Quick hits

Decided I didn’t want to spend the last day at the beach working on quick hits for Saturday, so, here you go with an evening edition instead.  Lots of good stuff.

1) Reviews of two books that take dramatically differing views of America’s police.  Of course, one is far more grounded in reality.

2) The Prosperity Gospel is such a disgusting perversion of Christianity.  Donald Trump is a disgusting perversion of American politics.  Naturally, they are a great fit.

3) Sure, politicians are not typically known for their honesty, but, not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s mendaciousness is clearly in a class by itself.

4) Bill Ayers on why he hates electoral politics:

For now, what bothers me so much about the whole mess is the extent to which elections have become an exercise in emotion-driven identity politics. This is true for nearly all people and across pretty much all issues. We want very much to think that elections, and politics in general, are about ideas, about figuring out what’s best for the country. But very little that has been said over the past year, and nothing that will be said from here on forward, is really about any of that.

What we’re really engaged in is a collective effort at ego protection, wishful thinking, and massive cognitive distortion brought about by emotion-driven biases. [emphasis mine]

5) I was shocked, shocked(!) to learn that Donald Trump doesn’t much believe in reading.

6) In other shocking news, GOP Congressional interns are really, really white.

7) Trump’s Art of the Deal ghostwriter thinks he’s a sociopath who would start a nuclear war.

8) I listened to Trump’s recent 60 Minutes interview.  The part about ISIS was truly, truly pathetic, as Drum points out:

This is pathetic. Trump acts like he’s back in the Celebrity Apprentice boardroom playacting a tough guy for the cameras. He declares that he will get “unbelievable intelligence”; he will “get rid of ISIS big league”; and he will “wipe them out.” But when Lesley Stahl repeatedly asks him about ground troops, he repeatedly says this isn’t in the cards. Maybe NATO will do it. Maybe other Arab countries will do it. Maybe troops will magically appear from a genie’s bottle. Even though Trump claims that we’re at war and President Obama is too weak and stupid to get it, in the end he basically endorses what Obama is doing right now. Like all the other armchair generals, he doesn’t have the backbone to risk taking an unpopular stand, even if it’s the only thing that would actually make a significant difference.

And when he’s done with this empty blather, what does Mike Pence say? “This is the kind of leadership America needs.” Heaven help us.

9) Drum also calls out Lesley Stahl for enabling Trump’s serial lying.

10) Slate with a list of (only) 141 reasons Trump is unfit to be president.

11) David Pogue is right.  We should be so done with passwords.  The technology is certainly there.

12) Can’t say I’m all that surprised to learn that the whole customized helmet to unflatten you child’s head (of course, I’m on record as being skeptical of the whole backsleeping thing anyway) is not medically necessary but largely being pushed by the customized helmet industry.

13) Sharp satire on Republicans coming out against Trump.

14) Nice Vox feature on how Trump won the primaries.  I like how it points out the number of truly lucky breaks that Trump got along the way in terms of where and when his opponents won and lost (e.g., I really do think thinks could have turned out different if not for Marcobot in NH).

15) Great New Yorker profile of America’s best jailhouse lawyer.  Mostly, it made me so sad and depressed at how institutionally corrupt our criminal justice system is.  And makes me think there’s probably tens of thousands of innocent people in prison.

16) Loved Brooks on Trump’s Pence announcement:

If you had to do a rough diagram of the Trump remarks it would be something like this: Pence … I was right about Iraq … Pence … Hillary Clinton is a crooked liar … I was right about “Brexit” … Pence … Hillary Clintons ads are filled with lies … We’re going to bring back the coal industry … Christians love me … Pence … I talk to statisticians … Pence is good looking My hotel in Washington is really coming along fantastically … Pence.

Donald Trump is in his moment of greatest triumph, but he seems more resentful and embattled than ever. Most political conventions are happy coronations, but this one may come to feel like the Alamo of aggrieved counterattacks.

17) It’s not nothing at all that Coach K has called North Carolina’s HB2 “embarrassing.”  K is a long-time, staunch Republican.

18) The psychology of why Americans are afraid of low crime levels.

19) Hans Noel argues that more contested conventions would be a good thing– and certainly help us avoid more Trumps.

20) They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  Love this tweet.

21) This USA Today is really harsh on HBO’s new Vice Principals.  And, you know what?  Strikes me as deserved.  I loved “Eastbound and Down,” but found the first episode of this new show simply unpleasant to watch.

22) That’s okay.  More time for me to watch season 3 of Bojack Horseman, which is getting rave reviews.

23) Love this from Will Saletan.  The headline captures it well, “Mike Pence’s New God:
The Christian conservative was supposed to bring morality to Trump’s campaign. Instead he caved to Trump.”

Quick hits (part II)

1) Using game theory to improve your parenting.

