Quick hits (part II)

1) Love this feature on the technology beyond self-driving cars.  Especially Lidar, since it also finds lost cities in the jungle.

2) The physics of the fidget spinner.  My 17-year old soccer players think it’s hilarious that there coach has one, but ph0ysics is cool!

3) Jon Cohn on Republicans and the new AHCA CBO score:

Wednesday’s report from the Congressional Budget Office ought to erase any lingering doubt about how Republicans are trying to change American health care.

If they get their way, they will protect the strong at the expense of the weak ― rewarding the rich and the healthy in ways that punish the poor and the sick.

Republicans have tried mightily to deny this, and accused their critics of dishonesty. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ― they and their allies have insisted over and over again that their proposals would improve access to health care and protect people with pre-existing medical conditions.

But it’s the Republicans who are lying about what their plan to repeal Obamacare would do.

They were lying back in March, when they introduced the initial version of the legislation ― a bill GOP leaders had to pull at the last minute because it didn’t have enough votes to pass. And they have been lying since early May, after they revised that proposal and rushed to vote on it before the CBO, Washington’s official scorekeeper, had time to evaluate it formally.

4) Kindergartens literally in the forest are all the rage in Germany.  Does sound pretty cool.

5) Great Paul Waldman column on the Trump budget and the simple-minded fallacy of deserving and undeserving recipients of government benefits.

6) Adam Davidson on pricing theory (I wish I knew more about this, I find the the idea of trying to find the right price to maximize profit an inherently fascinating problem), capitation fees, and how we pay too much for health care.

7) “How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe.”

8) Democratic norms are under attack, not just by Trump, but in many states as well.  Of course, those of us living in North Carolina are well aware.

9) Child development expert, Allison Gopnik, on how calling Trump a 4-year-old is unfair to 4-year-olds:

But the analogy is profoundly wrong, and it’s unfair to children. The scientific developmental research of the past 30 years shows that Mr. Trump is utterly unlike a 4-year-old.

Four-year-olds care deeply about the truth. They constantly try to seek out information and to figure out how the world works. Of course, 4-year-olds, as well as adults, occasionally lie. But Mr. Trump doesn’t just lie; he seems not even to care whether his statements are true.

Four-year-olds are insatiably curious. One study found that the average preschooler asks hundreds of questions per day. Just watch a toddler “getting into everything” — endangering his own safety to investigate interesting new objects like knives and toasters. Mr. Trump refuses to read and is bored by anything that doesn’t involve him personally.

Four-year-olds can pay attention. They do have difficulty changing the focus of their attention in response to arbitrary commands. But recent studies show that even babies systematically direct their focus to the events and objects that will teach them the most. They pay special attention to events that contradict what they already believe. Mr. Trump refuses to pay attention to anything that clashes with his preconceptions…

Four-year-olds have a “theory of mind,” an understanding of their own minds and those of others. In my lab we have found that 4-year-olds recognize that their own past beliefs might have been wrong. Mr. Trump contradicts himself without hesitation and doesn’t seem to recognize any conflict between his past and present beliefs.

Four-year-olds, contrary to popular belief, are not egocentric or self-centered. They understand and care about how other people feel and think, and recognize that other people can feel and think differently from them.

10) Enjoyed this piece on the now-forgotten “Handmaid’s Tale” movie filmed in Durham in 1989.  It was stilll the talk of campus when I came to Duke the next year.

11) Trump’s ongoing obsession with the (discredited with practically everybody but him and Jeff Sessions) War on Drugs, does not explain all his presidency, but it explains a lot.

12) Loved this piece on the role of Southern pastors in turning the South Republican:

Southern churches, warped by generations of theological evolution necessary to accommodate slavery and segregation, were all too willing to offer their political assistance to a white nationalist program. Southern religious institutions would lead a wave of political activism that helped keep white nationalism alive inside an increasingly unfriendly national climate. Forget about Goldwater, Nixon or Reagan. No one played as much of a role in turning the South red as the leaders of the Southern Baptist Church.

13) Happy 23 years of marriage to Kim and me.

 

 

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) I actually think I’m pretty good at admitting I’m wrong.  It helps, of course, that it’s such a rare phenomenon ;-).  In all seriousness, my high self confidence does make it pretty easy.

 Traits like honesty and humility make you more human and therefore more relatable. On the flip side, if it is undeniably clear that you are in the wrong, refusing to apologize reveals low self-confidence.

“If it is clear to everybody that you made a mistake,” Mr. Okimoto said, “digging your heels in actually shows people your weakness of character rather than strength.”

2)  Political polarization is changing how we shop.

3) I’ve probably written about my oral allergy syndrome before.  Very cool to see a NPR story about it.  Thank God for Zyrtec because I sure love my apples.

4) Love this article about a Texas high school student who did not initially get into UT-Austin despite being first in her class because she was not in the top 7%.  You can’t be in the top 7% if your class is only 10.

5) Are women’s credentials more likely to be ignored than men’s.  I’d be really surprised if this wasn’t true.

6) This article is insane for the seeming hundreds of fruit recipes in the middle, but some very good science-based advice on happiness around all the fruit.

7) Diane Ravitch says blame Democrats for Betsy DeVos.

8) This speech by Mitch Landrieu!

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history; well, what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame—all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.

