Quick hits (part II– after all)

Ended up with a ton of open tabs this weekend.  So, here’s a late quick hits part II.

1) Is parenthood worse for your happiness than divorce or death of a partner?  The latest research says that at least during the first year of parenthood, this is the case.  In a less busy week, I would’ve read more of this because I am a bit skeptical of such a strong hit (though chronic sleep deprivation surely matters).

2) Fertility clinics destroy embryos all the time (much like an early abortion).  Why aren’t conservatives after them?!  Maybe something like this:

The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound , you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place .

If anti-choice lawmakers cared as much about protecting life as they did about women having sex, they could promote laws that prevent unwanted pregnancy. Yet the same conservatives who restrict abortion also oppose insurance coverage for contraception and comprehensive sexuality education. They view contraception, like abortion, as a “license” to have non-procreative sex. Women, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee assures us, don’t need contraception — they just need to “control their libido.”

I also think it is largely simply politically untenable to attack fertility clinics (as I’ve mentioned in the case of the Catholic Church leaving the issue alone despite the clear, strong violation of Catholic teaching).

3) Less than a decade ago, Republicans seemingly favored voting rights.  What happened?

4) Hopefully you know about the mindset research of Carol Dweck.  If not, John F. recently shared this excellent summary.  Honestly, I feel like I’ve done pretty well in life for having a fixed mindset.

5) Think it is barbaric to lock human beings in solitary confinement.  Even better, many states regularly do this with juveniles– “for their own protection.”  Certainly not the protection of their sanity.

6) A solid majority of Americans under 50 think they will not get a social security benefit.  That’s nuts.  They will.  At worst, it will be somewhat reduced.  In other news, most Americans under 50 don’t really understand social security or American politics.

7) I cannot even imagine working at Amazon.  Fascinating workplace culture.

8) I doubt that Obama will finish all these books on his vacation.  But I love his love of good books and reading.

9) Should have been a few more, but one of the kids closed all my open tabs– despite repeated admonitions not to do so– and I swear some were missing from my history.

Quick hits

So, had such the busy vacation this week that I probably did only a quarter as much (if that) of my usual on-line reading. Thus, you get a short, one-day quick hits.

1) So, in Kentucky they seem to think it appropriate to handcuff  8 and 9 -year old  kids with ADHD to get them to behave.

2) Not exactly photos, but a pretty awesome collection of movie stills (thanks, JP).

3) Are Republicans shooting themselves in the foot over abortion?  I actually don’t think so, but there’s a good case to be made for it.    The Vox take.   Drum has a provocative take:

Here’s an interesting recent poll question:

There’s not much need to tell you I just made this up. If it were real, this bill would get 0 percent support. Everyone who saw it would be immediately appalled at the idea that someone could be casually murdered if they were born as a result of rape or incest.

But if you ask this same question about abortion, this is roughly what you get. Very strong majorities, even among Republicans, support an exception to an abortion ban for rape and incest. Among other things, this is why I don’t believe most people who claim to believe that abortion is murder. If you support a rape or incest exception, it’s pretty obvious you don’t really think of abortion as murder.

4) I’m with this take on #blacklivesmatter and Bernie.

5) I love that Vox has so many articles about the ethics of meat-eating.  This one asks if there is a moral case for eating meat.  Let’s just put it this way… we damn sure owe our mean animals a much better life than we give them.  I wish we could do that as a society at minimum.

6) The Economist with (another) nice piece on gun ownership in America.

7) Conducted a little real estate during my recent vacation.  Had never actually heard of Redfin before a few weeks ago.  I’ve always thought many Real Estate agents earn way too much money.  My poor agent in Lubbock, Texas labored just as hard (if not harder) to sell us a $77,000 home as my dad worked to sell similar $400,000 homes in Northern Virginia (yet would earn less than 1/4 as much from that sale).  Glad to see that Redfin is bringing some meaningful disruption to this model.

8) John Oliver on Sex Education.  Of course it’s awesome.

