The Power Of Positive Thinking

Observed on P Street NW, between 14th and 15th, Logan Circle, D.C.:


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You Win At The Margins

Chris Dillow makes a very good point about the Brexit vote (boldface mine):

There’s something about the post-Brexit autopsies that I’m not entirely happy with. It’s the failure to distinguish between the margin and the infra-margin.

…It’s that we knew months ago that older, poorer and less educated people were anti-EU. And yet Brexit came as a surprise – to betting markets, financial markets and not least to David Cameron.

This paradox warns us that whilst the conditions for a big anti-EU vote were in place – we knew for months that some 40% of voters supported Brexit – what remains unexplained is the surprise.

To put this another way, longstanding anti-EU sentiment was infra-marginal. The question is: what happened at the margin to tip the balance in favour of Brexit?

…What I’m trying to do here is reconcile two different perspectives. On the one hand, Eric says “culture and personality, not material circumstances, separate Leave and Remain voters. This is not a class conflict so much as a values divide.” And Rick says “the left-behind who voted for Brexit last week were left behind a long time ago.” These are statements about the infra-margin. But when I say that austerity and inequality – as cleverly exploited by Vote Leave – contributed to the Brexit vote, I’m claiming these things mattered at the margin.

Elections are won at the margins. Increases in turnout–which is to say, getting voters who will either vote Democratic or stay home–matter. While Clinton will most likely beat Trump, Democrats (as opposed to the Clintons and their hangers-on) need House and Senate Democrats. I worry that Democrats are too focused on the presidential race at the expense of the down ballot races. And I’m not the only one either.

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Links 8/21/16

Links for you. Science:

Why There’s New Hope About Ending Blindness (as usual, David Dobbs is worth the read)
Obama administration to shift $81 million to fight Zika
Nearly two decades of data reinforce concerns that pesticides are really bad for bees (maybe)
A Look at NIH Support for Model Organisms, Part Two
Why Big Solar and environmentalists are clashing over the California desert (the desert is an ecosystem, not an absence)


Why voters Should Be Concerned About Clinton’s Environmental Promises
Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House
Anti-Semitic vaccine deniers – continued attacks on Prof. Reiss
UT: Fewer Teachers, Please
Born To Teach
When It Comes To The Zika Emergency, Even Mr. Trumpanzee Has More Sense Than Congressional Republicans
Will automated trucks be a job killer? – No, they will not.
Boston needs bike tracks
Hillary Clinton’s Magical Economy (regarding deficit spending, I made a similar point here)
Bridging America’s Foreign Policy Elite-Main Street Divide
The bandwidth bottleneck that is throttling the Internet
Wisdom, Courage and the Economy (our pundits is learning!)
On ‘Going Away’
Was it really going to end any other way.
English is not normal
Let’s Infill A Traditional Neighborhood (And Make A Profit)
The Republican War on Public Universities
Hillary Clinton Touts Endorsement By Terrible Human John Negroponte. Don’t Tout That, Hillary!
Milwaukee Riots Round-up of “Systemic Causes”
Twitter Can Fix Twitter With Just a Few Lines of Code

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Who Enjoys “The Right To The City”?


Because we believe intersectionality should be more than a tribal marker, we bring you this report from Baltimore by Lester Spencer (boldface mine):

It’s clear from the DOJ report that the Baltimore City Police Department routinely stops, harasses, detains, and uses force against black people. But if we view the report solely through a racism lens, it’s difficult to account for the two stories I detailed above (even with the allowance that it’s hard to make inferences based on individual anecdotes) [Spencer was not mistreated by police and very quickly let go].

Am I a super-negro? Am I on some secret list of Johns Hopkins professors? Better yet, was I simply stopped in both cases by “the good police officers”?

No. No. And probably not. What’s more likely is that the police officers quickly realized that I didn’t fit the profile of the black person they were trained to harass, detain, and use force against. I was black — but not a member of Baltimore’s “underclass.”

There’s a reason why the vast majority of police stops occur in the Western and the Central Districts: the Western is home to Baltimore’s poorest black neighborhoods, the Central is home to Baltimore’s business district. In effect, the city is producing and reproducing a population that has no functional purpose other than to be policed.

Seeing police violence as simply an expression of racism omits this crucial component. It overlooks that in Baltimore and elsewhere, repressive policing is animated not just by a racial dynamic, but by a class dynamic.

The race of the police officer doesn’t matter. The race of the mayor implementing the policy doesn’t matter. What matters is who enjoys a “right to the city” — and who gets thrown up against a wall and patted down.

