Quick hits (part II)

1) Girls aren’t meaner than boys– it only looks that way:

So how do we account for girls’ relational infamy? The answer may have little to do with how, or how often, girls are unkind, and more to do with the chain reaction that is set off when girls are on the sharp end of a peer’s stick.

Evidence suggests that girls, more than boys, are injured by social mistreatment. We’ve long known that girls place a higher premium on their interpersonal relationships than boys do, so it follows that they become more upset when their relational ties are threatened. Indeed, research finds that, disproportionately, girls harbor painful thoughts and feelings when hurt by their peers. They fret about why they were targeted, wonder if they had it coming, and strategize about how to befriend the antagonist.

To soothe their bruised feelings girls, more than boys, reach out to their friends . Turning to peers puts girls in touch with valuable social support, but we also know that recruiting friends to analyze social slights in detail can actually deepen a girl’s emotional distress. In contrast, boys who are hurt often seek out distractions— they stop thinking about hard feelings by thinking about something else. This may render boys less fluent in the language of their emotions, but they tend to feel better, faster.

2) Plenty of cross-national evidence (via Vox) that welfare doesn’t make people lazy, but helps get them out of poverty.

3) The uncertainty of “sanctuary cities” in NC after a new state law.

4) Sure, the Star Wars prequels don’t match the originals.  Don’t hate.

5) Nothing like liberals arts college protesters.  The ones at Smith want to bar all journalists except those that disagree with them.   College meets kindergarten.

6) Love the story behind the famous image of a toddler throwing a tantrum in front of Obama in the Oval Office.

7) Mockery is so fun.  But I do agree with Drum that it will not change many minds (on the Syrian refugees, or anything else).

8) So, did you know the meaning of “Netflix and chill”?  Was quite surprised to learn this from my students this week.  So far, I have not been able to convince my wife we need more Netflix time together.

9) So, about that “crime wave” caused by #blacklivesmatter?  Not so much.

10) I do find this issue of copyright and Anne Frank’s diary to be really fascinating.  Nice column on the trouble with present copyright law.


The foundation dedicates all the earnings from the diary to charitable ends, but its move underscores what many copyright experts and public advocates see as a disturbing perversion of copyright principles. Instead of providing a limited monopoly to creators to promote the flow of artistic works to the public, it’s become a practically limitless source of income to creators’ heirs–sometimes generations removed–and corporate rights holders.

“There’s no way a 95-year copyright term is an incentive for anyone to create anything,” says Dennis Karjala, a law professor at Arizona State who led the opposition to the Copyright Term Extension Act, the 1998 federal law known as the Sonny Bono Act after its chief promoter in Congress. The act set copyright duration at the author’s life plus 70 years, or 95 years after publication for works done for hire.

The act wasn’t aimed at encouraging artistic expression, Karjala says. It was pushed by corporate entities such as the Walt Disney Co., which would soon lose rights to the earliest films featuring Mickey Mouse. “They were all concerned about the cutoff of the royalty spigot,” Karjala says.

Rather than promote the flow of works into public view, copyright here and abroad has become a tool for keeping works out of the public domain.

11) How our microbiome (may) shape autism.  My guess is that microbes shape all sorts of aspects of human behavior that we don’t yet appreciate.

12) Are you hating Muslims?  Exactly what ISIS wants you to be doing.

Extremist groups feed off of alienation, some counterterrorism experts say, and Islamist militants deliberately aim to make Muslims in the West feel isolated and turn against their own communities.

13) Great piece on the research of NCSU professor Walt Wolfram on Southern accents.


14) Today’s college students really do approach college living with a different mindset.

