Quick hits (part II)

1) This Dana Priest piece on Russian election meddling as a failure of US intelligence is really good.

2) Seth Masket on how liberals and conservatives respond differently to sexual harassment claims.

3) Nice NYT editorial on Trump’s embrace of authoritarian leaders:

Authoritarian leaders exercise a strange and powerful attraction for President Trump. As his trip to Asia reminds us, a man who loves to bully people turns to mush — fawning smiles, effusive rhetoric — in the company of strongmen like Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.

Perhaps he sees in them a reflection of the person he would like to be. Whatever the reason, there’s been nothing quite like Mr. Trump’s love affair with one-man rule since Spiro Agnew returned from a world tour in 1971singing the praises of thuggish dictators like Lee Kuan Yew, Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta, Mobutu Sese Seko and Gen. Francisco Franco.

Mr. Trump’s obsessive investment in personal relations may work for a real estate dealmaker. But the degree to which he has chosen to curry favor with some of the world’s most unsavory leaders, while lavishing far less attention on America’s democratic allies, hurts America’s credibility and, in the long run, may have dangerous repercussions.

4) Kate Harding with a very pragmatic case behind, “I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.”

5) How conference divisions (among other things) are ruining college football.

6) Catherine Rampell nails it, “If the tax bill is so great, why does the GOP keep lying about it?”

7) How to stop bullying?  Kids need to put their reputations on the line and be willing to embrace their low-status peers.

As a result, a child at the bottom of the social ladder becomes “untouchable.” Even if that child has a delightful personality and loads of friends elsewhere, in a social system in which she lacks social capital, she is not likely to acquire friends. Befriending an untouchable doesn’t earn the higher status child any social capital, and the idea is so overwhelmingly unattractive that it is generally not even considered. Science writer Amy Alkon coined the term “social greed” to describe the unwillingness to risk social capital without an anticipated return on investment.

Children with status erroneously believe that the reason untouchables have no social status is because they are repulsive, but in truth, it is precisely the reverse. The lack of social status is what makes an untouchable appear repulsive. This is why the single most effective peer intervention for eliminating bullying is for children to befriend those who are targets. But out of fear that associating with an untouchable could result in their own fall down the social ladder, children manufacture reasons to dislike low-status children, and justify their refusal to spend social capital to help them.

8) Somehow I missed this when it came out in September, but Siddhartha Mukherjee’s New Yorker article on re-thinking cancer is so good.  Short version: cancer is the seed are bodies are the soil.  The soil matters a ton, but we’ve been concentrating almost exclusively on the seeds.

9) Hans Noel’s take on the important role for party leaders in primaries, ” Party leaders should lead, not get out of the way.”

10) Lifting the ban on elephant trophies would actually probably help elephants.  I hate that there are horrible people out there that want to hunt elephants, but this can indirectly lead to protecting them.

11) Here’s an awesome idea– tax companies for using our personal data.

12) Totally agree with Frank Bruni, “Their Pledges Die. So Should Fraternities.”

“Imagine a world,” she said, “in which everything was the same about higher education except there have never been Greek organizations. An 18-year-old waltzes into a dean’s office and says, ‘I want to start an exclusive club on campus that doesn’t allow women and serves mostly white and privileged students and we’re going to throw parties all the time that are illegal, and at these parties, all the bad stuff that happens on campus is going to happen disproportionately. What do you think?’ ”

Wade’s hypothetical 18-year-old leaves out the part where undertakers cart the casualties away. Even so I think the dean turns his proposal down.

13) Conor Friedersdorf on how occupational licensing is way out of control.

Too often, occupational-licensing laws are less about protecting workers or consumers as a class than they are about protecting the interests of incumbents. Want to compete with me? Good luck, now that I’ve lobbied for a law that requires you to shell out cash and work toward a certificate before you can begin.

14) I had no idea there was a fun little game to play with Chrome when your internet connection is out.

