Quick hits

Decided I didn’t want to spend the last day at the beach working on quick hits for Saturday, so, here you go with an evening edition instead.  Lots of good stuff.

1) Reviews of two books that take dramatically differing views of America’s police.  Of course, one is far more grounded in reality.

2) The Prosperity Gospel is such a disgusting perversion of Christianity.  Donald Trump is a disgusting perversion of American politics.  Naturally, they are a great fit.

3) Sure, politicians are not typically known for their honesty, but, not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s mendaciousness is clearly in a class by itself.

4) Bill Ayers on why he hates electoral politics:

For now, what bothers me so much about the whole mess is the extent to which elections have become an exercise in emotion-driven identity politics. This is true for nearly all people and across pretty much all issues. We want very much to think that elections, and politics in general, are about ideas, about figuring out what’s best for the country. But very little that has been said over the past year, and nothing that will be said from here on forward, is really about any of that.

What we’re really engaged in is a collective effort at ego protection, wishful thinking, and massive cognitive distortion brought about by emotion-driven biases. [emphasis mine]

5) I was shocked, shocked(!) to learn that Donald Trump doesn’t much believe in reading.

6) In other shocking news, GOP Congressional interns are really, really white.

7) Trump’s Art of the Deal ghostwriter thinks he’s a sociopath who would start a nuclear war.

8) I listened to Trump’s recent 60 Minutes interview.  The part about ISIS was truly, truly pathetic, as Drum points out:

This is pathetic. Trump acts like he’s back in the Celebrity Apprentice boardroom playacting a tough guy for the cameras. He declares that he will get “unbelievable intelligence”; he will “get rid of ISIS big league”; and he will “wipe them out.” But when Lesley Stahl repeatedly asks him about ground troops, he repeatedly says this isn’t in the cards. Maybe NATO will do it. Maybe other Arab countries will do it. Maybe troops will magically appear from a genie’s bottle. Even though Trump claims that we’re at war and President Obama is too weak and stupid to get it, in the end he basically endorses what Obama is doing right now. Like all the other armchair generals, he doesn’t have the backbone to risk taking an unpopular stand, even if it’s the only thing that would actually make a significant difference.

And when he’s done with this empty blather, what does Mike Pence say? “This is the kind of leadership America needs.” Heaven help us.

9) Drum also calls out Lesley Stahl for enabling Trump’s serial lying.

10) Slate with a list of (only) 141 reasons Trump is unfit to be president.

11) David Pogue is right.  We should be so done with passwords.  The technology is certainly there.

12) Can’t say I’m all that surprised to learn that the whole customized helmet to unflatten you child’s head (of course, I’m on record as being skeptical of the whole backsleeping thing anyway) is not medically necessary but largely being pushed by the customized helmet industry.

13) Sharp satire on Republicans coming out against Trump.

14) Nice Vox feature on how Trump won the primaries.  I like how it points out the number of truly lucky breaks that Trump got along the way in terms of where and when his opponents won and lost (e.g., I really do think thinks could have turned out different if not for Marcobot in NH).

15) Great New Yorker profile of America’s best jailhouse lawyer.  Mostly, it made me so sad and depressed at how institutionally corrupt our criminal justice system is.  And makes me think there’s probably tens of thousands of innocent people in prison.

16) Loved Brooks on Trump’s Pence announcement:

If you had to do a rough diagram of the Trump remarks it would be something like this: Pence … I was right about Iraq … Pence … Hillary Clinton is a crooked liar … I was right about “Brexit” … Pence … Hillary Clintons ads are filled with lies … We’re going to bring back the coal industry … Christians love me … Pence … I talk to statisticians … Pence is good looking My hotel in Washington is really coming along fantastically … Pence.

Donald Trump is in his moment of greatest triumph, but he seems more resentful and embattled than ever. Most political conventions are happy coronations, but this one may come to feel like the Alamo of aggrieved counterattacks.

17) It’s not nothing at all that Coach K has called North Carolina’s HB2 “embarrassing.”  K is a long-time, staunch Republican.

