Bonus quick hits!

Read a lot of good stuff this weekend and didn’t want my list to grow too big for next week, so…

1) It’s not easy being in solitary confinement, especially if you are already mentally ill.  The good news is the NC is cutting back on it’s over-use of solitary.

2) The reality of prostate cancer is finally making it through to many men as “active surveillance” has finally (and quite appropriately) caught up with aggressive treatment.

3) Elizabeth Warren knows how to take on Donald Trump.  Indeed.

Observe, then, the felicity with which this sense of purpose allows her to tear into Trump as she did at a gala Tuesday night.

“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up more property on the cheap,” Warren said, touching on one of the more meaningful Trump opposition sound bites to emerge recently.

“What kind of a man does that? What kind of a man roots for people to get thrown out of their house? What kind of a man roots for people to get thrown out of their jobs? To root for people to lose their pensions? To root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living out of a van?

“What kind of a man does that? I’ll tell you exactly what kind of a man does that: It is a man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes a profit off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be president of the United States.”

She then lit into him for wanting to eliminate the Dodd–Frank financial reform law,something he has always said he would do but which the political world has only recently seemed to notice: “Donald Trump is worried about helping poor little Wall Street? Let me find the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad song.”

4) Addicted to a treatment for addiction?  Sadly, many person seem to develop an addiction for Suboxone.  That said, way better than being addicted to heroin.

5) Normally, after a recession we invest in our infrastructure.  This time– not at all so (and, yes, the GOP Congress is to blame).

6) Tyler Cowen on Donald Trump’s appeal to “brutes.”

The contemporary world is not very well built for a large chunk of males.  The nature of current service jobs, coddled class time and homework-intensive schooling, a feminized culture allergic to most forms of violence, post-feminist gender relations, and egalitarian semi-cosmopolitanism just don’t sit well with many…what shall I call them?  Brutes?

Quite simply, there are many people who don’t like it when the world becomes nicer.  They do less well with nice.  And they respond by in turn behaving less nicely, if only in their voting behavior and perhaps their internet harassment as well…

Trump’s support is overwhelming male, his modes are extremely male, no one talks about the “Bernie sisters,” and male voters also supported the Austrian neo-Nazi party by a clear majority.  Aren’t (some) men the basic problem here?  And if you think, as I do, that the incidence of rape is fairly high, perhaps this shouldn’t surprise you.

The sad news is that making the world nicer yet won’t necessarily solve this problem.  It might even make it worse.

Again, we don’t know this is true.  But it does help explain that men seem to be leading this “populist” charge, and that these bizarre reactions are occurring across a number of countries, not just one or two.  It also avoids the weaknesses of purely economic explanations, because right now the labor market in America just isn’t that terrible.  Nor did the bad economic times of the late 1970s occasion a similar counter-reaction.

One response would be to double down on feminizing the men, as arguably some of the Nordic countries have done.  But America may be too big and diverse for that really to stick.  Another option would be to bring back some of the older, more masculine world in a relatively harmless manner, the proverbial sop to Cerberus.  But how to do that?  That world went away for some good reasons.

If this is indeed the problem, our culture is remarkably ill-suited to talking about it.  It is hard for us to admit that “all good things” can be bad for anyone, including brutes.  It is hard to talk about what we might have to do to accommodate brutes, and that more niceness isn’t always a cure.  And it is hard to admit that history might not be so progressive after all.

7) Why Greek statues of men have small penises.  Actually, quite interesting.

8) Loved this essay on why you have married the wrong person.  I don’t actually think I have, but this strikes me as pretty spot-on:

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.

We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.

WE need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

9) Drum’s liberal heresy– campaign finance reform really isn’t suck a big deal.  I think he’s more right than wrong.

10) Nick Kristoff on the liberal blind spot.  After reading some of the comments, I’d have to say (noted Libertarian) Mike Munger’s take is spot-on, “It is remarkable that so many commenters insist of proving Kristoff’s claims to be correct.”

11) China’s aging population represents a huge problem for their future global competitiveness.  In the US, much less so.  Why?  In a word– immigration.

12) Love this story about White House photographer Pete Souza featuring tons of great photos of Obama.

Quick hits (part II)

1) It’s amazing how low Donald Trump has successfully set the bar for his behavior.  Seriously, just imagine if Hillary Clinton had pledged $1 million of her own money to veterans and never delivered.

2) When, when, when will our foreign policy start treating Saudi Arabia as our enemy, as they actually are, than as an ally?

3) Oh man did I love this Upshot piece on how the problem with TSA (and many government bureaucracies) is that they don’t consider the wasted time of their customers a “cost” of what they do:

The agency accounts for direct monetary costs in great detail. In 2015, it spent $7.55 billion. That comes to about $10 per passenger-trip, of which $2.50 is defrayed by a tax added to airline tickets.

But T.S.A. ledgers don’t capture the cost of wasted time. Suppose, for example, that a passenger budgets an extra hour to make sure she catches her flight. The value of this hour surely exceeds the $2.50 she pays to the T.S.A. in tax. And for nearly anyone, it also exceeds $10. But you won’t find such calculations in the agency’s accounting.