15) Ryan Lizza on the “boil the frog” strategy to save Trump:

Boiling the frog works in politics, too. On Monday, Julia Ioffe reported, in The Atlantic, that WikiLeaks, which the American intelligence community sayscollaborated with the Russian government to distribute Democratic Party e-mails and try to help elect Donald Trump, regularly sent private messages from its verified Twitter account to Donald Trump, Jr., from September, 2016, until July, 2017. Last October, in the heat of the Presidential campaign, when top Trump campaign officials indignantly denied having any communication with WikiLeaks, such a disclosure would have been politically earth-shattering. But, after a year of incremental Trump-Russia revelations, the press and public’s capacity to be shocked by the details of the Russia scandal may be diminishing…

It helps to take a step back and remember how politically explosive it would have been, a year ago, to know that the Trump campaign was colluding with WikiLeaks.

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Quick hits (part I)

Sorry for the delay.  Enjoy.

1) Fear of data to drive the conservative agenda:

Yet the Trump administration is running in the other direction. Any data that has even the faintest whiff of potential contradiction goes right out the window. Of course, these folks aren’t the first people in power to succumb to a fear of data. They do, however, seem to have found a profound expertise in the practice of eliminating it. Dataphobia chills them to the bone, I suspect because they hope to undermine not only some truths but all truth. David Roberts at Vox has written about what he calls an epistemic crisis in America, the idea that certain rulers and rich people hope to take away the basic idea of knowledge. If nobody can know anything, why bother to try to regulate anything? It’s government-by-ignorance—a shrugocracy.

Assaults on data have come before. “It’s the same reason an oil company doesn’t want research on climate change or a tobacco company doesn’t want research on the relationship between tobacco and cancer,” Vernick says. “Maybe they argue those researchers have an agenda and that’ll allow them to cook the books, but that’s an absurd argument. The worst thing you can do is cook the books. That is the way to guarantee the science is not used as part of policymaking.”

Throw in the way the automotive industry resisted safety regulations and the sugar industry in the 1960s shifted blame for health problems onto fats instead of sweets, ensorcelling nutrition research for half a century, and you have a pretty good accounting of the ways business interests have twisted, biased, and otherwise hammered science into behaving like a corporate drone instead of a defender of truth.

2) A serious effort to map the human microbiome.  This is a really, really good idea.

3) No need for the Percocet or other opioids for acute pain, stick with an Advil/Tylenol combo.

4) 8000 year old carved images of dogs— cool!

5) Damn.  This Bloomberg article about the coming retail apocalypse is scary

6) In theory, CRISPR with gene drive to stop invasive species is a pretty cool idea.  In practice, still far too risky.

7) Really nice interview with Emily Yoffe about her sexual assault on campus series.

8) Yglesias argues that Bill Clinton should have resigned.

To this line of argument, Republicans offered what was fundamentally the wrong countercharge. They argued that in the effort to spare himself from the personal and marital embarrassment entailed by having the affair exposed, Clinton committed perjury when testifying about the matter in a deposition related to Paula Jones’s lawsuit against him.

What they should have argued was something simpler: A president who uses the power of the Oval Office to seduce a 20-something subordinate is morally bankrupt and contributing, in a meaningful way, to a serious social problem that disadvantages millions of women throughout their lives.

But by and large, they didn’t. So Clinton countered with the now-famous defense: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Ultimately, most Americans embraced the larger argument that perjury in a civil lawsuit unrelated to the president’s official duties did not constitute high crimes and misdemeanors.

But looking back through today’s lens, this whole argument was miscast. The wrongdoing at issue was never just a private matter for the Clinton family; it was a high-profile exemplar of a widespread social problem: men’s abuse of workplace power for sexual gain. It was and is a striking example of a genre of misconduct that society has a strong interest in stamping out. That alone should have been enough to have pressured Clinton out of office.