2) A Black former police officer on systemic racism in police departments.  A few bad apples really do spoil the barrel.

2) The bad officers corrupt the departments they work for

About that 15 percent of officers who regularly abuse their power: a major problem is they exert an outsize influence on department culture and find support for their actions from ranking officers and police unions.

That is huge and that is something that really, really needs to change.

3) Thomas Edsall on economic envy and the rise of Trump.

4) In reality, a giant— big and friendly, or otherwise– would need to have much thicker legs than the BFG.

5) Go ahead, eat your pasta.  In moderation.

6) What the Nordic countries get right:

Partanen’s principal question is the following: What’s the best way for a modern society to advance freedom and opportunity? She explains that Nordic governments do so by providing social services that the U.S. government doesn’t—things like free college education and heavily subsidized child care. Within that big question, Partanen poses more pointed questions about contemporary life in the United States: Is “freedom” remaining in a job you hate because you don’t want to lose the health insurance that comes with it? Is “independence” putting your career on hold, and relying on your partner’s income, so you can take care of a young child when your employer doesn’t offer paid parental leave or day care is too expensive? Is “opportunity” depending on the resources of your parents, or a bundle of loans, to get a university degree? Is realizing the American Dream supposed to be so stressful?

“What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America now only talks,” Partanen writes. “It’s a fact: A citizen of Finland, Norway, or Denmark is today much more likely to rise above his or her parents’ socioeconomic status than is a citizen of the United States.” The United States is not Finland. And, in one sense, that’s bad news for America. Numerous studies have shown that there is far greater upward social mobility in Nordic countries than in the United States, partly because of the high level of income inequality in the U.S.
In another sense, though, it’s perfectly fine to not be Finland. As Nathan Heller observed in The New Yorker, the modern Nordic welfare state is meant to “minimize the causes of inequality” and be “more climbing web than safety net.” Yet the system, especially in Sweden, is currently being tested by increased immigration and rising income inequality. And it’s ultimately predicated on a different—and not necessarily superior—definition of freedom than that which prevails in America. “In Sweden,” Heller argued, “control comes through protection against risk. Americans think the opposite: control means taking personal responsibility for risk and, in some cases, social status.”

7) Traffic tickets for those who drive too slowly in the left lane?  Yes, please!

8) Great analysis on just how incredibly narrow and wrong Trump’s world-view is, based on his 12 books.  Here’s the key:

For Donald Trump, calling someone a loser is not merely an insult, and calling someone a winner is not merely a compliment. The division of the world into those who win and those who lose is of paramount philosophical importance to him, the clearest reflection of his deep, abiding faith that the world is a zero-sum game and you can only gain if someone else is failing.

This is evident after reading all 12 of Trump’s books on politics and business (leaving out Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received, alas), as Vox staffers did over the course of the previous two months…

More generally, he’s always believed in the fundamental zero-sum nature of the world. Whether he’s discussing real estate in New York, or his ’00s reality TV career, or his views on immigration and trade, he consistently views life as a succession of deals. Those deals are best thought of as fights over who gets what share of a fixed pot of resources. The idea of collaborating for mutual benefit rarely arises. Life is dealmaking, and dealmaking is about crushing your enemies.

“You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win,” he writes inThink Big and Kick Ass, co-authored with Bill Zanker of the Learning Annex. “That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win — not the other side. You crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself.” To “crush the other side and take the benefits,” he declares, is “better than sex — and I love sex.”

Of course, those of us who understand how the world actually works realize that there’s all sorts of win-win situations.  Poor Donald Trump lives an incredibly constrained little world.  Sad.

9) Going back to literary fiction… I think Arthur Kyrstal is way too hung up on the quality and manner of the prose style.  I think Lev Grossman sets the bar too low, however (and despite it’s great reviews I found his Magicians decidedly ordinary).

10) This lawyer who specializes in security clearances says Hillary got off easy.

11) Okay, so maybe carbs aren’t that bad.

12) Fascinating post from an Indian on her struggles adapting to American small talk.

13) So, maybe people really do become more prejudiced as they age (not me when I’m an old man, damnit!).   So, had a class from this Von Hippel fellow in grad school.  He was awesome:

Bill von Hippel, a psychologist at the University of Queensland in Australia, has found an interesting pattern in his experiments and studies on age and prejudicial opinions.

Von Hippel finds that older adults generally want to be fair and restrain prejudicial thoughts. But they literally just can’t control themselves, which Von Hippel suspects is the result of the deterioration of the brain that comes with aging.

“A lot of research shows that older adults suffer losses in their ability to inhibit unwanted thoughts,” Von Hippel writes me in an email. “We have found that older adults who try to prevent stereotypes from influencing their judgment typically find that they rely on them more and more as they age. … Aging will tend to make many people more negatively disposed toward immigration.”

