Sunday, November 17, 2019

Stefanik and Partisanship

I had a knee-jerk reaction to Rep. Stefanik's actions in the Intelligence Committee hearings on Friday--I immediately followed her 2018 (and 2020) Democratic opponent.

I say it was knee-jerk, because Stefanik is the sort of Republican congressperson I'd like to see elected; that is, the sort I'd like to see the minority composed of.  Over the course of Friday her opponent picked up thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions.

I don't know if we can continue to have a significant centrist representation.  Having said that, the reelection of Gov. Edwards in LA is welcome.  Even though his positions are not mine, he's  the most liberal that the Louisiana voters  will accept

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Laws on the Books Wouldn't Have Stopped It

Kevin Drum blogs against this meme as it relates to guns.  I'd expand the point
By definition, anything that happens wasn't stopped by the laws on the books.  The stock market setting a new record wasn't stopped by laws.  The 16-year old in Santa Clara wasn't stopped by the laws.  Trump wasn't stopped by the laws.

Do we conclude there's problems with our laws?  No, of course not. Most things the laws aren't intended to stop.  In many cases the laws can stop 90 percent of cases but not the last 10.  Needless to say, we never notice the 90 percent.

(There are also laws poorly written so they don't stop some cases and laws poorly enforced or implemented. )

For any specific case, you need to figure out  into which category it falls.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Who Knew: Marine Heat Waves?

Jstor has a short piece on a paper discussing marine heat waves. 

It's disappointing for the layperson because there's no basic explanation--I never thought of such a thing until 2:30pm Nov. 15, 2019.

Turns out NOAA does research into them and there's a whole organization dedicated to them.  From that site:

We know that heatwaves occur in the atmosphere. We are all familiar with these extended periods of excessively hot weather. However, heatwaves can also occur in the ocean and these are known as marine heatwaves, or MHWs. These marine heatwaves, when ocean temperatures are extremely warm for an extended period of time can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems and industries.​ Marine heatwaves can occur in summer or winter - they are defined based on differences with expected temperatures for the location and time of year.
It seems that El Nino is a related phenomenon.  And I assume that since the air and the water are both fluids, you could have some of the same sort of variations in temperature occurring in each.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Bring Technology to Baseball

Reports that the Houston Astros have been stealing catcher's signs; normally okay but not using binoculars.  The Post today had a piece on the methods the Nationals used to counter any sign-stealing. Very elaborate, five different sets of signals, methods to specify which signal of a set was the real one, and methods to switch the set being used at any times.  Sort of reminds me of the code-breaking eploits in WWII.

Someone on twitter today asked about favorite football players to watch.  I'm old enough that Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr would have been three of my top choices.  The two quarterbacks called their own plays; no mikes in the helmet for them.  Athletically I'm willing to concede that today's players are much more advanced and make more breath-taking plays, but seeing a veteran quarterback pick a defense apart is great.

But we've lost that with football and its mikes, so why not allow catchers a mike in the pitcher's cap so they can call the signal safely.  Might also speed up the game, since the messaging would be simpler and faster than using multiple sets of signals.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Learning in Naval Shipbuilding

It turns out there's a learning curve for shipbuilding, particularly as seen in going from building the first aircraft carrier with a new design to the second, as well as going from an experienced non-computer literate workforce to a younger, inexperienced but computer-literate workforce. 

The New Face of Farming

Farming is open to anyone with the ability to sustain 7 digit losses  year after year. It's called "lifestyle farming" in this Bloomberg article.

(I remember when IBM had its PC printer operation in Lexington KY (later sold to Lexmark), and farms were being subdivided into 5-acre farmettes, raising questions about handling of tobacco quotas.  Or consider the new money in the UK in the 19th century who bought country estates because of the prestige attached to the land. )

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Time to Put Teeth in Records Acts?

The responses say "yes" but there's no enforcement mechanism.   As it turns out, the Presidential REcords Act refers to amendments to the Federal Records Act, most recently  in 2014 to include electronic records on non-official accounts. Specifically: "The last provision forbids officers and employees of the executive branch from using personal email accounts for government business, unless the employee copies all emails to either the originating officer or employee's government email, or to an official government record system to be recorded and archived"

I'd love to see the Archivist of the US given police authority.  (My ex-bureaucratic persona speaking.)

Monday, November 11, 2019

It's Okay to Call Me "Boomer"

I'm at the age where it's nice to be considered as younger than I am.  So go ahead, say: "ok boomer".

Friday, November 08, 2019

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Parable of the Forms

As an ex-bureaucrat I'm always interested in forms.  Here's the link to an academic paper entitled "The Parable of the Forms". The author is trying, I think, to address some issues of legal procedure by translating them into the language of a university bureaucracy.  I was struck by some parallels in USDA history.

Very briefly, when the New Deal created the farm programs in the 1930's it seems each field crop had its own program and, sometimes, its own bureaucracy.  In addition, there were siloed initiatives for conservation, housing, rural regeneration etc.

Over the years there were a number of reorganizations of these basic elements.  Also, over the years and underway when I came on board was a drive to generalize the crop programs.  When I started we had wheat and feed grains, upland cotton, ELS cotton, producer rice, and farm rice. Over time the programs were changed so by the time I retired we just had "program crops" and "ELS cotton", but then we'd added oilseeds, and a number of other categories.

The paper's author argues there's an ebb and flow to the forms issue, and to his legal issue: sometimes focused on the differences in situations and sometimes on the commonalities.  Perhaps there's a similar dynamic with programs.  Or perhaps I'm full of it.