Quick hits (Part II)

1) TNR’s Danny Vinik on how the Republican party is out of ideas.

2) My kids love Phineas and Ferb and alas no new episodes.  This Slate article explains what makes it so good.

3) Nice editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal on how NC Republicans need to value education.  I don’t think they are listening.

4) More and more people seem to be figuring out that the “war on drugs” isn’t just a colossal failure here in America, but around the world.

Many of the harms associated with drug use — the violence, the criminal activity, the loss of life — have been shown to be direct consequences of the way we wage the drug war, rather than of drug use itself. More countries are beginning to acknowledge this troubled history, but the U.N. treaties governing drug policy haven’t been significantly updated since the 1960s.

5) So why is it that college keeps getting so much more expensive?

During the 2001 to 2011 time period, state funding per student fell $3,081 at research universities and $2,067 at nonresearch universities, a decline that was “in near lockstep with tuition increases,” according to the report. The result is a “dramatic shift” in who is paying for the cost of a public education.

6) Among those people who actually research guns, there is a clear consensus that more guns means more dead people.

7) You may have seen a study saying that beards are full of fecal bacteria.  Turns out that study (and the reporting on it) were full of crap.

8)Why most diets don’t actually work.

9) Nice column from Ross Douthat on liberal vs. conservative views on poverty and culture.

10) The Economist looks at the data to answer just how many people out there are gay.

11) Chait argues that HRC has set a trap for Republicans on the issue of immigration.

12) I don’t know that I would call something that happened without any human involvement GMO, but if you want to consider it the non-sexual combination of genes from very different species, nature beat us to it with sweet potatoes thousands of years ago.

13) Tina Fey’s awesomeness knows no bounds.

14) I saw there was a new poll showing 57% of Republicans would like Christianity to be our national religion “we don’t need any stinkin’ separation of church and state!” and I just knew it had to come from PPP.

15) Our bail policies are too punitive towards poor people (oh come on, everything in our criminal justice system is too punitive towards poor people).

16) So all those tax cuts in Kansas— now they can’t even afford to keep their schools open.  Good thing to know we’re trying to follow a similar model here.

17) It’s two years old, but John F just shared on FB.  The love you get from your parents has life-long benefits.  Love may not be all you need, but it sure helps.

18) It’s great to be exonerated for a crime you didn’t commit rather than keep rotting in prison, but there’s still plenty of hardship afterwards.

19) Nice essay from Dahlia Lithwick on how being laid up with a bad back and on pain meds affected her parenting and relationship with her children.

20) Loved this episode of 99% Invisible on “perfect security,” nice to see that Slate did too and added some key visuals.

Quick hits

1) David Goldberg, the husband of Sheryl “lean in” Sandberg, suffered an untimely death last week.  Nice article on his life and how he made it possible for Sandberg to lean in.

2) Private prisons are so wrong.  Among other things, they are incentivized to allow more human suffering to earn greater profits.  They can also sue states if they don’t stay full.

3) The Cleveland Indians have an awesome recycling program that runs on massive garbage disposals.

4) These photography tips are pretty cool; I’m going to have to try some.

5) This point doesn’t get old– inequality is a policy choice.  Nice column on the matter from Kristof.

6) Really enjoyed Ross Douthat’s essay on Pope Francis.

7) The head of the Federal Elections Commission has to sadly admit the FEC will be largely unable to prevent widespread campaign finance abuse in 2016.  Why?  The Republicans on the commission basically believe in widespread campaign finance abuse.

8) John Cassidy on the Republican field for president:

If your head is spinning, join the club. Nobody should be expected, or forced, to keep up with every detail of the G.O.P. primary, especially when, Lord help us, we still have more than eight months to go until the Iowa caucuses. At this stage, the important thing to remember is that there are really two spectacles taking place: a high-stakes horse race for the Republican nomination, and a circus held on the infield of the track. Although the events run concurrently, and are ostensibly geared toward the same end, they shouldn’t be confused with one another. One is a serious political contest. The other is a sideshow, designed to amuse the spectators, give the media something to cover, and further the ambitions, varied as they are, of the participants.

