The 1000 year old city of Southern Illinois, or: Knowledge is fleeting. 1000 years doesn’t seem like much in archaeological terms, and yet the pyramids and cities, the lives of Native Americans, are almost complete mysteries.
Pearlstein on federalism: After GOP tax cut, state Dems (West Coast, MA, NY?) could just raise state taxes and replace federal funding for health insurance, food stamps, etc. Presumably, that was the Republican idea all along.
Arthur Goldhammer on Marx:
"In recent years, there has been something of a revival of Marx in academe and the little magazines. What worries me about this turn is not the effort wasted on Marx’s more useless ideas, such as the labor theory of value. It is rather how his "othering" of political opponents influences the political attitudes of his young followers, heightening their antagonism to liberalism. Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte demonstrated his brilliant insight into the French society of his own time, but the stark clarity of his vision led him to transform the opposition of class interests into the clash of contending armies between which no dialogue, let alone compromise, is possible. ... Harmony would be achieved only when the class enemy was definitively crushed."
Lessons from the election, a very good summary from Andrew Gelman, including: public opinion doesn’t follow elite opinion, the income-voting gradient ("red state blue state") is over, and “much confusion could’ve been avoided during the campaign had Clinton’s share in the polls simply been reported as 52 percent of the two-party vote, plus or minus 2 percentage points”.
Gelman also reports on Clinton’s alleged ground game (unclear how exact this is, caveat emptor):
“Someone who had led Obama’s ground game in a rural area of a midwestern state sent me [Gelman] this note:
You are correct that Democrats were supposed to have an amazing ground game. More hires. More offices. A field guy as campaign manager experienced in tight field wins (DCCC 2012; McAuliffe 2013). The problem is that Clinton never ran a ground game.
When I arrived in September/October, I was astounded to discover that the field staff had spent all their time on volunteer recruitment. This meant that they were only calling people who were already friendly to Clinton and asking those same people to come into the office to call more people friendly to Clinton. At no point during the campaign did the field staff ever ID voters or do persuasion (e.g. talk to a potentially non-friendly voter). That is a call center, it is not a ground game.
Part of the reason for this is that Brooklyn read an academic piece suggesting that voter contact more than 10 days out is worthless — a direct repudiation of the organizing model used by Obama in 2008 and 2012 when field contacted each voter 4 times between July and November. The result is that the Clinton campaign started asking people to turn out for Clinton only in the final week of the election when they began GOTV work. There was no preexisting relationship. Those calls for turning out might as well have come from a Hyderabad call center for all the good they did.
I hate to see people taking the wrong lesson from this campaign. Ground games are critical for Democrats to win. But non organizing-based ground games are worse than useless as they artificially inflate your expectations, demoralize volunteers (they want to talk to voters, not recruit more volunteers), and fail to turn out your base.”
Here's my list of the year, some older, mostly current. Links to trailers.
1. Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea)
2. American Honey
3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
5. I, Daniel Blake
8. Les Blank's Burden of Dreams
9. The Lobster
NB: I find the quickest, most reliable way of deciding whether I'd find a movie worthwhile is to read the critic review snipets on Rotten Tomatoes. Ignore the aggregated "scores," anything above ~60 can be fantastic.
The Economist on language complexity: "Tuyuca requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”. English can provide such information, but for Tuyuca that is an obligatory ending on the verb."
Tyler Cowen argues that "When it comes to views about the relevant forms of diversity, the views of non-Democrats are more diverse than the views of Democrats... A non-Democrat is more likely to focus on something other than racial and ethnic diversity, compared to a Democrat. Correctly or not, many Americans do not think racial and ethnic diversity is the diversity that should command so much attention. That is one place to start for understanding why so many 2012 Obama voters switched to Trump."
Mike Konczal learns from Trump in retrospect. Good piece. "Trump talked about jobs. All the time... What were Clinton’s three things to benefit workers? There was policy everywhere, but none of it clear for voters... Trump never mentions poverty... He talks about wages, full stop... For all the money and tech, they [the Clinton campaign] didn’t know their blue wall was much less safe from the people on the ground than the polling numbers in Brooklyn HQ would see. Something broke down there and it’s urgent to understand why."
Terri Gross interviews Cleve Jones. Both tremendously sad and impressive, mostly on the history of the LGBT movement, including how AIDS shaped the fight for gay marriage.
Undone on the riots against disco, an early shot in the culture wars, and the advent of contemporary pop.