Quick hits (part I)

Sorry for the delay.  Enjoy.

1) Fear of data to drive the conservative agenda:

Yet the Trump administration is running in the other direction. Any data that has even the faintest whiff of potential contradiction goes right out the window. Of course, these folks aren’t the first people in power to succumb to a fear of data. They do, however, seem to have found a profound expertise in the practice of eliminating it. Dataphobia chills them to the bone, I suspect because they hope to undermine not only some truths but all truth. David Roberts at Vox has written about what he calls an epistemic crisis in America, the idea that certain rulers and rich people hope to take away the basic idea of knowledge. If nobody can know anything, why bother to try to regulate anything? It’s government-by-ignorance—a shrugocracy.

Assaults on data have come before. “It’s the same reason an oil company doesn’t want research on climate change or a tobacco company doesn’t want research on the relationship between tobacco and cancer,” Vernick says. “Maybe they argue those researchers have an agenda and that’ll allow them to cook the books, but that’s an absurd argument. The worst thing you can do is cook the books. That is the way to guarantee the science is not used as part of policymaking.”

Throw in the way the automotive industry resisted safety regulations and the sugar industry in the 1960s shifted blame for health problems onto fats instead of sweets, ensorcelling nutrition research for half a century, and you have a pretty good accounting of the ways business interests have twisted, biased, and otherwise hammered science into behaving like a corporate drone instead of a defender of truth.

2) A serious effort to map the human microbiome.  This is a really, really good idea.

3) No need for the Percocet or other opioids for acute pain, stick with an Advil/Tylenol combo.

4) 8000 year old carved images of dogs— cool!

5) Damn.  This Bloomberg article about the coming retail apocalypse is scary

6) In theory, CRISPR with gene drive to stop invasive species is a pretty cool idea.  In practice, still far too risky.

7) Really nice interview with Emily Yoffe about her sexual assault on campus series.

8) Yglesias argues that Bill Clinton should have resigned.

To this line of argument, Republicans offered what was fundamentally the wrong countercharge. They argued that in the effort to spare himself from the personal and marital embarrassment entailed by having the affair exposed, Clinton committed perjury when testifying about the matter in a deposition related to Paula Jones’s lawsuit against him.

What they should have argued was something simpler: A president who uses the power of the Oval Office to seduce a 20-something subordinate is morally bankrupt and contributing, in a meaningful way, to a serious social problem that disadvantages millions of women throughout their lives.

But by and large, they didn’t. So Clinton countered with the now-famous defense: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Ultimately, most Americans embraced the larger argument that perjury in a civil lawsuit unrelated to the president’s official duties did not constitute high crimes and misdemeanors.

But looking back through today’s lens, this whole argument was miscast. The wrongdoing at issue was never just a private matter for the Clinton family; it was a high-profile exemplar of a widespread social problem: men’s abuse of workplace power for sexual gain. It was and is a striking example of a genre of misconduct that society has a strong interest in stamping out. That alone should have been enough to have pressured Clinton out of office.

9) And Chait so, no he shouldn’t have.  Or, somewhat differently, he should not have been impeached:

If the two parties agreed that Clinton’s behavior with Monica Lewinsky was very, very bad, what was the dispute about, anyway? It centered on the legal process. Special Counsel Kenneth Starr was appointed in 1994 to investigate Whitewater, a land deal that predated the Clinton presidency. Having failed to produce any evidence of criminality, Starr expanded his investigation and set a trap in which he could ask Clinton under oath if he had conducted an extramarital affair. When Clinton denied it, as adulterers tend to do, Starr nailed him for perjury.

At that point, Republicans concluded that it was not only proper but utterly essential to impeach and remove Clinton from office. It is impossible to capture the fervency with which the conservative movement made the case that the rule of law itself hung in the balance, and that allowing Clinton to remain in office after he had concealed his affair from Starr would render the Republic a lawless autarchy….

I wish we liberals had done more to take seriously the episodes of alleged rape and sexual assault that were not the basis for a national impeachment trauma. For better or worse, though, those episodes were not at issue. It’s hard to change the subject when Congress is conducting proceedings to impeach and remove the president. At issue was the procedural extremism of a Republican Party that was transforming before our eyes into the uncompromising fanatic faction whose character is fully manifest in the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore. I don’t think we got that wrong at all.

10) Nice Vox essay from Zephyr Teachout on how the Supreme Court has made a real mess of political bribery.

11) Peter Beinart on the subtle, pro-rich-educated-white-guy affirmative action he benefited from at TNR.

12) Why we are not doing a good job teaching writing anymore.  Short version– we don’t test it.  Longer version– teaching writing actually helps with the reading comprehension we do test.  That said, whatever they are doing in the Wake County writing curriculum for 6th grade is amazing– has made a huge difference with my son.

13) Did you think you are free from high blood pressure?  Not so fast.  Under new guidelines, many more Americans should be treated for high blood pressure.  So far I’m good– been doing around 117/75 or so lately.