9) Re-thinking how to best protect biodiversity:

Biodiversity is usually understood in simple numerical terms: more species means more biodiversity. In the United States and abroad, most conservation laws are designed to protect as many species as funding and politics allow. But just as diversity within a human population can be measured by more than skin color, diversity within animal and plant communities can be measured in a number of ways. Some species have a unique evolutionary lineage; others perform unusual or even irreplaceable functions in their ecosystems; and still others, such as the solenodons, are sui generis by almost any metric. Until recently, reconstructing a lineage required painstaking guesswork based on tiny variations in anatomy and appearance. The advent of cheap genetic sequencing, however, changed that. At the same time, the increasing prevalence of digital photography and remote-sensing technologies such as drones, along with the growing enthusiasm for citizen science, means that more humans are watching more species more closely than ever before. “We have this massive decline in biodiversity, but, at the same time, over the past decade, there’s been this explosion of all types of data—so now is really the time to use them,” Laura Pollock, a postdoctoral researcher at Grenoble Alpes University, in France, and the lead author of the Nature paper, told me.

10) We don’t need feminism anymore.  There’s clearly no more sex discrimination.

11) I love that they measure urine in swimming pools (really not so bad) by unmetabolized artificial sweeteners.

12) I love the circus.  This makes me so sad.

13) When pollen counts rise, test scores fall.

14) This is insane.  In NC, once you give consent to sex, you cannot revoke it.  Period.  Oh, and the effort to change this absurd and archaic law?  Going nowhere thanks to the Republicans in charge of the legislature.

15) Did being a woman mean HRC couldn’t run an angry campaign?

16) It’s long been thought marriage makes people healthier.  Maybe not.  Because divorce sucks.

The participants in the Swiss study reported their life satisfaction every year, and Professor Kalmijn found that people who married did become a little more satisfied. Over time, their satisfaction eroded, though much more slowly than in most previous studies of marriage. Dr. Kalmijn also examined the implications of divorce and found that people who divorced became significantly less satisfied with their lives. In fact, the negative implications of divorce for life satisfaction were more than three times greater than the positive implications of marrying.

That’s important. It helps explain why so many of us have been so sure for so long that marriage makes people happier and healthier. In the typical study, only people who are currently married are included in the married group. Then, if the currently married people do better than people who are not married, single people are told that if they get married, they will do better, too. But many people who marry — probably more than 40 percent — divorce and end up less happy than when they were single. A better way to assess the likely implications of marriage is to compare everyone who ever married to people who never married. Very few studies ever do that.

17) Covered the gender pay gap in class yesterday.  Timely piece from Claire Cain Miller.  It’s (almost) all about motherhood.

18) Yglesias makes the case that Montana’s result is further evidence Republicans are in trouble in 2018.  I think they probably are, but I’m still not sure how much any single special election tells us.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Two (!) Texas Tech professors have decided to run for Congress in the very red district.  Good for them.  They’re going to lose– but worth it for Democrats to fight the fight.

2a) The Young America Foundation is bankrolling a lot of the conservative speakers roiling college campuses.  Not a fan.  That said, I have greater antipathy towards those who think the solution is to deny free speech to others.

2b) On a related note, students at Illinois prevented a representative from ICE from speaking to a Sociology class.  Seriously?!  Wrong and pathetic.

3) Speaking of conservative speakers, a really, really interesting deconstruction of Charles Murray’s IQ research.

4) It’s actually been a few years since my son Alex cracked an Ipad screen, hooray!  And when I looked at the prices to buy him a new one I was amazed at what a great deal the latest Ipads are.

5) Jennifer Rubin sees the Trump catastrophe as the downfall of a generation of Republicans.  I think she’s wrong– political memories are short, but I enjoyed reading it:

Pence might reach the presidency to fill out his boss’s term if Trump is forced out, but it is hard to imagine him ever achieving that office on his own. Many will have concluded that he is either too dim and gullible or too dishonest for the presidency. Moreover, his decision to sign on as Trump’s VP and vouch for his character will be powerful evidence of rotten judgment and a permanent stain on his record.

In that regard, Pence is hardly alone. Either during or at the end of his first term, Trump’s presidency will end, voluntarily or not. (No matter how strong the economy might be, a president waist-deep in scandal and unable to accomplish major legislative initiatives is likely to face primary and/or general-election defeat in a reelection bid or decline to seek re-election.) When the party — or what remains of it — looks for leadership, where will it turn?

Not to the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who opportunistically backed Trump after declaring his unfitness. Not to the likes of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who became Trump’s palace guard, vouching for Cabinet secretaries and refusing to denounce conflicts of interest and possible violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Come to think of it, any Republican who failed in his or her constitutional duty of oversight, continuing to turn a blind eye toward wrongdoing and to rationalize Trump’s conduct, should be disqualified from high office, if not shunned by conservatives. (As for the House members who thought Trump’s chumminess with Russia was humorous, one can only marvel at their gross hypocrisy in get-tough-with-Russia rhetoric.) We can count on one hand the number of lawmakers who have not committed gross political malpractice either by acts of commission or omission since Trump was elected (even if one excuses endorsing an obviously unfit person for president).

6) Paul Waldman on Pence, “Mike Pence wants us to believe he’s innocent. Don’t buy it.”

7) What I find most amazing about the Trump calls Comey a “nut job” thing is that somebody in possession of the notes on this leaking the fact.  It’s like a boat with a bunch of cannonball-sized holes in it.

8) Point I’ve been making a lot lately, and Julia Azari does a great job with here– impeachments are inherently about politics, not the law.

9) Who owns the space between reclining seats on an airplane?  Pretty clear the person in front who has the option to recline does.  That said, I’ve always thought these people were selfish jerks.  I never recline.

10) Wisconsin’s Voter ID law really is horrible and makes it way too hard to vote for way too many people (again, because there is virtually no in-person voter fraud to prevent anyway!).

11) And a great Fresh Air interview with Ari Berman on the voter fraud fraud.

