Quick hits (part II)

1) Saletan on Trump and his speech:

On Friday, a morally empty man gave a morally empty speech. There was no talk of humility, no acknowledgment of enduring prejudice, no plea for decency. Instead, Trump railed against foreigners and “a small group in our nation’s capital” that “has reaped the rewards of government.” In place of Bush’s praise for mosques, Trump spoke of Islam only as a source of terrorism. The man who ran on a platform of “take the oil” fumed that American wealth had been “redistributed all across the world.” He accused countries of “stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”

This is why Trump is unworthy of your respect. It’s not because he didn’t win the popular vote. It’s not because of his party or his policies. It’s not because of Russia. It’s because of who he is. For all his faults, even those that turned out to be disastrous, Bush was a decent man. He believed in something greater than himself. Trump doesn’t.

2) This sentiment from Bryan Caplan (author of my oft-cited Selfish Reasons to have more kids) makes a good point:

3) Running might actually be good for your knees.

4) Dana Milbank’s favorite signs from the DC Women’s March.

5) Jack Shafer argues that Trump has actually liberated journalists to produce better journalism.

6) Don’t usually read sponsored content, but this piece on middle school versus junior high (which I attended) was pretty good.

7) Extreme picky eating has made the DSM V.  I don’t think Evan is quite there, but not too far off:

At age 12, after Brendan started showing signs of malnourishment, the family took him to Walden Behavioral Care, an eating disorder treatment center in Waltham, Mass., where he was given a diagnosis of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, or Arfid. The eating disorder was added to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association’s reference manual, in 2013.

While many kids go through periods of being picky, or selective, eaters, Arfid is picky eating taken to the extreme. A Swiss study of 1,444 children ages 8 to 13 found that 3 percent were affected by the condition, which often starts in childhood.

Those with Arfid avoid specific colors, textures, tastes or smells of foods, or are afraid of choking or vomiting. Others may have no interest in eating at all.

8) Great NYT photo essay on an innocent bystander improbably killed by a bullet shot a good distance away.

9) On a highly-related note, Linda Greenhouse on the Supreme Court’s next gun battle.

10) A FB friend recently posted about the principal about her kids’ middle school being way over-punitive.  Sadly, we don’t take good principals very seriously and principal quality really matters.

11) German Lopez’s headline gets it, “Trump: crime and gangs are ruining the country. Actual statistics: that’s not remotely true.”

12) Fallows:

The message will be stated and restated this day: For the 58th time, the system has worked, and power has smoothly transferred from one heir of George Washington to another. The truth is not so happy. With full advance notice, and despite the failure to gain a plurality of the nation’s vote, the United States will soon inaugurate someone who owes his office in some large part to a hostile foreign intelligence operation. Who is, above and beyond that, a person whose character that leaves him unqualified to hold the presidency, and threatens the country with an impending sequence of financial and espionage scandals—a constitutional crisis on two legs.

The real message of today is that the system has failed. The challenge of the morrow is to know what to do to save the remainder.

13) Concussion is, obviously, very serious, yet quite difficult to accurate diagnosis.  Now, technological advancement means we may be able to accurately diagnose with a finger prick.

14) Samantha Bee takes on Kellyanne Conway. Oh man is this good.

15) Alvin Chang with a nice chart and comic look at how white America is increasingly self-segregating.

16) Trump’s putative EPA head cannot even admit lead is bad for children.  Ugh.  Drum:

If Pruitt had been asked about the effects of zirconium dioxide on Alzheimer’s disease or something, then sure. Nobody knows everything, after all. But lead paint has been in the news for something like 50 years now and Flint’s water pipes have been in big, bold headlines for the past two. You’d have to work pretty hard not to be aware of what lead does.

 Still, if you’re bound and determined never to regulate anything, no matter how dangerous, then I suppose it pays to aggressively shut your eyes to environmental dangers of all kinds. Welcome to the New Model EPA, folks.

17) Chait on yesterday’s marches:

It matters that Trump drew a sparse crowd to inaugural festivities that he had billed beforehand as a historic, Jacksonian uprising of The People. And it matters much more that millions of Americans came out on a Saturday to register their protest. It is not only catharsis, though catharsis is better than depression. The message has been heard by the political class, Republican and Democratic alike.

It might be easy to assume that Trump and his allies feel insulated from accountability. It is not quite so simple. Republicans in Congress have thus far given Trump near-total cooperation of the assumption that they could move quickly and with little resistance to implement their agenda. Democrats did not really wake up from their late-Clinton slumber until the middle of Bush’s term, after which a lot of legislation had already passed. Republicans assuming they could rush through Paul Ryan’s agenda, while allowing Trump to obliterate long-standing governing norms, will rethink. The kind of backlash Democrats eventually mounted against Bush, which drove landslide victories in the 2006 midterm and the 2008 election, is a plausible possibility. In those elections, many seemingly safe red states turned blue.

One of the great weaknesses of American liberalism is a congenital tendency toward depression when their party holds power. The demobilization of the Democratic base is over. The prospect of a Democratic wave may not stop Republicans, and it may not even give them pause. But the governing party had probably assumed the clock would not start for months on the liberal backlash. Now the clock is ticking already.

18) My favorite sign at the protests:

19) And love this NYT photo feature of protests around the US and the world.

