Here's what I know about Commerce v. NY (that is, the census case that was just decided by the Supreme Court). The fundamental issue decided is twofold: is the Commerce Department's decision to add the citizenship question to the Census reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act, and if it is, was it a violation of the APA. The APA requires that any agency action has to be a rational response to the evidence in the administrative record before the agency.
The factual background in the administrative record as known at the outset of the case was that the Justice Department had sent a request to the Commerce Department to add a citizenship question to the Census, because it wanted better data to use in Voting Rights Act enforcement. The Census Bureau (a bureau within Commerce) saw that request, and responded with a voluminous set of technical memos to the Secretary of Commerce saying "Please, no, don't, bad idea, the question will drive down participation enough that we will actually end up getting worse data on citizenship than we would if we just compiled it from other sources." The Secretary of Commerce responded to those memos with a decision memo saying "Interesting, but we all know that your statistics and social science are witchcraft, the only way to get solid data is by asking the question, so I'm putting it on the Census."
During the course of litigation in the trial court, evidence developed that the Justice Department had no interest in more accurate citizenship data for VRA enforcement: what had actually happened was that high level political appointees in the Commerce Department (now, after the fact, it appears with the assistance of Hofeller, the dead consultant who generated documents saying that the reason for the citizenship question was ultimately to increase the political power of "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites") had approached Justice and requested that Justice make the request so that Commerce could use Justice's request as a pretext for adding the question. District Judge Furman, after exceedingly rapid discovery and trial, ruled that Commerce had violated the APA essentially by lying about the reasons for adding the citizenship question, and could not put the question on the Census unless they somehow issued a decision that was rationally based on all the material considered by the agency.
This gets us to the Supreme Court (which took the case without waiting for the Second Circuit because of time pressure). Alito, speaking only for himself, wrote a dissent saying that the decision shouldn't have been reviewable under the APA. Don't question your betters, Secretary Ross had full discretion to do what he likes.
The majority opinion, written by Roberts, said, essentially (1) this is reviewable under the APA. (2) Secretary Ross's decision memo, rejecting literally all the technical advice all of the subject matter experts in the Census Bureau gave him that the citizenship question would just fuck up the data he was trying to collect, was rational considered on its face. If the Secretary rationally thinks social science is witchcraft, who are we to judge? BUT (3) the evidence that the Voting Rights Act enforcement justification for wanting the citizenship question on the Census was a transparent tissue of lies was too strong to ignore. Therefore, Secretary Ross's decision, as stated, was not a rational response to the evidence before the agency, and the case is remanded back down to Judge Furman in the trial court to carry out his order to tell the Commerce Department to come up with a decision that is rationally based on the real administrative record.
My highly-placed sources close to plaintiffs think this is a clean win, that there's nothing Commerce can say based on the record that will non-pretextually justify putting the question on the Census. I personally am still slightly worried -- it seems remotely possible to me that Commerce can come up with a record from 2017 showing that what they really wanted the data for was to reapportion districts on the basis of citizen population only, not counting non-citizens at all. This seems to me to be both something that's plausibly true, not a pretext, that they might have a record backing up, and that our nightmare of a Supreme Court might decide was legit. But that would require Secretary Ross to admit that he'd personally lied to Congress a lot, and that lots of Commerce people had committed perjury, and it would also be almost impossible to get done before the real deadline for printing the forms, which now seems to be October. So, provisionally, I'm probably worrying about nothing, and people who know much more than I do say I am.
(Also, the Maryland case, which is procedurally totally separate, is still a wild card. Judge Hazel with the help of the outraged Fourth Circuit (yay!) reopened his judgment after trial when he heard about the Hofeller documents. So they're going to relitigate whether the citizenship question was not just a violation of the APA, but also straightforwardly racially discriminatory. And it seems very likely that at least Judge Hazel and the Fourth Circuit will agree that it is.)
If there's anything still unclear, I'll answer in comments -- I accidentally know a lot about this.
CharleyCarp sends in Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think. This is a long, meandering read, but it is interesting.
Almost all studies of happiness over the life span show that, in wealthier countries, most people's contentment starts to increase again in their 50s, until age 70 or so. That is where things get less predictable, however. After 70, some people stay steady in happiness; others get happier until death. Others--men in particular--see their happiness plummet. Indeed, depression and suicide rates for men increase after age 75.
So what's up with the happiness-plummeting group? I think it's probably a more general phenomenon, but the author takes it in the direction of high-achievers:
In 2007, a team of academic researchers at UCLA and Princeton analyzed data on more than 1,000 older adults. Their findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology, showed that senior citizens who rarely or never "felt useful" were nearly three times as likely as those who frequently felt useful to develop a mild disability, and were more than three times as likely to have died during the course of the study.
One might think that gifted and accomplished people, such as the man on the plane, would be less susceptible than others to this sense of irrelevance; after all, accomplishment is a well-documented source of happiness. If current accomplishment brings happiness, then shouldn't the memory of that accomplishment provide some happiness as well?