12) Last night, my kids were asking be about why animal shelters euthanize animals.  Apparently, in the Pacific Northwest there’s a lot less euthanasia going on.  This has led to an informal network of transporting animals to shelters there.

13) Good piece from Zack Beauchamp on how Mike Flynn is central to bringing Trump down.  It really is pretty amazing:

President Donald Trump loves Michael Flynn. His ardor hasn’t faded despite the fact that the biggest scandals engulfing the Trump administration right now trace back to the disgraced former national security adviser, or that their very closeness is sparking growing talk of impeachment. If anything, all of that seems to be making Trump love Flynn even more.

Trump has loved Flynn for a long time. In November, he loved Flynn enough to appoint him to be his national security adviser despite knowing that Russia had paid Flynn $45,000 to attend a dinner with Vladimir Putin. Trump loved him enough to keep him on despite, as the New York Times reported late on Wednesday, Flynn informing the Trump transition in early January that he was under FBI investigation for secretly lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government.

Trump loves Flynn enough to stick with him even after acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the administration, on January 26, that Flynn had lied to the vice president about his interactions with the Russian ambassador and could potentially be blackmailed by the Kremlin. Trump loves Flynn so much that even after he was finally forced to fire him for said lies on February 14, he defended the man’s integrity in a press conference.

“Michael Flynn — General Flynn — is a wonderful man,” the president said in a press conference on February 15. “I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media.”

Trump loves Flynn so much that the same day of that press conference, he ordered everyone out of the room after a top-level meeting on counterterrorism — except FBI Director James Comey. Trump then asked Comey, pretty bluntly, to drop the Flynn investigation.

14) Brooks on the Trump administration talent vacuum.  What kind of smart, ambitious conservative would want to throw his lot in with the Trump administration at this point?  Exactly.  So the guys we’re getting are not exactly the A team.

15) The “motivated ignorance” of Trump supporters is not at all suprising, but pretty amazing to behold, just the same:

If you’re looking for an explanation for why Trump’s support is so solid among his base — and why it will remain so stubbornly high — read this piece by the Associated Press, where the reporters asked Trump supporters how they’re handling the wave of scandals.

“I tuned it out,” Michele Velardi, a 44-year-old in Staten Island, told the AP of the recent news. “I didn’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to feel that he’s not doing what he said, so I just choose to not listen.”

16) Not the first time I’ve read about Finnish baby boxes.  Pretty cool idea (obviously awaiting your take, Mika.)

17) Conor Friedersdorf on how the anti-anti Trump pundits dodge Trump criticism:

But defending what Trump says or does is often impossible. Americans can’t help but know that he didn’t win the popular vote; draw more people to his inauguration than Barack Obama; act wisely in appointing Michael Flynn; execute well in that first executive order on travel; or accomplish more in his first 100 days than any other president.

Americans can’t help but see that he is erratic, and that his domestic agenda has stalled bigly. He can claim that no politician has ever been treated more unfairly. But we can’t help but know that Ronald Reagan was shot and that John F. Kennedy was killed.

That’s why pro-Trump and anti-anti-Trump commentators have adapted.

As the weeks pass, they spend less time making positive arguments for the president and more time hiding behind the talking point that his critics are overwrought. Unhinged. Hysterical. Suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Don’t look here, at the president who shared too much information with Russian diplomats in an Oval Office meeting. Look there at an excessive reaction to it…

The approach is inseparable from the web era. No matter how bad a Trump blunder, someone can be found overreacting to it or otherwise losing their cool on social media. In fact, social-media feeds disproportionately expose us to the most over-the-top takes, making it seem as if they reflect the median reaction even when that is far from true…

More honest Never Trumpers are driven by any number of things; but I wonder if part of the posture that some have taken these last months is ultimately a defense mechanism. How depressing and unnerving to fully confront the unfitness of the president.

How tempting to evade the terrible truth.

18) Somehow I missed this excellent Atlantic article from a year ago about how Rutgers-Newark does a way better job recruiting and graduating minority students by eschewing the lower standardized test scores which often have way less predictive value with this group.

19) Oh man do I love this letter from a pastor to Franklin Graham.

Here’s the thing, Frank. At the last judgment, Jesus doesn’t ask anyone about who they voted for, how many times they have been divorced, what their sexual history or orientation is or for whom they did or did not bake wedding cakes. His sole concern is for how we treated the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, those deemed “least” among us. No, I didn’t get that from any private chat with God. We small church pastors have to rely on the Bible for our intel. I got this stuff from the Gospel of Matthew, 25th Chapter to be precise. As I said, that, too, is in the Bible. (It’s a great book, Frank. You should read it sometime.)

19) Really, really like this (long!) Daniel Engber piece on social-psychologist, Daryl Bem and ESP and what it means for psychology (long been a fan of Bem and self-perception theory, and even used it in my own work way back when).

Quick hits (part I)

1) Mike Pesca’s interview with Clint Watts on Russia was among the most enlightening experts I’ve read/heard on the matter.

2) Really interesting story on how Google has taken over classrooms– and universities in a different way.  I love google’s system at NCSU.  I have an @ncsu.edu account that’s actually gmail and unlimited Google drive space.  It all works great for me.  Interesting issues in K-12, though.

Mr. Casap, the Google education evangelist, likes to recount Google’s emergence as an education powerhouse as a story of lucky coincidences. The first occurred in 2006 when the company hired him to develop new business at its office on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

Mr. Casap quickly persuaded university officials to scrap their costly internal email service (an unusual move at the time) and replace it with a free version of the Gmail-and-Docs package that Google had been selling to companies. In one semester, the vast majority of the university’s approximately 65,000 students signed up.

