Quick hits (part II)

1) Pew with a thorough look at public opinion on the border and the shutdown.  Partisanship is a thing.

GOP support for expanding border wall rises; Democratic support falls

2) David Brooks on “putting relationship quality at the center of education.”  I’ve been saying for years and years, that just like Coach K coaches for the relationships, not the championships, I teach for the relationships.

3) I loved the Gillette ad.  Even allowed myself to be goaded into a semi-rare facebook argument (I won, of course– no really, I did), but I also really like Drum’s take on the damn liberals who have to push everything too far.  I also like that he takes on the worst of Vox, which he’s right about and weakens otherwise great journalism.

Well, plenty of men aren’t happy with it. No surprise there. But apparently some women aren’t happy about it either, even though it conveys an explicitly feminist message. Why? Well, at the risk of pissing off some friends, I have to make a confession here: The ism writers at Vox (sexism, racism, ageism, etc.) are always on hand to describe and explain these things. And they always defend the most extreme woke view. Nevertheless, I read most of their wokeness articles anyway, sometimes because they’re good but other times because I’m curious to find out what excuse they’ll use this time to defend the most extravagantly excessive view out there. For the Gillette ad, here it is:

Men who are angry about a commercial and calling for a boycott of a razor company in the comments of a YouTube post are also writing things like, “Gillette is desperately deleting critical comments for fear that people will know about what men are saying about this radical feminist advert.”

These arguments make no sense whatsoever. Still, this ad is a misfire, in that it is a blatant attempt to make money off a painful and ongoing collective action that has not even an indirect relationship to face razors. Is it likely that there were people at Gillette with good intentions and people at Grey who wanted to help realize them? Absolutely! However, it is inherently nonsensical to use feminism to sell men’s grooming products, or any products, as feminism is a political movement bent on dismantling current structures of power, which likely includes multibillion-dollar corporations like Procter & Gamble.

Really?

The reason this commercial is bad is because feminism is dedicated to destroying all large corporations, and it’s therefore inherently nonsensical for large corporations to promote feminist views in their advertising? This wouldn’t pass muster in a freshman women’s studies course. How does it make it past an editor? It persuades no one except those who are already part of the drum circle. Everyone else either skips it entirely or just guffaws when they read it.

I’m not just nitpicking a single piece, either. It doesn’t matter if the subject is liberalism, conservatism, guns, abortion, feminism, racism, climate change, or anything else. We all have to be willing to call out the nonsense on our own side when we hear it. We can’t just automatically go along with the most extreme voices out of fear that we’ll no longer be considered part of the movement if we suggest that maybe someone has gone a wee bit too far.

Anyway: this is just a commercial. Sure, it uses consciousness raising in service of making money. So what? If corporate chieftans are willing to bet that promoting feminism is good for the bottom line, all the better for feminism. How else are you going to reach a hundred million men in prime time, after all?

4) Farhad Manjoo makes the moral case for open borders.  And, for the record, even the liberal NYT commenters let him have it.

5) Apparently treating children equally is a pretty new innovation.  My take is: love your children so that they are each convinced they are your favorite.  It’s actually such a taboo to have favorites that I enjoy joking to my classes that I rank order my children every day with refrigerator magnets.  Anyway, good stuff from Jennifer Traig:

Modern parents haven’t stopped playing favorites; they’ve just stopped doing it openly. Though few parents today will admit they have a favorite child, studies indicate that about two-thirds of parents do. In one small but astounding survey, 80 percent of mothers acknowledged favoring one child over the others. This was no secret to their children, 80 percent of whom agreed. Interestingly, however, when they were asked which child their mother loved most, they almost always got it wrong. Similar results are borne out in larger studies: Two-thirds of children accurately perceive that their parents have a favorite, but less than half get the favorite right.

The idea that you’re supposed to treat your children equally is recent, and it’s still not the norm in much of the world, where different siblings might have different roles and even different titles. In English, we refer to both younger and older siblings as sister or brother, but Chinese has separate terms for each. A gege (older brother) has different rights and responsibilities than a younger one (didi), as do a jiejie (big sister) and meimei (little sister). In Japan, an old slang term for the second son was “Master Cold Rice,” because historically he ate only after the firstborn got his food.

Treating all your children the same is certainly not the norm historically, either. Playing favorites is called “parental differential treatment,” and it was standard practice until fairly recently. Treating all your children the same would be as ridiculous as, say, treating your husband and the doorman the same because they’re both men, greeting them both with kisses and giving both tips for bringing up the mail. The two just play different roles, and there are different expectations for each.

6) Border reality via NPR: “For 7th Consecutive Year, Visa Overstays Exceeded Illegal Border Crossings.”

7) Meanwhile, Drum brings a whole host of border/immigration reality with lots of great charts.

8) This is cool… by making you brain work harder, the Sans Forgetica font can help you learn better.

9) Really enjoyed this from the Economist on why our weeks seven days.  Because… ancient Mesopotamians.

10) Really like this new research from friend PID expert Alex Theodoridis (with Stephen Goggin and John Henderson):

To what extent do voters grasp “what goes with what” among key political objects as they attempt to understand the choices they face at the ballot box? Is recognition of these associations limited to only the most informed citizens? We design a novel conjoint classification experiment that minimizes partisan boosting and allows for the relative comparison of attribute effect when mapping voter associative networks, the cluster of attributes linked to parties and ideological labels. We ask respondents to ‘guess’ the party or ideology of hypothetical candidates with fully randomized issue priorities and biographical details. There is remarkable agreement among both high- and low-knowledge voters in linking issues to each party and ideology, suggesting this minimalist form of associative competence is more widely held in the mass public than perhaps previously thought. We find less agreement about biographical traits, which appear to pose greater informational challenges for voters. Notably, nearly identical issue priorities and traits are associated with party and ideology, indicating these two dimensions are largely fused in the minds of today’s American voters.

11) Frank Bruni asks, “Will the Media Be Trump’s Accomplice Again in 2020?”  Ummmmm… yeah.

Democracies don’t just get the leaders they deserve. They get the leaders who make it through whatever obstacle course — and thrive in whatever atmosphere — their media has created.

“The shadow of what we did last time looms over this next time,” the former CBS newsman Dan Rather, who has covered more than half a century of presidential elections, told me. And what we did last time was emphasize the sound and the fury, because Trump provided both in lavish measure.

