Quick hits (part I)

1) Obviously I don’t know much about China and North Korea.  But I do know that if Evan Osnos thinks something is our least bad option, there’s a good chance it actually is:

At the G-20 meeting in Hamburg this week, the world’s attention will focus largely on Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin. But Trump’s meeting with Xi will have more immediate relevance in dealing with the Korea crisis. In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Thursday, Jake Sullivan and Victor Cha, foreign-policy advisers in the Obama and Bush Administrations, respectively, proposed a new approach to getting China invested in freezing the North Korean missile tests. Instead of threatening North Korea with cutting off trade, they propose, in effect, paying it to cut off missile tests. “The basic trade would be Chinese disbursements to Pyongyang, as well as security assurances, in return for constraints on North Korea’s program. . . . If North Korea cheated, China would not be receiving what it paid for. The logical thing would be for it to withhold economic benefits until compliance resumed.” The Times outlined a similar idea in an editorial of its own this week.

This approach is no silver bullet, but, in the “land of lousy options,” as diplomats call the North Korea problem, it is as good as any, in part because it does not rest on a false understanding of the other party. The relationship between Xi and Trump–leaders of the world’s two largest economies, a rising power and an addled power, straining to coexist—may well prove to be the most consequential diplomatic liaison of its time.

2) Emily Yoffe on Trump’s TV addiction.

3) Linda Greenhouse in Gorsuch:

Whether out of ignorance or by deliberate choice, Neil Gorsuch is a norm breaker. He’s the new kid in class with his hand always up, the boy on the playground who snatches the ball out of turn. He is in his colleagues’ faces pointing out the error of their ways, his snarky tone oozing disrespect toward those who might, just might, know what they are talking about. It’s hard to ascribe this behavior to ignorance — he was, after all, like three of his colleagues, once a Supreme Court law clerk. But if it’s not ignorance, what is it? How could the folksy “Mr. Smith Goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee” morph so quickly into Donald Trump’s life-tenured judicial avatar? …

And while liberals have every reason to gnash their teeth over the justice who holds the seat that should have been Merrick Garland’s, they can perhaps take some comfort in the unexpected daylight that has opened between him and two of the court’s other conservatives, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy. My concern when Justice Gorsuch joined the court was how like Chief Justice Roberts he seemed in demeanor and professional trajectory. I could see him as a natural ally who would bolster the chief justice’s most conservative instincts. It now seems just as likely that Neil Gorsuch’s main effect on John Roberts will be to get on his nerves.

4) I had not heard of the Charlie Gard case till I read about it in Vox.  I don’t think it all unreasonable that a health system without unlimited resources (British NHS) does not want to spend millions of dollars on an unproven treatment for a single child.

5) Amusingly enough, Americans pretend to order their steak less cooked than data suggests they actually do.  I make no apologies for being a medium-well person.  Not big on blood in my food.  Here’s a chart based on orders at Longhorn Steakhouse:

how americans order steak

6) Surprise, surprise, immigrant farm workers are not actually taking the jobs of Americans:

Before they can hire workers through the program, farmers must first try to recruit locally. But many say they don’t have much luck.

“We just don’t have the local labor here to work the farms,” Wooten said. “We wouldn’t be able to run without immigrant labor. It’s that simple, and it’s a lot more than just agriculture.”

A 2013 study by the Center for Global Development analyzed more than a decade’s worth of data from North Carolina farms and found that “no matter how bad the economy becomes, native workers do not take farm jobs.”

7) In other unsurprising news, internet trolls tend to test high in psychopathy.

8) Headline I was not expecting to see, “FBI investigated complaints that Bobby Knight groped women at U.S. spy agency.”

9) Good news for the con artists who pose as “scientific” experts based on fraudulent “forensic science.”  They are protected from lawsuits even in cases of gross negligence.

10) This very computer I’m typing on used to use Kasperky anti-virus until NC State decided to go with another vendor.  Apparently, national security types are so hot on the idea of a Russian company providing key cyber-security.

11) I watched a ton of TV as a kid and safe to say I turned out fine.  My kids have lots of screen time and I’m pretty sure they’ll (well, most of ’em) will turn out fine, too.  Loved this NYT essay:

But the ability of parents to limit screen time, like the ability to limit unwholesome food, has become more than a matter of health. It has become a statement of class, order, purity and parental authority.

We are told that tech billionaires, including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, limited screen time strictly for their own children. The internet is awash with articles linking screen time to depression, A.D.H.D., even psychosis…

Perhaps my writing this is just an attempt to wash away guilt, but I have even made peace with our love of poor-quality screen time, so long as we are still doing the other things that make up a good life. There are too many problems in the world worth worrying about for bourgeois parents like me to waste energy and resources perfecting and regimenting our little worlds.

And what is this teaching my children? I hope it is teaching them that it is O.K. to waste some of the 24 hours in a day. I hope it is teaching them that there is value in making space in your life for laziness and pleasure, for the purposeless passing of time.

12) Enjoyed Dana Goldstein’s article on the growing trend of campus common reading.  I’ve  been a discussion leader for NC State’s program for at least 8 years or so now.  NC State even got the shout-out for this year’s Between the World and Me, which I’ll be starting soon.

13) Hollywood sure does have a bad movie problem.  Maybe there’s hope that Chinese viewers will stop paying for any American crap with a bunch of explosions and this can get better.