That’s not entirely the T.S.A.’s fault. When Congress cut the agency’s budget last year, it didn’t account for the value of passengers’ time. This omission is a common government failing. A Department of Motor Vehicles budget does not include time spent waiting for a driver’s license, nor does the I.R.S. budget account for the hours we spend filling out tax returns.

This glaring omission creates perverse incentives for government agencies. Cutting staff improves an agency’s bottom line, while wasting citizens’ time has little material consequence for it aside from expressions of annoyance and outrage in tweets and articles (like this one).

4) That whole states with Republican governors thing is really limiting HRC’s possibilities for a running mate.

5) James Hamblin on the problem with emphasizing calories on the new Nutrition Facts labels.

6) A good take on why so many studies fail to replicate.

7) I never felt guilty for sleep training my babies.  And my wife and I definitely do not lack for attachment with our children.

In a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, 43 infants in Australia, 6 to 16 months old, all healthy, but identified by their parents as having sleep problems, were randomized to three different groups. In one group, the parents tried graduated extinction, the technique in which babies are allowed to cry for short, prescribed intervals over the course of several nights. The second group tried a technique called bedtime fading, in which parents delay bedtime in 15-minute increments so the child becomes more and more tired. And the third group, as a control, was just given sleep information.

The researchers measured the babies’ stress by sampling their levels of cortisol, a hormone indicating stress, and also looked at the mothers’ stress; 12 months after the intervention, they evaluated parent-child attachment and looked at whether the children had emotional and behavioral problems.

“What we were interested in is this hypothesis that there are these long-term consequences from doing something like graduated extinction,” said Michael Gradisar, an associate professor of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide who was the first author on the new study.

Both sleep techniques – graduated extinction and bedtime fading — decreased the time it took children to fall asleep and graduated extinction reduced night wakings, compared to the control group. All the salivary cortisol levels were within the normal range in all three groups, but the afternoon levels in the two sleep training groups declined over time more than the controls. And there was no difference among the groups, 12 months later, in the measures of the children’s emotional and behavioral well-being.

Although critics of graduated extinction believe that strategy disrupts parent-child attachment, Dr. Gradisar said: “We couldn’t find any differences. The more studies we get, the more confident we can feel that this is actually safe to perform.”

8) On the whole, I still strongly believe that Common Core is a good thing.  That, however, does not mean that theren’t aren’t some horribly inappropriate questions I might struggle with, much less a 4th grader.

9) The irony of conservatives being upset about FB censoring conservative news.

10) Dana Milbank on Hillary Clinton’s email issue:

But what’s damning in the new report is her obsessive and counterproductive secrecy…

The stonewalling creates a firm impression, well captured by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer this week when he interviewed Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon: “If she didn’t do anything wrong and she had nothing to hide, why didn’t she cooperate with the inspector general?”

There is no good answer to this. And that’s why the IG report was just another of Clinton’s self-inflicted wounds, stretching back a quarter century, caused by her tendency toward secrecy and debilitating caution.

And yet, I’m pretty confident she’d make a better president than both Trump and Bernie Sanders.

11) Can we blame increasing violent crime on Republican budget cuts to government?  Maybe.

12) I love cool traffic technology.  Like this diverging diamonds intersection.

13) Thank God my almost 14-year old mentally-disabled son is able enough to use the public restroom by himself.  But barely.  And I know plenty of parents with disabled children who still need help in the restroom.  And now thanks to NC, we’ve got the bathroom police upon us.

14) Speaking of disability, really interesting take on Hodor and the ethics of disability in Game of Thrones.

Look at Tolkien, for example. If you count up the battles, skirmishes, everything like that [in the Lord of the Rings series], the fact that out of the nine [Fellowship of the Ring members], eight of them survived and only one of them is missing a finger is statistically ludicrous. Martin is playing with the idea that because somebody is a hero or a beloved character they are going to live somehow. I used to call that the kids-at-the-end-of-Jurassic-Park syndrome: They should have been raptor chow, but we can’t have the kids getting killed.

By talking about disability as a very certain set of extreme conditions, we have a tendency of setting up these walls between them and us. But what Martin does is show how very, very fragile the boundaries between wholeness and bodily vulnerability are. Only in a moment you can go from being an “able” person to somebody who is “disabled.”

15) Really, really good piece on the recent history of the NC Supreme Court and how important it is to what’s been going on in NC.  I feel bad I didn’t know all this stuff but am very glad I do now.

16) Heartbreaking story of a hiker who got lost on the Appalachian Trail, eventually starving to death.  Her body and the letters she wrote was just found years later.

