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|Sunday, June 26th, 2016|
|Monday, June 20th, 2016|
|I acquired a fire pit for Father's Day
I have, contrary to all past practice, started to take an interest in my back yard. Perhaps this is the onset of empty nest syndrom. Perhaps it is the natural reaction to the need to get rid of two old trees in the backyard that had become a safety hazard and the resultant opening up of the backyard. ("Oh look! There's a backyard other than those two annoying trees I hated!")
In any event, I found myself in Home Depot for Father's Day (how cliche, I know) to purchase some odds an ends for hedge tending and weed whacking. While there, I found a metal fire bowl/artificial fire pit with a cooking attachment/grill. Folks who are familiar with these fire pits will know that they are essentially a metal bowl with a removable mesh top to catch sparks (there are various other, more sophisitcated models that look more like period ovens). One can, of course, get a metal grill to put on top. But this models actually had something I have been looking for in a fire pit for a long time -- an adjustable grill so you can control the heat level of what you are cooking by raising or lowering it.
So i bought it for myself for Father's Day (my inlaws having financed the gardening equipment for Father's Day -- thanks Saba and Savta!) Am now contemplating when to have backyard bardic circle and grilled meat.
|Friday, June 10th, 2016|
|To Emphasize the last point . . .
Please observe the very carefully choreographed way the roll outs of the last week or so have occurred.
1. Clinton wins primaries, makes stately address praising Sanders and his campaign and inviting them to join in fight to build better America and defeat The Evil Donald. Many other Dem luminaries likewise make comments.
2. Sanders gives uplifiting speech vowing to not drop out until after D.C. primary (thus keeping his word to stay in until the end). While he is in town for a rally, he asks for a meeting with President Obama.
3. Please note that Obama, the President, and Pelosi, the ranking Dem in the Legislative Branch, have carefully withheld an endorsement all campaign. Likewise, Elizabeth Warren, the de facto
head of the "Progressive Wing," has refrained from endorsing a candidate. Likewise Joe Biden, who is Vice President, has refrained from endorsing a candidate.
4. Please also note that Sanders asked
for the meeting with Obama. Also note that since he will be in town anyway to attend a campaign event, this is not a surrender. It is a meeting that conveys respect and dignity by treating Sanders as a welcome member of the Democratic "family" and not as someone either suing for terms or being summoned to do obessiances.
5. Sanders and Obama emerge from meeting all smiles and cordiality. Everyone praises each other. Sanders makes it clear he will work with the party to defeat Trump in the fall, While he does not officially quit or endorse Hillary, he no longer talks about himself as the "best qualified" to beat Trump. There is no mention of a fight at the convention. There is lot of talk about shared goals and ideals.
Why no endorsement of Hillary/ending of the race? First, Sanders is keeping his word to his supporters to "fight on to the end." it would be particularly bad if he disenfranchised Washington D.C., which is the most disenfranchised jurisdiction in the U.S. owing to the Constitution not givng them representation. But citizens in Washington DO get to vote for POTUS. So it would be cruel (and a barb in the hands of Sanders' enemies -- of which there are still many), for him to quit on the even of the D.C. Primary.
Nevertheless, because it is clear that we are now focused on bringing the party together, it is time for the Party Royalty who have so far been properly neutral to embrace the winner of Crown Tourney and start the process of annointing the royal heir. Please note the Order of Precedence for endorsement.
POTUS (Head of Executive Branch, leader of the party)
Ranking Member of the House (Head of Government In Exile of the Legislative Branch)
Just about simultaneous: Joe Biden (VP) and Warren (de facto head of the progressive wing).
Do you think things just happen to work out that way? i make this point especially about Biden. Some folks have speculated Biden's decision not to endorse Clinton was bitterness on his opting not to run. In fact, it is a matter of precedence, and one where Biden has been taken to the woodshed before for failure to observe proper presedence (remember how annoyed Obama was when Biden announced his thumbs up on same sex marriage before Obama did).
