Volume 3.35 (August 25-31)

Pick(s) of the Week

Does it Help to Know History? (Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker)– “The real sin that the absence of a historical sense encourages is presentism, in the sense of exaggerating our present problems out of all proportion to those that have previously existed. It lies in believing that things are much worse than they have ever been—and, thus, than they really are—or are uniquely threatening rather than familiarly difficult. Every episode becomes an epidemic, every image is turned into a permanent injury, and each crisis is a historical crisis in need of urgent aggressive handling—even if all experience shows that aggressive handling of such situations has in the past, quite often made things worse.”

The Problem with Local Change (Julie Smith, Times & Seasons)”By suggesting that the problem be solved in an ad hoc, local manner, I have denied that there is a systemic problem. If there is a systemic problem, this is the wrong response. Addressing a systemic problem locally denies that it is a systemic problem. ”

Writing Skills

(credit: xkcd)

The Big Picture

The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism (Thomas B. Edsall, NYT)– “Collection companies and the services they offer appeal to politicians and public officials for a number of reasons: they cut government costs, reducing the need to raise taxes; they shift the burden onto offenders, who have little political influence, in part because many of them have lost the right to vote; and it pleases taxpayers who believe that the enforcement of punishment — however obtained — is a crucial dimension to the administration of justice.  As N.P.R. reported in May, services that “were once free, including those that are constitutionally required,” are now frequently billed to offenders: the cost of a public defender, room and board when jailed, probation and parole supervision, electronic monitoring devices, arrest warrants, drug and alcohol testing, and D.N.A. sampling.”

Race and Ferguson

How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops (Erwin Chemerinsky, NYT)

There are Millions of Mike Browns in America (Mona Chalabi, FiveThirtyEight)

Michael Brown’s Unremarkable Humanity (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “The “angelic” standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious “morality” to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of “twice as good” while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community “with rough patches” becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily “black-on-black crime” becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing.”

Ok, fine.  Let’s talk about ‘black-on-black’ violence (Lauren Williams, Vox)– “One of the primary problems with this argument is that “race-on-race” crime is not a phenomenon unique to black Americans. (Jamelle Bouie debunked this myth in the Daily Beast, and my colleague Matt Yglesias recently exposed the scourge of white-on-white murder.)  But even though the term “black-on-black” crime is misleading, this much is true: a disproportionate number of murder victims are black. African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population and 50 percent of homicide victims, according to the FBI’s (imperfect) data. But not only is it unoriginal and transparent to trumpet these stats whenever tough questions about systemic racism arise, it’s also untrue that so-called violence in black communities is being ignored.”

The Fire This Time: America’s Withdrawal from the Fight Against Racism Guarantees More Fergusons (Bob Herbert, The American Prospect)

Are Police Bigoted? (Michael Wines, NYT)– “Researchers have sought reliable data on shootings by police officers for years, and Congress even ordered the Justice Department to provide it, albeit somewhat vaguely, in 1994. But two decades later, there remains no comprehensive survey of police homicides. The even greater number of police shootings that do not kill, but leave suspects injured, sometimes gravely, is another statistical mystery.  Without reliable numbers, the conventional wisdom is little more than speculation.”

How police are racist without even knowing it (German Lopez, Vox)


Migration Isn’t Turning Red States Blue (Harry Enten and Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight)


The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built its Own Secret Google (Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept)


End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email (Clive Thompson, NYT)

How Social Media Silences Debate (Claire Cain Miller, The Upshot)– “And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with. In many cases, people don’t even make that choice for themselves. Last week, Twitter said it would begin showing people tweets even from people they don’t follow if enough other people they follow favorite them. On Monday, Facebook said it would hide stories with certain types of headlines in the news feed. Meanwhile, harassment from online bullies who attack people who express opinions has become a vexing problem for social media sites and their users.”


Why Republicans Can’t Solve Their Problem with Women Voters (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “All of which means that the idea that Republicans are none too friendly to women is constantly reinforced, in ways both substantive and emotional. If you’re a woman, you’re not happy when the Republican party blocks equal pay legislation. But when you then hear some of them try to argue that the wage gap isn’t really a problem in the first place, and maybe you should just be staying at home with your kids anyway, well that’s going to really piss you off. And having a bunch of GOP bros tell you that they’re the real pro-women party because they don’t want people to depend on government isn’t going to go too far to change that.”

The Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion (Emily Bazelon, NYT)


Harvard, Yale and Princeton could all afford to make tuition free (Libby Nelson, Vox)

How to Get Kids to Class (Daniel J. Cardinali, NYT)– “To bridge this divide, our community school model seeks to bring a site coordinator, with training in education or social work, onto the administrative team of every school with a large number of poor kids. That person would be charged with identifying at-risk students and matching them up with services that are available both in the school and the community.”

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges (Richard Perez-Pena, NYT)


Money in the Bank (Dan O’Sullivan)– The economics of pro wrestling.  As a former fan, understanding these kinds of realities is a bit hard to take.

What Amazon Knows– and You Don’t– About the Future of Video Games (Danny Vinik, The New Republic)– “In the U.S., 59 percent of people play them. The average player is 31 years old, and 61 percent of them are under 35. While younger generations are growing up with computers and smartphones, baby boomers and Gen Xers are just becoming comfortable with gaming. But that segment of the market is growing fastand not just among men. In 2013, the number of female gamers older than 50 grew by 32 percent.”


Staff Bathroom (John F., By Common Consent)– A parable.  (Interestingly, the post has been deleted from the site and I had to get it from Google’s cache)

Embracing and magnifying our MBA culture! (Cynthia L., By Common Consent)

3 key messages from Elder Ballard on men, women and Mormon priesthood (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “Here’s what this sounds like to my ears: “Sisters, submit your opinion at times for consideration and then just submit, period, because whatever decision is at hand is not yours to make. Don’t overstep the bounds the priesthood has graciously allowed you.” ”

The Things we Can’t UN-See (Donna Kelly, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Women and the Church– Constructively Engaging the Arguments (James Olsen, Times & Seasons)



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