17) Interesting new political science research on the values underlying our ideologies:

First, the more importance people attach to transcending self-interest on behalf of others, the stronger their preferences for the liberal label, a generous welfare state, ameliorative racial policies, cultural progressivism, political tolerance, and dovish foreign policy. Second, the more individuals prioritize respect for tradition, deference to convention, and social order, the stronger their preferences for the conservative label, smaller government, racial self-help, culturally conservative policies, political intolerance, military power, and foreign policy unilateralism. Third, the egocentric values of self-enhancement and openness to change play a small role in generating support for or opposition to ideological labels or policy positions…

To conclude, social scientists have long seen basic values as prime candidates for shaping public opinion on key issues. Our paper confirms that basic human values drive opinion formation, but with the critical qualification that not all values are consequential. Self-transcendence and conservation values stand apart from self-enhancement and openness-to-change values as drivers of public opinion. Public opinion in the United States depends on beliefs about the good and just society to a much greater extent than beliefs about the virtue of private gain.

18) Open tab too long– last month’s Atlantic cover story on being broke and middle class.

19) I liked this response to it even better.

To be sure, Gabler is perhaps not as brutally honest with himself as he might be. “I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses,” he says, while recounting his decisions to live in Brooklyn, and then in the Hamptons, while sending his daughters to private school and expensive colleges. This is keeping up with the Joneses, of course. Gabler happens to belong to a social class in which the markers of success are living in the orbit of an expensive coastal city and educating your children at an elite school, not necessarily driving a fancy car or having a second home on some Florida golf course. Yet the former often costs more than the latter would. The majority of the people in the world do not live in the New York metropolitan area, and do not send their kids to Stanford University, and yet they somehow manage to get through their days — even, I dare say, to occasionally live worthy lives and die happy.

I say this not to rake Gabler over the coals particularly; note that I too live in D.C., an expensive city, even though our money would undoubtedly go much further in exurban Virginia, or western Kentucky for that matter. Rather, I say this to suggest that the primary reason people have so much trouble saving is that they can always find a reason to justify not doing so. The details of what they’re spending on may change, but the justifications have a curiously similar sound to them.

20) Your long read.  Really good New Yorker take on the extreme liberalism at Oberlin.  The author of the piece doesn’t do much, mostly just lets Oberlin students’ own words speak to their own absurdity.

21) And Mike Munger says that universities are failing their liberal students.  Not guilty in my department, but I’m sure he has a point.

Quick hits (part I)

1) I have to do the occasional conference call for the NC Advisory Board to the US Civil Rights Commission.  Indeed, it is a horrible way to conduct any kind of meaningful business.

2) I almost never play video games, but I spent January 2015 obsessed with Half-Life 2.  Never played anything else nearly as good.  Sad that there will almost surely never be a Half-Life 3.

3) Drum is right.  We should absolutely have an affirmative Constitutional right to vote.

4) Will the new overtime rules hurt workers?  Maybe.  Will the new overtime rules hurt workers as much as all the business lobbies have been saying?  No way in hell.

5) Not surprisingly Trump’s energy policy and his energy policy speech were both a complete joke.  Why does the media have to keep pretending he has the slightest clue what he’s talking about.  And, as David Roberts points out, it once again shows he’s a horrible judge of people and their positions.  Not a good thing to have in a president.

6) So, this short animated film is charming and creepy.

 

7) A lot of people did not like the Revenant.  I really did.  Maybe a little too long, but I was never bored.  This review seemed about right to me.

8) Sure, part of the reason women earn less than men is that they choose lower-paying occupations.  But what about the fact that when occupations become dominated by women, they pay less?  That’s a real problem.

Consider the discrepancies in jobs requiring similar education and responsibility, or similar skills, but divided by gender. The median earnings of information technology managers (mostly men) are 27 percent higher than human resources managers (mostly women), according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. At the other end of the wage spectrum, janitors (usually men) earn 22 percent more than maids and housecleaners (usually women).

Once women start doing a job, “It just doesn’t look like it’s as important to the bottom line or requires as much skill,” said Paula England, a sociology professor at New York University. “Gender bias sneaks into those decisions.”

And there was substantial evidence that employers placed a lower value on work done by women. “It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance,” Ms. England said. “It’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less.”

A striking example is to be found in the field of recreation — working in parks or leading camps — which went from predominantly male to female from 1950 to 2000. Median hourly wages in this field declined 57 percentage points, accounting for the change in the value of the dollar, according to a complex formula used by Professor Levanon. The job of ticket agent also went from mainly male to female during this period, and wages dropped 43 percentage points.

9) You know another really smart policy much of Europe does that we don’t?  Universal child benefit.

10) On a related note, Jon Cohn takes a look at Clinton’s child-care policy proposal and says yes, it is expensive, but the payoff would be huge.  Of course, there’s no way Republicans would ever agree to something like this.

11) I totally fell for this optical illusion.  I wish I had looked harder before reading what was really going on.

12) What does the rest of a hand model look like.  Of course, hand models always make me think of poor George Constanza’s hand modeling career cut tragically short.

13) Harold Pollack on the future of single-payer and the difficult politics of cost control:

A sensible single-payer program should say no to questionable or overly costly interventions more often than our current system is able to do. Private insurers lack the public legitimacy to reject dicey therapies. Medicare is susceptible to pressure from industry, provider, and patient groups.

