Quick hits (part II)

1) Really  looking forward to reading this book on the modern history of Autism and Aspergers and the doctors who defined (and mis-defined these diseases).  It’s not too far a stretch to say Leo Kanner, the doctor who was the autism expert, made my older brother’s life, far, far harder than it should have been.

2) Nice summary on all the damage total Republican control has done to NC.

3) I love that NC State researchers have created a vomiting machine to study Norovirus.

4) When liberals go too far, they should be called out.  As Drum does with those who think there shouldn’t be Chik-Fil-A in an airport.

5) Can’t say I’m surprised to learn that surgery for the most basic form of breast cancer apparently does nothing to improve a woman’s life expectancy.  I’m also not surprised that cancer surgeons are arguing that they should still be doing it.  I am sad for all the women who needlessly go physically and emotionally traumatic unnecessary treatment.

6) Jordan Weissman on Rubio and Walker’s plans to replace Obamacare:

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this idea. But it only works if the federal government sets acceptable guidelines about what sorts of plans insurers are allowed to sell. Otherwise, it would almost certainly spur a harmful race to the bottom, in which companies would flock to states with the loosest regulations, and offer cut-rate insurance offering little protection. The likely result, as the Congressional Budget Office argued years ago, is that young, healthy customers would opt for the least expensive options available, while older, sicker Americans would end up paying morefor coverage. Meanwhile, many of those invincible-feeling twentysomethings would find their health insurance wasn’t worth much once they actually needed it. And the chances are that a Walker or Rubio administration wouldn’t do much to stop that from happening…

But the big takeaway is that the establishment GOP contenders are edging toward a consensus alternative to Obamacare, a three-part plan that would potentially make insurance cheaper for the young, more expensive for the old and sick, and depending on how tight-fisted Congress felt, unaffordable for the ill. Thankfully for them, nobody should notice for a while. Everybody is still paying attention to Trump, after all.

And Jon Cohn’s take while I’m at it.

7) Nice explanation of exactly what the deal is with Hillary’s email.  Should she have done what she did?  Oh, surely not.  Is it actually that big a deal?  Not really.

8) Awesome, awesome open letter from a gay man to his future in-laws who are unwilling to attend his wedding.

9) Cory Booker admits what so few politicians are willing to– we cannot solve mass incarceration simply by easing up on drug users and non-violent felons.  We also need to admit that violent felonies are not as cut and dried as they may seem.

10) Really interesting piece in the Federalist on the Republican Party and white identity politics.

11) Love this from a former CIA analyst on how to help undermine ISIS by scamming them on the internet.  Seriously.

12) Can’t say I’m surprised to learn that science now has MRI evidence to show that it is good to read to your young kids.  But, if that convinces more people to something all parents should be doing, then that’s a good thing.

13) I was telling my son David about a new colleague and how you can just instantly tell he was a person of great warmth.  Then David asked me to define emotional warmth.  Trickier than I realized.  Here’s the first take I found.  And I think this quora take is pretty good.  Here’s my own simple definition I came up with after thinking about it: a readiness to share positive emotions with others.

14) Interesting take on the strength of Trump’s support in the polls:

In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting.

15) Personally, I find it quite disturbing that the solid majority of pre-natal Down’s Syndrome diagnoses lead to abortion.  And it’s great politics to try and pass a law– as Ohio is attempting— that bans abortion if a Down’s Syndrome diagnosis is the reason.   But this is so blatantly unconstitutional under Roe and Casey.  A Constitutional right based on the right to privacy does not mean you have have to provide an appropriate reason to exercise it.

16) Matt Taibbi on Donald Trump and the unleashed stupidity in American politics.  Pretty much a perfect combination.  Read this one.  (edits for language below by me)

Why there’s suddenly this surge of hatred for immigrants is sort of a mystery. Why Donald Trump, who’s probably never even interacted with an undocumented immigrant in a non-commercial capacity, in particular should care so much about this issue is even more obscure. (Did he trip over an immigrant on his way to the Cincinnati housing development his father gave him as a young man?)

Most likely, immigrants are just collateral damage in Trump’s performance art routine, which is an absurd ritualistic celebration of the coiffed hotshot endlessly triumphing over dirty losers and weaklings.