Maybe not. Though the literature on this question is sparse, giftedness and achievements early in life do not appear to provide an insurance policy against suffering later on. In 1999, Carole Holahan and Charles Holahan, psychologists at the University of Texas, published an influential paper in The International Journal of Aging and Human Development that looked at hundreds of older adults who early in life had been identified as highly gifted. The Holahans' conclusion: "Learning at a younger age of membership in a study of intellectual giftedness was related to ... less favorable psychological well-being at age eighty."
Honestly, it makes me think that the path to happiness in your 70s is to meddle relentlessly with your children and grandchildren. (Or non-familial younger generations who could use some meddling.) Or better yet, never ground your self-worth in ambitions and accomplishments in the first place.
The article then becomes very autobiographical - the author had an unwanted career change as a young adult:
But I sputtered along for nine more years. I took a position in the City Orchestra of Barcelona, where I increased my practicing but my playing gradually deteriorated. Eventually I found a job teaching at a small music conservatory in Florida, hoping for a magical turnaround that never materialized. Realizing that maybe I ought to hedge my bets, I went back to college via distance learning, and earned my bachelor's degree shortly before my 30th birthday. I secretly continued my studies at night, earning a master's degree in economics a year later. Finally I had to admit defeat: I was never going to turn around my faltering musical career. So at 31 I gave up, abandoning my musical aspirations entirely, to pursue a doctorate in public policy.
and finally talks about different kinds of intelligence:
Careers that rely primarily on fluid intelligence tend to peak early, while those that use more crystallized intelligence peak later. For example, Dean Keith Simonton has found that poets--highly fluid in their creativity--tend to have produced half their lifetime creative output by age 40 or so. Historians--who rely on a crystallized stock of knowledge--don't reach this milestone until about 60.
and then takes a detour into spirituality:
Acharya answered elliptically, explaining an ancient Hindu teaching about the stages of life, or ashramas. The first is Brahmacharya, the period of youth and young adulthood dedicated to learning. The second is Grihastha, when a person builds a career, accumulates wealth, and creates a family. In this second stage, the philosophers find one of life's most common traps: People become attached to earthly rewards--money, power, sex, prestige--and thus try to make this stage last a lifetime.
The antidote to these worldly temptations is Vanaprastha, the third ashrama, whose name comes from two Sanskrit words meaning "retiring" and "into the forest." This is the stage, usually starting around age 50, in which we purposefully focus less on professional ambition, and become more and more devoted to spirituality, service, and wisdom.
Anyway. Like I said, it's long and meandering and interesting.
Note: 1. he quotes David Brooks unironically.
2. he drops this, at the end of the essay:
The key is to enjoy accomplishments for what they are in the moment, and to walk away perhaps before I am completely ready--but on my own terms.
So: I've resigned my job as president of the American Enterprise Institute, effective right about the time this essay is published.
[LB should write interesting stuff here if she's so inclined.]
Receptacle for comments in this thread.
(I assume we find that term literal and not controversial.)
I have nothing really to say, but when the awfulness builds up to a certain point, it feels like a sin of omission not to post something here.
(I should be doing more.)
Mossy Character writes: Nine
English African traditions out of ten date from the latter half of the nineteenth century.
I learned about this in the course of the Black Panther thread but didn't find a good hook to hang it on.
The bold, bright fabrics associated with West and Central Africa, known as pagne, are in fact something of a newcomer to the region. Based on Indonesian batik techniques, their mass production was perfected by the Dutch and British in the colonial era. From the 1870s, the fabrics were sold on African markets via local female distributors, who also passed back vital market and design information. A century later, Chinese manufacturers arrived on the scene, mimicking the European pagnes.And today the near-monopoly Dutch manufacturer is using IP laws to stomp on Asian competition, Ivorians are reviving their pre-batik designs to escape price gouging, and African-Americans keep muttering about their dashikis from "the Continent". I love the modernity of the whole thing.
Heebie's take: I am really curious about what the designs being revived from the 1870s look like.
Also I find it stupidly hard to keep track of which sides of continents are the east and west sides, on different parts of the globe. I keep having to rederive it from my mental map, because my intuition is roughly "east is the near side and west is far away" which is not a good heuristic.
I hope that we, as a nation, can pull off this maneuver, even if not with such elan.
Boystown video of the day. pic.twitter.com/88kdiEA6Yj— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) June 23, 2019
I know I am being rather a bore about this case; but the stakes are high, and the Fifth Circuit panel's offense is rank. The decision was not simply lawless, but insolently so."
The moral of this story, of course, is that the real threat to freedom of speech is undergraduates offended by racism and homophobia.
Heebie's take: The gist:
The pace of legal news in the third year of the Trump administration is dizzying; sometimes it seems as if our legal system is shaking itself to pieces, like a car driven too fast too long. So you can be forgiven if you missed two news developments earlier this month: first, a decision by a federal district court in California to dismiss federal indictments against four members of the neofascist Rise Above Movement (RAM), and, second, a petition for rehearing of a decision upholding a federal civil suit in Louisiana against DeRay Mckesson, one of the organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement.
There is no universe in which both of these decisions are correct. The California judgment was right; the Louisiana decision was grievously, horribly, scandalously wrong.
As long as we're discussing the unraveling of the court system, Jennifer Bendery has been pretty good about documenting Senate confirmations of federal court judges over the past two years, and it is depressing.