Quick hits (part II)

1) How Intel made the wrong bet on the future of technology 10 years ago.

2) Contrary to what politicians and media would have you believe “normal America,” is not some small town in “the heartland,” but rather, a racially diverse, mid-size metropolitan area.

3) Jon Cohn on why it is so hard to keep health care prices down:

If you want to know why it’s so hard to fight the pharmaceutical industry and reduce spending on prescription drugs, pay close attention to a new Obama administrationinitiative and the reaction it’s getting on Capitol Hill — even from would-be allies in the Democratic Party.

The initiative seeks to change how Medicare pays for cancer therapies and other medications that physicians administer directly to patients in their offices or other outpatient settings. Under the current arrangement, Medicare basically reimburses doctors for the price of these drugs and then adds on an extra fee.

Not everybody agrees, however. The administration’s proposal has provokedintense opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and other physician groups, such as oncologists, for whom the existing system is extremely lucrative. They insist the proposed changes could disrupt the medication supply for cancer patients and other people in need of life-saving medication — arguments that some patient organizations have also made.

4) Inciting political anger is a lucrative business.

5) Actual science behind “resting bitch face.

6) The N&O on the recent federal court decision upholding NC’s Voter ID law:

One and all, these changes in state and local law would have been closely scrutinized by the Justice Department, in pre-clearance, and probably disallowed.

In upholding the recent monkey business in voter-eligibility requirements and procedures, Judge Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote with wonderful obtuseness: “In North Carolina’s recent history … certainly for the last quarter-century, there is little official discrimination to consider.” Which raises the question of what the weasel words “little” and “official” mean in context. My own judgment is that Schroeder must occupy a noiseless and newsless cocoon.

7) Extend the range of you remote car key.

8) What do you do with the prisoner/whistleblower who reports the egregious malfeasance of prison guards?  Why, in America, punish him all the more, of course.

9) I’d been wanting a piece explaining how Leicester City has basically pulled off the most improbably feat in modern sports history (seriously, it’s the maintaining this level over a full 38 game season that is so amazing) and Slate has come through:

The best tactics in the world can help you steal a couple of games you shouldn’t win. They can’t steal you a league title. To win the Premier League, you need great players, and Leicester has them. For a team operating on a limited budget, the most valuable asset is the late bloomer, someone whose growth curve shoots skyward after the big clubs have taken their look and moved on. Right back Danny Simpson and midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who made his first appearance for England in March, spent time in Manchester United’s academy. Defender Robert Huth was brought to England from Germany by Chelsea, while Kasper Schmeichel, son of Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel, started his career at Manchester City. All are now regular starters for a team that is assured of finishing above those who deemed them surplus.

Leicester has somehow gotten all of these late bloomers to flower at the exact same moment. The 25-year-old Algerian Riyad Mahrez, English football’s newly anointed player of the year, has scored more goals this season than he did in his previous four of first-team soccer combined. Striker Jamie Vardy scored five goals last year in his first Premier League season and is currently on 22 and counting. Leicester’s youngest regular starter, pint-sized destroyer of worlds N’Golo Kanté, was brought over from the midtable French club Caen this summer for $8 million; he is now wanted by somewhere between most and all of Europe’s top clubs.

If any one of these players had broken out last season, he likely would have been sold off for a handsome profit. Leicester City would have gotten paid, the player would have gotten paid, and the fans would have been upset but ultimately accepted the realities of the game’s economics. Everybody would have been OK with the status quo.

10) Reagan’s tax cuts were definitely not the key to economic growth in the 1980’s.  Of course, Republicans will never stop claiming otherwise.

11) Will Saletan with the ultimate takedown of the polls say Bernie is more electable nonsense.

12) Women curse in public way less than men.  Good for them, damnit!  Seriously.  Not a big fan.  Nonetheless, it’s subtle sexism at work.

13) Yes,  Cruz naming Carly Fiorina as his VP runnnig mate was very short-term thinking, but as Seth Masket points out, VP selections are (lamentably) almost always short-term thinking.

But as we reflect on Ted Cruz’s pick, it’s worth remembering how many presidential candidates picked running mates based on immediate exigencies and naked political calculation. The multi-year scrutiny — with all the debates, speeches, ads, and punditry — that we apply to the top of the ticket is simply not in effect for the position that’s a heartbeat away from the presidency. It’s usually just a handful of people thinking about what will get their campaign through the next few months.