Particularly in the way things have unfolded at Yale, students’ social-justice activism has been expressed, in part, as the need for care from authority figures. When they experience the hurt that motivates them to political action, they’re deeply disappointed with parental surrogates for not responding adequately or quickly enough to support and nurture them. The world in which it’s not bizarre for a young person to rebuke someone for failing to “create a place of comfort and home,” or to yell, “Be quiet … You’re disgusting!,” and storm away, is the world of family, where a child in pain desperately desires empathy and understanding from a parent. The online scorn heaped on the student who was filmed behaving this way represents an unproductive refusal to compassionately translate her behavior across the generational divide. In a piece called “Hurt at Home,” another Yale student wrote, “I feel my home is being threatened,” and contrasted her comforting relationship with her father to the care she felt students emphatically did not receive from the master of Silliman College. Yale tells its students that the residential college is their “home away from home,” but this generation might be the first to insist so literally on that idea.

15) With disgusting amounts of xenophobia on the loose, it’s also helpful to remember Japanese internment.

16) Drum on the anti-science leadership of the House Science Committee:

In any case, Smith is a disgrace, and it’s a disgrace that Republicans allow him to chair a committee on science. Smith’s view of science is simple: if it backs up his beliefs, it’s fine. If it doesn’t, it’s obviously fraudulent. This is the attitude that leads to defunding of climate research or banning research on guns. After all, there’s always the possibility that the results will be inconvenient, and in the world of Smith and his acolytes, that can’t be allowed to stand. Full speed ahead and science be damned.

17) The “quiet eye” and coordination in athletes.

18) Ezra Klein on how America only pretends to value moms.

19) Jonathan Cohn on the trouble Obamacare is facing with individual policies:

As HHS acknowledges, the remaining uninsured tend to be the hardest to reach. This includes those don’t qualify for subsidies or receive only modest assistance, and don’t find the insurance affordable or valuable. What’s more, people shopping for coverage on the exchanges are finding that the policies have high deductibles and limited physician networks. If insurers raise prices, the danger is that more and more people will decide such coverage is simply not worth buying — even if it means paying the penalties.

The Affordable Care Act has already accomplished a great deal — slashing the uninsured rateand providing millions with consumer protections like the guarantee of coverage regardless of preexisting conditions. But enrollment could stagnate.

So what would happen then? It’s impossible to be certain, but many experts think the subsidies would function as a built-in safeguard against a severe market collapse — “the news about United does not presage a death spiral,” Kingsdale said — because that financial assistance keeps coverage cheap for millions of lower- to middle-income people, even if insurers raise their premiums. The mandate would obviously make a big difference, too.

But the law’s architects and supporters had hoped enrollment would continue growing beyond where it is today, reaching more and more people and providing as great a benefit to the affluent middle class as to the working class and poor. If enrollment stalls, the law would still be helping millions of Americans, but it would also be coming up short of expectations.

20) On the easy and unearned virtue of hating “bad” things.

21) Jedediah Purdy on Bernie Sanders and the history of socialism.

22) Speaking of Bernie, anecdotally it was clear to me that my students strongly prefer him over Clinton.  Actual polling (and quality polling done by my colleague Mike Cobb) shows this to be very much the case.  Sadly, Ben Carson also leads among NCSU students.

23) So, back in my classic-rock-loving teen years, I listened plenty to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (Karn Evil #9 being a particular favorite).  I was at a improv class performance for my oldest son at The Cary Theater and there was a sign for Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy tonight.  I mostly thought it was interesting, but not much more.  At 7:50, I checked recent set lists on-line and decided I had to go.  Made it by 8:05 before the show started.  Turns out the show was actually sold out, but somebody had turned in an extra ticket.  Pretty cool.  Great show.

24) Really nice longer read from HuffPol and Chronicle of Higher Education on money and college athletics.  Lots of cool statistics, too (such as the good news that students at my university have to pay very little to subsidize intercollegiate athletics– at some places it is a ridiculous amount).

Quick hits (part II)

1) Stan Greenberg argues the future belongs to Democrats.

But the culture war ignited by Rove is a fire that requires ever more toxic fuel – it only works by raising fears of the moral and social Armageddon that would follow a Democratic victory.