“When you cover this as spectacle,” Rather said, “what’s lost is context, perspective and depth. And when you cover this as spectacle, he is the star.” Spectacle is his métier. He’s indisputably spectacular. And even if it’s a ghastly spectacle and presented that way, it still lets him control the narrative. As the writer Steve Almond observed in a recently published essay, “He appears powerful to his followers, which is central to his strongman mystique.”…

Trump was and is a perverse gift to the mainstream, establishment media, a magnet for eyeballs at a juncture when we were struggling economically and desperately needed one. Just present him as the high-wire act and car crash that he is; the audience gorges on it. But readers’ news appetite isn’t infinite, so they’re starved of information about the fraudulence of his supposed populism and the toll of his incompetence. And he wins. He doesn’t hate the media, not at all. He uses us.

Did that dynamic help elect him? There’s no definitive answer. But we gave him an extraordinary bounty of coverage, depriving his rivals of commensurate oxygen and agency. And while our coverage of him had turned overwhelmingly negative by the final months of the 2016 campaign, it by no means started out that way.

12) Greg Sargent makes the case for Sherrod Brown:

Sen. Sherrod Brown will travel to the early presidential primary states in coming weeks, he confirmed to me in an interview. This will stoke speculation about the presidential ambitions of the Ohio Democrat who is widely seen as an ideal messenger for true economic populism as the antidote to President Trump’s sham version of the same.

At the core of Brown’s message is a simple idea: The way to confer dignity on work is to ensure that it pays well. Due to structural economic factors beyond ordinary Americans’ control, wages have stagnated for millions, with many trapped in the ranks of the working poor; but government can remedy this through the tax code by sending struggling Americans money.

Many progressive economists and Democratic lawmakers are coalescing around a way to do this, through one version or another of expanded tax credits for working people and families, to supplement their income and lift them out of poverty and/or closer to the ranks of the middle-class.

13) I cannot believe I was so late to the game of the terrific podcast literally produced in San Quentin by prisoners, “Ear Hustle.”  So good.  Host Earlonne Woods is amazing and so obviously completely rehabilitated.  How many other prisoners who have already served many years and could really benefit society are also languishing behind bars without a podcast to let us know?

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Quick hits (part I and only)

Sorry, just one this weekend.

And we’ll start with more Elizabeth Warren:

1) Matt Taibbi:

Media critics like Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) have pointed out that early campaign coverage is often an absurd tautology. We get stories about how so-and-so is the “presumptive frontrunner,” but early poll results are heavily influenced by name recognition. This, in turn, is a function of how much coverage a candidate gets.

Essentially, we write the most about the candidate we write the most about.

We do this with polls, but also narratives. Is Howard Dean “too liberal” to win? He is if you write 10,000 articles about it.

You’ll often see this “we think this because we think this” trick couched in delicate verbiage.

Common phrases used to camouflage invented narratives include “whispers abound,” “questions linger” and today’s golden oldie from the Times, “concerns” (as in, the prospect of Warren and Sanders running has “stirred concerns”).

Warren recently also has been hit with bad-coverage synonyms like a “lingering cloud” (the Times), a “darkening cloud” (the Globe) and “controversy” that “reverberates” (the Washington Post).

The papers are all citing each other’s negative stories as evidence for Warren’s problems. It’s comic, once you lay it all out.

2) And Peter Beinart:

Read enough news reports about Elizabeth Warren’s declaration that she is running for president, and you notice certain common features. In its story on her announcement, The New York Times noted that Warren has “become a favorite target of conservatives” and that, in a recent national poll, “only about 30 percent [of respondents] viewed her favorably, with 37 percent holding an unfavorable view.” The Washington Post observed that Warren’s claim “that she was Native American” has “come under relentless attack from Republican opponents.” It also quoted a Boston Globe editorial that called Warren “a divisive figure.” On CNN, the election analyst Harry Enten suggested that Warren’s “very liberal record, combined with the fact that Donald Trump has already gone after her” has made her a—you guessed it—“divisive figure” whose “favorable ratings are not that high.”

These observations are factually correct. But they also help create a false narrative. Mentioning the right’s attacks on Warren plus her low approval ratings while citing her “very liberal record” and the controversy surrounding her alleged Native American heritage implies a causal relationship between these facts. Warren is a lefty who has made controversial ancestral claims. Ergo, Republicans attack her, and many Americans don’t like her very much.

But that equation is misleading. The better explanation for why Warren attracts disproportionate conservative criticism, and has disproportionately high disapproval ratings, has nothing to do with her progressive economic views or her dalliance with DNA testing. It’s that she’s a woman.

As I’ve notedbefore, women’s ambition provokes a far more negative reaction than men’s. For a 2010 article in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, two Yale professors, Victoria Brescoll and Tyler Okimoto, showed identical fictional biographies of two state senators—one male and one female—to participants in a study. When they added quotations to the biographies that characterized each as “ambitious” and possessing “a strong will to power,” the male state senator grew more popular. But the female state senator not only lost support among both women and men, but also provoked “moral outrage.”

The past decade of American politics has illustrated Brescoll and Okimoto’s findings again and again.  [emphasis mine]

For the record, I think there’s plenty of non-gender-based opposition to Warren, but it is disingenuous to completely ignore the gender angle.

3) Liked Michele Goldberg’s take (where she also praises Washington governor, Jay Inslee).

Inslee dreams of uniting the country — including at least some of corporate America — against an existential external threat. “This is a moment where we can all be heroes, and all of us have a role to play in this heroic effort,” he said.

Warren is ready to lead a fight — a word she uses often — against the bloated, monopolistic ruling class inside our society. “America’s middle class is under attack,” she said in the video announcing the launch of her presidential exploratory committee. “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie.”

4) AOC suggests a 70% top marginal rate.  Yglesias explains that, given U.S. history, this is actually entirely reasonable.

5) A serious and thoughtful essay from Brook Lindsey on what the future of a sane, center-right, Republican Party should look like.  I wouldn’t vote for this party, but our country would be immeasurably better if this were what Democrats were fighting against/working with.

6) As for the rather sharp language on a potential impeachment, Jon Favreau is exactly right.

Of course, the NYT, apparently, does not have the power to ignore it, and it had front homepage coverage all day yesterday.

7) Really interesting Dana Goldstein piece on the various policies (and controversies) super-expensive school districts are looking at so that teachers can afford to live where they teach.  Just gotta love the wealthy homeowners who object to the “low-income housing” (specifically for educators!) bringing down their nearby home values.

8) Somehow I missed this September Amanda Ripley piece on why American colleges are so expensive.  It’s really good.

Ultimately, college is expensive in the U.S. for the same reason MRIs are expensive: There is no central mechanism to control price increases. “Universities extract money from students because they can,” says Schleicher at the OECD. “It’s the inevitable outcome of an unregulated fee structure.” In places like the United Kingdom, the government limits how much universities can extract by capping tuition. The same is true when it comes to health care in most developed countries, where a centralized government authority contains the prices.