14) Republicans like to point to high risk pools as the key to replacing Obamacare.  Drum points out that there’s no way this would actually work.

15) And Drum again, with a brief look at a recent Pew report that interestingly shows that Democrats have a real education gap while Republicans have an age gap.

16) Our system of cash bail that punishes people for being poor is uniquely horrible and needs to be done away with.

17) I used to really like Salon way back when it was new.  I was even a subscriber.  Now, I pretty much only read it when I want to see what the far left is thinking.  This is an example of why.

18) British physicians urge a switch to e-cigarettes over the real ones.  Yes, harm reduction!  American doctors remain skeptical, but hard for me to see how this is not a positive step.

19) Love this Op-Ed from my NCSU colleague, Mark Nance, on how HB2 is part of the fruits of gerrymandering:

Of all the amazing aspects of this story, however, what is most striking is what’s not there. By most accounts, McCrory was not the driver of the bill. He likely preferred a very narrow bill to overturn the Charlotte ordinance as a strategy against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper. So where are those who really pushed the bill? Where has the GOP leadership been and why aren’t they on the front lines defending the bill? Where are the 11 Democrats who voted for it? Why aren’t they defending the good reputation of North Carolina?

The Associated Press recently went to great lengths to get comments from all lawmakers who voted for the bill, with miserably bad response rates. It took a comment from the president of the United States to get Senate leader Phil Berger to respond, an exception that proves the rule: The politicians who pushed hardest for this bill have said nothing in the face of staunch criticism. Why?

They don’t have to. About 90 percent of the legislators who voted for the bill either face no challengers in their elections this fall or won their last election by more than 10 percentage points.

20) Obama wants law enforcement to use smart guns.  Smart.  We need to create a market for these and a strong push from the federal government would really help with that.

21) Ross Douthat trying to understand how so many Republicans support Trump despite his obvious handicap in the general election:

On the evidence of past campaigns, this engagement inclines them (in the aggregate) to balance ideology and electability when they vote. That is, as engaged partisans they’re more likely to have particular litmus tests, more likely to have specific issues or causes that they care about. But they’re also more likely to loathe the other party, the other ideological team, with a passion that makes winning in November seem essential. And because they follow politics relatively closely, they’re more likely to have a clear sense of who can win and who simply cannot…

But here the model isn’t completely broken, because a majority of Republican voters don’t actually believe that Trump faces long odds, don’t agree that he’s less electable than Cruz or Kasich (or Rubio or whomever further back). Instead, since last fall Republican voters have consistently told pollsters that they think Trump is the candidate most likely to winin November. So the party’s voters are choosing electability — as they see it — over ideology; they’re just in the grip of a strong delusion about Trump’s actual chances against Hillary Clinton.

The reason for this delusion might be the key unresolved question of Trump’s strange ascent. Is it the fruit of Trump’s unparalleled media domination — does he seem more electable than all his rivals because he’s always on TV? Is it a case of his victor’s image carrying all before it — if you win enough primary contests, even with 35 percent of the vote, people assume that your winning streak can be extended into November? Is this just how a personality cult rooted in identity politics works — people believe in the Great Leader’s capacity to crush their tribe’s enemies and disregard all contrary evidence?

22) How regulating banks is like getting hockey players to wear helmets.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Fascinating NYT profile of a car salesman who obsessively decided to take on ISIS on-line.  And was arrested by the FBI for his efforts.

2) Smoking gun presentation in the VW emissions cheating.  What I hadn’t known before is they could have just made the cars a few hundred dollars more expensive instead of cheating.  When you look at their liability now, one of the most epically bad, short-sighted financial decisions ever.

3) Frank Bruni’s take on the bathroom wars.

4) Surely I’ve mentioned this before, but this is one notion that always needs disabusing– no, marijuana is not a gateway drug:

And that brings up an important flaw of the gateway theory in general. Science writers and readers are fond of saying that correlation does not imply causation, and this is a perfect example. Let’s say 11 percent of pot smokers start using cocaine, as this graphic shows. That doesn’t mean one drug led to the other. As Miriam Boeri, an association professor of sociology at Bentley University points out, poverty, mental illness, and friend groups are all much stronger predictors of drug use. Marijuana isn’t a “gateway” to harder drugs in the same way that ordering an appetizer isn’t a “gateway” to an entree: One comes before the other, but you’re eating both because you’re already at the restaurant.