It’s especially hard for private insurers to refuse coverage for a particular drug, device, or surgical procedure once Medicare agrees to pay. (I haven’t even mentioned bitter social policy disputes over immigration, abortion coverage and birth control. I’ll get into these later.)

A single-payer system requires tougher mechanisms. The Affordable Care Act established the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yet IPAB and most other cost-containment efforts encounter fierce bipartisan congressional resistance. The ACA unwisely limits the use of economic tools such as cost-utility analysis in coverage decisions. An effective single-payer system requires real economic analysis to determine who is covered for what service, and at what reimbursement rates.

14) I’m still embarrassed at my teenage years arguing with my mom that, of course, women should never be Catholic priests.  The arguments, even from a theologian in the NY Times, against women being ordained strike me as so weak.

15) What it feels like to have to use the wrong bathroom.

16) This New York City office building post-it war is so cool.

17) A healthy breakfast is no more or less important than any other healthy meal.

18) Peter Beinart on the foolhardiness of Hillary’s email server and what led to such a poor decision:

That’s the key question. What matters about the Clinton email scandal is not the nefarious conduct that she sought to hide by using her own server. There’s no evidence of any such nefarious conduct. What matters is that she made an extremely poor decision: poor because it violated State Department rules, poor because it could have endangered cyber-security, and poor because it now constitutes a serious self-inflicted political wound. Why did such a smart, seasoned public servant exercise such bad judgment? For the same reason she has in the past: Because she walls herself off from alternative points of view.

19) Very interesting take on Austria and what “National Socialism” is really all about.

20) Michael Gerson on all the conspiracy-loving support for Trump.

21) I found this theory about how the conditions for the beginning of life on earth to be truly fascinating.

22) Dahlia Lithwick on how the Supreme Court’s decision about racism in jury selection was no great victory:

This ruling is obviously the right one, but it’s important to understand how limited an opinion it really is. Most prosecutors don’t use green highlighters and the letter B to perform publicly the extent of their racial intentions. This is a strange outlier case, made stranger by a state’s open records laws and the completely implausible arguments proffered to explain the prosecution’s conduct. There is nothing in Monday’s opinion that would really limit the use of peremptory challenges that come wrapped in plausible-sounding explanations, even when the underlying intent is to strike black jurors.

Race taints everything about our capital punishment system just as it taints our elections. It simply simmers under the surface, and there it will stay. Despite the fact that it infects every single part of jury selection in some places, as Rob Smith recently noted in Slate, racism in our system of capital punishment won’t be addressed soon, it seems. Study after study reflects the fact that black jurors are struck far more frequently than white ones. Foster gave us a way to talk about it but not a way to fix it.

Right!  Must racially-motivated prosecutors are not dumb enough to highlight all the Black jurors on a list.  And what is also really appalling is that the Georgia courts did not even admit that this was racism!  And you should also follow the link to the Rob Smith piece.

23) Neanderthals build mysterious cave structures.

24) Open tab for too long– too many elite American men are obsessed with work:

Even before men and women enter the workforce, researchers see this values gap and its role in the pay gap. A new study of several hundred NYU undergrads (elite students, not average 20-year-olds) found that young men and women with similar SAT scores express starkly diverging visions of their ideal job. Young female students, on average, say they prefer jobs with more stability and flexibility—“lower risk of job loss, lower hours, and part-time option availability”—while male students, on average, say they prefer more earnings growth, according to researchers Matthew Wiswall, at Arizona State University, and Basit Zafar, of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York…

Rich American men, by comparison, are the workaholics of the world. They put in significantly longer hours than both fully employed middle-class Americans and rich men in other countries. Between 1985 and 2010, the weekly leisure time of college-educated men fell by 2.5 hours, more than any other demographic…

But something else is clear: There is a workaholic mania among educated wealth-seeking American men, who seem uniquely devoted to working any number of hours to get rich. Remember the lesson of the Stanford study: Sometimes, the winners of a tournament are the ones who choose not to enter it.

No thanks.  I’ll take my leisure time and time with my family over lots of money any day.

25) Speaking of family time.  Happy anniversary to me.  And my wife.  22 years today.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Expert tax reporter David Cay Johnston on the real problem with Donald Trump and his taxes.

2) Your computer and TV screen are showing you way less interesting colors than they should be.

3) There’s been plenty written about how the Golden State Warriors have revolutionized, but this particular statistic really blows me away.

What amazes fans even more is the location of those shots. NBA players shoot an average of 28% from 27 feet or beyond. Most players don’t even take them unless the shot clock is running out. Mr. Curry has taken 253 such deep shots this year and made 47% of them. [emphasis mine] The result is that defenders have strayed even farther from the basket to guard him, opening even bigger spaces for his teammates.

4) Careful with what browser tabs you have open when posting screen shots.

5) How HB2 is impacting the NC tourism industry.

6) What I found most interesting about this NYT story on research using drugs in dogs to combat the aging process (with intended lessons for human longevity) is that a primary focus is rapamycin, which has been found to be particularly effective in treating my son’s genetic disease, Tuberous Sclerosis.

