Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rural Utilities Service Gets Dinged

Politico has a long piece detailing problems with RUS implementation of subsidies for rural broadband.

I'd note the absence of USDA management from the discussion.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Quote on Todo

From a discussion of historians storage of data on hard drives, etc.:
I once looked at my working directories saved from a previous machine for the first time in five or so years. Among them was an ASCII file called todo.txt. The amount of overlap with the current version was distressing.

A lot of the comments described keeping lots of old files and never looking at them.  That's me.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wasting Food

Grist has the John Oliver video on the subject--as usual quite funny.   There's an interesting bit with a farmer at a farmers market noting that it's difficult to sell the last item in the last hour.  People like to choose, and they look askance at things which people before them have not chosen. Particularly with produce there's got to be some differences among items, so the last one left likely is the least desirable, and who wants to buy the least desirable?

Misleading Post Title at Technology Review

Why do I say this title,
Robotic Surgery Linked To 144 Deaths Since 2000 is misleading?

Because it turns out that if the surgical patient died after surgery, it was included in the 144. But presumably some patients are going to die after surgery using any procedures, robotic, manual, or extra-terrestial.  The meaningful comparison would be the rates of death after surgery using comparable illnesses/situations.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mom Is Rolling in Her Grave--Egg Prices

I guess it was standard in the 30's-50's for the farm wife to handle chickens, while her spouse did the "farming".  My family was standard-issue in some ways and my mother was emotionally invested in her hens, both in terms of their importance in our economic enterprise and the value to humans of eggs, the most perfect food and the cheapest source of protein in these United States.

So my mother is rolling in her grave at this Post piece--a Wonkblog post entitled "Eggs Are No Longer the Cheapest Source of Protein".  Egg prices have increased due to the effects of the virus.

A side note: the piece includes a chart of egg prices going back to 1965. They're now at 535 percent of the 65 prices.  I think the cost of my college education has rise about 2000 percent in the same period.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims

Not sure what to make of these figures. A newspaper summary:
According to a report filed on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack by his Office of General Counsel, with the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, the USDA approved 3,210 of the 22,163 (14.4%) timely and completed discrimination claims that they received from Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers (HWFR).
USDA awarded cash damages, forgiveness of eligible USDA farm debt and tax relief totaling over $200 million to 706 Hispanic farmers and 2,504 female farmers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. The USDA had initially set aside $1.3 billion for payments under this settlement.

Here's the website and the status report

The results are very different from those in the Pigford case.  I'm not sure how to interpret the differences: different standards for the application process, different review process, different dynamics among the applicants, all of the above, something else?  And why the big overestimate by USDA? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Loss of Old Organizations

When we did our weekly shopping in Greene, NY, one of our regular stops was the A&P.  It used to be the big grocery chain.  Now it's gone.

Sunstein Forfeits His Liberal Cred

Cass Sunstein is a tremendous writer, in volume and  in content.  A law professor, he headed Obama's OMB office reviewing regulations during the first term.  He's also married to Samantha Power, our UN Ambassador.  So you figure he's firmly in the liberal camp.

He forfeits all that by his essay on "Gone With the Wind", the book, in the Atlantic.

I have to say I think I had much the same reaction 20 years or so ago when I read it. Mitchell told a good story, strongly feminist.  As I say in a comment on the website, I'd compare it to Downton Abbey, a similar romantic gauze combined with stories and nods to the changing times.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Toleration for All Religion(Except...)

From the "Boston Pamphlet", referenced in the book "The empire on the Edge", an early 1772 statement of colonists positions vis a vis Britain, following a rousing statement of toleration for religion:
The only sects which he [John Locke] thinks ought to be, and which by all wise Laws are excluded from such Toleration, are those who teach Doctrines subversive of the civil Government under which they live. The Roman Catholics or Papists are excluded by Reason of such Doctrines as these that Princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those that they call  Heretics may be destroyed without Mercy”; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a Manner, in Subversion of Government, by introducing as far as possible into the States under whose Protection they enjoy Life, Liberty and Property, that Solecism [error in language] in Politics, mperium in imperio†leading directly to the worst Anarchy and Confusion, civil Discord, War and Bloodshed

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Loss of Quality

One of the things which has happened over my lifetime is a loss of quality:
  1. in music.  Used to be we had audiophiles who spent thousands on their amplifiers and tuners, their speakers and turntables.
  2. in photography.  Used to be we had photo buffs who spend thousands on their camera, and meters and lenses, and filters.  Then we had digitial photography, with the arms race in the sensors.
Now we have smart phones which take good-enough pictures and which produce good enough sound.