9) And Chait so, no he shouldn’t have.  Or, somewhat differently, he should not have been impeached:

If the two parties agreed that Clinton’s behavior with Monica Lewinsky was very, very bad, what was the dispute about, anyway? It centered on the legal process. Special Counsel Kenneth Starr was appointed in 1994 to investigate Whitewater, a land deal that predated the Clinton presidency. Having failed to produce any evidence of criminality, Starr expanded his investigation and set a trap in which he could ask Clinton under oath if he had conducted an extramarital affair. When Clinton denied it, as adulterers tend to do, Starr nailed him for perjury.

At that point, Republicans concluded that it was not only proper but utterly essential to impeach and remove Clinton from office. It is impossible to capture the fervency with which the conservative movement made the case that the rule of law itself hung in the balance, and that allowing Clinton to remain in office after he had concealed his affair from Starr would render the Republic a lawless autarchy….

I wish we liberals had done more to take seriously the episodes of alleged rape and sexual assault that were not the basis for a national impeachment trauma. For better or worse, though, those episodes were not at issue. It’s hard to change the subject when Congress is conducting proceedings to impeach and remove the president. At issue was the procedural extremism of a Republican Party that was transforming before our eyes into the uncompromising fanatic faction whose character is fully manifest in the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore. I don’t think we got that wrong at all.

10) Nice Vox essay from Zephyr Teachout on how the Supreme Court has made a real mess of political bribery.

11) Peter Beinart on the subtle, pro-rich-educated-white-guy affirmative action he benefited from at TNR.

12) Why we are not doing a good job teaching writing anymore.  Short version– we don’t test it.  Longer version– teaching writing actually helps with the reading comprehension we do test.  That said, whatever they are doing in the Wake County writing curriculum for 6th grade is amazing– has made a huge difference with my son.

13) Did you think you are free from high blood pressure?  Not so fast.  Under new guidelines, many more Americans should be treated for high blood pressure.  So far I’m good– been doing around 117/75 or so lately.

The nation’s leading heart experts on Monday issued new guidelines for high blood pressure that mean tens of millions more Americans will meet the criteria for the condition, and will need to change their lifestyles or take medicines to treat it.

Under the guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.

“Those numbers are scary,” said Dr. Robert M. Carey, professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and co-chair of the committee that wrote the new guidelines.

The number of adults with high blood pressure, or hypertension, will rise to 103 million from 72 million under the previous standard. But the number of people who are new candidates for drug treatment will rise only by an estimated 4.2 million people, he said. To reach the goals others may have to take more drugs or increase the dosages.

Few risk factors are as important to health. High blood pressure is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of heart attacks and strokes, and heart disease remains the leading killer of Americans…

According to the new guidelines, anyone with at least a 10 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade should aim for blood pressure below 130/80.

14) Rebecca Traister on our post-Weinstein reckoning.

15) And a good question from Ruth Marcus,”If Republicans believe Roy Moore’s accusers, why not Trump’s?”

16) And credit to Mitch McConnell where it’s actually do.  Good for him for saying he believes the women.

 

17) Children learn to undervalue women from their parents– even their progressive parents:

Study after study shows that, among heterosexual parents, fathers — even the youngest and most theoretically progressive among them — do not partake generously of the workload at home. Employed women partnered with employed men carry 65 percent of the family’s child-care responsibilities, a figure that has held steady since the turn of the century. Women with babies enjoy half as much leisure time on weekends as their husbands. Working mothers with preschool-age children are 2 1/2 times as likely to performmiddle-of-the-night care as their husbands. And in hours not so easily tallied, mothers remain almost solely in charge of the endless managerial care that comes with raising children: securing babysitters, filling out school forms, sorting through hand-me-downs…