14) This John Roberts graduation speech is so good.  It’s honestly hard to believe that the person who could say these words takes some of the SC positions that he does.

15) I’d noticed some Axios links in my various feeds, but didn’t realize it was basically dumbed-down Politico.  Don’t expect a lot of Axios links here.

16) Ezra’s excellent July 4th essay:

We are diminished when our president lies, and even more so when we begin taking his habitual lying for granted. The New York Times published a comprehensive list of falsehoods Trump told since taking office and found it wasn’t until March that Trump went a full day without saying something flatly untrue. The absence of public dishonesty, for Trump, is usually driven by an absence of opportunity to be publicly dishonest. “On days without an untrue statement, he is often absent from Twitter, vacationing at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, or busy golfing,” the Times found…

We are diminished when our president spends his time and energy — and thus the nation’s time and energy — on the wrong issues. At Axios, Mike Allen notes Trump has tweeted the words “opioid” or “opioids” just once — but “loser” 234 times, and “dumb” or “dummy” 222 times. Political capital is finite, and our future is harmed when it is squandered.

We are diminished when the president knows nothing about the issues he faces, and does not try to learn more. It is embarrassing that the president’s staffers have taken to writing his name as often as possible in briefing documents for fear that he will lose interest otherwise, that they fill his press clips with sycophantic praise in an effort to distract him from Twitter, that they fight to appear on Fox & Friends because they know he takes advice from the television better than from his own advisers. We have a president who was not humble enough to realize health care and North Korea are complex problems, and who has not responded to that realization by seriously studying the issues.

17) The science of why bird eggs have different shapes.

18) Among the crazy and horrible things the U.S. does, sending kids adopted from foreign countries as young children back to their “home” country via adult deportation is pretty up there in the wrongness.

19) Texas seems to think that the court system should be fair and merciful for police officers.  Others, not so much.

20) A friend shared something on Facebook about glysophate being responsible for the rise in Celiac and gluten problems.  And it’s based on a study in Interdisciplinary Toxicology.  Well, that sounds good.  Not so much.  Turns out it’s a Slovakian pay to publish journal.  And worst, part, there is not actually Roundup-resistant GMO wheat, upon which the whole idea is predicated.

21) Chait’s been really excellent on Republicans and health care lately:

And today McConnell himself made the same point again. Only this time, he didn’t phrase it quite like a threat. “If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement,” heannounced, “then some kind of action with regard to private-health-insurance markets must occur.”

This is, of course, a comical admission that the entire premise of the Republican onslaught has always been a lie. Republicans have insisted for seven years the law was totally beyond repair, and that the entire thing must be repealed, including its Medicaid expansion. The truth is that the marketplaces have largely stabilized, and they face long-standing challenges providing competition in rural areas, but nothing like the death spiral Republicans have claimed. Even Trump’s own health-care experts have admitted the Obamacare exchanges are healthy. [emphasis mine]

If Republicans want to give up their long-standing boycott of any tinkering with the bill and instead pass some simple patches, they might anger some conservatives, but they will also steer clear of inflicting humanitarian disaster on their own constituents, who might not appreciate it.

22) Very nice piece in Upshot about how Republicans are all for local government.  Except when local government is controlled by liberals who want to pass, you know, liberal policies.

The best parenting advice

I love David Roberts’ post on parenting advice.  Especially this:

If the David Brookses of the world were honest, their parenting advice would begin: Have a healthy kid, live in an affluent area (with low crime and good schools), be from a socially privileged demographic, and make a decent amount of money. From there on, it’s pretty much coasting.

Check, check, and check.  Look at me– awesome parent ;-).  And my parents, too.  Clearly, very wise of them to be born white, healthy, and middle class.  And some more:

Like any parent, I would love to believe that my awesome kids are a result of my awesome parenting. Sadly, expert opinion indicates it ain’t so. Genes have an enormous influence. Peers and culture have an enormous influence. But parenting styles inside the home, apart from extreme cases like abuse or neglect, have very little long-term influence on a person’s personality or success in life, at least that social scientists have been able to detect. (Vox’s own Matt Yglesias wrote about some of this research recently.)

This isn’t to say parents and parenting aren’t important. Parents supply the genes, except in cases of adoption (or remarriage). They control, at least to some extent, the peers and environments to which children are exposed. And of course they crucially affect a child’s quality of life at home, which, as I will argue shortly, is not some minor detail.

But it’s safe to say that your kids’ long-term fate will not be meaningfully affected by the speed and timing of potty training, the brand of educational videos you purchase, or the precise tone of voice in which you discipline. A large proportion of the Parenting Industrial Complex isn’t about kids — it’s about generating content for nervous parents who feel like they should be doing something.

Another way of putting this same point is that an enormous amount of a child’s fate is determined by luck, by accidents of birth, socioeconomics, and geography. My kids are about the luckiest little bastards on the planet. They were born to stable, reasonably well-adjusted parents who have good jobs, a home in a safe neighborhood, and a large reservoir of social capital upon which to draw. (Their parents were lucky, too, in other words.) They were born healthy and haven’t been injured or suffered serious illness. They have parents who haven’t divorced, or been laid off, or faced a serious health crisis. They attend good schools alongside the children of other educated, engaged parents. They are white males, with all the advantages, seen and unseen, that come along with that. [emphasis mine]

If any one of those things had been different, parenting would be a greater challenge, no matter my parenting style. I don’t have the standing to offer any wisdom to the single mother working two jobs. I know very little about the struggles of raising children with serious mental or physical disabilities. I’ll never have to have the kinds of conversations about hatred and vulnerability that every parent of minority or LGBTQ children eventually must.