Trump isn’t really a politician, of course. He’s a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it. [emphasis mine]

People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum. They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get “crazy,” as Thomas Friedman would put it.

Trump’s campaign is giving people permission to do just that. It’s hard to say this word in conjunction with such a sexually unappealing person, but his message is a powerful aphrodisiac. F**k everything, f**k everyone. F**k immigrants and f**k their filthy lice-ridden kids. And f**k you if you don’t like me saying so.

When school kids misbehave

I really liked this article from last month about re-thinking school discipline.  It resonated with me on many levels.

Which begs the question: Does it make sense to impose the harshest treatments on the most challenging kids? And are we treating chronically misbehaving children as though they don’t want to behave, when in many cases they simply can’t? [emphasis mine]

That part above strikes me as so true.  I had a parenting epiphany about 7-8 years ago where I was threatening David with punishment by taking away his favorite thing in life (time to play is video game).  He kept misbehaving even as I threatened to take away more and more time from playing.  Then it hit me– David’s brain was literally incapable of conforming to my behavioral expectations at that moment.  Of course, David hated the prospect of not playing the game, yet he continued his misbehaving in the same way.  It struck me that he wouldn’t have continued the misbehavior unless he literally couldn’t control it.  It changed how I parent.

Just last summer, Alex (the one with autism and intellectual disability) was in a summer program and when I walked him  to pick him up they basically had him in a coercive hold and told him they wouldn’t let him go until he agreed to calm down.  But his brain was literally incapable of agreeing to calm down at that moment, because all he could think about was his need to get out of that coercive hold.  It was very frustrating to see.  Alex was not back in that program this summer.

More on the matter…

That might sound like the kind of question your mom dismissed as making excuses. But it’s actually at the core of some remarkable research that is starting to revolutionize discipline from juvenile jails to elementary schools. Psychologist Ross Greene, who has taught at Harvard and Virginia Tech, has developed a near cult following among parents and educators who deal with challenging children. What Richard Ferber’s sleep-training method meant to parents desperate for an easy bedtime, Greene’s disciplinary method has been for parents of kids with behavior problems, who often pass around copies of his books, The Explosive Child and Lost at School, as though they were holy writ.

His model was honed in children’s psychiatric clinics and battle-tested in state juvenile facilities, and in 2006 it formally made its way into a smattering of public and private schools. The results thus far have been dramatic, with schools reporting drops as great as 80 percent in disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and incidents of peer aggression. “We know if we keep doing what isn’t working for those kids, we lose them,” Greene told me. “Eventually there’s this whole population of kids we refer to as overcorrected, overdirected, and overpunished. Anyone who works with kids who are behaviorally challenging knows these kids: They’ve habituated to punishment.”

Under Greene’s philosophy, you’d no more punish a child for yelling out in class or jumping out of his seat repeatedly than you would if he bombed a spelling test. You’d talk with the kid to figure out the reasons for the outburst (was he worried he would forget what he wanted to say?), then brainstorm alternative strategies for the next time he felt that way. The goal is to get to the root of the problem, not to discipline a kid for the way his brain is wired.

“This approach really captures a couple of the main themes that are appearing in the literature with increasing frequency,” says Russell Skiba, a psychology professor and director of the Equity Project at Indiana University. He explains that focusing on problem solving instead of punishment is now seen as key to successful discipline.

I actually have cousin Ross’ book (kidding, I’m not actually related to any other Greene’s out there) on my shelf but never got around to reading it.  From my perspective, though, he’s clearly onto something and the more these ideas catch on with schools in helping kids with behavioral problems, the better.

Quick hits (part II– after all)

Ended up with a ton of open tabs this weekend.  So, here’s a late quick hits part II.

1) Is parenthood worse for your happiness than divorce or death of a partner?  The latest research says that at least during the first year of parenthood, this is the case.  In a less busy week, I would’ve read more of this because I am a bit skeptical of such a strong hit (though chronic sleep deprivation surely matters).

2) Fertility clinics destroy embryos all the time (much like an early abortion).  Why aren’t conservatives after them?!  Maybe something like this:

The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound , you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place .