Empirical research shows that no domestic arrangement, not even one in which the mother works full time and the father is unemployed, results in child-care parity between heterosexual spouses. The story we tell ourselves, the one about great leaps toward the achievement of gender equality between parents, is a glass-half-full kind of interpretation. But the reality is a half-empty glass: While modern men and women espouse egalitarian ideals and report that their decisions are mutual, outcomes tend to favor fathers’ needs and goals much more than mothers’…

Ideals are no substitute for behavior. What are kids to make of their father sitting on his phone reading Facebook while their mother scrambles to prepare them for the day? It’s not hard to predict which parent’s personhood those offspring will conclude is more valuable. Children are gender detectives, distinguishing between the sexes from as early as 18 months and using that information to guide their behavior, for example by choosing strongly stereotyped toys. And family research shows that men’s attitudes about marital roles, not women’s, are ultimately internalized by both their daughters and their sons. This finding is a testament to kids’ ability to identify implicit power, to parse whose beliefs are more important and therefore worth adopting as their own.

18) Masha Gessen on Russian interference in 2016 “A Cacophony, Not a Conspiracy.”

19) Aarron Carroll on not giving into all the food scares.  Looking forward to reading his new book.

Too often, we fail to think critically about scientific evidence. Genetically modified organisms are perhaps the best example of this.

G.M.O.s are, in theory, one of our best bets for feeding the planet’s growing population. When a 2015 Pew poll asked Americans whether they thought it was generally safe or unsafe to eat modified foods, almost 60 percent said it was unsafe. The same poll asked scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science the same question. Only 11 percent of them thought G.M.O.s were unsafe.

Most Americans, at least according to this poll, don’t seem to care what scientists think. In fact, Americans disagree with scientists on this issue more than just about any other, including a host of contentious topics such as vaccines, evolution and even global warming.

If people want to avoid foods, even if there’s no reason to, is that really a problem?

The answer is: yes. Because it makes food scary. And being afraid of food with no real reason is unscientific — part of the dangerous trend of anti-intellectualism that we confront in many places today.

Food should be a cause for pleasure, not panic. For most people, it’s entirely possible to eat more healthfully without living in terror or struggling to avoid certain foods altogether. If there’s one thing you should cut from your diet, it’s fear.

20) Ezra on the “rigging” of the Democratic primaries.

21) Drum on the absurdity of the uranium “scandal.”

Everyone knows this is all that happened, and everyone knows that Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong when the State Department joined eight other agencies in approving the deal. But this is no longer about Clinton anyway. The whole thing is a last-ditch attempt to smear special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who headed the FBI when the Uranium One deal went through and is now causing Republicans a lot of heartburn over his investigation of Trump-Russia ties.² Blow enough smoke over this, and maybe he’ll be forced to resign—and a new, less aggressive special prosecutor can be appointed. It’s all pretty transparent, and every reporter writing about this knows exactly what’s going on.

22) News photographer denied access gets revenge on Trump with this photo:

 

The no good, awful, horrible, Republican tax bill

Nice post from Dylan Matthews outlining what incredibly bad policy this is– even if you were actually trying to meet conservative policy goals:

I don’t know what’s in the hearts of Orrin Hatch or Kevin Brady or Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. I don’t like to assume malign motives of politicians, even ones I vehemently disagree with. But the details of this tax bill are less consistent with an honest desire to achieve certain principled changes to the tax code — to make it simpler, or more pro-investment, or more tilted at taxing consumption rather than income — than with a desire to get the tax deal done fast, a desire to help important constituencies, and a desire to thumb the eyes of perceived ideological enemies. [emphasis mine]

That explains why, rather than paying for corporate cuts by offsetting an appropriate number of corporate tax breaks, the Senate wants to cut Medicaid and Obamacare. It sticks it to programs that are important to Democrats, furthers the GOP’s long-running interest in undermining Obamacare, and avoids making hard decisions about corporate benefits that might delay passage.