Also, seems like a good time to plugSelfish Reasons to Have More Kids (which I haven’t done in a while).

And, as long as I’m on parenting.  Maybe, you need to parent more like a Cameroonian farmer.  From NPR:

Now for the first time, there’s a study reporting on what happens when psychologists give the marshmallow test to kids outside Western culture, specifically 4-year-old children from the ethnic group Nso in Cameroon.

“The Nso are a community who live off subsistence farming, mainly corn and beans,” says Bettina Lamm, a psychologist at the Universitaet Osnabrueck, who led the study. “Most of the children live in mud brick houses without water and electricity. They have to work a lot to take care of younger siblings and help their parents on the farm.”

Guess what? These kids rocked the marshmallow test.

“The difference was huge,” Lamm says. “The Cameroonian kids really behave very differently, and they were able to wait much better.”

Lamm and her colleagues ran the experiment on nearly 200 Cameroonian and German kids. The Cameroonian kids were offered a puff-puff — a little doughnut popular there.

Compared to German children in the experiment, the Cameroonian kids waited, on average, twice as long for the second treat. And way more Cameroonian kids — nearly 70 percent — waited the full 10 minutes to snag the second marshmallow. Only about 30 percent of the German kids could hold out, Lamm and her team reported in the journal Child Development in early June…

Lamm says they don’t know exactly why the Cameroonian kids were so good at the marshmallow test. Kid behaviors are complicated and sophisticated. But one reason may be the Nso parenting style, which is completely different than Western parenting.

“Nso children are required very early to control their emotions, especially negative emotions,” Lamm says. “Moms tell their children that they don’t expect them to cry and that they really want them to learn to control their emotions.”

This parenting style starts very early — when children are newborns.

“The moms breast-feed their babies before they start to cry so they don’t need to express any negative emotion,” Lamm says. “This emotion is already regulated before it’s expressed.”

Western moms spend a lot of time looking at their babies for signals to figure out what their babies need. The Nso moms don’t do this.

“They believe they — the moms — know what is good for a baby, and they do what is good for a baby,” Lamm says. “They don’t need to look for signals from the baby.”

As the children get older, this parenting style continues.

“Kids are really expected to learn to control their needs and not ask for their desires or wishes,” she says.

Given the amount of whining and negative emotion that comes from my kids, I just may be the opposite of a Cameroonian farmer.  But, at least I gave them good genes and good socio-demographics.

Quick hits (part I)

1) The Grenfell Towers fire in London and government regulation.  This is ultimately what the libertarian view of government gets you– people burned alive.

A formal government inquiry into the fire has just begun. But interviews with tenants, industry executives and fire safety engineers point to a gross failure of government oversight, a refusal to heed warnings from inside Britain and around the world and a drive by successive governments from both major political parties to free businesses from the burden of safety regulations.

Promising to cut “red tape,” business-friendly politicians evidently judged that cost concerns outweighed the risks of allowing flammable materials to be used in facades. Builders in Britain were allowed to wrap residential apartment towers — perhaps several hundred of them — from top to bottom in highly flammable materials, a practice forbidden in the United States and many European countries. And companies did not hesitate to supply the British market.

2) Damn the anti-democratic hubris and arrogance of the NC Republicans really knows no bounds.  Now they are trying to strip the governor of his power to to challenge unconstitutional laws.  Oh, and they want to re-draw and gerrymander state judicial maps, too.  Beyond shameless.

3) Yes, Democratic urban clustering hurts even if it wasn’t for gerrymandering; but gerrymandering definitely does give Republicans an unfair advantage.

4) People kill people.  With guns.  Some new research:

The 2005 report of the National Research Council (NRC) on Firearms and Violence recognized that violent crime was higher in the post-passage period (relative to national crime patterns) for states adopting right-to-carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws, but because of model dependence the panel was unable to identify the true causal effect of these laws from the then-existing panel data evidence. This study uses 14 additional years of panel data (through 2014) capturing an additional 11 RTC adoptions and new statistical techniques to see if more convincing and robust conclusions can emerge.

Our preferred panel data regression specification (the “DAW model”) and the Brennan Center (BC) model, as well as other statistical models by Lott and Mustard (LM) and Moody and Marvell (MM) that had previously been offered as evidence of crime-reducing RTC laws, now consistently generate estimates showing RTC laws increase overall violent crime and/or murder when run on the most complete data.

We then use the synthetic control approach of Alberto Abadie and Javier Gardeazabal (2003) to generate state-specific estimates of the impact of RTC laws on crime. Our major finding is that under all four specifications (DAW, BC, LM, and MM), RTC laws are associated with higher aggregate violent crime rates, and the size of the deleterious effects that are associated with the passage of RTC laws climbs over time. Ten years after the adoption of RTC laws, violent crime is estimated to be 13-15% percent higher than it would have been without the RTC law. [emphasis mine] Unlike the panel data setting, these results are not sensitive to the covariates included as predictors. The magnitude of the estimated increase in violent crime from RTC laws is substantial in that, using a consensus estimate for the elasticity of crime with respect to incarceration of .15, the average RTC state would have to double its prison population to counteract the RTC-induced increase in violent crime.