5) The case (in video form) for starting school later.  It’s simple, of course– science.

6) How a Cold war command center was built under a mountain in Colorado.

7) Most spree killers are not able to be diagnosed with a defined mental illness.  Rather, they are undefinably crazy.

8) NSF found a great way to shrink the number of grant proposals– stop having deadlines.  Heck, about the only thing I an manage to do without a deadline is a blog post.

9) The neuroscience take on the philosophical question of what is reality, anyway?  Reminds me of all the stuff I used to read for fun back in my college says when I went through my phase of interest in metaphysics.

As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.

Not so, says Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.

10) Teen birth rates are way down.  Hooray!

11) Speaking of birth, more research on the relationship between sharing a uterus with older brothers and being gay.

12) Yes indeed, so many “supersized” television episodes are simply too long and need judicious cutting.  There’s often a lack of discipline in making a streaming episode as long as you want instead of fitting it into a 23 or 46 minute block (I’m quite sure this was part of the problem with the Netflix season of Arrested Development).

13) Nice report from 60 Minutes on one of the under-appreciated problems of our current campaign finance laws– it turns politicians into telemarketers.

14) Really interesting interview on the relationship between intelligence and happiness.

Pinsker: One of the premises of your book is that people may have a sense of what will make them happy, but they approach those things in ways that don’t maximize happiness. Could you provide an example of that disconnect?

Raghunathan: If you take the need for mastery—the need for competence—there are two broad approaches that one can take to becoming very good at something. One approach is to engage in what people call social comparisons. That is, wanting to be the best at doing something: “I want to be the best professor there is,” or something like that.

There are many problems with that, but one big problem with that is that it’s very difficult to assess. What are the yardsticks for judging somebody on a particular dimension? What are the yardsticks for being the best professor? Is it about research, teaching? Even if you take only teaching, is it the ratings you get from students, or is it the content that you deliver in class, or the number of students who pass an exam or take a test and do really well in it? So it gets very difficult to judge, because these yardsticks become increasingly ambiguous as a field becomes narrower or more technical…

Raghunathan: What I recommend is an alternative approach, which is to become a little more aware of what it is that you’re really good at, and what you enjoy doing. When you don’t need to compare yourself to other people, you gravitate towards things that you instinctively enjoy doing, and you’re good at, and if you just focus on that for a long enough time, then chances are very, very high that you’re going to progress towards mastery anyway, and the fame and the power and the money and everything will come as a byproduct, rather than something that you chase directly in trying to be superior to other people.

15) Damn do I love articles on how the potato changed civilization.

16) With Jim Vandehei in charge, it’s no wonder Politico used to be horrible more often than not.  Just two of many pieces I saw eviscerating him for a recent clueless Op-Ed.

17) The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is pretty much perfectly suited for spreading disease among humans.

18) Conor Friedersdorf on the small tent of the social justice movement activists.

19) Loved this response to those boycotting Target over their bathrooms.

In fact, if you oppose transgender rights, you shouldn’t even be spreading AFA’s petition using their recommended #BoycottTarget hashtag because Facebook, Twitter, and Google all aced the CEI. Every minute spent on those social media giants helps them promote LGBT equality, including the T.

If you don’t want your money to go to a company that openly supports transgender people, you can’t buy an iPhone, eat an Egg McMuffin, drink a Sprite, stock up Budweiser, or fill your prescriptions at either of the nation’s two largest pharmacy chains because Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Walgreens, and CVS all scored a 100 on the HRC index.

20) Universities are much more interested in genetic diversity than diversity of viewpoints.

21) What it really means to be a political moderate (as opposed to what DC journalists think it means).

22) It really does seem like the NC Chamber of Commerce may have struck a corrupt bargain to support HB2.  They sure don’t seem to be all that interested in what actual businesses are saying.

23) Dahlia Lithwick on Bob McDonnell and the “everybody does it” defense of corruption before the Supreme Court.

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) Richest zip code in Oklahoma cannot even afford an art class in public schools?  Pathetic.  This is what you get from a Republican war on taxes and public schools.

2) The adult skills every 18-year old should have.  Not a bad list.  Need to work on these with my 16-year old.

3) The absurd primary of the car in American life.

4) Interesting take on why the Republican Party won’t be able to wrest the nomination from Trump.

