much matter. Henry Adams once wrote that “politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, had always been the systematic organization of hatreds,” and Trump was masterful at organizing those hatreds.

Death penalty? Not so much

Among some pretty dramatic trendlines in American politics, the drop in support for the death penalty is really something to behold, too.  The latest from Gallup:

1

Now, that’s still a clear majority, but dropping from 80% to 55% support in just over two decades really is something.  Presumably, we can thank 1) the declining crime rate, and 2) the attention to all the innocent people released from death row thanks to DNA testing.

What’s most notable about the recent decline is that it is not all led by Democrats, but increasing numbers of Republicans appear to be questioning the death penalty as well:

2

Will definitely be interesting to see how this trend develops in the next few years with Mr. “American carnage” in the White House and driving the Republican electorate.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Holy shoot, I had read that hundreds of women had accused Hollywood director, James Toback, of sexual harassment/assault.  But the details?  Damn!!

2) Is Trumpian race-baiting a winner for the GOP in Virginia?  Hopefully not.

3) Should your spouse be your best friend?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

It’s this feeling of security, Dr. Levine says, that leads us to describe our spouses as “friends.” But that language is not quite right, he says. First, couples still need what he calls “maintenance sex,” because it re-establishes physical closeness and renews attachment.

Second, the term “friendship” is “an underwhelming representation of what’s going on,” he said. “What people basically mean is, ‘I’m in a secure relationship. Being close to my partner is very rewarding. I trust them. They’re there for me in such a profound way that it allows me to have courage to create, to explore, to imagine.’”

Dr. Levine summarizes this feeling with the (somewhat awkward) acronym Carrp; your partner is consistent, available, responsive, reliable and predictable. But don’t we already have a word, “spouse,” that fits this description? I said. Why are we suddenly using the expression “best friend,” when that doesn’t seem to fit at all?

“Because not every spouse provides that,” he said, “and we’re indicating we don’t take it for granted. What we should probably be saying is ‘secure spouse.’”

There’s yet another problem with calling your husband or wife your best friend. The words mean totally different things.

Peter Pearson and Ellyn Bader are founders of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and the authors of “Tell Me No Lies.” They’ve also been married for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson said there’s a critical difference between a best friend and a spouse. “One of the criteria for a best friend is you feel unconditionally accepted,” he said. “Do I care if my buddy Mark is messy in the kitchen, leaves his bathroom a shambles and doesn’t pay his income taxes?”

But with a spouse, he said, you can’t avoid these topics.

4) Interesting workplace research women’s lack of promotion stems from bias, not patterns of workplace actions and interactions.

5) When Republicans answer a poll that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya do they really believe it or are they just giving a partisan answer?  Adam Berinksy’s latest research suggests the former:

Large numbers of Americans endorse political rumors on surveys. But do they truly believe what they say? In this paper, I assess the extent to which subscription to political rumors represents genuine beliefs as opposed to expressive responses—rumor endorsements designed to express opposition to politicians and policies rather than genuine belief in false information. I ran several experiments, each designed to reduce expressive responding on two topics: among Republicans on the question of whether Barack Obama is a Muslim and among Democrats on whether members of the federal government had advance knowledge about 9/11. The null results of all experiments lead to the same conclusion: the incidence of expressive responding is very small, though somewhat larger for Democrats than Republicans. These results suggest that survey responses serve as a window into the underlying beliefs and true preferences of the mass public.

6) I’d never even heard of the super-opiate, Carfentanil, but wow!

7) This Alexandra Petri satire is awesome, “I’d love to be able to look my grandkids in the eye, but if I do I’ll be primaried from the right.”

8) Of course American cannot afford to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Drum:

This is a good time to remind everyone that Republicans just passed a budget that contained instructions for a net $1.5 trillion tax cut that will mostly benefit corporations and the rich. But $8 billion in net spending increases to provide medical care for kids? Sorry. Can’t be done. Gotta watch the deficit, you understand.

Or maybe they could fund CHIP and settle for a $1.492 trillion tax cut? That’s out of the question, of course.

At times like this I wish I were a religious man. At least then I’d feel some sense that eventually these meanspirited bastards would pay for their sins.

