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.

 

Bathroom predators

One of the best posts I’ve yet read, via ScaryMommy blog.  Even the title nails it, “Stop Using your children as an excuse to be a hateful human being.”

“As a mother, how in the world could you be in support of transgender bathrooms,” wrote one person on my professional Facebook page. “You are now in support of allowing every child molester and rapist in the bathroom with your daughter because he is allowed, all he has to say is that he identifies with women

As a mother, there are a lot of ways I could respond to this. I could point out that a paltry restroom sign was never going to prevent a true predator from harming someone in the first place. I could remind everyone how offensive it is to even make the leap from talking about the transgender community to discussing sexual predators in the same sentence. I could even point out that the majority of us have probably shared a restroom with a transgender person at some point and not even known it because they just want to pee.

If you’re truly worried about child sex abuse, then as a responsible parent, it’d behoove you to know that in three-quarters of sex abuse cases, children are harmed not by pooping strangers, but by members of their own family or someone they know. Furthermore, while girls carry a one in four chance of being sexually abused before age 18, the risk for boys is one in six. If bathroom predators are truly an issue, why on earth would I be worried about my daughter but not my son?

Yep, yep, yep.  This is all about fearmongering and not a whit about actual bathroom safety.  Thank you North Carolina Republicans!

Quick hits (part I)

1) Ryan Lizza makes the case that Paul Ryan is actually still running for president.

2) If Sweden and Denmark were US states they would be among the poorest.  And yet who really doubts that they are superior places to live than Alabama and Mississippi.

3) Jim Rutenberg on the squeeze on modern media outlets.

4) Jon Cohn on the difference between Clinton and Sanders:

Keep in mind that many experts think the Sanders plan, as currently written, would actually require a lot more money than he has said — so asking him to go back and find yet more revenue, to cover the exposure these low-income Americans would face, is no small thing.

This is the point that the liberal wonks have been making. (And, yes, I am one of those wonks.) Sanders is holding up his healthcare plan as an alternative to the status quo. But the status quo is a result of real-world compromises and sacrifices. If Sanders became president and had a chance to push his plan through Congress, he’d quickly discover all kinds of other complications — like the fact that many people with employer-sponsored insurance don’t want to give it up, or that severely ratcheting down payments for doctors and hospitals would reduce access and threaten real economic disruption.

To address these issues, Sanders would have to make painful concessions. What came out of the other side of the legislative process would look very different, and less attractive, from what he’s proposing now, in much the same way that Obamacare looks very different, and less attractive, from what Obama sketched out as a candidate in 2008.

5) When it turns out the bully is your kid.

6) I’ve come to enjoy vexillology as Mike Pesca is always plugging it on the gist.  Here’s a pretty cool flag infographic to warm the hearts of vexillologists everywhere.

7) Hey, look, I’m in Mother Jones about Ted Cruz and NC’s HB2.

8) Really interesting, thoughtful, interview on free trade.  I think this part is especially revealing:

ZB: So the US policies like permanent normal trade relations with China only accelerated something that was ultimately going to happen?

GH: It was inevitable.

Once China became part of the global economy, what was going to happen was the US getting out of the really labor-intensive stuff as China moved into that, and that’s specializing, and more skill- and technology- and capital-intensive industries. It didn’t happen earlier because, for many complicated historical reasons, China just wasn’t part of the global economy. Latin America wasn’t that much part of the global economy either until the 1980s and 1990s.

9) John Oliver’s year in criminal justice.

10) Satisficing is so important.  I need to work harder at it.

11) Andrew Prokop on Kasich’s strategy for winning the nomination.

Indeed, Kasich’s actual plan seems to fit perfectly into the classic South Park“underpants gnome” framework, in which step 1 is “lose every primary and caucus except Ohio,” step 2 is “???” and step 3 is “party turns to Kasich at a contested convention.” He really does not seem to have even the slightest plan to get from step 1 to step 3.

12) Liked this list of “podcasts for grownups who still dig learning” as I already listen to most of them.  Oh, I still really dig learning.