It explains a variety of anti-university provisions inserted into the bill. If you care about lowering tax rates on savings and investment, you do not insert a random excise tax on the earnings of big university endowments. But if you care about sticking it to coastal elite universities that are full of liberals, that provision makes sense. So does treating tuition waivers for PhD students as taxable income. This will hurt the economy dramatically in the long run by undermining human capital developments and creating a less educated workforce. It might even cost lives by impeding biomedical research. But it’s a good way to own the libs.

Republicans had years to put together this tax bill. They had the whole Obama administration, even the last two years of the Bush administration when they were in the minority. They could’ve done better. They had the tools and resources to do better. Other politicians and policy analysts had come up with ideas to help them do better.

That they didn’t do better is a massive failure.

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.

Should you invest more in your sons than your daughters?

No.  But, sadly, it appears a lot of people do so.  Pretty disturbing article on the matter in the WSJ.  This chart summarizes the matter nicely.

Joe Carella, assistant dean at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, draws a parallel to his findings in the area of venture-capital funding. His research shows that for every dollar that men receive in VC funding, women receive 48 cents. His studies also point to a deep-rooted bias where men are judged based on their future potential, while women are judged on their accomplishments thus far. He postulates that the bias may be the same for parents saving for college—the idea being that parents save less for girls because they feel boys have more potential.

“It is a completely misguided and biased way to look at the way in which men and women perform, especially in environments when there is equal opportunity,” says Dr. Carella, who specializes in strategic thinking, neuroscience and gender differences…

Steven Roy Goodman, an educational consultant and admissions strategist, has had similar experiences. He says he counseled two families in the past five years that treated their sons and daughters differently in terms of college planning, savings and selection.

“There is really no way to say this subtly: The parents had different life expectations for their sons and daughters—and were unwilling to pay private college tuitions for their daughters,” he says. “They perceived that the young women were not going to have 40-year careers in the ways they expected their sons to have.”

All of which can have an effect on the shape of a graduate’s financial life. A recent analysis of federal government data by the nonprofit American Association of University Women found that women are more likely to take on debt—and on average have larger student loans—than men. And following graduation, women repay their loans more slowly than do men, in part because of the gender pay gap, according to the analysis.

Ugh.  Also reminds me of the family story that always most upset my mom.  Her mother, growing up in early 20th century Germany was clearly the smartest and most ambitious of her siblings.  Alas, she was a girl and all the money for a college education went to her dissolute brother Johans, who blew it all prodigal son style (but did not even have the decency to recognize his errors).  Here we are 100 years later and we’ve still got families repeating the mistakes of my great-grandparents.

Why you should major in political science!

Because you love the study of it.  And, you want to learn good critical thinking and writing skills that are broadly applicable.  Otherwise, don’t.  Especially if you are bored by politics.  Actually, I just wanted a catchier title to link to this interesting NYT story about myths of choosing a college major.  I’m fond of myth 4:

Myth 4: Liberal arts majors are unemployable.

The liberal arts is a favorite target of politicians, with the latest salvo coming from the governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin. “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set,” Governor Bevin said in a speech in September.

Interpretive dance may not be in demand, but the competencies that liberal arts majors emphasize — writing, synthesis, problem solving — are sought after by employers. A 2017 study by David J. Deming, an associate professor of education and economics at Harvard, found jobs requiring both the so-called soft skills and thinking skills have seen the largest growth in employment and pay in the last three decades.

One knock on the liberal arts is that it’s difficult to find a first job. But a study by Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston-based company that analyzes job-market trends, concluded that if liberal arts graduates gain proficiency in one of eight technical skills, such as social media or data analysis, their prospects of landing entry-level jobs increase substantially.

The long-held belief by parents and students that liberal arts graduates are unemployable ignores the reality of the modern economy, where jobs require a mix of skills not easily packaged in a college major, said George Anders, author of “You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education.” In his book, Mr. Anders profiles graduates with degrees in philosophy, sociology and linguistics in jobs as diverse as sales, finance and market research. [emphasis mine]

“Once C.E.O.s see liberal arts graduates in action,” Mr. Anders said, “they come aboard to the idea that they need more of them.”

