Quick hits (part I)

1) We’ve got some gasoline shortages here in NC.  There’d be an easy solution– higher prices.  But instead of higher prices, anti-gouging laws prevent the marketplace from working and we end up not with costlier gasoline, but no gas at all.  Great old post from Mike Munger about the problem with anti-gouging laws that he re-posted this week due to the present circumstances.  Rob Schofield, whom I generally agree with, points out that we can expect conservatives to come out and defend price “gouging,” but does not actually provide any argument for why these laws do more good than harm.

2) Not at all surprised to find out that pit bulls have better temperaments than chihuahuas.  Small dogs are the worst!  Why would anybody own a terrier?  Yap, yap, yap.

3) A nice look at all of Trump’s business failures.  He’s a brilliant self-promoter.  He’s far from a brilliant businessman.

4) When interviewed, people in the restaurant and bar industry think we should all be tipping a lot.  When tipping is a major part of the employees wages, of course I tip decently.  But tipping is so stupid and needs to go!

5) Really interesting case heading the Supreme Court’s way on racial bias among jurors pitting the secrecy of deliberations versus the problem of racism.

6) Back when I was young and unwise and attended a top-ranked college, I thought college rankings were great.  Now I know better.  So does Frank Bruni.

One of the main factors in a school’s rank is how highly officials at peer institutions and secondary-school guidance counselors esteem it. But they may not know it well. They’re going by its reputation, established in no small part by previous U.S. News evaluations. A lofty rank perpetuates itself.

Another main factor is the percentage of a school’s students who graduate within six years. But this says as much about a school’s selectiveness — the proven achievement and discipline of the students it admits — as about its stewardship of them.

7) Apparently missing emails are a lot more important for Hillary Clinton than George W. Bush.

8) Drum makes the progressive case for Hillary Clinton.  I strongly concur.

9) A dental practice that totally passes the evidence test?  Sealants.

10) Very much enjoyed this take on “all/blue lives matter”

Dear fellow white people, let’s have an honest talk about why we say “All Lives Matter.” First of all, notice that no one was saying “All Lives Matter” before people started saying “Black Lives Matter.” So “All Lives Matter” is a response to “Black Lives Matter.” Apparently, something about the statement “Black Lives Matter” makes us uncomfortable. Why is that?

Now some white people might say that singling out Black people’s lives as mattering somehow means that white lives don’t matter. Of course, that’s silly. If you went to a Breast Cancer Awareness event, you wouldn’t think that they were saying that other types of cancer don’t matter. And you’d be shocked if someone showed up with a sign saying “Colon Cancer Matters” or chanting “All Cancer Patients Matter.” So clearly, something else is prompting people to say “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”

Many of the people saying “All Lives Matter” also are fond of saying “Blue Lives Matter.” If you find that the statement “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, but not “Blue Lives Matter,” then the operative word is “Black”. That should tell us something.

 11) The authors of this study suggest that this election could be bad for daughters no matter who gets elected:

Even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election in November, the 2016 campaign still could have profoundly negative consequences for a generation of girls exploring their own leadership potential. To be sure, electing the first female president would show American girls that women truly can overcome gender bias and win elections at the highest levels. But they will also have witnessed another truth: They will pay a price for trying.

It’s not just the price of hard work, or confronting the reality that many voters simply aren’t interested in voting for female candidates. It’s also discovering a presidential candidate chose one man charged with domestic violence to run his campaign and another accused of sexual misconduct to help shape its message. It’s a chipping away at women and their leadership potential throughout the campaign from all sides

That said, I think they are flat-out wrong and for young girls having a female president far outweighs the potential downsides.  Here’s results from their survey:

A 2014 survey conducted by Making Caring Common, the project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where we are, respectively, director and faculty co-director, found that girls in middle and high school already face biases against their potential leadership from boys and girls alike. In our survey, fully 40 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls stated an explicitpreference for male over female political leaders (only 4 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls expressed an explicit preference in favor of female political leaders, with 56 percent of boys and 69 percent of girls stating no preference). Our survey also picked up male and female bias against girls as business leaders, and we found certain types of implicit bias against girls’ leadership from students and from parents.

Those are concerning.  But I’m confident Hillary Clinton would do far more to shrink those gaps than enlarge them.

11) Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a Millennial problem so much as young Millennial problem.  The ones old enough to have voted for Obama in 2008 are alright.  Damn kids today!

12) Larry Bartels (pretty much always worth reading) on the media’s mis-placed obsession on white males in 2016.

13) Yet more evidence that student evaluations of college teaching really don’t tell us all that much.  Frustrating, personally, as I so much want to believe they do.  The present system does not seem to work well, but there’s got to be something better.  It’s sure not peer evaluations where all faculty are better than average.

14) Republicans are outraged (rightly) by the behavior of Wells Fargo.  Alas, they want to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that uncovered the wrong-doing.

15) Excellent Dahlia Lithwick piece on a horrible 4th Circuit ruling on public prayer:

The reason legislator-led prayer is permissible, they argued, is because “the principal audience for these invocations is not, indeed, the public but lawmakers themselves, who may find that a moment of prayer or quiet reflection sets the mind to a higher purpose and thereby eases the task of governing.”