5) On Canada’s smart immigration policy and how it has helped them resist the anti-immigrant, populist wave.

6) I think there is, actually, a reasonable case for replacing Nancy Pelosi.  Yglesias makes it:

The normal winning political strategy these days is for a party to make a comeback by presenting itself as all new and radically improved, even if the basic ideology and policy framework remains the same. By having Pelosi as their leader, Democrats are essentially asking the voters of swing districts to decide they made a mistake back in 2010 and want to take back their old favorite party again. A new leader would simply let voters decide they’re tired of the GOP and ready to give a new group a shot.

Democratic candidates don’t like to talk about Pelosi

The biggest problem with Pelosi’s status in the leadership is probably seen by the behavior over the years of the Democratic House challengers on whose success she is counting to get elected speaker. Simply put, they don’t want to talk about it.

Of course, there’s still a good case to be made for keeping Pelosi, but I think this–unlike blaming her for Ossof’s loss, etc.– is an actually decent case for replacing her.

7) Grover Norquist’s tweet about his daughter having to pay sales tax on a guitar being how Republicans are made was moronic and truly shows the smallness of his mind and vision.  This article has many of the best replies.

8) The dad who photoshops his young daughter into dangerous situations.  Love this.

9) Richard Hasen on how Gorsuch really is the new Scalia.

10) Hell of a headline, “Man sits in jail when drywall powder is mistaken for cocaine.”  Hooray for the war on drugs.

11) Williams Syndrome— where people are incredibly friendly and sociable– is a pretty fascinating genetic disorder which presents a pretty unique set of parenting problems.

12) Who knew?  How TMZ became a potent pro-Trump media outlet.

13) Josh Barro on the idea that consumers want to take more charge of their health care:

Republicans like to claim that prices will fall because their law will “empower consumers,” which is their code word for the fact that their healthcare bill would saddle consumers with more of the responsibility to pay for their own healthcare. But there is little evidence that forcing consumers to pay more leads to savvier healthcare spending.

It doesn’t push prices down. It does cause people to consume less healthcare. Unfortunately, consumers do not appear to be very good at identifying and forgoing wasteful healthcare instead of useful healthcare — that is, people tend to forgo treatments they actually need but don’t have the money to pay for.

Let me tell you a story about healthcare spending accounts

One of the stupidest aspects of Republican healthcare rhetoric is the idea that consumers want to take charge of their own care by paying routine expenses from special, tax-advantaged accounts.

These accounts have been gradually foisted on Americans over the decades. Your employer most likely asks you whether you want a health savings account or a flexible spending account. I’ve resisted using one because they are such a pain, but I broke down and set up an FSA this year through Business Insider because I decided it was stupid to forgo the tax savings.

So I put $2,600 in the account and ADP sent me a debit card. I started using it at the doctor’s office, at the pharmacy, at the physical therapist. (I threw out my back this spring, which is a reason I’ve been a little crankier than usual.)

Then, after a few months, I got a letter in the mail from ADP saying it needed my receipts. Receipts? I thought ADP got those straight from the providers. It seems it does get them from CVS, but not from the medical providers. I was supposed to be uploading those receipts through a website. Instead, I threw them away.

If I had to upload the receipts, then what was the point of the debit card? If the system requires that much paperwork, I might as well be submitting claim forms and getting checks in the mail.

Anyway, now I have to call those providers’ offices and get duplicate receipts and upload them and allow seven to 10 days for processing. Until I do that, I have been cut off from access to the money in the account — my own money — that got in the account only because Congress chose to offer a tax preference that I could get only by using such an account.

Who wants to deal with this crap?

14) Maine restaurant workers didn’t want their minimum wage raised, because it would be at the expense of tipping.  As we know, tipping sucks.

15) I don’t actually eat tomatoes (you know, picky eater) except as sauce and ketchup.  That said, I found this Smithsonian article on how they lost their good taste pretty fascinating:

But modern farmers aren’t entirely to blame, the genetic study found. “The selection for big fruit and against sugar is dramatic in the modern varieties,” says Klee. “But it goes way back to pre-Columbian days when the Native Americans were already selecting for bigger fruit with lower sugar content.”

Putting more tasty sugar back into mainstream tomatoes may simply not be feasible with today’s production realities, says Klee. That’s because most growers aren’t paid for flavor; they’re paid by the pound. It costs just as much to have a worker pick a small tomato as to pick a huge one, which is a big reason why today’s commercially-produced tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) can be so much more massive than their tiny wild ancestors.

“The breeders have selected plants to produce massive amounts of fruit, all at the same time, and they want bigger fruit on to the plant. The plant just can’t keep up with that, so what happens is you dilute out all of the flavor chemicals,” says Klee.

The study also revealed another surprise in the tomato’s path to blandness. Much of the dilution of tomato flavor over time wasn’t just the necessary result of breeding for larger fruit—it was an accidental side effect. Since breeders aren’t regularly genetically testing their tomatoes, it’s easy for any of the 25 different chemicals involved in tomato aroma to simply drop out one by one over the generations, when the allele for poorer flavor choice is randomly selected.

It seems that, in the case of tomatoes, no one noticed this slow dilution until the cumulative impact of all those lost genes became obvious. “Out of the 25 volatiles 13 of them are significantly reduced in the modern varieties, “ Klee says. “Its almost exactly what you’d predict would occur randomly, but the net effect is that you’ve diluted out flavor.”