7) Changing just how dark Obama’s skin is in experiments changes people’s support for conservative policies.

8) In a test of science and engineering skills, 8th grade girls outperformed 8th grade boys.  Good for them.  Let’s figure out what’s happening after 8th grade and do something about it.

9) Dylan Matthews on the failure of the TSA:

The TSA has never presented any evidence that the shoe ban is preventing attacks either. “Focusing on specific threats like shoe bombs or snow-globe bombs simply induces the bad guys to do something else,” Schneier tells Vanity Fair’s Charles Mann. You end up spending a lot on the screening and you haven’t reduced the total threat.” …

The solution is clear: Airports should kick out the TSA, hire (well-paid and unionized) private screeners, and simply ask people to go through normal metal detectors with their shoes on, their laptops in their bags, and all the liquids they desire. The increased risk would be negligible — and if it gets people to stop driving and start flying, it could save lives.

10) Drum on the absurdity of Republicans wanting to impeach the IRS director.  And the Post’s Lisa Rein on the conservative war against the IRS.

11) Honestly, the craziness of Donald Trump pretending to be his own PR guy is 1) truly hilarious; 2) way under-reported.  Seriously, imagine if any other major political figure had done something like this.  It would be a lead story for a week.  Trump has so successfully lowered the bar for appropriate behavior.

12) I like this Gawker take on Trump’s strategy for attacking Clinton, “Donald Trump Hoping You Hadn’t Heard About Benghazi or Monica Lewinsky.”

13) A nice Politico analysis of Trump’s support:

Donald Trump likes to say he has created a political movement that has drawn “millions and millions” of new voters into the Republican Party. “It’s the biggest thing happening in politics,” Trump has said. “All over the world, they’re talking about it,” he’s bragged.

But a Politico analysis of the early 2016 voting data show that, so far, it’s just not true.

While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.
It is a distinction with profound consequences for the fall campaign…

“All he seems to have done is bring new people into the primary process, not bring new people into the general-election process … It’s exciting that these new people that are engaged in the primary but those people are people that are already going to vote Republican in the [fall],” said Alex Lundry, who served as director of data science for Mitt Romney in 2012, when presented Politico’s findings. “It confirms what my suspicion has been all along.”

14) Greg Koger on why the Republican Party was too weak to fight off Trump.

15) Apparently a lack of resilience in college students is a growing problem.  Honestly, I have not noticed any differences in recent years.

16) No, it wouldn’t really solve our campaign finance problems if politicians spent way less time dialing for dollars.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. 

17) Derek Thompson on the inter-relationship between racism, economic anxiety, and Trump support.

18) They are razing a famous/infamous building at NC State.  It’s round!  Most everybody I know hates it, but I loved having my Intro to American Government in Harrelson 207.  Only lecture hall I’ve ever had where I felt like I could truly connect with the students in the back row.

Roughly 85 percent of N.C. State students at some point attended a class in Harrelson, which accommodated up to 4,500 students in 88 circular and windowless classrooms.

Harrelson was the most-used academic building in the UNC system for decades and became known for its uncomfortable seating, loud heating and cooling system, lack of natural light and pie slice-shaped bathroom stalls.

19) Pre-sliced apples have been a huge boon for the apple industry.  Honestly, I’m not surprised.  I eat a whole apple every day at work, but I do much prefer the sliced apple I make myself when I’m home.

20) Nate Silver explains how he got Donald Trump wrong.  Lots of really good stuff in here.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Why you get worse gifts from close friends.  (People not as close aren’t trying to impress you, just get you what you want).

2) In an utterly unsurprising finding to people who don’t just want to punish women for having sex, a new study shows that contraception reduces abortion rates; anti-abortion laws do not.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… if you really want to reduce abortion, you should want contraception to be as easily and readily available as possible.

3) So not a fan of gender reveal ceremonies.  Do they have something to tell us about transphobia?  Maybe.

4) Headline pretty well captures it: “Congress to America: Drop Dead.”  (Though, it should be Republican Congress).

In February, Obama urgently requested more than $1.8 billion to address Zika, and Congress since then has done nothing but talk. Republicans have protested that the administration doesn’t need the money, that they have questions that haven’t been answered or that the request is vague. These objections are absurd.

Even Senator Marco Rubio laid into his fellow Republicans a few weeks ago, saying: “The money is going to be spent. And the question is, Do we do it now before this has become a crisis, or do we wait for it to become a crisis?”

Rubio is right. It’s always more cost-effective and lifesaving to tackle an epidemic early.

“I’m very worried, especially for our U.S. Gulf Coast states,” said Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, a tropical diseases expert at Baylor College of Medicine. “I cannot understand why a member of Congress from a Gulf Coast state cannot see this train approaching. It’s like refusing emergency preparedness funds for an approaching hurricane.”

We don’t know how badly Zika will hit the U.S. But, the first American has just died of it, and federal health professionals are debating whether to counsel women in Zika areas to avoid pregnancy — and to me, that sounds serious.

