Sunday, October 23, 2016

Small Gardens in the UK

The "allotment" in the UK is like a plot in a community gardens in the US, except with a much longer history..  It's a reflection of the difference in the two nations that a scholar is able to come up with estimates of the total number of allotments over more than a century, up to a million such gardens in a nation of maybe sixty million people.  Also in the UK, unlike the US, the national government had legislation on the subject, dating back to 1907, with allotment gardens dating back to the early or mid 19th century.

According to the linked piece, the evolution of allotments in the UK involved differing motivations and rationales: supplying the needs of the working class; serving as a hobby for middle classes; a focal point for socialization; and finally the trendy ecological concerns of recent times.

I show my prejudices by noting this long historical perspective should serve as a caution to US enthusiasts.

The Next USDA Secretary?

Speculation begins here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Stone the Rich Economist

N. Gregory Mankiw has a piece here--he paid $2500 apiece for "Hamilton" tickets in NY and is reasonably happy about it.  As a market economist he sees it in terms of supply and demand, mourning only that the creators of the show get only the benefit of the $500 face price.

What's interesting to me is the comments: the most "liked" comments are those trashing the rich plutocrat who can afford such a price.  I'm not sure whether that's coming from the presumably liberal readers of the NYTimes or from those who support Mr. Trump.  Probably the former, that would be more consistent with the liberal ethos.  But it's a little straw in the wind which shows the support Clinton can get for "soaking the rich".

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Drum's Crystal Ball

Kevin Drum had a crystal ball post--how will Paul Ryan and Clinton work together after the election. He got a lot of comments.

All I know is it's going to be interesting.  One problem for the Democrats is the number of senators up for reelection in 2018, including a number from red states (Manchin, Heidtkamp, etc.).  So there's a strategic choice in the Senate: either go for broke on liberal issues (assuming you can get the Dems to buy it) and sacrifice your majority in  2018; or try to preserve your majority in 2018 by dodging the more controversial issues, at the risk of aggravating the left and laying the ground for a challenge in 2020.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What's a "Colorist"?

Did Bess Truman have one?

Apparently Michelle Obama invited a number of people to last night's state dinner based on their personal service to her over the last seven years.  I understood hairstylist and makeup artist, but "colorist"?  A brief check of  the Internet yields little that's helpful, unless Mrs.Obama has been dyeing her hair? 

We've come a long way as a society from the days when Bess Truman was "Boss".

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Consequence and Lab Girl

Was away on annual visit to Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck.  Two books to recommend, both as it happens by people raised in the Presbyterian church, which must be why I like both:

Consequence, by Eric Fair.  Memoir of someone who had tours with our military and our contractors, with the major focus on interrogations in Iraq and religion.

Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren.  Memoir of a woman growing from a high school science lab (great evocation of the sort of lab I remember) through a career as paleo/geo/botanist.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Divisions in the GOP

I've been dubious of discussions of current events which see today as unique, without precedent.  One of my touchstones in electoral matters is 1964, when the nomination of Barry Goldwater caused big divisions in the Republican Party.  I remember Rockefeller being booed off the stage by the victorious AUH20 delegates so naturally I believe that was worse than anything we see today.

But maybe not.  I happened to do a Google search ("google" is redundant, isn't it?) for Republicans who supported LBJ in 1964 and found this Stu Rothenburg piece..

It seems that almost all Republican big shots supported Goldwater, at least on paper. Nixon, unlike Romney, campaigned for Goldwater.  Eisenhower, unlike the Bushes, supported Goldwater.  John Lindsay was the big name Republican to go for LBJ.  Who was he?  The Representative of the "Silk Stocking" district in NYC, identified as an up and comer, but also very liberal.  The current day parallel might be Sen. Rubio, though a senator is a bigger name than a mere representative, even one for whom the NYTimes is the hometown paper.

So it seems to me, very tentatively, that the GOP is more divided at the top these days than it was in 1964.  And, perhaps, the GOP was more divided, or rather less partisan, at the grassroots than it is today.  If that's true, maybe it's the result of a more national media,

Friday, October 07, 2016

Predictions: Senate

The Senate may be controlled by the Democrats, but likely by a very slim margin.  Based on our history, a 50/50 split or 51/49 split is going to be unstable.  Among the events which can affect passage of a specific bill and/or control of the Senate (disregarding the likelihood of a filibuster and the need for 60 votes)
  • any individual senator can hold out for his or her favorite project issue (we saw that in the ACA negotiations--the senators from LA, AR, and NE at different times held out for something special)
  • a senator may switch parties
  • special elections to fill vacancies (first of all--the VA seat Kaine now holds) from resignations or death. Note most governors are Republicans, in cases where they have authority.  Such elections will attract gobs of money.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Senior Moments, the Frequency of

Has anyone graphed the occurrence of "senior moments" during a life.  IMHO it probably follows a "power law", similar to this graph, where age is the horizontal axis and number of senior moments in a year the vertical axis. (Disregard the values on this graph--it's the best image I could find quickly.)