16) How legal marijuana makes it harder for police to search your car.  Good.

17) Now NC Republicans are looking to impeach our Democratic Secretary of State.  Nuts!

18) America’s trees are moving West.  And only a small portion can be explained by climate change.

19) Loved this Vox essay from Jimmy Williams, former lobbyist who had to give it up after too much damage to his soul:

Now, before everyone gets their panties in a wad, let me be pointedly clear about something: I support lobbying and believe it’s an essential part of our constitutional right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Everyone in this country, from the left to the right, deserves a voice, and they should be heard loud and clear. If that means hiring a lobbyist to represent your point of view before Congress, awesomesauce. If that means you take to the streets, demand meetings and town halls with cowardly members of the House and Senate, or, better yet, run against them, I’m your biggest advocate.

But what I don’t support are Supreme Court rulings that have repeatedly told us money is an absolutely protected form of speech. A string of cases like Citizens United and others has opened the barn door to unlimited “dark money” campaign spending. Cases like Citizens gross me and most everyone else out because the result is the money in your politics becomes the voice in your politics. Americans’ right “to redress” comes at a cost, and if you don’t have the cash, chances are you’ll be ignored. [emphasis mine]

Bottom line: Those with the most money have the largest voices. Those with the least are rarely part of the process. That makes the legality of the practice of lobbying less relevant because it’s an uneven playing field.

20) Professors getting in trouble for saying what they really think on social media.  Also, if you are only an adjunct, be really careful!

21) Re-assessing Thomas Jefferson.  Here’s my handy approach– judge a person by the standards of their times.

22) Harold Pollack is right, “Trumpcare Will Probably Kill Thousands Each Year: And it is neither alarmist nor uncivil to say so.”

23) Yep, so Republicans are content to keep the status quo in NC where it’s not a rape if the woman said yes before withdrawing consent.

24) Count me as on-board with the plan for Americacare (i.e. public option on steroids) as the new Democratic approach to health care.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) The psychologists behind the CIA’s torture program.

2) How to manipulate teenage defiance for good.

3) Yet more evidence on the link between childhood lead exposure and crime.

4) Jonathan Rauch on why it will be so hard to impeach Trump:

In 1974, as today, Republican legislators were fearful of the political consequences of abandoning a Republican president who enjoyed Republican partisans’ support. That was one reason they protected him for so long. So a key question becomes: when did the Republican base sour on Nixon, making it safe for party leaders to eject him?

The answer, as shown in the second chart, is: never. To the bitter end, his Republican approval stayed at or above 50 percent (with only minor and temporary exceptions). In other words, Nixon divided Republicans but never lost them, despite his evident and gross malfeasance.

Because the Republican Party of 1974 was more moderate and heterogeneous than the Republican Party of today, we can expect today’s Republican base to be even more likely to protect Trump than yesterday’s Republican base was to protect Nixon.

5) Mark Joseph Stern on how the logic of two recent SC decisions on free speech may have an impact on the gerrymandering case.

6) Speaking of which, I find Charles Lane’s post arguing that we don’t want courts deciding how much partisan gerrymandering is too much to be remarkably unpersuasive.

7) Sticking with the Supreme Court, Garrett Epps argues recent rulings are far too trusting of the government on national security.

8) Why the health care industry is not doing more to stop the AHCA (short version: they have a lot of stuff they want from Republicans and don’t want to get on their bad side).

9) Unwritten rules of flying you are probably breaking.  I love this one:

10. Don’t recline in economy. No, listen to me, asshole: Don’t recline in economy. The amount of extra comfort you gain is nothing compared to the chain reaction of pain you have just set off behind you, in which every other passenger in your path is consigned to a modified form of the Trolley Problem, whereby they can either subject themselves and possibly the person next to them to hours of discomfort by doing nothing, or continue the chain reaction by reclining their own seat to gain a little room. If you have the world’s most specific back problem and must sit at precisely a 110-degree angle, then turn around, ask the person behind you if this is OK, and give them time to arrange their laptop, knees, and soul for what you are about to inflict, you heartless life-ruiner who should have taken the bus.

10) Mike Munger talks scholarly writing.  Ummm, no getting up at 4:30am for me to write; I’ll settle for less productivity.

11) The tick that gives people red meat allergies is spreading.  Please don’t bite me.  Please don’t bite me.

12) It’s all in the headline and I’m damn sure it’s not a coincidence, “Trump seeks sharp cuts to housing aid, except for program that brings him millions.”

13) Chris Fitzsimon on the NC budget.

14) Drum on Seattle’s experiment with $15 minimum wage.

The obvious conclusion is that raising its minimum wage hasn’t depressed employment in Seattle at all. DeLong comments:

Low-end labor markets simply do not appear to work like competitive markets.Rather, they work like markets in which employers have substantial market power—and thus minimum wage laws have the same efficiency benefits as does natural-monopoly rate regulation. Why low-end labor markets do not appear to work like competitive markets is a very interesting—and, I believe, unsolved—question. But it is in all likelihood a fact to deal with.

I’d add an obvious caveat to this: it’s possible that a modestly higher minimum wage has little effect when the economy is doing well. We don’t know yet how employment in Seattle will respond when the economy turns down.

15) Good story on the incredibly difficult call sailors had to make to seal watertight doors after a recent collision with Japanese freighter.

16) Is North Carolina the future of American politics?