If anti-choice lawmakers cared as much about protecting life as they did about women having sex, they could promote laws that prevent unwanted pregnancy. Yet the same conservatives who restrict abortion also oppose insurance coverage for contraception and comprehensive sexuality education. They view contraception, like abortion, as a “license” to have non-procreative sex. Women, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee assures us, don’t need contraception — they just need to “control their libido.”

I also think it is largely simply politically untenable to attack fertility clinics (as I’ve mentioned in the case of the Catholic Church leaving the issue alone despite the clear, strong violation of Catholic teaching).

3) Less than a decade ago, Republicans seemingly favored voting rights.  What happened?

4) Hopefully you know about the mindset research of Carol Dweck.  If not, John F. recently shared this excellent summary.  Honestly, I feel like I’ve done pretty well in life for having a fixed mindset.

5) Think it is barbaric to lock human beings in solitary confinement.  Even better, many states regularly do this with juveniles– “for their own protection.”  Certainly not the protection of their sanity.

6) A solid majority of Americans under 50 think they will not get a social security benefit.  That’s nuts.  They will.  At worst, it will be somewhat reduced.  In other news, most Americans under 50 don’t really understand social security or American politics.

7) I cannot even imagine working at Amazon.  Fascinating workplace culture.

8) I doubt that Obama will finish all these books on his vacation.  But I love his love of good books and reading.

9) Should have been a few more, but one of the kids closed all my open tabs– despite repeated admonitions not to do so– and I swear some were missing from my history.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Excellent Josh Marshall on the declining marginal value of crazy in the Republican Party:

In a crowded field, for almost everyone but Bush, it’s critical to grab hold of the mantle of anger and grievance. But the Huckabees and Cruzes simply cannot compete with Trump, who is not only willing to say truly anything but also has – whatever else you can say about his nonsense – a talent for drama and garnering press attention honed over decades. With a mix of aggression, boffo self-assertion and nonsense, Trump has managed to boil modern Republicanism down to a hard precipitate form, shorn of the final vestiges of interest in actual governing.

2) Actual scholars of international conflict are way more skeptical of war than the American public.

3) The research on small class size is not quite what you think it is and certainly should not be used to eliminate teaching assistants in early grades.

4) What not to say to people who struggle with infertility.  Definitely good advice.

5) In general elections, debates really don’t matter all that much.  They are surely more important in primaries (where voters don’t have the Party ID cue to rely upon) and Thursday’s was probably especially important for shaping the Invisible Primary.

6) On why it is a good idea to make college education available to prisoners.

7) Inkjet printers are one of the biggest scams in the marketplace (the ink is priced like a precious metal).  Fortunately, we switched to a laser ages ago.  David Pogue on a new Epson that actually charges you what the printer costs but doesn’t horribly screw you over on ink prices.  The big question is whether consumers are smart enough to think beyond the initial purchase price.

8) People complain about teacher’s unions, but seems to me that police unions create way more problems.  Seems like they believe police never do wrong.

9) You’ve probably seen all the reporting on how the formula for setting workplaces too cold in the summer is based on 1960’s men.  I appear to have a metabolism similar to women and I hate the workplace in the summer.  I’ve been known to use my space heater in July.

10) This is from a while back, but new to me: how gothic architecture took over college campuses.  As a Duke alum, I found this particularly interesting.  I was always told a story that they purposely used stone in the stairways that would wear away extra fast from foot traffic to make it all appear older.

The American college campus, and its Gothic filigree, seem timeless, pristine constructions. Nothing could be farther from the truth: They are historical eruptions, made possible by philanthropic economics, continental envy and racism. That doesn’t detract from their inherent beauty: Rather, to think more clearly about colleges, we should recognize and adapt ourselves to their history and their contingency.

11) A friend recently shared a Richard Thaler graduation speech it’s good stuff.  Especially on the economics of doing what you enjoy.

12) I get so tired of the “Democrats did it, too!” you hear from NC Republicans.  I’m not alone.