9) Paul Waldman’s headline on the Steele dossier is about right, “GOP spin about the new ‘Steele Dossier’ story is disingenuous nonsense.”

10) Nice point-counterpoint in Vox on the 1st amendment on campus.

11) Nikole Hannah-Jones on how housing segregation is the key to structural racism:

What’s important to understand is that segregation is not about test scores; it’s about denying full citizenship to a caste of children who have not, for one day in this country, been given full and equal access to the same educational resources as white children. So it’s not really about closing the test score gap. Segregation is about separating black children from white children, and therefore separating black children from the same resources as white children. I think we have to talk about it in these terms.

What people also don’t want to acknowledge is that schools are segregated because white people want them that way. It’s not simply a matter of zip codes or housing segregation or class; it’s because most white Americans do not wish to enroll their children in schools with large numbers of black kids. And it doesn’t matter if they live in the North or the South, or if they’re liberal or conservative.

We won’t fix this problem until we really wrestle with that fact…

Segregation in housing is the way you can accomplish segregation in every aspect of life. Housing segregation means that certain jobs are located in certain communities, that certain grocery stores are located in certain communities; it determines where parks are located, if streets are repaired, if toxic dump sites are built nearby. Segregation accomplishes so many other inequalities because you effectively contain a population to a geographic area and suddenly all the other civil rights law don’t matter.

We don’t have to discriminate if we’re living in totally segregated neighborhoods; all the work is already done. If you look at the history of civil rights legislation, it’s the Fair Housing laws that get passed last — and barely so. Dr. King had to get assassinated in order for it to get passed, and that was because it was considered the Northern civil rights bill. It was civil rights made personal; it was determining who would live next door to you and therefore who would be able to share the resources that you received. The same is true of school desegregation.

12) Really enjoyed this Dana Milbank column apologizing for being ignorant, but complicit, in the sexual harassment of Leon Wieseltier.

13) Of course the first FBI crime report from the Trump administration is missing a ton of important data.  Ugh.

14) This is absolutely true from Catherine Rampell, “Republicans are propping up scammers and cheaters.”

Republicans claim to believe no company is too big to fail. The almighty market must be allowed to work its magic, and firms with defective business models should face the consequences.

Yet over the course of this year, President Trump and Congress have worked to prop up lots of defective firms. By which I mean: Companies whose business models are contingent on scamming customers, shortchanging workers and suckling the government teat.

Just this week, the Senate limited consumers’ ability to fight back against financial firms that have cheated them. Which is of course an implicit subsidy to firms whose profits depend on cheating…

Congress, with Trump’s expected signature, nullified the rule this week, effectively shielding banks from facing consequences for large-scale bad behavior.

That rule just dealt with mandatory arbitration clauses in certain financial contracts. Congress and the administration have delayed or dismantled other regulations curbing forced arbitration in disputes involving  nursing homes for-profit schools and sexual harassment claims against government contractors…

In the long run, none of these actions are good for consumers, workers or the healthy functioning of markets. They merely reward firms that can’t hack it under 21st-century economic forces and 21st-century laws.

15) This is a damn, sad immigration story in Trump’s America.  A Yale student writes, “I Accidentally Turned My Dad In to Immigration Services.”

16) This Slate article on the debunking of Amy Cuddy and power posing does a nice exploration of the gender angle.

17) Latest evidence suggests that the DEA wrongfully killed a family in Honduras five years ago.  And then, of course, lied about it.  Hooray for the War on Drugs!

18) Yuval Harari on how to respond to the AI revolution.

Quick hits (part II)

1) As German Lopez points out, we already know what to do about opioid addiction– medication-assisted therapy.  The problem is, our backwards, anti-scientific views of the matter prevent the best practices from being widely used.

2) Or as this Scientific American piece puts it, “People Are Dying Because of Ignorance, not Because of Opioids.”

For about 20 years, the number of Americans who have tried heroin for the first time has been relatively stable. Heroin use specifically and opioid use in general are not going anywhere, whether we like it or not. This is not an endorsement of drug use but rather a realistic appraisal of the empirical evidence. Addressing the opioid crisis with ignorant comments from political figures and the inappropriate use of public funds do little to ensure users’ safety. Perhaps, for once, we should try interventions that are informed by science and proven to work.