The nation’s leading heart experts on Monday issued new guidelines for high blood pressure that mean tens of millions more Americans will meet the criteria for the condition, and will need to change their lifestyles or take medicines to treat it.

Under the guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.

“Those numbers are scary,” said Dr. Robert M. Carey, professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and co-chair of the committee that wrote the new guidelines.

The number of adults with high blood pressure, or hypertension, will rise to 103 million from 72 million under the previous standard. But the number of people who are new candidates for drug treatment will rise only by an estimated 4.2 million people, he said. To reach the goals others may have to take more drugs or increase the dosages.

Few risk factors are as important to health. High blood pressure is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of heart attacks and strokes, and heart disease remains the leading killer of Americans…

According to the new guidelines, anyone with at least a 10 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade should aim for blood pressure below 130/80.

14) Rebecca Traister on our post-Weinstein reckoning.

15) And a good question from Ruth Marcus,”If Republicans believe Roy Moore’s accusers, why not Trump’s?”

16) And credit to Mitch McConnell where it’s actually do.  Good for him for saying he believes the women.

 

17) Children learn to undervalue women from their parents– even their progressive parents:

Study after study shows that, among heterosexual parents, fathers — even the youngest and most theoretically progressive among them — do not partake generously of the workload at home. Employed women partnered with employed men carry 65 percent of the family’s child-care responsibilities, a figure that has held steady since the turn of the century. Women with babies enjoy half as much leisure time on weekends as their husbands. Working mothers with preschool-age children are 2 1/2 times as likely to performmiddle-of-the-night care as their husbands. And in hours not so easily tallied, mothers remain almost solely in charge of the endless managerial care that comes with raising children: securing babysitters, filling out school forms, sorting through hand-me-downs…

Empirical research shows that no domestic arrangement, not even one in which the mother works full time and the father is unemployed, results in child-care parity between heterosexual spouses. The story we tell ourselves, the one about great leaps toward the achievement of gender equality between parents, is a glass-half-full kind of interpretation. But the reality is a half-empty glass: While modern men and women espouse egalitarian ideals and report that their decisions are mutual, outcomes tend to favor fathers’ needs and goals much more than mothers’…

Ideals are no substitute for behavior. What are kids to make of their father sitting on his phone reading Facebook while their mother scrambles to prepare them for the day? It’s not hard to predict which parent’s personhood those offspring will conclude is more valuable. Children are gender detectives, distinguishing between the sexes from as early as 18 months and using that information to guide their behavior, for example by choosing strongly stereotyped toys. And family research shows that men’s attitudes about marital roles, not women’s, are ultimately internalized by both their daughters and their sons. This finding is a testament to kids’ ability to identify implicit power, to parse whose beliefs are more important and therefore worth adopting as their own.

18) Masha Gessen on Russian interference in 2016 “A Cacophony, Not a Conspiracy.”

19) Aarron Carroll on not giving into all the food scares.  Looking forward to reading his new book.

Too often, we fail to think critically about scientific evidence. Genetically modified organisms are perhaps the best example of this.

G.M.O.s are, in theory, one of our best bets for feeding the planet’s growing population. When a 2015 Pew poll asked Americans whether they thought it was generally safe or unsafe to eat modified foods, almost 60 percent said it was unsafe. The same poll asked scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science the same question. Only 11 percent of them thought G.M.O.s were unsafe.

Most Americans, at least according to this poll, don’t seem to care what scientists think. In fact, Americans disagree with scientists on this issue more than just about any other, including a host of contentious topics such as vaccines, evolution and even global warming.

If people want to avoid foods, even if there’s no reason to, is that really a problem?

The answer is: yes. Because it makes food scary. And being afraid of food with no real reason is unscientific — part of the dangerous trend of anti-intellectualism that we confront in many places today.

Food should be a cause for pleasure, not panic. For most people, it’s entirely possible to eat more healthfully without living in terror or struggling to avoid certain foods altogether. If there’s one thing you should cut from your diet, it’s fear.

20) Ezra on the “rigging” of the Democratic primaries.

21) Drum on the absurdity of the uranium “scandal.”

Everyone knows this is all that happened, and everyone knows that Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong when the State Department joined eight other agencies in approving the deal. But this is no longer about Clinton anyway. The whole thing is a last-ditch attempt to smear special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who headed the FBI when the Uranium One deal went through and is now causing Republicans a lot of heartburn over his investigation of Trump-Russia ties.² Blow enough smoke over this, and maybe he’ll be forced to resign—and a new, less aggressive special prosecutor can be appointed. It’s all pretty transparent, and every reporter writing about this knows exactly what’s going on.