9) Scott Alexander’s posts tend to be amazing in their thoroughness, which is why I don’t read them all that often.  And rarely read the whole thing when I do.  But even just skimming through this post on the astounding cost increases in health care and education was fascinating.

10) I actually came across a lot of interesting slightly older stuff this week while looking for readings for my syllabi.  Really liked this on education, “What If High School Were More Like Kindergarten? Students in the U.S. are being taught to focus only on becoming educated.”

After visiting a Finnish kindergarten, I felt anxiety thinking of my hyper-stressed high-schoolers. The kindergarten classroom had little seating; in fact, we were told that there were never more than eight chairs in it at a time. Instead, there were pillows and small stools placed haphazardly around the room. A large, beautiful, wooden tree created a canopy over a cozy carpet in one corner. A nook in another corner provided a quiet space for students who wanted time to reflect by themselves. Musical instruments, books, and art supplies were readily available at eye level for little hands ready to grab them.

As I observed this student-centered classroom created for independent learning and play, I wished it for my students; and even stronger still, I wished it for my own 1- and 3-year-old children. Because even though I am a public-school teacher who has an undying commitment to public education, I still worry about my own children entering school. I worry that years of driving toward academic achievement will morph them into tear-filled teenagers who have forgotten how to play. In fact, according to a separate Gallup survey, 79 percent of elementary-aged children feel engaged in school, while only 43 percent of high-schoolers do. This breaks my heart. Like Lauri Jarvilehto, I think learning matters more than education, and somewhere along the way, students in the U.S. are being taught to forget to learn and focus only on becoming educated. Even in Finland, many high-school students still find school boring, but Finland takes the issue of student boredom seriously. Recently, the country has begun a reform to rid high-schools of mandatory subjects altogether, leaning instead on “phenomenon-based” curriculum.

11) Matt Grossman with a terrific summary of what we know about ideological media bias.  Straight into the syllabus.

12) What happened to Tucker Carlson anyway?

People in media ask themselves this question with the same pearl-clutching, righteous tone they use when discussing their aunt in Connecticut who voted for Trump.

In a tweet, Jon Lovett of Crooked Media and Pod Save Americanoted, “Tucker Carlson’s transition from conservative serious-ish writer to blustery CNN guy to Daily Caller troll to race-baiting Fox News host is like ice core data on what led to this moment in our politics.”

In June, Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic, “Carlson squandered his considerable God-given talent for scrupulously true commentary, opting instead for clickbait at The Daily Caller or dumbed-down demagoguery at Fox.”

13) A former student (who should know better) recently posted about term limits.  I responded with Bernstein:

The U.S. is a large, complicated nation. It requires expertise to write laws for such a nation. Anyone can have good ideas, but it takes some real knowledge to turn them into laws. If members of Congress are only to serve for a short time, then they’re going to turn elsewhere for that expertise. Where? Lobbyists are happy to write laws if Congress will let them. So are bureaucrats in executive-branch departments and agencies. So is the president — well, not the president specifically, but the White House staff and others within an administration. Term-limited legislators would inevitably turn to one of those choices. And neither lobbyists nor federal bureaucrats are term-limited, nor are they likely to be interested in the particular circumstances of any member’s constituency.

14) I’m doing pretty damn well.  But I decided to give the NYT’s 30-day Wellness challenge a go anyway.  Starting tomorrow.

15) David Roberts on Republicans and “innovation” as the solution to climate change:

As The Hill recently noted, a growing number of Republicans have “settled on innovation as their primary position to counter progressive Democrats” on climate change. Innovation “has a critical role,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) told Fox News Sunday in November, “What the US needs to do is participate in a long-term conversation about how you get to innovation, and it’s going to need to be a conversation again that doesn’t start with alarmism.”

And most notably, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), current chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote a New York Times op-ed called “Cut Carbon Through Innovation, Not Regulation.”

The US has reduced emissions recently not through “punishing regulations, restrictive laws or carbon taxes,” he writes, “but because of innovation and advanced technology, especially in the energy sector.” He touts “investment, invention, and innovation.”

There’s no arguing: These are nice words. You’d be hard pressed to find an analyst in any field of economic policy who is against invention and innovation. Indeed, I have trouble recalling a single articulation of the anti-innovation position (though I’m open to correction).

But in the remainder of the op-ed, Barrasso — who has a lifetime score of 8 percent from the League of Conservation Voters — reveals what he means, and as climate policy, it is … unimpressive.

Rather than taxes, regulation, or legislation, Barrasso is eager to offer subsidies to the nuclear industry. He also wants to subsidize various uses for carbon dioxide captured from fossil fuel combustion — like enhanced oil recovery, which uses CO2 to force more oil out of the ground. (Needless to say, Barrasso is not among the co-sponsors on any carbon tax bill.)

That’s it. There’s not so much as a mention of whether these particular subsidies to large energy incumbents might produce the emission reductions needed, or any emission reductions at all. And Barrasso frames them as an alternative to policies that cost taxpayers money — as though subsidies are free.

It isn’t a climate policy. Like Paul Ryan’s infamous child-poverty initiative, it is an attempt to repackage familiar conservative policies — in this case, sporadic subsidies to favored industries, along with a promise of deregulation — under a fresh label.  [emphasis mine]

16) Why you should not freak out about the robot revolution.

17) Drum on how Americans seem to think crime is worse elsewhere despite the local news basically being crime, weather, and sports.

18) Richard Hasen with a very pessimistic (and, sadly, realistic) case for the Supreme Court doing all it can to enshrine partisan gerrymandering.

19) Three big insights into human evolution:

I will emphasize three big insights.

First, modern humans did not originate in a bottleneck after 200,000 years ago. Our origin was much deeper in time than this.

Second, our species originated in Africa from deeply structured ancestral populations. These were much more different from each other than any human populations are today. We do not know how they interacted or which gave rise to living peoples.

Third, some of these deeply divergent populations survived in Africa until recent times. During the time of human origins, “modern” humans were not alone.

This Christmas break, spend less time with your kids

Seriously.  Sort of.  Great Claire Cain Miller piece yesterday in the Upshot about the absurd over-parenting that now characterizes upper-middle class households.  I’m surrounded by it, of course, and probably guilty to some modest degree, but I would say the balance of the evidence is pretty clear we are harming our kids and creating excess parental stress– i.e., a lose-lose.  To be clear, spending time with your kids, especially in enriching activities, is great.  But not every moment of a kids day should be micro-manged nor should parents worry that if their kids are out playing in the neighborhood instead of going to an expensive summer camp that their kids will fall behind.  And, in fact, I think the evidence is pretty clear that, on net, helicopter parenting is bad for kids.