Here’s his idea. As we grow up, we’re constantly exposed to stereotypes. We can recognize them implicitly, even though we may not believe or act on them. Stereotypes “get activated automatically whether we want them to or not,” he says.

It takes mental effort — the executive control of the frontal lobes — to silence those stereotypes and think of people in a more well-rounded way. As we age, and as our frontal lobes lose their sharpness, we may lose that ability to inhibit stereotypical thoughts, despite our stated intentions.

14) The NRA, Philando Castile, and race.

15) Donald and Hobbes (instead of Calvin).  So good.

16) Michael Eric Dyson is just so wrong in this Op-Ed.  When you are pissing off white people like me with your rhetoric, you are really not helping.

16) Given that people keep getting shot at low-level traffic stops, maybe we should end low-level traffic stops.

17) Killer police robots.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Nate Cohn on Trump’s real potential with working-class white voters.

2) John Dickerson makes the case for restraint.

3) Best way to get out of rip current to swim parallel to the shore– right?  Maybe not.

 4) Lee Drutman suggests that the over-population of lawyers in politics in America may be partially responsible for our high inequality.

5) NYT Op-Ed on bringing basic principles of deterrence to corporate crime (I love my Jetta, but some VW execs need some prison time):

If we are serious about preventing corporate crime, we must change the corporate calculus. First, we need to increase the chances that white-collar criminals will be punished. One approach is an “enforcement pyramid” in which corporate infractions are met with graduated responses that start with education and end, if necessary, with prosecution.

Second, corporate executives must face the very real prospect of doing time in prison and not just pay fines. Judges have handed out very long sentences in well-publicized cases — Bernie Madoff and Jeff Skilling of Enron, for example. But these few severe penalties are not nearly as effective a deterrent as imposing relatively short prison sentences on a much larger number of white-collar defendants.

6) Dressers that can fall over when not anchored to the wall are not “defective” dressers, they are just plain dressers.  Physics.  Seems to me Ikea is doing due diligence through anchoring kits and public awareness.  I’ve put together a number of Ikea products in the past few years and they all come with anchor systems built in and very strong encouragement to use them.

7) Fascinating detective story to try and uncover if “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is real.

8) Nobel Laureate scientists take on Greenpeace over their anti-science, anti-GMO agenda (there’s a reason I contribute to environmental causes but never Greenpeace):

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter states…

Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Post, “I find it surprising that groups that are very supportive of science when it comes to global climate change, or even, for the most part, in the appreciation of the value of vaccination in preventing human disease, yet can be so dismissive of the general views of scientists when it comes to something as important as the world’s agricultural future.”

9) Interesting take on why GOT’s High Sparrow is so hated.

10) Okay, yes, it seems wrong to mention female pubic hair “grooming” in this family-friendly blog😉, but what I found disconcerting in this NYT article about the amazing prevalence of the practice was just how many women seemed to think that allowing your body to keep it’s natural hair is somehow unhygienic.  On a quasi-related note, it is interesting that in TV and movies about dystopias, there’s not always enough razors for men to shave their beards, but there’s always something for the women to shave their legs and armpits.

11) In case you weren’t clear, the government’s no-fly list is a horribly Orwellian policy utterly lacking in due process.  Should we keep dangerous people from flying?  Sure.  Should there be due process?  Hell yes.

12) OMG we have a lot of people in military bands.  The Republicans might not be wrong to suggest we could have some cutbacks here.  For what it’s worth, when I was a kid, I first took percussion from a drummer in the US Navy Band before moving to a teacher in the US Air Force Band.

The Pentagon fields more than 130 military bands worldwide, made up of about 6,500 musicians, and not just in traditional brass and drum corps like the kind that will march in many Fourth of July parades on Monday. There are also military rock acts with artsy names, conservatory-trained military jazz ensembles, military bluegrass pickers, even a military calypso band based in the Virgin Islands.

All of this cost about $437 million last year — almost three times the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts.

13) Former Bush administration CIA official explains why not saying “radical Islam” is smart strategy.  I’m sure Donald Trump is listening.

14) On the challenges of adult male friendships.  I find it just sad that so many men feel they cannot discuss matters beyond sports, etc., with their male friends.  I have friends with whom I just discuss sports, work, politics (hey, that’s work!), etc., with, but my truest and closest friends are certainly those with whom I can share (and listen) what’s actually going on in my life that matters.  I cannot imagine not having that in my friendships.

From childhood on, Dr. Olds said, “men’s friendships are more often based on mutual activities like sports and work rather than what’s happening to them psychologically. Women are taught to draw one another out; men are not.”

15) As I mentioned in an earlier post, the best predictor of future violence is uncontrolled anger.  Here’s a take from a psychologist on using mindfullness to help control anger.  Policies that help encourage this sort of psychological treatment with populations prone to anger can surely help.