Welcome to North Carolina circa 2017, where all the passions and pathologies of American politics writ large are played out writ small — and with even more intensity. Ever since 2010, when Republicans seized control of the General Assembly for the first time in a century, and especially since 2012, when they took the governor’s mansion, the state’s politics have been haywire. “There’s been a bigger and quicker shift to the right here than in any other state in the country,” says Rob Christensen, a longtime political writer for The News and Observer newspaper in Raleigh.

In just a few years, North Carolina Republicans have not just run quickly through the conservative policy checklist; they’ve tried to permanently skew the balance of power in the state in their favor, passing some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country and drawing some of the most egregiously gerrymandered congressional and state legislative districts in modern American politics (though their moves have repeatedly failed to pass muster with the courts). Cooper’s victory, and the blowback to H.B. 2 that preceded it, seemed to suggest a chastening of the party — until Republicans contested the election results with a series of baseless allegations of voter fraud and legal challenges that left the state in limbo for four weeks before McCrory finally conceded.

17) Chait argues the Conservative health care agenda is dead.  He’s right:

Why didn’t Republicans decide to write a conservative health-care bill? Because Americans don’t want one. Marketized health care with transparent pricing turns out to be literally the opposite of what the country prefers. Washington Post reporter James Hohmann travels to Georgia’s sixth district, the site of the contested special election, and finds through “dozens of interviews” that even the Republicans in this affluent district want a health-care plan that gives them less, not more, skin in the game. One representative right-wing voter hates Obamacare because, he tells Hohmann, “I have to pay a $40 co-pay just to see a doctor.” Any authentic conservative health-care program would increase, not decrease, that amount. “Their expectations might seem unreasonable to anyone who is closely following the debate or is steeped in the complexities of public policy,” reports Hohmann, “but they believe Donald Trump can and should enact a replacement plan that will both reduce their costs and improve their quality of care.” Why would they have these expectation? Because while Republican wonks have been advocating more skin in the game for consumers, Republican politicians have been promising the opposite. That is why Mitch McConnell denounced Obamacare for having the very features — high deductibles and co-pays — that conservative wonks would like to extend…

Rather than design a health-care bill that pursued conservative priorities, they have kept the structure of Obamacare and simply drained its resources in order to finance a large, regressive tax cut. It turns out you can work pretty quickly if you don’t care about substance. Whether or not they dismantle Obamacare, the Republicans have already given the conservative health-care agenda a permanent burial.

18) George Lakoff on Trump.

19) This Washington Post story will likely be the definitive story of Russia’s interference in the election.  Not only is it your must-read of the weekend, it’s surely the must-read of the month.  Just do it.

20) And, oh man does Charles Pierce let loose on the Obama administration for not taking much stronger action (I think he’s probably right).  Also, Mitch McConnell is truly, truly evil.

21) And while we’re on Trump and Russia, Bloomberg on yet more shadowy connections.  Don’t worry, though, just smoke, no fire.  I’m sure Democrats are just making this all up.

22) Though as Josh Marshall says,

The best analog to President Trump’s stance toward the Russia probe and his refusal to accept that Russian interference even happened is a husband who is suspected in his wife’s disappearance and repeatedly insists that she’s probably on a beach in Aruba having a good laugh at his expense.

In any normal circumstance, by any conventional standard, Trump’s attitude and actions are ones that are only consistent with guilt. He has not only repeatedly insisted on his innocence, which the innocent and guilty do in equal measure, but insisted that the crime itself never actually happened. On top of this, using his unique powers as President, he has repeatedly taken actions to end the investigation into his campaign. The most blatant example was firing the FBI Director with the stated goal of relieving the pressure of the Russia probe. But that’s just the most glaring example.

23) I was pretty disappointed in how this Freakonomics interview with Charles Koch let him so easily whitewash the reality of the extremity of his politics and his influence.

24) I did enjoy this Slate story on James McGill Buchanan, who has had a profound influence on the Koch’s.

25) I don’t care what Dean Heller is saying now, I do think the truth is, as Chait says, “GOP moderates always cave.”  They will just use some piddling little excuse to come through with the votes anyway,  just like Tom MacArthur in the House.

Lying parents

Happy Father’s Day.  I love my dad and I’m happy my kids love me, but I could’ve done with a little less paternal fawning over all the “greatest dad ever”s on social media.  Yeah, I’m a curmudgeon some times.  That said, I did enjoy my Father’s Day hike with the kids.  Here I am with the 3 kids who wanted to pose with me.

Anyway, Pew had a nice FactTank piece on modern Fatherhood.  I found this chart hilarious, as should every other parent who is honest:

You know what you call parents who say parenting is enjoyable and rewarding all of the time?  Liars.  You all know how much I love being a dad.  But “all the time”?!  Oh, yeah, I’m loving it when Evan and Sarah won’t stop screaming at each other for whose bothering who and who hit who, etc.

Also, while we’re at it, interesting to see how much more time parents now spend with their kids and the gender disparities:

Quick hits (part II)

1) How Facebook is trying to combat terrorists/extremists using its site.

2) Don’t you just totally know NRA the reaction to Philandro Castille (a licensed gun owner shot after he informed the police officer he was licensed and carrying) from the would be completely different if he were white instead of Black.  Hell yes.

