Sunday, August 28, 2016

Farewell to the Barbershop?

An article here at Jstor on the changing culture for men's hair:

The last two paragraphs:

They’re not signs of a disintegrating bygone culture of manhood. Rather, they signify a transformation of white, well-to-do masculinity. In the past, the barbershop was a place for these men. Today, while the old model may thrive in black or up-and-coming neighborhoods, white professional men are seeking a pampered experience elsewhere.
And they’re creating intimate relationships in these new men’s salons. But instead of immersing themselves in single-sex communities of men, they’re often building one-on-one confidential relationships with women hair stylists. Stylists often explained this intimacy as part of their jobs. For white men with financial means, though, the men’s salon becomes an important place where they can purchase the sense of connection they may otherwise be missing in their lives.
For a while in my younger years I cut my own hair, but then I migrated back to a barbershop, finding a shop which was reminiscent of my boyhood shop in Greene, NY: patrons and barbers who knew each other and would talk about things like hunting and cars.  My Herndon shop was bigger, not a two-man operation, and it had trophy heads and military memorabilia on the walls. Still it seemed the patrons and barbers mostly knew each other, or at least made small talk (not my forte). Over the years it's downsized and become less of a conversation center.

I don't know what's happened to barbershops in small towns in rural areas--probably closed if the area has lost population. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Vilsack Undermining Rural Values

This has gotten a lot of attention from the right, including giving Rush Limbaugh a lot of laughs (and showing he doesn't understand rural life very well).

Our neighborhood store was run by two middle-aged women, who lived behind the store (until it burned).  What was the nature of their relationship?  Who knew, certainly not I. Nor did we care.  I remember being astonished when a co-worker at my summer job (who'd had surgery for ulcers which didn't improve his disposition any) commented on them with a sneer.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Do You Buy From Amazon?

I do, so I found this bit amusing:

"“People will buy it,” Treibel said. “Amazon customers generally are affluent and irrational and they just want it quick.”

It's from an Atlantic piece on how someone is exploiting the Trump and Sanders campaigns.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Early Lost and Found Service

Who knew that town criers ran a lost and found service?
John Fea at the Way of Improvement links to another blog on a preRevolution town crier:

 They would make public announcements, but also served as a sort of lost and found,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dairy Innovation in Brazil

An interesting piece in the World Bank blog:
Within 20 minutes, all 40 cows were milked with new equipment the family acquired two months before with support from the SC Rural Program. Prior to this, they’d had to endure the laborious and time-consuming process of milking the cows by hand. “We decided to adopt this automated system not only to improve productivity and quality of the milk, but because Zenaide and I were having back problems,” said Osni.
I have to say I'm not real comfortable with the writer and the "12-hour internship".  Consider the paragraph above.  Milking cows by hand is time-consuming; even using the milking machines we had on the farm it would take around an hour and a half.  I don't think cows let down their milk much faster these days. 40 cows seems too big an operation for two or three people to manage.  And going from hand milking to an elaborate robotic operation (though the nature of the equipment is never specified) seems a rash decision--too big a capital investment, too big of a leap.

Later in the article there's a reference to technology leading to a tripling of milk production in the state in 10 years. IMO improved breeding and increased numbers would be the biggest contributors to such an increase, with better technology enabling the bigger herds.   But who knows--it's interesting; Brazil may become as a big a competitor of the US in dairy as it is in soybeans.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Administrative Procedure and Bathrooms

Jonathan Adler at Volokh posts on the federal judge's order blocking the administration's guidance to schools on bathrooms, finding that they didn't comply with the Administrative Procedure Act beloved of all bureaucrats.  Adler doesn't note that similar problems arose with the administration's effort to change the rules on undocumented immigrants.  The bottom line is the executive branch didn't go through a rule-making procedure, allowing the public to comment, before issuing the document.  To be cynical, the executive thought if the document wasn't labeled a "regulation", rule-making wasn't required.