Predictably, the majority takes Justice Anthony Kennedy up on his claim from Town of Greece that only prayers which “denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion,” might cross the constitutional line, but anything short of prayer intended to “proselytize or disparage” must be OK. Even though, the “Christian concepts typically consisted of the closing line, such as ‘In Jesus’ name. Amen,’ ” the court finds that “these are not really Christian prayers.” The majority simply rejects that notion that multiple references to such Christian concepts might “convey the appearance of an official preference for Christianity.” Sigh…

To summarize, the mild sectarian prayer is not sectarian, and the aggressive sectarian prayer shows that non-adherents are too sensitive…

Perhaps we are past the moment in U.S. history where majorities can be persuaded that minority views are anything more than hypersensitivity, or that scoffing at these grievances will neither calm the waters, nor restore America’s former “greatness.” When we belittle others in Donald Trump’s America, it’s not just their alleged thin skin we’re dismissing. We are also signing off on using the machinery of government to marginalize disfavored groups from full participation in this country.

16) Sasha Issenberg in a nice interview says he thinks Trump’s lack of a ground game is going to hurt him.  I agree.  I think it quite likely Trump will under-perform his polls in a number of battleground states.

17) Interesting essay on Trump, Brexit, and cycles in human history from an Archaeologist’s perspective.

18) John Cassidy on reasons to believe Trump may not be paying any income taxes at all.

19) Arizona with the worst child molestation law ever.  As written, you are molesting a child when changing it’s diaper (unless you can pull off the trick without touching the child’s genitals).

20) Nice LA Times editorial for Clinton:

Perhaps her greatest strength is her pragmatism — her ability to build consensus and solve problems. As president, she would be flexible enough and experienced enough to cut across party lines and work productively with her political opponents. As first lady, she worked with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides healthcare coverage to more than 8 million children. As a senator, she was instrumental in persuading a Republican president to deliver billions of dollars in aid to New York after September 11. As secretary of State, she led the charge to persuade nations around the world to impose the tough sanctions on Iran that led to the landmark nuclear agreement, and she negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas…

Trump’s ignorance of the issues is manifest. He has called climate change “a hoax” and vowed to renegotiate the Paris climate accord. Obamacare would be repealed and replaced with “something great.” His signature proposal is to construct a wall along the southern border of the United States — and have Mexico pay the billions of dollars involved. Mexico, unsurprisingly, insists it will not. As for the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally, they will either be rounded up and deported (though experts say that will cost billions of dollars, disrupt the economy, divide families and require massive violations of civil liberties) or perhaps some will be allowed to remain, living in the shadows.

Trump doesn’t take America’s global alliances seriously, he has cozied up to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and he has promised to bring back waterboarding “and worse.” His pronouncements, though vague and sometimes contradictory, raise the specter of an iron-fisted leader taking action based on gut impulses — rather than a president seeking common ground among citizens in a politically polarized country.

21) Chait annotates the NYT story on Trump’s debate preparation.  Good stuff:

If Trump is legitimately as stupid, lazy, and childlike as his advisers portray him to be, they should stop helping him get through the debate and instead warn America not to let him become president.

22) Catherine Rampell makes the case (with numbers) that Millennials will eventually come around for Clinton.  I think she’s right.

23) Eugene Robinson, “In America, gun rights are for whites only.”  Sadly, hard to argue with that.

24) Millennials really care about climate change.  Millennials disproportionately support Gary Johnson.  Here’s Johnson on climate change, taking the loooooooong view.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, takes what he calls the “long-term view” of climate change. “In billions of years,” he said in 2011, “the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.”

25) Your weekend long read– Andrew Sullivan on being an information addict and how it almost killed him (I resemble that information addict part, not the almost killed part).

Quick hits (part II)

1) The evolving relationship between facebook and politics.

2) Great collection of anti-women’s suffrage propaganda.

3) Italy has an incredibly low birth rate.  Not good.  Their PR campaign to improve things is, also, not good.

4) Drum on the totally ignored Bush-Cheney email scandal.

5) Also very much enjoyed Drum’s takes on Trump’s maternity leave proposal.  (Partial short version: it is a pointless exercise to take anything Trump says about public policy remotely seriously).

6) 538 on the science of your body clock:

Foster also pointed out that being an early riser or a late sleeper is hardwired into our genetic code. It’s a gift from our parents, who, by hereditary law, will always have a say in when we go to bed at night. This, he said, is what makes it so difficult to reset our biological clock when we travel across the world or take up the night shift.

Hardwired or not, my wife has recently transitioned to being an early riser rather than a late sleeper (never a night owl).  Weird.

7) Jedidah Purdy on NC Republicans versus NCAA basketball.  My favorite part is the absurdity of our Tea Party Lieutenant Governor:

Asked about the loss of tournament revenue, Forest replied, “Our women and girls in North Carolina are not for sale. They’re not for sale to Hollywood, to any concert venue, to the N.B.A., or the N.C.A.A.” Warming to his theme, he added, “I don’t put a price tag on our women and girls. I think it’s shameful that these entities would think it’s acceptable to invade the privacy or security of a woman or a girl in a shower or a locker room. I think that’s a shameful act.”

The lieutenant governor’s chivalrous assurances fall into a familiar Southern tradition: defending legally enforced separation as the only bulwark against sexual predators. For its apologists, Jim Crow segregation protected white womanhood from black rapists. Now those rapists have been replaced by the farcical figure of the sexual opportunist who switches genders for a look inside the women’s room. As anyone familiar with the pervasive victimization of trans people would expect, the Charlotte statute was designed to avoid potentially threatening encounters, not produce them. Either Forest does not know better or he believes that his constituency does not know better, or perhaps both.

8) Inside the collapse of Trump’s DC Policy shop.  So unpredictable and surprising this would not stand the test of time.