5) Yes, campus rape is a genuine problem.  But, boy do I hate when people lie and mislead with statistics.  Here’s a nice, succinct video on the matter.  Meanwhile, my university this week was encouraging people to believe that 1 in 5 women on campus will be raped.  (Reality check).

6) Aren’t you glad that people like Jeff Sessions are making important public policy decisions for this country?  Good people don’t smoke marijuana!!

 

Caucus member Jeff Sessions (R.-Al.) spoke of the need to foster “knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about… and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Oh, and the government spent $18 million eradicating marijuana plants last year.  Ugh.  Even worse, the money for those efforts came from civil asset forfeiture.  It’s like the trifecta of bad policy.  Meanwhile, the public increasingly knows better.

7) Hillary Clinton and Kevin Drum in defense of politics.

8) Well done billboard funders, well done.

9) Finding answer to disease in genetic superheroes:

“I had an a-ha moment,” says Friend. “If you want to find a way of preventing disease, you shouldn’t be looking at people with the disease. “You should look at people who should have been sick but aren’t.”

These people, unbeknownst to them, carry genes that all but guarantee that they’ll get fatal diseases. And yet, somehow, they’re completely healthy. They might carry other genes that mitigate their risk. Or perhaps, some aspect of their diet, lifestyle, or environment shields them from their harmful inheritance. Either way, Friend reasoned that if he could find these “genetic superheroes,” and work out the secrets of their powers, he could find ways of helping others to beat the odds.

10) Why teachers need to know the wrong answers.

11) Open tab too long– Yglesias on the anti-free trade backlash that doesn’t really exist.

12) You know would be awesome?  Basic scientific literacy among Republican members of Congress.  Presumably, that’s too much to ask for.

13) I loved David Kessler’s The End of Overeating.  Had as much of a lasting impact on my thinking (and that of my wife) as any book I’ve read in recent years.  I’m very much looking forward to his Capture.

14) Great Dahlia Lithwick on the insanity that is Charles Grassley on judges:

Wait, what? So the problem for Grassley isn’t “political” justices—it’s justices appointed by Republicans who don’t advance “conservative policy” 100 percent of the time. And with that, he revealed his real issue. His Senate floor attack isn’t about depoliticizing the court at all. It’s about calling out Roberts for being insufficiently loyal to the Tea Party agenda when he voted not to strike down Obamacare.

What is really being said here is that there is only one way to interpret the Constitution and that is in the way that “advances conservative policy.” According to Grassley’s thinking, a justice who fails to do that in every single case before him or her is “political” and damaging the court. By this insane logic, the only way to protect the court from politics is to seat nine Chuck Grassleys and go home. And to achieve this type of court he will stop at nothing, including trash talking the entire institution from the Senate floor

 15) One of my best friends from way back at Duke is in the photo of this story about surf gangs.  Fascinating story, though my friend’s only involvement was looking at the beach.
16) The Post on the difficulty of being McCrory in today’s Republican party.
17) The best 71-second animation you’ll watch today.  Indeed.
18) Innovation is overrated.
19) Post editorial in favor of Kasich:
IN A different election year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich would not be the moderate in the Republican presidential race. An instinctual tax-cutter who wears his religion on his sleeve and signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood, Mr. Kasich is more Jack Kemp than Bob Dole. Yet it is a sign of how cracked the GOP has become that Mr. Kasich is the only Republican left in the race who acknowledges many of the principles essential to this country’s democracy.
 20) Time magazine ran a horrible cover story on the national debt.  Yglesias wonderfully deconstructs it’s awfulness (as do good pieces in Wonkblog).  Shame on Time.  Drum with the succinct take:
 Sigh. Matt Yglesias draws my attention to this week’s cover ofTime, a Trump-friendly warning that we’re all doomed thanks to the national debt. Matt takes apart this inane argument just fine, but I’ll do it more quickly: You will never have to pay down this debt. Nor will your children. Or your grandchildren. Just forget about it.

And if we ever do have to pay some of it down? We’ll get to pay it off over decades, just like any other debt. And the rich will pay a bigger share than you. But I guess “You might someday owe $145 per year” doesn’t make a very good magazine cover.

