Monday, October 16, 2017

The Dutch Are Beating Our Plants Off (in Ag Research)

In line with my previous mea culpas about underestimating the Dutch, via Marginal Revolution here's a National Geographic long article on Dutch research and implementation of sustainable farming techniques, and spreading them to the developing nations.

Methinks ARS (Agricultural Research Service should provide a copy to each Congressional representative).

Very interesting.

UNC and Shame

NCAA isn't sanctioning UNC for academic violations because their fake course were taken by more than just athletes.   Margaret Soltan at University Diaries, who specializes in tracking in dirty college athletics, has an appropriate comment. 

 (It takes an English professor to come up with the best invective.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

De Nile

Title refers to the old joke.

I've reservations about blanket judgments of people, in particular this week about people surrounding Harvey Weinstein.   Having often used denial in my life, I have to think it's common in others. Let those who've never floated their boat on that river throw the first stone. 

Who Is Black

From Inside Higher Education, a report of a demand from the black students at Cornell:

The demand: “We demand that Cornell admissions come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented black students on this campus. We define underrepresented black students as black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.
 The black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents international or first-generation African or Caribbean students. While these students have a right to flourish at Cornell, there is a lack of investment in black students whose families were affected directly by the African Holocaust in America. Cornell must work to actively support students whose families have been impacted for generations by white supremacy and American fascism.”

And the experience of racism is different, Jones added.
"Everyone from the African diaspora may all experience racism on the individual level (being called the N-word and being restricted from a white frat party being only the tip of that iceberg)," Jones said. "But international students who call another place home don’t have to deal with the ingrained institutional and structural forms of oppression in the same way American black students do. (Housing discrimination, mandatory-minimum sentencing, war on drugs, school-to-prison pipeline, etc.)"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Surge Pricing and Our Electric Lights

The NY Times has an article on surge pricing, arguing in part that it may be reasonable for artists like Bruce Springsteen to underprice their tickets when they do a hit show on Broadway (or something similar)--it's part of a longer term deal with fans not to be greedy. It segues from that to the issue of raising electricity prices when usage is high, or using variable rate tolls on commuter highways.

The bit about electric prices triggered a memory:  back in the day we had an electric meter for our normal usage, and another one for the lights in the henhouse.  The second meter meant a lower rate, the rationale being that the lights were coming on at times of low usage (like 5 a.m. or something--don't remember what) so the utility wanted to encourage it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

USDA Reorganization and Comments: Where Was NASCOE?

Well, the period for commenting on the proposed reorganization of USDA is over, and OFR received 94 comments.  Scrolling through I can't identify any comments from NASCOE.  There were several by different state soil and water district associations.  It's possible I'm unfair to NASCOE--many comments are identified by individual, others by organization, so it's possible that the NASCOE comments are under an individual's name.

I'm skeptical of the request for comment process, although this reorganization is the sort of thing it should be good for. It's quite possible that NASCOE is doing a better job of lobbying behind the scenes than it appears they are doing in the open.

The Problems with E-Verify

Part of a compromise on immigration has always been E-Verify, the process of bouncing a new employee's data against database(s) to confirm she is legal to work (i.e., has a green card).  Conservatives push it, liberals tend not to be enthusiastic.  (That's sort of weird, because conservatives generally resist government ID programs as an invasion of individual rights and liberals generally believe in government programs--but that's the way the human consistency cookie crumbles.)

So it's interesting when Cato comes out with a piece on the problems the program has in those states which have made it mandatory.   Cato is libertarian enough that their results deserve a bit of salt, but the study shows relatively low compliance rates and a significant rate of false positives. 

My uninformed analysis would suggest that a mandatory program by the feds could be much more effective, but others might disagree.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

British Race Relations?

Both the Post and the Times ran reports on the "audit" of UK race relations.   Their discussions focus on "white" and "black" groupings, in other words using the categories we're familiar with from the American experience.  But the UK is not America, and the experience of race and ethnic divisions in Britain is quite different than that of America.

When you look at the British reports and the actual audit you see a somewhat different picture.  For example, you've got 19 different "ethnicities" which were surveyed, including such categories as "White and Black Caribbean", "White and Black African", "Black Caribbean", "Irish", "White and Asian", and "Gypsy or Irish Traveller"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Rule of Law and Forgiveness

Interesting piece in the Times--the thesis in two paragraphs:
The implication is that the only proper thing to do is enforce laws uniformly, all the time, without exceptions — and that an immigration amnesty would thus be a threat to truth, justice and the American way.
But there’s a problem with that theory: Amnesties, though not always labeled as such, are central to how the nation’s legal system functions.

Pickup Trucks and Guns: David Brooks

Brooks has a column arguing that guns have become a symbol of adherence to an older agricultural/industrial America, as opposed to the newer service-oriented America.  Seems to make sense to me.  I wonder though whether pickup trucks haven't served the same purpose.  So I wonder whether there's a correlation between owning a gun and owning a pickup truck.