In the final days before the Republican caucuses, many Iowa voters are girding themselves to accept the least implausible candidate.
AMES, IOWA -- They are coming out to see Mitt Romney in Iowa, hundreds of them. They are not expecting to be blown away.
Instead, these crowds are skeptical and a bit resigned. With decision time nearly upon them, they are coming home, reluctantly, to the least implausible Republican candidate.
"It's impossible to be perfect. There are no more Ronald Reagans," sighed Ed Houry, a 57-year-old UPS driver from the Iowa City area. "But I think he can win it."
If Romney appears to be pulling ahead of his rivals in the closing days before Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, it's not because he's suddenly caught fire. Romney, who got 25 percent of the Iowa vote four years ago, hasn't surged so much as stayed in place amid the chaos.
Nor have voters here suddenly developed a burning ardor for his low-heat candidacy. Rather, they are preparing to settle.
"I'd say I'm leaning Mitt. I'm not 100 percent committed, but I'm leaning," said Rick Schreier, 44, a bank president from Story City. "I like certain things about all of them, but I've found reasons I couldn't support the other six candidates. With Mitt, I haven't found anything about him that I couldn't support."
Schreier said he was 75 percent sure he'd support Romney. He wasn't considering any of the other candidates. But he was still leaving the door open to changing his mind.
Romney rolled in to Thursday night's rally at a construction company warehouse here -- literally: a garage door on the side of the building opened and his campaign bus pulled right in. "Eye of the Tiger" boomed from the speakers as he and his wife, Ann, took the stage.
"I think you want to pick someone who's going to beat Barack Obama!" Ann said. Big cheers. "And once he does beat Barack Obama, he's going to be an awesome president!" Slightly less big cheers.
Romney spoke for about 12 minutes, a speech in which he detailed none of his policy ideas but strained to emphasize his patriotism -- as if someone had called it into question. He recited the lyrics to "America the Beautiful." He extolled the principles of the Founding Fathers. The Declaration of Independence and America as a "land of opportunity" were praised. The president was accused of trying to turn the country toward European-style redistributionism.
Romney then told a story about an especially patriotic speedskater he'd gotten to know during the 2002 Olympic Games. The athlete, he said, was surprised and moved by an unexpected twist in the singing of the national anthem.
"Now, I knew it was coming, because as the man in charge of the Olympics I got to choose the version of the national anthem the choir sang," Romney noted fastidiously, with no change in his perky affect as he detoured on this tangent. "And I chose a version from the 1930s, arranged by a fellow named Robert Shaw, where you repeat the last line a second time as a reprise and the sopranos go up an octave."
As all this was happening, a gust of wind fluffed the flag the skater was holding, and he felt the heavenly breath of the heroes of 9/11.
"And he said, 'The tears began running down my face.' And as he told that story the tears welled in my eyes as well," Romney said. "The people of America love this country."
When it was over, several audience members said they would have liked to hear more substance from Romney. But many seemed inclined to break Romney's way now that he'd come and asked for their votes once again. His schedule has him stumping across the state through the weekend and sticking around to watch the results come in on caucus night.
"As we get closer to the caucus, people understand they're never going to be 100 percent with one candidate," said Jim Kurtenbach, a former state representative from Nevada, Iowa, who previously supported Tim Pawlenty but now is endorsing Romney. "I hear a lot of people talking about looking for the candidate they agree with the most." In the final analysis, he said, Iowans are realizing that's Romney.
The Romney camp is not predicting a win on Tuesday, but David Kochel, Romney's Iowa campaign chairman, said he believes momentum is on their side.
"I think we're going to have a good night on Tuesday," he said. "A lot of people make up their minds in the last week. They're starting to make that decision in a serious way." While other candidates have shot up and down in recent months, he noted, "We've been pretty steady."
Steve Howell, a 55-year-old Ames attorney, voted for Romney four years ago and plans to do so again. "I didn't wander that far, I just ignored him and he ignored us," he said. "It's hard to get motivated to support somebody when you don't ever see him. But now that he's here, he's motivating people."
Howell's wife Mary, a banker, said she was "leaning toward Romney," but her mind wasn't yet totally made up.
"It's becoming made up, because he's the only logical choice," she said.
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The plight of non-tenured professors is widely known, but what about the impact they have on the students they’re hired to instruct?