The larger mistake is that budget cutters have systematically cut public health budgets that address Zika, Ebola and other ailments. The best bargain in government may be public health, and Republicans have slashed funding for it while Democrats have shrugged.

5) Shockingly, spinal surgeons are more likely to perform spinal surgery when they profit from the devices used in the treatment.  I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

6) Bathrooms and the religious right.

 

7) Meanwhile, Garrett Epps declares HB2 a “Constitutional Monstrosity.”

8) Kids need to learn how to play by themselves.  And to play with other kids if they don’t want to play alone.  I make no apologies for using my iphone when at the playground.

I need my kids to stop playing with me at the playground.

I don’t mean I need them to leave me alone and stop smothering me in attention because I’d like 10 minutes with my phone and to wander pointlessly through the pathways. But on the other hand, yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. I need them to play tag by themselves. Climb some branches. Explore the riverbank. Find frogs. Be dinosaur robots. Anything other than standing there, pawing at my legs, scampering off then returning every 30 seconds with a command to play some game I’ve not heard of. Somehow, at ages 12 and 4, they can’t entertain themselves.

9) If it isn’t enough that we treat the animals used for meat horribly, we also treat the humans in meat production horribly.  Can’t we just pay a little more for meat and have animals and humans treated not horribly?!

10) Not surprisingly, the founder of the Creation Museum just doesn’t understand science.

11) Swaddling may increase the risk of SIDS.  But I bet it doesn’t if you follow other safe bedding practices.  Of course, that’s never addressed in these studies.

12) State mandated burials for all aborted and miscarried fetuses in Indiana.  Sorry, that’s just nuts.

13) Why the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs have been so successful for so long.

14) Just another mentally ill individual dying from mistreatment in jail.  Nothing to see here.

15) Is there a genuine problem of liberal intolerance on college campuses?  Maybe.  Though, honestly, in my experience it’s not happening in the Political Science departments.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Tom Edsall takes a thorough look (it’s always thorough with Edsall) on a wide range of recent polling data about Trump, noting especially the possible social desirability bias to lead Trump to do much better in polls without a human interviewer.  Here’s his conclusions:

There are a few conclusions to be drawn.

First, the way Trump has positioned himself outside of the traditional boundaries of politics will make it unusually difficult to gauge public support for him and for many of his positions.

Second, the allegiance of many white Democrats and independents is difficult to predict — cross-pressured as they are by the conflict between unsavory Trump positions they are drawn to and conscience or compunction. The ambivalence of many Republicans toward Trump as their party’s brazenly defiant nominee will further compound the volatility of the electorate.

Finally, the simple fact that Trump has beaten the odds so far means that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he could beat them again. If he does take the White House, much, if not all, of his margin of victory will come from voters too ashamed to acknowledge publicly how they intend to cast their vote.

2) Are universities too corporatized?  Yes!  But I think this “Slow Professor” take oversells the problem.

3) Why there is still a black market for marijuana even where it is legal.

4) An interesting contrary take on Grit.  I actually have Duckworth’s new book sitting on my shelf (and am cautiously optimistic it might help with my decidedly-lacking-in-grit teenager).

5) No, science isn’t broken.

6a) Oh man did this interview with liberal Sanders supporter, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas, Thomas Frank come in for sharp criticism from many PS friends on FB.

6b) As did this:

You wrote a piece a little while ago about data journalism and technocracy and the so-called expert consensus. You attacked people like Ezra Klein and the focus on political science in journalism. Can you explain how that critique connects with your broader thinking about the Democratic Party?

I would say that it reflects the culture of liberalism in the same way that there is a lot of scientific sounding stuff that liberals really eat up. They love it when something is explained to them by someone who appears to be a great authority figure. This is the culture of liberalism. A great example is to look at the New York Times op-ed page and how many of the contributors are academics. This is also a problem with journalism, generally.

OK, but is your problem that the people who are consulted as being experts are not actually experts, or that the idea of going to experts is itself problematic?

Both of those are true to some degree. It’s not, obviously, that experts are wrong across the board, but that it’s easy to conceal an agenda by covering it with expertise. It’s really easy. It’s easy to do it with numbers. There are all sorts of ways to do things like that.

I think the latter is true as well. The way I try to get at truth is more through cultural history. That’s what I sort of naturally gravitate back to all the time. I think when you try to understand everything with numbers it is obviously going to leave a lot of things unspoken and unanalyzed.

Suffice it to say that anyone who attacks Ezra Klein, using data, and using political science research to inform journalism is not going to win me over to his position.

7) Creative ways to fight Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

8) Could Macy’s troubles threaten a third of American malls?  My very own, now Macy’s-less mall is surely in trouble.

9) Is a sub two hour marathon humanly possible?  One exercise scientist thinks so and is working to make it a reality.

10) The link probably won’t work for most of you, sorry, but I was very intrigued by this article on the “Tedification” of the large lecture and the study of “proxemics.”  I used to teach my large lecture (150 students) in a surprisingly intimate room where I felt like I could truly connect with the students at the back of the room.  That building has been demolished and in the new room I have, I literally cannot see the students at the back of the room, 20 feet higher than me.  I cannot help bu think that has to be worse for learning.