 A lot of my students are not big fans of numbers, but I definitely emphasize the importance of being comfortable with data and, for really being employable, good with analyzing data.  Anyway, choose wisely.  But don’t sweat it too much.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Meant to do a post on this last week.  Anyway there are myriad examples of Donald Trump’s sad, little mind.  But few are better than his interview with Lou Dobbs.  Yglesias breaks down just how pathetic it is.

2) Speaking of sad minds… there’s a pesticide that experts believe likely (admittedly, the science is only suggestive not confirmed) damages children’s brains.  But why take chances with children’s brains?  So corporations can make more money, damnit!  The power to damage brains through presidential control of the bureaucracy.

3) Really liked Sarah Kliff’s piece on Bernie and Candanian health care:

Earlier this year, New Yorker write Atul Gawande went to the Appalachian area of Ohio, where he grew up, to ask people this question.

One of the things he ran into again and again was an opposition to health care as a right for people who don’t seem to deserve it. One woman he interviewed, a librarian named Monna, told him, “If you’re disabled, if you’re mentally ill, fine, I get it. But I know so many folks on Medicaid that just don’t work. They’re lazy.”

Another man, Joe, put it this way: “I see people on the same road I live on who have never worked a lick in their life. They’re living on disability incomes, and they’re healthier than I am.”

As Gawande notes in his piece, “A right makes no distinction between the deserving and undeserving.” But he often found this to be the key dividing line when he asked people whether everyone should have health coverage. Often, it came down to whether that person was perceived to be the type who merited such help.

In his speech at the University of Toronto, Sanders argued that a universal health care system would only come as the result of political revolution…

On his Canada trip, Sanders seemed to recognize that core to a system like Canada’s is a belief, by the people, that all other people ought to have equitable access to health insurance. Sanders is bullish that this belief exists to a wide extent in the United States too.

“Frankly, in the United States, I think most people do believe it is a right and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or if you’re poor,” Sanders says.

But polling and reporting suggest otherwise. They show that belief doesn’t seem to exist in the United States right now. The question is whether Sanders can change that, whether he can persuade Americans to see health care the way he does — and the way Canadians do too.

4) Nice compilation on DJT’s absurd Halloween tweet.

5) It’s kind of hard to stop obsessing about tax cuts when that’s all Republicans talk about.  But EJ Dionne has a damn good point:

It is a victory for Republicans that the political conversation — when it’s not being hijacked by President Trump’s assorted outbursts and outrages — is focused on tax cuts. No matter how critical the coverage gets, the sheer amount of attention risks sending a message that taxes are the most important issue confronting the country.

This is entirely wrong, and it’s essential to challenge the whole premise of the debate. The United States does not need tax cuts now. Reducing government revenue at this moment will do far more harm than good. Conservatives are proving definitively that they don’t care in the least about deficits. And their claims that tax cuts will unleash some sort of economic miracle have been proved false again and again and again.

But there is an even bigger objection: The opportunity costs of this obsession are enormous because it keeps us from grappling with the problems we really do need to solve.

6) Some of the truly preposterously bad people Trump is trying to place in our government.

7) New theory on why humans eventually replaced Neanderthals in Europe.

8) Anatomy or Russian facebook ads.  Yes, Russia acted with malice.  But it could not have worked without millions of Americans stupid enough (and largely primed by right-wing media) to believe this crap.

9) Enjoyed this NYT feature on NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Never even heard of the guy till last week.  Not only is he putting up amazing numbers, he has an amazing story.

10) Megan McArdle on Republicans using the tax code as a weapon.

11) And what they are proposing on Higher Ed and taxes is just stupid and counter-productive.

12) NYT with a nice winners/losers summary on tax proposals.  Short version– corporations and rich people win big.  Surprise surprise.