Gender and equal pay

Really enjoyed this NPR interview with Harvard Economist on “equal pay day” this week.  Yes, women are undervalued in the workplace.  Yes, really discrimination happens.  But the problem is hugely misunderstood due to facile use of $.79 on the dollar and similar statistics.  Alas it is far more complicated, as Goldin elaborates:

CLAUDIA GOLDIN: Well, I’d rather not use the word discrimination. Much of the difference has to do with what I call the high cost of temporal flexibility…

Disproportionately, women, particularly those who are mothers or who are taking care of others, would like greater predictability in their hours. They would like less on-call hours. They would like fewer periods of long hours. Well, those jobs are often the jobs – the ones that have the longer hours, the less predictability – those are the ones that are often the higher income occupations.

So temporal flexibility is giving someone the ability not just to work fewer hours but to work their hours and not get a big hit for it or to work hours that are more predictable. A physician, let’s say, could work 50 hours a week but work the days that they would like to work and not be on call. They’ll probably get less than someone who is working the graveyard shift or who was on call, et cetera. And that’s true in a lot of fields. And it’s also as true at the top as it is at the bottom.

SHAPIRO: Does that suggest that if you compare women who are not caretakers, who aren’t raising children or looking after elderly parents, to men, you will find closer to equal pay than you would in the general population?

GOLDIN: You certainly do find that. And you find that using data for the U.S., and you find that using data for Scandinavian countries that have incredibly good data that you can really follow people year after year. And you can actually follow them at the event of having a child…

SHAPIRO: Do you envision a day when the gap will disappear, or is that even a desirable outcome?

GOLDIN: I can certainly envision a day when we reduce the cost of temporal flexibility. When more and more people – and we see this among young people. We can see a growing group that would say that they would like to work their own hours. We have mantras, such as, you know, work-life balance. So in many workplaces, it’s not work-family balance, but it’s work-life balance. The more people there are like that, the more they are men, the more we’re going to move to equality for all.

Look, we’d all be better off if this gap shrinks.  We’d be valuing care, as Anne-Marie Slaughter as eloquently written about.  And, yes, there’s still direct discrimination.  But, mostly, we have to address what’s going on at a far broader societal level on how we value caring for others, workplace flexibility, gender-based parenting roles, etc.  We should have these conversations.  And misleading statistics that cause many to erroneously believe that women are typically paid 75-80% as much for the exact same work are taking us away from the important conversations we need to be having.

Quick hits

Late on these because I’ve been at a Political Science conference.  Using 30 minutes of free WiFi in Chicago-Midway to see how many I can get through.  Relatedly, less quotations this week.  Sorry.

1) Really interesting Washington Post story on the incredible hardship faced by women after they have been freed from Boko Haram.

2) SAT and ACT are now making big money by having states (including NC) using them as Common Core tests.  Meanwhile, the tests actually designed to be used with Common Core… not so much.

 

3) Of course many of the businesses who are now opposing NC’s HB2 helped elect them social conservatives who brought us this backward legislation.

4) I hadn’t realized that the Washington DC Metro was so new when I started riding it as a kid.  It’s now really showing it’s age at 40.

5) Nicholas Kristof’s latest on what whites don’t get:

LET’S start with a quiz. When researchers sent young whites and blacks out to interview for low-wage jobs in New York City armed with equivalent résumés, the result was:

A) Whites and blacks were hired at similar rates.

B) Blacks had a modest edge because of affirmative action.

C) Whites were twice as likely to get callbacks.

The answer is C, and a black applicant with a clean criminal record did no better than a white applicant who was said to have just been released from 18 months in prison.

A majority of whites believe that job opportunities are equal for whites and blacks, according to a PBS poll, but rigorous studies show that just isn’t so. [emphasis mine]

6) Garrett Epps on how the challenge to redistricting backfired.

7) A former student of mine shared this in all seriousness on FB (and praised NC’s recent efforts on HB2).  Oh my.  Thought about defriending her for rank stupidity, but decided there’s utility in having some of the crazy come across my feed.

8) The Constitution as a Code of Honor.

9) Conor Friedersdorf on how the drug war has helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

10) I’ve really wanted to do a full post on Hillary Clinton and gender and perceptions of honesty.  I haven’t.  So, do me a favor and read Jill Abramson and Christina Cauterucci.

11) Every time I go through airport security, I feel like the terrorists have one.  In this case, IBM won by making $1.4 million for an app that makes a random left or right arrow.

12) So, this article about Jay Bilas and Mike Gminski is totally old, but new to me, about my two favorite basketball analysts who are both former Duke players.