18) The psychology of why Americans are afraid of low crime levels.

19) Hans Noel argues that more contested conventions would be a good thing– and certainly help us avoid more Trumps.

20) They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  Love this tweet.

21) This USA Today is really harsh on HBO’s new Vice Principals.  And, you know what?  Strikes me as deserved.  I loved “Eastbound and Down,” but found the first episode of this new show simply unpleasant to watch.

22) That’s okay.  More time for me to watch season 3 of Bojack Horseman, which is getting rave reviews.

23) Love this from Will Saletan.  The headline captures it well, “Mike Pence’s New God:
The Christian conservative was supposed to bring morality to Trump’s campaign. Instead he caved to Trump.”

Quick hits (part I)

1) Really, really informative piece on Wahhabism, it’s history, and how it shapes life (dramatically for the worse) in Saudi Arabia.

2) John Judis on the lasting impact of Bernie:

What Sanders was advocating — beyond the specifics — was strengthening and broadening social security in the broadest sense of the word so that even as Americans are tossed to and fro in the information economy, they can feel a certain sense of security — one that is currently lacking for many, many people in this country.

Sanders’ support for these kind of political demands may set the Democrats eventually on a more visionary and inspiring course – one that isn’t bounded by the shadow of Republican congressional dominance and the business campaign funding that has narrowed the Democratic vision for thirty years or more. That’s really the message behind Sanders’ call for a “political revolution.”

I know some sophisticates find this call laughable, but I think many young voters understood what Sanders was saying: that the only way to overcome the oligarchic, plutocratic tilt of our political system is by the massive, determined participation in politics of those determined to change it. Sanders’ campaign may, of course, become a footnote in political histories, a curiosity in a trivia question like Fred Harris’s 1972 campaign, but I have a feeling it will survive his defeat. At least I hope it will.

3a) Pretty cool interactive feature to see how a social media feed looks for conservatives compared to liberals.

3b) Speaking of which, really nice essay in the Guardian on “how technology disrupted the truth.”

4) Not sure I’ve ever seen a craze blow up as quickly as Pokemon Go (and yes, I have it).  Nice Wired piece on the technology.

5) New study on the gender pay gap for physicians.  Hard not to conclude that a significant portion of good old fashioned sex discrimination.

6) Really good Tom Edsall on Trump and the anti-PC vote from last month.  Here’s the section where he interviews John Haidt:

Jonathan Haidt, a professor at N.Y.U., suggested to me that one way to better understand the intensity of Trump’s appeal is by looking at something called “psychological reactance.” Haidt describes reactance as

the feeling you get when people try to stop you from doing something you’ve been doing, and you perceive that they have no right or justification for stopping you. So you redouble your efforts and do it even more, just to show that you don’t accept their domination. Men in particular are concerned to show that they do not accept domination.

The theory, first developed in 1966 by Jack W. Brehm in “A Theory of Psychological Reactance,” is directly relevant to the 2016 election, according to Haidt. Here is Brehm’s original language:

Psychological reactance is an aversive affective reaction in response to regulations or impositions that impinge on freedom and autonomy. This reaction is especially common when individuals feel obliged to adopt a particular opinion or engage in a specific behavior. Specifically, a perceived diminution in freedom ignites an emotional state, called psychological reactance, that elicits behaviors intended to restore this autonomy.

Haidt applies this to the 2016 election:

Translated to the Trump phenomenon, I would say that decades of political correctness, with its focus on “straight white men” as the villains and oppressors — now extended to “straight white cis-gendered men” — has caused some degree of reactance in many and perhaps most white men.

In both the workplace and academia, Haidt argues,

the accusatory and vindictive approach of many social justice activists and diversity trainers may actually have increased the desire and willingness of some white men to say and do un-PC things.

In this atmosphere, according to Haidt,

Trump comes along and punches political correctness in the face. Anyone feeling some degree of anti-PC reactance is going to feel a thrill in their heart, and will want to stand up and applaud. And because feelings drive reasoning, these feelings of gratitude will make it hard for anyone to present arguments to them about the downsides of a Trump presidency.