3) Dan Drezner on the need for Rex Tillerson to resign ASAP.

4) Jennifer Rubin on the  “dunces” ruining (really, running) the GOP’s economic agenda.

5) Best thing I’ve read on Russian misinformation and the role of Facebook in 2016.

6) Nobody except Netflix knows how many people watch Netflix shows.  Nielsen has found a way to change that.

7) Personally, I think it is pretty cool that Google Maps added a feature letting you know how many calories you would burn by walking (rather than driving) a given route.  Alas, this is why we cannot have nice things:

“We’ve gotten into this habit of thinking about our bodies and the foods we take in and how much activity we do as this mathematical equation, and it’s really not,” she said. “The more we have technology that promotes that view, the more people who may develop eating disorders might be triggered into that pathway.”

On Monday night, Google pulled the feature, which it said was an experiment on its iOS app. The decision followed a wave of attention on social media; while some of the responsessaw Google’s feature as promoting exercise, there were several complaints that it was dangerous or insulting.

Some users were especially upset that the app used mini cupcakes to put the burned calories into perspective, framing food as a reward for exercise, or exercise as a prerequisite for food. (One mini cupcake, it said, was worth a little less than 125 calories, but no information was provided about how that calculation was made.)

At least have it as an option that can be turned off.  But, really, we have to worry about people being “triggered” by the number of calories involved in walking a few blocks?

8) Sarah Kliff on why American health care is so expensive.  The prices.  We pay more for literally everything.  Want to really understand it?

9) Kevin Drum on how Wisconsin is absurdly effective at voter suppression.  The fact that courts let Wisconsin get away with this is almost as damning as what Wisconsin Republicans have done.

10) Barbara Radnofsky argues that impeachment was designed for a president like Trump:

The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Constitution’s preamble, and future president James Madison were worried about a leader who would “pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation” — theft of public funds — “or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers,” as Madison put it. Morris, who like many in the colonies believed King Charles had taken bribes from Louis XIV to support France’s war against the Dutch, declared that without impeachment we “expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate [the President] in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him.”

11) Man bused for Meth that was actually Krispy Kreme donut glaze.  Thank you War on Drugs!

12) Those who care the most about the issue of GM foods are, of course, most likely to have the false belief that GM foods are worse for human health:

 

13) Saletan on the atrociously-misnamed “values voters” who support Trump.

14) Sure, GW Bush said some important things about the direction of the Republican Party.  But, he’s supporting Ed Gillespie’s racist, Trumpist campaign for Virginia governor that Bush was supposedly speaking against.  Actions.  Words.

15) Ryan Lizza on John Kelly this week:

Sanders shot back with the kind of statement that would be normal in an authoritarian country, suggesting that Kelly’s previous military service placed him beyond criticism. “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she said. “But I think that that—if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

No, it is not. Kelly is the chief of staff and a political operative. He held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump’s political opponents. No government official’s military background, no matter how honorable, makes him immune to criticism, especially given the subject at hand. Sanders’s response was unnerving. But the bigger lesson of the episode is that no matter how good one’s intentions are, when you go to work for Trump, you will end up paying for it with your reputation. For Kelly, not even his four stars prevented that. [emphasis mine]

16) OMG this essay from Kevin Williamson in National Review on the “white minstrel show” of politics is amazing.  I surely don’t agree with everything, but so much good, thought-provoking stuff in here.  A must-read.  Here’s a good snippet:

White people acting white have embraced the ethic of the white underclass, which is distinct from the white working class, which has the distinguishing feature of regular gainful employment. The manners of the white underclass are Trump’s — vulgar, aggressive, boastful, selfish, promiscuous, consumerist. The white working class has a very different ethic. Its members are, in the main, churchgoing, financially prudent, and married, and their manners are formal to the point of icy politeness. You’ll recognize the style if you’ve ever been around it: It’s “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” but it is the formality of soldiers and police officers — correct and polite, but not in the least bit deferential. It is a formality adopted not to acknowledge the superiority of social betters but to assert the equality of the speaker — equal to any person or situation, perfectly republican manners. It is the general social respect rooted in genuine self-respect.

Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-’em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-“elitism” of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: “I’m an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion.” Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: “I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level.” Trump’s rhetoric — ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. — has always been about reducing. Trump doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence it’s “the failing New York Times.” Never mind that the New York Times isn’t actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that they’ve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesn’t matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kid’s lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. That’s what all that ridiculous stuff about “winning” was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives — and how “smart people” came to be a term of abuse.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Of course researchers should house monkeys in shared cages.  To do otherwise with any social animal is just cruel.  I wish there weren’t primates in research at all, but since there are, it is nice to see it moving in this direction.

2) Let’s stick with the animal theme here.  Ed Yong on how domestication ruined dogs‘ pack instincts.

“The idea is that we’ve changed their psychology to make them into super-cooperative beings,” says Marshall-Pescini. But that’s only true for their relationships with us. By domesticating dogs (or rather, providing the conditions for them to domesticate themselves), humans ruined the pack instinct that makes wolves some of the most gregarious and cooperative hunters on four legs. “They adapted to the niche we provided for them and it changed their sociality,” Marshall-Pescini says…

Around 80 percent of dogs, in fact, are free-ranging, and their behavior shows just how different they are to wolves. They’re mostly solitary, scavenging alone on human garbage. When they do form packs, these groups are usually small and loose-knit. They might hunt together, but they mostly congregate to defend their territory. By contrast, wolves live in extremely tight-knit family groups. They rely on their pack-mates to bring down large prey, and they work together to rear each other’s pups. The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack, as Rudyard Kipling’s poem goes.  [And a slogan frequently seen on NC State t-shirts]

3) It was not that hard for the Vikings to deforest Iceland a thousand years ago.  It’s damn hard for modern day Icelanders do grow trees.  Leaving the country a wet desert.

4) Some researchers got the gender coding exactly backwards in their study meaning their interesting and unusual finding was flat-out wrong and exactly the opposite.

5) Damn, what is it with on-line social justice warriors and YA fiction?!  Ugh.  And, shame, shame, shame on Kirkus for giving in.

6a) A damn fine response to John Roberts “Sociological gobbledegook” pronouncement.  Honestly, Roberts is an intellectual embarrassment with statements like that.

“I don’t put much stock in the claim that the Supreme Court is afraid of adjudicating partisan gerrymanders because it’s afraid of math,” Daniel Hemel, who teaches law at the University of Chicago, told me. “[Roberts] is very smart and so are the judges who would be adjudicating partisan gerrymandering claims — I’m sure he and they could wrap their minds around the math. The ‘gobbledygook’ argument seems to be masking whatever his real objection might be.”

But if the chief justice hides his true objections behind a feigned inability to grok the math, well, that’s a problem math can’t solve.

6b) And an Election Law Blog post on the same matter.

7) And John Pfaff makes a solid argument that the Court could really benefit from official fact-checkers.

8) Conor Friedersdorf raises some really good points about universities and micro-aggressions.

9) Chait on the pending Republican tax cuts:

The last time Republicans had control of government, they explained that cutting taxes would not get in the way of fiscal responsibility. Not only would tax cuts produce faster growth, they argued, they would also force Congress to restrain spending. Their strategy utterly failed. Not only did the tax cuts fail to produce higher growth, they also failed to encourage spending restraint….

And so there they are, back to the exact same policy they tried in 2001: Pass a huge tax cut and hope somehow it leads to cutting spending. That this policy is now being carried out by the same people who rose to power by denouncing the failure of the exact same policy last time tells you everything you need to know about the state of economic policy thought in the Republican Party now.

10) I love this, “Want to raise an empowered girl? Then let her be funny.”  I do.  Also, my wife is really, really funny, but you have to know her pretty well first before you learn that.

Today we encourage our daughters to be ambitious and athletic, opinionated and outspoken. We want them focused on STEM and outfitted in T-shirts that read, “Who runs the world? Girls.”

