Quick hits (part II)

1) Nice Krugman column on slavery’s long-lasting impact on American society and politics.

2) Loved this Vox piece on how the voice for Siri was created (by a human) and on how voice artists work.

3) Some days I hate how much email I get.  Definitely some good suggestions in here.  Some I already use (Doodle!).  And my favorite piece of advice:

“If we email each other three times over the same issue, it’s time for one of us to pick up the phone.”

4) Why North Carolina lawmakers just back-tracked part way on the state’s Voter ID law.

5) Enjoyed Toobin’s take on King v. Burwell.

For writing the opinion upholding the law, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., is being hailed (and denounced) as a latter-day Earl Warren—a Republican appointee who turns out to be a secret liberal. This is hardly accurate. Roberts is still the author of the Shelby County case, which gutted the Voting Rights Act, and an eager member of the court majority in Citizens United and all the other cases that undermined our system of regulating political campaigns. But as his restrained and cogent opinion in King demonstrated, he is not a partisan ideologue. Quoting liberally from opinions by Justice Antonin Scalia, Roberts made the commonsensical observation that a law must be interpreted as a whole, not by the analysis of a few stray words here and there. And the context of the full A.C.A. compelled the obvious conclusion that the subsidies were intended to go to individuals on both the federal as well as state exchanges. The law would otherwise make no sense.

Meanwhile, George Will writes that this is all part of the liberal project to overthrow the Constitution.  Seriously.  It’s just amusing to me that so many still seem to see Will as a more reasonable, sober conservative.  If only.

6) Really enjoyed this essay on why “white privilege” is not the problem.  Does not explicitly mention John Roberts, but certainly akin to his idea that the best way to get past racism is to stop talking about race at all.  I don’t necessarily agree with all this,  but it is very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

7) Also enjoyed Reihan Salam’s same-sex marriage take:

Back in 2005, Peter Berkowitz, a conservative political theorist, made the case that the triumph of same-sex civil marriage was all but inevitable. The reason he gave was that arguments that can be made in the language of individual freedom almost always win out in the constitutional realm over those grounded in other considerations. One could argue that the debate over abortion is a clash between two interpretations of what individual freedom demands. Do we protect the autonomy of women or do we protect the rights of unborn children? The fact that both sides of the abortion debate can be rooted in the language of individual freedom has kept the debate alive.

But the debate over same-sex marriage is different. Advocates of same-sex marriage insist that the organization of intimate relations should be left up to the individuals in question, an idea that has become an article of faith among modern Americans. Proponents alone are rooting their arguments in individual freedoms. Critics of same-sex marriage, in contrast, tend to emphasize the potential harms children might experience as society moves away from traditional marriage.

8) Got in a huge argument on FB about the problem of sexism in Jurassic World.  I really don’t like the way this essay seems to suggest every dumb thing a female character does or every poor writing choice is inherently “sexist.”  Sure there’s some valid points here, but I would argue that when you are alienating the likes of me from your feminism, you are doing more harm than good to the feminist cause.

9) Do conservatives have more self-control than liberals?  At least one study says so.

In a series of three studies with more than 300 participants, the authors found that people who identify as conservative perform better on tests of self-control than those who identify as liberal regardless of race, socioeconomic status and gender.

They also report that participants’ performance on the tests was influenced by how much they believed in the idea of free will, which the researchers define as the belief that a person is largely responsible for his or her own outcomes.

10) Your big long read for the week– an interesting take from a British science journalist arguing that climate science is way politicized, alarmist, and harming scientific credibility.  There’s definitely some important ideas in here worth really thinking about and considering, but the author (a genuine science journalist, but also a Conservative MP in Parliament), is clearly very political in his take, which very much undermines his credibility.  As for me, on the whole big picture thing, I would say that if chances of catastrophe are not likely, but simply non-trivial, that’s still a damn good reason to try and do something about it.

Quick hits (part I)

1) It’s hard out there for a pollster.  Nice piece on why it is getting harder and harder to do accurate polling these days.