13) Yes, lawns are evil.  Especially when you live in west Texas where it rains less than 20 inches a year (my previous home) or you live somewhere with a bunch of rain, but your soil is clay and all covered up by big oaks which provide great shade (now).  I could have a nice lawn if I wanted to spend hours every single week on it.  I don’t.

14) Having health insurance is great.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually save the country money on overall health expenditures.  That said, the non-dollar benefit of peace of mind and better health that come from actually having health insurance seem plenty worth the added cost.

15) Loved this Ezra Klein on the absolute shamelessness of Trump.

16) Picky eating among children is linked to adult anxiety and depression.  When I think about the psychology of picky eating, I’m not all surprised.  I guess I’m unusual for being a picky eater but as psychologically stable as they come.

17) Nice Op-Ed on school vouchers and the enemies of public education.

18) Maybe teenagers hanging out on social media all the time isn’t really so bad.

Where is the doom and gloom?

A new report on “Teens, Technology and Friendships” from the Pew Foundation puts an unusually positive spotlight on the online lives of teenagers as they build friendships and connections in a digital world. Teenagers aged 13 to17 are finding ways to strengthen their relationships with real-world friends as well as making new friends through social media, video gaming, messaging apps and other virtual connectors.

This is not the usual story of teenagers in the online realm. Where are the dire warnings about how the online world is depriving our teenagers of their opportunity to learn the skills needed to interact with people instead of screens while exposing them to all manner of bullying and cruelty, and tempting them to fritter away endless hours playing video games?

19) I don’t like beer.  At all.  American or otherwise.  That said, I did find this article on why American beer is so weak to be fascinating.

20) After listening to a Fresh Air interview with Sarah Hepola, I realized that I didn’t truly understand an alcohol induced blackout.  You are conscious and functioning (though, impaired), but stop laying down long-term memories.  Freaky.  That means a person can say “Sure, I want to have sex with you” and climb into bed, but then “wake up” under somebody else and have absolutely no idea how they got there.  Of course acquaintance rape is a real and genuine problem, but I cannot help but wondering how many times a blackout is mistaken for a lack of consent.  And here’s the Salon piece on Hepola’s memoir of excessive drinking.

 

Let your kids watch more TV

Sarah has not been feeling the greatest the past few days and has been absurdly cranky.  You know what works great for all of us?  Letting her watch shows on TV or the Ipad.  After a long day, sometimes we’ve really had all we can take of the kids.  You know what works great?  Letting them watch stuff.  Sometimes I work at home in the mornings and try and get some stuff done without getting too interrupted.  That’s right– more TV and Ipad.  And you know how guilty I feel about this?  Not quite zero, but pretty close.  Heck, when I was in elementary school I have vague memories of getting home and watching crap for just hours (Brady Bunch, Flintstones, Gilligan, etc.), but I turned out okay.  Obviously, you should spend a decent amount of time per day interacting with your kids.  And kids need to have time to explore and have pretend play.  But it’s also seems pretty clear that if you’ve got all that in place, even a few hours a day won’t hurt.  538’s Emily Oster summed up the research a while back:

When I was a kid, my parents had strict television rules: no more than an hour a day, and the content must be educational. This meant a lot of PBS. I did briefly convince my mother that the secret-agent show “MacGyver” was about science, but that boondoggle ended when she watched an episode with me. These restrictions seemed severe at the time, but my parents were just following the orders of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Children and teens should have no more than one to two hours of screen time per day, with children under 2 having no screen time at all. Those orders remain the same today.

Relative to my childhood, limits on screen time have become increasingly restrictive and confusing. The iPad (and Kindle, and various other tablets) has opened up a world of “educational” screen time. If my 4-year-old is doing a workbook on the iPad, does that mean she learns less than if we used a physical workbook? The AAP advocates for newspapers and physical books over iPads, computers and other screen options.

The AAP statement on media seems opposed to screens per se (quote: “young children learn best when they interact with people, not screens”) without really differentiating among various uses and types of screens. But, not surprisingly, when you look at the research, the screen matters less than what you do with it…

These are a small number of the many, many studies that show associations between time spent watching television and health and development outcomes. But all these studies have an obvious problem: the amount of TV children watch is not randomly assigned. In the general population, kids who watch a lot of TV — especially at young ages — tend to be poorer, are more likely to be members of minority groups and are more likely to have parents with less education. All these factors independently correlate with outcomes such as executive function, test scores and obesity, making it difficult to draw strong conclusions about the effects of television from this research.