6. But also note that Sanders still has an out if the promised terms don't work out. We are on a glide path to a big reveal and successful convention in Philly, especially in contrast to what looks like a growing disaster for Republicans in Cleveland. Additionally, all the swirling expectation of bitter resistance from Sanders keeps the tension up for the big reveal in Philly. This, in turn, puts pressure on all the negotiators to make things come out right and not hold out on personal agendas.
Played right, the platform is a symbol of compromise, unity and statesmanship accepted by acclaim with all sides claiming victory. And all sides will be right. Politics at its best is NOT a zero sum game where one side emerges triumphant and the other emerges bitter and angry. At its best, politics is the way in which we develop a consensus as a society of our values and how we intend to implement them through our government. "And to secure these rights, men create governments, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Of course, the platform and unity themselves are preludes to implementation post victory. There is a difference between unity as a political party around broad goals and values and the nuts and bolats of governance. That is why we can expect much scrambling around who will be at the center, so as to position themselves for the post-election government.
And as an example, we now see Debbie Wasserman Schultz rising to defend the CFPB regulation of payday lenders against an amendment on the appropriations bill offered by a Republican colleague
. A token of good faith that, in exchange for likely keeping her job (at least through November), she will behave herself publicly and embrace the new consensus. (Note DWS did not actually embrace the rule substance, but not using approps to short circuit the rulemaking process. A fine nuance tha those of us who dance the political pavane apprecaite.)
|Our Political Pavane
A few more observations for my fellow Dems on what I call "the Dance of the Adults" for my SCA friends.
Like many dances descended the English Inns of Court and Elizabethan Parliamentary times, the Dance of Adults begins as a stately pavane then evolves into a spirited corranto. The pavane has many mandatory figures designed to show off the grace, elegance and pomp of the most important players, who lead the procession. By contrast, the corranto is designed to show off one's energy and strength. The pavane is carefully choreographed, whereas the corranto is more improvisational. During the pavane stage, we will see all partners working in harmony. As the music picks up the pace and transitions, we will see partners begin to separate into their individual improvisational steps. This is where you will see the true partners work together, whereas the rivals will increasingly try to separate out for their own individual improvisations. As always, there is a danger that -- as the music picks up the tempo and dancers become less coordinated with each other -- accidents will occur (or worse, some dancer may deliberately try to trip a rival).
What distinguishes a skilled Master of Revels is the ability to detect such potential problems and diffuse them quickly and quietly by varying the tempo, using more skilled dancers to help the less skilled keep time, and discretely sidelining the odd troublemaker who will not otherwise contain him or herself.
As always, there will be critics carping on the sideline who think the pace is too slow, too quick, or who simply like to smirk and spread gossip. Sometimes the chatter from the sides is so loud it threatens to drown out the musicians. A skilled Master of Revels, however, knows to ignore the carping critics and stay focused on bringing the dance to conclude with a gracious reverance.
For Bujold fans., It's the dance at the Emperor's birthday. And yes, as someone noted when I made a similar analogy previously, this is the last generation that will dance this particular dance by this particular set of rules.
|Wednesday, June 8th, 2016|
|Some reflections on the end of Primary Season
First, thank God that's over. Now we have the road to Philly (much more on that below).
Second, I will confess to my own tribalism and modest disappointment. I should have liked to have seen a Jew nominated for President. Given the demographics, I doubt it will happen in my lifetime -- if at all. But so it goes.
Third, What to Expect On The Road To Philadelphia. Both Clinton supporters (the Establishment Wing of the Democratic Party) and Sanders supporters (the Progressive Wing) face choices. Most critically, is this about unification or adulation. Are you willng to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve your goals, even if it means letting the other wing keep its dignity, declare victory, and never admit that you were right and they were wrong -- for all values of "you" and "they."( Collapse )Is this about unification or adulation? Is it about getting the right result, or about personally feeling good? That is the question both the Sanders wing and the Clinton wing need to make as the Democratic Party heads to Philadelphia.
|Tuesday, June 7th, 2016|
|I keep rediscovering why I took a FB vacation
I really, really need to stop posting political analysis on FB during election season. Like any human endeavor, FB concentrates human traits. In this case, the intensity around the election is insane.