2) It’s going to be harder than ever for NC to have enough good teachers given how the Republicans in charge feel about education.

3) Wonkblog with a great series of maps on America’s ethnic/racial demographics.

4) Europe’s biggest problem (one we fortunately do not share) is it’s low birth rate.

5) The destruction of defendant’s rights.

6) How working mothers are good for kis:

The researchers find statistically significant differences in outcomes for both boys and girls, though the outcomes are different.

  • Daughters of working moms grow up to earn more money, in part because daughters of working moms are more likely to be employed and more likely to be employed in a supervisory role.
  • Sons of working moms don’t have significantly different economic outcomes, but dogrow up to be more likely to spend time taking care of family members or doing household chores.

In other words, the adult children of mothers who held jobs when they were little kids are likely to grow up as adults who are somewhat less gender-conforming. Their daughters “lean in” more in the labor market, and their sons “lean in” more at home.

7) With all the other big Supreme Court news (yeah, I’ll get to Obergefell), hardly anybody noticed part of the new deal getting rolled back with a ruling on raisins.  Yes, raisins.

8) Another little noticed, but important, Supreme Court case on race and criminal justice.

9) The NC legislature wants to eliminate Driver’s Ed (my oldest just finished the classroom portion a week ago).  There may or not be good reasons to do this, but their justification is embarrassing.

Their argument for no longer requiring 120,000 teenagers to take drivers ed is that it is too expensive for families. The reason that it is too expensive for families is the Senate Republicans ended the state’s $26m appropriation to teach it, putting cost on families. Gotta admire their audacity if not their logic.

10) With Seinfeld coming to Hulu, loved Todd VanDerWerf with a piece on how Seinfeld changed television.  And Matt Zoller Seitz writes about how Seinfeld paved the way for the TV anti-hero we are so familiar with now.

 

11) Fascinating story of a a DC area man recorded the horrible things an anesthesiologist said about him while he was under.  He won a bunch in a lawsuit.

 

12) Tom Edsall with a really good piece on why don’t the poor rise up:

People today, Ray continues, “are not only able to make choices in an ever-expanding range of situations, but they are also compelled to do so.”

In effect, individualization is a double-edged sword. In exchange for new personal freedoms and rights, beneficiaries are agreeing to, if not being forced to, assume new risks and responsibilities.

In addition to opening the door to self-fulfillment, “the rise of individual rights and freedoms has its price,” writes Nikolai Genov, a sociologist at the Berlin Free University in “Challenges of Individualization,” published earlier this year.

Placing an exclusive stress on the expansion of rights and freedoms of individuals by disregarding or underrating the concomitant rise of individual responsibilities brings about social pathologies. They undermine solidarity as the glue of social life.

As a result, individualization can come “at the expense of various forms of common good in general, and of various forms of solidarity in particular,” Genov observes…

All of which brings us back to the question of why there is so little rebellion against entrenched social and economic injustice.

The answer is that those bearing the most severe costs of inequality are irrelevant to the agenda-setters in both parties. They are political orphans in the new order. They may have a voice in urban politics, but on the national scene they no longer fit into the schema of the left or the right. They are pushed to the periphery except for a brief moment on Election Day when one party wants their votes counted, and the other doesn’t.

Chart of the day

Gallup has a post breaking down the results of their recent survey on morals by gender.  The biggest morals gender gap?  Pornography.  Conclude what you will:

Moral Acceptability of Pornography, by Gender

Quick hits (part II)

These should have gone up yesterday– sorry.

1) Toddlers have a sense of justice–probably not that much of a surprise to those who have raised toddlers– but this is a cool experiment with puppets.

2) Generic Concerta not as effective as brand Concerta, but somehow the FDA says it’s okay anyway?!  (At least for 6 months).  How is this okay?!

3) Jamelle Bouie argues that in order be “authentic” Hillary should just go full-on policy nerd.  That would certainly appeal to me.