9) Low fat versus low carb not at all settled by this research, but it does suggest that low carb does not have the metabolic advantages many believe.  The real secret?  Whatever helps the given individual best reduce calorie intake.

10) Now that’s what you call headline writing, “Carly Fiorina Comes Out in Favor of Kids Getting Measles.”

11) Chris Christie likes to pretend he is Mr. Truth-Teller/tell it like it is.  When it comes to taxes, he’s no better than other Republicans.

At that time, federal revenue is projected to equal about 19.4 percent of GDP absent any policy changes. There is, in other words, a vast budget gap that will need to be filled. Unlike his opponents, Mr. Christie has proposed specific benefit cuts that would narrow the gap somewhat. But neither his proposals, nor any other, can close the gap entirely in the absence of increased revenue. Trying to do so would leave the government paying pensions and rising interest costs (as it borrowed more and more) and devoting little or nothing to the other things Americans expect from government: defense, roads, bridges, basic scientific research, national parks and more.

Political bravery would be admitting this reality — not just the attenuated version the GOP base wants to hear — and refusing to pre-reject an entire range of policy options to deal with it. Some candidates have managed this. Though no fan of raising taxes, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, for example, has never signed the pledge through several previous campaigns for office. That is the only responsible position. To sign a pledge is to make a reckless promise that locks politicians into an arbitrarily restrictive budget policy, no matter what circumstances time brings, and ignores the reality that is bearing down on the nation.

12) I feel so much safer knowing that state law enforcement arrested a bunch of people for LSD, etc., at a nearby Phish concert.

 

 

 

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) Excellent Josh Marshall on the declining marginal value of crazy in the Republican Party:

In a crowded field, for almost everyone but Bush, it’s critical to grab hold of the mantle of anger and grievance. But the Huckabees and Cruzes simply cannot compete with Trump, who is not only willing to say truly anything but also has – whatever else you can say about his nonsense – a talent for drama and garnering press attention honed over decades. With a mix of aggression, boffo self-assertion and nonsense, Trump has managed to boil modern Republicanism down to a hard precipitate form, shorn of the final vestiges of interest in actual governing.

2) Actual scholars of international conflict are way more skeptical of war than the American public.

3) The research on small class size is not quite what you think it is and certainly should not be used to eliminate teaching assistants in early grades.

4) What not to say to people who struggle with infertility.  Definitely good advice.

5) In general elections, debates really don’t matter all that much.  They are surely more important in primaries (where voters don’t have the Party ID cue to rely upon) and Thursday’s was probably especially important for shaping the Invisible Primary.

6) On why it is a good idea to make college education available to prisoners.

7) Inkjet printers are one of the biggest scams in the marketplace (the ink is priced like a precious metal).  Fortunately, we switched to a laser ages ago.  David Pogue on a new Epson that actually charges you what the printer costs but doesn’t horribly screw you over on ink prices.  The big question is whether consumers are smart enough to think beyond the initial purchase price.

8) People complain about teacher’s unions, but seems to me that police unions create way more problems.  Seems like they believe police never do wrong.

9) You’ve probably seen all the reporting on how the formula for setting workplaces too cold in the summer is based on 1960’s men.  I appear to have a metabolism similar to women and I hate the workplace in the summer.  I’ve been known to use my space heater in July.

10) This is from a while back, but new to me: how gothic architecture took over college campuses.  As a Duke alum, I found this particularly interesting.  I was always told a story that they purposely used stone in the stairways that would wear away extra fast from foot traffic to make it all appear older.

The American college campus, and its Gothic filigree, seem timeless, pristine constructions. Nothing could be farther from the truth: They are historical eruptions, made possible by philanthropic economics, continental envy and racism. That doesn’t detract from their inherent beauty: Rather, to think more clearly about colleges, we should recognize and adapt ourselves to their history and their contingency.

11) A friend recently shared a Richard Thaler graduation speech it’s good stuff.  Especially on the economics of doing what you enjoy.