Hello, selection bias!!  Bring that up anytime somebody comments on your child’s viewing habits.  Anyway, more:

There are a few studies with better designs, and these have mixed results. There does seem to be some evidence to suggest that lowering media consumption, including television, can help combat obesity in children (seehere and here for examples)…

The researchers find no evidence that more exposure to television at an early age negatively affected later test scores. The contemporary applicability of this research is subject to various concerns — television in the 1940s and ’50s differs from the TV of today, for example — but it does suggest that such concerns about test scores may be overblown.

A second set of concerns with television — and these extend to all other screen time — is that there is something inherently bad about exposure to a screen per se. There really isn’t anything in the research to make us think this is a concern. Even the AAP, the ultimate screen time naysayer, focuses in its warnings on attention and learning difficulties, obesity and risky behaviors resulting from screen time.

I think this paragraph from Oster really nails it:

To judge what impact TV has on children, we have to think about tradeoffs — what would kids be doing with their time if they weren’t watching television? There are 24 hours in a day. If your kid watches one less hour of TV, she does one hour more of something else. The AAP guidelines imply that this alternative activity is something more enriching: reading books with dad, running on the track, discussing current events with grandma, etc.

But a lot of kids and families may not use an additional hour in these ways. An hour of TV may be replaced by an hour of sitting around doing nothing, whining about being bored. Or, worse, being yelled at by an overtired parent who is trying to get dinner ready on a tight time frame. If letting your kids watch an hour of TV means you are better able to have a relaxed conversation at the dinner table, this could mean TV isn’t that bad for cognitive development. [emphasis mine] …

Similarly, it is easy to see why TV might not affect test scores. If the alternative use of an hour for most families is not in highly enriching parent engagement, television may be just fine.

I know that when my kids are watching the screen the alternative is definitely not some enriching activity.  It’s usually whiny kids or a whiny parent.  And you know what else, none of them show the least bit of signs of addiction of truly needing TV (though, my oldest definitely has a video game addiction which we monitor).

Meanwhile Jane Brody’s NYT column on “screen addiction” has lots of scary stats (yes, many kids do spend too much time per day with a screen), but also relies on a lot of studies which appear to be correlational.  And then the follow-up says it is basically your fault for being addicted to your screen.  You know what I used to do at the park?  Sit there bored while my kids had fun playing (sure, I could engage more, but I very much want all of them to learn to entertain themselves).  You know what I do at the park now?  Entertain myself on my smartphone while Sarah entertains herself with the equipment and other kids.  No apologies.

 

The hardest part of being a mom

I loved this column by Judith Shulevitz that ran back on Mother’s Day as I think it is so spot-on and I’ve been meaning to give it a post ever-since.  The basic idea, is that regardless of the time breakdown of household responsibilities, far more often than not, it is mom who is actually in charge, and there’s lots of added stress that comes with that:

Sociologists sometimes call the management of familial duties “worry work,” and the person who does it the “designated worrier,” because you need large reserves of emotional energy to stay on top of it all.

I wish I could say that fathers and mothers worry in equal measure. But they don’t. Disregard what your two-career couple friends say about going 50-50. Sociological studies of heterosexual couples from all strata of society confirm that, by and large, mothers draft the to-do lists while fathers pick and choose among the items. And whether a woman loves or hates worry work, it can scatter her focus on what she does for pay and knock her partway or clean off a career path. This distracting grind of apprehension and organization may be one of the least movable obstacles to women’s equality in the workplace…

No matter how generous, “helping out” isn’t sharing. I feel pinpricks of rage every time my husband fishes for praise for something I’ve asked him to do. On the other hand, I’ve never gotten around to drawing up the List of Lists and insisting that we split it. I don’t see my friends doing that either. Even though women tell researchers that having to answer for the completion of domestic tasks stresses them out more than any other aspect of family life, I suspect they’re not always willing to cede control.