13) The day after a friend was asking me about the relationship between religiosity and income in the US, this from Andrew Gelman popped up in my feed.

14) Hillary Clinton’s taking autism seriously from a policy perspective.  Of course, my favorite thing about Hillary is that she takes most everything seriously from a policy perspective.

Clinton’s autism plan, announced Tuesday, is well-informed and shows a grasp of the issues that few outside of disability rights circles have. If she wins the election and does even half of the things she promises, she could make an enormous difference in the everyday lives of autistic people. If she loses, she has still tremendously raised the bar on how presidential candidates can and should address autism.

Her plan focuses on necessary and sorely needed support programs for autistic people: improving employment opportunities and housing availability, significantly limiting the use of physical restraints, guaranteeing access to assistive communication technology for people who are nonverbal or have difficulty with spoken language and a specific call to do research on adult autism prevalence and needs. These issues are of vital importance to autistic people and our loved ones. No other major US presidential candidate has made these issues a part of his or her political platform.

15) Really good Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker on the institutionalized resistance to change in the Republican party.

16) Well, North Carolina can no longer claim to be the more sensible, non-backward Carolina (seriously, Nikki Haley looking like a statewoman compared to our “leaders”), but we’ll always have Mississippi.

17) If Donald Trump published an academic article.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

18) Frum with a really interesting take on how the world might have been different had the Allies lost WWI.

Quick hits (part IIb)

Very busy weekend.  Had to divide up the quick hits an extra time to make sure I got it all in before Monday.

1) Drum’s good take on the new Pierson and Hacker book.

2) Linda Greenhouse on Supreme Court “hijacking.”

Really? Any belief counts, as long as it’s sincere? Any belief, no matter the consequences to third parties who don’t share the belief? Given judges’ extreme diffidence about questioning the basis for any religious belief, that’s a not-implausible reading of a statute that only the much-missed Justice John Paul Stevens had the nerve to call unconstitutional. In aconcurring opinion 19 years ago, Justice Stevens said that because the Religious Freedom Restoration Act gave churches “a legal weapon that no atheist or agnostic can obtain,” the law amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. “This governmental preference for religion, as opposed to irreligion,” he wrote then, “is forbidden by the First Amendment.”

3) Teenagers who are literally ruining their lives trying to get into Ivy league schools should stop trying to get into Ivy League schools.  Yeah, high school is hard work, but there’s got to be time for fun.

4) Interesting Atlantic piece on the sewage in the water for the upcoming Olympics and a look at the history and sociology of how it got to be this way.

5) We have a pretty good idea on how to make policing better.  We just need to do it.  Good interview in Vox.

A better way forward is to realize that overgeneralizing — either in terms of enforcement or prevention — is unlikely to succeed, because violence is “sticky,” meaning it concentrates among a small number of identifiable places, people, and behaviors. Focusing our attention and efforts where it matters most will get us better results and is more feasible as a matter of politics and budgets.

GL: What were some of the most promising programs? What about the worst?

TA: The best programs share a number of elements — specificity, proactivity, legitimacy — that Christopher Winship and I outline in our paper. Focused deterrence, also known as the Group Violence Intervention, has a strong track record of success around the country, especially in places like Boston, Cincinnati, and Stockton, California. Cognitive behavioral therapy has also repeatedly demonstrated strong results, especially in Boston with ROCA Inc. and in Chicago with the Becoming a Man program.

The worst strategies generally emphasize punitive scare and control tactics with youth.Scared Straight is best example of a strategy that actually increases crime among those kids who participate in the program, but there are others, such as youth boot camps and curfews. In a different area, gun buybacks are enormously popular but don’t do much to reduce gun violence.

GL: You said in the report that we should dedicate police resources to certain places. What do you mean by that?

TA: A better understanding of what we mean by “place” is very helpful. In this area it’s really important to get specific. At least in the US and likely in most of the rest of the world, crime and violence are sticky; they’re hyperconcentrated in a small number of places, people, and behaviors.

When I say hyperconcentrated, I don’t mean that crime and violence concentrate in a bad or violent neighborhood. They concentrate on a specific street corner, a specific nightclub on a certain night, or a specific liquor store. So when we look at a dangerous neighborhood, generally what we’re seeing is not a whole neighborhood but two or three hot spots. That’s very important to understand.