The Republicans have, of course, won big numbers of seats at state level and inoff-year elections in the past decade. However, their conservative supporters, motivated by moral purpose, are now angry that Republican leaders have failed to stop Obama, particularly as the country, as they see it, tips into global and economic oblivion.

On the other hand, this intensifying battle for values has also left the Republicans with the oldest, most rural, most religiously observant, and most likely to be married white voters in the country. These trends have pushed states with large, growing metropolitan centres, such as Florida, Virginia and Colorado, over the blue Democratic wall, creating formidable odds against Republicans winning theelectoral college majority needed to win the presidency.

Encamped in the 20 states of the south, the Appalachian valley, parts of the plains states and Mountain West, conservatives have waged their culture wars to great effect. But those states account for only 25% of the voters. Success here turns Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz into plausible candidates – but not plausible presidents in a country that is past the new electoral tipping point. America will get to send that message 12 months from now.

2) My mom used to do facilitated communication with my severely autistic older brother.  She was absolutely convinced it works.  Alas, the science suggests otherwise.

3) Relative, not absolute, poverty is what matters to  most people and it’s way better in Scandinavian countries.

4) Not at all surprising (but nonetheless interesting) to learn just how nutty Ben Carson’s foreign policy adviser is.

5) I was never a regular viewer of the Daily Show– just Jon Stewart’s best clips that went viral.  That said, I find it quite interesting to see where Noah is not living up to Stewart’s legacy.

6) I did think this week’s Thursday NFL game looked a little weird.  Little did I realize what a disaster this was with red/green color-blindness.

7) Enjoyed Yglesias‘ thorough take on this week’s Republican debate.

8) Love this Connor Friedersdorf take on the intolerance of student activism.  Been meaning to write a post on it all week.  Oh well

9) And a great take from Bill Ayers— especially on the problem of a lack of clear goals:

Earlier today I likened the ongoing protests (some of which are occurring on my campus today, in solidarity with others) to a conflict. As a conflict scholar, the steps towards resolution are clear:

– Identify the essentials of the conflict. Who are the players? What are their interests, and what are they fighting about? What are the rules of the surrounding environment that shape how the conflict is conducted?

– Decide on the desired end goal. If the conflict were over, what would you want that to look like? What resolution do you seek, and what does that resolution look like for ALL of the actors involved?

– Evaluate and choose a strategy for achieving that goal. Can I get there through unilateral action, or do I need the cooperation of those with different views? Can I engineer a solution that meets my needs regardless of what the other side wants, or do I have to persuade others to join with me in a mutually-agreed settlement?

I don’t think we’ve yet had much clear thinking about any of these things. Conflicts often arise between aggrieved students and university administrators or faculty, which is an example of the lamppost fallacy: tackling what you can see, rather than going where the problem really is. The fundamental conflict is between members of minority groups (blacks, latinos, transgender, etc.) and members of the majority group who want to discriminate against and oppress them. [emphasis mine] If that is the core of the conflict, there is no unilateral solution – neither group can wipe the other out, both must continue to live in the same society together. The question is, how?


10) The wonderful world of streaming video isn’t really all the wonderful and will become less so.  And on a related note, Netflix is no longer so interested in it’s DVD back catalog.  This is a problem (I’ve been on “very long wait” for “Aliens” for half a year.  I’m just going to buy it).

11) It’s always been kind of amazing how GWB essentially took no blame for 9/11.  Now some more research on all the dire warnings his administration ignored.  Chait:

Chris Whipple’s revelations about the CIA’s urgent, ignored pleas to focus on the threat from Al Qaeda before 9/11 flesh out an increasingly consistent portrait drawn byKurt Eichenwald and other reporters. A broad and consistent body of evidence had persuaded intelligence officials that Al Qaeda was poised to carry out a devastating attack against the United States. It was not just the famous August memo, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” — the one Bush dismissed at the time as ass-covering — but a much longer and more desperate campaign to wake up Bush’s inner circle. Whipple reports, “Months earlier, starting in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeatedly and urgently began to warn the White House that an attack was coming.”