22) News photographer denied access gets revenge on Trump with this photo:

 

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Photo of the day

Click on the link to see this big.  Still pretty cool small.  Milky Way from New Zealand:

Quick hits (part I)

1) Meant to do a post on this last week.  Anyway there are myriad examples of Donald Trump’s sad, little mind.  But few are better than his interview with Lou Dobbs.  Yglesias breaks down just how pathetic it is.

2) Speaking of sad minds… there’s a pesticide that experts believe likely (admittedly, the science is only suggestive not confirmed) damages children’s brains.  But why take chances with children’s brains?  So corporations can make more money, damnit!  The power to damage brains through presidential control of the bureaucracy.

3) Really liked Sarah Kliff’s piece on Bernie and Candanian health care:

Earlier this year, New Yorker write Atul Gawande went to the Appalachian area of Ohio, where he grew up, to ask people this question.

One of the things he ran into again and again was an opposition to health care as a right for people who don’t seem to deserve it. One woman he interviewed, a librarian named Monna, told him, “If you’re disabled, if you’re mentally ill, fine, I get it. But I know so many folks on Medicaid that just don’t work. They’re lazy.”

Another man, Joe, put it this way: “I see people on the same road I live on who have never worked a lick in their life. They’re living on disability incomes, and they’re healthier than I am.”

As Gawande notes in his piece, “A right makes no distinction between the deserving and undeserving.” But he often found this to be the key dividing line when he asked people whether everyone should have health coverage. Often, it came down to whether that person was perceived to be the type who merited such help.

In his speech at the University of Toronto, Sanders argued that a universal health care system would only come as the result of political revolution…

On his Canada trip, Sanders seemed to recognize that core to a system like Canada’s is a belief, by the people, that all other people ought to have equitable access to health insurance. Sanders is bullish that this belief exists to a wide extent in the United States too.

“Frankly, in the United States, I think most people do believe it is a right and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or if you’re poor,” Sanders says.

But polling and reporting suggest otherwise. They show that belief doesn’t seem to exist in the United States right now. The question is whether Sanders can change that, whether he can persuade Americans to see health care the way he does — and the way Canadians do too.

4) Nice compilation on DJT’s absurd Halloween tweet.

5) It’s kind of hard to stop obsessing about tax cuts when that’s all Republicans talk about.  But EJ Dionne has a damn good point:

It is a victory for Republicans that the political conversation — when it’s not being hijacked by President Trump’s assorted outbursts and outrages — is focused on tax cuts. No matter how critical the coverage gets, the sheer amount of attention risks sending a message that taxes are the most important issue confronting the country.

This is entirely wrong, and it’s essential to challenge the whole premise of the debate. The United States does not need tax cuts now. Reducing government revenue at this moment will do far more harm than good. Conservatives are proving definitively that they don’t care in the least about deficits. And their claims that tax cuts will unleash some sort of economic miracle have been proved false again and again and again.

But there is an even bigger objection: The opportunity costs of this obsession are enormous because it keeps us from grappling with the problems we really do need to solve.

6) Some of the truly preposterously bad people Trump is trying to place in our government.

7) New theory on why humans eventually replaced Neanderthals in Europe.

8) Anatomy or Russian facebook ads.  Yes, Russia acted with malice.  But it could not have worked without millions of Americans stupid enough (and largely primed by right-wing media) to believe this crap.

9) Enjoyed this NYT feature on NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Never even heard of the guy till last week.  Not only is he putting up amazing numbers, he has an amazing story.

10) Megan McArdle on Republicans using the tax code as a weapon.

11) And what they are proposing on Higher Ed and taxes is just stupid and counter-productive.

12) NYT with a nice winners/losers summary on tax proposals.  Short version– corporations and rich people win big.  Surprise surprise.

13) When your body is severely taxed and it’s got to choose between the brain and the body, it chooses the brain.

14) So that pumpkin pie filling in cans.  Not really so much real pumpkin.  But the whole “pumpkin” thing is actually complicated.

15) While watching the Redskins struggle mightily with a lineup decimated by injuries, it got me thinking that over the small sample of 16 regular season NFL games, the luck of the draw surely plays a hugely disproportionate role.  It does.  This was the best article I could find on it.

16) Sticking with sports, the case of NC State basketball player, Braxton Beverly, shows how stupid, stupid, stupid, the NCAA can be.  Beverly transferred to NC State after starting a summer class at Ohio State, but then OSU fired their coach.  Beverly never even practiced basketball with OSU, but the NCAA thinks he needs to sit out a year for trying to get a head start on his college coursework.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: The NCAA has a waiver process for a reason, and it should always be used with common sense and decency. I’m not sure how anybody could disagree with that sentence. And yet there’s nothing decent or sensible about the way the NCAA handled the cases of Jalen Hayes and Evan Batteylast week. And now the NCAA has doubled-down on stupidity and punished Braxton Beverly for reasons that even Duke fans find appalling.

Which is perfect, isn’t it?

