Whither High School lockers?

I was going to save this Washington Post story about how HS kids hardly use their lockers any more for quick hits, but since Drum blogged about it, how could I resist.  Especially as I have been generally bewildered by my high school son’s largely locker-free school and his willingness to be responsible all his stuff at all times.

I loved how Drum actually picked out the same absolutely asinine quote I had been planning on highlighting:

But then reporter Joe Heim talks to a high school principal who tries to explain why:

“The high school experience has evolved where learning is anytime, anyplace,” said Ann Bonitatibus, principal at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, where most of the school’s individual lockers were removed during a renovation last year. “The more that our campuses are like that, the more inclined our students are to have their materials with them at all times and all places so that way they’re learning at lunch, at 20-minute break periods or between classes.

Ha ha ha. Sure they are. My only question is whether Bonitatibus really believes this, or was just trying to put one over on Heim.

The real answer, of course, is: who knows? Lockers became uncool for the usual mysterious teenage reasons—probably because it annoys their parents—and now you get laughed at for using one. So nobody uses them, and if you ask why, they invent some reason or other to fob off on the oldsters.

Exactly.  Learning anytime, anywhere sounds like “enhancing corporate synergies” etc.  And I get that a lot of kids don’t like to wear jackets, but it can get pretty damn cold some days, even in NC.  My son (much to my consternation) has taken to simply wearing his jacket all day long.  Anyway, it’s one thing to have a backpack with you all day, but a coat?!  Anyway, kids today.  Get off my lawn!

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Map of the day

Oh man do I love this– can’t wait to show my kids (though, at least one will encounter it through this post).  Current countries mapped onto Pangaea.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Jordan Weisman on an intriguing theory for why it is so hard for Americans to get a decent raise– monopsonies.

2) Really, really interest take from a physician on how we got this point in the opioid crisis:

On another front, the campaign to assess pain as the fifth vital sign in the hospital took off in the late 1990s, with the Joint Commission, the hospital accreditation body, publicizing this concept in 2001. The idea was to assess the level of pain as frequently as the patient’s blood pressure. If the patient didn’t speak English, she could point to a picture of a person grimacing in pain. It has been reported that the Joint Commission even distributed a pamphlet produced by Purdue that played down the risk of addiction. The Commission hasn’t addressed that specific charge, but they released a statement last year denying that their standards contributed to the opioid epidemic.

The problem is that unlike the other four vital signs—blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate—pain is not something that the nurse or doctor can measure. It is a subjective judgment, based on the patient’s self-report and so-called “pain behavior.” I don’t feel your pain: I can’t. Patients who want narcotics become excellent actors. During one of my earliest years in practice, an agent from the Drug Enforcement Admin-istration called to warn me that a man who had come to me with a biopsy report of kidney cancer, saying he had to change doctors because he was now on Medicaid (a common problem), had forged the report, was faking his pain, and had already been to several doctors in the area. At the other extreme, a patient with a ruptured appendix and a rigid abdomen assured me that he didn’t need treatment—because, it turned out, he was undocumented and feared hospitalization…

Lembke outlines what steps we can take to cope with addiction in our practices, but she also admits, “There is an unspoken tension underlying the hidden forces driving the epidemic: doctors are increasingly asked to care for people with complex biopsychosocial problems (nature, nurture and neighborhood) without also being given the tools, time or resources to accomplish this task.” Medical students complain that primary care has devolved into social work, but is it social work to search for root causes rather than simply prescribe or cut? Dr. Francis W. Peabody, a prominent physician in the early twentieth century, wrote, “One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”

3a) Just so we’re clear– work requirements for Medicaid are an absolutely horrible idea and abysmally stupid public policy.

The problem with the latest twist in Republicans’ effort to pare the social safety net is that removing the poor’s health insurance may not just make their life more difficult.

It might kill them.

It is well known by now that health insurance saves lives. A review of recent research in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that the odds of dying for non-elderly adults are between 3 and 41 percent higher for the uninsured than for the insured.

Work by Katherine Baicker, now at the University of Chicago, with Benjamin Sommers and Arnold Epstein at Harvard found that Medicaid expansions in the past significantly reduced mortality. Their research, they concluded, “suggests that 176 additional adults would need to be covered by Medicaid in order to prevent one death per year.”

It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to figure out what might happen if 100,000 people were to lose their coverage.

3b) And the simple truth is, the more paperwork and bureaucracy you require, the harder you make it for deserving, qualified recipients.  Of course, to those who hate the working poor, that’s a feature, not a bug.  The Upshot:

But a large body of social science suggests that the mere requirement of documenting work hours is likely to cause many eligible people to lose coverage, too.

