Quick hits (part II)

1) A better way to prevent young Muslim men in the West from being radicalized?

2) Republicans are all about how state and local government is better.  Except when the local government wants to do something the radical conservatives in charge of state governments disapprove of.

3) Give your babies some peanuts!  Among other things, a really interesting case on what has been the conventional medical wisdom for a number of years appears to have been 180 degrees wrong.

4) So, maybe the universe had no beginning at all?  Sure, I can wrap my head around that.

5) Personally, I’m so annoyed at all the feminists picking on Patricia Arquette for making a statement for equal pay for women at the Oscars.  Amanda Marcotte’s complaints strike me as exactly what’s wrong with feminism.  For one, I agree with Arquette’s implicit complaint that liberal politics has been too focused on identity politics and not enough bread-and-butter economic issues.

6) I had no idea China was trying to fund a canal through Nicaragua.  Sounds like an absolutely epic boondoggle.

7) Excellent piece from Nate Cohn reminding us that Republicans in blue states are actually really important.

The blue-state Republicans make it far harder for a very conservative candidate to win the party’s nomination than the party’s reputation suggests. They also give a candidate who might seem somewhat out of touch with today’s Republican Party, like Jeb Bush, a larger base of potential support than is commonly thought.

It’s easy to forget about the blue-state Republicans. They’re all but extinct in Washington, since their candidates lose general elections to Democrats, and so officials elected by states and districts that supported Mr. Romney dominate the Republican Congress.

But the blue-state Republicans still possess the delegates, voters and resources to decide the nomination. In 2012, there were more Romney voters in California than in Texas, and in Chicago’s Cook County than in West Virginia. Mr. Romney won three times as many voters in overwhelmingly Democratic New York City than in Republican-leaning Alaska.

Overall, 59 percent of Romney voters in the Republican primaries lived in the states carried by President Obama.

8) I didn’t know about the Siberian crater problem and it’s connection to global warming.  Fascinating.

9) Speaking of Russia, enjoyed this take on the murder of Boris Nemtsov.

10) We all take spreadsheets for granted these days, but they really are a pretty amazing invention.  Loved this Planet Money story.

11) The Republican plan for fighting ISIS is amazingly similar to…. what Obama is actually doing.

12) Great Jon Stewart clip on all the hate from Fox on the announcement of his leaving the show.

13) Maria Konnikova on the dangers of leaning in.

14) Ezra Klein once again reminding us that moderates are not actually moderate at all.

15) On how the color blue is actually a recent innovation.  Seriously.  Loved the Radiolab referenced in this post.

16) All the evidence you need for the existence of white privilege.

17) I so hate the Food Babe.  I’ve been meaning to write my own post disparaging her, but I’ve fallen short.  These two do a great job.

18) I was quite amused at how shocked my stepmother was at Christmas-time when we explained we don’t bathe our kids every night.  You would have thought we said we have them sleep outside in the winter.  Of course, there’s absolutely no reason you need to bathe children every day.  (Of course, now that David is a teenager he will definitely develop a smell if he goes too long).

19) Lolita is one of my favorite books ever.  Enjoyed this piece on it for being one of the Guardian’s top 100 novels.  I came across it when “Vladimir Nabokov” surprisingly posted the link in my FB feed.

Soccer grandmas

So, this is really cool, my research on parenthood and politics made it into an Atlantic piece on “Boomer Grannies.”  Of course, Laurel and I have not actually done any research on the grandmother vote, but neither has anybody else and ours certainly comes closest.

It makes a certain amount of sense that the soccer moms of yore are making a reappearance as a key voting bloc. Boomer Grannies are more world-weary than gracious, more educated than docile; their concern for posterity extends beyond the traditional “maternal” interests of education and healthcare. Today, these grandmas are just as interested in the implications of foreign-conflict intervention and tax reform as they are in paid leave and anti-poverty initiatives…

It makes a certain amount of sense that the soccer moms of yore are making a reappearance as a key voting bloc. Boomer Grannies are more world-weary than gracious, more educated than docile; their concern for posterity extends beyond the traditional “maternal” interests of education and healthcare. Today, these grandmas are just as interested in the implications of foreign-conflict intervention and tax reform as they are in paid leave and anti-poverty initiatives…

Part of this cohort’s grandmotherly concern for posterity may have to do with its shared experience of parenthood itself, says Laurel Elder, a professor of political science at Hartwick College who, along with Steven Greene at North Carolina State University, has published the only study of how being a mom affects choices at the ballot box.