13) Enjoyed this post from my good friend (and great promoter of my research), Matt Shipman, on how his role as a dad makes him oppose HB2 all the more.

14) Speaking of HB2, N&O editorial on the Republicans just digging in their heals come hell or high water.  It takes a big person to admit when they are wrong.  Not even any modestly-sized persons in sight.

Now it seems the Republican schisms and blind zeal that let this law pass will also obstruct its necessary repeal. Until HB2 is repealed, jobs will continue to be lost.

“We’ve had some companies choose to suspend their site selection search in North Carolina and consequently in Wake County,” said Adrienne Cole, executive director of Wake County Economic Development. “Some have said they’re taking North Carolina off the list, others have said they’re postponing things to see what happens.”

Unfortunately, Berger and Moore represent districts in less-populated areas of the state, and although their constituents might well benefit from economic development in cities (Moore’s Kings Mountain isn’t that far from Charlotte, and Berger’s Eden is fairly close to Greensboro), they have such antipathy for cities they just don’t care. They are putting an anti-urban ideology ahead of the best interests of North Carolina, a reprehensible position for two supposed leaders.

15) Being rich (or comfortably middle class) means having more money to spend to perpetuate that with your kids.

16) Dahlia Lithwick’s excellent take on the 4-4 Supreme Court and the recent immigration case.

17) Given how much I hate extended fight scenes in movie, I love this analogy about Hillary Clinton from Drum:

For some reason this got me thinking about fight scenes in movies. Bear with me here. If you watch a movie from 50 years ago, the fight scenes will mostly strike you as ridiculous. The staging is weak, the sound effects are amateurish, and the choreography is slapdash. Things improved over the next couple of decades, but then they went overboard. Fight scenes began to devour blockbuster movies, with directors all trying to one up each other. But really, a fight is a fight. After a while, there’s little new you can do, and all the CGI in the world can’t hide that. Anyone who saw the most recent Star Trek movie knows what I’m talking about. The final fight scene was absurd, tedious, and completely unnecessary. But JJ Abrams put it in because he figured his audience demanded it. And I suppose they did. But those of us who have been watching movies since the 60s or 70s found it boring and predictable.

Now on to politics. To me, Bernie is like one of those fight scenes: I’ve seen it all before. On the Democratic side, primaries have specialized in having at least one bold truthteller like Bernie in every cycle since the 1960s. Sometimes they’re lefty truthtellers, sometimes they’re “hard truths” truthtellers, and sometimes they’re a bit of a mishmash. But the one thing they have in common is that they can afford to tell the truth—in the beginning, at least—because they’re mostly running as rebels who don’t really expect to win. And if you’re not seriously trying to win, there’s no downside to being entirely candid. Who cares if you’re going to lose a few important demographics in the process?

18) Sub-hunting drones.  Cool!

19) Really enjoyed the “Steve Jobs” movie, but totally agree that with David Edelstein that there’s way too much focus on what kind of a father Steve Jobs was.

20) Damn straight buying a car should be more like buying an Apple product.  You’ll be hearing more on this from me.

21) Progressively fewer ear infections in each of my children.  My family is representative of a larger, and very good, trend here.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) More evidence that anti-bacterial soaps do more harm than good (the point of soap is to actually wash the germs away, not kill them).  I’ve tried to use regular soap for years, but it can actually be hard to find the liquid soap that is not anti-bacterial.

2) Really enjoyed reading about Peggy Orenstein’s new book on girls and sex.  I think I’ll be giving this to Sarah in 8-10 years.

3) How to get your children to behave through positive behavioral reinforcement.  Maybe too late for my kids.  But I probably should try, because they sure won’t behave.

4) Just a video of a submarine surfacing through ice.  Nothing cool to see here.

5) Had this article about the lawyer who took on Dupont in an open tab for a long time.  Glad I finally read it.  Really good stuff.