9) This article about an Ebola survivor who discovered later he had tons of the virus in his eyeball was fascinating.  Among other things, I had not known about “immune privilege” of that your eyeball benefits from being immune privileged.

10) It’s really kind of amazing that a local television station– local news generally being the province of fires, crime, and 15 minute weather reports– does a terrific job covering state and local politics.  Fortunately for me, it’s my very own local station.  The great work of Raleigh’s WRAL is recognized in CJR.

11) A future without chocolate?  Perish the thought.  But we’ll have to work at it and that’s what the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre is doing.

12) On the taboo of sharing how much money you make and why we should break it.  I won’t share mine, but it is public record if you really want to know.

13) Mitt Romney literally does not even understand what “mass incarceration” is.  Scary to think he could’ve been president.  And this is so pathetic.  Chait’s on it, so you know it’s a good read.

14) Cut the cord to your cable and think you are done with unwanted bundles?  Not so fast; bundling is coming to internet TV.

15) Congressional Republicans are no fans of making it easier for people to afford a college education.

16) Based on my experience, it always struck me that people would blame their infant’s fussiness on “teething” when there was really no particular reason to think that was the case (among other things, you never feel it all when your permanent teeth come in).  Looks like I’ve got science on my side.

17) Loved the new documentary on Kurt Cobain.  Damn if Kurt Cobain isn’t just the prototype of the tortured artist.  And I remember quite distinctly where I was when I found out he died (I was on a pre grad school visit to Ohio State and there were some guys driving around in a car yelling “Kurt Cobain is dead!”)  I’ve been listening to Nirvana a ton this week as a result (In Utero is playing as a type this post).  Also enjoyed showing my oldest the Smells Like Teen Spirit video which he had never seen.

18) I’ll leave you with this awesome, awesome Amy Schumer video on birth control.  It’s short and brilliant, so watch it already.

Quick hits (part II)

1) David Frum suggests that how Republicans address Americans who would lose their insurance under an Obamacare repeal will be a key question in the 2016 election.

2) Donald Rumsfeld understands the Baltimore riots– or at least he understood riots in Iraq:

While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime. And I don’t think there’s anyone in any of those pictures … [who wouldn’t] accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom.

3) A professor in Texas who decided to fail his entire class.  Unsurprisingly, the university wouldn’t let him.

4) Apparently some organic food still has mad-made chemicals.  Which, of course, is worth a big shoulder shrug.

5) A nice New Yorker post about the viral face/age recognition software.

6) Most people stop listening to music people by age 33.  I’ve added Muse since that age, but that’s about it.  I do listen to a selection of newer stuff via Pandora, but little of it really sticks with me.  (Though, for some reason, I totally love this).

7) Amy Davidson on Samuel Alito’s obsession with polygamy.

8) So, the American Psychological Association helped the Bush administration with torture.  So wrong.

9) Kids will read more if you let them choose books for themselves.  Of course, this presumes they will actually choose something (I’ve got a certain 9-year old in mind).  Actually really interesting survey results.  Kids really love funny.

10) John Cassidy on the disappointing near-silence from Republican presidential candidates on Baltimore.

11)  Just in case you were not aware, we are basically using our prisons as totally inappropriate and inadequate psychiatric hospitals.  And, no, that’s not a good thing for anybody.

12) David Brooks is really good at blaming poor people and not so good at looking at the context:

On Friday, Brooks published another fatuous piece about poverty. This time, naturally, the subject was Baltimore. Brooks tried to undercut the popular trope that funding poor communities like Baltimore will improve conditions. He writes:

The $15 trillion spent by the government over the past half-century has improved living standards and eased burdens for millions of poor people. But all that money and all those experiments have not integrated people who live in areas of concentrated poverty into the mainstream economy.

This passage is instructive for a couple of reasons. First, it illustrates Brooks’ tendency to say something true without offering anything resembling context. For instance, he notes that poor people haven’t been integrated into the mainstream economy but fails to ask why that is. We’ve tossed all this money at the problem, he seems to suggest, yet things aren’t better. How could that be? Perhaps it has something to do with history, with the residual effects of institutionalized racism and the array of structural problems that have plagued Baltimore and communities like it for decades. Dumping federal dollars into a city doesn’t erase these things.