6) Aaron Carroll on the absurd sleep deprivation we subject our teenagers to.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

7) The lack of funding for criminal defense in Louisiana is truly shameful, unfair, and un-American (and a natural outgrowth of hard-right Republican budgetary policies).  If judges can demand states do better with prisons I don’t understand why they cannot demand states actually ensure defendants get a decent defense.

8) On the bright side, sounds like the Supreme Court might finally be catching onto the problem of criminally inadequate criminal defense in the states.

“The upshot,” Breyer concluded, “is a substantial risk that accepting the Government’s views would—by increasing the government-paid-defender workload—render less effective the basic right the Sixth Amendment seeks to protect.”

Breyer’s logic is worth following to its endpoint. He acknowledges that throwing Luis and others like her to the public-defender system would weaken her Sixth Amendment rights to effective counsel. But what does that say about the constitutional rights of poor defendants who have no other choice?

The question has national implications. Underfunding and understaffing in state public-defender systems weakens the quality of legal representation they can provide to clients. Virtually all of Kentucky’s public defenders exceeded the American Bar Association’s recommended caseload in 2015. Minnesota’s public defenders took on almost double the ABA standard in 2010—170,000 cases for fewer than 400 lawyers—and spent only an average of 12 minutes on each caseoutside the courtroom.

Some states face even greater crises. In cash-strapped Louisiana, where 8 out of 10 defendants cannot afford a lawyer, the system is on the verge of collapse. The state’s 2017 budget includes a 62 percent cut in state funding for public-defender system, with 11 of the state’s 42 offices in danger of shutting down by October. In one office, a waiting list for legal representation had more than 2,300 names on itin March. Defendants often languish behind bars, separated from employment and family, while they wait.

9) Nice Atlantic video on the surprising ineffectiveness of campaign ads.

10) John Oliver and the journalist as advocate.

Chattoo was also impressed by Oliver’s piece last summer on bail bonds in New York, in which he demonstrated that they were little more than a tool for locking up poor people. “It immediately set the agenda, and a month later, [New York Mayor] Bill De Blasio announced a complete policy change,” she noted.

Feldman argues that Oliver’s work reveals a troubling truth about traditional journalists: They often rely on objectivity as a crutch.
“That can have devastating consequences in that it leads to uncritical deference to official sources,” she says. For some journalists, she adds, a he-said, she-said approach to reporting “can be an easy way out.”

As these scholars and journalists see it, “objectivity” was always a false measure of journalistic excellence, and a superficial stand-in for more meaningful ideas like honesty, accuracy, and transparency — terms that might better describe the characteristics of a top-tier journalist.

11) Maria Konnikova on the psychology of electability.

 

12) Barney Frank is decidedly not impressed with Bernie Sanders.  A great read.

 

 

13) You know what, I don’t really doubt that the US women’s soccer team is the victim of gender discrimination in pay.  That said, I got so tired of all the reporting talking about them bringing in more revenue than the men (and the American tv ratings– enough with the American TV ratings in a global sport).  It was only 538 that brought up this fact below.  Now, that may be discrimination from FIFA, but given that disparity of revenue coming in, puts US Soccer in a different light to me.  Also, fair or not, we cannot ignore the marketplace for soccer and it’s not just America.

While U.S. Soccer is not responsible for FIFA prize money, it’s worth noting that the men’s prize money for losing in the round of 16 amounted to $9 million. The women’s prize money for winning the whole tournament was $2 million.

14) Ebola’s hidden impact on the eye.  Scary and sad.

In the aftermath of the epidemic, almost half of over 15,000 West African Ebola survivors have exhibited new ophthalmic symptoms that, left untreated, can lead to severe uveitis (inflammation of the eye), cataracts, and blindness. In Sierra Leone, where an already-weak health system has been leveled by the outbreak, ophthalmological capacity is dismal—the country of 6 million people has just three ophthalmologists. And the nightmare is magnified by a frightening curveball: the possibility that live Ebola virus could be replicating in the eyes of discharged Ebola survivors, pleading to be disrupted by instruments and released back into the population.

As long as that question goes unanswered, the eyes of Ebola survivors are considered inoperable. Patients who need surgery are told to go home, to wait, until researchers confirm whether their eyes are viral landmines. Meanwhile, they’re going blind.

Quick hits (part IIa)

1) Neil Irwin is quite pleased with the latest employment numbers and what they say about the job market.