But what if raising truly empowered girls also means raising funny ones? What if we teach our daughters that humor is their turf — just as much as any boy’s?

“One of the things that happens to girls is that they are encroached upon by the world,” says Lisa Damour, a psychologist and author of “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood.” “And one of the things that humor can do is . . . help girls stand up for themselves in ways that people don’t retaliate for.”

11) Speaking of my funny wife, I was telling her about the ACES scale earlier this week.  Came home and opened up the NYT, and first thing I saw was this story about childhood trauma impacting an troubled man’s adult life.

12) How prosecutors are banding together to hinder criminal justice reform.  All the more reason we need to reform prosecutors offices.

13) You really should read the Washington Post story on how opiate distributors worked to undermine DEA enforcement.

14) The (college) kids are alright.  Or, at least they are slightly more accepting of free speech of young adults not in college:

15) Sometimes I just have to call out George Will for being so pathetic.  Seriously, the man sure as hell does not deserve column inches anymore.  Here he is on abortion:

Pro-abortion absolutists — meaning those completely content with the post-1973 regime of essentially unrestricted abortion-on-demand at any point in pregnancy — are disproportionately Democrats who, they say, constitute the Party of Science. They are aghast that the Department of Health and Human Services now refers to protecting people at “every stage of life, beginning at conception.” This, however, is elementary biology, not abstruse theology: Something living begins then — this is why it is called conception. And absent a natural malfunction or intentional intervention (abortion), conception results in a human birth…

The court decided that the right to abortion becomes a trifle less than absolute — in practice, not discernibly less — when the fetus reaches viability, meaning the ability to survive outside the womb. The court stipulated that viability arrived at 24 to 28 weeks.

For the record, that’s a blatantly dishonest reading of Supreme Court jurisprudence on the matter (especially post-Casey) and a blatantly dishonest reading of liberal public opinion on the matter.

16) Yes, the White House seriously did release a graphic that says free trade causes wife-beating, among other social ills.  Dana Milbank:

On a page titled “socioeconomic costs of a weakened manufacturing base,” Navarro’s document lists, among other things: “higher abortion rate,” “lower fertility rate,” “increased spousal abuse,” “lower marriage rate,” “higher divorce rate,” “higher crime,” “rising mortality rate” and “increased drug/opioid use.”

Now, it’s true that job loss can lead to social ills, but the Trump White House officials involved in such social-science “research” made some enormous leaps of logic — that the social ills are caused specifically by the loss of manufacturing jobs and by nothing else, and that the job losses are caused by free trade rather than, say, productivity, technology or the failure of government policies. To use the technical, social-scientific lingo, Navarro “pulled this one out of his butt.”…

There is something charming and elegant about the White House’s sophistry, both in Sessions’s backlog calculation and in the free-trade=spousal-abuse logic. Essentially, Navarro identified two occurrences that may or may not be related and, without furnishing any evidence, proclaimed a correlation.

By that same logic, it would be fair to argue that the growth of free trade is also responsible for Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women, the rise of fidget spinners and the noxious habit of dabbing.

But why stop at free trade? Let’s apply the White House’s logic — identifying two things that correlate and capriciously declaring causation — to President Trump and his actions.

Using the White House method, we can conclude that Trump’s election has caused: a surge in inflammatory bowel disease and erectile dysfunction and, at the same time, record-high levels of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

17) Loved  this New Yorker article arguing that Civilization actually pre-dated agriculture.  And for the importance of fire in the matter.  My favorite part?  My 11-year old son read his first New Yorker article.

18) This NYT magazine feature on the replication crisis in Psychology and how the “revolution” came for Amy “power pose” Cuddy was great reading.  Had a great discussion about this with my colleagues.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Vox’s Julia Belluz on Trump’s absurd anti birth control argument, “The Trump administration’s case against birth control is a stunning distortion of science:

As to why the White House is ignoring the evidence, we have some clues. One of the architects behind the new birth control rules is reportedly Matthew Bowman, a lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked for Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy (and anti-choice) group. Another top Trump adviser on health care is Katy Talento, an anti-abortionist who has claimed that side effects of hormonal birth include cancer and miscarriages. Trump put Teresa Manning, another anti-abortion lawyer who once said giving people easy access to the morning-after pill was “medically irresponsible” and “anti-family,” in charge of Title X, HHS’s federal family planning program. Trump’s positions on abortion have been wishy-washy, but it’s well known that Vice President Mike Pence has been crusading against reproductive rights for years.