Trump’s anger at being policed or fenced in apparently speaks to the resentment of many American men and their resistance to being instructed, particularly by a female candidate, on how they should think, speak or behave.

7) I keep meaning to write a post about how we’ve been apparently getting it wrong on Telomeres.  Not going to happen, so quick hits it is.

8) The ethics of sex robots.

9) Yes, we absolutely need more investment in public pre-K.  Alas, we still don’t have as good an understanding as we’d like about what really works in these programs.

10) How come we cannot really remember anything from before we were 3 1/2?

11) The Tea party nuts in Kansas are now railing against “government schools.”  Ugh.  As always with this nuttiness, I worry how long until our Republicans in the NC legislature decide it’s a good idea.

12) Evan Osnos on the NRA, anti-government rhetoric, and race:

For critics of the N.R.A., it was an awkward exposure of what is usually left unsaid: the organization is far less active in asserting the Second Amendment rights of black Americans than of white ones…

The Dallas ambush has also exposed an uncomfortable fact for the gun-rights movement: for decades, even as it maintains its abstract tributes to law enforcement, it has embraced a strain of insurrectionist rhetoric, overtly anti-government activism that endorses the notion that civilians should have guns for use against American police and military. In a 1995 fund-raising letter, the executive vice-president of the N.R.A., Wayne LaPierre, called federal law-enforcement agents “jack-booted thugs,” and suggested that “in Clinton’s administration, if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.” In Texas, where the police ambush occurred, an open-carry advocate last year urged the killing of state legislators if they do not approve a more relaxed policy. (“They better start giving us our rights or this peaceful non-cooperation stuff is gonna be gamed up . . . We should be demanding [Texas legislators] give us our rights back, or it’s punishable by death. Treason.”) At the annual N.R.A. convention last year, the board member Ted Nugent said, “Our government has turned on us.” Stopping short of calling for violence, he urged members to focus their ire on “the bad and the ugly.” He said, “It’s a target-rich environment. If it was duck season, there’d be so many ducks, you could just close your eyes and shoot ’em.”

13) Using computers to analyze the emotional arcs of stories.

14) This is pretty great– best goals of 2016 so far.

15) Sure, I use safety pins in my bib when I run in a race. I had no idea that the elites still did this.  Or that bibs are just there for sponsors now.

16) Fighting back against modern debtor’s prison.  I would love to see this win:

A suit filed July 6 against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles alleges the DMV indefinitely suspends driver’s licenses of those too poor to pay fines and court costs in an “unconstitutional scheme.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their licenses simply because they are too poor to pay, effectively depriving them of reliable, lawful transportation necessary to get to and from work, take children to school, keep medical appointments, care for ill or disabled family members, or, paradoxically, to meet their financial obligations to the courts,” reads the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Western Virginia.

The suit, filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center, which represents low-income Virginians, says more than 940,000 people in Virginia currently have their licenses suspended for nonpayment.

According to the Legal Aid Justice Center, the suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment can prevent people from keeping or obtaining jobs, leading to a vicious cycle of additional fines, unemployment and, sometimes, incarceration. The suit says more than one-third of suspensions for failure to pay are related to convictions unrelated to motor vehicles.

17) I’ve been slacking off with the high-intensity interval training of late (it’s hard; I’m lazy), so how nice to read this study in the NYT that (admittedly, based on rats) suggests that good old-fashioned moderate-paced jogging may be the best for your brain:

Those rats that had jogged on wheels showed robust levels of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue teemed with new neurons, far more than in the brains of the sedentary animals. The greater the distance that a runner had covered during the experiment, the more new cells its brain now contained.

There were far fewer new neurons in the brains of the animals that had completed high-intensity interval training. They showed somewhat higher amounts than in the sedentary animals but far less than in the distance runners.

And the weight-training rats, although they were much stronger at the end of the experiment than they had been at the start, showed no discernible augmentation of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue looked just like that of the animals that had not exercised at all.