4) Onion on Charleston and guns:

FAIRFAX, VA—In the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting that left nine dead at a church in South Carolina, sources confirmed today that National Rifle Association officials had already started up with their shit about what would be an even greater injustice. “What happened in Charleston is a terrible tragedy, but what would be even worse is if we reacted to this event by passing laws infringing on our constitutional rights,” said NRA board member Charles Cotton, who, right on cue, let loose the same predictable flood of steaming horseshit about how the real threat facing Americans comes from legislators who would attempt to restrict access to firearms.

5) If Republicans in NC can’t win something fair-and-square, they are plenty open to rigging the rules– in this case, judicial elections.

6) Nobody wants to talk about menstruation (I’m not afraid!  I also buy feminine hygeine products unashamedly), but it is an important health and education issue for many women and girls in the developing world.

7) Both Drum and Chait with nice posts on how John Kasich is utterly unqualified to be the Republican nominee for president as he thinks there is a moral case for expanding health care access.  Chait:

Kasich came face to face with the actual political choice faced by American politicians: whether to support the coverage offered under Obamacare for the poor, or to leave them with nothing. Kasich actually came out and said that taking health insurance away from extremely poor people is immoral.

This was completely beyond the pale, infuriating conservative activists. Kasich has found himself increasingly alienated within the party…

There are plenty of Republicans who believe that their party must veer back toward the center on economics, or social issues, or both. The overwhelming majority of them, however, go about this project with the utmost caution. They don’t openly challenge the moral foundations of their party’s most sacred pieties.

8) Matt Yglesias on his lessons from paternity leave.  Number one– dads get credit just for being adequate.

9) Jon Cohn dives into the latest polls on Obamacare.  This is a really important point:

6. If it’s health care, people assume it’s Obamacare.

So what’s the mystery factor? The best guess is that people are holding the law responsible for all of the problems of the health care system — including those like rising deductibles, narrowing hospital networks, or even long waits at the doctor’s office that most experts believe have little or nothing to do with the law itself.

10) Cool NYT feature on how there’s been dramatic improvement in survival from heart attacks, not from any new medical technology, but from way better coordination of the humans involved.  Time if of the essence, and in some places, they’ve figured out how to get things done much faster– and it’s not easy.

11) Alas, too many members of Congress are still in the pocket of for-profit universities (a nice example of how money indeed does matter in influencing politics) and fighting against much-needed rules to stop these places from basically scamming their students and the American taxpayer.

12) Clarence Thomas joining the majority in the Texas confederate flag license plate case ultimately shows that– like every other justice– he ultimately just decides what he wants and then looks to justify it.  And Mark Joseph Stern on how two other recent opinions show that he is not actually interested in meaningful analysis (and also profoundly lacking in empathy):

As a straightforward application of federal and constitutional law, Brumfield’s case is an easy one. Thomas’ dissent is an effort to muddy the waters, to pass off his own retributive notions of morality as rational legal logic.

13) Who says we can’t teach non-cognitive skills?  The latest research from a project in Chicago is really heartening and suggests we should be doing a lot more programs like this.

14) Seth Masket with a nice column on how Donald Trump shows that money on its own cannot buy political office and that political parties are really important;

Money can help a bit more in primaries and caucuses, but only so much. Studies have shown that, at least in presidential elections, endorsements by politicians are a far better predictor of who will win the nomination than fundraising.

Here’s where Donald Trump comes in. By virtue of his celebrity, he can certainly attract media attention. (Indeed, he got far more attention for his announcement last week than did Jeb Bush, who is widely seen as one of the more likely candidates for the nomination.) And by virtue of his substantial personal fortune, he can buy all the things a presidential candidate needs—offices, staffers, advertising, planes, etc. He could literally spend a billion dollars on winning the Republican presidential nomination and still be a billionaire when it’s over.

But here’s the catch: He won’t win it. He’ll never get close to the Republican nomination, for the very simple reason that party insiders despise him. They think him a clown and an embarrassment to the party.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Fascinating piece on the complete cultural inversion in recent times of which sex society thinks wants more sex (not that long ago, women were seen as the rapacious sex fiends).

