The stupidity of knee-jerk anti-GMO

I caught the end of this depressing GMO story on NPR last week.  Apparently, the marketplace– led by anti-GMO luddites– has decided that sugar from sugar beets is less worthy because sugar beets are modified to by Glysophate tolerant:

About half of all sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, and the other half comes from sugar cane. Now, for the first time, sugar traders are treating these as two different commodities, with two different prices.

It’s all because about eight years ago, nearly all the farmers who grow sugar beets in the United States decided to start growing genetically modified versions of their crop. The GMO beets, which can tolerate the weedkiller glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, made it easier for them to get rid of weeds…

Just in the past two years, though, that’s changed. Many food companies have decided to label their products as non-GMO. And because practically all sugar beets in the U.S. are genetically modified, those food products are now using sugar derived from sugar cane grown in Florida, Louisiana or outside the U.S. There isn’t any genetically modified sugar cane…

Maybe this would be rational if consumers were averse to sugar plants sprayed with herbicides, but that’s not it all.  It’s simply an irrational fear of things labeled GMO.  And, of course, the non-GMO sugar actually causes more use of herbicide:

Planting genetically modified sugar beets allows them to kill their weeds with fewer chemicals. Beyer says he sprays Roundup just a few times during the growing season, plus one application of another chemical to kill off any Roundup-resistant weeds.

He says that planting non-GMO beets would mean going back to what they used to do, spraying their crop every 10 days or so with a “witches brew” of five or six different weedkillers.

“The chemicals we used to put on the beets in [those] days were so much harsher for the guy applying them and for the environment,” he says. “To me, it’s insane to think that a non-GMO beet is going to be better for the environment, the world, or the consumer.” [emphasis mine]

Ugh.  And, as for GMO food somehow being “unnatural,” you know what’s “unnatural”?  Pretty much everything we eat.  It is a product of centuries of genetic modification through a process known as artificial selection.  Sure, GMO allows for far more dramatic impact on the genome, but traditional plant breeding changes things plenty. To wit, I love this Vox post on how much some of our favorite foods have changed, e.g.,

 

evolution of corn

Meanwhile, there was recently a big National Academy of Sciences review about GMO, you’ll be shocked to learn they concluded, as Brad Plumer puts it: “The best evidence suggests current GM crops are just as safe to eat as regular crops.”

Now go back to eating your GMO-free, sugar-cane sweetened cereal.

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.

Quick hits (part I)

So, so much good stuff this week.  I could have spent all my time blogging and not got to all I wanted to.  Alas, I spent a lot of my time grading and got to write even less than I would have liked.  Anyway, on with the show.

1) Is Gwynneth Paltrow wrong about everything?  Yeah, you do know the answer to that.

2) Taylor Batten lets loose on the architects of HB2.

3) Our increasingly horrible efforts at providing actual justice (in the form of decent legal representation) for the poor, for example, really deserved it’s own post.

4) An open letter from your horrible Facebook friends.

5) Alexandra Petri on Trump, Clinton, and the Woman Card.

6) How the new bathroom laws effect kids with special needs and their parents.  A subject near and dear to my heart.

7) Great professor humor– I would rather do anything than grade your final papers.

8) The NYT guide to really short workouts (I still try and get in their mis-named 7 minute workout once or twice a week).

9) Discrimination against political conservatives at American universities.

10) Just in case you missed this big story this week about The Biggest Loser and weight loss.  Biggest lesson seems to be, don’t ever let yourself get obese.  Wonkblog makes a good case, though, that this is actually pretty misleading.

11) Vox with research-based diet tips.  You probably already know all these (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, sustainable for you, etc.).

12) So Comcast has a new modem that lets you get fiber optic speed with old-school cable.  If this is possible, why the hell is everybody re-wiring with fiber optics?  Seems like something is missing in this story.

 

13) And back to the woman card, I make no apologies for thinking that Democrats are better off with a known skilled, competent, liberal legislator like Chris Van Hollen who happens to be a white male, than a Black woman with a much lesser political resume.  That said, there’s a lot of really good reasons to elect more women.

14) A “simple” guide to quantum entanglement.

15) Bill Ayers says he’s not afraid of President Trump.  For once, we disagree.  I think he should be.