Staying conspicuously silent on the Yanez verdict so far is an organization that can typically be counted on to offer extreme and uncompromising advocacy on behalf of licensed American gun owners: the National Rifle Association. As of Saturday afternoon, the NRA had issued no statement addressing the verdict, its pugnacious chief spokesman Wayne LaPierre had not been quoted in any media stories about it, and an email from Slate requesting comment had not received a response. For those who remember the aftermath of Castile’s death, this should come as no surprise: The NRA was almost completely silent then, too, putting out a tepid statement only after coming under intense pressure from some of its members. As was widely noted at the time, whoever wrote the statement—most likely LaPierre himself—couldn’t even bring himself to mention Philando Castile’s name.

On its face, the Castile case would seem to have all the trappings of a cause célèbre for the NRA. The group’s most fiercely held belief is supposed to be that law-abiding citizens shouldn’t be burdened—let alone killed in cold blood—by repressive agents of the government just because they want to protect themselves and exercise their Second Amendment rights. Castile should be a martyr for the NRA, while Yanez—who reached for the holster of his service weapon as soon as Castile mentioned he was armed—should be its bogeyman.

3) Hand it to Brett Stephens— NYT’s newest conservative columnist.  His latest installment, cheekily titled, “Only Mass Deportation Can Save America” is great:

In the matter of immigration, mark this conservative columnist down as strongly pro-deportation. The United States has too many people who don’t work hard, don’t believe in God, don’t contribute much to society and don’t appreciate the greatness of the American system.

They need to return whence they came.

I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects risk drowning.

On point after point, America’s nonimmigrants are failing our country. Crime? A study by the Cato Institute notes that nonimmigrants are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal ones.

Educational achievement? Just 17 percent of the finalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search — often called the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of United States-born parents. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, just 9.5 percent of graduate students in electrical engineering were nonimmigrants.

4) I was pretty intrigued by these emotional and academic readiness challenges for young adults.  I know an almost legal adult who needs to try some of these.

5) College kids were way more interested in eating carrots with fancy names than with healthy names.

6) The many, many ways we talk to boys differently than we talk to girls.  And that’s definitely not all good for boys:

When fathers appear in children’s picture books, they’re angling for laughs, taking their sons on adventures or modeling physical strength or stoic independence. There is the rare exception in children’s books where a father baldly demonstrates — without symbolic gestures — his love for his son (a few are “Guess How Much I Love You” and “Oh, Oh, Baby Boy!”). Just as women’s studies classes have long examined the ways that gendered language undermines women and girls, a growing body of research shows that stereotypical messages are similarly damaging to boys.

2014 study in Pediatrics found that mothers interacted vocally more often with their infant daughters than they did their infant sons. In a different study, a team of British researchers found that Spanish mothers were more likely to use emotional words and emotional topics when speaking with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons. Interestingly, the same study revealed that daughters were more likely than sons to speak about their emotions with their fathers when talking about past experiences. And during these reminiscing conversations, fathers used more emotion-laden words with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons.

7) Our school kids need to exercise.  They’ll do better in school.  And be healthier.

8) In case you missed the totally bizarre experience where Trump’s cabinet members took turns praising him.  Krugman get it, “”Their own private Pyongyang.”

9) Oh man do I love these maps of the hidden structure of “Choose your own adventure” books.  Damn did I love The Mystery of Chimney Rock and Journey under the Sea in particular.

10a) Vox with a nice piece looking at the acquittal in the Philandro Castille shooting.

10b) Interesting take that essentially argues, the system sucks, but given the system, the Castille jury did the right thing.  I’m thinking that our standard of an “objectively reasonable” belief that there is a threat is just not working.  It seems increasingly clear that an officer thinking (barring any clear visual evidence) that a suspect is reaching for a weapon is just too low a bar.

11) A truly fascinating Supreme Court case that creates a clear, high, bar when it comes to gender discrimination as a matter of law.  Alas, it leaves the plaintiff in the case totally screwed.

12) Good interview with a Trump biographer:

OK, then let’s talk about the present. Is Trump self-aware about the fact that his presidency is not going well, and if so, what do you think he makes of that?

I think he has a remarkable capacity for denial, and I think there have been very few occasions over the course of his life where he has been slapped in the face with his failure, whether it was his bankruptcies, the failures of any number of his businesses, the failures of two marriages. In each case, he has an almost admirable ability to move through life as if those losses and failures hadn’t happened, and to portray them not in a crass political spin sort of way but in a really gut-level, deeply felt way as things that didn’t bother him and things that he didn’t even acknowledge.

By living in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or even acknowledging the past, he has the ability to keep going. People who were with him when his casinos were going down, when he was suffering through these bankruptcies, and being in this humiliating position of groveling before bankers, thought, “He’s going to come in the next day utterly crushed and not willing to face people, and humiliated,” and it never happened. He came in just as bright and bullish as he’d been the day before. That capacity serves him well I think in some ways, but it also divorces him from reality in some ways. That, I think, is what people around him have come to find a bit frightening.

13) How your mind makes accidents happen.

Quick hits (part I)

1) How could I not love the NYT feature, “How to raise a reader.”  Alas, I wish my oldest was willing to read more novels and fewer Dungeons and Dragons guidebooks.  (At least he has good taste in blogs).

2) How the prosperity gospel (oh how I hate the prosperity gospel for being so obviously at odds with the real one) explains Evangelical support for Trump.

