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Sunday links


I have some quibbles with the framing, but I really like Teresa Bejan’s Atlantic essay on the ancient origins of today’s campus speech debates. Among other virtues, it’s a useful corrective to the uncharitable and anti-intellectual and frankly lazy practice of treating the Kids These Days as merely immature or confused.

Any road to a Democratic House in 2019 probably goes through California, where there’s a number of good D pickup opportunities. There’s potential for some of this opportunity to be squandered due to the appallingly undemocratic spawn of mindless anti-partyism that is the top-2 primary. This monstrosity is particularly likely to work against the Democrats this cycle, as the possibility of a wave election will likely attract a higher number of quality candidates on our side. Hopefully the candidates and the voters can sort out this collective action problem, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. There may be some danger in the 48th, a Clinton-won district getting more diverse every year. Getting rid of the particularly odious Rohrabacher should be a high priority, and it would be a terrible shame if this idiotic primary system screwed this up.

It appears that the author of many of the headline-generating “studies” that purport to demonstrate the sciencey truthiness of cultural gender stereotypes may be entirely fraudulent. If you’re going to be a complete scientific fraud, telling people their lazy assumptions and habits are inevitable because Science! is probably a good strategy.

A nice interview with brilliant novelist and all-around national treasure Ursula K. Le Guin.

I’ve written here before* about the difficulty of trying to get Bus Rapid Transit right in the political contexts of North American cities, sometimes called “BRT Creep.” (short version: While BRT can be 95% as good as rail at considerably less than 95% of the cost, they’re much more vulnerable to death by a thousand cuts, particularly when competing for lanes and right-of-way with cars, so they rarely come particularly close to realizing their potential.) Intriguingly, Albuquerque, no one’s idea of a transit city (their bus system’s daily weekday ridership is about the same as Dayton’s, a considerably smaller city also not known as a transit city), seems to have gotten it right. Will be watching with interest to see if this spurs development or increases ridership.

This is Erik’s beat, but: we can have an open and free-ish society, or we can have ICE, but not both.

Why do we forgive some men and forget about others? (No answers, but the question has been vexing me; any decision rule seems to falter on particular cases.)

Given the darkness of the subject matter, I’m probably a bad person for finding this amusing.

* I’m pleased to report that in the ensuing five years, the D has improved considerably on several metrics, and many complaints made in that post, particularly with respect to frequency and lack of service in the southern half of downtown, no longer apply. This is partly due to a major investment in transit by the city of Seattle, above and beyond the regional system Sound Transit is building, and is a very useful bus with impressive and growing ridership figures (that line alone carries nearly 40% of the ridership of Albuquerque’s entire system.)

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