Hey, liberated men out there who do have the housework and child-rearing– does this sound like you?  Probably.  I’ll admit it sounds awfully familiar around here.  Though, in fairness, part of that is my preternaturally low set point for anxiety and worry.

Speaking of worry, Shulevitz continues:

No matter how generous, “helping out” isn’t sharing. I feel pinpricks of rage every time my husband fishes for praise for something I’ve asked him to do. On the other hand, I’ve never gotten around to drawing up the List of Lists and insisting that we split it. I don’t see my friends doing that either. Even though women tell researchers that having to answer for the completion of domestic tasks stresses them out more than any other aspect of family life, I suspect they’re not always willing to cede control…

ALLOW me to advance one more, perhaps controversial, theory about why women are on the hook for what you might call the human-resources side of child care: Women simply worry more about their children. This is largely a social fact. Mothers live in a world of other mothers, not to mention teachers and principals, who judge us by our children. Or maybe we just think they’re judging us. It amounts to the same thing. But there is also a biological explanation: We have evolved to worry.

Evidence from other animals as well as humans makes the case that the female of the species is programmed to do more than the male to help their offspring thrive. Neurological and endocrinological changes, the production of hormones such as oxytocin and estrogen during pregnancy and after birth, exert a profound influence over mothers’ moods and regulate the depth of their attachment to their children.

Hey, it’s not my fault– it’s evolution!

Anyway, I think this is fascinating stuff and it’s going into my next Gender & Politics syllabus.  It also reminds me of some of my own research from back when Laurel and I conducted our own survey on parenting.  Here is the section from the appendix from the book chapter where we discuss our Parental Involvement Index:

Parental Responsibility: “Below are various tasks parents do on behalf of their children. Please tell us whether these tasks are all your responsibility, mostly your responsibility, roughly equal responsibility, mostly another’s responsibility, or all another’s responsibility.” (1) “Making social arrangements for your children, such as play-dates, planning activities, making appointments, and arranging transportation for activities”; (2) “Making decisions regarding your children’s health care needs”; (3) “Helping children to learn or helping with homework”; (4) “Making decisions about child care and schooling”; (5) “Setting limits and disciplining”; (6) “Planning appropriate meals and buying food for your children”; (7) “Nurturing your child and tending to their emotional needs.” Each item coded from 1, all another’s responsibility, to 5, all own responsibility. Index is mean response to the six items. Parental-Involvement Index: Standardized nonworkday hours + standardized parental-responsibility index. Rescaled for a minimum value of 1. Range from 1 to 8.91.

And here’s the table with the results:

PI

What I also really remember was pre-testing these items on people I know– both halves of a married couple– and having the man answer that he was doing an equal share whereas the woman would say she was doing more than an equal share.  I suspect that a fair amount of that comes from the worry disparity.

I think the big picture here is that genuine equality in child-rearing requires not just the time spent, but the worry work.  And that is not going to be a simple thing to equalize.

Quick hits (part I)

Didn’t blog much at the beach, but still read lots of good stuff.  Many quick hits coming at you.

1) Really liked this perspective on Galileo— he was not as right as you think nor his critics as wrong.

2) Nice N&O Editorial on the latest example of NC Republicans deciding that local government is best– except when it is electing Democrats.  When Jesse Helm’s chief adviser says you’ve gone too far, you’ve probably gone too far.   And Thomas Mills on the travesty that is the NC Senate:

House Speaker Tim Moore came to power promising to show that the GOP could govern. Unfortunately, it’s not to be. The ideologues in the Senate are too busy micromanaging local governments and sticking square pegs into round, free-market holes to pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. They don’t seem to care whether policies are good for the people or the state. They only care that they fit into their narrow ideological box.

3) On the science behind “Inside Out.”  And seriously, if you haven’t yet, see this movie.

4) Nice piece from Bill Ayers on using the language of religious rights to deny rights:

As one lawmaker put it in North Carolina, “Just because someone takes a job with the government does not mean they give up their First Amendment rights.” A cake baker has apparently also decided to take his case to court, lest he be sanctioned for discriminating against gay couples in the making of wedding cakes.