But the Bush White House was dominated by neoconservatives, who were ideologically fixated on the threat posed by states and dismissed the threat of non-state actors…

In retrospect, Bush’s ability to portray himself to America as a committed and triumphant vanquisher of terrorism rested almost entirely on emotional manipulation. Bush standing on the rubble at Ground Zero; Bush throwing a strike at Yankee Stadium before a cheering crowd; Bush landing on an aircraft carrier — it was all brilliant political theater. And it supported a conclusion 180 degrees from reality. Of the manifold failures the Bush administration wrought, its handling of the terrorist threat should rank as the worst.

12) Women are better-suited to the modern workplace.

13) A great lesson in how to abuse intellectual property law.  Now that the copyright for Diary of Anne Frank is expiring, the owners of the copyright are saying that Anne Frank’s father was a co-author in an effort to extend the copyright.

14) Graeme Wood’s great Atlantic article on Isis from this past spring is definitely required reading now.

15) Nice column from Frank Bruni on every shameless pundit (eg., Gingrich, Coulter, etc.) trying to use the France attack to further their own unrelated political agenda.  (And for what it’s worth, if concert-goers had been packing heat and started firing back at the terrorists–presumably not exactly easy in a crowded theater– they would’ve just blown themselves up sooner).

Quick hits (part II)

1) College campus PC-liberalism amok takes on Halloween.  Prominently at Yale.

2) How Democrats also pass laws that intentionally lead to lower turnout.

3) If we are always short of nurses are we really short of nurses?

4) There’s now some interesting research on how poor people can really benefit by living in mixed income communities.  But now, some research on how it is extra tough for poor teenage boys who live near rich neighborhoods.

5) So tired of prosecutors abusing their discretion– statutory rape edition.

6) Paul Waldman on Ben Carson:

Ben Carson’s ideas about things like the pyramids, combined with what he has said about other more immediate topics, suggest not only that his beliefs are impervious to evidence but also an alarming lack of what we might call epistemological modesty. It isn’t what he doesn’t know that’s the problem, it’s what he doesn’t realize that he doesn’t know. He thinks that all the archeologists who have examined the pyramids just don’t know what they’re talking about, because Joseph had to put all that grain somewhere. He thinks that after reading something about the second law of thermodynamics, he knows more about the solar system than the world’s physicists do. He thinks that after hearing a Glenn Beck rant about the evils of Islam, he knows as much about a 1,400-year-old religion as any theologian and can confidently say why no Muslim who doesn’t renounce his faith could be president.

So what happens when President Carson gets what he thinks is a great idea, and a bunch of “experts” tell him it would actually be a disaster? What’s he going to do?

7) Chait argues that he seems to be more into running a book tour/ brand building exercise than a presidential campaign.

Carson is doing a lot of things that seem puzzling for a presidential campaign, but quite logical for a brand-building exercise. He is taking weeks off the campaign trail to go on a book tour. His campaign itself is structured much more like a scamming venture than a political one. An astronomical 69 percent of his fund-raising totals are spent on more fund-raising. (Bernie Sanders, by contrast, spends just 4 percent of his intake on fund-raising.) In addition to direct mail, Carson seems to have undertaken a massive phone-spamming operation. Spending most of your money to raise more money is not a good way to get elected president, but it is a good way to build a massive list of supporters that can later be monetized.

8) Hillary has a staffer with an arrest for using drugs.  The NY Post thinks you should care.

8b) Meanwhile Bill O’Reilly thinks it is a good idea to just execute all drug offenders.

9) Really enjoyed this Slate piece on Scalia on statutory interpretation in a child pornography case.


10) Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?  Because people mistake confidence for competence.

11) People who insist they need showy public prayer are so annoying.  And when they are HS coaches, they are so wrong.

12) Yglesias makes a strong case for easy debate questions.


13) Some nice perspective on diet and exercise and our environment from someone who recently lost 100 pounds.

