Did I miss something, or did Trump use his power under the National Emergencies Act to declare this week to be Crazy Week? Because there sure does seem to be an extra helping of crazy going on, and it’s only Wednesday!
• The college admission scandal is just too delicious to be believed. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of hypocritical, liberal-run institutions. One aspect of the scandal is clear: if you are kinda, sorta rich but not Wall Street/Goldman Sachs rich, you can’t afford to buy your kid’s admission to an elite school the old-fashioned way—by donating a building. The unofficial over-under amount seems to be about $10 million. But if you’re only Hollywood rich, you can try the “side door” with a $500,000 bribe to a sports coach. In other words, the old back door for the super-rich will remain untouched, while the striving semi-rich will go to jail for the sin of cutting out USC’s development department. (Aside: Scandal seems to be USC’s leading specialty these days.) But not to worry: America’s elite colleges will go on talking about their commitment to equality, diversity, merit, and fairness, which are all revealed to be synonyms of liberal hypocrisy.
• Speaking of crazy colleges, have you heard the story out of Sarah Lawrence, where students are occupying the president’s office demanding the firing of Sam Abrams, apparently the lone conservative on the Sarah Lawrence faculty who recently sinned by publishing an article in that well-known right-wing rag, the New York Times, to the effect that college administrators are actually worse than the faculty in most cases. (He’s right about this.)
Read through the long list of student demands, but don’t rush past this one:
All campus laundry rooms are to supply laundry detergent and softener on a consistent basis for all students, faculty and staff.
I imagine the omission of bleach is on purpose, because Klan robes and white sheets and such. Idea: Georgia-Pacific makes fabric softener. They should donate copious amounts to the Sarah Lawrence laundry rooms. And then sit back and wait to see what happens when the Sarah Lawrence student body finds out that Georgia-Pacific is a Koch brothers company.
• Have you heard the news: Even air pollution is racist! Because white people produce it and non-white people breath it:
Pollution, much like wealth, is not distributed equally in the United States.
Scientists and policymakers have long known that black and Hispanic Americans tend to live in neighborhoods with more pollution of all kinds, than white Americans. And because pollution exposure can cause a range of health problems, this inequity could be a driver of unequal health outcomes across the U.S.
A study published Monday in the journal PNAS adds a new twist to the pollution problem by looking at consumption. While we tend to think of factories or power plants as the source of pollution, those polluters wouldn’t exist without consumer demand for their products.
The researchers found that air pollution is disproportionately caused by white Americans’ consumption of goods and services, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic Americans.
There are so many things stupidly wrong with this whole story that I don’t even know where to begin. First, this study, and many others like it, anchor their alarm on the supposed fact that particulate pollution causes about 42,000 premature deaths in the U.S. every year. Though the EPA relies on this figure, the epidemiology behind it is very weak. But without this scary statistic, a lot of regulations would fail even the most generous cost-benefit test.
Second, particulate levels have been falling fast for the last 25 years, and will continue to fall in the future. Most studies such as this one are relying on obsolete data. What this means is that most black and Hispanic Americans, even in the places that still have the highest air pollution levels like the Los Angeles basin, are breathing air today that is lower in ambient pollution than white people inhaled 20 years ago. Don’t expect NPR or anyone else to put it in perspective this way. They’ve got an agenda and a narrative that needs to be kept up.
• Well there is some counter-crazy news this week: we learned who is behind the sensationally great Twitter account of Titania McGrath. If you’re not on Twitter, Titania McGrath is one reason to check in once and a while. (More here.)