Obviously, rats are not people. But the implications of these findings are provocative. They suggest, said Miriam Nokia, a research fellow at the University of Jyvaskyla who led the study, that “sustained aerobic exercise might be most beneficial for brain health also in humans.”

18) Okay, I still need to fully read this, but, sadly, I’m not at all surprised that a disturbingly inaccurate $2 drug test is regularly sending people to prison.

19) What we can learn from the Nordic countries:

Lakey: A lot of people mistakenly believe that the countries with Viking ancestry—Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland—have always had the high standard of living that they do today. That’s not the case, and people don’t realize what it took to create the kind of society we see today in each of these countries.

A century ago, the economic elite ran each of those countries. There was the pretense of democracy, but it was always the decisions of economic elites that carried the day. There was poverty and a lack of empowerment of the people. The change that came about in the Nordic countries so that they eventually moved to an economic model where there was less of a wealth gap, and better quality of life, came about after everyday people made demands on their governments to change.

The 1 percent may occupy state power, but when the majority of the country stands up in opposition to the 1 percent, they can make the country ungovernable. That’s what happened in Nordic countries, and that’s what opened up the political space in which they could build an economic model that far outperforms the economic model of the United States.

20) So, just when are you an adult?  I recently went to Old Salem— a recreation of a historic 19th century Moravian town.  They talked about all the children leaving home at 15 and essentially assuming adult responsibilities.  The person I talked to was all like, “well, it was just different back then.”  My thinking, well, sure, it was, but I’m pretty sure the human brain did not mature any faster in 19th century North Carolina.  And, these kids may have taken many an adult responsibility, but they sure didn’t have an adult brain.

21) Great NYT piece on Trump dividing the country by race.  And Greg Sargent’s take on it.

22) Jay Rosen (as smart an observer of the media as there is) on how Trump takes advantage of journalistic norms.

23) I’ve got no use for the Gladwell haters.  Gladwell is awesome and so is his new podcast series.  This recent episode about college as engines of social mobility (or not) is especially good).

 

Aging churches

So, this was a pretty cool infographic from Pew.  The relative ages of person in various religious denominations in America.

Age structure and median age of U.S. religious groups

Take away?  Presbyterian church is ideal for Seniors looking to meet other seniors:-).  And if you want young people, go non-Christian.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Was prepared to not like this piece blaming feminists for anti-feminism.  But really liked the bit about “mansplaining.”  I have way too often simply seen this term as a way to shut down discussion than as a legitimate critique of unnecessary explanation.

Whatever the reasons for the current cycle of misandry — yes, that’s a word, derided but also adopted for ironic use by many feminists — its existence is quite real. Consider, for example, the number of neologisms that use “man” as a derogatory prefix and that have entered everyday media language: “mansplaining,” “manspreading” and “manterrupting.” Are these primarily male behaviors that justify the gender-specific terms? Not necessarily: The study that is cited as evidence of excessive male interruption of women actually found that the most frequent interrupting is female-on-female (“femterrupting”?).

In fairness, though, I still think plain old misogyny is responsible for most anti-feminism.

2) Sonia Sotomayor is taking on our criminal justice system through her dissents:

Justice Sotomayor would go on to write eight dissents before the term ended last Monday. Read together, they are a remarkable body of work from an increasingly skeptical student of the criminal justice system, one who has concluded that it is clouded by arrogance and machismo and warped by bad faith and racism.

3) In New Jersey, even death does not get you out from under your student loans.  It’s ugly.

4) Apparently Amazon is moving away from even showing (typically misleading) list prices on it’s items.  Really interesting discussion of pricing and business practices.

5) I think this piece over simplifies, but I don’t doubt at all that the nature of human communities shapes the fundamental values of those communities.  In this, “farmers” and today’s working class are the authoritarians and the elites and their egalitarian values are the modern day “foragers.”  Alas, no discussion of the fascinating idea that honor cultures are an extension of herding societies.