13) A Vox interview on the history of racist policing in America.

14) Simply wearing a suit makes people think differently.  It also makes people treat you differently.

15) Great, great Connor Friedersdorf piece on how conservatives fail to take police abuse seriously.  It’s not that long– read the whole thing:

Meanwhile, most conservatives either ignored or were oblivious to the Baltimore police department’s stunning record of egregious, normalized brutality and civil rights abuses. It would be one thing if these conservative pundits acknowledged that police brutality and violations of the Constitutional rights of black people are epidemic in Baltimore but argued that other factors mostly explain Monday’s civil unrest. Agreeing on what caused the riots isn’t actually vital when taken in isolation.

What’s vexing actually predates the riots: It is movement conservatism’s general, longstanding blindness to massive rights violations by police. The myopia has somehow persisted even in an era when an hour on YouTube providesincontrovertible evidence of egregious brutality by scores of thuggish cops. Per usual, let us acknowledge the many U.S. police officers who serve their communities with honor, courage, empathy, and restraint. One needn’t disrespect them to see that bad policing is common. It is more than “a few bad apples.”

Quick hits (part I)

Yeah, I know I just had these, but now back to the regular Saturday and Sunday morning schedule.

1) Reihan Salam makes a good case that raising the minimum wage to $15 is just too high and that we should raise it in a much more nuanced manner (e.g., taking the vastly different costs of living throughout the US into account).  I’m sold.

2) Here’s an idea– punish poor people by suspending their drivers licenses so that they cannot hold down a job requiring transportation thereby keeping them poor.  Genius!  Only in America.

3) Republicans are at it again trying to completely eliminate the estate tax.  A nice explainer on how it really works at Vox.  Safe to say, this is purely of benefit to multi-millionaires and above, i.e., the true constituency of Congressional Republicans.

4)  Great piece at the Monkey Cage about what we get wrong about lobbying and corruption:

The real story is not that lobbying or special interests are inherently bad. We have had them as long as we’ve had politics.

The problem is that one set of interests routinely overpowers the rest. In particular, corporate lobbying has metastasized over the last four decades, and this increasingly over-crowded and hyper-contested lobbying environment benefits the large corporations who have the most resources to participate in the day-to-day workings of Congress. [emphasis mine] This problem is compounded because Congress increasingly lacks its own capacity to keep up.

5) Speaking of which, this Salon article cites research by my friend Cherie Maestas in explaining how part-time legislatures (just like we have here in NC) are especially susceptible to the influence of money.

6) Nice piece in the Atlantic on how “patient satisfaction” is not a particularly good metric by which to assess health care quality.

7) The New Yorker’s Michael Specter is the ideal person to weigh in on the latest controversy of Dr. Oz and his peddling of psuedo-science.  I also like that he links to this study on the health effects of GMO food on animals (and you know they get a ton of it):

The aim of this systematic review was to collect data concerning the effects of diets containing GM maize, potato, soybean, rice, or triticale on animal health. We examined 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to 2 years in duration) and 12 multigenerational studies (from 2 to 5 generations)…

Results from all the 24 studies do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed. However, some small differences were observed, though these fell within the normal variation range of the considered parameter and thus had no biological or toxicological significance.

8) Love this Wonkette post on Rubio’s climate change denialism.  The title capture it well, “Marco Rubio Is Not A Scientist, Is A Idiot.”

9) Can the type of car you drive make you an unethical driver?  Maybe.

10) NC legislators doing their best to protect abusive practices in meat-producing operations.

11) Please let this Google plan actually be the future of cell phone service.  We so need this.

12) If you haven’t seen this brilliant Amy Schumer sketch on how Hollywood treats older (i.e., above 35) actresses, please do.  Just don’t watch with your kids around.

13) Apparently picky eaters like me are what’s wrong with America.  At least according to the French.

14) Really nice piece from Megan McArdle about what “free range parenting” means about the nature of community in modern America.