Mind you, I'm reading Chernow's biography of Hamilton, and the frenzy around the election, including relentless personal attacks, is certainly consistent with his description (and that of others) of politics in the immediately pre and post Revolution and in the early days of the Constitution.
Anyway, I cannot help but observe that while I understand the AP's rush to declare Clinton the presumptive nominee, a declaration that she has won the number of delegates based on Super Delegates is sure to fan the flames of disunity and conflict. It is especially irritating since today Clinton is likely to clinch the deal with a sufficient number of pledged delegates.
This does not, however, cause despair to supporters of Sanders who are not unalterably opposed to Clinton as the nominee under the right circumstances. (I will add that I consider Clinton a perfectly good candidate in her own right. Likewise, while I favored Sanders, I do have concerns and disagreements with his potential as President as well. But I digress.) To the contrary, Sanders has proved not only that the Democratic base is much more open to a progressive message than many people (including many long-time Democrats) believed, but that Democrats can attract independents by explicitly adopting (and implementing) more progressive policies and embracing a role of government in improving people's lives.
This means, going into the convention, that Sanders has considerable influence to shape the party platform and begin the internal process (with the rest of the "Warren wing") of shaping the post election party. This takes some considerable skill.
Centrist democrats in the DNC are like any incumbents -- they dislike change, especially change they do not control. This is not so much corruption but human nature -- albeit human nature that lends itself to corruption. As always, most of what happens will go on behind the scenes, with endless speculation (as it is now). What makes this more difficult is that Sanders is not so much the leader of a movement as its representative. He knows that he cannot turn his supporters on and off like a switch, nor would he want to do so if he could. That means that he needs to woo his base to support a Democratic party that incorporates whatever changes and commitment he gets.
This is not to say that Sanders will simply "take what he can get." Part of the purpose in continuing on in a challenging manner despite the oft repeated points about math is to persuade the centrists that they will need to make real changes to win over the Sanders wing. It is still possible that these negotiations will fail, and that Sanders and his supporters will need to withhold support. That would be disastrous in the short term. But time favors the younger, more progressive wing of the party. The evidence of the last 12 years is that the future of the Democratic Party lies less with the 1990s coalition of centrist professionals and traditional labor and civil rights leaders, and more with the rising tide of new civil rights and social justice activists and a minority/majority working class. Conservatives were defeated in their attempt to take over the Republican Party in 1976, but wildly successful in doing so in 1980. Democrats looking for a melding and transition from the 1990s philosophy that was essentially conservatism with a conscience with the more progressive philosophy of the incoming generation of Democrats would do well to identify their own core principles and negotiate a merger of the two wings of the party in good faith, rather than simply resist all changes.
|Tuesday, May 24th, 2016|
|Monday, May 23rd, 2016|
|The Dance of Grown Ups has begun
All you need to know on the Dem side.
Sanders made it clear that the goal will be to come together and beat Trump in November.
Clinton has expressed lots of interest in meeting with Sanders on the platform and everything else "when he is ready."
Ignore the cloud of chattering that surrounds the grown ups dancing. Both Sanders and Clinton are old dealers who understand about The Deal. This is a trickier dance than in '08, because Sanders and Clinton do have significant differences both in terms of policy and in terms of structure of the Democratic Party. Additionally, neither is so delusional as to believe the other exercises autocratic power over their supporters (and even less over their "supporters").
Sanders did not get the nickname "amedment king" for nothing. And Clinton did not acquire a reputation as a pragmatic deal maker for nothing. Both also understand that the issues at play here go well beyond the election of 2016. Clinton is no fool. She understands the demographics and the failure of the Democratic Party as a party to grow when demographic data suggested it should be growing.