Michael Tingley and Amy Donohue, both principals at Bora, say the new rooms were designed using studies of proxemics, which show that students learn better when they are closer to the professor.

“There is an evolution in technology that is changing how institutions interact with their students,” Mr. Tingley says, adding that their aim was to make large lectures have a “campfire feel.”

Lynne L. Hindman, research coordinator at Oregon State, is conducting research of her own to analyze the effectiveness of teaching and learning in the new rooms. Ms. Hindman has gathered data from lectures taught in the LInC100 arena and plans to use heat-sensing cameras to identify movement patterns of the professors who teach in them. She hopes to map students’ grade-point averages to individual seats in the classroom, to see if placement correlates to grades.

11) Dahlia Lithwick on the difficulty of covering Merrick Garland.

12) Being a truck driver used to be a great job.  Not anymore.

13) Daily diet soda in pregnancy is linked to greater likelihood of an overweight 1-year old.  And with all the expected controls.  I gotta admit… hmmmm.

14) Back when I just had two kids, we were great with getting them to bed by 7:30 every night.  I hate that my 16-year old was in bed before 8:00 every night until 2nd grade, yet my current 5-year old is rarely in bed before 8:30.  A downside of four.  Really good article on bedtimes.

And well-rested kids behave quite differently than sleep-deprived kids. In that same interventional study I mentioned earlier, the 7- to 11-year-olds who were put to bed an hour earlier for five nights were rated by their teachers (who didn’t know that they’d gotten more sleep) as being less irritable and impulsive than usual. A similar studyfound that four nights of going to sleep an hour earlier made 8- to 12-year-olds more even-keeled and boosted their short-term memory, working memory, and attention skills compared with kids who had their bedtimes shifted later by an hour. Anotherstudy found that 2-year-olds who had early bedtimes were, at age 8, 62 percent less likely than those with later or inconsistent bedtimes to have attention problems and 81 percent less likely to have aggression issues.

15) The neuroscience of why you cannot lose weigh on a diet.

16) All those “pro-business” reforms Republicans are always talking about that will increase economic growth?  Based on cross-national comparisons, not so much.  Drum:

More than likely, pro-business reforms in the US would have little to no effect on economic growth. Here’s Soltas:

Maybe the lesson here is to beware the TED-talk version of development economics. Shortening the time it takes to incorporate a small business is not a substitute for deeper institutional reforms, such as those that support investment in human and physical capital, remove economic barriers that hold back women and ethnic or religious minorities, or improve transportation, power, and sanitation infrastructure.

17) Max Boot has had enough of Trump’s Republican Party.

18) Jon Cohn explains that, yes, Hillary Clinton is a progressive.

19) Finally got around to reading Emily Bazelon’s excellent NYT Magazine piece “Should prostitution be a crime?”  In short: it depends. It is fascinating how completely divided both the feminist and human rights movements are over what the approach should be.  It also seems very clear that what policy makes sense surely very much depends on the unique history, culture, and socio-demographics of the country involved.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Paul Waldman is confident Hillary Clinton will not face any criminal charges over email (and that the media won’t really care):

That point about her intending to break classification rules is important, because in order to have broken the law, it isn’t enough for Clinton to have had classified information in a place where it was possible for it to be hacked. She would have had to intentionally given classified information to someone without authorization to have it, like David Petraeus did when he showed classified documents to his mistress (and then lied to the FBI about it, by the way). Despite the enormous manpower and time the Justice Department has devoted to this case, there has never been even a suggestion, let alone any evidence, that Clinton did any such thing.

But when it comes to the presidential campaign, that isn’t going to matter. Republicans already know what they think: Hillary Clinton is a criminal whose every thought and action is vile and despicable, so of course she broke the law…

And the media, always operating on the rule that when it comes to the Clintons any smoke should be treated as fire — even if there’s a bunch of Republicans operating a smoke machine in full view — will offer endless breathless stories about the “scandal” and how it just shows that people don’t trust Clinton. [emphasis mine]

2) Want a spouse way more attractive than you?  Have a long-established friendship first.

3) It’s no accident that Oxycontin is so addictive.  It’s actually related to the evil venality of big Pharma.

4) Julia Azari on why Bernie shouldn’t drop out and hotly-contested primaries.  I particularly liked the citing of this research by my friend:

In a 1998 study of presidential elections, University of New Mexico political scientist Lonna Atkeson challenged the theory by suggesting that divisive primaries occur when the party is already divided. In other words, divisive primaries are the symptom, not the disease. We’re in the midst of an open primary, but take recent incumbent presidents as an example: Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992 ran into trouble in the general election, but not because they were challenged in the primaries. They attracted challengers in the primaries because they were already in political trouble. Controlling for factors that account for this political trouble — the strength of the economy and the president’s popularity — Atkeson found that the effect of divisive primaries on how well the nominee does in the general election drops out. In other words, divisive primaries don’t make the incumbent party vulnerable; the causation runs the other way.