To rely on anecdote, my parents loved me a ton and I knew it and they spent quality time with me every single day.  But it was that constancy, not the volume or level of oversight that mattered.  Somehow I achieved pretty good success in life without every doing expensive summer camps and spending absolutely ungodly hours of my childhood watching Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, etc.

Anyway, some of my favorite parts of the article:

Parenthood in the United States has become much more demanding than it used to be.

Over just a couple of generations, parents have greatly increased the amount of time, attention and money they put into raising children. Mothers who juggle jobs outside the home spend just as much timetending their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.

The amount of money parents spend on children, which used to peak when they were in high school, is now highest when they are under 6 and over 18 and into their mid-20s…

While this kind of intensive parenting — constantly teaching and monitoring children — has been the norm for upper-middle-class parents since the 1990s, new research shows that people across class divides now consider it the best way to raise children, even if they don’t have the resources to enact it…

“As the gap between rich and poor increases, the cost of screwing up increases,” said Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who studies families and inequality. “The fear is they’ll end up on the other side of the divide.”

But it also stokes economic anxiety, because even as more parents say they want to raise childrenthis way, it’s the richest ones who are most able to do so.

“Intensive parenting is a way for especially affluent white mothers to make sure their children are maintaining their advantaged position in society,” said Jessica Calarco, a sociologist at Indiana University and author of “Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School.”

For the record, I don’t really buy that last part so much.  I suspect it is far more a basic psychological “keeping up with the Joneses” than an actual fear of one’s kids economic future.  Rather, if all the neighbors are parenting one way, many feel they need to do the same.  It’s just as much about pressure as is what clothes to wear in high school.  Anyways…

The American Academy of Pediatrics promotes the idea that parents should be constantly monitoring and teaching children, even when the science doesn’t give a clear answer about what’s best. It now recommends that babies sleep in parents’ rooms for a year. Children’s television — instead of giving parents the chance to cook dinner or have an adult conversation — is to be “co-viewed” for maximum learning…

Ia new paper, Patrick Ishizuka surveyed a nationally representative group of 3,642 parents about parenting. Regardless of their education, income or race, they said the most hands-on and expensive choices were best. For example, they said children who were bored after school should be enrolled in extracurricular activities, and that parents who were busy should stop their task and draw with their children if asked. [emphasis mine]

“Intensive parenting has really become the dominant cultural model for how children should be raised,” said Mr. Ishizuka, a postdoctoral fellow studying gender and inequality at Cornell.

Ugh.  In fact, I am ignoring my bored daughter right now so I can finish this blog post.  Seriously!  I really enjoy doing stuff with my kids so I do a lot of it.  But I am not here to entertain them.  And this:

Experts agree that investing in children is a positive thing — they benefit from time with their parents, stimulating activities and supportive parenting styles. As low-income parents have increased the time they spend teaching and reading to their children, the readiness gap between kindergarten students from rich and poor families has shrunk. As parental supervision has increased, most serious crimes against children have declined significantly.

But it’s also unclear how much of children’s success is actually determined by parenting.

“It’s still an open question whether it’s the parenting practices themselves that are making the difference, or is it simply growing up with college-educated parents in an environment that’s richer in many dimensions?” said Liana Sayer, a sociologist at the University of Maryland and director of the Time Use Laboratory there. “I don’t think any of these studies so far have been able to answer whether these kids would be doing well as adults regardless, simply because of resources.”

Actually, the question is not that open.  Twin studies make it pretty clear that, within a normal healthy range, parenting styles just don’t matter that much.  And, over-parenting can almost certainly be counter-productive, for children and their over-involved parents:

Psychologists and others have raised alarms about children’s high levels of stress and dependence on their parents, and the need to develop independence, self-reliance and gritResearch has shown that children with hyper-involved parents have more anxiety and less satisfaction with life, and that when children play unsupervised, they build social skills, emotional maturity and executive function.

Parents, particularly mothers, feel stressexhaustion and guilt at the demands of parenting this way, especially while holding a job. American time use diaries show that the time women spend parenting comes at the expense of sleep, time alone with their partners and friends, leisure time and housework. Some pause their careers or choose not to have children. Others, like Ms. Sentilles, live in a state of anxiety. She doesn’t want to hover, she said. But trying to oversee homework, limit screen time and attend to Isaac’s needs, she feels no choice.

Anyway, time to go help by bored daughter figure out one of her new Christmas presents.  We’ll have fun, but then it’s back to letting her entertain herself.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Thomas Edsall talks to political scientists about white identity politics

For 50 years Republicans have battered the Democratic coalition, wielding the so-called southern strategy — built on racism and overlaid with opposition to immigration — to win control of the White House and one or both chambers of Congress.

At the same time, Democrats have struggled to piece together a coalition strong enough to deliver an Election Day majority. In the 1950s, the Democratic coalition was 87 percent white and 13 percent minority, according to the American National Election Studies; it is now 59 percent white and 41 percent minority, according to Pew Research.

As the Democratic Party has evolved from an overwhelmingly white party to a party with a huge minority base, the dominant strategic problem has become the tenuous balance between the priorities of its now equally indispensable white and minority wings.

President Trump has aggressively exploited Democratic vulnerabilities as no previous Republican candidate had dared to do. The frontal attack Trump has engineered — in part by stigmatizing “political correctness” — has had a dual effect, throwing Democrats back on their heels while simultaneously whetting their appetite for a fight.

For Democrats to counter Trump effectively, a number of scholars believe it is essential to understand the motivations — the needs, beliefs and agendas — of those whites who have moved into the Trump camp. Only armed with that information, the way these scholars see it, can the left recapture enough of those voters to regain majority status on a more permanent basis, both in its battles for Congress and for the White House.

2) I like Saideman’s take on Mattis– yes, we will in fact miss him, but his “adult” influence has also been overrated.

3) Good take on the search for anti-conservative bias on google:

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that none of the Congress members complaining about Google’s anti-conservative bias appeared overly concerned that hate groups had hijacked YouTube. Instead, they kept hammering at the bias they claimed the company was directing against them.This is because, as Pasquale told me, the Republicans are very good at “working the refs” to get what they want. What they want here is to bring Google to heel, as they’ve done to Facebook, which conspicuously hired the conservative politician Jon Kyl to investigate its anti-conservative bias, and added an avowedly conservative publication, the now defunct Weekly Standard, to its fact-checking team, giving the magazine’s staff the ability to down-rank sources with which it disagreed ideologically.