6) Jeffrey Toobin on Clarence Thomas’ unique take on the Constitution:

The abortion dissent explains why Thomas is so cut off on the Court, even from his fellow-conservatives. He doesn’t respect the Court’s precedents. He is so convinced of the wisdom of his approach to the law that he rejects practically the whole canon of constitutional law. It’s an act of startling self-confidence, but a deeply isolating one as well. Even his ideological allies, who mostly come out the same way on cases, recognize that they must dwell within the world that their colleagues and predecessors created. Thomas, in contrast, has his own constitutional law, which he alone honors and applies.

7) A pretty entertaining take on the meaning of “Make America Great Again.”

8) This was a bit of a pain to set up, but given that I have unlimited free Google Drive space through NCSU, this is my new automatic backup system.

9) Turn your anxiety into excitement.  I’ve got a progeny or two to whom I’m going to show this video.

10) Poor Donald Trump.  The liberal media always making up his antisemitism and all-around bigotry out of whole cloth.

11) The headline says it all, “The FDA’s Abstinence-Only Approach to Eating Cookie Dough Is Unrealistic and Alarmist.”

12) Loved this column from Josh Levin explaining the logic of Kevin Durant’s decision.  Levin is generally about 2-3 analytical planes beyond most people who write about sports.

13) Where ordinary people and nutritionists disagree about what’s healthy (people way over-estimate the healthiness of granola and orange juice, among others  And seriously, people actually think frozen yogurt is healthy?!).

14) Great Pete Wehner column on the theology of Donald Trump and his troubling embrace by evangelical leaders:

This fulsome embrace of Mr. Trump is rather problematic, since he embodies a worldview that is incompatible with Christianity. If you trace that worldview to its source, Christ would not be anywhere in the vicinity.

Time and again Mr. Trump has shown contempt for those he perceives as weak and vulnerable — “losers,” in his vernacular. They include P.O.W.s, people with disabilities, those he deems physically unattractive and those he considers politically powerless. He bullies and threatens people he believes are obstacles to his ambitions. He disdains compassion and empathy, to the point where his instinctive response to the largest mass shooting in American history was to congratulate himself: “Appreciate the congrats for being right.”

What Mr. Trump admires is strength. For him, a person’s intrinsic worth is tied to worldly success and above all to power. He never seems free of his obsession with it. In his comments to that gathering of evangelicals, Mr. Trump said this: “And I say to you folks, because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back. Remember this: If you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You’re more powerful. Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don’t use your power. You don’t use your power.”

In eight sentences Mr. Trump mentioned some variation of power six times, to a group of individuals who have professed their love and loyalty to Jesus, who in his most famous sermon declared, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “Blessed are the meek,” who said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness,” and who was humiliated and crucified by the powerful.

15) I’ve read A Wrinkle in Time several times.  Never had put much thought into the meaning of the giant, evil brain, though.  Constance Grady does in Vox.

16) Dylan Matthews extensively details just horrific bull-fighting is.

17) In discussion about Trump’s potential VP pick on the most recent Slate political gabfest, John Dickerson pointed out that basically anybody with any hopes of a real political future in the Republican Party has withdrawn from consideration.  Whomever it is, should definitely be interesting.

18) Hippotherapy is awesome.  Need to do more of this with my son, Alex.

19) Open tab for too long… There’s way too many lame non-profit, private colleges.  Or, as this article states, “The Quality Crisis at America’s Private, Non-Profit Colleges.”  Or my take– non-elite private colleges: the worst value in higher education.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Nate Cohn on Trump’s real potential with working-class white voters.

2) John Dickerson makes the case for restraint.

3) Best way to get out of rip current to swim parallel to the shore– right?  Maybe not.

 4) Lee Drutman suggests that the over-population of lawyers in politics in America may be partially responsible for our high inequality.