2) The NYT’s [post-Trump] Republican’s guide to Presidential etiquette is terrific.

3) “Christian” women gather on the National Mall to criticize feminism.  And they’re pathetic:

For Linda Shebesta of Burleson, Tex., it was a day to pray alongside the family members of three generations who traveled to Washington with her. “We believe our nation was founded as a Christian nation. The enemy is trying to take it in another direction, not Christianity,” she said. She saw lots of proof of Satan at work during the Obama administration, especially the Supreme Court’s ruling authorizing same-sex marriage nationwide, she said. She’s relieved to see the Trump administration undoing many of Obama’s policies.

“We believe God put Donald Trump in,” Shebesta said.

Damn, God must have one hell of a sense of humor.

4) And the Onion nails it again, “EPA To Drop ‘E,’ ‘P’ From Name.”

5) Very nice TPM piece on how Russian propaganda exploits America’s prejudices.

6) Drum on Trump’s attempt to destroy the healthcare marketplace.  This is not hyperbole:

We’ve never before had a president who used millions of the poor and sick as pawns like this. It’s just plain evil.

7) Apparently, rather than relying on common sense, many in Silicon Valley are over-reacting to sexual harassment in the workplace in ways that are also harmful to women.

8) Sad story of an escaped Circus tiger.  I love the amazing exploits of humans in the circus.  I hate that the circus engages in horrible animal abuse while they are at it.

9) Why is Oklahoma’s female incarceration rate so high?  Because they are disturbingly, inhumanely, punitive about drug crimes.

10) Interesting to see how American sports fandom has changed over the past 5 years.  Yeah, professional soccer!

11) Interesting column on how the mistreatment of returning Vietnam Veterans is almost completely false and very persistent myth.

12) Seth Masket on the silliness of blaming Democrats for Harvey Weinstein’s behavior:

Harvey Weinstein’s support for Democrats, however, is highly unusual as political scandal material. His reprehensible and likely criminal alleged behavior has only become widely known in the past few weeks — nearly a year after the 2016 presidential election. To be sure, quite a few people in the entertainment industry seem to have known about the behavior he’s accused of for years to one extent or another. But it strains credulity to suggest that Clinton and Obama (whose teenage daughter interned for Weinstein last summer) knew the extent of Weinstein’s predatory tendencies in the past.

In sum, Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats are being blamed for having taken money in the past from someone who has recently been widely accused of being a sexual predator. It is akin to holding fans of the 1970s Buffalo Bills and the 1978 film Capricorn One accountable for O.J. Simpson’s behavior in 1994.

This sort of scandal coverage may be useful in the long run by promoting a discussion about the obligations candidates have to their donors and about the campaign finance system in general. But the idea that a recipient is somehow culpable for the later-disclosed criminal activity of a donor seems rather thin gruel.

13) Love Drum on the rage of rural voters:

The two big explanations for the rise of this rural anger (and the rise of Trump) revolve around economics and race. The modern economy has screwed these folks over and they’re tired of it. Or: they’re badly threatened by the growth of the nonwhite population. Which is it? Almost certainly both, and in any case it doesn’t matter much: both of these things are likely to get worse from their point of view. The nonwhite population share is obviously going to keep growing, and the economy of the future is only going to become ever more tilted toward the highly educated. If working-class whites really are enraged by either or both of these things, they’re only going to get more enraged as time goes by.

That’s especially true if they keep voting for Republicans, who will actively make these things worse while skillfully laying off the blame on “elites” and “Hollywood liberals.” Keeping the rage machine going is their ticket to political power.

How do we prick this bubble? Obama tried to give them cheap health care, and it enraged them. He passed stricter regulation on the Wall Street financiers who brought us the Great Recession, and they didn’t care. He fought to reduce their payroll taxes and fund infrastructure to help the economy get back on track, and they sneered that it was just a lot of wasted money that ballooned the national debt.