But the #StopTheBias campaign has a more pernicious goal: it is yet another way for Trump and his minions to undermine the credibility of the mainstream media.

4) Yglesias on Paul Ryan’s farewell address:

The first half of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s farewell address to Congress is dedicated primarily to his effort to convince himself that a deficit-financed tax cut for the rich represents not just an idea he happens to favor, but a substantive legacy that constitutes a worthy career-long labor. Then it went off the rails.

In the back half of his speech, Ryan challenged Congress to address the needs of the poor as he claims he attempted during his time in public service. This claim is at odds with his many attempts to take away health care for America’s most vulnerable, his abandonment of tax incentives for the lowest earners, and his commitment to dubious anti-poverty programs.

“You all know that finding solutions to help people lift themselves out of poverty is a personal mission for me,” he said, echoing a line that he has shopped to a lot of journalists over the years but that there is no evidence of in his record. He then went on to say a bunch of stuff that isn’t true about the social safety net, the American poor, and his own record on either.

It’s a perfect capstone to Ryan’s career: Rich people get tax cuts; poor people get pious words and misleading rhetoric.

Paul Ryan is wrong about the war on poverty

Ryan’s entire thinking about the subject of poverty is shaped by his deep commitment to a fundamentally false premise: the notion that anti-poverty programs have failed.

5) Finally watched the SNL “It’s a Wonderful Trump.”  Definitely worth your time.

6) Dana Milbank, “This week in Trump inhumanity: Keeping a mother from her dying toddler.”

7) Drum makes a good case that even though vaping is better than smoking it is still really bad– the potential for a costly, life-long addiction to nicotine.

8) Speaking of nicotine addiction– a new study that shows meditation is amazingly successful for quitting smoking.

9) How Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” message unraveled.

10) Catherine Rampell, “Has the GOP tax cut delivered? Yes — and the tooth fairy was here just last night!”

11) Helluva graphic— most mentioned country on front of NYT over time.

12) Scientists have a found a new kingdom of life.  Whoa!

The tree of life just got another major branch. Researchers recently found a certain rare and mysterious microbe called a hemimastigote in a clump of Nova Scotian soil. Their subsequent analysis of its DNA revealed that it was neither animal, plant, fungus nor any recognized type of protozoan — that it in fact fell far outside any of the known large categories for classifying complex forms of life (eukaryotes). Instead, this flagella-waving oddball stands as the first member of its own “supra-kingdom” group, which probably peeled away from the other big branches of life at least a billion years ago.

13) “Gene-edited farm animals are coming. Will we eat them?”  I will.  Is it really so different than all the highly-selective breeding we’ve been doing for thousands of years?

Researchers, after years of fighting public skepticism on genetically modified foods, are hopeful but not optimistic. Advocates are lining up on both sides of the issue.

“We’re at this inflection point in society, where gene editing is really taking off, and now is the time we could have a more sustained public conversation about how we want it used in our world and how we don’t want it to be used,” said Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University. “All the polls indicate that people are less comfortable with animal biotechnology than plant biotechnology. . . . A regulatory system cannot be based 100 percent on science or scientific risk, and values come into play when setting the standards.”

14) David Leonhardt makes the case for Democratic Party populism in 2020:

There is only one quality — beyond, of course, charisma — that Democrats should demand in their nominee. The Democrats need a candidate who can and will run as an economic populist…

They need a candidate who will organize the 2020 campaign around fighting for the little guy and gal. (And most of the potential Democratic nominees could do so.) It would be a campaign about Republican politicians and corporate lobbyists who are rigging the game, a campaign that promised good jobs, rising wages, decent health care, affordable education and an end to Trumpian corruption.

The country doesn’t only need this agenda. It wants this agenda. A mountain of evidence shows that populism — the real kind, not the faux Trump version — is the Democrats’ most effective political strategy. Yet that evidence often gets obscured by less important issues, like a candidate’s race, sex or precise spot on a traditional liberal-conservative spectrum…

More than 60 percent think taxes on upper-income people are too low, according to Gallup. Almost 70 percent say the same about corporations. A clear majority also favors expanded government health care, more college financial aid, a higher minimum wage and tougher anticorruption laws…

This group is mostly white, mostly without a college degree and disproportionately rural, according to the analysis, by YouGov Blue and Data for Progress. On social issues, the group’s attitudes look pretty Republican. Many of its members think sexism isn’t that big of a problem, for instance. They express anxiety about demographic change and favor tighter border security.

These are the sort of voters that some Democrats had written off as irredeemable racists. But that’s a terrible mistake.

On economic issues, swing voters look decidedly un-Republican. They are even more populist than loyal Democrats. By a wide margin, they favor free college, a big expansion of Medicare and federal action both to reduce drug prices and to create jobs.

“These voters want leaders who are going to look out for them,” Alissa Stollwerk of YouGov told me. Trump persuaded many voters that he was their ally by running a racially focused campaign. Democrats have already shown they can win back a meaningful share of them by running an economically focused campaign.

15) Yeah, I get that we’re all completely used to Trump’s lies.  But how is that nobody cares that he so clearly lied about an issue at the heart of the whole Russia/collusion issue?!

16) Chait, “The More Republicans Lose, the Harder They Work to Rig the Game.”

17) The link between August birthdays and dramatically higher diagnoses of ADHD suggests that we are overdosing the disease.

These arbitrary cutoffs have important implications for the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, we found that among several hundred thousand children who were born between 2007 and 2009 and followed until 2016, rates of A.D.H.D. diagnosis and treatment were 34 percent higher among children born in August than among children born in September in states with a Sept. 1 school entry-age cutoff. No such difference was found among children in states with different cutoff dates. The effects were largest among boys.

We believe these findings reveal just how subjective the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. can be. In any given class, inattentive behavior among younger, August-born children may be perceived, in some instances, to reflect symptom of A.D.H.D., rather than the relative immaturity that is biologically determined and to be expected among children who are nearly one year younger than September-born classmates.

Though I’ve no doubt ADHD is over-diagnosed I can state from personal family experience that an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment with medication can make a huge positive difference for the family and for the firstborn son so diagnosed.

18) Among my favorite reads of the week is Yglesias on the conservative attack on democracy.  Read it.

The threat to democracy isn’t “populism”

All of which is to say that the real Trump-era threat to democracy is the opposite of populism.

Trump has many of the mannerisms and much of the style of a plebiscitary dictator who wields demagogic rhetoric to turn the crowd against liberal institutions. But in a real-world sense, Trump and his political allies are unpopular, and people keep voting against them.