12) I get so tired of the “Democrats did it, too!” you hear from NC Republicans.  I’m not alone.

13) Yes, lawns are evil.  Especially when you live in west Texas where it rains less than 20 inches a year (my previous home) or you live somewhere with a bunch of rain, but your soil is clay and all covered up by big oaks which provide great shade (now).  I could have a nice lawn if I wanted to spend hours every single week on it.  I don’t.

14) Having health insurance is great.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually save the country money on overall health expenditures.  That said, the non-dollar benefit of peace of mind and better health that come from actually having health insurance seem plenty worth the added cost.

15) Loved this Ezra Klein on the absolute shamelessness of Trump.

16) Picky eating among children is linked to adult anxiety and depression.  When I think about the psychology of picky eating, I’m not all surprised.  I guess I’m unusual for being a picky eater but as psychologically stable as they come.

17) Nice Op-Ed on school vouchers and the enemies of public education.

18) Maybe teenagers hanging out on social media all the time isn’t really so bad.

Where is the doom and gloom?

A new report on “Teens, Technology and Friendships” from the Pew Foundation puts an unusually positive spotlight on the online lives of teenagers as they build friendships and connections in a digital world. Teenagers aged 13 to17 are finding ways to strengthen their relationships with real-world friends as well as making new friends through social media, video gaming, messaging apps and other virtual connectors.

This is not the usual story of teenagers in the online realm. Where are the dire warnings about how the online world is depriving our teenagers of their opportunity to learn the skills needed to interact with people instead of screens while exposing them to all manner of bullying and cruelty, and tempting them to fritter away endless hours playing video games?

19) I don’t like beer.  At all.  American or otherwise.  That said, I did find this article on why American beer is so weak to be fascinating.

20) After listening to a Fresh Air interview with Sarah Hepola, I realized that I didn’t truly understand an alcohol induced blackout.  You are conscious and functioning (though, impaired), but stop laying down long-term memories.  Freaky.  That means a person can say “Sure, I want to have sex with you” and climb into bed, but then “wake up” under somebody else and have absolutely no idea how they got there.  Of course acquaintance rape is a real and genuine problem, but I cannot help but wondering how many times a blackout is mistaken for a lack of consent.  And here’s the Salon piece on Hepola’s memoir of excessive drinking.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) In what’s really no surprise, an absurdly small number of people have an absurdly huge influence over American elections.

2) The case for giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish (I’m a proud donor to Give Directly myself).

3) Will Saletan catalogs the inconvenient truths admitted to in the Republican debate.  Reihan Salam on how Trump is not going away and part of a larger, international populism.  Fred Kaplan on how the GOP candidates showed shockingly little knowledge of foreign policy.

4) I learned the difference between i.e., and e.g., year ago and it is proved helpful on myriad occasions.

5) Two theories of CEO pay– I’ve got a lot of confidence in the “CEO Pay is basically irrational” theory.

6) Don’t look to the 8th Circuit for solid legal reasoning on abortion.

7) Very nice column on what we do wrong in criminal justice and how we can do better.  Also, a great Fresh Air interview with the author:

We need to quit wasting time trying to sort out who deserves blame and get out of the payback business. Instead, we should focus on remedying the harm, rehabilitating the criminal, discouraging others from taking similar actions, and treating the conditions that precipitated the crime in the first place.

Most important, a public-health model of crime allows us to shift resources from punishment to prevention. A reactive criminal-justice system, like the one we have now, is doomed to always come up short. There is no execution that can compensate for a victim’s murder. There is no appeal process that can restore the lost years of a wrongful conviction. In the future, our major tools for fighting crime will not be police officers, trials, and incarceration, but better prenatal intervention, improved schools, and widely available mental-health care. That will make for duller episodes of Law & Order, but it will leave us far safer and more just.

8) The latest research on choosing the right running shoe (just pick the one that is the most comfortable– seriously).

9) How Jon Stewart changed media.