14) Seth Masket says don’t count out Jeb just yet.

15) Pretty fascinating profile of a far-right conservative talk radio host and how his crazy listeners keep pushing him further to the right.

16) Math vs. Marco Rubio via Chait:

That means the brunt of Rubio’s fiscal pressure would come to bear on the minority of the federal budget that goes directly to the poor.

This is how Republican budget logic works in general. When you add up fanatical opposition to higher revenue, a political need to protect current retirees and a commitment to higher defense spending, you wind up either blowing up the budget deficit or inflicting massive harm on the poor. There are different ways to handle that problem. One of them is the Paul Ryan–circa-2011 plan of just proposing enormous cuts in anti-poverty programs. Another is the Paul Ryan–circa-2014-to-the-present plan of keeping those cuts in the budget but insisting they’re not your actual ideas.

Then you have the Rubio-Dubya method. The downside of this plan is that you don’t get Ryan-esque praise as a serious budget hawk who’s willing to look America square in the eyeball and tell us hard truths. But liberating yourself from any pretense to obeying the laws of arithmetic provides certain upsides that seem profitable for Rubio.

17) University of Missouri Law School social media policy is nuts!

18) We need too massively decarcerate.

So, the story is straightforward: America has simply created a tremendous capacity to convict and incarcerate its citizens. And, we continue to do so even though violence has declined dramatically. Prosecutors have more beds to fill and they are doing so, and as a result more arrestees find themselves serving prison sentences than ever before. And some of them may be innocent.

19) Really cool story on the emergence of the Coyolf as a new species


20) Say what you will about fast food, but a lot of the companies are taking some important steps towards a less horrible industrial food system.  Most everybody but Yum! foods, that is.  Not coincidentally, I used to love Taco Bell when I was a teenage male, but it’s probably been at least 15 years since I’ve eaten there.

The simplest explanation, however, is that Taco Bell hasn’t followed the industry because it doesn’t have to. Its customers are young, like those of its competitors, but they are predominantly male, which, according to Technomic’s 2015 food trend report, means they’re less likely to care about animal welfare.  They also aren’t quite as affluent as those who frequent other chain’s, which, Tristano points out, likely means they are more price sensitive.

“The lower you get down the price points, the more your consumer has to prefer lower prices to better animal welfare rights,” he said. “So I think it’s also reflection of how Taco Bell’s customers feel.”

21) Nice Vox article from Lee Drutman on the reinforcing feedback loop of inequality and Republican electoral success.  Read it.

Quick hits (part I)

A little late today.  Sorry.

1) The psychology behind conspiracy theories.

2) Bats are awesome.

3) Krugman on the favorable historical record on Democrats and the economy:

But Americans overwhelmingly believe that the wealthy pay less than their fair share of taxes, and even Republicans are closely divided on the issue. And the public wants to see Social Security expanded, not cut. So how can a politician sell the tax-cut agenda? The answer is, by promising those miracles, by insisting that tax cuts on high incomes would both pay for themselves and produce wonderful economic gains.

Hence the asymmetry between the parties. Democrats can afford to be cautious in their economic promises precisely because their policies can be sold on their merits. Republicans must sell an essentially unpopular agenda by confidently declaring that they have the ultimate recipe for prosperity — and hope that nobody points out their historically poor track record.

And if someone does point to that record, you know what they’ll do: Start yelling about media bias.

4) When Gmail writes your emails for you.  Good stuff.

5) Of course (and sadly) there’s a flight of good teachers from North Carolina.

6) The overly busy modern family.  Happy to report the Greene’s are doing just fine.

The data highlight the complicated trade-offs that working families make.

Forty-one percent of working mothers said being a parent made it harder to advance in their careers, compared with 20 percent of fathers. Men’s careers took priority more often than women’s did, though the majority said they were equal. Fathers earned more than mothers in half of full-time working families, the same as mothers in about a quarter and less than mothers in a quarter.