5) NYT Op-Ed on bringing basic principles of deterrence to corporate crime (I love my Jetta, but some VW execs need some prison time):

If we are serious about preventing corporate crime, we must change the corporate calculus. First, we need to increase the chances that white-collar criminals will be punished. One approach is an “enforcement pyramid” in which corporate infractions are met with graduated responses that start with education and end, if necessary, with prosecution.

Second, corporate executives must face the very real prospect of doing time in prison and not just pay fines. Judges have handed out very long sentences in well-publicized cases — Bernie Madoff and Jeff Skilling of Enron, for example. But these few severe penalties are not nearly as effective a deterrent as imposing relatively short prison sentences on a much larger number of white-collar defendants.

6) Dressers that can fall over when not anchored to the wall are not “defective” dressers, they are just plain dressers.  Physics.  Seems to me Ikea is doing due diligence through anchoring kits and public awareness.  I’ve put together a number of Ikea products in the past few years and they all come with anchor systems built in and very strong encouragement to use them.

7) Fascinating detective story to try and uncover if “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is real.

8) Nobel Laureate scientists take on Greenpeace over their anti-science, anti-GMO agenda (there’s a reason I contribute to environmental causes but never Greenpeace):

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter states…

Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Post, “I find it surprising that groups that are very supportive of science when it comes to global climate change, or even, for the most part, in the appreciation of the value of vaccination in preventing human disease, yet can be so dismissive of the general views of scientists when it comes to something as important as the world’s agricultural future.”

9) Interesting take on why GOT’s High Sparrow is so hated.

10) Okay, yes, it seems wrong to mention female pubic hair “grooming” in this family-friendly blog😉, but what I found disconcerting in this NYT article about the amazing prevalence of the practice was just how many women seemed to think that allowing your body to keep it’s natural hair is somehow unhygienic.  On a quasi-related note, it is interesting that in TV and movies about dystopias, there’s not always enough razors for men to shave their beards, but there’s always something for the women to shave their legs and armpits.

11) In case you weren’t clear, the government’s no-fly list is a horribly Orwellian policy utterly lacking in due process.  Should we keep dangerous people from flying?  Sure.  Should there be due process?  Hell yes.

12) OMG we have a lot of people in military bands.  The Republicans might not be wrong to suggest we could have some cutbacks here.  For what it’s worth, when I was a kid, I first took percussion from a drummer in the US Navy Band before moving to a teacher in the US Air Force Band.

The Pentagon fields more than 130 military bands worldwide, made up of about 6,500 musicians, and not just in traditional brass and drum corps like the kind that will march in many Fourth of July parades on Monday. There are also military rock acts with artsy names, conservatory-trained military jazz ensembles, military bluegrass pickers, even a military calypso band based in the Virgin Islands.

All of this cost about $437 million last year — almost three times the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts.

13) Former Bush administration CIA official explains why not saying “radical Islam” is smart strategy.  I’m sure Donald Trump is listening.

14) On the challenges of adult male friendships.  I find it just sad that so many men feel they cannot discuss matters beyond sports, etc., with their male friends.  I have friends with whom I just discuss sports, work, politics (hey, that’s work!), etc., with, but my truest and closest friends are certainly those with whom I can share (and listen) what’s actually going on in my life that matters.  I cannot imagine not having that in my friendships.

From childhood on, Dr. Olds said, “men’s friendships are more often based on mutual activities like sports and work rather than what’s happening to them psychologically. Women are taught to draw one another out; men are not.”

15) As I mentioned in an earlier post, the best predictor of future violence is uncontrolled anger.  Here’s a take from a psychologist on using mindfullness to help control anger.  Policies that help encourage this sort of psychological treatment with populations prone to anger can surely help.

16) Jordan Weissman on how Bernie doesn’t really get global trade.  And Drum on how to do Free Trade better.

17) This was a really interesting/disturbing review of a new Mercedes with self-driving technology.  Seems that the car does not do such a great job of letting you know whether you, the human, or the computer is in charge.  That’s just asking for trouble.   Reminded me of a terrific 99% Invisible from just about a year ago about how the real difficulty in autonomous control systems is the impact that has on human psychology and decision-making.