And a new Google business was born.

Mr. Casap then invited university officials on a road show to share their success story with other schools. “It caused a firestorm,” Mr. Casap said. Northwestern University, the University of Southern California and many others followed.

This became Google’s education marketing playbook: Woo school officials with easy-to-use, money-saving services. Then enlist schools to market to other schools, holding up early adopters as forward thinkers among their peers.

The strategy proved so successful in higher education that Mr. Casap decided to try it with public schools.

3) Yes, to hard-right Republicans every health problem is your own damn fault.  Sure diet plays a role in type II diabetes, but genetics plays a hell of a big role, too.

4) Speaking of which, dialysis is just  a giant profit machine in America.  John Oliver is on the case.

5) Julia Azari and 538 friends on how even the biggest scandals cannot break through party identity.

But, at least historically speaking, even the biggest scandals don’t wash away partisanship.

We went back and looked at key congressional votes during three relatively recent periods in which a president was accused of wrongdoing: Watergate(Richard Nixon), Iran-contra (Ronald Reagan) and the Monica Lewinsky scandal (Bill Clinton). Two trends stick out. First, partisanship still matters. And in a big way. Second, when defections do come, they’re more likely to come from the centrist wing of a party.

6) Catherine Rampell on the stupidity of Trump’s “prime the pump” tax plan.

7) On why proper etiquette when addressing professors is important:

The facile egalitarianism of the first-name basis can impede good teaching and mentoring, but it also presents a more insidious threat. It undermines the message that academic titles are meant to convey: esteem for learning. The central endeavor of higher education is not the pursuit of money or fame but knowledge. “There needs to be some understanding that degrees mean something,” Professor Jackson-Brown said. “Otherwise, why are we encouraging them to get an education?”

The values of higher education are not the values of the commercial, capitalist paradigm. At a time when corporate executives populate university boards and politicians demand proof of a diploma’s immediate cash value, this distinction needs vigilant defense.

The erosion of etiquette encourages students to view faculty members as a bunch of overeducated customer service agents. “More and more, students view the process of going to college as a business transaction,” Dr. Tomforde, the math professor, told me. “They see themselves as a customer, and they view knowledge as a physical thing where they pay money and I hand them the knowledge — so if they don’t do well on a test, they think I haven’t kept up my side of the business agreement.” He added, “They view professors in a way similar to the person behind the counter getting their coffee.”

8) This is important– “how home ownership became the engine of racial equality.”  These were policy choices made that dramatically disadvantage Black families through today.

9) Vox took a look at how right-wing media covered the week in Trump scandals.  Squirrel!

10) Duck ramps are awesome.  Amazing lede:

Political turmoil rocked the nation’s capital again on Tuesday evening as politicians from both parties responded to President Trump’s — you know what, never mind. This is a story about ducks.

And a worthwhile expense of taxpayer dollars.  NC Congressman opposing is just an idiot– great comments to him on twitter.

11) Speaking of Republicans unfairly attacking ducks, duck sex is actually an absolutely fascinating area of study within evolutionary biology.  If you don’t know the wonders of duck penises and vaginas (serious), it’s time you learn.

12) William Ayers on the misguided search for ideological purity in college speakers.  He makes a really good case, but I think I would argue against inviting James Watson in the first place.

13) Are men with bears more desirable?  Yes (mostly), says science.  Somebody tell my wife.  She hates mine, but puts up with it for 5/12 of the year.

14) Thomas Friedman gets it with this column (emphases in original):

Since President Trump’s firing of F.B.I. Director James Comey, one question has been repeated over and over: With Democrats lacking any real governing power, are there a few good elected men or women in the Republican Party who will stand up to the president’s abuse of power as their predecessors did during Watergate?

And this question will surely get louder with the report that Trump asked Comey in February to halt the investigation into the president’s former national security adviser.

But we already know the answer: No…

That’s why the only relevant question is this: Are there tens of millions of good men and women in America ready to run and vote as Democrats or independents in the 2018 congressional elections and replace the current G.O.P. majority in the House and maybe the Senate?

Nothing else matters — this is now a raw contest of power.

15) There’s a war between the Washington Post and the New York Times over breaking new scoops on Trump and the American public is the winner.  If you don’t already, you should strongly consider subscribing to at least one.  I could actually have lower-priced educational subscriptions, but I pay the regular rate because I believe in supporting the highest quality journalism.

16) If you are into public opinion polling, this report from Pew on the impact of low response rates on telephone surveys (not all that much, for the most part) is really good.

17)  National Review’s Kevin Williamson needs to tell conservative readers that newspapers are not actually fake news.

18) Jonathan Turley makes the case that the Comey memo is far from the standard of impeachable offense on Trump’s part.

19) Radley Balko on what Mississippi owes a 13 year-old! wrongly convicted and coerced into a false confession.  A hell of a lot more than the nothing he’s getting:

NBC News has published a long story about Tyler Edmonds, a Mississippi man convicted in the 2003 murder of his half sister’s husband. Edmonds and his half sister Kristi Fulgham were both convicted of the crime.

The NBC News story is mostly a look at the limits of the laws states have passed to compensate the victims of wrongful convictions. Most of these laws prohibit victims who contributed to their own convictions from getting compensated, a stipulation that tends to ensnare people convicted because of false confessions. (Edmonds initially confessed, then retracted his confession a few days later.)

This sort of exception to compensation laws is really unfair. It discounts all of the coercion and manipulation that can go into a false confession. In fact, there’s some evidence that innocent people are especially likely to confess under conditions such as prolonged interrogation, sleep deprivation and threats of additional charges. This is because in the moment, they calculate that a confession will at least end the interrogation, and because they’re innocent, the evidence will eventually exonerate them.