2) I kept meaning to write a post on Hillary’s stand for voting rights.  I never did.  But, Chait, Jamelle Bouie, and Seth Masket all see her position as both good policy and good politics.

3) I had no idea there was a backlash against the whole “grit” thing.  Whether we want to talk about “grit” or not, though, I’m definitely supportive of the idea of teaching kids to improve their non-cognitive skills.

4) Should have included this with last night’s Charleston post.  The Economist:

The regularity of mass killings breeds familiarity. The rhythms of grief and outrage that accompany them become—for those not directly affected by tragedy—ritualised and then blend into the background noise. That normalisation makes it ever less likely that America’s political system will groan into action to take steps to reduce their frequency or deadliness. Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.

5) Chipotle is working to design a better tortilla— the secret is fewer ingredients.  I like the existing tortillas well enough, but almost never eat them (I’m a burrito bowl guy) due to the 300+ (!) calories per tortilla .

6) Okay, I was going to write a a post on this college professor who is scared of his liberal students because of the rampant, new PC-ism (see Laura Kipnis), but I’m not scared of mine.  Although, maybe I should be– if anybody in my department is going to get in trouble for saying the wrong thing, it’s me.  I suspect this is still pretty much only a problem in elite liberal arts colleges.  Of course, I hope I don’t find out the wrong way.

7) JP says this is the best thing he’s read on Rachel Dolezal.  That’s a good endorsement.

8) Why we should keep Andrew Jackson on the $20 (short version, we tend to only pay attention to the bad stuff these days).

9) Why do we even need males, you may ask?  Here’s why:

The researchers found that when sexual selection was removed and beetles were paired up into monogamous couples, the population’s health declined rapidly and the bugs were wiped out by the 10th generation. Conversely, beetles that had a strong influence on sexual selection, where intense competition saw 90 males trying to compete to reproduce with only 10 females, were more resilient to extinction.

“To be good at out-competing rivals and attracting partners in the struggle to reproduce, an individual has to be good at most things, so sexual selection provides an important and effective filter to maintain and improve population genetic health,” said Gage. “Our findings provide direct support for the idea that sex persists as a dominant mode of reproduction because it allows sexual selection to provide these important genetic benefits.”

The study suggests that sexual selection plays a crucial role in sifting out harmful genetic mutations, as competition means females are less likely to mate with genetically inferior individuals.

10) In 3/4 of cases of non-complicated appendicitis, antibiotics can solve the problem.  So why do we keep cutting out appendices?  Mostly, it seems, because we always have.

11) Had an open tab on this nice German Lopez piece on marijuana legalization for far too long.  Basic point, yes “Big Marijuana” would not be a good thing.  But surely better than our current status quo.  Interestingly, he argues the most viable long-term option is not decriminalization– as many, including me, have advocated– but full-on commercialization:

Other policies fall short of fixing all the issues caused by prohibition. While decriminalization would reduce the number of marijuana-related arrests, it would leave in place a black market that would continue to fund drug cartels. And while legalizing pot in more limited ways — by allowing only growing and gifting — would deplete some of the demand for a black market, it’s likely some form of legal sales is necessary to satisfy demand for the most widely used illicit drug in the country (although experts are watching Washington, DC, to see how grow-and-gift turns out).

This leaves legalization supporters with one feasible option to address the full scope of issues that concern them: commercialization. The other options are, for better or worse, either politically impractical or wouldn’t be able to greatly reduce black market demand for pot.

12) I had no idea how many animal hybrids were out there, seemingly just to satisfy human curiousity, while leading to animal suffering.  While we’re at it the Echidna is no hybrid, but it sure is freaky.

13) You already know how evil civil forfeiture is, but one more sad story on the matter can never hurt.  Hopefully, the unfortunate victims of this will learn that you really need to forget about travelling with significant cash (of course you should be able to do so in America, but as long as this policy is allowed to persist, it’s just folly).