“We’ve found very consistent motherhood effects,” she told me. “Even when you’re controlling for other variables, motherhood predicts more liberal attitudes. Being a mom makes you more supportive on government spending on education and daycare and on a whole range of social-welfare issues: spending on the elderly, spending on the poor, overall government services.”

But do these effects continue when the kids those moms raised leave the house? That’s a complicated and under-explored question. Elder said that “even mothers of grown children are more liberal.” Members of this younger generation of grandmothers are still concerned about posterity, but are also committed to advancing their own interests, prioritizing women’s workplace issues like equal pay and paid leave.

Laurel and I have only done one study (a conference paper never delivered due to a hurricane) on the political impact for parents of grown children, but if “boomer Grannies” catches on, we’ll have to do more with this.

The amazing cluelessness of the pro-gun crowd

In the bid to have guns everywhere they possibly can, the pro-gun crowd has long been pushing to pass laws to ensure guns are allowed on college campuses.  They’ve had only limited success, but now they think they’ve hit on the key– combine it with concern about sexual violence on campus.  Seriously.  The cluelessness speaks for itself, nowhere better than this:

The sponsor of a bill in Nevada, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, said in a telephone interview: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” [emphasis mine]

Seriously?!  And that’s a Republican woman making this argument.  Of course, you need pay only the most passing attention to the issue to know how out-of-touch this approach is.  Not news to you, but, here it is:

“It reflects a misunderstanding of sexual assaults in general,” said John D. Foubert, an Oklahoma State University professor and national president ofOne in Four, which provides educational programs on sexual assault to college campuses. “If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun. Maybe if it’s someone who raped you before and is coming back, it theoretically could help them feel more secure.”

I’m, of course, no fans of these laws, but I suspect that they probably end up making little difference.  That said, the fact that the supporters see this as a solution to campus rape truly shows how ignorant they are on this important issue.

I’m a knowledgeable professor, but I’m not caring

Some really fascinating (and distressing) research on how college students evaluate their professors based on gender.  Here’s the summary in the Upshot:

Male professors are brilliant, awesome and knowledgeable. Women are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly.

These are a few of the results from a new interactive chart that was gaining notice on social media Friday. Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University history professor, says he built the chart using data from 14 million student reviews on the Rate My Professors site. It allows you to search for any word to see how often it appeared in reviews and how it broke down by gender and department.

The chart makes vivid unconscious biases. The implications go well beyond professors and college students, to anyone who gives or receives feedback or performance reviews.

It suggests that people tend to think more highly of men than women in professional settings, praise men for the same things they criticize women for, and are more likely to focus on a woman’s appearance or personality and on a man’s skills and intelligence…

Men are more likely to be described as a star, knowledgeable, awesome or the best professor. Women are more likely to be described as bossy, disorganized, helpful, annoying or as playing favorites. Nice or rude are also more often used to describe women than men.

Men and women seemed equally likely to be thought of as tough or easy, lazy, distracted or inspiring.

Interestingly, women were more

And here’s the link to the site so you can play around with the data yourself.  Really pretty amazing.  You can also find interesting difference (you’ve got to look harder) among academic departments.

And damn, all this time I thought I was brilliant and funny, but I’m just a man.  I guess I’ll be happy about being “caring” and “nice” as those are more terms for women.  Actually, I’ll mostly strive to actually help my students learn (what’s the word for that?) and, admittedly, to make them laugh (wow– huge gender gap in favor of males on “funny” and “hilarious”).

Mega quick hits (part I)

1) Reihan Salam says the upper middle class (hey, that’s me!) is ruining America.

2) Far too many Southerners still think the Civil War was about “States’ Rights.”  Umm, yeah– the right to enslave people.  Anyway, interesting (if overly long, perhaps) history of this mis-history.

3) Garrett Epps explains why finding for the plaintiffs to destroy the ACA in King v. Burwell would simply be a phenomenally wrong-headed decision.  And, uses an awesome Harry Potter analogy to do it.