20) Yglesias argues that the GOP is sabotaging itself by confirming such weak nominees like Betsy Devos:

But while trying to hide DeVos from public view may be a service to her personally, it’s a disservice to both the Trump administration and the larger Republican Party. Presidents, after all, need Cabinet secretaries who can be effective public spokespeople for administration policy. The education secretary represents the administration on Capitol Hill, in the media, to university administrators and state and local officials, and as an interface with civil society groups that care about education. Even the heads of the second-tier agencies are important people in American politics and society, and having good people fill the roles is important.

In some ways this is especially true when the secretary deals with an issue that isn’t an important personal priority of the president, like education. State and local governments employ more than 10 million education workers who collectively teach more than 50 million kids. That Donald Trump’s coal-and-steel vision of American prosperity is relatively indifferent to educators’ work only heightens the responsibility that will fall on DeVos as she acts as the administration’s face on an issue that matters to many people, even if it doesn’t matter that much to Trump…

At the end of the day, there is going to be an education secretary, and that person is going to be a member of Trump’s administration. It’s in the Republican Party’s interest, more than anyone else, that that person be an effective member of the team. Shielding DeVos’s flaws from public scrutiny by scheduling an unusually brief hearing with limited questions at an odd time works well if your goal is to spare her embarrassment. By the same token, nobody can stop congressional Republicans from hustling Tom Price into office before anyone’s taken a rigorous look at his stock trading. The obviously unqualified Ben Carson seems to be a shoo-in at HUD.

But the GOP is only sabotaging itself by allowing Trump to draft this C-list roster. The president can’t be everywhere simultaneously — an effective Cabinet is how he extends his reach, influences more people, and gets more done. Rushing weak candidates through is a good way to put points on the board, but only weakens their own administration in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick hits

1) Women who voted for Trump in their own words (short version: they prefer their self-delusional fantasy view of Trump).

2) This interactive feature of Obama’s legacy in chart form was really, really cool.

3) The headline mostly says it all for me, “Stop and Acknowledge How Much Luck Has to Do With Your Success.”  Though, I would add, “especially you, Republicans!”

4) A million reasons to miss Obama.  One of them, that he is a true lover of books.  His life and he still manages to read so much more great books than me.  In contrast, this tweet highlights a recent Trump interview on the matter of books:

5) Modern electro-shock therapy can be hugely beneficial, but it still has a very bad and outdated reputation.  Kitty Dukakis is trying to change that.

6) I hope it doesn’t make a bad feminist, but I really believe that a violent stranger rape is worse than an acquaintance rape.  That doesn’t mean the latter is okay, but, from a public order and police perspective, I know where I want my police force using their non-infinite resources.

7) What Frankenstein can tell us about the anti-vaxxers.

8) Chris Kobach is just a major league a$$hole.  And the lengths he will go to in order to prove “voter fraud” are pathetic.

9) Flesh-eating screwworms are back in the US.  I found it fascinating to read how we eradicated them 30 years ago.

10) More marijuana, less opiate abuse.  Seriously.  German Lopez:

Well, medical marijuana appears to offer one way to help deal with America’s pain problem without the risks of opioids.

The best review of the research to date on marijuana, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, looked at more than 10,000 studies to evaluate pot’s potential benefits and harms.

The review concluded that there’s “conclusive evidence” for marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain, as well as multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The review also found “substantial evidence” linking pot to respiratory problems if smoked, schizophrenia and psychosis, car crashes, lagging social achievement in life, and perhaps pregnancy-related problems — but it didn’t find any good evidence that marijuana causes health complications, such as overdose, that can lead to death.

So the evidence suggests marijuana is good for treating chronic pain, even if it may come with some nonfatal risks.

What about opioids? While there is research that opioids effectively treat acute pain, the evidence on whether opioid painkillers can treat chronic pain is weak at best.

11) Great Fresh Air interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones on school segregation`.

12) On being an “ethical parent” versus being a “good parent.”  I know I’ve been disappointed in some liberal friends who think integrated schools are great, just maybe not for their kids:

The school decision highlights the problem at the heart of moral parenting. We want to teach our children to be ethical, yet is parenting in itself a constant choice between what is best for our individual child and what is best for all children?

Are we, for example, obligated to send our child to a low-performing school because if we don’t, we are participating in the failure and neglect of underperforming schools? Or are we obligated to send our children to the “best” school that we can provide?

13) I found the story of Malia Obama’s secret trip to Bolivia, fascinating.

14) I assume most parents have already come to the conclusion that it is okay to send your sick, but recovering, kid to school:

According to a new NPR story about the often confounding process of deciding whether a slightly sick child should go to school, my husband was probably right. Reporter Katherine Hobson looks into the science behind this decision and discovers that sending an on-the-mend, but still not quite 100-percent, kid to school can be morally sound.

“The science really tells us that most disease is spread before the child gets sick,” pediatrician and pediatric emergency medicine physician Andrew Hashikawa told Hobson. He explained that, in a good many cases, keeping a child home is useful insofar as it helps the child recover, and not because it prevents others from catching whatever bug the child has. He points to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for child care illness exclusions, which are surprisingly chill. The long list of conditions that they don’t see as being cause for keeping a child home includes: common colds; runny noses; watery, yellow or white discharge or crusting eye discharge without a fever; fever without any signs or symptoms of illness; pink eye; and a rash unaccompanied by a fever or behavioral changes. After reading this list, I will be sleeping better tonight.

