Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Talking Points Memo. She formerly worked at Raw Story, Washingtonian magazine, the Center for American Progress and The American Prospect. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, AlterNet and others. She graduated from the University of Minnesota. Contact her at

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Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) apparently doesn't think much of the possibility of former American Idol star Clay Aiken running against her: "As we know he doesn't always fare all that well. He was runner up."

Thanks also to Ian Millhiser's take on the two contests below:

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The always-spot-on Bernard Avishai on Scarlett Johansson's apologism form SodaStream: "How many of them had the 'equal right' to walk into a Jerusalem bank and open an account, let alone borrow the money to open a business to deliver SodaStream products to Israeli stores?"

Thanks to The Smartest Kids In The World author Amanda Ripley for joining us for TPM Cafe Book Club this week. If you missed her great stuff you should check out her work (one, two, three, four and five) we published this week. Please consider buying her book if you liked what you read at TPM.

I'd also like to announce our next Book Club, which will be on The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee the week of Feb. 10-14. Buy it and read it so you have smart questions to ask when they stop by.

If de Blasio is serious about his universal pre-K promise, TPM Cafe contributor Conor P. Williams lays out exactly how he could do it -- in spite of Cumo's objections over funding.

Amanda Ripley takes on the thing that educators often struggle with in today's excerpt from her book, The Smartest Kids In The World: How figure out if kids care about school.

Over the next three decades, more and more studies showed that when it came to predicting which kids grew up to be thriving adults—who succeeded in life and in their jobs—cognitive abilities only went so far.
Something else mattered just as much, and sometimes more, to kids’ life chances. This other dark matter had more to do with attitude than the ability to solve a calculus problem. In one study of U.S. eighth graders, for example, the best predictor of academic performance was not the children’s IQ scores—but their self-discipline.

Don't forget, join us for a chat (sub. req.) with Ripley today at noon.

Seth D. Michaels: "McConnell's brilliance is just how much dishonesty he can pack into so few words."

Of all the places to achieve a top-tier education system, Poland might be the most surprising. After all, it wasn't so long ago that the country was, as Amanda Ripley writes in an excerpt from her book The Smartest Kids In The World, a "communist backwater." She writes about their path to success.

Join Ripley for a chat (sub. req.) this Friday at noon.