But Mississippi’s refusal to compensate Edmonds is particularly troubling for a few reasons. First, there’s Edmonds’s age. He was 13 when he confessed.

Oh, and that’s just the beginning of the wrongness in this case.  I think I might rather be tried in many a third-world country than Mississippi.  Disgusting.

20) In a normal week, the behavior of Turkey’s thugs would be a much bigger story.  So wrong.  And it is deplorable that the Trump administration has not condemned this.  Jennifer Rubin:

Turkey behaves this way in part because Trump ignores, even rewards (by praising an arguably stolen election) bad behavior. He is not putting American values or interests first. He has allowed himself to be “played,” just as he has been by Russia by setting up assistance in the fight against the Islamic State as the sole concern of U.S. foreign policy. This simplistic, inept brand of foreign policy sprinkled with admiration for thuggish leaders has become standard operating procedure in an administration without vision, experience or conscience.

21) Pence’s credibility ain’t looking so great these days.

22) Louisiana looks to become somewhat less an outlier in mass incarceration.  But damn if they are going to let out those feeble, old prisoners to terrorize us!

But in a deal announced on Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) agreed to drop the proposal to offer early parole to geriatric prisoners in exchange for state district attorneys’ support for easing penalties for nonviolent offenders — changes that aim to reduce Louisiana’s prison population by 10 percent in a decade.

It’s a landmark agreement for Louisiana, which locks up residents at a rate twice the national average, making it the country’s biggest jailer per capita. An unusual coalition of business and political leaders, religious groups and liberal activists has been working to end the state’s ignominious distinction with a package of bills that would shorten some prison sentences, prevent certain nonviolent offenders from going to prison and expand eligibility for parole.

23) Jill Lepore on how impeachment ended up in the Constitution.

24) Don’t always love Matt Taibbi, but when it comes to writing about the life of Roger Ailes (“one of the worst Americans ever”), he’s perfect.

He is on the short list of people most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character.

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.

Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans’ worst fantasies about each other.

25) I don’t deal with too many hyper-involved college parents (but FB’s on this day reminds me of the few occassions I’ve posted about it), but I don’t doubt that it’s a growing problem.

Quick hits (part II)

1) As I’m currently reading Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Unfinished Business, I found this NYT Op-Ed about the role of daughters in providing care to aging parents quite interesting and quite relevant (and on the bright side, I have a daughter):

As Washington debates the relative merits of Obamacare or Trumpcare, many families have already come up with what is arguably the most reliable form of care in America: It’s called daughter care.

The essential role that daughters play in the American health care system is well known but has received little attention. But some health care analysts are beginning to sound the alarm about the challenges women face as caregivers — not just for children but for aging parents — often while holding full-time jobs.

This week, the medical journal JAMA Neurology highlighted a looming crisis for women and their employers: the growing ranks of dementia patients who will end up relying on family members, typically daughters, for their care.

“The best long-term care insurance in our country is a conscientious daughter,” wrote the authors, all of whom are fellows at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, which studies new methods of health care delivery.

2) Thomas Edsall takes on the AHCA, “The Republicans don’t feel your pain.”

3) Evan Osnos on Trump and Comey:

That Trump believed he could fire the person leading law enforcement’s Russia investigation without a meaningful response from another branch of government is a sign of his unfamiliarity with the separation of powers, and, most perilous to himself, an enduring notion of impunity. Before entering the White House, Trump operated by a principle that, as he put it in a moment of “locker room” candor, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The Constitution disagrees, and, by firing Comey and making a baldly contestable claim to his motives, Trump has invited a new investigation into why he took that step, how he described his reasoning, and whether it represents an abuse of office.

4) So apparently there’s a service you can get that will send telemarketers to a talking robot that keeps them on the line with carefully placed “hmmm” “uh-huh” etc., as long as it can to waste their time.  Okay, I’m not paying for it, but it makes me happy just knowing it exists.

5) Julia Azari and Seth Masket on how Congress must be the check on Trump to prevent a Constitutional crisis.

6) Are their any political creatures more craven and narrow-minded that NC Republican state Senators.  Possibly not.

7) Yes, there really is a four-year old living in the White House.  Trump insists he gets more ice cream scoops than his guests.  Seriously.  What a tiny, pathetic little man.  The fact that anybody supports him truly demonstrates just how powerful partisanship is (and that there’s a lot of other small-minded people out there).

8) Philip Bump on the “one little number” that is all the protection Trump needs.  Yes, yes, yes.

Those engaging in such speculation [about impeachment], though, are warned: There’s one little number that makes such a move unlikely. That number is 84 percent, Trump’s job approval rating among Republicans in the most recent weekly average from Gallup.

9) I think it is cool just how incredibly fast fidget spinners have become the lastest fad.  NYT with a timeline of just how fast they blew up.  And, yes, I’m using one right now while.

10) Thomas Mills on the two North Carolinas:

The Carolina I live in today has a vibrant downtown with plenty of restaurants and a healthy merchant class. Our schools are among the best in the state and some are ranked among the best in the nation. We have well-groomed parks, bike trails, bus service and sidewalks. We’re fifteen miles from a major airport and both north-south and east-west interstates are just minutes away. Our crime rate is low and our biggest struggles concern balancing growth with maintaining our quality of life.