“Without being tremendously well organized, it can be easy to fail,” said Donald Moynihan, a professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who is writing a book on the effects of administrative burdens. Researchers have studied the ways complexity can reduce sign-ups for workplace pension plans, participation in food stamps and turnout in elections, he noted. “These sorts of little barriers are ways in which humans get tripped up all the time when they’re trying to do something that might benefit them.”

Anyone who has ever forgotten to pay a bill on time, or struggled to assemble all the necessary forms of identification before heading to the D.M.V., is likely to sympathize with how administrative hurdles can stymie someone. But these may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access. There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.

4) Why 12-step programs work for some people, but not others.  One thing is clear– foreclosing the option of medical treatment with those with narcotic addictions (as so many uninformed people in the system insist upon) is just plain stupid.

5) The bright future of solar power may not be all that close.

6) Great excerpt from Frum’s new Trumpocracy book in The Atlantic:

Election 2016 looked on paper like the most sweeping Republican victory since the Jazz Age. Yet there was a hollowness to the Trump Republicans’ seeming ascendancy over the federal government and in so many of the states. The Republicans of the 1920s had drawn their strength from the country’s most economically and culturally dynamic places. In 1924, Calvin Coolidge won almost 56 percent of the vote in cosmopolitan New York State, 65 percent in mighty industrial Pennsylvania, 75 percent in Michigan, the hub of the new automotive economy.

Not so in 2016. Where technologies were invented and where styles were set, where diseases cured and innovations launched, where songs were composed and patents registered—there the GOP was weakest. Donald Trump won vast swathes of the nation’s landmass. Hillary Clinton won the counties that produced 64 percent of the nation’s wealth. Even in Trump states, Clinton won the knowledge centers, places like the Research Triangle of North Carolina.

The Trump presidency only accelerated the divorce of political power from cultural power. Business leaders quit Trump’s advisory boards lest his racist outbursts sully their brands. Companies like Facebook and Microsoft denounced his immigration policies. Popular singers refused invitations to his White House; great athletes boycotted his events. By the summer of 2017, Trump’s approval among those under thirty had dipped to 20 percent.

And this was before Trump’s corruption and collusion scandals begin to bite.

Whatever Trump’s personal fate, his Republican Party seems headed for electoral trouble—or worse. Yet it will require much more than Republican congressional defeats in 2018 to halt Trumpocracy. Indeed, such defeats may well perversely strengthen President Trump. Congressional defeats will weaken alternative power centers within the Republican Party. If they lose the House or the Senate or many governorships—or some combination of those defeats—then Republicans may feel all the more compelled to defend their president. The party faithful may interpret any internal criticism of Trump as a treasonable surrender to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. As the next presidential race nears, it will become ever more imperative to rally around Trump. The more isolated Trump becomes within the American political system as a whole, the more he will dominate whatever remains of the conservative portion of that system. He will devour his party from within.

7) Oh, man, I loved this story on how airport runways are numbered and how the numbers have to change as the magnetic pole of the earth shifts.

8) Chait with a good take on Trump’s fear of sharks:

It is perfectly characteristic of Trump’s mind that he would be manipulated by television this way. Sharks are not, in fact, a significant source of danger. Sharks kill about one American per year.

But sharks do look very scary, and the right combination of dramatic video and ominous music could persuade a gullible television viewer to fear and even hate them. Like, say, the kind of person who spends hours watching Fox News and is manipulated into hating and fearing immigrants or Muslims or the New Black Panther Party.

9) Emily Willingham on the non-binary brain, “Misogynists are fascinated by the idea that human brains are biologically male or female. But they’ve got the science wrong.”  In the end, though, it seems pretty obvious that male and female brains are essentially overlapping curves.

10) Greg Sargent on the intensity gap:

There’s something else vital to understand: Not only does Trump have high disapproval, but the intensity of his disapproval is unusually high, as well. For all the time news organizations spend writing “In Trump Country, Trump Supporters Support Trump” stories, intense dislike of Trump may be the most powerful force in the U.S. electorate right now. Consider these figures (I’ve added in some other recent polls):

  • Pew: 27 percent strongly approve of Trump’s performance, 47 percent strongly disapprove
  • NBC: 26 percent strongly approve, 51 percent strongly disapprove
  • Quinnipiac: 29 percent strongly approve, 49 percent strongly disapprove
  • Marist: 23 percent strongly approve, 39 percent strongly disapprove
  • LA Times: 15 percent strongly approve, 42 percent strongly disapprove…

Now let’s think about how this picture of energized, angry Democratic voters and Republican voters who still support Trump but aren’t so enthusiastic about it could play out in November. Despite the fact that the president is on everyone’s mind, the calculation is different for voters of the two parties. A Democrat can deliver Trump a crushing blow with their vote, because if their party takes back one or both houses of Congress, the effect will be seismic. Not only would the GOP legislative agenda be immediately dead, but with their newfound subpoena power, Democrats could start investigating this administration from tip to tail.