Remember that, in 2015, Baltimore’s black mayor referred to her own citizens as “thugs”–which didn’t go over very well.

For some–too many–racism is a powerful explanatory principle that provides an interpretation (if not an accurate one) to the world around them. But there are plenty of people who are willing to use the consequences of this racism to gain at the expense of the middle and lower classes. Unfortunately, our technobrat pundits, despite claims of sophistication, do like their conceptual binaries.

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Links 8/20/16

Links for you. Science:

Clinton endorses Biden’s cancer program, says she’ll ‘take up the charge’
NIH sets new postdoc stipend levels
Hundreds of baby spiders just burst out of the ground — and zookeepers are delighted
Hard Times in Venezuela Breed Malaria as Desperate Flock to Mines
Giant Coral Reef in Protected Area Shows New Signs of Life


A Cute Joke Gone Too Far
From Headbanger To Hasid: One Man’s Journey Since Heavy Metal Parking Lot
Donald Trump is the least of the GOP’s problems
Smart growth requires more than roads
It might be the end of Trump, but real story of campaign was always Sanders
I’m Addicted to Garbage Gadgets
The Greatest Social Challenge of our Generation
How Suburban Poverty Affects Seniors
Democrats’ ed reform pivot
When Police Are Poor Role Models for One Another
The Summer of the Shill
Skills gap for US manufacturing workers mostly a myth, paper says
‘It’s because I had my period’: swimmer Fu Yuanhui praised for breaking taboo
Why so many fast-casual chains get started in Washington
McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad Architecture?
We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.
The lost infrastructure of social media.

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You Get The Teachers You’re Willing To Pay For

Or not pay for, as is the case in the U.S. (boldface mine):

You know what is a legitimately bizarre-to-the-point-of-being-funny choice for a political platform? “The job of teachers is too easy.” Yet this, in essence, has become a standard right wing talking point, in the guise of “teachers’ unions are bad.” After you spend some time thinking about these villainous teachers unions and all the work they have presumably been doing to make the lives of teachers unforgivably cushy, please take a look at this Economic Policy Institute report about teachers’ wages, which finds a yawning gap between what teachers are paid what comparable workers—that is, workers with similar credentials to teachers—are paid. Even when benefits are factored in, teachers are still making more than 11% less than their peers. In other words, we strongly incentivize talented and well-educated people not to be teachers. Because we do not pay them. This is a political choice.

When you isolate only the wages of public school teachers, the gap is even more striking: “For all public-sector teachers, the relative wage gap (regression adjusted for education, experience, and other factors) has grown substantially since the mid-1990s: It was ‑1.8 percent in 1994 and grew to a record ‑17.0 percent in 2015.”

And why is it that teachers tend to have strong unions? “In 2015, teachers not represented by a union had a ‑25.5 percent wage gap—and the gap was 6 percentage points smaller for unionized teachers.”

By the way, teachers have also lost ground in absolute terms–in inflation adjusted dollars, teachers are earning less now:


But I’m sure more standardized tests will fix this.

This won’t end well.

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Links 8/19/16

Links for you. Science:

The FDA Wants To Make It Harder To Buy And Sell Poop
Polio Returns to Nigeria for the First Time in Years
High in their treetop nests, this biologist discovered the truth about eagles
Snails Are Going Extinct: Here’s Why That Matters
Origins of 2009 flu pandemic confirmed to be pigs in Mexico


Officials Spent Big on Olympics, but Rio Natives Are Paying the Price
Tonight, I was arrested at gunpoint by an Arizona highway patrol officer who threatened to shoot me in the back (twice) in front of my 7-year-old daughter.
Election security as a national security issue
Is Donald Trump’s Endgame the Launch of Trump News?
Keepers of the conservative flame (the image might look familiar)
This Is Why There Are So Many Ties In Swimming
The rise and fall of Gopher
A bit of cash can keep someone off the streets for 2 years or more
Today’s Tech Oligarchs Are Worse Than the Robber Barons
The workers Clinton and Trump should not forget
Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought
Is Black Lives Matter turning socialist? (more social democratic, I think)
The American Soul Is a Murderous Soul (interesting)
I Survived ‘Trump’ Magazine—Barely.
Freddie Gray verdict: US police officers who kill rarely get punished, but they might get rich
Don’t buy the hype: The U.S. is not experiencing a terrible new crime wave
A cat watches gymnastics

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