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May 27th, 2018:

Weekend link dump for May 27

“But I think these attention-grabbing silly questions are also damaging, and that they reflect a harmful, shallow, and ultimately off-putting approach to the Bible itself.”

The appeal of MLB in general and the Yankees in particular in South Korea.

“Everyone needs to wake up and realize that this is not a black eye on the FBI or President Obama. This is what counter-intelligence agencies do: they investigate and try to disrupt efforts of foreign powers to infiltrate and subvert the country, its government, its assets. In 2016, the FBI and the DOJ were faced with just such a situation at the highest level with a hostile foreign power. They went to extreme lengths to keep the probe confidential so as not to impact the presidential campaign. President Trump and his allies are now using the gravity of the threat and the efforts to protect the President as somehow facts in their favor.”

Cheers has been off the air for 25 years now. In related news, we are all old.

RIP, Billy Cannon, Heisman Trophy winner and the first star player of the AFL.

“The members of the NRA should know this history because while they may like it when [Oliver] North says we should have to go through five metal detectors to get into our children’s school, they won’t like it when North follows his nature and figures out a way to inadvertently expose their dirty laundry while scamming them out of their money.”

I honestly don’t know why anyone would want The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library book, but you will have the option to have it anyway.

“The ongoing debate around whether it’s feasible to have an electric grid running on 100 percent renewable power in the coming decades often misses a key point: many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.”

“Your mobile phone is giving away your approximate location all day long. This isn’t exactly a secret: It has to share this data with your mobile provider constantly to provide better call quality and to route any emergency 911 calls straight to your location. But now, the major mobile providers in the United States — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — are selling this location information to third party companies — in real time — without your consent or a court order, and with apparently zero accountability for how this data will be used, stored, shared or protected.”

“Roughly speaking, Mishel estimates that the gig economy acounts for 0.1 percent of total hours worked in the American economy. He also, to my surprise, mentions in passing that Uber alone accounts for two-thirds of this. So not only is the gig economy small, but it’s basically just Uber and a few tiny stragglers. In other words, it’s probably best if everyone stops hyping the gig economy too much.”

“Bad news for those of you who currently emit a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, combined with the smell of a salted, wheat-based dough. You need to stop doing that immediately, because that particular smell has just been trademarked by the Hasbro Corporation.”

RIP, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, groundbreaking Washington, D.C., lawyer who persuaded the Interstate Commerce Commission to issue a ruling banning racial segregation on buses.

RIP, Philip Roth, groundbreaking novelist best known for Portnoy’s Complaint.

Sending cease and desist letters to The Onion is seldom a good idea.

“As someone who was part of diplomatic talks, this story on how Trump team screwed up China negotiations is a textbook case of nearly EVERY SINGLE THING you should NOT do. Bodes badly for North Korea summit.”

“These are not ‘conflicts of interest’. A ‘conflict of interest’ is a case in which the nature of a situation makes it impossible for a person to separate their personal interests from their public responsibilities (or to appear to do so). All previous Presidents put their private wealth into blind trusts. We assume they weren’t going to try to directly make money off the presidency. But they wanted to remove any question of it and avoid situations where there own financial interests would bump up against their public responsibilities. What we’re seeing now are not conflicts of interest. They’re straight-up corruption.”

“To the contrary, what we’re watching unfold is in some ways more alarming than the likelihood that Trump simply did more colluding than we thought. The countries that helped see to it that Trump became president, all of which are heavily corrupt, have been rewarded with extraordinary geopolitical spoils that have rendered U.S. interests an afterthought. Trump has frayed the western alliance more in a year and a half than the Russian government was able to do from the outside over the course of decades. He has at the same time thrown the weight of the White House behind a Saudi-Emirati effort to consolidate power in the Middle East at the expense of other U.S. allies.”

So much for that Nobel Peace Prize.

“Sixteen months into the Trump Presidency, it is finally time to say: we really do know. There are no deals with Trump, and there are increasingly unlikely to be.”

RIP, Alan Bean, astronaut and the fourth person to walk on the moon.