15) Tom Edsall asks a lot of really smart journalists and political scientists why they think the Russians wanted Trump.  Included is one of my very favorite political scientists, Gary Jacobson (not all that long ago I was in an elevator with him in a conference and told him my early undergraduate exposure to his research is one of the key things that made me want to be a PS professor).  Now, I love him even more.

Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, was outspoken in his response to my question asking why the Russians favored Trump:

His shameless mendacity, narcissism, authoritarian instincts, inability to tolerate opposition or criticism, hostility to formal institutions and the media, vast ignorance of foreign and domestic issues, indifference to constitutional restraints and eagerness to whip up and exploit xenophobia and (barely disguised) racism. We might add his affection for authoritarian leaders and other tough guys. Have I left anything out? Probably. All of these characteristics lead him to say things and propose actions antithetical to democratic norms and standards.

16a) Really interesting NYT story on a fake news “masterpiece” and the young Republican behind it.

16b) Since he’s a NC boy, the N&O also ran a piece.  As if this guy wasn’t an ass enough, his utterly false equivalance self-serving justification just kills me:

“Fake news flourished during this election cycle because it served the purpose of reinforcing these biases, and it occurred on both sides,” Harris continued. “It catered to predispositions that Americans already held, and while fake news has been widely discussed, the dynamics behind it have largely been ignored. Whether fake news remains prevalent or not (and I hope that it doesn’t), our nation cannot move forward from such a divisive election cycle if we continue to seek comfort in our own beliefs and refuse to challenge our personal world views.”

17) Presumably you’ve seen the photos going around of Trump’s inauguration compared to Obama’s.  I love that this must bother Trump so much.

18) Drum with the fine “thanks Obama” post I needed to see:

In the end, Obama wasn’t a transformative president. But that’s a high bar: in my book, FDR and Reagan are the only presidents of the past century who qualify. Still, Obama turned the battleship a few degrees more than most presidents, and we’re all better off for it. He also brought a certain amount of grace and civility to the White House, as well as a genuine willingness to work across the aisle. In the event, that turned out to be futile, because Republicans had already decided to oppose everything he did sight unseen. But he did try.

19) Loved this Freakonomics podcast episode with Raj Chetty.  Lots of good ideas on the best ways to try and reduce poverty.

20) Obama’s c.v. should he need a new law professor gig.

21) Nice Chait piece on 6 books that explain how the GOP went crazy.  This part is particularly interesting:

I was told my list could not be published because it was too partisan — to be suitable for publication, I would have to swap out some of the books I chose, and substitute some that made the case that the Democratic Party had also gone off the rails, for the sake of balance. I replied that I could not make this change because I don’t believe that the Democratic Party, in its current historical period, has gone off the rails. That doesn’t mean I consider the Democrats flawless, just that they are a normal party with normal problems. It contains a broad range of interest groups and politicians. Sometimes one interest group or another gains too much influence over a particular policy, and sometimes its leading politicians get greedy or make bad political decisions.

The GOP right now is an abnormal party. It does not resemble the major right-of-center parties found in other industrialized democracies. The most glaring manifestation of this is Donald Trump, the flamboyantly ignorant, authoritarian Republican president-elect. But for all his gross unsuitability for public office, Trump also grows out of longstanding trends within his party, which has previously elevated such anti-intellectual figures as George W. Bush and Sarah Palin as plausible leaders of the free world not despite but because of their disdain for empiricism. And it had grown increasingly suspicious of democracy even before a reality television star with a longstanding admiration for strongmen from Russia to Tiananmen Square came upon the scene — which is why the “mainstream” Paul Ryan wing has so willingly suborned Trump’s ongoing violations of governing norms.

It is still fashionable to regard the two parties today as broadly symmetrical to each other — as, indeed, they once were for many decades. But that quaint notion has blinded many of us to the radical turn the Republican Party has taken, and which has brought the American political system to a dangerous point.

22) All the family is totally loving Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events.

23) This, is how you write a climate story (though, I don’t think it’s an accident that it appears to be a science writer, not a political writer):

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.

In reality, the Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.

 

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Yglesias on how Trump’s domestic policy agenda is really GWB part II.

Bush rode into office on the strength of white working-class voters who were drawn to his heartland cultural politics, alienated by Al Gore’s aloof demeanor, and appeased by Bush’s repudiation of the hard-right orthodoxy of the congressional GOP of the era. Bush scolded congressional Republicans for seeking to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor” and promised to deliver a much-needed prescription drug benefit to America’s senior citizens.

“George Bush is a different kind of right-winger,” wrote the Economist’s US politics columnin April 2001, “a card-carrying conservative who nevertheless believes in active government.”

Fred Barnes of the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard called him a “big government conservative.”

None of this entailed a retreat from the Republican Party’s basic commitment to an agenda of tax cuts for high-income households and favorable regulatory treatment of businesses. It was, instead, a political strategy to make plutocracy workable. And while Bush-era deficits probably contributed to some long-term problems, the interest rate environment of the time was certainly conducive to “irresponsible” budgeting.