5) Jeffrey Toobin says the Supreme Court seems ready to legalize corruption.

6) You are probably no more surprised than me that teenagers who take “purity pledges” are more likely to end up pregnant.

7) The one about the ethnic-looking man taken off a plane for doing math.

8) Trump’s electoral map challenge.

9) The most highly-compensated occupations taking local cost of living into account– e.g., live like a king as a surgeon in Oklahoma.

10) Obama’s latest ideas for reducing crime.  Evidence suggests more cops works, but a lot of people are uncomfortable with that idea.  Here’s my proposal– more cops with much better training.

11) I imagine beef can actually be raised in a way that is sustainable and good for the planet, as argued here.  That said, I also imagine that 90+%  of beef is currently raised in ways that are not good for the planet.

12) Poor Heidi Cruz:

Heidi Cruz has a formidable résumé: Armed with an MBA from Harvard, she is a former director of the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council (where she reported to Condoleezza Rice), a former director of the Latin American office of the Treasury Department, and presently, a director at Goldman Sachs (where she is on leave). She was even an economic adviser to a leading Republican presidential campaign—it just happened to be Bush 2000, and not Cruz 2016.

And yet most of Heidi Cruz’s time on the trail was spent performing genial if largely forgettable duties: the wife as helpmeet. Her most memorable campaign performances included recounting a story about her husband’s purchase of 100 cans of Campbell’s soup when they were newlyweds, and assuring the American public that he is not, in fact, the Zodiac Killer.

13) Rather than implementing proper regulations to protect drinking water where I live, NC Republicans tried a shortcut that scientists assured them wouldn’t work.  After a year with no success from this shortcut and plenty of wasted money, the Republicans have finally admitted it won’t work.

14) Toddlers keep shooting people with guns.  Gun advocates keep insisting smart guns would be a horrible idea.

15) The Law School Admissions Council is evil.

16) Mark McKinnon on the GOP’s failure on issues of equality.

17) 8 years ago this week I was on the CBS Early Show.  I lost any link to the video until FB “On This Day” brought it back to me and the link still works!  And, yes, I did look younger 8 years ago.

18) More Republicans need to be saying stuff like this:

From 2006 to 2009, I worked in the White House for George W. Bush. As an actor and writer in New York, this isn’t always a popular thing to tell people. But I do, because I am proud to have worked for a president who led with principle and conviction. As a West Wing staffer, I saw firsthand that President Bush’s sole motivation was to do what he thought was best for our country. People may have disagreed with his policies, but they couldn’t disagree with his intentions.

From 2009 to 2010, I spent a year working for Congressional Republicans. In contrast to my time at the White House, I saw that many in Congress put their personal and partisan interests ahead of the country’s needs. Many times, the GOP’s only agenda was to defeat Barack Obama at all costs. It didn’t matter what Obama’s policy was; all that mattered was winning and eventually regaining power for the GOP.

This desire for control of the presidency, and the belief that any Republican is better than any Democrat, is why many Republicans are now embracing Trump. They claim that the GOP needs to coalesce behind Mr. Trump because he is a better alternative than Hillary Clinton. He is not. ..

While I disagree with many of Hillary Clinton’s policies, she is clearly qualified to be president. She possesses judgment and self-restraint. She does not have a track record of irrational, risky, and unsound business decisions and public comments. She has a long record of public service. She can be trusted with controlling our military and nuclear weapons. Mr. Trump cannot.

Any Republican who claims that it’s better to elect Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton either lacks proper judgment, or has become so blinded by partisan ideology that they have lost objectivity. [emphasis mine]

19) Just because you want to raise a child with grit doesn’t mean they can’t quit things.  You just need to be smart about it. And, I just ordered Duckworth’s new book.

20) When it comes to Trump vs. Paul Ryan, Yglesias argues that Trump has hand.

Throughout his rise to domination over the Republican Party, leaders in Washington have indulged the fantasy that somehow if Trump won the nomination he would become morereliant on them than he was on the campaign trail.

The exact reverse is the case. Precisely because Trump isn’t a professional politician and has no particular personal, emotional, or intellectual investment in larger Republican Party projects, it’s not so bad for him if the whole thing goes down in flames. The party’s institutional leaders and rank-and-file apparatchiks, by contrast, have a great deal of personal, emotional, and intellectual investment in the larger project. The costs of defecting from Team Trump are very high, most of them won’t do it, and Trump knows it.

Throughout his rise to domination over the Republican Party, leaders in Washington have indulged the fantasy that somehow if Trump won the nomination he would become morereliant on them than he was on the campaign trail.

The exact reverse is the case. Precisely because Trump isn’t a professional politician and has no particular personal, emotional, or intellectual investment in larger Republican Party projects, it’s not so bad for him if the whole thing goes down in flames. The party’s institutional leaders and rank-and-file apparatchiks, by contrast, have a great deal of personal, emotional, and intellectual investment in the larger project. The costs of defecting from Team Trump are very high, most of them won’t do it, and Trump knows it.

21) Donald Trump and the history of Paleoconservatives.

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