9) Lawrence Krauss on 20 science questions for Trump.  Somebody in his campaign who actually can string together coherent sentences answered these.  Still not quite ready to admit that climate change is real.

10) Kristoff’s take on the false equivalence:

I’m wary of grand conclusions about false equivalence from 30,000 feet. But at the grass roots of a campaign, I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.

There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax, who has called for barring Muslims and who has said that he will build a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it.

We owe it to our readers to signal when we’re writing about a crackpot. Even if he’s a presidential candidate. No, especially when he’s a presidential candidate.

There frankly has been a degree of unreality to some of the campaign discussion: Partly because Hillary Clinton’s narrative is one of a slippery, dishonest candidate, the discussion disproportionately revolves around that theme. Yes, Clinton has been disingenuous and legalistic in her explanations of emails. Meanwhile, Trump is a mythomaniac who appears to have systematically cheated customers of Trump University.

Clinton’s finances are a minefield, which we know because she has released 39 years of tax returns; Trump would be the first major party nominee since Gerald Ford not to release his tax return (even Ford released a tax summary). And every serious analyst knows that Trump is telling a whopper when he gleefully promises to build a $25 billion wall that Mexico will pay for.

Then there’s the question of foundations. Yes, Clinton created conflicts of interest with the family foundation and didn’t fully disclose donors as promised. But the Trump Foundation flat out broke the law by making a political contribution.

11) Are you an egoist?  Actually, I don’t think I’m too bad.  I think it helps that I know so many super-smart and successful people.  Also, all the references to the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, remind of of A Man in Full, one of the most entertaining novels I’ve ever read.

12) Why the Democrats don’t have a Freedom Caucus.  Great take on the party asymmetry.

13) John Cassidy with a pretty good argument that Trump may very well not be paying any income taxes.

14) Seriously, what’s David Frum doing with a tweetstorm instead of a regular column?!  But it’s a damn good one about Trump and the media.

15) I’m not impressed by explanations I quickly found for why we have two kidneys.  If we really only need one (like a heart, liver, spleen, etc.,) why would natural selection have not eliminated the extra over time rather than wasting resources on an unnecessary organ?

16) Liberals who are unhappy with Clinton and supporting Gary Johnson are morons.  Jim Newell version.  And Drum.

17) Maine voters keep on being really stupid with their gubernatorial votes.  Ranked choice would be a good solution for them.

18) Alternatives to asking your teenager “how was school?”  Ironically, my teenager usually spends 10-15 minutes telling me about his day in high school where I have the hardest time getting more than “fine” or “just a normal day” out of my 5th grader.

19) No,, Jimmy Fallon is not exactly a hard news reporter.  But with Trump, still…

20) The Post takes a look at who the prominent climate change deniers are.

21) Damn did Trump make the cable news networks look like fools with his birther announcement.

22) What’s with all the Japanese virgins?!  Sure, I get it in misogynistic societies with a great stigma on pre-marital sex, but that’s not Japan.

23) Krugman on Obama’s “trickle-up” economics.

24) Missouri has passed new gun laws.  Time for a new motto, “The Shoot Me State.

25) It is breathtaking how pathetic our NC Governor, Pat McCrory is:

Speakers at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club events routinely take questions from the floor. McCrory required that all questions be submitted in advance in writing.

When the moderator asked how to get started, McCrory said, “Anything you like. No filter here.” Sure, who needs a filter when you posed the questions yourself?

When I tried to ask McCrory a question, the filter went up. “We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough.”

Of course, those weren’t Observer questions. They were softballs from his staff about what he wanted to do with his next term; how he wanted to reduce the state’s rape kit backlog; and how the state crime lab performed under McCrory’s opponent, Roy Cooper.

When the event was over, McCrory did not meet with the throng of reporters who were there. He ducked out a side door and down a hall that led to a back exit. I followed him to try to ask him about HB2, but his staff blocked me.

26) This interview with Sasha Issenberg on how Trump’s campaign is a throwback to 1980 style campaigns (and not in a good way) is really, really good.  Kept meaning to give it it’s own post.

Issenberg: I’ll say that I think Trump has a more coherent worldview about campaigns than many politicians, and his tactics actually do a pretty good job of reflecting his strategic assumptions. He considers campaigns to be purely a candidate-driven, mass-media exercise. One could also say, perhaps less charitably, that he sees his candidacy as an extension of the mechanism of becoming a celebrity: It’s about using television to get in front of as large an audience as possible to get as many people as you can to like you. Even as his campaign has grown and changed, he has been remarkably disciplined at not spending much time or money on anything that doesn’t reflect that approach.

Now I think that dramatically fails to appreciate the extent to which campaigns are not just about changing people’s opinions to get them to like you. Now more than ever, thanks to partisan polarization, campaigns are about modifying the behavior of people who already like you — getting the unregistered to register, mobilizing infrequent voters to turn out. That is best done through targeted communications that don’t involve the candidate.

Quick hits (part I)

1) I found this analysis of how Chip Kelly’s NFL offenses have failed to evolve, a fascinating look at how football offenses and defenses are always in some what of an evolutionary arms races of ideas.  Evolve or lose.

2) Analytics and the Clinton campaign.

3) Philip Bump, “It’s not clear that Donald Trump understands the relationship between the president and the military.”  Of course, you can add that to a giant list of important things about how government works that Trump does not understand.

4) Speaking of which, all those generals supporting Trump?  Not actually at all impressive in context.

5) NC State research on how middle school teachers’ climate change beliefs influence their students.

6) Apparently, chemicals in the venom of Brazilian vipers are pretty awesome for curing things.

