Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not Just Snack Time and Dinosaurs

If you find yourself to be relatively successful and well-adjusted, send your kindergarten teacher a thank you note.

From the New York Times:

Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
Read the whole article. The biggest question it brings up in my mind is that if life success is correlated with kindergarten success but high school test scores are not, what does that say about the usefulness of high school test scores?

Monday, July 26, 2010

If Economics is All About Self-Interest...

And politics is all about economics, then I would have to say most of the people I know should prefer Obama's proposed tax policy to simply extending the Bush tax cuts. Or at least that is how this chart from the Wall Street Journal reads.

Via Kevin Drum.

Quote of the Day

Isn't it possible to engage in a conversation about the problem we face from Islamic extremism without being cartoonish in our attitudes towards Muslims as a whole? Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey votes "no".

"Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it," Ramsey said. "Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Links

I'd love to see a renaissance on Armour. The plan sounds good, but its got a long way to go from here.

If it does come all the way back, maybe the American aristocracy can live there.

The Royals pretty much just gave away Alberto Callaspo.

I'm going to miss Daniel Schorr.

Yes, in fact, the world is getting hotter. Not that we're going to do anything about it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rich Kid, Poor Kid, Red Kid, Blue Kid

Ross Douthat has a piece in the New York Times about how it is harder for poor white people to get into prestigious colleges than it is for rich white people. He attributes it, at least partially, to discrimination against Christian conservatives:

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”
This finding is fine, though there seems to be no indication that being in 4-H has a causal relationship with getting into a school, but to expand this out into an idea that kids from red states don't go to Ivy League schools because of bias against future farmers seems patently ridiculous.

As a kid from a small rural town, I can tell you that there are simply less kids clamoring to get into Ivy League schools from where I'm from. Parents don't make it a priority, in fact they often would rather not see their kids head off to the east coast. Kids, because they haven't been around a lot of people who went to Ivy League schools, don't think about it much as an option. When they do, it is often later in the game than you would need to seriously compete for a spot. And, of course, there are lots of exceptions... I know some Ivy Leaguers who hail from the Midwest.

But what gets lost in all of this, is that rich kids get in more than poor kids. That's the real divide. No matter where you live.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why to Be Concerned If You Are a Democrat

Because the American public thinks you're better, but will vote for the other guys anyway.

(Update: Emaw makes a helpful point in the comments that the graph is misleading. The first column's label doesn't actually match anything in the underlying data. The last two columns are correct.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things We Think We Know

I'm always intrigued by the fact that human history is completely full of the things we are sure we know, right up until we find out they are totally wrong.

I had an argument with some friends awhile back that there is very little that we could find we are wrong about that would surprise me. I think I argued that if we found out cells didn't work the way we thought they did, I wouldn't be shocked. Everyone else seemed to agree that perhaps my cells weren't working properly.

But I stand by my assertion, and the New York Times today has an article that bolsters my convictions.

It’s hard to imagine a more fundamental and ubiquitous aspect of life on the Earth than gravity, from the moment you first took a step and fell on your diapered bottom to the slow terminal sagging of flesh and dreams.

But what if it’s all an illusion, a sort of cosmic frill, or a side effect of something else going on at deeper levels of reality?

So says Erik Verlinde, 48, a respected string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, whose contention that gravity is indeed an illusion has caused a continuing ruckus among physicists, or at least among those who profess to understand it. Reversing the logic of 300 years of science, he argued in a recent paper, titled “On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton,” that gravity is a consequence of the venerable laws of thermodynamics, which describe the behavior of heat and gases.
If gravity might not exist, what isn't possible?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Decision and Other NBA Stuff

1. You can't expect the city of Cleveland not to feel like a jilted lover.
2. You can't really fault Lebron for wanting to play in a better situation with guys he wants to play with.
3. You can fault Lebron for the way he handled the situation, and not understanding that Cleveland wouldn't embrace the decision.
4. I am not going to root for the Heat. Part of my disappointment in the whole thing is that Miami is a terrible basketball town, and they were given this gift. Totally undeserved.
5. The Cavs owner had every right to be disappointed, but it is awfully silly to claim your Antawn Jamison, Moe Williams, and Delonte West led team is going to win a championship before Lebron. Makes him sound kind of foolish.
6. Kevin Durant has been hanging out at the Thunder summer league games helping the young guys, and very quietly signed a five year extension. Favorite player.
7. I watched John Wall's summer league debut. He is going to be really good... but he still needs to learn to shoot.
8. The Suns adding Turkoglu and Childress may not make them better, but if Nash stays healthy, they will probably be even more fun to watch.
9. Joe Johnson ended this whole free-agency bonanza with the best deal (money-wise).
10. I think the Lakers still might be better.

Friday, July 2, 2010


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