The ways parents spend their time at home have changed markedly over the years. Government time-use data show that parents over all do less housework and spend more time with their children than they used to.

The time men spend on paid work has decreased to 38.5 hours a week from 42 hours in 1965, while the time they spend on housework has doubled to 8.8 hours and the time they spend on child care has tripled to over seven hours.

Still, women do much more, especially when it comes to the tasks of raising a child, like managing their schedules and taking care of them when they are sick, according to Pew. Fathers and mothers are much more likely to equally share in doing household chores, disciplining children and playing with them.

There is a gender divide in parents’ perceptions of how much responsibility they take on, Pew found. Fifty-six percent of fathers say they share equally, while only 46 percent of mothers agree.

7) Year round daylight savings will keep us safer and save lives.  Seriously.  Count me in.

8) Did we just legalize insider trading?  For some insiders.

9) Is America back where it was 100 years ago.  The case for yes.  (Strikes me as too extreme).

10) Shame on NC University English departments for not teaching enough courses about British and American male authors!

11) You know how I feel about guns.  But when you commit a robbery with a fake gun that looks like a real gun, you have just forfeited your right to life in my book.

12) Seth Myers on how an anti-discrimination statute in Houston went down because the opponents scared everybody over bathrooms.  Definitely worth a watch.

13) Sure there’s some older children s books that are racist and sexist (none of which ever made it to me in my 1970’s early childhood), but does this article then have to go on and insinuate that the lack of non-white male protagonists is “racist” and “sexist”?  I read lots of my old favorites to my kids and I’ve yet to come across a book that made me squirm out of outdated racism of sexism (hopefully that doesn’t make me a racist/sexist).  In fact, I’ve been reading The Sneetches a lot lately.  One of my favorites as a kid and now.  And hard to imagine a more anti-racist story out there.

13b) On a totally different note, Drum says save the calls for racism and sexism for stuff that actually is.

14) Kevin Drum creates his own chart of candidate honesty.

15) Of course there’s actually very good reasons why we should raise the age at which we try people as adults.

16) I’ve found the Adaptors podcast to be a bit hit in miss in terms of quality, but I loved this one on what the world would be like if rats took over as the dominant species.

17) As long as I’m talking podcasts, really loved this episode of Start Up that explained and demonstrated the carefully-crafted podcast approach that is also the basis for TAL, Radiolab, etc.  And really helped me understand why some of the less crafted podcasts can be so frustrating to listen to.

18) The Economist explains how treating travelers well is bad for airline business.

19) The fascinating case of intersex children in Salinas, Dominican Republic.

20 Garrett Epps on the first amendment.

But we pay a price for this freedom, and not everyone pays the price equally. The First Amendment imposes on us all the duty to maintain the peace even when our deepest beliefs are denounced. But that duty is doubly onerous for minorities, because they must endure such abuse more often and longer.

In a country that is 70 percent Christian, Muslims account for less than one percent of the population. Since 9/11, powerful religious and political figures have been openly campaigning to strip this tiny population of the protections of the Constitution.

21) What “death to Americareally means.

22) We’ve actually got death panels now (hooray– this is actually great policy).  Nobody seems to have noticed.

23) The history of jaywalking.  More complicated and political than you might think.  I came very close to getting a jaywalking ticket from an MP at the Pentagon once, but got off with a very stern warning.

24) Damn was that bombing of the Doctors without Borders hospital horrible and a massive screw-up.  Some heads really need to roll for this.

25) Now this is how you score a goal.

Transgender students and high school locker rooms

So, I heard this story on NPR yesterday about the US Department of Education coming down hard on an Illinois school district because rather than giving unfettered access to the girls locker room for a transgender female athlete, they had set up a separate space within the girls locker room.  Is that really so wrong?

DANIEL CATES: We have offered access to our transgender students in our locker rooms, and we have asked them to agree and commit to observing an individual measure of privacy when changing their clothes or showering.