4) A summary of the various research on the benefits of decriminalizing drugs.

5) I used to really love Billy Joel about 25 years ago.  Here is all of his songs ranked.  Much to my dismay, my favorite– A Matter of Trust-- came in a lowly 86.

6) The R0 or measles is super high– about 15.  Ebola is more like 2– thank God.

7) Been meaning to post this for ever– time to fall into a quick hit.  Really disturbing story about how unscrupulous private companies are profiting of off NC charter schools.

8) Nice summary from Vox on just how horrible the research that “linked” autism to vaccines is.

9) I’ve read on multiple occasions on how phages– virus that attack bacteria– may be a key solution to our antibiotic resistant bacteria.  But for some reason, they only take this seriously in Eastern Europe.

10) A nice research study that shows how early education programs save money long-term by keeping kids out of (very expensive) special education classes later.  Of course, that means we need our politicians to think long term :-(.

11) Virginia is trying to dramatically limit the transparency of it’s executions.  Dahlia Lithwick is on the case.

In her testimony Lain pointed out how absurd it is to hide government actions and accountability precisely when the state must be held to account: “It strikes me as the essence of bad government to enshroud the government in secrecy in its most powerful moment—when it exercises its sovereign right to take the life of one of its citizens.” She added that this bill ensures that “there are no questions asked about where the drugs came from, what the drugs are, what their potency is, whether they have been contaminated, whether they are expired, indeed whether they were obtained legally.”

12) So these two poor brothers were wrongfully imprisoned in NC for 30 years.  Due to the nature of their release (declared innocent by a judge), though, they are not eligible for compensation for the state.  Not surprisingly, they are very much struggling to get by.  To receive compensation, they need an official pardon from the governor.  He’s had the request on his desk since September.  No action; no answers.  Hell of a guy, our governor.

13) Well here’s an intersecting study– parents are more willing to lie in front of their sons than their daughters.

14) Have you heard about the Columbia University student carrying a mattress around to protest the administration letting her alleged rapist stay on campus.  Here’s the story from his side.  I must say, the electronic exchanges between these two after the alleged incident, but before anything was reported, certainly muddy the waters.

15) It’s an interesting question just how much we should be pushing college on young elementary kids who come from backgrounds where college is not typically part of their aspirations.

16) A friend showed me this line of Nerf shooting toys intended specifically for girls.  Wow.

17) Loved Justin Peters‘ account of his life-changing (and not how you expect) time on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”  I was one of the junkies of this show back when it first came out and so wanted to get on it.

18) Maria Konnikova on how emotionally-laden memories are very vivid, but no more accurate than our super-inaccurate ordinary memories.  In fact, the vividness seems to come at the expense of details.

19) Love this Seth Masket post on how “charisma” among presidential candidates is way over-rated.

In 1988, both Michael Dukakis and George Bush struggled to appear charismatic during the campaign. Bush, in particular, fought to overcome “the wimp factor.” Yet today, Bush is widely recalled as winning because Dukakis lacked charisma. This is basically all besides the point: Bush won for the simple reason that the economy was growing strongly in 1987 and ’88 and Republicans got the credit for that. That election likely would have come out almost identically even if Dukakis looked like Tom Selleck and Bush looked like Screech. Yet because Bush got the win, he is remembered more favorably than his opponent.

20) Love how the little guy (and John Oliver!) have seeming made a different on net neutrality.  Nice NYT Editorial on why this is so the right call (and how right-wing talking points are full of it).

21) Jamelle Bouie on how public apathy may be good for much-needed criminal justice reform.

22) Are Costco and Super Wal-Mart making America fat?  Maybe.  Of course individuals make decision on what to eat, but to ignore the many situational/contextual factors in our rapidly rising rates of obesity is willfully idiotic.

Mega quick hits (part II)

1) I would say I simply trust in David Simon on his new show, but Treme was just so boring.  But a really interesting profile of Simon and what he’s been up to.

2) Vox provides a useful perspective on the ridiculous Michelle Obama headscarf flap

  1. American officials in Saudi Arabia typically do not wear headscarves, including at formal government functions. Michelle was following normal protocol.
  2. Former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton did not wear headscarves on similar official visits to Saudi Arabia. Neither did former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

3) This advice from a “supervillian” is actually pretty awesome.