2) Really enjoyed Drum’s take on declining rates of marriage.  I think he’s onto something:

Why has marriage declined in America? Here’s my dorm room bull theory: it’s because men are pigs.

I know, I know: #NotAllMen blah blah blah. That said, let’s unpack this a bit. Basically, an awful lot of men are—and always have been—volatile and unreliable. They drink, they get abusive, and they do stupid stuff. They’re bad with money, they don’t help with the kids, and they don’t help around the house. They demand subservience. They demand sex. And even on the one dimension they’re supposedly good for—being breadwinners—they frequently tend to screw up and get fired.

In other words, marriage has been a bad deal for women pretty much forever. But they’ve been forced into it by cultural mores and economic imperatives, and that’s the only reason it’s been nearly universal in the past.

Nothing has changed much about that. It’s still a bad deal for an awful lot of women, but cultural mores and economic imperatives have changed, and that means more women can afford to do what’s right for themselves and stay unmarried these days.

But there’s one exception to this: the college educated. Well-educated men are fairly reliable; they have good earning power; they generally aren’t abusive; and they’ve been willing—slowly but steadily—to change their habits and help out with kids and housework. For college-educated women, then, marriage is a relatively good deal. For everyone else, not so much.

And that’s why marriage is declining among all groups except the college educated.

3) The GMO labeling movement is about faith, not facts.  Indeed.

4) Nice Charlotte Observer editorial about Georgia’s Republican governor doing the right thing, where our’s failed to.

5) Man this political correctness on campus is so out of control.

4) Really liked this piece on breastfeeding as comfort feeding and the American ideology of child-rearing.

According to James J. McKenna, a professor of anthropology and the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab at the University of Notre Dame, it’s a common idea in Western parenting that parents should restrict their infants’ feeding behaviors. This idea has little to do with babies’ biological well-being, he says; rather, it developed as a safeguard against raising spoiled children whose parents schedule around their whims.

The argument stems in part from the 1928 book Psychological Care of Infant and Child, written by the American psychologist John B. Watson. In it, Watson warns against the inevitable dangers of a mother providing too much love and affection, and overly comforting children. By that logic, “comfort feeding”—breastfeeding babies to soothe them, even if they aren’t hungry—is asking for problems down the line.

But the argument doesn’t line up with their cognitive development, McKenna explains. “Infants don’t have wants. ‘Wants’ assumes a more advanced cognitive awareness,” he says. “Infants only have needs. There’s a big difference.”

“Western psychology was never kind to our infants,” he adds. “We’ve departed from natural behaviors and have given moral meaning to the recommended practices that have no science to back them up.” [emphasis mine]

5) Hillary Clinton speaks out against a sub-minimum wage for the disabled.  I don’t doubt there can be an exploitation, but as the parent of a future disabled adult who I would love to be able to work for a subminimum wage, I fear throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Alex will likely never be as productive a worker to justify the minimum wage (especially $15), but I would love for him to have a job because it would be so good for him, regardless of the wage.   Subminimum wage makes that possible.

6) Loved the recent Reply All podcast on Zardulu.  Here’s a good NYT story on her and pizza rat, etc.

7) Does NC’s right-wing Christians encourage a new law enable discrimination against Christians?

8) Nate Cohn on Trump voters and race:

There’s a remarkably strong correlation, for example, between Mr. Trump’s support and the number of racist Web searches by state. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight said that the measure was the single strongest correlation of support for Mr. Trump that he could find.

Survey data point toward the same finding. For instance, support for Mr. Trump was strongly correlated with higher levels of resentment about racial issues — like the belief that black people don’t work hard enough and yet receive special favors — in an analysis of the American National Election 2016 Pilot Study.

Mr. Trump’s strength among voters with higher levels of racial resentment helps explain his strength among the new Republicans, many of whom shifted allegiance during moments when race was particularly salient in politics, the 1960s, the 1980s and even during the Obama era.

Of course, not all of the new Republicans left the Democrats because of racial resentment. The Democrats’ leftward shift on other cultural issues — like abortion and gay marriage — undoubtedly alienated many Catholics and Southern Evangelicals. The rising affluence of these same groups most likely diminished the economic appeal of the Democratic message over the last century as well.

But Nixon’s “Southern strategy” had a Northeastern component, and it drew plenty of old Democrats into the Republican Party.

 

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