Quick hits (part I)

I was at a political science conference over the weekend, thus pushing back quick hits and regular blogging.  Sorry!

1) There’s something remarkably pathetic about a man (Orthodox Jews in this NYT story) who is unwilling to sit next to a strange female on an airplane.  My sympathy is with the women unwilling to move.

2) Tom Edsall asks whether Obamacare has turned voters against redistribution.

3) Not only do Republican presidential candidates dodge questions on evolution, they are even dodging on how old the earth is (and as compelling as the science for evolution is, the science for the age of the earth is far more compelling).

4) Nice post in the New Yorker on how the death penalty deserves the death penalty.

5) Can you trust your ears?

6) When even Jesse Helm’s former political strategist says the NC Republicans have gone too far (in the Wake County redistricting), you know it’s true.

7) The difficulty journalists face in reporting on quacks and pseudoscience.

8) Back before he was discredited, Jonah Lehrer wrote a nice piece on how brainstorming doesn’t work.  Reading that actually changed the way I teach.  And here’s a recent piece summing up the evidence on the matter.

9) Jimmy Carter is not happy with how organized religion discriminates against females.

10) James Fallows piece a while back on the troubles with civil-military relations these days talked about the unfortunate and inappropriate demise of the A10.  And here’s an NYT Op-Ed from a former A10 squadron commander who is now a Republican Congresswoman.

11) The sentences for the teachers in the Atlanta cheating scandal strike me as way too harsh.  Why do we have to use long prison sentences as the solution for everything in this country.

12) A must-see for Game of Thrones fans– why you shouldn’t invite Jon Snow to your dinner party.

13) Sure, very few people read most published articles, but there’s a lot of crappy journals out there.  Serious scholars have serious impact in serious journals.  Yes, perhaps professors need to pen more for “popular media” but I’d say that Political Science is actually doing a nice job of this.

14) Encouraging teenagers to read with adult, instead of “young adult,” books.

15) Jon Cohn on the terrifically effective anti-poverty program based on home visits.  We need to scale this up!

Child First is a “home visiting” program, which means staff members work with families mostly in their homes rather than in office settings, sometimes meeting as frequently as three or four times a week. The first priority is addressing tangible problems like poor housing or lack of medical care, which sometimes means connecting families with public programs. But the main focus is improving relationships within the family, particularly between the parents and children, through a combination of advice and therapy…

Child First has its own data to back up claims of success. Studies have shown that participation in Child First reduces the incidence of developmental problems and mental health issues for children, and decreases calls to child welfare authorities.

16) If the head of the DEA is clueless about what really makes sense in the war on drugs, it’s time for her to go:

1. Dead kids as a sign of drug war success

In 2011, the Washington Post wrote about a report on the deaths of hundreds of children at the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Asked to comment on the findings, Leonhart said that “it may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs.”

“If this is a sign of success, maybe we should reconsider waging this war,” wrote Alex Pareene in Salon at the time.

17) No, students should not assault teachers, but there’s some real potential for taking this too far if we label it a felony.  Especially for children with special needs (obviously, this concern hits close to home).

18) This was a terrific Radley Balko column on absurd interpretations of the 4th amendment and everything that is wrong with modern drug raids.  It totally deserved it’s own post.  I’ve failed long enough– just read it.

Mega quick hits (part I)

Your long overdue quick hits.  My apologies.

1) Given the role of wealthy donors in politics, it should be no surprise that across the political spectrum, all politicians are largely in step with the desires of the wealthy.

2) An 1000 year old Anglo-Saxon recipe for eye infection treatment actually works.

3) If you want to learn what you take notes on, do it by hand, not a laptop.

4) Among the many subtle ways we abuse our prisoners, is gouging them and their families for the costs of keeping in touch via phone call.  It’s just wrong.  Maybe there’s change afoot.

5) Interesting Wired piece on the war over the health risks of vaping.  It’s clearly better to vape than to smoke and clearly better to do neither.  Can’t we leave it at that?

6) It’s died down for the moment, but Chris Kromm on why North Carolina’s proposed RFRA is even worse than Indiana’s.  Will be interesting to see if this comes back here.