16) Jordan Weissman on how Bernie doesn’t really get global trade.  And Drum on how to do Free Trade better.

17) This was a really interesting/disturbing review of a new Mercedes with self-driving technology.  Seems that the car does not do such a great job of letting you know whether you, the human, or the computer is in charge.  That’s just asking for trouble.   Reminded me of a terrific 99% Invisible from just about a year ago about how the real difficulty in autonomous control systems is the impact that has on human psychology and decision-making.

18) One hell of an optical illusion.

19) Seriously, we have to find some way to limit the amazing amount of damage Saudi Arabia is doing to the world through relentlessly exporting their awful form of Islam.

20) Ended up attempting to explain “literary fiction” to my oldest son yesterday.  He was not impressed with my answer, even though I thought I did pretty well.  It’s complicated!  Anyway, I actually liked this take as much as any I came across.

Quick hits (part II)

1) The show trial of the IRS Commissioner:

No one in their right mind would have wanted the job. Koskinen took it for the reasons that Dwight Ink (and the wonk community) prized when he singled out Koskinen for praise. He did it to make government work better for the American people. And, like most other executive-branch nominees, he had to endure delays and a filibuster before being confirmed in December 2013.

His reward: an irresponsible, unprecedented, and politically motivated attack from Republicans in the House…

There is a broader motive here, coming from radical forces that want to blow up all of government as we know it. Intimidating, undermining, and destroying the IRS’s capacity to carry out its role, to collect all the tax money that’s owed, to starve government, makes all agencies perform more poorly, and leads to a backlash against government. The poor service that results from cutting personnel also alienates taxpayers, frustrates their efforts to keep up with tax law, and makes it easier to evade the law.

2) Great interactive feature on the new Panama Canal.

3) I do get a little tired of the trope that the NRA “buys” or “owns” Members of Congress.  They don’t vote the way they do for money, but because they largely believe the same things the NRA does (and the NRA are, thus, quite happy to help keep them in office).

4) Teens should have unglamorus summer jobs.  Another parenting fail on my part I need to work on next year.  Also, I hated it at the time but I’m damn glad I spent summers working at K-Mart and in a warehouse.  That really taught me a lot I would have not otherwise learned.

5) The world’s disappearing sand.

6) An AR-15 owner defends his choice of gun.

7) Is Estonia the new Finland when it comes to education?  One thing seems clear– the success in both case comes from a strong commitment to equity.

8) Donald Trump’s ignorance helps expose the “good guy with a gun” fallacy.

9) A better way to punish malfeasant police— sue them:

But when an officer uses excessive force or makes an unlawful arrest or search, proving wrongful conduct is not enough. Under Section 1983 of the federal civil rights statute, the officer can escape liability with the special defense of qualified immunity — showing that he reasonably believed his conduct was lawful, even if it was not. And if the jury finds the officer liable, federal law does not require his employer to pay the award.

Juries, and even judges in non-jury trials, are reluctant to convict police officers of a crime, even in the face of ample evidence. With rare exceptions, they simply will not say “guilty” and risk sending an officer to prison. Suing the officer for money damages in a federal civil rights suit is the only realistic way to establish police misconduct and secure at least some vindication for victims and their families.

But Congress needs to strengthen Section 1983 in three ways. First, the defense of qualified immunity should be abolished. If an officer violates the Constitution, the victim should win the lawsuit, just as he or she wins when hit by an officer negligently driving his vehicle.

Second, the city (or county or state) that employs the officer should pay a damage award, just as a governmental employer pays for injury caused by an officer’s negligent driving. A jury would be more willing to rule against a city than to make a police officer pay out of his own pocket.

Third, the local U.S. attorney, not just the victim of the unconstitutional conduct, should be authorized to bring the suit. When federal law has been violated, a federal lawyer should act on behalf of the victim. A jury is more likely to take the matter seriously if a U.S. attorney sues than when the victim is the plaintiff, who can sometimes be perceived as a not very respectable member of the community.

10) Drum says I should stop staring at my backup camera and just consider it another window.  I already do that, so I guess I’m good.  Like any technology, just don’t over-rely upon it.

11) What little boys can learn from Disney princesses.  Safe to say my not-so-little boys have had way more exposure thanks to having a little sister.

12) A defense of Hillary Clinton’s honesty.

13) Sweden is finding out how hard it is to quit nuclear power (they shouldn’t).

14) What’s the matter with Kansas?  Just ruinous conservative Republican economic policies in full fruition.