State asks for emergency stay of “motor voter” ruling

Also as expected.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked a federal appeals court to block a San Antonio judge’s order that gave state officials 45 days to correct an online voter registration system that was found to violate federal law.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia on Monday ordered officials to create a process that lets Texans simultaneously register to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license on the Department of Public Safety website. The current system violates the National Voter Registration Act’s motor-voter provision by adding several hurdles to the registration process, the judge ruled.

Paxton quickly informed the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he intends to challenge Garcia’s order.

[…]

Paxton’s filing argued that Garcia added requirements that are not included in federal law, such as ordering state officials to create a public-education campaign to explain the new voter-registration process.

In addition, Paxton argued that the three voters who sued lacked standing because they were already registered to vote when their lawsuit was filed in 2016.

He also complained that Garcia gave state officials only 45 days to make the changes, saying the state’s current online vendor could not complete changes before its contract expires Sept. 1, and the new vendor would need 90 days to create a process.

See here for the background. The next scene in this movie that we’ve all seen before is the Fifth Circuit giving Paxton what he wants, and then we wait for the appeals process to play out. Lather, rinse, repeat.

From doors to video games

See if you can tell what’s missing from this discussion.

While Democrats clamored for stricter gun regulations and Gov. Greg Abbott discussed measures to tighten school security following Friday’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick set his sights on another target: the makers of violent films and video games.

Patrick spent the weekend on national television talking about what was to blame for the tragedy in southeast Texas that left 10 people dead, the latest in a spate of mass shootings across the country. It wasn’t the ready availability of guns in this country, Patrick said. Instead, the bloodshed was the result of a “violent culture where we’ve devalued life,” Patrick told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies and particularly violent video games, which now outsell movies and music,” he said. “Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of violent video games.”

But many of those games are at least partially produced in Texas — including “Prey,” a first-person shooter horror game rated for mature players age 17 or older, and “Doom,” another mature-rated first-person shooter that depicts “mutilated corpses with exposed organs/viscera strewn in the environment,” according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board. And the state government has given millions of dollars in incentives to some of their creators.

Patrick has supported those state-funded incentive payments to lure film, television and video game creators to Texas, but on Wednesday he said those payments should be barred from certain projects or he would withdraw his support for the incentives program.

“The lieutenant governor does not support using state taxpayer dollars to make violent films or video games that are harmful to our children,” spokesman Alejandro Garcia said in an email, noting the Texas Film Commission may decide which projects get reimbursed. “If this is the direction they are going, the lieutenant governor will not support their funding requests in the future.”

Hey, you want to cut the film incentive fund, I’m fine with that, and I bet you could get a majority in the Lege for it. But that’s not what Patrick is proposing here – he’s saying that only films and video games that meet his standard for artistic merit should be eligible for those funds. Putting aside the ridiculousness of Dan Patrick as the official state movie and video game critic, there’s also the fact that the idea that violent films and video games lead to gun violence is even more ridiculous.

Pretty much everything Patrick said here is wrong. He also went on to blame abortions and broken homes and suggest arming teachers, but I’ll stick to his claims about video games.

Here are the facts. The evidence is abundantly clear at this point: Violent video games do not cause violence.

Longitudinal studies of youth have not found evidence that early game playing is associated with later violencedecreased empathy or conduct problems. In fact, the release of popular violent video games like “Grand Theft Auto” are associated with immediate declines in societal violence, and long-term relationships show that increased violent game consumption is associated with reduced youth violence — and we have to remember that youth violence is down by more than 80 percent from 25 years ago.

Also, playing games like “Grand Theft Auto” does not appear to decreaseempathy toward women. Internationally, the countries that consume the most video games per capita are among the least violent.

And analyses of school shooters have found that they appear to consume unusually low levels of violent media for males their age.

Villanova University professor Patrick Markey and I discuss much of this in our book “Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong.”We note that, contrary to the lieutenant governor’s claims, most psychologists who study the issue do not link violent media to violence in society.

Indeed, across studies, only about 10 percent to 30 percent of scholars agree with him, making it a decidedly minority view. Just this year, the Media Psychology and Technology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA) released a policy statement asking politicians to stop making exactly the kinds of claims Patrick made about video games and violence.

Dan Patrick has a long record of not being interested in anything that doesn’t further his own political agenda. Nothing will change until Dan Patrick and others like him are voted out of office.