Bilott doesn’t regret fighting DuPont for the last 16 years, nor for letting PFOA consume his career. But he is still angry. ‘‘The thought that DuPont could get away with this for this long,’’ Bilott says, his tone landing halfway between wonder and rage, ‘‘that they could keep making a profit off it, then get the agreement of the governmental agencies to slowly phase it out, only to replace it with an alternative with unknown human effects — we told the agencies about this in 2001, and they’ve essentially done nothing. That’s 14 years of this stuff continuing to be used, continuing to be in the drinking water all over the country. DuPont just quietly switches over to the next substance. And in the meantime, they fight everyone who has been injured by it.’’

Bilott is currently prosecuting Wolf v. DuPont, the second of the personal-injury cases filed by the members of his class. The plaintiff, John M. Wolf of Parkersburg, claims that PFOA in his drinking water caused him to develop ulcerative colitis. That trial begins in March. When it concludes, there will be 3,533 cases left to try

6) Apparently, it is quite exhausting when your full-time job is blurring out people’s exposed private parts for a television show.

7) Steve Benen on the amateurishness of Trump’s delegate operations.

8) Thanks to Pat McCrory, it’s not easy being Pat McCrory.

9) Time to re-think how we think about the “tree of life.”

Existing genetic studies have been heavily biased towards the branches of life that we’re most familiar with, especially those we can see and study. It’s no coincidence that animals made up half of the “comprehensive tree of life,” and fungi, plants, and algae took up another third, and microscopic bacteria filled just a small wedge.

That’s not what the real tree of life looks like.

We visible organisms should be the small wedge. We’re latecomers to Earth’s story, and represent the smallest sliver of life’s diversity. Bacteria are the true lords of the world. They’ve been on the planet for billions of years and have irrevocably changed it, while diversifying into endless forms most wonderful and most beautiful. Many of these forms have never been seen, but we know they exist because of their genes. Using techniques that can extract DNA from environmental samples—scoops of mud or swabs of saliva—scientists have been able to piece together the full genomes of organisms whose existence is otherwise a mystery.

Using 1,011 of these genomes, Laura Hug, now at the University of Waterloo, and Jillian Banfield at the University of California, Berkeley have sketched out a radically different tree of life. All the creatures we’re familiar with—the animals, plants, and fungi—are crowded on one thin branch. The rest are largely filled with bacteria. [emphasis mine]

10) The octopus who escaped back to the ocean.

11) NYT Editorial on the endemic racism in the Chicago PD.  Also, a good occassion to plug the old, but truly not at all dated, Courtroom 302.  

12) Evan Osnos on Trump’s convention strategy.

13) Apparently, Republicans only think Zika virus affects blue states.  Or maybe, they are just against doing something about it because Obama is for it.  Ugh.

14) Mike Munger on the beauty of the virtual classroom discussion.  It’s got it’s value, but I think Munger is over-selling it.

15) Should we have government-sponsored childcare?

In a new report published Wednesday, a group of economists argued the market alone can’t fix this problem. Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in the District, say daycare should become a national priority, a human right on par with public education, because it contributes to academic achievement gaps, among other unequal outcomes later in children’s lives.

In order to make high-quality child care — with well-trained staff and a cognitively enriching environment — available to all in the current system, many children would have to be crammed into the best day care centers and safety would have to be severely compromised, said co-author Josh Bivens, EPI’s research and policy director.“The easiest way,” he said, “would be to shove 70 kids in one class.”

Rather than encourage this dystopia, he said, America should invest more resources into building a national childcare system, one that rewards quality.

16) 538 on how a Penn State lab is predicting sunset quality.  Cool.

17) Speaking of the sun, the Sunlight Foundation on how lobbyists effectively prevent saner tax policy.

18) How about a space probe to the “nearby” star Alpha Centauri?  Mostly, this caught my eye because despite having almost no creative ability, the one good story I remember writing in elementary school was “journey to Alpha Centauri.”  The beginning and end of my career as a science fiction author.

19) This is pretty damn cool– click on the caterpillar and see the moth/butterfly it becomes.

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