The NCAA’s handling of this case is so indefensible it has Duke fans taking up for an NC State player. Thus, the people who reached this conclusion should be embarrassed and ashamed. Braxton Beverly deserved better. And if the folks who handled his waiver are too dumb to realize that — and too tone-deaf to avoid yet another public relations hit — then perhaps they should be replaced by decent humans who actually put student-athletes first the way the NCAA has forever pretended to do but so rarely actually does.

17) Nice summary of what my Chinese Politics scholar friend was telling me:

Perhaps most ominously, Xi envisions his updated police state as a model for the rest of the world. Twenty-five years ago, the liberal democratic system of the West was supposed to represent the “end of history,” the definitive paradigm for human governance. Now, Xi imagines, it will be the regime he is in the process of creating. “It offers a new option for other countries and nations,” he said during a three-hour, 25-minute speech that was its own statement of grandiosity. “It offers Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind.” …

It would nevertheless be dangerous not to take China’s strongman seriously. He is imagining a world where human freedom would be drastically curtailed and global order dominated by a clique of dictators. When a former chief political adviser to the U.S. president applauds that “adult” vision, it’s not hard to imagine how it might prevail.

18) Jelani Cobb on John Kelly and the Civil War.

19) Adam Serwer with a great take on the pernicious persistence of false beliefs about the reality of the Civil War.

That the nation’s rebirth, in which the promises of its founding creed first began to be met in earnest, is regarded as sorrowful is a testament to the strength of the alternative history of the Lost Cause, in which the North was the aggressor and the South was motivated by the pursuit of freedom and not slavery. The persistence of this myth is in part a desire to avoid the unfathomable reality that half the country dedicated itself to the monstrous cause of human bondage. The freedom that the South fought for was the freedom to own black people as property. The states’ rights for which the South battled were the right to own slaves and the right to expand slavery.

20) Will Saletan on John Kelly’s dishonesty.  Indeed.

In the days ahead, you’ll hear a lot about Kelly’s character. On the left, you’ll hear that he’s a racist. On the right, you’ll hear that he’s a patriot. Some of these arguments hinge on interpretation or speculation about his motives. But this dispute doesn’t. Either Kelly told the truth about Wilson, or he didn’t. The evidence says he didn’t. Instead of admitting error, he’s repeating his smears and trying to make his story impossible to check. If anyone else behaved this way, you’d call that person a liar and a coward. That, four stars or not, is what John Kelly is.

21) And while we’re at it… I was reviewing the assigned reading for Women in the Military next week and noticed that John Kelly features prominently in this as the chief opponent of women having combat roles.  (And here’s something you can probably actually access).

22) The Politico feature on John Boehner that everyone was talking about earlier this week.  Good stuff.

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) As German Lopez points out, we already know what to do about opioid addiction– medication-assisted therapy.  The problem is, our backwards, anti-scientific views of the matter prevent the best practices from being widely used.

2) Or as this Scientific American piece puts it, “People Are Dying Because of Ignorance, not Because of Opioids.”

For about 20 years, the number of Americans who have tried heroin for the first time has been relatively stable. Heroin use specifically and opioid use in general are not going anywhere, whether we like it or not. This is not an endorsement of drug use but rather a realistic appraisal of the empirical evidence. Addressing the opioid crisis with ignorant comments from political figures and the inappropriate use of public funds do little to ensure users’ safety. Perhaps, for once, we should try interventions that are informed by science and proven to work.

3) Dan Drezner on the need for Rex Tillerson to resign ASAP.

4) Jennifer Rubin on the  “dunces” ruining (really, running) the GOP’s economic agenda.

5) Best thing I’ve read on Russian misinformation and the role of Facebook in 2016.

6) Nobody except Netflix knows how many people watch Netflix shows.  Nielsen has found a way to change that.

7) Personally, I think it is pretty cool that Google Maps added a feature letting you know how many calories you would burn by walking (rather than driving) a given route.  Alas, this is why we cannot have nice things:

“We’ve gotten into this habit of thinking about our bodies and the foods we take in and how much activity we do as this mathematical equation, and it’s really not,” she said. “The more we have technology that promotes that view, the more people who may develop eating disorders might be triggered into that pathway.”

On Monday night, Google pulled the feature, which it said was an experiment on its iOS app. The decision followed a wave of attention on social media; while some of the responsessaw Google’s feature as promoting exercise, there were several complaints that it was dangerous or insulting.

Some users were especially upset that the app used mini cupcakes to put the burned calories into perspective, framing food as a reward for exercise, or exercise as a prerequisite for food. (One mini cupcake, it said, was worth a little less than 125 calories, but no information was provided about how that calculation was made.)

At least have it as an option that can be turned off.  But, really, we have to worry about people being “triggered” by the number of calories involved in walking a few blocks?

8) Sarah Kliff on why American health care is so expensive.  The prices.  We pay more for literally everything.  Want to really understand it?