CORLEY: The name of the student has not been released, but she identifies as female and plays on a girls’ sports team. She typically changes in a bathroom and, when using the girls locker room, is required to change clothes behind a privacy curtain. The ACLU helped the student file a federal complaint against the district two years ago asking for unrestricted access to the locker room. Her attorney, John Knight…

JOHN KNIGHT: No other students got this kind of rule that requires them to dress in private areas. It basically singles out my client. She knows that she’s being told that she should be particularly ashamed of who she is, and so it’s discrimination just in different packaging, is the bottom line.

Ummm, no other student is a “girl” who has a penis and testicles and desires to change in the girls locker room.  And today’s NYT:

This September, thousands of transgender students went to schools that treated them fairly and followed the law. But a handful of school districts refused to follow the law. Township High School District in Palatine, Ill., to their credit, did apparently work with a transgender girl and treated her equally in some respects. Like the other girls in the school, she uses the girls’ room and participates on the girls’ sports teams.

Unfortunately, they are requiring her to accept a “separate but equal” locker room situation that sets her apart from fellow students. Without question, the district is treating her differently than they are treating other students, and that is the very definition of discrimination. The school only argues that it is legal sex discrimination. The Department of Education disagrees.

And, no, she really is different.  This is not Plessy v. Ferguson.  Of course we should have compassion towards transgender individuals and not discriminate nor needlessly complicate their lives.  But transgender individuals really are different.  That doesn’t mean we should discriminate, but it does mean that some times the fairest solution for all (e.g., teenage girls who do not want to share a locker room with a person with a penis) means different, but reasonable, treatment for the transgender individual.  Changing in a bathroom?  Probably not so reasonable?  Changing in private area of the locker room?  Strikes me as a fair and reasonable compromise.  I’d like to see the Department of Education and ACLU put their efforts elsewhere.

Quick hits (part I)

Lots of good stuff this week.  Let’s go!

1) The Economist on how libertarians hijacked liberal economics.

2) Daniel Craig on Hollywood’s sexist double-standard on aging.  And, he’s a great Bond.

3) Vox puts the shocking arrest of a SC student into the larger context of the policy of police in schools.  And some good Amy Davidson commentary on the matter.  And a good take on the racial component from Jamelle Bouie.

4) Nice NYT Editorial on the concealed carry fantasy.

5) This article about Jeb’s flailing campaign was even before his poor debate performance.  There’s just no way this guy is going to be president.

They didn’t have to look far for an explanation. All they had to do was listen to Jeb on Saturday in South Carolina.

“If this election is about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, then I don’t want any part of it,” the candidate said. “. . . I’ve got a lot of really cool things that I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.”

I don’t want any part of it? I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do? Elect Trump if you want? The self-described “joyful tortoise” may have just delivered the most petulant political speech since the future 37th president said “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”

Bush is correct that Trump’s campaign of insults has made the 2016 GOP primary race an ugly affair. But his response — suggesting he’d take his ball and go home rather than sully himself — is precisely what has sunk Bush’s candidacy so far. Angry voters want a fighter, and Bush, justifiably dubbed “low-energy” by Trump, doesn’t seem to have it in him. The way to combat Trump’s demagoguery and race-baiting is not to look down your nose at him and say “Tut-tut.” It’s to hit Trump back with as much force as he delivers.

6) Great interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter about her new book.  Short version: our society really needs to start truly valuing giving care to others.

7) It is interesting to learn that Florida and Texas are doing surprisingly well in teaching their students.  But damn it, it would be a lot more interesting if we actually knew why.

8) Leadership mistakes of the Galactic Empire from Star Wars.  Awesomeness.

9) Are we becoming inured to TV shows killing off main characters?

10) Really good piece from Fareed Zakaria admitting his mistake of supporting the Iraq War.  Definitely a good one to read the whole thing (it’s pretty short, too):

Consider this: The United States replaced the regime in Iraq and gave the new one massive assistance for a decade. The result? Chaos and humanitarian tragedy. Washington toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya but chose not to attempt nation-building in that country. The result has been chaos and humanitarian tragedy. Washington supported a negotiated removal of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime in Yemen and the election that followed, but generally took a back seat. The result again was chaos and humanitarian tragedy.