And, indeed, it’s very difficult to imagine Bush securing reelection in 2004 if his trillion-dollar tax cut had been paid for with cutbacks to public services. In reality, however, Bush expanded public services by lavishing new subsidies on American agriculture, introducing new health benefits on American seniors, and increasing federal K-12 education spending in exchange for the accountability reforms of the No Child Left Behind law.

When, eventually, Bush’s administration collapsed into ignominy, conservatives quickly pinpointed these big-spending ways as the reason. Even Bush’s brother Jeb found himself saying that “in Washington during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money.”

But by the time Jeb was out on the campaign trail distancing himself from his brother’s big-spending ways, Trump was kicking his butt precisely by distancing himself from the tight-fisted fiscal policies of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

2) Trump takes credit for a $1 billion investment in the US.  Drum points out that this happens about once per day, on average.

3) Wired on Apple’s need to move past the Iphone, on its 10-year anniversary.

4) And David Pogue’s take on the original Iphone from 10-years ago.  Nice reminder of how revolutionary it was.

5) Jeff Sessions should not be our next Attorney General.

6) Neurotracker has convinced professional teams and athletes that it can improve their performance by improving the mental tracking so key in many sports.  Alas, there’s no real evidence it actually does.  It’s honestly a pretty easy experiment to do (randomly assign a college or HS football, soccer, etc. team with experimental and control for a couple weeks, then test), so the fact that there’s not any such evidence makes me very skeptical.  I find the following critique compelling:

Williams, at the University of Utah, challenged the notion that tracking bouncing objects in a simulation could train or quantify anything other than a person’s ability to track bouncing objects in a simulation.

“I’ve never seen a soccer player chasing multicolor balloons around on the field,” Williams said. “It’s just not what soccer players do.”

What soccer players do, he said, is read patterns of play, anticipate what might happen next based on movements of teammates and opponents, and identify familiar sequences as they unfold. This “inside” knowledge, built up over time, promotes the effectiveness and efficiency that Ericsson argues are the hallmarks of expertise.

7) My 10-year old Evan received a mini-drone for Christmas.  A friend said, “so what do you do with it?”  My response, “crash it.”  Managed to actually get it down from 30 feet up in a tree where I stranded it within the first 5 minutes.  Loved this NYT article on Christmas drone horror stories.  We still have our and it still works and we’ve only broken to propellers.  We’ll try again when all our snow and ice melts.

8) This essay by Karl Marlantes on how Vietnam permanently disrupted Americans’ faith in their government is a must read.  (Also makes me think I need to move his novel, Matterhorn, further up my queue).

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

9) Gotta love that the guns rights folks (and DJT Jr) are arguing that we need to make it way easier to buy silencers/suppressors, through legislation titled The Hearing Protection Act.

10) Love that a Dairy Queen owner who unleashed racist rants on his customers had his franchise pulled from him by DQ corporate.  That’s the power of social media for good.

11) The insanity of trying to get even a low-level Senate confirmation from today’s dysfunctional Congress.  Though, that will change.

12) Greg Sargent on Trump’s (lying, of course) response to Meryl Streep:

It’s often argued that we should perhaps give less attention to Trump’s tweets. But Monday’s barrage gets at something important. Yes, all politicians lie. But with only days to go until Trump assumes vast power, Monday’s tweetstorm is a reminder that we may be witnessing something new and different in the nature and degree of the dishonesty at issue. Here again we’re seeing Trump’s willingness to keep piling the lies on top of one another long after the original foundational lies have been widely debunked, and to keep on attacking the press for not playing along with his version of reality, as if the very possibility of shared reality can be stamped out by Trumpian edict, or Trumpian Tweedict.

13) Among the dumbest things we do in American democracy: abysmally poor compensation for state legislators.  Because, you know, it’s not like what state governments do is important or anything.  NPR:

While a few big states have full-time legislatures with higher pay (California pays lawmakers $100,113 a year and Pennsylvania pays $85,339) but in most states, legislators are paid like it’s a part-time job.

According to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states pay $30,000 a year or less to legislators. New Mexico doesn’t pay lawmakers at all, while those in New Hampshire make just $200 per two-year term…

Median household income in the United States was $55,775 in 2015, according to the Census Bureau.

“Not paying legislators is like a very penny-wise, pound foolish thing,” given the size of state budgets and complexity of issues that legislatures tackle every year, said Stanford University political scientist Neil Malhotra.

That low level of pay also keeps many people from entering politics, said Malhotra. “There’s very, very few working class people in legislatures. This might have something to do with why a lot of legislation does not seem very friendly towards working class people.”

14) I don’t doubt that there really is something to “attachment theory” that proper bonding in very-early childhood can be key for personality throughout life, but this article is absolutely preposterous in not addressing the role of genetics in this issue.  Any parent of more than one child can sure as hell tell you that.

15) How video game designers need to engineer in just the right amount of luck.

16) The difficulty in enforcing ethics laws under Trump.

17) Yglesias reminds of what we do know about Trump and Russia:

18) The Amherst College new mascot– Hamsters.  Kind of love it.  Kind of think it’s silly to change a mascot based on the now-odious, but mainstream enough in the 18th century views, of Lord Amherst.

19) Interesting idea from Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse— many Republican politicians actually want to fight climate change but the fossil fuel industry they are beholden to will not let them.  I’m not convinced.  If true, just more profiles in cowardice.

20) Even if you have good health insurance through your employer, an ACA repeal can really hurt you, too.