18) One hell of an optical illusion.

19) Seriously, we have to find some way to limit the amazing amount of damage Saudi Arabia is doing to the world through relentlessly exporting their awful form of Islam.

20) Ended up attempting to explain “literary fiction” to my oldest son yesterday.  He was not impressed with my answer, even though I thought I did pretty well.  It’s complicated!  Anyway, I actually liked this take as much as any I came across.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Apparently, millennials are eating less cereal because you have to clean up a cereal bowl when you’re done.  Sad.  Alas, I think I may be failing my post-millennial as a parent (the larger point of this Wonkblog piece).

2) Low testosterone makes you a better dad.  Does that make me even better for being a good dad without low testosterone:-).

3) Not that big on the NBA, but I was so glad that Cleveland got a championship.  And I really enjoyed this Josh Levin piece on Lebron.

4) Kristof with a good piece on guns:

The Orlando killer would have been legally barred from buying lawn darts, because they were banned as unsafe. He would have been unable to drive a car that didn’t pass a safety inspection or that lacked insurance. He couldn’t have purchased a black water gun without an orange tip — because that would have been too dangerous.

But it’s not too dangerous to allow the sale of an assault rifle without even a background check?

5) The most mysterious object in the history of technology.

6) I’m sure I’ve noted the fact before that American sports are basically socialist while European sports leagues are much more meritocratic.  This is an excellent piece that actually explains the why behind this fact.

7) The Supreme Court’s horrible recent ruling on the 4th amendment really deserves it’s own post, but, busy, busy week.  Good take here:

The U.S. Supreme Court weakened the Constitution’s protections against unlawful police stops on Monday, ruling that evidence found during those interactions could be used in court if the officers also found an outstanding arrest warrant along the way.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for a five-justice majority in Utah v. Strieff, concluded that a Utah police officer’s “errors in judgment hardly rise to a purposeful or flagrant violation of [Edward] Strieff’s Fourth Amendment rights.”

But in a thundering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was less forgiving. “The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” she wrote, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

Later, writing only for herself, Sotomayor also added that the ruling “implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

8) Paul Waldman on the “catastrophe” of the Trump campaign.  And another piece on Trump’s campaign as a giant “political science experiment.

9) Chilling interactive feature on the Orlando night club shooting.

10) Seth Masket on the fact that open primaries just wouldn’t change things all that much.

11) As an avid photographer I loved this– why taking photos does not ruin the moment:

A new paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology supports this second view. It suggests that the act of taking a photograph often improves people’s experiences, by focusing their attention on the aspects of the moment most worth capturing…

The papers suggests that the benefits the researchers saw weren’t necessarily tied to photography, but more how photography forces people to notice their surroundings. The act of framing and taking a photograph helps to focus our attention on the aspect of the experience most worth capturing and remembering – a friend’s expression, or the way the light hits a landscape. In one study, the researchers tracked the eye movements of people visiting a museum, and found that those taking photographs looked longer and more frequently at the art.

12) The biggest threat to the US Economy?  Trump.  Quite seriously.

13) On why the worst fears of legal marijuana are likely overblown.

14) Yeah, I order a ton of books from Amazon.  But I love having a local Barnes & Noble, which I not only browse at, but purchase from because it deserves to be kept afloat.  Alas, the chain is in real danger and that’s a serious threat to book lovers:

In a world without Barnes & Noble, risk-averse publishers will double down on celebrity authors and surefire hits. Literary writers without proven sales records will have difficulty getting published, as will young, debut novelists. The most literary of novels will be shunted to smaller publishers. Some will probably never be published at all. And rigorous nonfiction books, which often require extensive research and travel, will have a tough time finding a publisher with the capital to fund such efforts.

The irony of the age of cultural abundance is that it still relies on old filters and distribution channels to highlight significant works. Barnes & Noble and corporate publishers still have enormous strides to make in fully reflecting America’s rich diversity. But without them, the kinds of books that challenge us, that spark intellectual debates, that push society to be better, will start to disappear. Without Barnes & Noble, we’ll be adrift in a sea of pulp.