But if you’re a Republican voter who’s only marginally motivated by protecting Trump, what would drive a burning desire to turn out and vote GOP in November? On the party’s big issues, many of the questions have been settled.

11) Pew on the lives of dads:

I’d put myself in the “about right” category.  Of course, after weeks like this one with a holiday and three snow days, it was the “too much” :-).

12) Can the rest of the state Democratic parties learn from the success of the Alaska Democratic party?  Probably.  But Alaska is also pretty unique.  Very interesting story in Politico.

Map of the day

This cool Economist graphic is from 2010, but it’s new to me.

The best use of statistics ever?

I love candy.  And I love this 538 feature using head-to-head comparisons and statistics to figure out what makes various candy appealing.  For myself, I’m all about chewy.  Love laffy taffy, gummies, twizzlers.  And, of course, chocolate.  What kind of failed human doesn’t love chocolate.  Anyway, here’s the top of the ranking (whole thing at the link):

I do love both twix and kit kat, which are near the top.  I enjoy Reese’s, but did not realize the combination of chocolate and peanut butter was so beloved.  What makes this extra cool, though, is the OLS regression model to determine which features make candy most appealing.

So, there you go, not just chocolate and peanut butter, but fruit flavors.  Now, what the statistician in me really wants to see is an interaction term for chocolate and peanut butter together.  I strongly suspect that would be statistically significant.

Anyway, happy Halloween!  Rest assured, I will be plucking twix, kit kat, and twizzlers right out of my kids’ Halloween pumpkins tonight as candy tax.

Quick hits (part I)

1) I’m loving all the Wirecutter stories in my FB feed these days.  I’m especially intrigued by the idea of a carry-on carry-on bag.

2) Frum (back in February) makes a case for what effective anti-Trump protest should look like:

It’s possible I’m not the right person to offer the following analysis. Yet it’s also a good rule to seek wisdom wherever it may be found. So here’s what I have to offer from the right, amid the storms of the Trump era.

The more conservative protests are, the more radical they are.

You want to scare Trump? Be orderly, polite, and visibly patriotic.

Trump wants to identify all opposition to him with the black-masked crowbar thugs who smashed windows and burned a limo on his inauguration day. Remember Trump’s tweet about stripping citizenship from flag burners? It’s beyond audacious that a candidate who publicly requested help from Russian espionage services against his opponent would claim the flag as his own. But Trump is trying. Don’t let him get away with it. Carry the flag. Open with the Pledge of Allegiance. Close by singing the Star Spangled Banner––like these protesters at LAX, in video posted by The Atlantic’s own Conor Friedersdorf. Trump’s presidency is itself one long flag-burning, an attack on the principles and institutions of the American republic. That republic’s symbols are your symbols. You should cherish them and brandish them.

3) Stan Greenberg’s take on why Clinton lost.

4) Garrett Epps‘, “America’s Red and Blue Judges: Justice Neil Gorsuch exemplifies how the Supreme Court has become fully enmeshed in the rankest partisan politics.”

5) Chait on how Trump bungled the politics of the NFL:

These comments had two swift effects, each disastrous for the president. First, it turned the question away from the style of the protest to the right to conduct it. The national anthem is a potent symbol of patriotism, but so is the First Amendment to the Constitution. “No, I don’t agree with [Trump], said University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh Saturday, “That’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”

Even pro-Trump coaches and owners began to issue statements attacking the president. “I’m pissed off,” said Rex Ryan. “I supported Donald Trump. [These comments] are appalling to me … I never signed up for that.”

Second, it turned the pregame drama into an anti-Trump protest. The pregame kneel has now become a spectacle of resistance, with dramatic gestures of white players joining black ones to oppose the crude attacks from the great orange bigot. Fans who might have complained before about politics being inserted into football — as if the bloated displays of military might attached to the NFL were not a form of politics — could no longer miss that Trump was now more likely than anybody else to politicize the game.

6) Eric Reid’s NYT Op-Ed on why he kneels is awesome and eloquent.  Puts the haters to shame.

It should go without saying that I love my country and I’m proud to be an American. But, to quote James Baldwin, “exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

7) John Pavlovitz, “White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee.”

