Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | May 31, 2013

Friday Links

1. Henry Farrell on Ireland and Memorial Day: “I was born in a country which was of two minds about celebrating the fallen. There isn’t any real Irish equivalent of Memorial Day. Over here was a cult of blood sacrifice, in which the dead served as martyrs, exemplars and permanent reminders of the perfidies of Albion. Brian MacNeill, a grand-uncle of mine, fought for the Republicans in Ireland’s Civil War, and was killed under suspicious circumstances by government forces on the slopes of Ben Bulben (he was probably shot in cold blood after surrendering and disarming). When Maria visited the area in the 1990s, she saw his picture along with others on a pub wall, and asked the locals about it – she was told that he had been killed by the British rather than (as was the fact) his own recent comrades-in-arms. After his death, Brian had been assimilated into a story that reinforced the mythology rather than revealing its complexities.”

2. Washington Post: Michele Bachmann declining to run for reelection makes it less likely that a Democrat will win her seat in 2014: “The outspoken conservative’s decision not to run for reelection increases the likelihood the GOP will hold onto Minnesota’s 6th district, for several reasons. In short, Republicans can now lean on the natural GOP tilt of the district without having to defend Bachmann’s baggage — which nearly cost the conservative her spot in Congress last fall. … Bachmann’s 6th district is the most conservative in the state. Mitt Romney carried 56 percent of the vote there in 2012, yet the congresswoman narrowly won reelection by a bit more than one point over Democrat Jim Graves, even as she dramatically outspent him. Simply put, this is fertile ground for Republicans in a standard R versus D race. But Bachmann, of course, is not a standard Republican, which is why she almost coughed up a seat in a district with a conservative tilt.”

3. Andrew Gelman: “There’s no pure economics unpolluted by politics.”

4. Ann Althouse doesn’t like children being used as political props:

I’ve watched the video, and my reaction is: Adults taught him a speech. He’s being used as a political puppet. I’ve seen far too much of the use of children in politics — click my “using children in politics” tag — and I don’t like it. I think it’s especially bad to teach a child to yell angrily at another person and to exhibit hostility, and it’s bad for us to express enthusiasm about a child who’s good at giving the scripted performance. This is not how children should be taught. Ironically, the topic under discussion is education.

I’ve seen this before, in Wisconsin, with children taught to chant or sing the adults’ hostility toward Gov. Scott Walker. I don’t like when children are used to sing the praises of a politician either. We all know the absurd children’s choirs singing about Barack Obama as if he’s a divinity. But teaching children to perform hatred is another matter. Children need to learn about policy and politics over time, so that they understand the substance of the issues and can make their own choices.

It’s really awful to see a 9-year-old used as a political mouthpiece and cheered as he yells rudely at an adult authority figure. …

5. Speaking of children, earlier this month Dave at the League linked to this New York Post story about affluent Manhattan mothers who supposedly hire handicapped tour guides so that their children can cut lines at Disney World. Like Dr. Rose in the comments at the League, I am somewhat skeptical since the story relies mainly on one source. In any case, here is another post on the subject by an irate mother of a special needs child (“A Message to the Manhattan Moms Who See My Special Needs Child as a Disney Fast Pass”).

6. “Scientists have created blue strawberries by introducing them with Arctic Flounder fish genes”: “This blue was purely unintentional as scientists wanted to figure out a way to protect strawberries from frost and found a gene in an Artic Flounder fish that produces antifreeze properties to protect the fish from freezing waters. The result of genetically modifying this gene created a shockingly blue fruit that can withstand very cold temperatures.” (H/T: Chris Blattman.)

7. “As best scientists can tell, lobsters age so gracefully they show no measurable signs of aging: no loss of appetite, no change in metabolism, no loss of reproductive urge or ability, no decline in strength or health. Lobsters, when they die, seem to die from external causes.”

Also, apparently this clam was the oldest known animal, clocking in at 405 before dying.

8. Megan McArdle on housing prices, asset wealth, and structural racism: “The legacy of racism is deep structural inequalities in wealth and income. That’s the bad news. The worse news is that those inequities can persist even if the original discrimination goes away. Even if we somehow resolved our current bitter racial disputes, we would still have to contend with the current disparities echoing down the generations.” (Like a number of McArdle posts, this one has a bit of an inside-baseball feel, focusing on the DC metro area, but many of her points apply more generally as well, I suspect.)

9. Stanford is planning to cover the tuition for any humanities PhD student who wants to also pursue a teaching credential.

10. The digested read of Dan Brown’s Inferno.

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