3) Meant to include last week.  Deborah Tannen on how absurd it is that Republicans were hanging on the fact that Trump said to Comey he “hopes” that Comey could let the Flynn investigation go.  When I say to my kids, “I hope you get off the computer and ready to go in five minutes” they know its an order.  Language is a lot more than just word choice.

4) I’ll be honest, the latest research is not encouraging for diet soda.

People who drink diet sodas daily have three times the risk of stroke and dementia compared to people who rarely drink them, researchers reported Thursday.

It’s yet another piece of evidence that diet drinks are not a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, and suggests that people need to limit both, doctors said…

The researchers accounted for age, sex, education, overall how many calories people ate, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking.

If I were not already a regular soda drinker, I would be wary of starting.  But as a very healthy (by every objective measure) diet soda drinker, I’m not stopping now.  Also, I still believe that used responsibly (i.e., not, “oh, I had Diet Coke, now I can have cake for dinner) diet soda is probably preferable to consuming all that sugar in regular soda.

5) Of course most new terrorist attacks show how utterly pointless Trump’s travel ban is.  That is, pointless except as xenophobic symbolism appealing to the Republican base.

6) Speaking of stupid Trump policies– undoing Obams’s Cuba policy is stupid, stupid, stupid.  And doing it in the name of human rights– just after his visit to Saudi Arabia– is extraordinarily dishonest.

7) Not every day I link to the Hindu Times, but the latest research on genetic immigration into the Indian sub-continent is really interesting:

The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices? Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.

This may come as a surprise to many — and a shock to some — because the dominant narrative in recent years has been that genetics research had thoroughly disproved the Aryan migration theory. This interpretation was always a bit of a stretch as anyone who read the nuanced scientific papers in the original knew. But now it has broken apart altogether under a flood of new data on Y-chromosomes (or chromosomes that are transmitted through the male parental line, from father to son).

Lines of descent

Until recently, only data on mtDNA (or matrilineal DNA, transmitted only from mother to daughter) were available and that seemed to suggest there was little external infusion into the Indian gene pool over the last 12,500 years or so. New Y-DNA data has turned that conclusion upside down, with strong evidence of external infusion of genes into the Indian male lineage during the period in question.

The reason for the difference in mtDNA and Y-DNA data is obvious in hindsight: there was strong sex bias in Bronze Age migrations. In other words, those who migrated were predominantly male and, therefore, those gene flows do not really show up in the mtDNA data. On the other hand, they do show up in the Y-DNA data: specifically, about 17.5% of Indian male lineage has been found to belong to haplogroup R1a (haplogroups identify a single line of descent), which is today spread across Central Asia, Europe and South Asia. Pontic-Caspian Steppe is seen as the region from where R1a spread both west and east, splitting into different sub-branches along the way.

8) I did not follow the case of the texting-encouraged suicide till I read about the verdict yesterday.  Technology aside, the case raises so many fascinating legal issues around responsibility, culpability and free will.

9) The Gif (always soft “g” to me!) is thirty years old and going strong.  Pretty cool history of the matter in Wired.

10) How Amazon purchasing Whole Foods may signal the end-of-the-line for an increasing number of cashiers.

11) Also led me to a link on a Neil Irwin story from last year on how Walmart paying it’s employees more has been good for business:

As an efficient, multinational selling machine, the company had a reputation for treating employee pay as a cost to be minimized.

But in early 2015, Walmart announced it would actually pay its workers more.

That set in motion the biggest test imaginable of a basic argument that has consumed ivory-tower economists, union-hall organizers and corporate executives for years on end: What if paying workers more, training them better and offering better opportunities for advancement can actually make a company more profitable, rather than less?

It is an idea that flies in the face of the prevailing ethos on Wall Street and in many executive suites the last few decades. But there is sound economic theory behind the idea. “Efficiency wages” is the term that economists — who excel at giving complex names to obvious ideas — use for the notion that employers who pay workers more than the going rate will get more loyal, harder-working, more productive employees in return. [emphasis mine]

12) It’s not inherently wrong for Megyn Kelly to interview Alex Jones, but as she’s actually done it– as Julia Belluz nicely argues– is all wrong:

Reporting on Jones makes sense; he has indeed gained prominence since the last election. But a serious sit-down interview was a poor choice of format for covering him. It’s extremely difficult to have a reasonable exchange with a person who regularly rants and spews nonsense, as Jones does. It’s like running a straight one-on-one with a climate change denialist or someone who refuses to accept the Holocaust happened.

Jones doesn’t live in reality, and Kelly’s interview risks validating him and disseminating his bullshit. It doesn’t leave space for context and debunking.

It also sends the message that in an era of “fake news” and a president who regularly attacks the media, hoaxers like Jones are worthy of an hour of primetime TV to share their ideas.

If Jones’s words didn’t have dangerous real-world consequences, it wouldn’t matter much that he’ll soon have this megaphone. But they do — from spurring people to violent action to undermining institutions such as the media, science, and government.

13) Did you know about the giant, lost, medieval-era city on the outskirts of St. Louis? Me neither.

14) Just to be clear, any parent who would yell at the lifeguard for telling their kid not to run at the pool is a horrible parent.

15) A very nice interview explaining what the hell is going on with Qatar.

16) The story of a Maine woman who was attacked by a rabid raccoon and drowned it in a puddle is pretty amazing.

17) Even if you are not a Duke basketball fan, you might enjoy the story of the man with Downs Syndrome (recently passed away) who was a fixture behind Coach K and the Duke bench for decades.

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