15) How Subarus came to be the lesbian car:

In the 1990s, Subaru’s unique selling point was that the company increasingly made all-wheel drive standard on all its cars. When the company’s marketers went searching for people willing to pay a premium for all-wheel drive, they identified four core groups who were responsible for half of the company’s American sales: teachers and educators, health-care professionals, IT professionals, and outdoorsy types.Then they discovered a fifth: lesbians. “When we did the research, we found pockets of the country like Northampton, Massachusetts, and Portland, Oregon, where the head of the household would be a single person—and often a woman,” says Tim Bennett, who was the company’s director of advertising at the time. When marketers talked to these customers, they realized these women buying Subarus were lesbian.
“There was such an alignment of feeling, like [Subaru cars] fit with what they did,” says Paul Poux, who later conducted focus groups for Subaru. The marketers found that lesbian Subaru owners liked that the cars were good for outdoor trips, and that they were good for hauling stuff without being as large as a truck or SUV. “They felt it fit them and wasn’t too flashy,” says Poux.

16) Kristof says he was wrong about welfare reform.

17) He also has a nice column on our criminal justice system’s deplorable war on poor people.

18) It ain’t easy being an anti-gun advocate in gun-loving America.

19) Enjoyed this ranking of Pixar movies.

20) Jeffrey Toobin on the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling (it’s a big deal).

21) Walter Dellinger makes as succinct and persuasive case as I’ve seen for Obama’s immigration executive order.  That said, whether the Supreme Court decision in this case was right or not, I find it eminently reasonable.  No matter your position, Obama was clearly pushing at the boundaries of executive authority here.  Maybe it should have been found on the Constitutional side, but given the boundary-pushing nature, I think there’s plenty of reasonable justification for either outcome.

Quick hits (part II)

1) I’ve got a soft-spot for good post-apocalyptic fiction.  I think Station Eleven, which I just finished this week, is the best I’ve read since The Road.

2) Loved this take on terrorism and suicide as the limiting factor from Drum:

Most mass shootings and car bombings require something that’s in short supply: people willing to die for their cause (or, in a few cases, spend the rest of their lives in prison for their cause). Even among the most extreme reaches of jihadism, there are fewer folks willing to commit suicide than you might think, and you can’t afford to waste them on small attacks. You need to use them on big stuff.

I’ve always thought this was the gating item. It’s absolutely true that in America, at least, it’s trivially easy to buy the means of mass slaughter—a gun with a large magazine and a fast firing rate—and learn how to use it. It’s also easy to find soft targets: night clubs, PTA meetings, church services, weddings, etc. If you could recruit a small army of terrorists truly willing to train for these jobs (which generally requires a certain minimum of self discipline) and then carry them out in the face of almost certain death (which generally requires a certain minimum of reckless volatility), the potential damage would be huge.

We’ll be in real trouble if we ever get to the point where that small army exists—which is why it’s important to make sure we never get there. This is not something the military can do: they can’t make people less angry, and they can’t kill every angry person. Nor is it something the FBI can do. They can try to track angry people and intercede before they kill anyone, but they’ll never be able to ID more than a fraction of them.

One way or another, the only real answer to this dilemma is to reduce the number of young men who become so angry they’re willing to die for a cause. So what’s the best way of doing that? Every national politician should have an answer to that question. Immigration bans and air strikes may sound appealing, and they might even work in the short term, but they’re just fingers in the dike. In the end, reducing the supply of angry young men is the only real solution.

3) So, this was paid content in The New Yorker, but it was a pretty interesting to learn that it’s not just supply and demand for an over-rated apple that makes Honeycrisp so expensive.  (Honeycrisp are good apples, but being paid content, you’d think this was the only crisp apple out there).

4) Molly Ball says stop blaming the media for Trump.

5)  Chait on why Jews and Asians are Democrats (short version: Republicans make it pretty clear they are the party for white Americans, all other stuff aside).  And Chait on how Republicans don’t understand Obama and race:

“[Obama] has used tribalism to grow his own power,” writes Shapiro. “By cobbling together a coalition of racial and ethnic interest groups, Obama knew he could maximize the power of the government to act on their behalf.” It is true, of course, that Democrats do appeal to different members of their coalition on the basis of their interests. If you believe that racial discrimination against white people is as serious a problem in American life as discrimination against racial minorities, as Republicansoverwhelmingly do, then you’re inclined to view any specific appeal to minorities as the odious dangling of special favors…

The complaint that Democrats appeal to voters fundamentally on the basis of their identity is a strange one. After all, unlike the Republican coalition, which is almost entirely white, Obama’s coalition is multiethnic. Whites supplied more than half (55 percent) of Obama’s votes in 2012, with nonwhites (African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans) providing the rest. The Republican Party relies almost entirely on whites, who provide about 90 percent of its votes. It is bizarre to describe the coalition balancing members of different ethnic backgrounds as appealing to ethnicity and the party consisting of a single ethnic group as not.

6) Pros and Cons of Hillary’s VP possibilities.  I’m going with Tim Kaine.