I find this argument deeply troubling on many fronts. It strikes me as a species of other arguments people make which use the trappings of commonly-held values (in this case, the language about rights and freedom) to advance the opposite

5) Enjoyed this Slate piece on how Carli Lloyd and other US women soccer stars were rejected from youth teams and how that helped lead to their greatness.

6) I hate felony murder charges.  No, you should not rob somebody trying to sell you marijuana.  But when that goes wrong and the marijuana dealer falls off the truck and dies as it pulls away (and you are sitting in the back seat!) in no way are you a murderer at all.  Except, of course, under felony murder laws.  If I were on a jury for this case there would damn well be some juror nullification.  (Interesting that it happened at the park I visit every week with Sarah while Evan has his piano lessons).

7) A urologist argues in NYT that we need to bring back more prostate screenings.  This was a great example of smart commenters that you actually see in the NYT as they were all over the problems in this argument.

8) Apparently Amy Schumer’s jokes really are racist.  I, however, am not persuaded.

9) The best stuff I read on Germany and Greek debt last week.  Thomas Piketty on how the Germans are hypocrites. NYT’s Eduardo Porter makes a similar point.   And Harold Myerson.  Not like Greece doesn’t have plenty of blame to go around, of course.  For example, their crazy pension system.

10) I hate the tendency towards over air-conditioning in the summer.  I’ve been known to run my space heater in my office in the summer.  What a waste of energy.

11) I think I’m going to have to read this book on how over-parenting is ruining our kids.  I’m definitely no helicopter parent, but I fear I am not doing enough to make my kids learn tough life lessons on their own.

When parents have tended to do the stuff of life for kids—the waking up, the transporting, the reminding about deadlines and obligations, the bill-paying, the question-asking, the decision-making, the responsibility-taking, the talking to strangers, and the confronting of authorities, kids may be in for quite a shock when parents turn them loose in the world of college or work. They will experience setbacks, which will feel to them like failure. Lurking beneath the problem of whatever thing needs to be handled is the student’s inability to differentiate the self from the parent.

12) I’m glad I don’t have to rely on public schools in Texas to teach my kids history:

THIS FALL, Texas schools will teach students that Moses played a bigger role in inspiring the Constitution than slavery did in starting the Civil War. The Lone Star State’s new social studies textbooks, deliberately written to play down slavery’s role in Southern history, do not threaten only Texans — they pose a danger to schoolchildren all over the country.

On a related note, here’s some excerpts from a 1970’s Alabama history text.

13) Maybe autism is so more prevalent now because earlier clinicians actively worked to not diagnose it.

14) John Oliver on bail is, of course, excellent.

15) The most common reasons behind unfriending on FB:

In a 2014 study, Christopher Sibona, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Denver, actually pinpointed the four types of content that are most likely to prompt an unfriend:

  1. Frequent/unimportant posts
  2. Polarizing posts (politics and religion; liberals are, for what it’s worth,more likely to unfriend over political views)
  3. Inappropriate posts (sexist, racist remarks)
  4. Everyday life posts (child, spouse, eating habits, etc.)

Also, HS friends are most likely to get unfriended.

16) Iron Giant is going to be re-released on the big screen.  So going to take all the family to that.

17) I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but it never hurts to mention how near-useless the BMI is for addressing the health of individuals (there is some value as a population statistic).

18) A nearby public library that is actually inside a local HS is set to close.  Why?  People are worried about security:

The school system and Wake County partnered in the early 1980s so the Athens Drive High School library served students while also doubling as a public library.

But times have changed in terms of security at schools, said Ann Burlingame, assistant library director in Wake. High schools need to monitor who comes on their campuses, she said.

“We need to have a regard for the children and their safety,” Burlingame said…

No major security issues have been reported at the west Raleigh school. But Simmons said some parents have complained that it’s easy for library visitors to access the main part of the building.

Got that?  No actual issues in decades of use, but parents are worried.  So frustrating when the overly-fearful get to make public policy.

19) I had no idea about putative father registries.  Pretty interesting account of the laws and one disturbing case in South Carolina–yes, there are racial overtones (and the author was a friend of mine back at Duke).

 

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