So watch the grown ups. Ignore the chatter. Or, if you prefer, ignore everything until after Labor Day.
|Will robots replace lawyers?
BakerHosteler, one of the country's largest firms, has "hired" a robot called ROSS to handle routine bankruptcy research.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/05/16/meet-ross-the-newly-hired-legal-robot/
My feeling on this is that using robots and data analysis has not worked in fields that require certain types of creative thinking and where human beings are decision makers. Radio, for insatnace, data analyzed itself to death.
I expect that robots (by which I mean AIs capable of doing legal research at a more sophisticated level than the average legal search engine does today) will be helpful tools. But put me in the Samuel T.Cogswell camp in believng that humans will continue to matter in the formulation of law.
|Friday, May 20th, 2016|
|From my daily conversations
Reporter: Lots of people have been talking about X, but no one else seems to have thought of Y (the thing I have been explaining). Why do you suppose that is.
Me: Because that's what I do. It's my thing. Why does Aquaman talk telepathically to dolphins, even though they aren't fish? It's his thing.
|If You Wonder How The Media Generates "Fights"
This article from the Hill is such a classic example of how the media generates fake fights and blows them up for clickbait.http://www.thehill.com/homenews/campaign/280622-clinton-fury-grows-with-sanders
First, note the dramatic headline: "Clinton Fury With Sanders Grows"
Ooooh, did that get your blood boiling yet, whichever side you are on. If you are a Sanders supporter, are you not filled with righteous indigination at the imperious one? If you are a Clinton supporter, are you not totally in agreement that Clinton has patiently endured an endless and increasing stream of provocations?
But wait, that's the headline, lets dig deeper.
Here's the opening paragraph.
"In public, Clinton aides and allies have kept their anger checked, decrying the rowdy outbursts at Nevada’s state convention last weekend but saying they believe Sanders will ultimately do the right thing by helping to unite the Democratic Party."
Ah, but now we will get the real dish, won't we? And, sure enough, it's all anonymous sources and aids saying the same stupid stuff we see from all the other outlets.
But did Clinton say anything?
Well, she did say that she expected that Sanders would do his part to unify the party after the nominee. ooooh . . .
|Thursday, May 19th, 2016|
|Oh yes, and Please Stop Being So Patronizing About Bernie Supporters.
5 Things People Ought To Stop Saying About Bernie Sanders.http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/19/bernie-sanders-establishment-democrats-stop-arguments-primaries
I'll add one more. I'm on mailing lists for both Bernie and Hillary. All the idiocy people keep saying that "Bernie is telling his supporters" is nonsense. Read the emails, read the speeches, watch the speeches on YouTube.
In fact, I'm going to reprint the findraising email I got yesterday here, which is headed with the subject line: "I'll be Damned If We Allow Republicans to Win!"( Collapse )
Oooh, look at all the nastiniess, all the false promises, all the . . . Oh wait.
1. It is entirely anti-Trump.
2. It acknowledges a hard road ahead.
3. It makes the point that even if the Sanders campaign loses "every delegate we win is a statement for the values we share."Please stop being patronizing and projecting your own anxieties and stereotypes.
In Osewalrus' unwritten book "Why Are So Many People So Annoying?" i remind myself that most people only use 10% of their brain for actually listening
to other people and actually trying to figure out what they are saying. The remianing 90% of the brain is used to think about more important things like sex, determining level of hunger and or boredom, and generally being consistent with the belief that the entire universe revolves around me, me, me! As a result, people take the 10% they actually are bothering to listen and pay attention to and instead substitute what they think the other person should be saying and feeling, based on the three neurons in your entire brain you actually devote to empathy (please note, mine are on vacation today).
