Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Good Old Days

Am I a total reactionary by mourning the good old days of the early civil rights movement, where non-violence was a successful tactic and there weren't competing marches? 

I don't like what seems to be the anti-fa tactic of counter-marching on the same day.  To me it would be a better appeal to public opinion to allow the alt-right marches to occur without an opponent, mocking them with a next-day march that is bigger and more orderly. 

It's interesting, though, that wikipedia is struggling to deal with anti-fa, calling it

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blast from the Past: Guadalcanal Diary

Guadalcanal Diary was one of the books on my family's shelves,

Mention it because the invasion occurred this month, as noted at the AmericanStudies blog.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Hypocrisy: Coal Versus Corn

There are reports that the Republican governor of WV is looking for government subsidies for coal production.  My gut reaction is to immediately oppose them.

However, what's my logical basis? Am I being a hypocrite?  I assume the idea is to keep coal mines going through a bad spell, perhaps a bad century, providing jobs for coal miners, at worse easing the transition to a non-coal future.  (Actually Gov. Justice has a "national security" rationale, perhaps somewhat like the old subsidies for wool and mohair.) Compare that with my rationale for some farm programs: keeping farms going to ease the transition to a future with fewer farmers.  (Full disclosure: that's one of two rationales I mostly buy, at least with respect to historical farm programs, the other rationale being the production adjustment one.)

So can I come up with a way to distinguish between farmers and coal miners as worthy recipients of government subsidies?

One difference is clear: farm subsidies go to farmers, coal subsidies would go to coal mining companies. Is that sufficient?

Friday, August 11, 2017

How Bureaucracy Works

Jonathan Bernstein has good observations on the bureaucracy:
Or, to put it another way: Normal presidencies have a process in place in which important policy questions are brought to the president -- not just security briefings, but domestic problems as well. Just the need to present the president with serious briefings forces the White House staff and various agencies and departments to figure out what's important and what's not, to find potentially viable courses of action for the president to consider, and to be prepared in case the president asks tough questions in either an initial briefing or down the road. Good presidents won't just passively absorb briefings; they'll challenge the information and the options they're being presented with, reinforcing the need for everyone up and down the line to do their best work.
Sometimes the stimulus for action is from the top, sometimes it comes up from the bottom.  Either way the bureaucracy can't be much better than the person at the top.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Just saw Ms. Bigelow's new movie: Detroit.

It's similar to her previous three movies: K-19, the Widowmaker, Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty, in that it's based on facts and avoids many movie cliches.  Our verdict on it: "interesting".  I think that means, it's worth seeing, just as it's worth seeing your dentist, assuming your dentist is very capable and you've got some dental problems.

In Defense of Bureaucracy

The Post has a new history blog, with one of its posts defending bureaucracy.  I think it's a sign of the popularity of the subject that it has no comments.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Hostas and Caladiums With No Leaves

There's always a tradeoff.

What's the trade off for viewing deer from your living room window?

Having hostas and caladiums with no leaves. :-(

Interesting the way different groups of hostas have been more or less attractive to the deer.  While the deer got most of the hosta leaves in June, they just got the caladium leaves last night.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

What Next: Numbered Eggs

This NYTimes article is on a problem with tainted eggs in Europe (pesticide contaminated egg-washing solution).  Among the steps taken:
The Dutch consumer safety authority has published a guide on identifying the tainted eggs through a 10-digit serial number stamped on the shells.
 Unfortunately I was never much good at languages so I can't read the Dutch.  I can sort of see how, if we have machinery which can roll a sticker onto an orange or apple we could also develop machinery which might print a number on the egg with ink that wouldn't penetrate the shell.  Presumably the number is a farm number, not the number of the hen.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Foxes From My Window

Blogged earlier about the deer from my living room window. We also have foxes, as of today. We've seen single foxes occasionally during the past few years, but today is the first time I've seen three. A rainy day, explaining the drops on the window.

New Tech Shorts Panhandlers

The move to the cashless society means it's a harder life for panhandlers, according to a Post article.

Unfortunately, the people earliest to adopt new tech and move to cashless apps are the people who were most likely in the past to give to panhandlers.  (That's me, not the Post, but it's true, at least in the sense that panhandlers are most likely in urban office areas, reflecting the density of traffic not necessarily the generosity of the individuals.)

An interesting note--sometimes giver and panhandler form social bonds, that's the Post.