9) Kevin Drum on how Wisconsin is absurdly effective at voter suppression.  The fact that courts let Wisconsin get away with this is almost as damning as what Wisconsin Republicans have done.

10) Barbara Radnofsky argues that impeachment was designed for a president like Trump:

The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Constitution’s preamble, and future president James Madison were worried about a leader who would “pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation” — theft of public funds — “or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers,” as Madison put it. Morris, who like many in the colonies believed King Charles had taken bribes from Louis XIV to support France’s war against the Dutch, declared that without impeachment we “expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate [the President] in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him.”

11) Man bused for Meth that was actually Krispy Kreme donut glaze.  Thank you War on Drugs!

12) Those who care the most about the issue of GM foods are, of course, most likely to have the false belief that GM foods are worse for human health:

 

13) Saletan on the atrociously-misnamed “values voters” who support Trump.

14) Sure, GW Bush said some important things about the direction of the Republican Party.  But, he’s supporting Ed Gillespie’s racist, Trumpist campaign for Virginia governor that Bush was supposedly speaking against.  Actions.  Words.

15) Ryan Lizza on John Kelly this week:

Sanders shot back with the kind of statement that would be normal in an authoritarian country, suggesting that Kelly’s previous military service placed him beyond criticism. “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she said. “But I think that that—if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

No, it is not. Kelly is the chief of staff and a political operative. He held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump’s political opponents. No government official’s military background, no matter how honorable, makes him immune to criticism, especially given the subject at hand. Sanders’s response was unnerving. But the bigger lesson of the episode is that no matter how good one’s intentions are, when you go to work for Trump, you will end up paying for it with your reputation. For Kelly, not even his four stars prevented that. [emphasis mine]

16) OMG this essay from Kevin Williamson in National Review on the “white minstrel show” of politics is amazing.  I surely don’t agree with everything, but so much good, thought-provoking stuff in here.  A must-read.  Here’s a good snippet:

White people acting white have embraced the ethic of the white underclass, which is distinct from the white working class, which has the distinguishing feature of regular gainful employment. The manners of the white underclass are Trump’s — vulgar, aggressive, boastful, selfish, promiscuous, consumerist. The white working class has a very different ethic. Its members are, in the main, churchgoing, financially prudent, and married, and their manners are formal to the point of icy politeness. You’ll recognize the style if you’ve ever been around it: It’s “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” but it is the formality of soldiers and police officers — correct and polite, but not in the least bit deferential. It is a formality adopted not to acknowledge the superiority of social betters but to assert the equality of the speaker — equal to any person or situation, perfectly republican manners. It is the general social respect rooted in genuine self-respect.

Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-’em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-“elitism” of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: “I’m an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion.” Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: “I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level.” Trump’s rhetoric — ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. — has always been about reducing. Trump doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence it’s “the failing New York Times.” Never mind that the New York Times isn’t actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that they’ve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesn’t matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kid’s lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. That’s what all that ridiculous stuff about “winning” was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives — and how “smart people” came to be a term of abuse.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Of course researchers should house monkeys in shared cages.  To do otherwise with any social animal is just cruel.  I wish there weren’t primates in research at all, but since there are, it is nice to see it moving in this direction.

2) Let’s stick with the animal theme here.  Ed Yong on how domestication ruined dogs‘ pack instincts.

“The idea is that we’ve changed their psychology to make them into super-cooperative beings,” says Marshall-Pescini. But that’s only true for their relationships with us. By domesticating dogs (or rather, providing the conditions for them to domesticate themselves), humans ruined the pack instinct that makes wolves some of the most gregarious and cooperative hunters on four legs. “They adapted to the niche we provided for them and it changed their sociality,” Marshall-Pescini says…

Around 80 percent of dogs, in fact, are free-ranging, and their behavior shows just how different they are to wolves. They’re mostly solitary, scavenging alone on human garbage. When they do form packs, these groups are usually small and loose-knit. They might hunt together, but they mostly congregate to defend their territory. By contrast, wolves live in extremely tight-knit family groups. They rely on their pack-mates to bring down large prey, and they work together to rear each other’s pups. The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack, as Rudyard Kipling’s poem goes.  [And a slogan frequently seen on NC State t-shirts]

3) It was not that hard for the Vikings to deforest Iceland a thousand years ago.  It’s damn hard for modern day Icelanders do grow trees.  Leaving the country a wet desert.

4) Some researchers got the gender coding exactly backwards in their study meaning their interesting and unusual finding was flat-out wrong and exactly the opposite.

5) Damn, what is it with on-line social justice warriors and YA fiction?!  Ugh.  And, shame, shame, shame on Kirkus for giving in.

6a) A damn fine response to John Roberts “Sociological gobbledegook” pronouncement.  Honestly, Roberts is an intellectual embarrassment with statements like that.