7) Kristof on the breast-feeding gap.  I had not really thought enough about the role of public policy in encouraging it.

Affluent moms in America breastfeed, but there’s a class and a race gap. Because fewer young, black, poor and uneducated mothers nurse, a subset of American babies fall behind with their first bottle, compounding other kinds of disadvantage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58.9 percent of black infants have ever breastfed, compared to 75.2 percent of whites and 80 percent of Hispanics.

This isn’t a chance to cast blame on formula-feeding moms — just the opposite. We need to acknowledge the barriers to breastfeeding and support moms who try…

Formula was easily available through the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program and Emergency Infant Services. Both programs encourage breastfeeding, but allow moms to decide for themselves.

And here, we meet the confusing incentives that drive formula feeding. Social programs should provide formula to babies who need it, but in doing so, do they inadvertently promote bottle feeding for mothers who could nurse? Couple that with aggressive marketing by the $3 billion formula industry, the challenges of pumping and refrigerating milk and a lack of knowledge about the biology of breastfeeding. Why should a young mother believe the effort to nurse is worthwhile?

“There is a commercial and promotional aspect to it, that — not meaning to be a pun — feeds in to this,” Piwoz said. “The free supplies, the direct, indirect messages that formula is as good as or just like breast milk, messages that get conveyed either directly or indirectly that your milk isn’t good enough.”

But in upper- and middle-class communities, a new, trendy industry cheers on moms who choose to breastfeed. Nursing boutiques like “The Upper Breast Side” and “Yummy Mummy” offer nursing bras, pump consultations and “lactation cookies,” with oats, brewer’s yeast and flax seed to boost milk production.

8) Kevin Drum on our odd obsession with top 10% teachers.  There’s a bell curve in every profession and it would be awesome if all professionals could be like the very best in their profession.  But that’s just not life.

9) James Hamblin on toxic masculinity and murder:

10) Nice piece from Catherine Rampell taking Paul Ryan to task for not advocating Medicaid expansion:

But it is also a fixable problem. It just requires some leadership. If Ryan really cares about encouraging the poor to move up in the world — which his recent report indicates he does — he should urge state-level Republicans to swallow their pride, get over petty partisan differences and expand Medicaid nationwide once and for all.

11) People who know about criminal justice know that a disturbingly high number of confessions are actually coerced, false confessions.  Alas, it seems too many jurors and prosecutors think all confessions must be true.  That needs to change.  Oh, and we need to stop coercing confessions.  Just one more sad story of somebody imprisoned for a false confession at the age of 14.

12) Drum on the lack of any decent arguments in opposition to banning high-capacity magazines.

13) Practice does not always make perfect.  Great piece on the matter in Vox.  And, once again, an opportunity for me strongly plug The Sports Gene.  (And going back to my original post on it, I can report that Evan’s music trainability is definitely high).

14) The sad story of lower-tier law schools.  What amazes me is the huge number of people who delude themselves into thinking that paying the money for a private, lowly-ranked, law school is a good idea in today’s marketplace for lawyers.  It’s so not.

15) Conservative editor Matthew Continetti on Trump:

Four years ago I wrote that the summer of an election year is when campaigns define their opponents. In 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign transformed Mitt Romney from a mild-mannered technocrat into a soulless tool of capital. On Thursday Clinton began her television campaign against Trump, spending millions of dollars in swing states that will define the New York real-estate developer as a risk to the nation’s economy and security, a misogynist and bigot, an ignoramus and doofus. She won’t be wrong.

What is most remarkable is that the television advertising is beside the point. Donald Trump has done the Democrats’ work for them, defining himself in the most negative terms through an unending series of inane, ludicrous, and deranged comments. It’s not the media, the party elite, the Democrats sabotaging Donald Trump. It’s Trump. This is self-immolation on an epic scale.

16) I’ve listened to this interview on Fresh Air about “OJ: Made in America” and just last night finished watching part 1.  Absolutely riveting.  And as a young football and pop culture fan, reminded me of how much I had loved OJ way back when.  And, damn, could that man run with a football.

Quick hits (part II)

1) This post about words not to use around your teenage children is dope.

2) Clickbait for me– a post looking back at the technology (massive laptops, etc.)  in Beverly Hills 90210

3) There are more white voters out there than we realize.  Maybe good news for Trump.  But probably not enough.

4) In Oklahoma, cops are no longer restricting their civil asset forfeiture (i.e., legal thievery) to cash but taking electronic payments as well.

5) The fact that it is not currently the law that financial advisers are required to look out for the interests of their clients, not themselves, is just wrong.  The fact that Republicans are helping them fight to keep it this way is truly appalling.

6) How academic leaders are actually responsible for the chilling of free speech on campus.