Imagine meeting your English professor by the trunk of her car for office hours, where she doles out information like a taco vendor in a food truck. Or getting an e-mail error message when you write your former biology professor asking for a recommendation because she is no longer employed at the same college. Or attending an afternoon lecture in which your anthropology professor seems a little distracted because he doesn’t have enough money for bus fare. This is an increasingly widespread reality of college education.
Many students—and parents who foot the bills—may assume that all college professors are adequately compensated professionals with a distinct arrangement in which they have a job for life. In actuality those are just tenured professors, who represent less than a quarter of all college faculty. Odds are that students will be taught by professors with less job security and lower pay than those tenured employees, which research shows results in diminished services for students.
In any case, people have probably heard the phrase in reference to something gone awry at work or in life. In either setting, when the shit does hit the fan, people will tend to look to the most competent person in the room to take over.
And too bad for that person. A new paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado looks at not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them. They find that responsible employees are not terribly pleased about this dynamic either.
Science: Humblebragging doesn’t work. If you want to brag, just brag. Even better, just complain.
"Nothing is more deceitful," said Darcy, "than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast." - Jane Austen
Praise and sympathy: They are two of life’s essentials, the oxygen and carbon dioxide of social interaction. The first is most directly elicited by bragging, and the second, by complaining. The humblebrag—e.g. I’m exhausted from Memorial Day weekend; it’s soooo hard to get out of Nantucket—sits at the center of these competing needs. It is a boast in sheepish clothing, kvelling dressed in kvetch. And, like nearly all forms of multi-tasking, the drive to satisfy two goals at once typically results in double-failure.
Orr: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace. My name is Tyrion Lannister.”
At last! I know I speak for quite a few book readers when I say that pretty much the only thing that kept me going through the eleventy thousand discursive, digressive pages of George R. R. Martin’s fifth tome, A Dance With Dragons, was the promise of Tyrion finally meeting up with Daenerys Targaryen. And, of course, after eleventy thousand pages, it never happened. So on behalf of myself and everyone else who sacrificed sleep, work, family, and friends waiting for this moment, let me say thank you, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Bonus points for what seemed to be a cameo by Strong Belwas (a book character who was written out of the show) as the nameless fighter who freed Tyrion from his chains.
A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.
Atrio of boys tramps alongthe length of a wooden fence, back and forth, shouting like carnival barkers. “The Land! It opens in half an hour.” Down a path and across a grassy square, 5-year-old Dylan can hear them through the window of his nana’s front room. He tries to figure out what half an hour is and whether he can wait that long. When the heavy gate finally swings open, Dylan, the boys, and about a dozen other children race directly to their favorite spots, although it’s hard to see how they navigate so expertly amid the chaos. “Is this a junkyard?” asks my 5-year-old son, Gideon, who has come with me to visit. “Not exactly,” I tell him, although it’s inspired by one. The Land is a playground that takes up nearly an acre at the far end of a quiet housing development in North Wales. It’s only two years old but has no marks of newness and could just as well have been here for decades. The ground is muddy in spots and, at one end, slopes down steeply to a creek where a big, faded plastic boat that most people would have thrown away is wedged into the bank. The center of the playground is dominated by a high pile of tires that is growing ever smaller as a redheaded girl and her friend roll them down the hill and into the creek. “Why are you rolling tires into the water?” my son asks. “Because we are,” the girl replies.
Formalwear elicits feelings of power, which change some mental processes.
Some psychology research in recent years is making an old aphorism look like an incomplete thought: Clothes make the man… Yes? Go on?
Clothes, it appears, make the man perceive the world differently.
A new study looks specifically at how formal attire changes people's thought processes. “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” says Abraham Rutchick, an author of the study and a professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge. Rutchick and his co-authors found that wearing clothing that’s more formal than usual makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly and about fine-grained details. In psychological parlance, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing.
Advocates say that a guaranteed basic income can lead to more creative, fulfilling work. The question is how to fund it.
Scott Santens has been thinking a lot about fish lately. Specifically, he’s been reflecting on the aphorism, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.” What Santens wants to know is this: “If you build a robot to fish, do all men starve, or do all men eat?”
Santens is 37 years old, and he’s a leader in the basic income movement—a worldwide network of thousands of advocates (26,000 on Reddit alone) who believe that governments should provide every citizen with a monthly stipend big enough to cover life’s basic necessities. The idea of a basic income has been around for decades, and it once drew support from leaders as different as Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon. But rather than waiting for governments to act, Santens has started crowdfunding his own basic income of $1,000 per month. He’s nearly halfway to his his goal.