They nevertheless wield vast political power, however, because of institutions. The Electoral College, gerrymandering, and the maldistribution of Senate seats allow the GOP to enjoy political power that’s disproportionate to their voting support.

A tight-knit group of Federalist Society lawyers and judges allow conservatives to advance policy ideas that lack public support through the judiciary. When in doubt, they fib and hope Fox News will help them muddy the waters.

The case will, of course, make its way up to higher courts, where hopefully cooler, more humane heads will prevail. But whether they do depends not just on the law but on the political context.

The rhetoric and practice of actual majoritarian populism — rather than simply assuming Chief Justice Roberts will do the right thing — is critical in moments like this. Judicial conservatives will be restrained in their activism if and only if they believe that defying the will of the people on such consequential matters will lead to their delegitimization.

It’s a fear they ought to have. But one which will only develop if progressive leaders are able to move beyond excessive fear of populism and learn to speak the language of popular majoritarianism and democratic self-rule.

19) Conservative blogger Ann Althouse had a post on my research.  Cool?  Anyway, interesting, but wrong take here:

I’ve observed over the years that researchers tend to explain any gender difference in a way that makes whatever is true of women good. This is an interesting example of that. You can see that they’re presenting the independence and courage of men as “risk taking,” “deviance,” and insensitivity to “morality.” I’m intrigued by the presentation of women as pushed by the Democratic elite. Is being a follower regarded as a positive quality (when you follow the Democratic elite)?

Quick hits (part II)

1) Paul Waldman with “All the ludicrous defenses Republicans offer on the Russia scandal.”

2) Of course, many Republican politicians refuse to even discuss anything bad about the president.

3) Of course the Trump administration is trying to make your air dirtier, too.  Seriously, this is not just liberal hyperbole.  Interview with a former EPA scientist.  What the hell is wrong with Republicans?!

4) And here’s a fascinating and disturbing story from NPR, “Customs And Border Protection Paid A Firm $13.6 Million To Hire Recruits. It Hired 2.”

5) And it links to an interesting AP story on absurd misuse of polygraphs in hiring.

6) Okay, finally a link that made me happy.  Alan Sepinwall ranks the best TV shows of the streaming era.  The winner: Bojack.

So far, streaming has produced one show that feels like an inner circle Hall of Famer. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s animated series — about a depressed, alcoholic, narcissistic horse (Will Arnett in the title role) who was a Nineties sitcom star — is capable of being TV’s funniest show and its saddest, often within seconds of each other. It takes advantage of the serialization that streaming subscribers so often want, even as its individual episodes often stand out as instant classics. It satirizes itself and the TV business as a whole while galloping rings around almost anything that business has done over the last few years. Everything else on this list ranges from very good to excellent but flawed; this is the one unequivocally Great streaming original so far.

7) I’ve been saying for years that “judicial activism” is simply any legal decision Republicans don’t like,  In a more traditional use, it does refer to judges who are aggressive in making new law (or overturning law) through their own interpretations.  The federal judge in Texas on the ACA is a perfect example of judicial activism amok.

8) A follow-up story a year later about a 12-year old boy who tried to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge who ended up living, but killing the motorist he landed on.

9) I’m so done with Christmas gifts.  Of course, this is the privilege of being comfortably upper-middle class.  Alas, I’m too lazy to try and invent a new tradition for my family and don’t exactly want to go cold turkey.  But once all the kids are older, definitely going to reduce to a secret santa or give to charity or something.

10) So, ten years later, it seems that, somehow, the Octomom has actually done a decent job raising her kids.  It also seems like she’s quite a liar and a little bit crazy.

11) This: “Not just Hill interns: Public office pays so little, it’s the realm of the rich and retired.”  Serving in government is incredibly important work.  We should actually compensate it like that and ensure that we get a far more diverse cross-section of society represented in public service.

12) I meant to include this in my intellectual humility post and forgot.  It’s good, “The Benefits of Admitting When You Don’t Know.”

Then again, as Nobel Prize–winning astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar noted, believing that you “must be right”—in other words, lacking intellectual humility—can actually stymie discovery, learning, and progress.

Given this puzzle, my colleagues and I set out to test whether intellectual humility was empirically associated with learning outcomes.

We started by measuring high school students’ intellectual humility. We had students rate themselves on statements like “I am willing to admit it when I don’t know something” and “I acknowledge when someone knows more than me about a subject.” We wanted to know: Would this intellectual humility relate to students’ motivation to learn, their learning strategies, and even their grades? What’s more, would teachers observe any differences between students with differing levels of intellectual humility?

We found that the more intellectually humble students were more motivated to learn and more likely to use effective metacognitive strategies, like quizzing themselves to check their own understanding. They also ended the year with higher grades in math. We also found that the teachers, who hadn’t seen students’ intellectual humility questionnaires, rated the more intellectually humble students as more engaged in learning.

13) Rob Christensen knows more about NC politics than almost anybody alive.  Thus, there’s plenty to learn from his column, “10 things I’ve learned in 45 years of covering North Carolina politics.”  Here’s his last two points:

9. There is a mismatch between the voters and the legislature. North Carolina is a moderate state with a slight conservative tilt, according to the annual national polls of voter attitudes conducted by the Gallup organization. But the GOP legislature has made North Carolina into a national laboratory for sharply conservative policies. The policies don’t fit the profile of Tar Heel voters.

10. Bill Snider, the late Greensboro newspaper editor and columnist, once gave this advice to young reporters: ‘From time to time, you will be tempted to write that race is no longer a factor in Tar Heel politics. Don’t do it.’ While we have come a long way, racial views are still a potent force in shaping voting preferences.

14) This look at grade inflation in the Ohio State student newspaper is amazingly comprehensive and well done.  And, OMG, the amount of grade inflation at Ohio State!

15) If you are only good read one of these links it full, it should be Eduardo Porter’s great NYT feature, “The Hard Truths of Trying to ‘Save’ the Rural Economy.”

Rural America is getting old. The median age is 43, seven years older than city dwellers. Its productivity, defined as output per worker, is lower than urban America’s. Its families have lower incomes. And its share of the population is shrinking: the United States has grown by 75 million people since 1990, but this has mostly occurred in cities and suburbs. Rural areas have lost some 3 million people. Since the 1990s, problems such as crime and opioid abuse, once associated with urban areas, are increasingly rural phenomena.

Rural communities once captured a greater share of the nation’s prosperity. Jobs and wages in small town America played catch-up with big cities until the mid 1980s. During the economic recovery of 1992 to 1996, 135,000 new businesses were started in small counties, a third of the nation’s total. Employment in small counties shot up by 2.5 million, or 16 percent, twice the pace experienced in counties with million-plus populations.