“I don’t put much stock in the claim that the Supreme Court is afraid of adjudicating partisan gerrymanders because it’s afraid of math,” Daniel Hemel, who teaches law at the University of Chicago, told me. “[Roberts] is very smart and so are the judges who would be adjudicating partisan gerrymandering claims — I’m sure he and they could wrap their minds around the math. The ‘gobbledygook’ argument seems to be masking whatever his real objection might be.”

But if the chief justice hides his true objections behind a feigned inability to grok the math, well, that’s a problem math can’t solve.

6b) And an Election Law Blog post on the same matter.

7) And John Pfaff makes a solid argument that the Court could really benefit from official fact-checkers.

8) Conor Friedersdorf raises some really good points about universities and micro-aggressions.

9) Chait on the pending Republican tax cuts:

The last time Republicans had control of government, they explained that cutting taxes would not get in the way of fiscal responsibility. Not only would tax cuts produce faster growth, they argued, they would also force Congress to restrain spending. Their strategy utterly failed. Not only did the tax cuts fail to produce higher growth, they also failed to encourage spending restraint….

And so there they are, back to the exact same policy they tried in 2001: Pass a huge tax cut and hope somehow it leads to cutting spending. That this policy is now being carried out by the same people who rose to power by denouncing the failure of the exact same policy last time tells you everything you need to know about the state of economic policy thought in the Republican Party now.

10) I love this, “Want to raise an empowered girl? Then let her be funny.”  I do.  Also, my wife is really, really funny, but you have to know her pretty well first before you learn that.

Today we encourage our daughters to be ambitious and athletic, opinionated and outspoken. We want them focused on STEM and outfitted in T-shirts that read, “Who runs the world? Girls.”

But what if raising truly empowered girls also means raising funny ones? What if we teach our daughters that humor is their turf — just as much as any boy’s?

“One of the things that happens to girls is that they are encroached upon by the world,” says Lisa Damour, a psychologist and author of “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood.” “And one of the things that humor can do is . . . help girls stand up for themselves in ways that people don’t retaliate for.”

11) Speaking of my funny wife, I was telling her about the ACES scale earlier this week.  Came home and opened up the NYT, and first thing I saw was this story about childhood trauma impacting an troubled man’s adult life.

12) How prosecutors are banding together to hinder criminal justice reform.  All the more reason we need to reform prosecutors offices.

13) You really should read the Washington Post story on how opiate distributors worked to undermine DEA enforcement.

14) The (college) kids are alright.  Or, at least they are slightly more accepting of free speech of young adults not in college:

15) Sometimes I just have to call out George Will for being so pathetic.  Seriously, the man sure as hell does not deserve column inches anymore.  Here he is on abortion:

Pro-abortion absolutists — meaning those completely content with the post-1973 regime of essentially unrestricted abortion-on-demand at any point in pregnancy — are disproportionately Democrats who, they say, constitute the Party of Science. They are aghast that the Department of Health and Human Services now refers to protecting people at “every stage of life, beginning at conception.” This, however, is elementary biology, not abstruse theology: Something living begins then — this is why it is called conception. And absent a natural malfunction or intentional intervention (abortion), conception results in a human birth…

The court decided that the right to abortion becomes a trifle less than absolute — in practice, not discernibly less — when the fetus reaches viability, meaning the ability to survive outside the womb. The court stipulated that viability arrived at 24 to 28 weeks.

For the record, that’s a blatantly dishonest reading of Supreme Court jurisprudence on the matter (especially post-Casey) and a blatantly dishonest reading of liberal public opinion on the matter.

16) Yes, the White House seriously did release a graphic that says free trade causes wife-beating, among other social ills.  Dana Milbank:

On a page titled “socioeconomic costs of a weakened manufacturing base,” Navarro’s document lists, among other things: “higher abortion rate,” “lower fertility rate,” “increased spousal abuse,” “lower marriage rate,” “higher divorce rate,” “higher crime,” “rising mortality rate” and “increased drug/opioid use.”

Now, it’s true that job loss can lead to social ills, but the Trump White House officials involved in such social-science “research” made some enormous leaps of logic — that the social ills are caused specifically by the loss of manufacturing jobs and by nothing else, and that the job losses are caused by free trade rather than, say, productivity, technology or the failure of government policies. To use the technical, social-scientific lingo, Navarro “pulled this one out of his butt.”…

There is something charming and elegant about the White House’s sophistry, both in Sessions’s backlog calculation and in the free-trade=spousal-abuse logic. Essentially, Navarro identified two occurrences that may or may not be related and, without furnishing any evidence, proclaimed a correlation.

By that same logic, it would be fair to argue that the growth of free trade is also responsible for Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women, the rise of fidget spinners and the noxious habit of dabbing.

But why stop at free trade? Let’s apply the White House’s logic — identifying two things that correlate and capriciously declaring causation — to President Trump and his actions.