In contrast, the Carolina where I was raised is losing population and the unemployment rate is above the state as a whole. The downtown of Wadesboro is a shell of the place where I sold newspapers and bought everything from clothes to bicycles to baseball gloves. A major artery connecting downtown to Highway 74, the major road running through the county, stayed closed for more than year because the town didn’t have resources to repair a collapsing bridge. Other towns in the county are essentially empty, devoid of any businesses other than a convenience store or two…

Republicans claim their tax cuts have led to magazines citing North Carolina as among the best states for business. That may be true, but those national publications are talking about places like the Triangle, the Triad, and Charlotte, not places like Anson County, Scotland County or Wilkes County. The GOP budget has hung those places out to dry…

In many of those areas, the state is the largest employer, but the Senate would stop providing health insurance to state government retirees for anybody joining the state workforce after 2020. That’s a great recruiting tool.  It’s like throwing an anchor to a sinking boat.

If rural North Carolina is going to catch up and compete they need a serious investment in infrastructure including broadband internet, not more tax cuts.

11) In recent years I’ve become convinced the key to the greatest success in men’s college basketball is getting not the best recruits– who invariably leave after only a year– but, the next best recruits (say, roughly those ranked 25-50) who are still really good but much more likely to give you 3-4 good years of basketball.  Gary Parrish with a nice piece arguing essentially this.

12) Great Charlie Sykes column on how so many conservatives have simply become anti-liberal:

If there was one principle that used to unite conservatives, it was respect for the rule of law. Not long ago, conservatives would have been horrified at wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system, and would have been appalled by a president who showed overt contempt for the separation of powers.

But this week, as if on cue, most of the conservative media fell into line, celebrating President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and dismissing the fact that Mr. Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. “Dems in Meltdown Over Comey Firing,” declared a headline on Fox News, as Tucker Carlson gleefully replayed clips of Democrats denouncing the move. “It’s just insane actually,” he said, referring to their reactions. On Fox and talk radio, the message was the same, with only a few conservatives willing to sound a discordant or even cautious note…

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism…

actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.

13) Dahlia Lithwick with Laurence Tribe’s case for impeachment regarding the Comey firing.

14) Why everything we know about salt may be wrong.

15) Of course the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos are doing all the wrong things on student debt:

But with a series of regulatory changes, the Trump administration is taking us in the wrong direction, making student loans riskier, more expensive and more burdensome for borrowers.

First, the Education Department has weakened accountability for the companies that administer student loans. Second, it has made it more difficult for borrowers to apply for, and stay enrolled in, income-based payment plans. Third, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has given banks more leeway to charge borrowers high fees — as much as 16 percent of the balance owed — if they fall behind.

16) The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer and Peter Beinart on Comey.  Both really good takes.

17) Donald Trump wants steam catapults on aircraft carriers, damnit!  If it was good enough for Maverick and Ice Man…

18) Honestly, it never ceases to amaze how breathtakingly ignorant Donald Trump is about policy and how incoherent he is when attempting to discuss it.  Yglesias breaks down his recent Economist interview.

19) Big 538 piece on the long, complicated story behind all the false voter fraud claims from the right.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Our absurd levels of mass incarceration place a huge burden not only on the prisoners, but their families as well. And that includes a significant financial burden.

2) Really good Yglesias post on how Wall Street seems to hate decent wages for American workers.

3) China is taking all the damn fish out of the ocean:

Having depleted the seas close to home, Chinese fishermen are sailing farther to exploit the waters of other countries, their journeys often subsidized by a government more concerned with domestic unemployment and food security than the health of the world’s oceans and the countries that depend on them.

Increasingly, China’s growing armada of distant-water fishing vessels is heading to the waters of West Africa, drawn by corruption and weak enforcement by local governments. West Africa, experts say, now provides the vast majority of the fish caught by China’s distant-water fleet. And by some estimates, as many as two-thirds of those boats engage in fishing that contravenes international or national laws.

4) Terrific Wired article on genetics and pain.  Understanding some very rare genetic diseases may help us with better cures in the future.

5) The Post with three priorities to improve your life.  Not a bad list: more interpersonal interaction, easing up on the smartphone addiction, trying to find not just happiness, but meaning.

6) When Transgender men take testosterone, physical changes deepen their voice.  For those transitioning to a woman, no such luck.  A lot can be done with good speech therapy, but it’s hard work.  Probably wouldn’t hurt me to have a few sessions so that I’m not regularly called “mam” by strangers on the phone.

7) What I most liked about this NYT article about how maybe it’s better to fast before a workout based on a study of only 10 men, was how much the commenters ripped into the Times for even thinking about publishing a study based on only 10 men.

8) OMG, lunch shaming poor kids is just so awful.  I cannot believe that there are school districts that will literally take a kids lunch from them and throw it away!  Then again, free lunch is just going to teach these kids that government is a hammock.

9) Seth Masket on Three Myths of politics Trump is clearly rebutting, “Myth 1: Politics Is Easy and Most Politicians Are Lazy or Stupid…Myth 2: The Best Politicians Have the Least Experience…Myth 3: The Country Should Be Run Like a Business.”

10) Surprise, surprise, more evidence that dietary sodium is not a great villain.  Hooray, salt!

11) Some real numbers on all the massive voter fraud out there.

12) How Europe bans GMO food by avoiding decisions on their legality.

13) Basically a cartoon guide to motivated reasoning.  Pretty good stuff.  Will probably share with my students.

14) This bit in an Andrew Exum piece about Trump and Andrew Jackson drew me up short:

Now, may the Lord have mercy on me for this, but perhaps because I have lived in Washington, D.C., for the past several years, as I worshipped last weekend, I also saw something else in the pews: voters. These people—God-fearing Christians committed to racial reconciliation and social justice—should be among the voters for whom a multicultural Democratic Party is competing. [emphasis mine]

But one thing that shines through among many evangelical voters—as well as other, non-evangelical Trump supporters with whom I have spoken back home—is how turned off they are by the smug self-righteousness of contemporary progressive discourse.