8) Literally the one non-dessert food all the Greene’s will eat?  Pancakes.  The science behind what makes them so good.

9) Not at all surprising to learn, “Obesity surgery may work by remaking your gut microbiome.”

10) Every single cognitive bias in one infographic.

11) Didn’t realize that so many website started pushing video as a way to increase ad revenue.  That said, I’m surprised that this CJR story did not mention that for your typical informative story, video is just a way, way less efficient way to consume information.

12) The saddest part on so many Republicans and their racial resentment is how oblivious they are to it.  This is the Republican candidate for mayor of Raleigh.  Looks like he changed the settings on the original post, but here’s the screenshot:

13) Tom Price is just an amazing sleazeball.  Good riddance!  Nice NYT editorial on what he represents in Trump’s view of public service.

14) James Hamblin of ongoing Republican efforts to sabotage ACA.

15) Jay Bilas on the NCAA after the FBI investigation:

In the movie “Jurassic Park,” actor Jeff Goldblum’s character had a memorable line — “Life finds a way.” In my view, the same goes for money. In college sports, money will find a way. Money will always find a way, because the NCAA and its member institutions are addicted to money and will continue to chase it. That seems beyond reasonable dispute…

The NCAA could act as The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club if it wished. The Masters does not allow commercialization of its product beyond its comfort level and has rules for its media partners. Augusta National could make far more money off that property if it wished, but it finds other things more important. Not the NCAA. If your decisions reveal your priorities, the NCAA’s first priority is money.

16) A remarkably candid admission from a Freedom Caucus stalwart that deficits only matter when Democrats are president.

17) The latest research finds that “broken windows” policing may actually lead to more crime.

18) Drum makes the case for bringing pork barrel spending back to Congress:

It’s not hard to guess why. Party leaders are the ones responsible for wrangling enough votes to pass big, complicated bills. To do that, they need to be willing to pressure members for votes any way they can. Offering a wavering member a freeway on-ramp or a senior center in her district may not be the most important bit of leverage they have, but sometimes it’s enough to get the final few votes they need to cross the finish line. Is this unseemly? Maybe, but former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle thinks the earmark system was a net positive anyway: “It wasn’t pretty,” he admitted in 2014, “but it worked.”

Here’s another dirty secret: Earmarks don’t actually cost anything. Overall spending levels are set by Congress in appropriations bills, and bureau­cratic formulas decide how much money goes to each state. Earmarks merely redirect some of that spending; they don’t add to it.

19) Latest thorough research suggests that campaigning of all sorts has virtually no impact in persuading voters of whom to vote for.  That said, there still is evidence for its effects on turnout.

20) Why yes, we should “get the keg out of the frat house.”

Alcohol is the wellspring of most fraternity vice, and evidence shows that reducing drinking at chapters makes them safer — and not just for fraternity brothers. According to the National Institute of Justice, women who frequent frat parties are more likely to become victims of “incapacitated sexual assault.” Many fraternity brothers and alumni maintain that fraternities shouldn’t be blamed for excessive drinking — that it is just a part of college life — but the numbers tell a different story.

Study after study has shown that fraternity men are the heaviest drinkers on campus. According to Harvard public-health research, considered the most definitive, 86 percent of men living in chapter houses binge on alcohol, twice the level of those who live elsewhere. A University of Maine survey found that three-quarters of fraternity members report they’ve been hazed, including being forced to drink into unconsciousness.

(That said, let’s not ignore selection bias in these statistics).

21) Peter Beinart on how Republicans are not apparently totally okay with Roy Moore’s blatant anti-Muslim prejudice.

22) And Chait on the GOP surrender:

Moore has openly defied legal authority in service of his belief that his theology overrides the authority of the United States government. This ought to disqualify Moore for service in public office, the most minimal qualification for which is a profession of respect for the rule of law. And yet, rather than declaring Moore unfit to serve, Republicans have endorsed his candidacy. Their stated qualms are limited to the concern that he might fail to vote for their tax-cut plan.

“He’s going to be for tax reform, I think,” Ohio senator Rob Portman of Ohio tells Politico. “Who won? I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just worried about taxes,” adds Nevada senator Dean Heller. If America slides into authoritarianism, the history of the Republican Party’s complicity could be titled, “I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just worried about taxes.” [emphasis mine]

23) Interesting feature on how Darrell Hammond lost his SNL Trump impression to Alec Baldwin.

24) Lee Drutman on our era of super-competitive national elections and non-competitive state elections is great.  Here’s a key chart:

Map of the day

So, I just discovered the “Terrible maps” twitter account.  I no I shouldn’t, but I found this one (among others) irresistible:

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