Hmmm, this version is not so mega. I apologize for the lack of numerical balance in this weekend’s quick hits.
1) There’s a new strongest material in the world (besting spider silk)– the microscopic teeth of bottom-dwelling sea snails. Cool!
2) Oklahoma legislators– we don’t need no stinkin’ AP History! And Steve Benen places it into a broader context of GOP assaults on public education.
3) Yes, unions go too far at times, but their decline has surely been a big part of our growth in inequality. Nice column from Kristof.
“All the focus on labor’s flaws can distract us from the bigger picture,” Rosenfeld writes. “For generations now the labor movement has stood as the most prominent and effective voice for economic justice.”
I’m as appalled as anyone by silly work rules and $400,000 stagehands, or teachers’ unions shielding the incompetent. But unions also lobby for programs like universal prekindergarten that help create broad-based prosperity. They are pushing for a higher national minimum wage, even though that would directly benefit mostly nonunionized workers.
I’ve also changed my mind because, in recent years, the worst abuses by far haven’t been in the union shop but in the corporate suite. One of the things you learn as a journalist is that when there’s no accountability, we humans are capable of tremendous avarice and venality. That’s true of union bosses — and of corporate tycoons. Unions, even flawed ones, can provide checks and balances for flawed corporations.
Many Americans think unions drag down the economy over all, but scholars disagree. American auto unions are often mentioned, but Germany’s car workers have a strong union, and so do Toyota’s in Japan and Kia’s in South Korea.
4) Government by consent of the governed? Maybe not so much in Greensboro, NC.
5) A really interesting take on how decriminalization of drugs can be a bad thing. Really eye-opening. Of course, if we could end this totally evil modern debtor’s prison thing we’ve got going, decriminalization wouldn’t’ be a bad thing.
6) Ideology and the closing of centers in the UNC system. Yes, of course it’s political no matter how much the Board of Governors protests otherwise. A response from Gene Nichol, one of the key figures in all this.
7) Love this collection of humorous flyers.
8) Given that Marilyn Vos Savant supposedly has the world’s highest IQ, it’s really kind of sad that she’s best known for solving logic problems in the Sunday Parade supplement (I know her as the person who married my dad’s first cousin’s ex-husband). That said, the sexist vitriol she received on the Monty Hall problem is really kind of amazing. Oh, and no matter what, I just cannot entirely wrap my head around this problem.
9) I remember reading something about this wrongful police shooting in Fairfax, VA (where I was born and raised) a while back, but the lack of news coverage is really pretty amazing. On the bright side, it’s not just non-white guys who are victims of overzealous police who are then not held accountable.
10) Love Adam Gopnik on Republican candidate evasions on whether they believe in evolution. It’s pretty short, you should read it all. But since you won’t:
What the question means, and why it matters, is plain: Do you have the courage to embrace an inarguable and obvious truth when it might cost you something to do so? A politician who fails this test is not high-minded or neutral; he or she is just craven, and shouldn’t be trusted with power. This catechism’s purpose—perhaps unfair in its form, but essential in its signal—is to ask, Do you stand with reason and evidence sufficiently to anger people among your allies who don’t?
11) This Jamelle Bouie piece about the Republican attempts to appeal Obamacare and what it means has sat in my queue for its own post for too long. So here’s my favorite part:
The consequences of the proposal are straightforward: By ending Obamacare in its entirety and placing limits on Medicaid, it would eliminate insurance for millions of Americans and make it harder for middle- and working-class people to purchase coverage. And while it’s described as a plan to save money, the truth is that it accomplishes this by reducing care for the poor and raising costs on everyone else.
In other words, this isn’t a plan to achieve universal coverage. That’s simply not a Republican goal, and it’s part of the reason it has proven politically difficult to craft an alternative. We don’t think everyone should have health insurance just isn’t an appealing message.