These days, economic growth bypasses rural economies. In the first four years of the recovery after the 2008 recession, counties with fewer than 100,000 people lost 17,500 businesses, according to the Economic Innovation Group. By contrast, counties with more than 1 million residents added, altogether, 99,000 firms. By 2017, the largest metropolitan areas had almost 10 percent more jobs than they did at the start of the financial crisis. Rural areas still had fewer.

The Economic Innovation Group measures “distress” as a combination of data ranging from joblessness and poverty to abandoned homes and educational attainment. Since the 1990s, there has been an “intensifying ruralization of distress,” said John Lettieri, the group’s president.

 

On intellectual humility

So, back when I was first chosen to be a Park Faculty Scholar I knew that something I really wanted to try and instill in this group of incredibly bright and motivated students was intellectual humility– a trait that, I believe, does not exactly come naturally to most of the bright and motivated.  There’s actually a pretty good social science of the subject, but most of my ideas come from learning it the hard way.  It’s my contention that if you are going to be a successful academic, you better have a heavy dose of intellectual humility.  Most of the research that you submit will be rejected the first time.  Even when it’s not rejected, smart people take it apart and find every last flaw.  You have to use that to make it better; not just complain that people don’t understand your brilliance.  Furthermore, unless you are truly exceptional you are surrounded by a lot of other really smart people– some/many of which will be smarter than you.  And even if they are not necessarily smarter, you are going to be surrounded by people who know a lot more than you about subjects very close to your area of expertise.  So, to thrive, you need to be ready to be wrong– a lot– and to learn from that.  I was decidedly lacking in intellectual humility in my college years and I hope I can make at least a modest difference for the Park class of 2022 (and, actually, a small difference for all my students), which started by assigning them Success and Luck to read before they even came here.

Anyway, I recently came across this cool site from the Templeton Foundation that actually summarizes the social science research on Intellectual Humility.  Cool!  Here’s the official research-oriented report.  Here’s the brief summary from the website:

In a nutshell, intellectual humility helps us overcome responses to evidence that are self-centered or that outstrip the strength of that evidence. This mindset encourages us to seek out and evaluate ideas and information in such a way that we are less influenced by our own motives and more oriented toward discovery of the truth. When we discuss important, controversial issues with others, our initial responses to their arguments tend to be shaped by our preferences, identities, and prior opinions. Intellectual humility buffers against those responses so that we can become more “truth-oriented.” It helps us overcome our self-centered inclinations in discussion and learning, making us more likely to follow the evidence where it leads and positioning us to better understand the truth.

I actually like to address this through all my classes by starting out every single class with Ezra Klein’s “How Politics makes us stupid” and repeatedly refer back to it.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but finally got around to it due to inspiration from another Vox piece, where David Roberts gives advice for wannabe explainer journalists:

Then there’s fairness, which is what I think most people (of good faith) are grasping at when they talk about “bias.” One thing you notice when you learn more about a subject is that it’s more complicated than you thought it was — for any value of “it.” There’s always more to it than you thought, no matter how much you thought before you started looking.

Though social media might lead you to believe otherwise, there are ambiguities and good-faith arguments to be found in and around any subject. Even on matters where you think the correct answer is obvious, you will understand the answer, and your own thinking, much more clearly if you understand the best argument for the other side.

Fairness does not mean refraining from conclusions. (What are you being paid for, if not to look into things and figure them out?) But it does mean doing your best to get in the headspace of a reasonable opponent, trying to articulate the best argument against your conclusions.

And it means acknowledging doubt and uncertainty. Which brings us to humility.

Humility is perhaps the most difficult thing of all in the social media age, which endlessly rewards the sharp, clear take, the one that might go viral.

I’ve written plenty of those myself — hundreds! — and obviously don’t see anything wrong with it. The key, in journalism as in any truth-seeking pursuit, is to try your best to keep all your beliefs and conclusions at arm’s length, at least somewhat provisional. Don’t get your identity mixed up with your beliefs or you’ll end up defending them come what may.

Even if you get above the 90 percent knowledge threshold on a subject, there’s plenty of climbing to do, and each increment gets more steep. We are all of us in this business dancing at the edge of what we know, so it pays to be open to correction or revising your conclusions.

That is, of course, easier said than done. I’ve changed my thinking on plenty of things over the years, but not always with grace. Listening and being willing to revise your beliefs is rarely rewarding in the short-term, especially give the tribal incentives of social media. But it is worth it in the long run. You will be more interesting and more useful, for longer, if you cling to your curiosity and humility.

Good stuff!  I know I am far from perfect on the matter.  But I’m a firm believer that intellectual humility is a mindset that can and should be cultivated.  And, honestly, it’s all the more important for the academically successful.  And, the readers of this blog.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Talk about policy disaster and unintended consequences.  A very ill-considered U.S biofuel law has proved disastrous for the rainforests of Borneo.  And made climate change worse.

2) My oldest has been watching Breaking Bad and is about half-way through Season 2.  I wish I could just watch them all with him, but I really shouldn’t take the time, so I’m just watching here and now when I can.  I think I appreciate it even more now.  So well-written.  And so funny.  Oh man did I love watching this scene yesterday.

3) As we know, Republicans are obsessed with virtually non-existent in-person voter fraud.  Meanwhile absentee voter fraud is way easier.  And now there’s very serious evidence that there was serious and widespread actual fraud in the NC 9th district.  Meanwhile the director of the NC Republican Party, Dallas Woodhouse, provides the best evidence yet for what a scurrilous character he is in the face of a unanimous decision.

The head of the state GOP, Dallas Woodhouse, has gone further, accusing the board of a partisan campaign. The nine-member board, with four Democrats, four Republicans and one unaffiliated voter, agreed unanimously to delay certification.

4) What Payless did with their fake Palessi shoe store is so awesome.

5) How restaurants got to be so loud:

That’s not dangerous—noise levels become harmful to human hearing above 85 decibels—but it is certainly not quiet. Other sounds that reach 70 decibels include freeway noise, an alarm clock, and a sewing machine. But it’s still quiet for a restaurant. Others I visited in Baltimore and New York City while researching this story were even louder: 80 decibels in a dimly lit wine bar at dinnertime; 86 decibels at a high-end food court during brunch; 90 decibels at a brewpub in a rehabbed fire station during Friday happy hour.

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service. Right now, high-end surfaces connote luxury, such as the slate and wood of restaurants including The Osprey in Brooklyn or Atomix in Manhattan.

This trend is not limited to New York. According to Architectural Digestmid-century modern and minimalism are both here to stay. That means sparse, modern decor; high, exposed ceilings; and almost no soft goods, such as curtains, upholstery, or carpets. These design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears. No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.