Despite our howls of protestation about the evils of our opponents (whoever they may be), there is a center of gravity in the American political system. That center can (and does) shift over time – since the 1980s it has shifted significantly to the right, which is why repeated Republican protestations about being victims in a country about to collapse into leftist socialism are bafflingly bizarre. The conservative movement has in fact been succeeding in slow, steady increments, yet to listen to them talk you’d think they were Davy Crockett at the Alamo.

And this is why I refuse to be afraid, even if Donald Trump is elected President. Whatever else he does, he will not push the country still farther to the right – he’s not a conservative and never has been, which is why he keeps violating conservative principles on the campaign trail. He will not make the country more racist or xenophobic than it already is – all he is doing is drawing out the existing racism, xenophobia, and misogyny in the population. In a way (as some in the NYT have argued) he may be doing us a favor by bringing this nastiness out into the light where it can be more effectively countered.

Trump as President would be confronted with a badly divided and electorally weakened Republican party in Congress, quite likely a Democratic Senate that can filibuster anything he tries to do, and a vast Federal bureaucracy with decades of experience in centrist governance. Washington, DC isn’t the Celebrity Apprentice – you can’t just fire everybody and start over. If he tries – really tries – to impose his desires simply by force of will, as he has tended to do in his business life, he will rapidly find himself unable to do much of anything, and he might be impeached. His penchant for litigation will get him nowhere – who do you sue when you’re the President?

16) This advice for wannabe cheerleaders seemed reasonable to me. It’s no secret that they are after a particular look and body style, do we really need to pretend otherwise.

17) How Ramsay Bolton represents a decline in the quality of Game of Thrones storytelling.

18) I’m sorry, call me transphobic and backwards, but I am just not down with the regular use of “cisgender.”

19) High School football player shows part of his penis (which nobody actually notices) in team photo.  Full weight of the criminal justice system comes down on him.  I’m glad there’s not more serious crimes going on for them to worry about.

 

There are other costs, too: The case will take resources from the prosecutor’s office to investigate and prosecute, time and money from a trial court as it hears the case, and up to thousands of dollars for food, housing, and medical care, among other expenses, if Osborn is put in jail or prison. (According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the average prison inmate costs Arizona $24,805 each year.)

To put it another way, there’s a serious risk here that the criminal justice system will inflict more pain on Osborn and costs on society than he inflicted on anyone else — all over a high school prank that parents and the school could have addressed by themselves.

20) And how’s this for overzealous law enforcement?  Detain a kid on counterfeiting suspicion for using a $2 bill.  Ugh.

 

21) I get the feeling there’s not a lot of people like me when it comes to Radiohead.  I really like some of their albums a lot, but I don’t really love them.  That said, I absolutely love this new song and video.  Watch!!

22) And your weekend long(ish) read: Lee Drutman on the fraying of the Republican-big business alliance and what it means.

 

Quick hits (part II)

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Inciting political anger is a lucrative business.

5) Actual science behind “resting bitch face.

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

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

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

7) Extend the range of you remote car key.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

It’s all about Calories In

Enjoyed this Vox feature summarizing all the research on diet, exercise, and weight loss.  The research is clear and comes to the conclusion that I intuited myself years ago based on personal experience– it’s all about the calories in.  Exercise is great for all sorts of reasons.  What it is not great for is the primary means of losing weight.  This is quite a thorough (and well-worth reading) exposition of the issue, and I really like that it hits on how it is politically expedient, but scientifically misguided to focus on exercise.  Here’s the final summary on weight loss:

10) So what actually works for weight loss?

At the individual level, some very good research on what works for weight loss comes from the National Weight Control Registry, a study that has parsed the traits, habits, and behaviors of adults who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a minimum of one year. They currently have more than 10,000 members enrolled in the study, and these folks respond to annual questionnaires about how they’ve managed to keep their weight down.

The researchers behind the study found that people who have had success losing weight share a few things in common: They weigh themselves at least once a week. Theyrestrict their calorie intake, stay away from high-fat foods, and watch their portion sizes. They also exercise regularly.

But note: These folks use physical activity in addition to calorie counting and other behavioral changes. Every reliable expert I’ve ever spoken to on weight loss says the most important thing a person can do is to limit calories in a way they like and can sustain, and focus on eating more healthfully.

In general, diet with exercise can work better than calorie cutting alone, but with onlymarginal additional weight-loss benefits.

So, again, nothing magical– find a system of eating that works for you for not eating too many calories over the long-term.  And exercise, because it’s good for you.

 

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