Using the White House method, we can conclude that Trump’s election has caused: a surge in inflammatory bowel disease and erectile dysfunction and, at the same time, record-high levels of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

17) Loved  this New Yorker article arguing that Civilization actually pre-dated agriculture.  And for the importance of fire in the matter.  My favorite part?  My 11-year old son read his first New Yorker article.

18) This NYT magazine feature on the replication crisis in Psychology and how the “revolution” came for Amy “power pose” Cuddy was great reading.  Had a great discussion about this with my colleagues.

Quick hits (part I)-

1) Everything is connected.  How people foolishly letting their pet pythons loose into the everglades has no unleashed more mosquito-borne illness in Florida.

2) Gabriel Sherman on the adult day-care center that is the White House.

3) My one-time co-author Eric McGhee on how Alito deliberately mis-used his research.

4) Nothing divides Americans like owning a gun (and plenty of other cool maps, too).

5) Professor makes a case for, “Conservatives are the real campus thought police squashing academic freedom.”

6) How HBO’s “The Night Of” should be the model for single-season TV.

7) Fred Kaplan on Trump’s no-good, horrible, awful, Iran speech (and the no-good, horrible ideas behind it):

President Trump’s statement Friday on the Iran nuclear deal may be the most dishonest speech he has ever given from the White House—and, depending what happens next, it could be his most damaging. It flagrantly misrepresents what the deal was meant to do, the extent of Iran’s compliance, and the need for corrective measures. If he gets his way, he will blow up one of the most striking diplomatic triumphs of recent years, aggravate tensions in the Middle East, make it even harder to settle the North Korean crisis peacefully, and make it all but impossible for allies and adversaries to trust anything the United States says for as long as Trump is in office.

It is well known that Trump hates the Iran nuclear deal, which is formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. During the election campaign, and again in Friday’s speech, he has called it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” in U.S. history. And yet, all of his advisers, all the European allies who co-signed the deal, and even the vast majority of Israeli military and intelligence officers—including some who opposed the deal in the first place—have urged him not to pull out.

8) Personally, I love the idea of flat-out limiting the number of guns you can own, and two sounds like plenty to me.

9) Yes, even white supremacists should have freedom of speech.  And for BLM to try and deny freedom of speech to the ACLU for believing that everybody gets freedom of speech is a real stain on the William & Mary chapter that did this.

10) All those people who complain about how much teachers unions protect bad teachers should maybe focus on police unions.  Bad teachers don’t lead to dead people.  Bad cops who get reinstated, though…

11) Linda Greenhouse on Trump, birth control, and church over state:

The real point is that the Trump administration has outsourced a crucially important building block of national health care policy, enabling a fanatical fringe of the Republican base to exercise raw political power, clothed in religiosity under cover of the grandiloquently named Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That 1993 law, passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities and signed by President Bill Clinton, is the object of growing buyer’s remorse on the part of liberal and moderate Americans — and should be…

The Trump administration’s rescission of the government’s birth control mandate, not only for these organizations but also for others that never even got around to asking for it, is thus a reward for intransigence matched only by the Senate’s blockade of the Supreme Court vacancy intended for Merrick Garland that it eventually handed to Neil Gorsuch…

I used to think — in fact, I wrote last year — that the resistance to the contraception mandate was fueled by cultural conservatives’ determination not to let federal policy normalize birth control. But now I think it’s deeper than that. Conservatives, even the publicly pious ones, don’t seem to have a problem with limiting the size of their families. (Vice President Mike Pence has two children, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has three. Need I say more?) The problem they have is with what birth control signifies: empowering women — in school, on the job, in the home — to determine their life course. That’s what they don’t want to normalize. It comes as no surprise which side Donald Trump is on; his administration’s action last week makes perfect sense. Or none at all.

12) I love this simple rule for men to avoid sexual harassment, “It’s as clear cut as this: Treat all women like you would treat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.”  Really.

13) The California couple who barely survived the wildfires by hiding in their neighbors’ swimming pool.

Quick hits (part II)

1) On President Obama crying after leaving Malia at college. That’ll be me someday.

2) Aaron Blake on Trump’s absurd Puerto Rico tweets yesterday:

Anybody who is surprised at this from a president who attacked a former prisoner of war for being a prisoner of war, criticized a Gold Star family and made fun of a reporter’s physical disability has a short memory. This is who Trump is. He doesn’t accept criticism and move on; he brings a bazooka to a knife fight — even when those wielding the knife are trying to save lives.

But it’s also hugely counterproductive. In three tweets, Trump has moved a simmering, somewhat-negative story for his administration to the front burner. He decided to attack a sympathetic character and turn this into a partisan political debate. Cruz is pleading for help by saying, “We are dying.” Trump essentially told her to stop complaining. He’s also arguing that somebody who is in charge of saving lives is somehow more interested in politics. That’s a stunning charge…

Trump may succeed in getting his base to fight back against the narrative that the Puerto Rico recovery isn’t going well. And perhaps this will all result in the same political stalemate we’ve seen on so many Trump-related controversies, with 35 percent to 40 percent of the country standing by Trump, and most of the rest being outraged.