13) When your body is severely taxed and it’s got to choose between the brain and the body, it chooses the brain.

14) So that pumpkin pie filling in cans.  Not really so much real pumpkin.  But the whole “pumpkin” thing is actually complicated.

15) While watching the Redskins struggle mightily with a lineup decimated by injuries, it got me thinking that over the small sample of 16 regular season NFL games, the luck of the draw surely plays a hugely disproportionate role.  It does.  This was the best article I could find on it.

16) Sticking with sports, the case of NC State basketball player, Braxton Beverly, shows how stupid, stupid, stupid, the NCAA can be.  Beverly transferred to NC State after starting a summer class at Ohio State, but then OSU fired their coach.  Beverly never even practiced basketball with OSU, but the NCAA thinks he needs to sit out a year for trying to get a head start on his college coursework.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: The NCAA has a waiver process for a reason, and it should always be used with common sense and decency. I’m not sure how anybody could disagree with that sentence. And yet there’s nothing decent or sensible about the way the NCAA handled the cases of Jalen Hayes and Evan Batteylast week. And now the NCAA has doubled-down on stupidity and punished Braxton Beverly for reasons that even Duke fans find appalling.

Which is perfect, isn’t it?

The NCAA’s handling of this case is so indefensible it has Duke fans taking up for an NC State player. Thus, the people who reached this conclusion should be embarrassed and ashamed. Braxton Beverly deserved better. And if the folks who handled his waiver are too dumb to realize that — and too tone-deaf to avoid yet another public relations hit — then perhaps they should be replaced by decent humans who actually put student-athletes first the way the NCAA has forever pretended to do but so rarely actually does.

17) Nice summary of what my Chinese Politics scholar friend was telling me:

Perhaps most ominously, Xi envisions his updated police state as a model for the rest of the world. Twenty-five years ago, the liberal democratic system of the West was supposed to represent the “end of history,” the definitive paradigm for human governance. Now, Xi imagines, it will be the regime he is in the process of creating. “It offers a new option for other countries and nations,” he said during a three-hour, 25-minute speech that was its own statement of grandiosity. “It offers Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind.” …

It would nevertheless be dangerous not to take China’s strongman seriously. He is imagining a world where human freedom would be drastically curtailed and global order dominated by a clique of dictators. When a former chief political adviser to the U.S. president applauds that “adult” vision, it’s not hard to imagine how it might prevail.

18) Jelani Cobb on John Kelly and the Civil War.

19) Adam Serwer with a great take on the pernicious persistence of false beliefs about the reality of the Civil War.

That the nation’s rebirth, in which the promises of its founding creed first began to be met in earnest, is regarded as sorrowful is a testament to the strength of the alternative history of the Lost Cause, in which the North was the aggressor and the South was motivated by the pursuit of freedom and not slavery. The persistence of this myth is in part a desire to avoid the unfathomable reality that half the country dedicated itself to the monstrous cause of human bondage. The freedom that the South fought for was the freedom to own black people as property. The states’ rights for which the South battled were the right to own slaves and the right to expand slavery.

20) Will Saletan on John Kelly’s dishonesty.  Indeed.

In the days ahead, you’ll hear a lot about Kelly’s character. On the left, you’ll hear that he’s a racist. On the right, you’ll hear that he’s a patriot. Some of these arguments hinge on interpretation or speculation about his motives. But this dispute doesn’t. Either Kelly told the truth about Wilson, or he didn’t. The evidence says he didn’t. Instead of admitting error, he’s repeating his smears and trying to make his story impossible to check. If anyone else behaved this way, you’d call that person a liar and a coward. That, four stars or not, is what John Kelly is.

21) And while we’re at it… I was reviewing the assigned reading for Women in the Military next week and noticed that John Kelly features prominently in this as the chief opponent of women having combat roles.  (And here’s something you can probably actually access).

22) The Politico feature on John Boehner that everyone was talking about earlier this week.  Good stuff.

 

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