7) The simple rule to prevent the next Gerrmanwings disaster– two personnel in the cockpit at all  times.  Period.

8) Men in Quebec who took advantage of a “daddy only” quota for parental leave were doing 23% more housework and child care years after actually taking the leave.  Clearly, we need more of these policies.

9) Multiple servings of red meat per day seems to be not good for you.  But if it’s less than that, it’s probably not harming you at all, so don’t sweat it.

10) Ian Millhiser argues that the Supreme Court is (and continues to be) a “malign force in American history.”

11) Adam Davidson sums up the economic evidence on “job-stealing immigrants.”  Short version: there’s a near-consensus among economists that immigrants are not taking jobs Americans would otherwise be doing.

12) I enjoyed this “personality habit” quiz at the NYT.  Apparently I’m a “questioner.”

Questioners question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect, they meet only inner expectations. Once Questioners believe that a particular habit is worthwhile, they’ll stick to it—but only if they’re satisfied about the habit’s soundness and usefulness. They resist anything arbitrary or ineffective; they accept direction only from people they respect. Questioners may exhaust themselves (and other people) with their relentless questioning, and they sometimes find it hard to act without perfect information. If you’re thinking, “Well, right now I question the validity of the Four Tendencies framework,” yep, you’re probably a Questioner!

13) Is there anything that’s fair to poor parents and families?  Not truancy laws, writes Dana Goldstein.

14) Jon Cohn makes not a bad case that Rand Paul’s medical specialty helps to explain his politics:

The split [specialists as Republicans; generalists as Democrats] makes sense if you understand the very different work these doctors perform — and the money they get paid for it. Specialists’ clinical interactions tend to be episodic: A surgeon called in to remove a gall bladder, repair a ligament or install a stent is probably meeting his or her patient for the first time — and may have little contact, or even none at all, with that patient once the procedure and rehabilitation are over. Such encounters may reinforce a

14) What not to worry about in teaching pre-school children how to read?  You mean other than the fact that you are an obsessive parent if you are worried about this?  Just read to your kids.

15) I first learned about Pantones in a Duke magazine article about “Duke blue” years ago and found the concept fascinating.  Loved this NYT story on the subtle difference in pantone between Duke blue and Kentucky blue.

16) The victim of a false rape accusation at UVA tells his story.  Yes, of course the vast majority of rape accusations are truthful; but that doesn’t mean we universities should be denying due process to the accused.

17) Chait on why conservatives hate the Iran deal.  Because they hate all deals.

18) No, tax cuts still don’t pay for themselves.  And, yes, laughably, Arthur Laffer is still an economic guru in the Republican party despite his ideas being completely discredited among serious economists.

19) If you consider our micribiome, you can forget about humans and chimps being 98% similar.

20) Enjoyed this Marketplace story on how German universities control costs.  (No climbing walls, among other things; and no beloved sports teams).

Your parenting doesn’t matter as much as you think it does

I really liked Kevin Drum’s take on the latest parenting research.  I think he gets the parental psychology of this all exactly right (and I also like that he tosses aside Justin Wolfers’ bizarre critique):

At the risk of igniting a parenting war—and no, I don’t have children—middle-class parents tend to resolutely reject the idea that their parenting matters a lot less than they think. It’s easy to understand why, but unfortunately, there’s a considerable amount of evidence that parenting styles per se have a surprisingly small impact on the personalities and life outcomes of children. Obviously this doesn’t hold true at the extremes, but for the broad middle it does…

But my experience is that middle-class parents pretty flatly reject this idea. They simply can’t stand the idea that they’re unable to guide their kids in the direction they want. And yet, the number of kids who don’t take after their parents is enormous. Neat parents raise slobs. Quiet parents raise extroverts. Honest parents raise crooks. Pacifist parents raise Army recruits. Bohemian parents raise Wall Street analysts.

So this latest study is probably roughly right. You might not like it, but it’s probably right. And there’s good news here too: Don’t beat yourself up too badly if you think you’re blowing it as a parent. Unless you’re way off the charts, you’re probably doing OK.

Yep.  Of course parenting matters.  Just less than most people like to think it does.

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