21) Hooray for San Diego for not being a hostage to the NFL and refusing to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars to further enrich a billionaire.  And, on the not-so-great economics of having an NFL team in your city.

22) Some interesting research suggests conservative politicians in several countries are more attractive than liberal politicians.

23) This long, thoughtful, post from an Ohio teacher on our way over-reliance on standardized testing is really, really good:

The most critical solution to this is to untie student, teacher, and school accountability measures from testing outcomes, or to combine these scores with a variety of other measures of success. In addition, we need to dramatically reduce the time spent on testing by requiring tests in fewer grades, or not administering tests every year. No high-performing nation in the world tests all students annually…

We are not in an education crisis. We are in a crisis of poverty that is being exacerbated by the school accountability movement and the testing industry. At best, this movement has been misguided. At worst, it is an intentional set up to bring about the demise of the public education system – mandatory testing designed to produce poor results which leads to greater investment made in test preparation programs provided by the same companies who produce the tests, coupled with a related push for privatization of the educational system. All touted as a means to save us from this false crisis.

24) Best explanation I’ve yet read for why recent rules changes have led to college football being so high scoring (it’s all about the blocking on the run-pass option).

25) Pippa Norris responds to the many issues raised on the whole “is North Carolina a democracy” flap.

 

 

[Super-late] Quick hits (part I)

What can I say, I’ve been enjoying hanging with family, watching movies, reading, and taking time off from blogging.  But, I should be able to knock this off during a Boxing Day American Ninja Warrior marathon 🙂

1) Dan Hopkins on an important part of the election story– late deciders really did break for Trump in large numbers.

2) Maria Konnikova on the concept of time travel as a cultural invention.

3) Running as a thinking-person’s sport:

Running seems to require a greater amount of high-level thinking than most of us might imagine. The sport seems to change how the brain works in surprising ways, according to a new report.

The study, published this month in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that the brains of competitive distance runners had different connections in areas known to aid in sophisticated cognition than the brains of healthy but sedentary people. The discovery suggests that there is more to running than mindlessly placing one foot in front of another.

4) The ideal parent for many teenagers– the potted plant parent.  Fortunately, my teenager wants more out of me.

5) Drum on Trump’s mafia approach to government:

On a more serious note: Are you fucking kidding me? The Trump Organization is going to poach business away by “encouraging” foreign governments to see the benefits of holding their events at a Trump property? And Newt Gingrich thinks we should just go ahead and change the law to allow this kind of thing? And if nobody salutes when that gets run up the old flagpole, then Trump should just go ahead and issue pardons to anyone who gets harassed by overzealous prosecutors.

What country do I live in, anyway?

6) Tim Wu on how the airlines collude on their absurd ticket change fees.

7) NC Capitol reporter extraordinaire, Mark Binker, with a long-piece on “who killed the HB2 repeal.”

8) And Rob Schofield with “three simple truths”

#3 – Conservatives never really wanted repeal. This is the ultimate truth about HB2, of course. As soon as rumors of a repeal (even Berger and Moore’s lame proposal of a quasi-repeal that would have taken effect in 6 or 8 months) emerged, the religious right turned apoplectic and used all of its powers within GOP circles to save their treasured monument to discrimination. That’s why Berger couldn’t even pass his disingenuous “cooling off period” proposal: conservatives in his own ranks wouldn’t support it. And when Democrats rightfully balked at what they saw as a clear double-cross, the whole thing fell apart.

The bottom line: HB2 was, is and always will be a terrible stain on North Carolina’s national and international reputation. It has damaged thousands of lives and cost billions of dollars. Tragically, however, the conservative powers that be in this state do not see it this way. And as long as these people retain complete control over the levers of political power and adhere to their backward and bigoted views, things are unlikely to improve.

9) If you have access to the Chronicle of Higher Ed (they put most of their stuff behind a paywall, but I read this off a link from their FB page), this story on how little the pursuit of college athletic scholarships pay off for most athletes is really, really good.

10) Betsy DeVos and the failure of school choice in Detroit.

11) I’ve always been annoyed by my fellow political scientist/political pundit, Steffen Schmidt, for referring to himself as Dr. Politics.  Anyway, it turns out that he’s been telling reporters about his “focus group.”  The reality?  That focus group is just the people he talks to.

12) Yglesias with the emails again.  And he’s right again:

More broadly, the further the email issue receded into the past the less credible it seemed that a major historical turning point could really have hinged on something so trivial.

And certainly one can imagine a variety of scenarios in which Clinton might have won the election despite her email woes. More successful economic policymaking from the Obama administration could have done the trick. So could a better campaign message or better targeting of resources. It was, after all, a very close election.

The crucial point, however, is that in broad ideological terms, the 2016 election happened at a time when the incumbent president was popular and the insurgent demagogue promising dramatic change was not popular. The unpopular insurgent managed to win, despite accumulating fewer voters than the popular incumbent’s designated successor, largely because she had become personally unpopular thanks to a massive onslaught of criticism largely focused on her email server.

Even at the time, some of us found it hardly credible that a decision as weighty as who should be president was being decided on the basis of something as trivial as which email address the secretary of state used. Future generations must find it even harder to believe. But the facts are what they are — email server management, rather than any deeper or more profound root cause, was the dominant issue in Donald Trump’s successful rise to power.