Ummm, yeah, no.  If they were truly committed to racial reconciliation and social justice then they ought to be able to overcome a little cosmopolitan smugness to support the one political party that actually believes in these principles.

15) Dave Weigel with a nice piece on how the media just seems incapable of being fair to HRC.

16) McSweeney’s with the professor’s mantra for this time of year, “I would rather do anything else than grade your final papers.”

17) EJ Dionne rips the Republicans on the AHCA:

“This is who we are,” Ryan told his colleagues this week. “This will define us.”

Yes, it will. So please, Mr. Ryan, have the decency to stop giving those speeches in which you tell us about the depth of your concern about the poor and how you became interested in poverty “at a young age.” No one who would risk throwing so many poor people off health insurance with those enormous Medicaid reductions to score a political victory can claim any real interest in the welfare of the neediest Americans. Stick to tax cuts. At least you have convictions about those.

18) Dallas police officer (rightly) charged with murder.  This simply does not happen in a million years without body cameras.  Body cameras are not a panacea, but they are a step in the right direction.

19) Love this quote from Milbank on Comey:

If Comey is mildly nauseated by the thought that he had “some impact,” he should have his face over the toilet bowl when he considers that he handed Trump the presidency. Certainly, there were many factors behind Clinton’s loss. But in an election this close there can be no doubt that Comey’s action was enough to swing the outcome.

20) And, while we’re at it, if you doubt that Comey should be puking his guts out, you have Nate Silver’s very thorough analysis to contend with.

21) I liked this Op-ed arguing against a pro-choice litmus test for the Democratic party.  I don’t think there should be any single litmus test.

Equating non-support of abortion to a total abandonment of women’s rights, the way a pointed headline in New York Magazine did last month, ignores the reality that women’s rights should include far more than that — from an end to pervasive sexual harassment to broader support for mothers. And yes, economic factors may play a role for many women deciding whether to obtain abortions. But suggesting, as did ThinkProgress’s Bryce Covert in a recent New York Times op-ed, that an unyielding abortion rights stance is the only way to ensure women’s ability to achieve financial security confuses cause and effect.

Equating progressivism with being pro-abortion rights assumes that providing a single, simple solution — making it easier to terminate pregnancies — is worth more effort than addressing the root causes of the problem. An equally if not more progressive strategy might focus instead on addressing the lack of maternal leave and child-care policies, demanding a living wage, and pushing back against an economic system that penalizes women for having and rearing children in the first place. And while one might argue that Democrats are already doing all of the above, the willingness to excommunicate those who disagree with one strategy even if they adhere to all others makes it clear which issue matters the most.

22) Solid Jamelle Bouie piece on Trump and the Civil War.

 23) Scientific American uses science and typologies to explain why some people don’t return their shopping carts.  That’s a little unnecessary.  I’ll tell you in four words– they are selfish jerks.

24) Being cited by Nate Cohn in nytimes.com— I’d call that a good day.  One of the best semi-random emails I ever sent was to Seth Masket about the 2010 health care vote.

But the Affordable Care Act did a lot of damage to the House Democrats who voted it into law.

study by the political scientists Brendan Nyhan, Eric McGhee, John Sides, Seth Masket and Steven Greene showed that the Democrats who voted against the A.C.A. outperformed those who voted for it by a net 10 to 15 points in 2010. (Mr. Nyhan is an Upshot contributor.) Our estimates are lower, at around 5 to 10 points, in part because many of the Democratic A.C.A. opponents fared particularly well in the 2008 elections, but it’s a considerable effect either way. (Our estimates are based on the results of recent congressional and presidential elections by district, member ideology and whether the candidates voted for the A.C.A.)…

These results tell a pretty clear story about who could be hurt the most this midterm: the Republicans who ran well ahead of the national party in 2016 but who voted for the A.H.C.A. and were subsequently seen as no different from Donald J. Trump. On the other hand, a similar Republican who voted against the Republican plan might have just taken a modest step toward electoral survival.

25) Catherine Rampell nails it again.  Perfectly captured in the headline, “What do Bigfoot and moderate Republicans have in common?”

Quick hits (part II)

1) This is just horrible, horrible news.  Mark Binker— a longtime NC Statehouse reporter– literally knew NC politics better than anyone I knew.  I loved having him come to my classes to give a reporter’s perspective.  And I loved talking Rec soccer with him and hearing about his two boys.  He will be sorely missed by so many.  Makes me so sad.

2) These time-lapse gifs (soft “g” damnit) are awesome.

3) Plenty of good takes on Trump’s admission, that, what do you know, being president is hard work.  Drum’s:

There are three takeaways from this. First, Trump’s old life was pretty easy because other people ran his companies and he didn’t really do much. Second, he thought presidents just consulted their guts and made decisions, sort of like Celebrity Apprentice, and then stuff magically happened. Third, he still can’t maintain discussion of a real topic (Chinese President Xi Jinping) for more than a few moments before getting sidetracked by one of his obsessions (his huge victory in November).

4) The reality of sweatshops and economics.

5) Raise your hand if you are at all surprised that a vicious, misogynistic Reddit forum was founded by a Republican state legislator.

6) Greg Sargent on the collapse of the latest ACA repeal effort:

I’d like to propose another explanation. What if the GOP repeal effort once again failed because the Affordable Care Act has actually helped a lot of people, and this whole process has made that a lot harder for Republicans to deny? …

In short, many Republicans objected to the new version on the grounds that it would take coverage away from untold numbers of poor and sick people.

