Monday, November 20, 2017

Nuclear War II

An excerpt from an interview with Sen. Cardin, as a followup to my previous post:
And the nuclear command structure, which was developed during the Cold War for two nuclear superpowers with the concept of mutual destruction if either party decided to use it—that premise is no longer valid, because the chances of a nuclear conflict are more with a North Korea-type country than it is with a Russia or China-type country.
So, we could now have a more deliberative process under the presidential command for the use of nuclear weapons, and I think Congress is looking for a way to assert itself in that regard.

On the Pence Rule; A Different Possibility

Search Twitter for the Pence Rule and you'll find that most tweets are critical, and more assume it's a rule against temptation, rather like Ulysses having himself bound to the mast so he could safely view the Sirens.

I don't know Pence's original explanation of his rule, but it strikes me there's another interpretation:  as a defense against misleading appearances and false allegations.

The usual interpretation in effect deprecates men as weak-willed and passion-ridden figures; the alternative view deprecates women and the general public as prone to lies and to believing lies.  Why can't both be true?  I don't know if Pence is Calvinist, but it sounds like the Pence Rule is.

Of course, as said in The African Queen, we're supposed to rise above our nature.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Did Carter Have To Sell His Peanut Farm?

I saw that statement made today, probably on twitter.  It didn't sound right to me so I did googled "Jimmy Carters peanut farm".

From the first hit, I conclude that Carter put the farm into a trust called Carter Farms, managed by a trustee. So yes, he did, but the connotations of the statement mislead.

Friday, November 17, 2017

On Nuclear War

Back in the day we were very concerned about nuclear war.  First strike, second strike, security of deterrents, all were important subjects, to be explored by academics and movie makers.  The concern then was that the Soviet Union would do a first strike, a strike sufficient to destroy our ability to retaliate.

Since 1989 we've lost the edge on that concern.  But because our nuclear forces are getting obsolete, and because North Korea is developing the missile/Hbomb combination needed to attack the US, we're seeing a resumption of the discussion, including in the Post today.

Personally I'm supportive of the argument.  I don't see Russia or China as the sort of power which aims for global dominance (based on what we've learned since 1989, it seems the USSR never really aimed for that dominance) and other powers, like North Korea, see nuclear warfare as a deterrent.

So yes, I'd cut our forces back.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why Immigration Is Good for Jobs

Because, at least based on this one piece of evidence, they're more entrepreneurial than natural-born citizens.
"Latino-owned businesses will number 4.37 million this year, as projected by a Geoscape study.
This represents a growth of 31.6 percent since 2012, more than double the growth rate of all businesses in the U.S. (13.8 percent).
The Latino share of new entrepreneurs represents 24 percent of all businesses, compared to 10 percent a decade ago – a 140 percent increase. Latinos are 1.5 times more likely than the general population to start a business, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.
While men owned more than 56 percent of Latino businesses in 2012, women now drive more of the growth. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of female Latino-owned businesses grew an incredible 87 percent.

Those Life-Long Farmers Aren't

Nathan Yau at Flowing Data has data on people who change jobs/careers.  Interesting, but what I found worthy of comment is the position of farmers--they're the second most likely occupation to change careers.  Only 30 percent stay farmers.  I suspect that's a combination of people pushed off the farm because of adverse economics (i.e., not enough available land, etc.) plus, as I'm a cynic, people who try farming and fail (i.e., hobbyist types).  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Liberal Heart Beats Rapidly

See the picture of the delegates and guess why:

Keillor and I

Garrison Keillor and I are of an age; he's a year and a half younger.  He's got a column here
which touches on the panic old geezers feel when they lose track of something--it's a sure sign of approaching dimentia.  (I just had an MRI because of such concerns--results negative (there's an old Yogi Berra joke with that punchline). Actually it showed only age-related changes--didn't have the guts to ask my doctor exactly what that means.  I'm pretty sure it means I won't be joining the super-centenarians featured in a recent piece (maybe the Times science section) where researchers were collecting and analzying genomes to see if there is a magic bullet to account for living to 110.  Given the apparent health of the people mentioned, I wouldn't mind living that long, although the fear is that you outlive your mind. We'll see.

He also mentions the old crank phone of his youth, as a counterpoint to his new iPhone. He says you had the operator connect you--not ours.  We had a local line of 6 or 7 households, each with their own code: one long, two shorts (rings), and so forth.  Except for me it was difficult to crank it properly--trying for a long could result in two shorts, as the crank made its rotation I'd lose speed and break the ring.  Such were the challenges and thrills of youth, long since vanished except in the memories of geezers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Importance of Data Design

Getting the data design right for system operations is important.  But what happens is that we design systems using our assumptions, assumptions we've never examined or challenged, assumptions which someday will be undermined by changes in the technology or the culture.

An instance of this in the New Yorker: writer, a house husband, unknowingly describes the problem  He and his wife enrolled their child in kindergarten, filling out forms.  His wife works outside the house; he works inside the house.  But it turns out the school uses an app to make robocalls to a parent concerning school matters, apparently a lot of robocalls.  His wife got the calls, he didn't, creating a mismatch of information, which led apparently to some tension in the marriage.   When they challenged the school, turns out they could only contact one parent and someone had assumed the wife should be called.

In the good old days the number of calls from the school would have been rationed by the amount of time a human, likely the school secretary, had to make the call.  These days the cost of making calls has been reduced to zero, meaning a big increase in the number made.  Where the secretary could have dealt with the writer's situation, the robocaller can't, at least not with the existing data design. Since the calls don't cost, it would be easy enough to call both parents, if they desired.  But that would require a new design.