10) The expert witness who never met a police shooting he didn’t like.

11) Kristof with a nice column on the absolute absurdity of Republicans trying to cut family planning funding.

12) Nice infographic on the deadliest drugs.  The top three are all legal.

13) For some reason, people keep being surprised that I still use the Netflix DVD service.  It’s still far and away the most economical way to see most of the movies you’d actually want to see.

14) On how John Roberts has been fighting against the Voting Rights Act for his whole career.

15) Probation sounds pretty easy, but it can end up being a very harsh (and often arbitrary) punishment.

16) I ignored the links to this for a while, but I did enjoy this paramedic arguing in favor of the high minimum wage for fast food workers.

17) Some nice Ayn Rand satire from McSweeney’s.

18) Nice take on the war on public education in North Carolina.

19) Really, really good James Fallows in the Iran deal.  Short, but really hammers home some key points.

20) How poverty damages the brains of young children (maybe we should try harder to do something about it).

21) Found this history of Google + to be really interesting (also make me think a lot of Hooli Nucleus).

22) Really nice Marshall Project report on life without parole (and just how non-sensical it can be)

Prisoners like Rodriguez represent a paradox for parole boards: Older inmates who have committed the most serious crimes, and served the longest terms, are the least likely to commit new crimes upon release.

One Stanford University study of 860 murderers paroled in California found only five returned to prison for new felonies, and none for murder.

This is especially true for older prisoners. Recidivism rates drop steadily with age. And older prisoners are more expensive: The average annual cost per prisoner doubles at age 55 and continues to climb thereafter.

Still, these prisoners are consistently the least likely to be paroled. Though they pose a low risk of future violence, the political risk of releasing them is huge. Parole board members are routinely pilloried in the news media and chastised by the public. Many have lost their jobs for releasing people whose crimes were violent.

“There’s some offense conduct you just can’t outrun,” said William Wynne, a member of the Alabama parole board.

Quick hits

1) How the year you born influences your political views.

2) How always blaming mental illness for mass shootings is a cop-out.

3) The BBC ranks the 100 best American films.

4) On how schools should be working on building non-cognitive skills.

5) The new chair of the NC GOP is completely nuts.  Here he has decided to link Hillary Clinton to the KKK.

6) Great Upshot piece by Brendan Nyhan on how to use and interpret presidential election polls.  This is going to be assigned reading for multiple classes.

7) On how the Southern Drawl is fading away in Raleigh.  Safe to say my two children born in the area don’t have the slightest hint of a Southern accent.

8) Yes, the mob justice for killer of Cecil the Lion (honestly, I think it is pretty awesome that he is losing his dental practice over this) is arbitrary and severe.  As German Lopez points out, so is very much of American criminal justice.

9) We bought What Pet Should I Get last night.  Not Seuss’s greatest, but good stuff.  That said, it’s pretty clear that he never had any intention of publishing it and that makes me somewhat uncomfortable.

10) Very cool NYT multi-media feature on a rogue fishing boat and the environmentalists that hounded them for thousands of miles.

11) No standing desks for me!  But some good evidence that just a little bit of movement interrupting your sitting can make a big difference.  Between my small bladder and short-attention span at work and my whiny/demanding kids at home, I’d like to think this probably works out okay for me.

12) Not all surprising, but certainly damning is the way the police officers in Cincinnati worked together to agree to a false narrative in the Dubose shooting.

13) Your long read: NYT Magazine feature on Republican efforts to roll back the Voting Rights Act.  Sadly, North Carolina plays a starring role.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Hillary Clinton’s approach on capital gains is smart policy.  But, it disproportionately affects the richest Americans.  Of course Republicans hate it.  Drum’s take and Jordan Weissmann’s.

2) Speaking of Hillary and taxes, she’s also speaking out on the “hair and makeup tax” faced by women.  Enjoyed the emphatic “amen” on this from a female reporter friend.

3) Dahlia Lithwick on a the recent 8th Circuit abortion decision:

What the 8th Circuit panel did yesterday goes far beyond admitting evidence from a discredited “expert” or two, willing to testify to conclusions that have been long debunked by serious scientific and medical organizations. This court actually usedthat faux science—without testing or weighing it or even allowing it to be evaluated at trial—to advance their argument that Roe and Casey are bad law because they just don’t like them. They would just take the assertions of “one doctor” and “one woman” as proof that abortions are bad and states should regulate them however and whenever they see fit. For all their alleged faults, Roe and Casey represented judicial attempts to calibrate the complex and competing interests of medical science, state interests, pregnant women, and the unborn fetuses they carried. They were not a series of Post-it notes from one side of the abortion debate.

4) Some research a while back suggested that most campus rapes are committed by serial rapists.  The latest research?  Maybe not so much.

5) Fascinating piece in the Economist on how the ubiquitousness of English is seemingly affecting commonly-used grammar in other languages.

6) Drum on how the new EPA power plant rules that conservatives said would destroy America are (surprise!) not going to destroy America.

7) What 10 Republicans will get to participate in the first GOP debate?  Given the low polling averages at the bottom, there will probably be an element of chance in who is included.

8) Great Pew feature on the changing demographics of America.

9) Love this Jordan Weissman on Jeb’s economic proposals:

So Bush has managed to clear the ankle-high bar of looking relatively adult in the quadrennial freak show known as the Republican primary. This is not the same, however, as demonstrating that his ideas are particularly thoughtful or moderate. [emphasis mine] While he breaks with his party’s rabid base on immigration and education, when it comes to the all-important issues regarding the size and role of government, his positions seem to be GOP boilerplate mixed with a dash of hardcore conservative fantasy, all dressed up with some rhetorical gimmicks. Bush might be the grown-up in the room. But you have to consider the room.

10) A prostitute acting in self defense may have just killed a serial killer (and surely saved future lives in the process).

11) One thing NCLB has done well?  Helping Special Education students.  (Though I still strongly question the wisdom of standardized tests for children– such as my own– who are not even on a Kindergarten academic level).

12) And on a related subject, students with disabilities are being punished at disproportionate rates as the same rules do not always make sense for them (I’ll never forget the absurdity of Alex being sent “to the principal” for what amounted to the type of tantrum a three-year old would have).

13) Say what you will about Millennials, but I do appreciate the fact that they would much rather work in a vibrant downtown than a suburban office park.  This, of course, is bad news for office parks.

14) Daniel Kahneman thinks we all need to be less confident.  I’m quite confident that he is right about this:

What’s fascinating is that Kahneman’s work explicitly swims against the current of human thought. Not even he believes that the various flaws that bedevil decision-making can be successfully corrected. The most damaging of these is overconfidence: the kind of optimism that leads governments to believe that wars are quickly winnable and capital projects will come in on budget despite statistics predicting exactly the opposite. It is the bias he says he would most like to eliminate if he had a magic wand. But it “is built so deeply into the structure of the mind that you couldn’t change it without changing many other things”.

15) So, those cool kids at 13?  Not so great at 23.

16) I must admit I’m quite partial to this theory for why social psychologists are liberal.  But given all the social-psychology I know, I think it may be just motivated reasoning (though, there’s probably some there there).

17) Just so we’re clear, you have the right to be rude to police officers.  Of course, just because you have the right to mouth off, doesn’t mean its a good idea as there’s little to stop them from escalating a situation and arresting you even if they should not have done so.

18) Back in 5th grade I was the Rubik’s Cube champ of West Springfield Elementary.  It took me several minutes on average.  I am in awe of the fact that people today can do it in under 10 seconds.

That’s me wearing my “I solved the Rubik’s Cube” t-shirt while hitting the mini-links in Ocean City, Maryland, circa 1982.

 

Photo of the day

Love this inventive gallery of Star Wars Storm Troopers doing cool things:

CSI: Death Star by Julia Vazquez on 500px

 

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