14) Tom Ricks with a great personal essay on the importance of a good editor.

15) Dana Milbank: the Bible according to Trump.  Good stuff.

16) Loved this post from Dan Kennedy on journalists’ obsessive needs for “both sides!” when it comes to the political parties.  No, it’s not both sides:

Washington Post columnist Dan Balz, who epitomizes establishment thinking as David Broder once did, went out of his way to balance the Democrats’ “leftward movement” with the Republicans’ “rightward shift” and warned that Democrats “must find a way to harness the movement into a political vision that is attractive to voters beyond the Democratic base.”

The problem is that no reasonable comparison can be made between the two parties’ ideological shifts. Long before the age of Trump, the Republicans established themselves as the party of no. A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, was impeached because of a personal scandal that would have — should have — remained a secret but that was revealed through a partisan Republican investigation. The filibuster became routine under Republican rule, making it impossible to conduct the business of the Senate. The Republicans refuse to talk about gun control or climate change. The party hit bottom by refusing even to consider Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee — a deeply transgressive breach of longstanding norms on the part of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. And all of this was before the race-baiting, white-supremacist-coddling Donald Trump became president…

The institutional desire for evenhandedness, though, is so deeply ingrained that journalists struggle to move beyond it. New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen has called this the “production of innocence,” meaning that the press reflexively adopts equivalence between the two major parties as its default position even when the facts scream out against balance. “The conceit is that you can report and comment on politics truthfully while always and forever splitting the difference between the two sides so as to advertise your own status as perpetually non-aligned,” Rosen wrote. “What if that is not even possible? What if you have to risk the appearance of being partisan in order to describe accurately what is going on in a hyper-partisan situation?”

On a related note, so excited to be bringing Jay Rosen to NCSU in 10 days.

 

17) Digging around in SlateStarCodex the other day and really liked this post about adult developmental milestones.  Of course, I particularly liked it because I think I (and any decent social scientist, and many others, of course), have all of these.  And, because I think these are super-important.

Here are some other mental operations which seem to me to rise to the level of developmental milestones:

1. Ability to distinguish “the things my brain tells me” from “reality” – maybe this is better phrased as “not immediately trusting my system 1 judgments”. This is a big part of cognitive therapy – building the understanding that just because your brain makes assessments like “I will definitely fail at this” or “I’m the worst person in the world” doesn’t mean that you have to believe them. As Ozy points out, this one can be easier for people with serious psychiatric problems who have a lot of experience with their brain’s snap assessments being really off, as opposed to everyone else who has to piece the insight together from a bunch of subtle failures.

2. Ability to model other people as having really different mind-designs from theirs; for example, the person who thinks that someone with depression is just “being lazy” or needs to “snap out of it”. This is one of the most important factors in determining whether I get along with somebody – people who don’t have this insight tend not to respect boundaries/preferences very much simply because they can’t believe they exist, and to simultaneously get angry when other people violate their supposedly-obvious-and-universal boundaries and preferences.

3. Ability to think probabilistically and tolerate uncertainty. My thoughts on this were mostly inspired by another of David Chapman’s posts, which I’m starting to think might not be a coincidence.

4. Understanding the idea of trade-offs; things like “the higher the threshold value of this medical test, the more likely we’ll catch real cases but also the more likely we’ll get false positives” or “the lower the burden of proof for people accused of crimes, the more likely we’ll get real criminals but also the more likely we’ll encourage false accusations”. When I hear people discuss these cases in real life, they’re almost never able to maintain this tension and almost always collapse it to their preferred plan having no downside.

18) Finally saw Blade Runner 2049Vox a few days ago.  Loved the visuals, the general story, and the themes.  That said, a good example of more is less.  This would have been a much better 2 hour movie than the 2:45 it was.  Also, I was really disappointed in the score as I so love Vangelis’ score for the original and here the composers seemed to want to make up for lack of melody with loudness.  Appreciated Alyssa Wilkonson’s review for also pointing out these flaws.

 

 

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