At the same time, though, many of these Republicans avoided openly crediting Obamacare with achieving the very protections for those with preexisting conditions and the vast coverage expansion via Medicaid that they now want to preserve. And they pledged to continue trying to repeal the law. These Republicans cannot affirmatively applaud Obamacare’s success in accomplishing ends they now recognize as imperatives, but they can stand up and say they won’t remove or badly weaken the provisions of it that are accomplishing those ends, provided they also say they’ll replace the law whenever some more acceptable alternative — which would also accomplish those ends — comes along.

7) Nice Washington Post article about the value of on-line support for families of children with rare diseases.  When Alex was young, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance on-line support was a lifesaver.

8) Some good advice to help keep college students on track for graduation.

9) Seems pretty clear we should no longer be paying TV writers per episode any more.

10) Do we have too many restaurants in America.  Almost surely.  Interestingly, I notice Burger Kings go out of business all the time; never McDonald’s.

11) Drum and Conor Friedersdorf on free speech (or not) on campus.  I strongly agree with both.

 

12) Mark Joseph Stern on NC Republicans.

13) Jamelle Bouie on lower income Americans supporting Trump despite his tax policies that so clearly favor the wealthy:

At first glance, it’s an odd populism that takes from the many to give to the few, that abandons the anxious and suffering in favor of the wealthy and comfortable. But remember, Trump’s populism wasn’t just an appeal to jobs and economic interest—it was a racial appeal. Trump cast blame on Muslims, Hispanic immigrants, and foreign others; he pledged to reopen the mines, recover the factories, and restore the white male industrial wage-earner to his perceived place at the top of the material and social hierarchy.

Trump is busy delivering the latter part of this formula, extolling archetypes of white male masculinity and—through his attorney general, Jeff Sessions—using federal power to crack down on those he defined as racial threats during the campaign. That is populism too, and it is potentially potent enough to satisfy those supporters who may lose out under Trump’s economic program. If nothing else, the racial interests of white Americans have always been at the forefront of white politics, a powerful force across class and social lines. The collapse of support for all kinds of public goods, from robust schools to neighborhood pools, is tied to the perceived beneficiaries. When the majority of white Americans believed those beneficiaries looked like themselves, they backed those investments. When they didn’t, they rejected them, either explicitly or eventually under the guise of “color blind” ideologies. With that said, there are exceptions to this general story, among goods that don’t have the same spatial dimensions as schools or housing but still deliver benefits, which is one reason the conservatives have had little traction fully gutting the welfare state.

14) Philip Carter certainly strikes me as right on this, “How Trump Made America Less Secure in 100 Days: His foreign policy makes no sense, and nearly every military move has been a mistake.”

15) Partisanship is a hell of a drug, part 8 million.

16) Excellent Gillian White piece on the difficulties of escaping poverty:

After divvying up workers like this (and perhaps he does so with too broad of strokes), Temin explains why there are such stark divisions between them. He focuses on how the construction of class and race, and racial prejudice, have created a system that keeps members of the lower classes precisely where they are. He writes that the upper class of FTE workers, who make up just one-fifth of the population, has strategically pushed for policies—such as relatively low minimum wages and business-friendly deregulation—to bolster the economic success of some groups and not others, largely along racial lines. “The choices made in the United States include keeping the low-wage sector quiet by mass incarceration, housing segregation and disenfranchisement,” Temin writes.

And how is one to move up from the lower group to the higher one? Education is key, Temin writes, but notes that this means plotting, starting in early childhood, a successful path to, and through, college. That’s a 16-year (or longer) plan that, as Temin compellingly observes, can be easily upended. For minorities especially, this means contending with the racially fraught trends Temin identifies earlier in his book, such as mass incarceration and institutional disinvestment in students, for example. Many cities, which house a disproportionate portion of the black (and increasingly, Latino) population, lack adequate funding for schools. And decrepit infrastructure and lackluster public transit can make it difficult for residents to get out of their communities to places with better educational or work opportunities. Temin argues that these impediments exist by design.

17) Even more evidence that vouchers are far from the solution to improving public schools:

For more than a decade, House Republicans led by the former Speaker John A. Boehner have used school children in the nation’s capital as an experiment for school choice, funding a far-reaching voucher program to send poor children to private schools over the opposition of local teachers and unions.

Now, with Betsy DeVos, one of the country’s fiercest advocates of school choice, installed as education secretary, that experiment is poised to go national. But Ms. DeVos’s own department this week rendered judgment on the Washington school choice program: It has not improved student achievement, and it may have worsened it.

18) Good piece from German Lopez arguing that although our current drug policy is a disaster, full-on legalization of all drugs is probably not a good idea.  Why?  That’s kind of what we did with prescription opioids and the results sure aren’t pretty.

19) Awesome news from a US District judge in Texas.  More of this, please:

U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal issued her decision in a sweeping 193-page ruling, finding that the plaintiffs had a high chance of proving at trial that the county’s bail system is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs—Civil Rights Corps, Texas Fair Defense Project and Houston law firm Susman Godfrey, representing all indigent misdemeanor defendants—had charged that Harris County’s bail system punishes the poor and favors the wealthy because bail hearing officers fail to consider people’s ability to pay bail, as the Constitution requires. Instead, plaintiffs claimed, they set bail based on an arbitrary bail schedule and often ignored recommendations to release non-violent people on personal bonds.

20) I might have mentioned this before, but worth doing again.  Had a conversation with a friend the other day who said I basically changed her life in a very positive way by explaining the concept of ego depletion to her.  Alas, I was forced to inform her that the science of that had largely been over-turned since our earlier conversation.

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