But that’s not really the point. Most controversies are temporary and blow over. Puerto Rico is a legacy issue for Trump — something that, like Hurricane Katrina, could color views of him for years or decades to come.

3) I had vaguely heard of this “four tendencies” framework and a friend said that it really helped her understand her child.  I’m very much a questioner.  Curious about your thoughts on this and its validity.

4) Great Ezra Klein piece on the broken Senate.  This is going to my Intro and Public Policy classes.

The root issue here is that the Senate’s legislative process has been upended by the abusive use of the filibuster, and neither party has been willing or able to address it. The result is the US Senate is moving towards a process where major bills are protected from filibusters, but the cost of that protection is those bills are distorted by a nonsensical process where the goal is surviving parliamentary challenge, not writing the best policy. The possible costs here are immense: a future in which most significant legislation is drafted poorly and the country is left to suffer the consequences.

“Reconciliation was designed for minor budgetary adjustments, not major policy proposals,” said Alan Frumin, a former Senate parliamentarian.

Neither party likes this state of affairs. Neither party meant to create this state of affairs. And it’s time both parties had the courage to come together and address it.

5) Catherine Rampell on the “ridiculous” GOP tax plan.

6) Drum points out that the vast majority of economists think the GOP is a joke on taxes.

7) Pornhub, yes Pornhub, taking major steps to help users with visual impairments.

8) German Lopez, “A massive review of the evidence shows letting people out of prison doesn’t increase crime.”

9) Cory Booker knows that to end mass incarceration, we have to address it at the state level.  John Pfaff on why that’s such a hard problem:

But any federal law aimed at reducing state incarceration rates must confront the fact that criminal justice costs and benefits are scattered across agencies at every level of government. Decarceration will create winners and losers, and the losers are going to fight to keep prisons full. Any federal action that is blind to these realities will fail.

10) There is no free speech crisis on campus.

More interesting than the flaws in the poll’s execution is the buried lede: the poll failed. Look behind the absurd headlines and the poll demonstrates the opposite conclusion. College students are much more open to free speech than the general public. If it’s “chilling” that 20% of college students misunderstand free speech, what word should we use to describe the quarter of the American public and almost half of Republicans who support censoring unfavorable media outlets. Also from this poll, the college students who identified as Democrats were more open to free speech than their Republican peers. And perhaps the most important lesson from these poll results: a carefully constructed poll can get a small minority of respondents to endorse almost anything.

There is no public space in America more open to diverse opinions than our college campuses. What we are seeing there is not a crisis of tolerance, but a stark collapse in support for the Party of Donald Trump among the cream of a rising generation.

11) Republicans are pushing tax cuts, not tax reform, as Ryan Lizza explains.  I sure wish the media understood the difference.

Instead of doing the hard work of crafting a revenue-neutral tax reform, which requires taking on powerful political constituencies and working with Democrats, Republicans will fall back on arguing that the economic effects of the tax legislation will be so powerful that it will pay for itself with growth.

12) As Paul Waldman puts it, “the media needs a tax tutorial.”

To appreciate how the press is allowing the GOP to deceive the public, you first have to understand the fundamental argument Republicans are making. Their central justification for the tax cuts is that while it looks like they’re a big giveaway to the elite, in fact they are sprinkled with a magical pixie dust that not only spreads their benefits to everyone, but enables us to cut $1.5 trillion in taxes over the next 10 years without costing the government a cent. In fact, not only won’t the deficit go up, it will go down!

This argument is, in a word, false. Untrue, bogus, fallacious, fraudulent, phony. Yet again and again, reporters allow it to go unchallenged…

Which is why, every single time a Republican makes the claim that cutting taxes will create jobs and increase growth, the journalist doing the interview has an obligation — not an option, but an obligation — to say, “Hold on a minute. According to all the evidence we have, what you just said is false. Can you tell me what evidence you have for that claim?”

That’s not combative or hostile or biased, it’s basic journalism. It’s making sure that important political figures don’t throw up a fog of misleading justifications for what they’d trying to do. We may not be able to stop them from trying to deceive the public. But we don’t have to make it easy.

13) Don’t ever get stung by a tarantula hawk (wasp).  If you do, “just lie down and start screaming.”

14) Nice Brett Stephens column on the dying art of disagreement.

15) Why we cannot destroy hurricanes with bombs (or anything else).

16) How do public employees in NC get a $50,000 raise?  Political connections, of course, from those Republican stewards of taxpayer dollars.

17) Kind of crazy how Richard Rorty predicted Trump about 20 years ago.

Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers – themselves desperately afraid of being downsized – are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for – someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.

18) How technology has changed news photography.

19) Trump’s attempts to the contrary, Americans actually understand what the NFL protests are about.

20) Can American basketball teams build better players by following the model of European soccer?

 

 

 

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