4) I so loved “Boyhood.”  Seeing all the actors age– especially child actors– was awesome.

5) Unvaccinated kids should be barred from school without a very compelling reason– should not take a child with leukemia to sue to make it happen.

6) With the latest death penalty protocol going before the Supreme Court, enjoyed this Op-Ed:

Last summer, Alex Kozinski, a federal appellate judge in California and a supporter of the death penalty, called out this charade for what it is.

Lethal injections, he wrote, are “a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful.” But executions “are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”

7) Want to be in the Yelp top 100 restaurants?  Be in a place with great weather and provide good value.

8) 2014 set a record for exonerations.   The good– yeah, innocent people actually getting their freedom.  The bad– clearly, we’ve got a lot of innocent people locked up.

9) The improvement in NFL placekickers over time really is pretty amazing.

10) Police departments sure like to shoot mentally ill people with knives.  How about one guy with a knife surrounded by dozens of officers and yards of space between– but still gets shot.  Ugh.

11) Europe certainly does a lot of stuff better than us, but you can make a pretty good case that it really goes too far in hampering business.

12) Apparently men are ugly and women are not.  At least among OKCupid users.

13) Interested in a high-resolution audio player for $400 that the average listener’s ears cannot distinguish from an Iphone?

14) Somebody needs to tell Scott Walker that professors work a lot (and Full Professors work the most!)

15) Physicians are now raking in the dollars for stent procedures to unclog blood vessels in limbs.  Of course, there’s little evidence this is actually any more effective than far more inexpensive treatment options.

16) The economic benefits of paid parental leave.

17) Really enjoyed Adam Gopnik’s take on the very different conceptualizations of free speech in America and Europe.

Why don’t women run

As mentioned before, the reason there’s not more women in political office is not that women lose elections when they run (they win and lose at the same rates as men) it’s just that women don’t run enough.  There’s all sorts of reasons, but in significant part, similarly-situated women lack the same ambition for higher office as men.  We also know that women are more likely to wait until their children are older to run, which puts them behind similarly-aged men, but some research suggests that’s not really an issue, as John Sides writes:

But studies of political ambition have often struggled to show that responsibilities at home affect women’s decisions about whether to run. For example, some research finds little correlation between household or child-care responsibilities and political ambition in their surveys of men and women in occupations, such as the law, that regularly feed into political careers.

But some new research finds some good evidence on how family responsibilities may very well matter:

Now, a forthcoming paper by Yale doctoral student Rachel Silbermann provides some interesting evidence of how women’s family responsibilities might matter. Silbermann uncovered a striking correlation: The farther away a state legislative district is from the state capital, the less likely it is that there will be at least one female candidate in that district or a woman serving as state legislator. Notably, these districts are no less likely to have women serving in local office, suggesting that these more remote districts aren’t simply lacking women who are interested in running for office, period.

It always seemed to me that here in NC, the women legislators were disproportionately from the Triangle– no accident!  Silberman also conducted an interesting survey experiment–the results would be a lot more compelling of based on professional adults rather than college students, but still telling:

Silbermann also conducted a simple experiment among a national sample as well as a sample of Yale undergraduates. The students were asked to choose between serving in Congress or the state legislature.  One group was told to imagine that the state capital was “five hours from home.”  Another was told that the state capital was only “15 minutes from home.”

Both men and women were more likely to choose the state legislature over Congress when the state capital was only 15 minutes away, compared to five hours away. But women were much more sensitive to location. Men were 14 points more likely to choose the state legislature when it was close by. Women were 28 points more likely.

Taken together, this evidence doesn’t definitely show that family responsibilities are causing women not to run for office.  But such responsibilities — or , in the case of college students, the anticipation of these responsibilities — could quite plausibly explain why women may forsake a long commute to the legislature. And, as Silberman notes, her finding may capture only some of the impact of family responsibilities, because travel is but “one component of what makes political careers incompatible with family responsibilities.”

Interesting!  I know for me one of the reasons I would never want to run for office is toll on family life and I often marvel at the fundamental unfairness of how much easier it is to represent Cary than Asheville.  Clearly, I’m not alone in this, and I guess, to quote my post popular karaoke performance ever, “Man, I feel like a woman.”

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