13) What parents of early-teen boys need to know.  Short version, gender-wise, there’s a language gap, empathy gap, and attention gap.

14) Republican legislators in Wisconsin trying to micromanage the classes at UW.  How dare they teach a course called “The Problem of Whiteness.”

15) This is cool– how numeracy can combat motivated political reasoning:

Numeric political appeals represent a prevalent but overlooked domain of public opinion research. When can quantitative information change political attitudes, and is this change trumped by partisan effects? We analyze how numeracy—or individual differences in citizens’ ability to process and apply numeric policy information—moderates the effectiveness of numeric political appeals on a moderately salient policy issue. Results show that those low in numeracy exhibit a strong party-cue effect, treating numeric information in a superficial and heuristic fashion. Conversely, those high in numeracy are persuaded by numeric information, even when it is sponsored by the opposing party, overcoming the party-cue effect. Our results make clear that overlooking numeric ability when analyzing quantitative political appeals can mask significant persuasion effects, and we build on recent work advancing the understanding of individual differences in public opinion.

16) NC makes the NYT editorial page again for all the wrong reasons.

17) Really love the Christian Science Monitor’s Patrick Jonsson.  We have super-interesting conversations when he interviews me; he’s thorough; and he uses some of my more interesting quotes.

To Professor Greene, it is about more than partisan politics.

“People call this blatant partisanship, but that’s an insult to partisanship,” he says. “This is blatant undermining of democratic norms.”

18) Among the vacation reading, loved Megan Abbot’s You Will Know Me.

19) Charles Pierce on drug companies pumping opiates into West Virginia:

I guarantee you that, somewhere in the inter-office correspondence files of the various drug companies, there is a memo identifying these places as target-rich environments for legalized dope peddling. I guarantee you that, somewhere, somebody got a big old Christmas bonus for dropping nine million doses of oxy into a town with 392 inhabitants. The average American corporation doesn’t have the moral conscience with which god endowed the sea slug.

20) Lee Drutman on how Trump could be a popular president and how to stop that from happening.

21) New York’s Jesse Singal lays out the clear case for Trump’s impeachability.

22) Interesting thoughts on the photos of the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

23) Really good piece from Yochi Dreazen on Putin, Russia, Trump and the emails.

24) Used to love reading Nietzche back when I was in college.  Interesting in interview in Vox on how Nietzche can inform us today:

Sean Illing

And these grand “isms” that dominated the 20th century — communism and fascism in particular — are very much the kind of political religions Nietzsche anticipated, right?

Hugo Drochon

That’s right. These are attempted answers at this question of what mankind ought to become, but they’re still stuck in the shadow of God for Nietzsche, and that’s because they’re still founded in these unchallengeable dogmas — about history, about human nature, about the future.

These are all mistaken insofar as they claim their vision of morality or politics is the only one possible, the only true one. What the death of God made clear, or should have made clear, is that there are no absolutes.

What he wanted to say is that there can be many different ways of existing, and societies should be organized in such a way that they allow for the possibility of many types of existences and not insist that there must be one answer, one truth, one morality.

25) One of my longest ever open tabs– Aaron Carroll on how to measure a medical treatment’s potential for harm (number needed to harm) versus potential benefit (number needed to treat):

In other words, for about every 1,500 women assigned to get screening for 10 years, one might be spared a death from breast cancer (though she’d most likely die of some other cause). But about five more women would undergo surgery and about four more would undergo radiation, both of which can have dangerous, even life-threatening, side effects.

Thus, N.N.H., paired with N.N.T., can be very useful in discussing the relative potential benefits and harms of treatments. As another example, let’s consider antibiotics for ear infections in children. There are many reasons that parents and pediatricians might consider treatment. One commonly cited reason is that we want to prevent serious complication from untreated infections. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t do that, and the N.N.T. is effectively infinite. Antibiotics also won’t reduce pain within 24 hours. Antibiotics have, however, been shown to reduce pain within two to seven days. Not all children will see that benefit, though. The N.N.T. is about 20 for that outcome.

Antibiotics can cause side effects, however, including vomiting, diarrhea or a bad rash. The N.N.H. for side effects in this population is 14.

This means that when a child is prescribed antibiotics for an ear infection, it’s more likely that he will develop vomiting, diarrhea or a rash than get a benefit. When patients are presented with treatment options in this manner, they are sometimes more likely to agree to watchful waiting to see if the ear infection resolves on its own. For most children with ear infections, observation with close follow-up is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Derek Thompson’s take on Hillary, the working class, and identity politics:

The long-term future of the U.S. involves rising diversity, rising inequality, and rising redistribution. The combination of these forces makes for an unstable and unpredictable system. Income stagnation and inequality encourage policies to redistribute wealth from a rich few to the anxious multitudes. But when that multitude includes minorities who are seen as benefiting disproportionately from those redistribution policies, the white majority can turn resentful. (This may be one reason why the most successful social democracies, as in Scandinavia, were initially almost all white.) Nobody has really figured out how to be an effective messenger for pluralist social democracy, except, perhaps, for one of the few American adults who is legally barred from running for the U.S. presidency in the future.

So, the country is wobbling between two extremely different futures: pluralist social democracy on the one hand, and white nativist protectionism on the other. The election’s bizarre schism, with Clinton winning the popular vote and Trump winning the electoral college, is a sign of how razor-thin the margin between those dramatically opposed futures is.