The reality in that part of the world is that many of its regimes are fragile, presiding over weak institutions, little civil society, and often no sense of nationhood itself. In that situation, outside interventions, however well-meaning, might not make things better. Sometimes they can even make things worse.

11) Yes, LARC’s are awesome, but they are way under-used.

12) How the disappearance of large animals, and their poop can disrupt ecosystems.

13) Why is academic writing so bad?

14) I love candy corn.  And since Sarah does too, we even eat at not just at Halloween.  Really enjoyed this National Geographic story on the history of it.

15) The Memory Palace is one of my favorite podcasts and it definitely deserves more popularity.  This episode on lead and the wrongness of America may have been my favorite so far.

16) Enough with turning things pink and thinking you are actually doing something about women’s health.

17) REI is closing its stores on Black Friday and encouraging it’s employees and customers to get outside instead.  Not that I shop at REI, but I totally plan on taking them up on it (hope to do some hiking in the NC mountains that day).

18) Happy Halloween.

Gender and toys

Interesting story in the NYT about gender and children’s toys.  Something I notice a lot about in my house filled with Star Wars legos, dinosaurs, My Little Pony, Barbie, etc.  Anyway:

Aliceana and her parents, Brittany and A.J. Belling, make up one of many families that are fed up with the strict princess dresses for girls, action figures for boys stereotyping that they say still pervades children’s toys, clothes, costumes and other merchandise.

Retailers and manufacturers in the $22 billion toy industry, along with media companies, are starting to heed these concerns. Not only are toymakers more wary of marketing some items only to boys or only to girls, they and major store chains are creating gender-neutral or androgynous labels and store aisles.

In August, Target announced that it would no longer use signs to label toys for girls and boys in their stores. For the first time this year, the Disney Store is banishing girl and boy designations from its children’s Halloween costumes, labeling all outfits “for kids.” It also has switched to generic tags on lunchboxes, backpacks and other accessories.

Amazon no longer uses gender-based categories for children’s toys. Next spring, Mattel is introducing a line of action figures based on a new franchise, DC Super Hero Girls. And on Monday , the TV series “Supergirl” debuted on CBS.

“The gender barriers are breaking down, and both manufacturers and retailers are not labeling toys like they used to,” said Jim Silver, the editor in chief of TTPM, a toy review website. “The industry’s learned that you shouldn’t be labeling for a specific gender. There are so many girls who want to be Iron Man and Captain America, and boys who want to play with Easy-Bake.”

That said, I suspect this is mostly about labeling.  I have no interesting in pushing my daughter towards pink, being a princess for Halloween (again), loving Barbie and My Little Pony, etc.  She’s all over that on her own.  She’s also never had much interest in Legos.  Until this:


Some toy makers have made some efforts to change that rigid assortment — but not without controversy. Lego’s “Friends” line, introduced in 2012 to appeal to girls, upset consumers because of its pink and purple blocks, curvy figurines and themes like hairdressing and horse riding.

But, most telling:

And despite the recent changes, a stroll through the toy section at a Target or a Toys “R” Us is still a gender-specific experience. At a Target store in Brooklyn, there were the “Frozen” princess dresses, My Little Pony figurines, and the convertible-driving, glitter-haired Barbie dolls in one half of the children’s section. Then there were the separate aisles of Roboraptor robot dinosaurs, Star Wars spaceships and Nerf guns.

I’m totally for kids playing with whatever toys they want.  And yes, I know that society encourages boys and girls in different directions.  That said, I still do think there’s something more to my boys’ love of dinosaurs (and Sarah’s total disinterest– other than the “How do dinosaurs…” books) and her total love of Barbies, etc.  Mostly, though, I wanted to write a post where I could include the adorable photo above.


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