7) I’ve actually been using the neighborhood social network, Nextdoor, for a few months.  Not great, but I really like the concept.  Apparently, alas, a lot of racial bias goes on in posts about crime.  But, awesomely, Nextdoor is doing what they can to limit it.

8) The gender wage gap explodes in the 30’s because…. kids.

9) Drum has been on a tear with a series of great posts about Hillary Clinton’s email.  This was a really good one:

When you put all this together, it leads to an obvious conclusion: Hillary Clinton did want to protect her emails from FOIA, but the emails she was concerned about were her personal emails. [emphasis in original] Unfortunately, her initial decision to use only a single email account—probably because she was technically illiterate and simply didn’t understand why this was such a bad idea—turned everything into a circus. Before turning her records over to State, she had to carefully pull out all the personal emails and then make it clear that she wanted them deleted so they could never, ever be retrieved. Her experience led her to believe that personal or not, if they were somehow accessible they would be subpoenaed and leaked and everyone would go bananas over them.

So her staff complied. Once the official emails had all been turned over, they ordered the electronic records deleted, the hard disks erased with BleachBit, and the backups destroyed, along with a new retention policy that all of Clinton’s personal emails would be deleted after
60 days. This was done not because there were missing official emails they wanted to hide, but because they wanted to make sure Clinton’s personal emails were well and truly gone.

I believe the fact pattern of Clinton’s email usage fits this conclusion far better than any other. We’ve now seen tens of thousands of Clinton’s official emails—more than we’ve ever seen from any other high-level federal official—and they’re boring as hell. We’ve seen emails that were deleted and then recovered from other people’s accounts. They’re boring as hell. The vast bulk of them are short conversations with a handful of close aides, and are largely restricted to the tedious minutiae of press releases, talking points, schedules, and other day-to-day matters.

What’s more, paranoia over exposure of her personal emails fits perfectly what we know about Clinton’s character. She distrusts Republicans in Congress, she distrusts the press, and she feels that both will take any chance they can to embarrass her with out-of-context leaks of her personal life. Whether or not you think this attitude is justified, it’s unquestionably the attitude she has.

 

10) The exceedingly disturbing view of immigration propagated by Breitbart.

11) The lack of racial diversity for soccer in the US is a really intersting problem.

12) The headline says it all.  Based on smart analsis from Brookings, “Why the federal government should stop spending billions on private sports stadiums.” Hell yeah!

All together, the federal government has subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports stadiums to the tune of $3.2 billion federal taxpayer dollars since 2000. But because high-income bond holders receive a windfall gain for holding municipal bonds, the resulting loss in total revenue to the federal government is even larger at $3.7 billion.

13) Tom Edsall on the return of the paranoid style in American politics.

14) How GMO-based vaccines can save lives.

15) David Pogue with the best take on the headphone-jackless IPhone I’v read.  At first I thought this was nuts till I learned the new phones will actually use the lightning port for a jack.  Number of times I’ve personally wanted to charge my phone and use the headphones?  Zero.

16) Not at all surprised to learn that in the competetive process for NYC’s best public high schools, higher SES kids have a huge advantage.

17) Just came across this from three years ago, but I love it.  It’s ridiculous that we expect high school students to answer essays on their college admissions that might be hard for a 44-year college professor to answer.

18) With all that talk about Matt Lauer’s horrible moderating, it is important to note, as Drum does here, that what has been overlooked is Trump’s fabulous ignorance of national security:

The phrase “not even wrong” is a cliche by now. It was Wolfgang’s Pauli’s reaction to a physics paper he had been given to read, and it basically means that something is so far off point that it’s entirely
meaningless. It’s like asking about 2+2 and answering “blue.”

This is what Donald Trump sounded like tonight at the Commander-in-Chief Forum on NBC. It’s hardly even possible to fact-check him. What have you done in your life to prepare for sending men and women to war? I have great judgment. Can we afford a president who pops off all the time with stuff he later regrets? After my visit to Mexico, some guy was forced to resign. Do you really believe you know more about ISIS than the generals? Obama has reduced the generals to rubble. After you crush ISIS, how will you make sure another terrorist group doesn’t come back? I’d take the oil. How would you take the oil? I would just leave some guys behind where the oil is. How would you de-escalate tensions with Russia?Did you see that China didn’t put out stairs for Air Force One last week? Do you really want to be complimented by a guy like Vladimir Putin? We’re losing jobs like we’re a bunch of babies. What are you doing to prepare for being president? I’ve been endorsed by 88 admirals and generals. How much time are you spending on this? A lot.

19) It’s really just flat-out morally wrong that one county with an overzealous prosecutor can completely ruin lives in a way that would not happen at all a few miles over in a neighboring county.  Just so wrong:

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — Donnie Gaddis picked the wrong county to sell 15 oxycodone pills to an undercover officer.

If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. In San Francisco or Brooklyn, he would probably have received drug treatment or probation, lawyers say.

But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.

20) The formula for a richer world– equality, liberty, and justice.  Sounds good to me.  Let’s have more of all three.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Jacob Hacker explains why we really need to add a public option to Obamacare.

2) Solid, quality journalism costs money.  If you care about journalism, you should support it with your dollars.

3) Does the first amendment protect deliberate lies?  Indeed:

Why would free speech protect them?

Under U.S. law, many falsehoods—even some deliberate lies—receive the full protection of the First Amendment. That is true even though “there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact,” as Justice Lewis Powell Jr. wrote for the Supreme Court in 1974. Nonetheless, the Court has often refused to allow government to penalize speakers for mistakes, sloppy falsehoods, and lies. Political lies are strongly protected; but even private lies sometimes are as well.

Why?

Imagine if you will, the following impossible scenario: Candidate X says of Candidate Y, “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being—you know—shot. … That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

Shouldn’t this ridiculous, petty, cruel, and destructive lie be punished?

The answer, under First Amendment law, is probably not. The strictly imaginary comment above, however crude and stupid, is nonetheless a statement about an important political issue: determining the presidential nominee of a major party. So, if there is a “hierarchy” of speech under the First Amendment, this allegation starts out at the top. Candidates for president sling all sorts of mud at each other—one candidate, for example, may claim another is planning to “rig the election”; was involved in the “murder” of a government official even though an investigation had found suicide; or was theco-creator, with a sitting president, of a terrorist conspiracy against the United States.

Such allegations—not that anyone would make them—would be contemptible; but I would be worried about a system in which the government could silence them

4) John Yoo is a war criminal who should be in jail, not teaching law students.  But even he opposes Donald Trump.

5) And here’s an intersting story about pretty much the only person in the national security establishment who has not rejected Trump, General Michael Flynn.

6) Really enjoyed this about reaction time in sprinting (with a fun, interactive game to test your own reaction time).

7) No evidence for any “Bradley effect” for Trump in the polls (i.e., social desirabilitiy results affecting poll results depending upon the mode).

8) One of my favorite pieces on Usain Bolt— the science behind his speed.

9) So, basically most of the Olympic table tennis players are Chinese, but the vast majority are playing for other countries.

10) How genetic engineering could affect the limits of human athletic performance.

11) NPR is ending comments on its website because only a tiny handful of readers ever comment.

12) NYT Editorial making the case for affordable child care as the secret to a better economy:

The losses are even more profound when multiplied over the economy.International comparisons indicate that more family-friendly policies in the United States, including quality child care, would allow roughly 5.5 million more women to work, assuming the economy was adding jobs at a reasonable pace. All else being equal, that surge could generate an astounding $500 billion a year in economic growth, or about 3.5 percent of gross domestic product.

Proper child care also lays the foundation for future productivity gains. Research shows that public investment in early education yields benefits for children far in excess of its cost, including higher academic and career achievement well into adulthood, as well as better health. McKinsey researchers estimated that closing academic achievement gaps between low-income students and others would increase the size of the economy by roughly $70 billion a year; closing racial and ethnic gaps would add $50 billion annually.

13) Matt Grossman on one of my favorite themes (and his– he’s got a book on it), the asymmetry:

My new book with David A. Hopkins, Asymmetric Politics(link is external): Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, sheds light on the longstanding advantages of each political party and their bases of mass support. We argue that the Republican Party is the vehicle of an ideological movement that prizes the general principles of limited government, American nationalism, and cultural traditionalism. The Democratic Party is instead a coalition of myriad social groups, each with specific programmatic policy concerns.

14) This interview with Sasha Issenberg on how Trump’s campaign is like a campaign from 1980 is terrific.  Hits all the key points on how campaigns have changed and evolved.   If I was teaching campaigns and elections now, it would be going straight into the syllabus.

15) Can I say how incredibly tired I am of people using posting from nobody morons on twitter to make their points?!  You can prove any thesis you want if all you need is for rubes to post about it on social media.  As if there had actually been some actual mainstream attacks on Gabby Douglas or mainstream defenses of Lochte’s deplorable behavior.

16) Frum says Trump’s choice is to lose like Dukakis or Goldwater.  I think he may be right, but I have a hard time imagining Trump taking anything but the Goldwater route.

17) On a similar note, yes, I feel bad for the incredibly difficult position Caster Semenya is in (there’s just no easy answer), but I have read at least three different posts this week saying the equivalent of this from Olga Khazan:

It’s unclear how much of an advantage testosterone gives women in running—or in anything else. [emphasis mine] Men are faster, on average, than women, but testosterone is not the only reason: Men also have more red blood cells and bigger hearts and lungs. Due in part to the lack of scientific clarity, in 2015 the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the IAAF’s testosterone regulations for two years.

#$%#$ing seriously??!!  Right, we really have no idea how testosterone affects women’s athletic performance.  If only there had been something like “steroids” or “the East German Olympic team” to look to for any kind of evidence.  A shame.

 

Quick hits (part I)

This will be an Olympics heavy week– sorry, but I love them.

1) Texas set to execute man who did not kill anyone (nor pay/direct anybody to kill someone).

2) Parenting advice that really works:

If the David Brookses of the world were honest, their parenting advice would begin: Have a healthy kid, live in an affluent area (with low crime and good schools), be from a socially privileged demographic, and make a decent amount of money. From there on, it’s pretty much coasting.

Working so far (though I wonder if my oldest might not be on a better track with better parenting).

3) How Giuliani is ruining his reputation in service to Trump.

4) NYT Editorial says to stop treating marijuana like heroin.  Hell, yeah.

5) The second in Nicholas Thompon and Malcolm Gladwell’s conversations about Olympic track is likewise fascinating.

6) In a similar vein, I was totally fascinated by David Epstein’s discussion of the 800m race.

7) Why the French Burkini ban is stupid and how it fits into very different conceptions of religion and public life in France versus the US.

8) Somebody made up a crazy fake PPP memo (about their secret poll of Trump at 74% in Florida) that a bunch of wingnuts actually believed.  Really good stuff.

9) Have their been occasional sexist comments during network coverage of the Olympics?  I’m sure.  But I’m with Drum.  And, honestly, as you know I love Vox, but sometimes they really go off into SJW territory.

10) The “Carolina Comeback” that wasn’t.

11) Julia Azari asks whether America’s political parties aren’t too resilient for their own good:

Though there’s some benefit to the stability of a longstanding system, the long, rigid reign of two parties also limits the flexibility of American politics, reducing complex national decisions to simple binary contests and yoking together seemingly unrelated ideas—gun control, tax reform and health care, for example—in ways that make it impossible for any of them to move forward

This problem also creates problems for the parties themselves, in ways big and small. On the small side, as the Democratic coalition has become more diverse and reliant on voters who are people of color, Democratic state parties have run into some criticism for celebrating Jefferson-Jackson Day—usually an annual fundraising gala that celebrates two historic, slave-owning Democrats, hosted by a party that now prides itself on embracing racial equality. For the Democratic Party, there’s a point at which celebrating the heroes of its troubled past jeopardizes its political necessities for the future.

For Republicans, the problem is more immediate and profound: The party’s history of ideological unity and organizational continuity will tie future Republicans to the Trump candidacy, regardless of efforts to distance themselves from his positions. The story of parties’ remarkable resiliency gives a sense of how they’ve survived so long, but also how their survival might prevent American politics from representing all citizens and facing modern challenges.

12) Durham, NC is listening to science and not the whiners and moving their high school start times later.  Good for them.  Would love Wake County to do the same (especially as I have 3 high-schoolers to go).

13) This NYT feature on the history and fragility of Michelangelo’s statue of David was so fascinating (if, a little longer than needed).

14) Really, really good piece from Yglesias on the relative role of economic anxiety (very little) versus racial resentment (very much) on support for Trump.

15) Also a nice piece from Yglesias on how Trump’s first campaign ad shows he is doubling down on being Trump:

Donald Trump is running his first campaign ad for the general election, and it offers all the proof you’ll need that, in a fundamental sense, no meaningful change of approach can or will ever emanate from his campaign.

Because this is an ad, it’s professionally done and well-considered in its language — it’s not an off-the-cuff remark or full of anything so crazy that it will make lifelong Republicans cringe. But there’s nothing in here about free markets or traditional family values or America’s role as the world’s indispensable nation and guarantor of liberty.

 Instead it’s a pretty simple proposition — Hillary Clinton will let foreigners kill you and Donald Trump won’t [emphasis mine]

16) And Nate Silver argues that in his shakeup of campaign staff, Trump is doubling down on a clearly losing strategy.

17) Former Baltimore narcotics cop talks about the problem of cops being bad role models for each other.

18) Good for the Chinese Olympic swimmer being willing to discuss her period.  It really is crazy how taboo we treat such an ordinary part of women’s lives.

19) I’m sorry, say what you will, but race-walking is just stupid.  Worse than the breast stroke.  And hurdles are not like a slow swimming stroke, they test your ability to run and jump.

20) Continuing the Olympic roll, I love this 538 chart on how serving affects your chances of winning a point in various sports (especially as my son David was just asking me about this the other day).  You do not want to serve in beach volleyball.

serv

21) Yeah, the Supreme Court is important, but this lifelong Republican ask how you can even consider that when you think about giving Trump control of our nuclear arsenal.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Frum on why the Supreme Court is not a good enough reason for Republicans to vote Trump:

Yet Trump’s supposed commitment to appointing conservative judges is still not reason to support him—and here’s why:

1) It’s a Trump commitment, and Trump commitments are notoriously worthless. The only thing you can be sure you get with Trump is … Trump himself. Every other offer is subject to cancellation without notice.

2) Trump’s lack of understanding and interest in constitutional issues is notorious. This is the man who imagines there are 12 articles in the Constitution, and who believes that generals must obey any order from the commander-in-chief whether it is lawful or not. He wouldn’t be able to identify the next Antonin Scalia if a reincarnation of the great conservative justice were to sing opera in front of him.

3) President Trump’s judicial selections will therefore be driven not by him personally, but by his White House staff. Yet we’ve all seen the kind of people Trump surrounds himself with: incompetent at best, thuggish at worst. Trump chose the reality-TV star Omarosa to direct his outreach to African Americans. Who’s he going to put in charge of judicial selection?

2) At least in one experiment, those with high interest in science are less susceptible to motivating reasoning.  I certainly know that at this point in my life I am more interested in reading things that challenge, rather than confirm, what I think I know.  That’s how you learn new things.  Major caveat, we are talking about the fact-based world (i.e., not going to start reading conservative blogs anytime soon).

3) Fascinating discussion between Malcolm Gladwell and Nicholas Thompson on Caster Semenya, gender, unfair advantages, and the logic of Olympic competition.  Semenya is a tough case, but I’m with Gladwell:

The physiologist Ross Tucker had a wonderful piece on this issue recently, and it’s worth—I think—quoting from it at length:

We have a separate category for women because without it, no women would even make the Olympic Games (with the exception of equestrian). Most of the women’s world records, even doped, lie outside the top 5000 times run by men. Radcliffe’s marathon WR, for instance, is beaten by between 250 and 300 men per year. Without a women’s category, elite sport would be exclusively male.

That premise hopefully agreed, we then see that the presence of the Y chromosome is thesingle greatest genetic “advantage” a person can have. That doesn’t mean that all men outperform all women, but it means that for élite-sport discussion, that Y chromosome, and specifically the SRY gene on it, which directs the formation of testes and the production of testosterone, is a key criterion on which to separate people into categories. . . .

So going back to the premise that women’s sport is the protected category, and that this protection must exist because of the insurmountable and powerful effects of testosterone, my opinion on this is that it is fair and correct to set an upper limit for that testosterone, which is what the sport had before C.A.S. [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] did away with it.

When Semenya’s testosterone was lowered to “normal” levels, she ran in the two-minute range for the eight hundred metres, which put her comfortably among the best in the world. Now that that restriction has been lifted, she is running six seconds faster. She has gone from being very good to being, potentially, the greatest half-miler in the history of women’s running. No one will beat her in Rio. She could run the last fifty yards backward and still win. How do you think the other women in that race feel about that? …

I used to be something of a doping/natural-advantage skeptic. But the deeper I get immersed in the world of athletics—and the more seriously I take track and field—the more of a purist I’ve become.Sports is the voluntary acceptance of unnecessary obstacles. If athletes can’t accept that fact, they should try another sport—like, say, football, where getting busted for doping apparently makes not a whit of difference to coaches or fans.

4) And David Epstein on the difficult of drawing lines of fairness in sports (and if you are a sports fan and haven’t read The Sports Gene, what are you waiting for?!)

5) Benjamin Wallace-Wells on Hillary’s emails:

Washington right now is in a period of enforced transparency, with Edward Snowden; WikiLeaks; Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee; and the alleged Russian operative, or operatives, Guccifer 2.0. What they have revealed is not some new hidden system of levers beneath the capital but, rather, the same old system that we’ve more or less tolerated all along. Access to governmental power depends too much on personal relationships; rich friends of politicians have too easy a time gaining an audience. “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal; the scandal is what’s legal,” the journalist Michael Kinsley famously said, during the George H. W. Bush Administration, and for a long time that was regarded as a truth about Washington. As a matter of ethics, it still holds; as a matter of politics, it seems outdated.

6) Kristof thinks Trump is making America meaner.  I think he’s right.

7) We’ve learned less from HM’s brain than you might think.  Brains are complicated.

8) Not surprisingly, planning your meals well ahead leads to much better food choices.  I try and do this as much as I can, but it’s hard to stick with the plan when you are in the moment and confronted with pecan pie, cake, pizza, etc.

9) Interesting article about Facebook fighting back against ad-blockers.  Personally, I never use ad blockers.  Facebook (and all on-line media) is not actually free!  The cost is access to my personal data and my eyeballs on their advertisers ads.  That’s how the world works.  If there were not on-line advertising there would not be all the awesomeness on-line.

10) Reeves Weideman says women’s gymnastics needs better tv coverage.  Hell yes.

Biles is perhaps the greatest gymnast of all time, and these Olympics may be the only time most Americans will get to see her perform. Might they want to know what makes her so good? There is, for instance, the fact that she requires fewer steps and less speed to get into the meat of tumbling runs, enabling her to fit more skills, and score more points, in her routines. Or that her lift off the floor is so huge that Jonathan Horton, a 2008 Olympic medallist, told me that he was embarrassed to work out with her. Or that Martha Karolyi, the American national team’s coördinator, believes Biles could be world-class on the uneven bars, the only event in which she is not the gold-medal favorite, but that for a long time Biles was too scared of the bars to commit to the apparatus. Biles’s toe-crossing on her vault may seem minor, but it’s a tic no less notable than Michael Jordan sticking his tongue out on his jump shot, except that it actually affects competitions—she loses a tenth of a point each time.

11) Rapid advances in battery technology making renewable energy far more cost-effective in the near future?  Maybe.

12) There’s been a lot of pieces of late about “what we learned” about Trump supporters based on a Gallup analysis of 87,000 interviews.  Actually, those paying attention didn’t learn all that much.  Race!

“The results show mixed evidence that economic distress has motivated Trump support,” he writes. “His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relative high household incomes, and living in areas more exposed to trade or immigration does not increase Trump support.” Rothwell adds that his results do not present a clear picture of the connection between social and economic hardship and support for Trump. The standard economic measures of income and employment status show that, if anything, more affluent Americans tend to favor Trump, even among white non-Hispanics. Surprisingly, there appears to be no link whatsoever between exposure to trade competition and support for nationalist policies in America, as embodied by the Trump campaign…

But Rothwell also found a second factor that correlates highly with Trump support:

This analysis provides clear evidence that those who view Trump favorably are disproportionately living in racially and culturally isolated zip codes and commuting zones. Holding other factors constant, support for Trump is highly elevated in areas with few college graduates, far from the Mexican border, and in neighborhoods that stand out within the commuting zone for being white, segregated enclaves, with little exposure to blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.

In other words, race is important.

13) The Republican war on public universities.

14) Seriously, we need to teach new drivers the zipper merge and have signs on roads telling drivers to do it.  Oh, and Traffic is an awesome book.

15) New research strongly suggests that humans first came to America not by land bridge, but by boat.

16) Okay, Michael Phelps is awesome and amazing.  But swimming has way too many events.  I went on a swimming rant the other day for my friends and thought I’d see if I could find one on-line.  This from 2012 makes almost exactly the same points I did:

It’s long bothered me that swimming hands out so many medals. At the 200-meter distance, Phelps’ specialty, they hand out five individual gold medals. In 2008, three of his medals came at this same distance, as he swam the 200-meter freestyle, the 200-meter butterfly and the 200-meter medley.

For the same distance that Usain Bolt got one medal, Phelps got three…

Phelps has rarely been the fastest person in the pool at any distance. At only one distance in one Olympics was Phelps the fastest person. In 2008, he had the fastest 200m time of any swimmer at any stroke. Why? Because the freestyle is the fastest way to get from point A to point B. Every other Olympic games, he wasn’t the fastest person at any distance.

Do you think if Phelps was trying to evade a great white shark he’d break into the butterfly? Like Dressage in Equestrian, he mastered the form of an artistic swim stroke, and he’s taken advantage of it.

Swimmers will say I don’t understand the sport, that I don’t understand the nuances of each stroke and how difficult it is to master two of them. I understand it just fine. I realize there are different skills, different muscles, used for each event. I understand the butterfly is very different from the backstroke.

But imagine if track and field took swimming’s lead and created distinct ways to get to the finish line, confusing the measurement of simply being the fastest.

We’d have the 100-meter “skip,” where athletes have to skip down the track as fast as possible. The 400-meter “backwards run” would be a crowd favorite, as athletes put their quads – and spatial awareness – to the test, running backwards around the track. My personal choice would be the 200-meter “cartwheel,” where athletes would have to do cartwheels all the way around until they crossed the finish line.

If track and field went the direction of swimming, Carl Lewis would have 30 Olympic medals.

17) Haven’t actually read this NYT Magazine feature on the fracturing of the Arab world yet, but it’s obviously a must read.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) The unhinged unskewed polls types are back.  Harry Enten explains what’s so wrong with this approach.  I also really like this chart that shows the PID breakdown of the electorate in recent elections:

enten-democratic-edge-1

2) This tweetstorm on how to best attack Donald Trump seems really, really good.  Short version: use ordinary people.  Like Khizr Khan.

3) Yes, there’s sexism in Olympics coverage, but it’s really not as bad as some are making it out to be.

4) John Cassidy on the contradictions of Trump’s economic speech:

In the speech that Trump delivered at the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, all three of these giveaways to the rich featured prominently, as did deregulation—another issue that is of interest primarily to the donor class. “My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans,” Trump said. But the details of his speech confirmed that he had caved in to the regressive, anti-tax G.O.P. orthodoxy that is defined and policed by groups such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Club for Growth.

Consequently, the contradictions attending Trump’s economic platform are more glaring than ever. He goes into the last months of the election campaign as a political schizophrenic. On immigration and trade, he is a pitchfork-wielding Pat Buchanan Republican; on taxes and regulation, he is a dark-suited Paul Ryan Republican.

5) A couple of foreign policy experts argue that Hillary Clinton as president would not be near the foreign policy hawk that John F. is so sure she will be.

6) Loved this Vox feature on the optimal height for various Olympic sports.

7) We don’t even have hardly any trials any more.  This is not good for actual justice.  In large part, because the “trial tax” is a huge problem.  That needs to change.

8) John Oliver on the problem with cutbacks at newspapers is just completely brilliant.  Watch it!!

9) Jill Greenlee, the other political scientist who studies parenthood and politics had a nice piece on Hillary Clinton, motherhood, and the 2016 election.

10) I’m with Drum (am I ever not?)– please stop whining about the Olympics being on tape delay!

11) At first I was taken aback by Dan Drezner saying Hillary is a worse liar than Trump.  Ahhh, but it’s all in the meaning of worse liar:

Trump fits Frankfurt’s definition of a B.S. artist to a T. And, it should be noted, this also means that he occasionally tells the truth by accident. But the notion put forward by his supporters that Trump is daring to speak hard truths is laughable, since Trump has no clue what is true and what isn’t.

Frankfurt’s distinction between B.S. and lying also helps get at how we should think of Clinton and her seeming inability to completely put her email scandal to rest. The fact-checking sites show that compared to all of the other candidates this cycle, Clinton has been the most truthful. But, like any politician, Clinton hasn’t been completely honest — indeed, PolitiFact gave Clinton a “pants on fire” rating in her Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace that, in an ordinary campaign week, would have caused her all sorts of agita.

All politicians offer up certain amounts of B.S. and lies at various points. Fundamentally truthful politicians will try to avoid outright lies by parsing their words as carefully as possible. Bill Clinton was a fundamentally truthful politician who nonetheless lied at times. He was such a good politician, however, that he could sell his lies with conviction.

Hillary Clinton might be a good leader, but she is not a conventionally great politician. When she has to lie — which, again, is not all that often — she doesn’t look good doing it. In contrast to Trump, she’s painfully aware of her relationship with the truth.

Zakaria is right and Kristof is wrong about Trump. Between Clinton and Trump, Clinton is the bigger and badder liar — but that’s because Clinton cares enough about the truth to know a lie when she tells one.

Trump is a mediocre B.S. artist on a stage that is way too big for his meager abilities.

12) Drew Linzer has put his votamatic into gear.

13) Nice video of Trump disagreeing with every position held by Trump.

14) Male divers as inadvertent porn stars.  Pretty funny.  And safe for work.

15) James Hamblin with enough of the cupping already.

So in terms of role-model behavior, cupping may be more deleterious than a grainy bong photo, because it invites people to distrust science.

16) There’s just something so wrong with the faux patriots who think that Gabby Douglas not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem is a problem.

17) Oh man do I love this data visualization of summer Olympic medals by country over time.

18) And this is an awesome, awesome feature on the dominance of the US women’s gymnastics team.

19) Scientists have discovered that the Greenland shark can live to at least 272 and maybe up to 512 years!  Whoa!  (Thanks for the tip, EMG).

20) I so love Kevin Drum’s gripes about those griping about NBC’s Olympic coverage.

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