Rising diversity isn’t going away. Income inequality isn’t going away. Support for redistribution isn’t going away. For liberals, pluralist social democracy is the project of the future, and any alternative falls somewhere between xenophobic and amoral. But what if the vast majority of white voters who voted for Trump aren’t interested in any version of that future, no matter who the messenger is?

2) It is kind of funny that you cannot tell the gender of a human nipple when you only see a close-up of the nipple.

3) Yglesias‘ take on why Clinton lost based on what he wrote when he thought she was going to win.  The subhead captures it well, “A workhorse, not a show horse, which is great — except winning the election is important.”

4) Systematic racism found in the granting of parole in New York.  Glad to know systemic racism is just a liberal fantasy.

5) I quite understand the inter-relation between shutter speed, F-stops, ISO, etc., by this point.  But if you are looking to improve your photography and understand how all these actually work, this interactive website is very, very cool.

6) I love this idea– self control is empathy for your future self:

Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You…

This tells us that impulsivity and selfishness are just two halves of the same coin, as are their opposites restraint and empathy. Perhaps this is why people who show dark traits like psychopathy and sadism score low on empathy but high on impulsivity. Perhaps it’s why impulsivity correlates with slips among recovering addicts, while empathy correlates with longer bouts of abstinence. These qualities represent our successes and failures at escaping our own egocentric bubbles, and understanding the lives of others—even when those others wear our own older faces.

7) Speaking of which, when it comes to kids, we really need to be thinking about self-regulation, not self-control.  Not sure I would have learned about that if not having a kid with autism.  But it’s a super-important and super-helpful concept.

8) And, while I’m at it, I think I might have quick-hitted this article once before, but now that I have read Ross Greene’s Raising Human Beings, I can definitely endorse the concepts here.

Another Greene concept that challenges preconceptions is “incompatibility”—that is, the idea that when children misbehave, what’s going on is that their skills are incompatible with the expectations they’re under or the environment they’re in. But rather than viewing incompatibility as a problem, he sees it as an opportunity—indeed, struggling with a crisis is what helps people cement their identities and leads to the most growth. In that moment, adults can help the child identify the root of the incompatibility and find a solution…

So many adult-child conflicts ultimately boil down to a power struggle. The child is doing something the adult doesn’t like and resists attempts to make him change. By shifting the goal from power to collaboration, Greene opens a whole new world of possibilities. Instead of trying to be in charge, parents simply seek to influence their children. In so many ways, it’s a relief to admit that I’m not truly in control and to stop feeling that I should be.

9) Huge fan of Kahneman and Tversky, of course.  And, of Michael Lewis’ writing.  So, the latter doing a biography of the former?  Yes, please.  And Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler writing a review of the book in the New Yorker.  A trifecta.

10) Charles Blow is sure on a post-election roll:

And be clear: It is not the job of the defiant to conform to a future president who makes them completely uncomfortable. The burden of unity lies with Trump, not his detractors.

“Just wait and see.” “Give him a chance.” But what if what you’ve already seen is so beyond the pale that it’s irrevocable? What if Trump has already squandered more chances than most of us will ever have?

What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn’t about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn’t about damaging the country, but protecting it.

11) Some Onion headlines are just too good:

Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions

12) Farhad Manjoo on the gadget apocalypse.  Blame your IPhone.

13) Jeffrey Toobin on the “real” voting scandal of 2016.

14) Love this video showing why maps inevitably distort the globe.

15) James Fallows’ magazine piece on Trump’s election:

I view Trump’s election as the most grievous blow that the American idea has suffered in my lifetime. The Kennedy and King assassinations and the 9/11 attacks were crimes and tragedies. The wars in Vietnam and Iraq were disastrous mistakes. But the country recovered. For a democratic process to elevate a man expressing total disregard for democratic norms and institutions is worse. The American republic is based on rules but has always depended for its survival on norms—standards of behavior, conduct toward fellow citizens and especially critics and opponents that is decent beyond what the letter of the law dictates. Trump disdains them all. The American leaders I revere are sure enough of themselves to be modest, strong enough to entertain self-doubt. When I think of Republican Party civic virtues, I think of Eisenhower. But voters, or enough of them, have chosen Trump.

16) Paul Ryan is ready to dismiss and move past any egregious thing Trump says now that he’s president-elect.  Dahlia Lithwick on just how wrong this is.

17) I was reading a poorly-researched paper on performance pay for teachers (basically argued it’s a panacea) when I decided I’d see what would come up in two minutes of google searching.  Among other things, this great OECD summary:

The bottom line: Performance-based pay is worth considering in some contexts; but making it work well and sustainably is a formidable challenge. Pay levels can only be part of the work environment: countries that have succeeded in making teaching an attractive profession have often done so not just through pay, but by raising the status of teaching, offering real career prospects, and giving teachers responsibility as professionals and leaders of reform. [emphasis mine] This requires teacher education that helps teachers to become innovators and researchers in education, not just civil servants who deliver curricula.

18) I’m pretty excited to be a part of this citizen-science project that examines the microbial life living in your shower head.  Since Evan’s current stated future career is microbiologist, I was especially pleased to be able to carry out our investigation with him.

19) Depressing series of vignettes in NY Times on what it is like to be the unlucky few left out of Obamacare by heartless (non Medicaid-expanding) state governments.