The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.

On the bright side for me, most of my restaurant meals are at the campus pizza joint, Wendy’s, and Bojangles, so I don’t run into this problem very often.

6a) It’s just a real shame that Chevy is going to stop making the Volt.  We need to price carbon, damnit:

This is where government policy becomes part of the story.

Gas is cheap and has been for a while. But that is only because its price is mostly a function of what it costs to drill, refine, and distribute petroleum. It doesn’t account for the long-term costs of spewing all that extra carbon into the air ― costs that, as last week’s national report on climate showed yet again, society is already bearing in some very painful ways.

The most direct way to address this would be to tax carbon, ideally in a way that simultaneously protects lower-income people and those who depend on transportation for a living from financial harm. This is what European nations do with their high gas taxes and it’s one reason consumers there opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars ― and are likely to embrace electric vehicles more quickly than American consumers will.

6b) GM’s shift away from cars is bad for the planet.

7) Yglesias on Paul Ryan leaving Congress:

Paul Ryan is heading out of Congress the way he served: with a blizzard of false statements about substantive matters of public policy.

That started with Thursday’s bizarre exit interview with the Washington Post’s Paul Kane, in which Ryan claimed to regret congressional inaction on debt and immigration when he was, in fact, personally responsible for congressional inaction on debt and immigration.

8) Another great piece in the NYT’s series on China, “How China’s Rulers Control Society: Opportunity, Nationalism, Fear.”

9) Obviously I loved this in the Post, “A guide to picking the right apple for the right recipe.”  Braeburn, baby.

10) This was kind of awesome, “People Getting Stabbed In Medieval Art Who Just Don’t Give a Damn.”

11) I never eat at Panera, but it’s founder has a sharp critique of American capitalism:

Last year, when Shaich took Panera private, he also stepped down as the C.E.O. (he is still the chairman of the board), to focus on a pet cause: warning the world about the dangers of short-term thinking. He has been travelling the country, giving speeches and talking to business leaders and policymakers about the urgent need to return to the tradition of investing for the future. Some people are starting to listen. Tech titans including Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreessen have financially backed the creation of a new investment framework called the Long-Term Stock Exchange, which would give shareholders greater influence over a company the longer they hold shares. “We all believe the system is bigger than us, and we can’t fix it,” Shaich said. “But, if we don’t take control of that system, it’s misserving us in powerful ways.” He also founded an investment fund called Act III Holdings, which offers capital, with fewer time constraints, to entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry. (The Mediterranean chain cava is one of his investments.) “We’ve ended up in a situation, to the detriment of all of us, where our public companies are not able to do the things we want in the economy,” he said. “We say we want G.D.P. growth, but G.D.P. doesn’t come simply from a sugar high of tax cuts. G.D.P. growth only comes from innovation and productivity increases. And innovation and productivity increases occur because people make commitments and they make transformative events.” He added, “This system doesn’t serve the American people. There is an opportunity to ask ourselves, is this what we want?”

12) This “how to help someone who is suicidal” is really interesting, but, given the stakes, really needs a nice TLDR summary.  It’s sort of– keep in contact and show them you care.

13) Drum nicely defends Hillary Clinton from the left-wing rage at her suggestion that Europe may need to re-think it’s refugee policies.

14) The WiredGuide to online shopping” is actually not so much a guide, but a great history of online shopping.

15) Speaking of guide’s the NYT’s Thanksgiving-themed guide to gratitude had a lot of useful ideas.  Seriously– you cannot go wrong with more gratitude in your life.  I’m grateful you are reading this :-).

16) America’s churches are emptying out:

Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population.

Any minister can tell you that the two best predictors of a congregation’s survival are “budgets and butts,” and American churches are struggling by both metrics. As donations and attendance decrease, the cost of maintaining large physical structures that are in use only a few hours a week by a handful of worshippers becomes prohibitive. None of these trends shows signs of slowing, so the United States’ struggling congregations face a choice: Start packing or find a creative way to stay afloat.

17) NC State undertook a look at faculty salaries to make sure we are paying women and minorities.  Best evidence suggests that we are.  Hooray.

18) Enjoyed Jamelle Bouie on Mississippi:

Mississippi isn’t just a deep-red state—Donald Trump won nearly 58 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 40 percent—it’s also a largely rural one defined by stark racial polarization. Black residents almost uniformly support Democratic candidates and white residents almost uniformly support Republicans, which makes Mississippi electorally “inelastic.” There’s a narrow band of outcomes and an almost unshakable GOP advantage.

This political divide is a direct holdover from the state’s past, a product of its deep entanglement with slavery and its culture of exclusion and hierarchy. Just two facts show the extent of Mississippi’s reliance on slave labor: On the eve of the Civil War, 55 percent of people living in the state were enslaved, and at the height of the domestic slave trade, Natchez, which sits on the bank of the Mississippi River, was one of the richest cities in the United States, with half the nation’s millionaires.

Mississippi whites are still among the most conservative in the nation, a direct consequence of the state’s experience with slavery, emancipation, and its aftermath. “These attitudes grew out of the historical incentives to subjugate African Americans—incentives that strengthened through the antebellum period and morphed in the postbellum period into significant institutional and social customs designed to keep blacks in socially, politically, and economically marginalized positions,” Acharya, Blackwell and Sen write.

These attitudes are so ingrained, so tied to the particular history and culture of the Deep South, that it continues to weigh on the politics of the region, well after the civil rights era and the death of Jim Crow. We can feel some of this weight in the context of Tuesday’s runoff election for Senate in Mississippi.

19) Interestingly, college students are abandoning the History major much faster than they are other Humanities majors.

If the decline of the humanities already keeps you up at night, a new article, published by the American Historical Association, won’t help much.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, writes Benjamin M. Schmidt in Perspectives on History,undergraduate majors have been shifting away from the humanities. And of all the disciplines, history has fared the worst, even as college and university enrollments have grown.

Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, looked at the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2008 there were 34,642 degrees awarded to history majors. In 2017 that number was 24,255, a 30-percent drop. And there’s been about a 33-percent decline in history majors since 2011, the first year in which students who watched the financial crisis unfold could easily change their majors, Schmidt found.

Because the drop has been so intense, it’s no longer possible that the history major and other humanities majors are just weathering a low point in a long-term average. No, this is a certifiable crisis.

As you know, I generally strongly prefer social sciences to humanities, but I’ll definitely take History over all the others (and I did).

20) If you find Evolution interesting (and you should!) this is a great Wired article on scientific controversy over how much evolution is adaption versus genetic drift.

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