But there is a different, though equally important, reason many students today are willing to suppress free expression on campus. And the fault largely lies at the feet of many of the country’s academic leaders. Students and their families have been increasingly treated as “customers.” Presidents of colleges and universities have been too reluctant to “offend” their customers, which may help explain why they so often yield to wrong-headed demands by students. Courage at universities is, unfortunately, a rare commodity—and it’s particularly rare among leaders of institutions pressured by students to act in a politically correct way.

It seems that the vast majority of presidents and provosts of the finest U.S. universities have not seized this moment of concern voiced by students as a teaching moment—a moment to instruct and discuss with students what college is about. Too many academic leaders are obsessed with the security of their own jobs and their desire to protect the reputation of their institution, and too few are sufficiently interested in making statements that may offend students but that show them why they are at these colleges—and why free expression is a core and enabling value of any higher-learning institution that considers itself of the first rank. Of course, there are strong academic leaders who do encourage open discussions of issues raised by students while also speaking out against restrictions on campus speech, against speech codes, safe-space psychology, and micro-aggressions. But they are too few and far between.

7) Are Republican Trump supporters modern-day Neville Chamberlains?

8) This is just a great break-down of a the action leading to a goal (Jermaine Jones for US vs. Costa Rica).

9) Wonkblog summarizes Clinton’s policy agenda.

10) Jon Cohn  performs a public service by consolidating all the worst stuff Trump has said.

11) I honestly suspect that during the campaign we’re going to see a lot to undermine Trump’s reputation as a great businessman.  Atlantic City casinos are a good place to start:

His audacious personality and opulent properties brought attention — and countless players — to Atlantic City as it sought to overtake Las Vegas as the country’s gambling capital. But a close examination of regulatory reviews, court records and security filings by The New York Times leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump’s casino business was a protracted failure. Though he now says his casinos were overtaken by the same tidal wave that eventually slammed this seaside city’s gambling industry, in reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing. [emphasis mine]

But even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen.

12) The latest evidence on the existence of planets in the universe seems to make it very, very likely that– at least at some point– there has been other intelligent life in the universe.

13) Are Molten Salt Reactors the energy of the future?  Maybe.  If not them, I think chances are pretty good that we will have some truly amazing energy breakthroughs within the next decade or two.

14) Seth Masket says at least one American political party is working:

“There are always internal divisions within any party, but divisions in 2016 in the Democratic Party are relatively mild,” said Georgetown University political scientist Hans Noel, co-author of “The Party Decides,” via e-mail.

I think the main thing that differentiates the Democrats and the Republicans is that the divide in the Republican Party was among party elites and activists, as well as voters. It was a divide between the Cruz/House Freedom Caucus wing and the Bush/Boehner wing. It was hard to bridge in Congress, and it turned out to be impossible to bridge in the electorate. Donald Trump thus took advantage of this divide and captured control of some of the voters, mostly from the Cruz wing but not exclusively. But the Democrats have been largely united behind Clinton from the start, and the dissatisfaction among voters, while deep, is not widespread.

15) There’s a long evolutionary war going on between snakes and newts.

 

16) Silicon Valley is brilliant television.  You should watch it.  Here’s how they keep it grounded in the real Silicon Valley.

17) Drum says it’s time we stop pretending Trump is about economic anxiety.  He’s right:

“Economic anxiety” as a campaign issue has always been a red herring. And even if you back off a bit and try to limit it solely to the notion that whites are losing ground to minorities, the evidence still doesn’t back you up. You can cherry pick here and there if you want to make that case, but it’s tough sledding. Basically, everyone’s been in the same boat, and blacks and Hispanics haven’t really made up any ground versus whites.

So white anger isn’t really about blacks and Hispanics taking their jobs. Or about blacks and Hispanics making more money and leaving whites behind. Nor do whites have any special economic reason to be more pessimistic about the future than blacks and Hispanics.

If you want to get to the root of this white anxiety, you have to go to its roots. It’s cultural, not economic. It’s demographics, not paychecks. It’s about not being the boss anymore. It’s about lower-class white communities now exhibiting pathologies—drug abuse, low marriage rates, etc.—that were once reasons for them to look down on blacks.

18) Good Lord is Charles Pierce fun to read– especially on Trump:

So, the annual Family and Freedom Summit is going on in Washington, as various Bible-banging grifters and god-bothering Pharisees scour the gospels to find the passage where Jesus gives a pass to vulgar talking yams as long as they can put, say, Pennsylvania in play.

(Those inconvenient speeches about camels and a needle’s eye are readily skipped.)

Anyway, He, Trump stopped by today to assure them that his faith is indeed huge, and that it is the greatest faith anyone ever has had, and that his house has many mansions and they all have gold-plated plumbing fixtures. The presumptive Republican nominee read some words that somebody else wrote for him, once again appearing to have been shot with a tranquilizer dart prior to taking the podium. He was preceded on stage by Ralph Reed, the famous casino bagman and future timeshare owner in Hell, who impressed upon the faithful the need to vote for a guy who thinks they’re even bigger suckers than Reed does.