20) Conor Friedersdorf on the hung jury in the shooting of Walter Scott.  Utterly depressing.  Though, I guess there is something to the fact that 11 of 12 got this right.

21) Very happy 40th birthday to DJC who loves quick hits more than anybody I know.  Glad to know this post is doing a little bit for birthday happiness.

 

Photo of the day

4/6 of the family on the day after Thanksgiving.  Pretty happy to get this with the 2 second self-timer on the camera.  There’s also a 12 second timer, but that takes the fun out of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quick hits (part I)

1) Loved “The Arrival.”  This review captures it pretty well.

2) Excellent NC State Senator Jeff Jackson with his take on how Democrats should try and talk to working class voters.

3) Oh man, Alec Baldwin as President-Elect Trump is the best yet.

4) NYT with a great case study on how a totally false tweet blew up huge on right-wing media.

5) Emily Badger on the persistent and pervasive rural bias in American politics.

6) So Pope Francis has continued a waiver to let a priest, and not necessarily a bishop, absolve a Catholic of the sin of abortion.  What I cannot figure out–and have tried– is if this is actually a harsher standard than for murder (of which I always assumed you could just confess to a priest).

7) SurveyMonkey’s post election poll suggests a substantially less diverse electorate than the official exit polls.

8) Brendan Nyhan on the institutional failures that led to Trump.  From 9 months ago.

9) Yglesias with a fascinating psycho-analysis of Jared Kushner.

10) The amazing irony of Trump claiming he would “drain the swamp.”

11) Italian Economist Luigi Zingales on how to resist Trump (based on Italian experience with Berlusconi)

12) Interesting Vox feature on the inter-generational transmission– and inter-generational mis-understandings– of political attitudes.  Much to my dismay, though, nothing on the role of genetics.  Fortunately, Thomas Edsall had a nice round-up of that a while back.

13) The Democratic government in Delaware with a template on how to succeed based on economic policies benefiting the working class.

14) Rick Hasen on the claims that somehow electoral fraud led to Clinton’s loss.  And, no, I haven’t taken this seriously for more than a second.

First, I continue to be inundated with messages from people advancing the most extreme legal and political theories to try to change the results of an election that many on the left see as a threat to American Democracy itself. People want to believe there is rigging, or some magic legal way out, to change the outcome of the election. All of these theories should be approached with extreme caution. Most are a combination of wishful thinking and dubious reasoning. That was true the theories that were put out there using exit polls to try to show that Ohio’s 2004 results were rigged against John Kerry. Some people still believe this even though there is no good evidence of it (as Rep. John Conyers concluded in his report).

15) The comments on this Amazon page for a Trump hat Christmas ornament are great.

16) Nice post from the Lindsay Wagner at the awesome AJ Fletcher Foundation on some of the problems with public money going to private schools:

As I outlined last week, consider the following scenarios that apply to private schools receiving public dollars:

  • Private schools receiving tax dollars don’t have to meet any generally accepted accreditation standards.
  • Teachers don’t have to be licensed.
  • Schools are free to deny admission to anyone, such as those who don’t declare their support for Jesus Christ or those who are LGBTQ.
  • Schools don’t have to adhere to any sort of curricular standards and are free to use teaching materials that draw heavily on biblical teachings.
  • A criminal background check is required only for the schools’ top administrator.
  • A nationally-normed standardized test must be given to students yearly (and report those findings only if enrollment is more than 25 voucher students). The test doesn’t have to be the same, or comparable, to the tests administered in public schools.
  • Only if a school receives more than $300,000 annually is it then required to conduct a financial review by a CPA (only three of the 330 schools met the criteria last year).

So while these recently-closed private schools may have shut down due to financial problems, it’s impossible to know if other factors were at play.

17) Really interesting post on how fake news is not the problem, so much as propaganda getting covered as real news.  Great case study of Hillary Clinton’s health.

18) Just what we need– a registry of liberally-biased professors.  I wonder how long before I’m on it :-).

19) Just concede already Pat McCrory.

20) Yes, some felons have inappropriately voted in North Carolina.  But it sure as hell ain’t anywhere near 7000.  And some people who are allowed to vote have been wrongly challenged as felons.  Including McCrory voters.

21) I like Drum’s take on Bannon:

 

So even if we give Bannon the benefit of the doubt on racism, he’s still presided over a website that deliberately indulges in race-baiting, presumably to build its audience. Is that better or worse? You decide.

I’ve written about this before, and I’ve already decided: It’s worse. The David Duke version of racism may be repugnant, but for that very reason it’s fairly easy to fight. There are just too many people who are put off by it.

The Steve Bannon version is far more effective. Partly this is because, yes, critics will overreach and discredit themselves. Partly it’s because his more subtle attacks on “political correctness” don’t put off as many people. Partly it’s because he assures people they can have racist attitudes without actually being racists. And partly it’s because his sub rosa approach is just plain harder to expose.

22) Also a really interesting interview with former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro.  And, yes, Bannon basically does have no moral compass.

23) Not the least bit shocked for a child psychologist to argue that fears of childhood screen time are overblown.

24) Another good Monkey Cage piece from Michael Tesler on how racially resentful working class whites have been fleeing the Democratic Party well before Trump.

 

%d bloggers like this: