Just a heads up, I might be posting less later in the week and into the weekend. So might skip these at some point.
Are Democrats Overachieving in the Senate? Is Nate Silver is having a downward pressure on other political coverage? I don’t even bother checking the other analytical stuff in The New York Times; they’re just going to basically do souped-up trend stories with cherry-picked quotes from “experts” attempting a bit of man-bites-dog to product-differentiate. The basic outlines of what’s going to happen at the mid-terms is known, as well as the uncertainty. Beyond that most people are guessing and spinning. On the specific issue at hand, I’m not too versed in politics but I had assumed that the Senate was a less volatile institution in election-to-election change in party proportions because only 1/3 of it was up for election in a given year, vs. 100% of the House of Representatives. Silver points out that if the whole Senate was up for reelection we might be looking at filibuster-proof Republican majority, and an outside shot at veto-proof majority.
The Myth of Charter Schools. It’s basically a review of the problems with Waiting for “Superman”. I think this current educational enthusiasm is at a bubble-point, I noticed a few weeks back The New York Times published a downbeat assessment of Geoffrey Canada’s results with the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Evolutionary history of partible paternity in lowland South America. Basically these are cultures where there’s a high degree of expected paternity uncertainty and you simply distribute appropriate the probability of fatherhood explicitly. I found this section of interest: “Most importantly, why is partible paternity rare in the rest of the world and yet, so common in lowland South America? We suspect that the general lack of important heritable resources combined with a strong reliance on kinship and broad networks of social capital in the lowlands have prompted the bargaining and exchange of shared parentage.” From a male perspective then basically someone who is not your own biological child isn’t going to inherit much from you anyway, while in the short-term you might be able to gain social capital through the ties your wife forms with other men. This isn’t that shocking, Winston Churchill’s mother’s affairs supposedly aided in her husband’s and son’s political careers because of the contacts generated. Sex is social.
Moving away to get better. Interesting point that it is easier to get away from bullying in the United States because Americans move and reorder their social networks so often. I wasn’t a victim of bullying, but I know I’ve done the same. I see two or three friends from college about once a year. The last time I hung out with someone I knew from high school was in early February of 2006. I might be an deviated-from-the-norm case, but I’m not that atypical. And though moving and reordering social networks can have benefits, I think we don’t talk about the upsides to having stable networks and a familiar environment. I suspect that it decreases social anomie and increases trust.