 He, Trump then came out and his speech was approximately as coherent theologically as a pile of leaves is coherent as a tree.

19a) Two ILRIA’s this week.  Frum on how Trump is violating the “seven guardrails of democracy” and eroding established norms that are essential and fundamental to the health of our nation.

19b) And Ezra Klein making basically the same important and accurate case, minus the metaphor.  Read ’em.  This is why Trump should never, ever get anywhere near the presidency.

Quick hits (part I)

1) It’s nearly impossible for prisoners to sue prisons.  Given that lawsuits are how we actually ensure accountability in so many institutions, it shouldn’t be.

2) An appeal for the left to come together to defeat Trump.

3) Awesome animated gif of the Milky Way.

4) Sure, Trump has dangerous ideas on lots of stuff.  But dangerous ideas about nuclear weapons are especially dangerous.

5) Liberals think Trump is really conservative and conservatives think Clinton is really liberal.

6) Todd VanDerWerff argues that TV shows are killing off too many characters simply for shock value:

The problem with most TV deaths is pretty simple: They’re frequently devoid of meaning, inserted into the plot only to create shock and boost a show’s profile on Twitter.

Yet because of that all-but-guaranteed burst of buzz — and the continued success of death-heavy shows Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead — networks and showrunners keep pushing character death as a one-size-fits-all problem for dramas in trouble.

7) Why it took so long to get all the photos from Pluto.  And, damn, are Fox news personalities so stupid.

8) Some nice background on the federal judge Trump has been slandering.  Among other things, he successfully prosecuted many Mexican drug traffickers and earned credible death threats for his efforts.

9) Liked Fred Kaplan’s take on Hillary’s anti-Trump, foreign policy speech:

10) Wake County public schools (where I live) will be replacing “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” with Latin honors, as is used in colleges.  Conservatives are freaking out.

11) A conservative Republican congressman admits to using medical marijuana, with great success, while in office.  Of course, he know supports reasonable marijuana laws.  If only some Republicans could have the modicum of imagination to support policies before they or their families are directly affected.

12) Ever spent the night in the hospital?  It’s horrible.  It’s also horrible for pediatric patients.  Finally, hospitals are figuring out that constantly waking patients up during the night is not exactly conducive to recovery.

13) Drum on the government’s overzealous new salt guidelines:

The lesson here is simple: As with everything else, you shouldn’t overdo the salt. And if you have a specific medical condition that requires low sodium, then listen to your doctor. Beyond that, though, the chances are that your sodium intake is fine. As near as I can tell, our nutritional establishment remains hellbent on hectoring us about our diets based on a combination of weak evidence and folk wisdom from Satchel Paige. Then they wonder why no one pays attention to them.

14) This newly opened tunnel through the Alps is pretty amazing.

15) It really is pretty crazy and wrong that we still have elephants in circuses.

16) Speaking of crazy and wrong, it really is something just how incredibly stupid Rush Limbaugh is when it comes to evolution.

17) I’m not much of an NBA guy, but Lebron James really is an amazing passer.  My jaw literally dropped watching some of his finest embedded in this appreciation.

18) Love this idea on how to fix the soccer shootout:

Here’s my simple idea: Play the penalties before extra time. If one team outscores the other in the subsequent 30 minutes of open play, then that result will trump the outcome of the penalty kicks. If extra time ends in a draw, then the game goes to the penalty winner.

Why is this an improvement over the current system? The most important benefit is that one team—the penalty loser—would be desperate to score. This would be far superior to what we see now, a slowed-down stalemate in which, more often than not, a pair of worn-down teams seem to have resigned themselves to penalties before the first ball is kicked in extra time. While the penalty winner would no doubt play cynically, wasting time to prevent the penalty loser from scoring a decisive goal, that would still be more enjoyable than watching teams collude to run 30 minutes off the clock.

19) Missing white voters are not going to save Trump.  Even if they could, they are not efficiently distributed.

20) Love this approach from CNN on Trump’s constant lies. More of this from the media, please!

Looks like HuffPo has been similarly inspired. I’ve now seen this appended to multiple articles:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

21) I shared this really cool optical illusion years ago, I think, but it just popped up again in my FB “on this day.”  Still very cool.

22) How Neanderthal DNA may have helped humans survive.

23) NC Republicans will seemingly do anything to avoid using scientifically-proven regulatory means for protecting water quality.  Their latest scheme includes introducing an invasive species of mussel to clean the water.  Seriously.  The fact that people this dumb and ideologically-blinded are running my state is so depressing.

 

 

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