So the Obama administration has suffered two defeats this year on issues dear to liberal hearts.  There's some small consolation in this idea: if the Trump administration (:-( should try similar tactics in order to undo or change liberal policies, liberals would have a stronger case to force the Trumpites into the long rule-making process.

Just as a matter of history, I suspect these two episodes are just another step in the long history of changing administrative procedure into formal regulations.  The lawyers have to make work for themselves.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Best Paragraph I Misread Today

From Walt Jeffries at Sugar Mountain, explaining why a pig was in hospice care:
"Also, pigs are rather mean to each other. They will target and kill the weak amongst them. This is a herd behavior because the weak may attract predators and scavengers. By killing or leaving behind the weak the herd survives. So a pig’s strategy is to beat up the weak individuals. Pigs do not do altruism. Pigs are not kind. Pigs are not loyal. But Hollywood and animal nut groups have made them out to be much like us. They are not. Or rather they are like the worst of us, the Trumps and the Clintons.†"
I swear when I first read it this morning, I missed the last three word.  I guess it's called Freudian omission.   :-)  (The footnote invites the reader to insert her own preferred politician--I missed that as well.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rural Development and LGBT

A post at Lawyers, Guns and Money on the USDA's rural programs, the outreach to the LGBT community, and the concerns of the right wing (Limbaugh).

Erroneous Payments and Wrongful Death

Post reports that SSA has erroneously recorded some people as dead when they aren't.  Seems to be part of a project to improve the accuracy of death records, where SSA continued to show people as living when they were indeed dead. 

(I've blogged on this several times before, but used a number of different labels for the posts.  Search on "erroneous" in the upper left search box to find them.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Katznelson Is Successful and Wrong (in Part)

Ira Katznelson has succeeded in convincing the conventional wisdom that FDR worked with Southern racists to limit the scope of New Deal legislation so that blacks were not aided.  While that's a smal part of his most recent book, "Fear Itself" , it seems to be the meme which has most resonated with liberals.

Given the scope of the New Deal, you'd have to examine many legislative histories to confirm or dispute the general thesis.  I don't know the truth of others, but I do not believe it is an accurate description of the reasons for circumscribing the coverage of Social Security in the original act.  Katznelson.  I've noted this before in a Post Wonkblog discussion of the book, by point to:
an interesting counterpoint by Larry DeWitt, a public historian with the Social Security Administration. Here's the abstract:
The author concludes that the racial-bias thesis is both conceptually flawed and unsupported by the existing empirical evidence. The exclusion of agricultural and domestic workers from the early program was due to considerations of administrative feasibility involving tax-collection procedures. The author finds no evidence of any other policy motive involving racial bias.
I'd add to DeWitt's work by pointing to the expansion of SS coverage to farmers. (See this IRS publication.)  It's personal to me, because I remember my parents becoming eligible in 1950 (from an SSA history):
The amendments of 1950 brought 9 million workers into covered employment (Christgau 1960), including regularly employed farm and domestic workers and, with some exceptions, self-employed persons. These new workers would generally not have much in the way of covered earnings from 1937 to 1950. Except for those just beginning their careers, newly covered workers would thus receive low retirement benefits. A "new start" formula was instituted that allowed the computation of benefits on the basis of average monthly wages after 1950 (if that yielded higher benefits). Similar to the 1939 amendments, this policy reflected a choice by policymakers to award adequate retirement benefits to persons who may have worked (and paid taxes) in covered employment for only a short period of time.
 I'm reminded of this point because among the family papers I just inherited was correspondence concerning the difficulty of establishing my father's birth date (in 1889) to become eligible for SS. The bottom line was that SSA had become a functioning bureaucracy which was capable of handling the extra covered workers, and IRS was capable of writing IRS pub 51.  And the resistance of the farm lobbies, like the American Farm Bureau, had been overcome.  (See this NYTimes article on the differing attitudes of Farm Bureau and National Grange.) This expansion was passed enough though Southern Democrats retained their power in Congress.

While the evidence is clear to me, I'm not holding my breath as I wait for academic historians to recognize this error.