14) Noted Libertarian (former NC Gubernatorial candidate) and Duke Political Science professor, Mike Munger, weighs in on the LaCour affair.

15) In some ways, the poor are more rational about money than the wealthy.

16) Is your inflation-adjusted middle class salary really better than you think?  This has kicked off an interesting discussion.

17) Interestingly, and distressingly, parents of obese children seem to be in an amazing amount of denial on the matter.

18) Was having a nice back-and-forth with a former student (a libertarian, frustrated as all with the GOP) and I sent him this great piece by Jon Chait (from a few years back) on how tax cuts for rich people truly has become the over-riding ideology of the contemporary GOP.  I don’t know if I’ve linked it here before or not, but it’s quite good and it made quite an impression.

19) Last post on Game of Thrones for a while.  Just nice to see another take so similar to my own on the ultimate boring-ness of the White Walker army.  On a related note, Yglesias is (rightly) disappointed in the de-emphasis on the political scheming from whence GOT actually derives it’s name.

20) We’ll end on an uplifting note involving a stuffed Hobbes that once was lost, but now is found.

 

 

Get your kids out of the house

Okay, my oldest is only 15, but I worry about his ability to successfully navigate the adult world not all that long from now.  I was therefore especially intrigued by this 538 post from last month about how having young adult children living at home impacts parents:

A woman whose children have left home can expect to spend 10.5 hours a week on household and child care. However, when those children don’t leave home, she spends 18 hours a week, on average, on those activities. A man, on the other hand, spends 5.5 hours on home and child care, whether he has adult kids in the house or not. In other words, women with adult children living at home spend, on average, eight more hours a week on house and child care, whereas men are unaffected. [emphases mine]

Well, I guess this means my wife should be the one to really want David out of the house after college.  More interesting stuff:

When it comes to their sex lives, men without children in the home have significantly more sex each month than men with children of any age at home. Interestingly, the same is not true for women. Women with kids under the age of 18 at home have the most sex, followed by women without kids. Women and men with kids over 18 at home have the least amount of sex – about 10 minutes a month.4

Alright, I guess that means all the kids are moving out even if we have to rent an apartment for them :-).

How working moms are good for kids

Had this Upshot post open forever.  Finally wanted to write a quick post.  With all the “mommy wars” as a constant in our culture, here’s some interesting research on how it is good for kids to have a working mom:

Nearly three-quarters of American mothers with children at home are employed. That fact doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for mothers to drop a toddler at day care or miss school plays. The mommy wars might seem like a relic of the 1990s, but 41 percent of adults say the increase in working mothers is bad for society, while just 22 percent say it is good, according to the Pew Research Center.

Yet evidence is mounting that having a working mother has some economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes. That is not to say that children do not also benefit when their parents spend more time with them — they do. But we make trade-offs in how we spend our time, and research shows that children of working parents also accrue benefits. [emphasis mine]

In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time on child care and housework…

Other researchers are less confident that the data has proved such a large effect, because it is difficult to know whether a mother who worked caused her daughter to work, or whether other factors were more influential. “The problem is we don’t know how these mothers differed,” said Raquel Fernandez, an economics professor at New York University who was not involved with the Harvard study but who has also studied the topic. “Was it really her mother working who did this, or was it her mother getting an education?”

Either way, the new study is part of a shift away from focusing on whether working mothers hurt children and toward a richer understanding of the relationship between work and family.

Okay, I know what you are thinking, good social scientist that you are, but the study authors are good social scientists, too:

Ms. McGinn said she ran dozens of tests to see if the results could be explained by something other than the mother’s time at work — like the influence of a broader culture in which women worked more frequently, or the benefits of a mother’s increased income — but they could not. She controlled for factors including age, education and family makeup. The effects shrank after she controlled for these, but Ms. McGinn said the difference was still statistically significant.

Obviously, this is complicated stuff and there’s many different factors as play, but it’s hard to argue that working mothers are bad for children.  As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, parenting is far more about quality than quantity, and clearly most working moms are doing pretty well with quality.

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