15) I would argue that not income inequality, but rather inequality in genuine opportunity for economic mobility is the most substantial problem facing America today.  Tom Edsall with an excellent piece on the matter.

16) I had not really thought about the fact that the US national soccer teams don’t have more Latino players.  But they really should!  Good story on why they don’t.

17) Great take on those wanting to vote for the Green Party:

If my friends want the Green Party to really be the progressive party that will represent them and their interests, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a vote in a national election. It’s going to take an influx of volunteers and candidates at the local level who are willing to fight with current party representatives to make the Greens what they could be. It’s also going to take a shift in attitude away from the idea that doing politics is doing something dirty, corrupt, and wrong in itself.

So if you want to vote for a “little guy” like you, you’re not getting it in Stein. If you want a real alternative third party, you can’t get there by voting for the Greens as they run now. (Go lobby your local elections bodies for instant-runoff voting instead.) If you want someone fighting for economic justice on the national level, you’re not getting that from the Greens based on their history or strategy. If you want someone incorruptible, that’s not a promise any party can make.

About the only principle you can effectively uphold by voting for Stein is that politics shouldn’t be done by people who are good at it. And if that’s the message you’re trying to send, well, then I disagree vehemently. Government is our check on the strong, on the mob, on the rich. It doesn’t always do those things well, but that’s what it exists for. I want people in office who can do that job.

18) Wow, now this is what I call brilliant satire (on guns).  And the story.

 

19) I already listen to my podcasts at 1.5 speed.  Think of how much more TV I could watch if I did the same, like Jeff Guo.  But it somehow seems wrong.  Still, think I may give it a try.

20) Of all Trump’s absurdity, his taking on Hillary’s religion is definitely up there.  EJ Dionne on how Trump actually has a nasty and despicable habit of going after people’s religious faith.

 

A minor anti-Catholic rant

Okay, all you secular humanists can just skip this one:-).

So, for years I’ve been a group leader in Vacation Bible School with my various kids.  I’ve been doing it since David was in first grade and for years now  he has been my “teen assistant” for taking care of the group with one or the other younger sibling.  Anyway, Bible aside, it’s just a lot of fun– games, crafts, etc., with some learning about God thrown in.  Plus, I love hanging out with kids– not just my own.  I think my second favorite job after college professor might be third or fourth grade teacher.

The group leader gets to do pretty much all the same fun stuff as the kids during the week.  If it’s fun, I participate, too; if it’s boring I let the station leaders handle everything (and in recent years, surreptitiously check the world on my phone).

So, since I’m doing this every morning this week, you are getting less blog posts.  But I’ve got a mini-rant I’ve got to get out.  So, Protestants have been doing VBS for years.  They are really good at it.  They create VBS “kits” that are full of entertaining, creative ideas to making learning about the bible and religion active and fun (this company is great).  For Catholic churches, this is a newer thing.  Alas, some Catholics object to these Protestant kits for not being “Catholic” enough.  So, now there’s some Catholic kits that my church has switched to.  And they are horrible!  They’ve tried to reinvent the wheel and come up with a square.  Okay, that’s a little harsh.  There’s some good stuff, but so inferior.  For example, the Protestant kits come up with fun, interactive ways for the kids to actually act out and participate in a bible story.  Our version reads a bible verse for 5 minutes and then comes up with random, not particularly good kids games for the next 20.

And here’s the real kicker– there’s no meaningful difference between Catholicism and Protestantism when you are 7!  (And that’s about the median age of the kids).  Jesus loves you.  Be good to other people.  Pray.  Be thankful.  And variations on that.  So, give me the Protestant version of those sentiments and make it fun.

Okay, it still is fun, because the kids don’t actually realize how inferior the material is and there still are games, crafts, etc., and I still do really enjoy hanging out with kids, but so frustrating.  But now I feel better because I got that out.  And while you are reading this I may be helping some 5-year olds turn licorice into an angel before eating it.

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