So when someone says "gosh, how can Bernie continue to lead all those young people astray and feed them hope they will win? Won't they all be so disappointed and angry they will go home?" What I actually hear is "I decided back whenever I decided to be a Hillary supporter that Sanders supporters were idealistic weak willed delusional people and I continue to believe that." Likewise, when I hear "Sanders really needs to control his supporters and say blah blah blah" I translate that to "I really have no idea what happened other than the repeated three different clips I've seen over and over again and I don't really care, since it is utterly consistent with my worldview to regard Bernie and friends as out of control forces of nature that will sweep away all right thinking people like myself."What's worse is that there will be absolutely zero assumption of responsibility if Hillary loses.
In another Osewalrus unpublished book: "Why Do So Many People Have Flat Learning Curves?" I remind myself that just about no one likes to take responsibility for things going wrong. Even people who are willing to do this painful learning exercise tend to like having others to blame.
Which is one of the things about the myth of the BernieNader that particularly irritates me. Look, it is pretty clear to anyone who bothers to look at trend data and can have a memory that goes back more then 20 minutes that Dems assumed after '06 and '08 that young voters would naturally gravitate to them, so why worry about actually attracting them into the party structure and making them part of the decision making process? When it turned out that increasing numbers of people under 50 feel alientated from the Democraty Party, find it unresponsive to their basic needs, unwilling to give them meaningful rolls in the decision process, they get annoyed. When this is accompanied by endles, endless
requests for money and unwavering support, they get more annoyed.
And the continued blame of younger voters is non-stop. Every lost bi-election is not about the failure of the Democratic Party to attract supporters despite having clear demographic advantages. No, it's all about how "teh kids these days" are just not willing to do what it takes to support the DNC and can't they see that no matter how awful, non-responsive, patronizing, insulting, unwilling to even listen to your concerns blah blah the Democratic Party is, it's just your duty to show up and vote for the same people who keep telling you how worthless you are and begging you for money?
Face it, the DNC has become the negging boyfiriend that keeps trying to keep under 40 voters in line by undermining their self-confidence, or the overbearing parent that keeps explaining how you just aren't up to making independent life decisions so I'll decide what you should be doing -- and since you're just sitting around here I've decided you should be cleaning up after me and running errands.
So if all the worst case scenarios centrists democrats insist on repeating endlessly come to pass, they will take absolutely zero responsibility for blowing it. Oh no, it won't be our fault
that even though we got the candidate we wanted and the opponent we wanted and the economy we wanted and everything else we wanted for the 2016 election, we managed to blow it. it will be the fault of damned BernieNader and those irresponsible, immature lazy good for nothing kids.
OK, rant over.
|More demographic info showing yes, it's a generational thing.
So here is a Vox piece doing a deeper dive on the Bernie v. Hillary supporters. It breaks almost exactly along the lines I predicted back in 2012 (in the sens that, in 2012, I argued that we would see the demographic split in 2016).http://www.vox.com/2016/5/19/11649054/bernie-sanders-working-class-base
The big problem, as the Vox article points out, and has been one of my greatest frustrations in trying to track this election, is that the exit poll results released to the media fail to provide any kind of cross-correlation. They tell you by age, by race, by sex, by income, by education level, but they don't tell you how it winnows down.
It turns out when you actually look at all the data, age is the most predictive factor, and it is not a sharp cutoof (although it is most dramatic if you compare the 50 or older v. the 29 or younger segment and ignore all that transitional stuff.
And does anyone cross-corelate this with any of the other relevant polls, like how people consumer news? Hah! But again, if you look at the PEW survey data, you will see huge differences in how all the major demographic groups find and consumer news, and how they discuss the issues with each other.
|Wednesday, May 18th, 2016|
|June 7 can't happen friggin' fast enough
First, credit to Nate Silver as being the only number cruncher in all this who actually has attempted to adjust for the systemic polling problems by developing a demographic predictive model. He had Bernie in KY at 2%. Clinton has won (pending the tally of absentee and provisional ballots) by ..5%, which is within the margin of error for an experimental model.
And Sanders showed he could win closed primaries in Oregon.
The KY result is insanely annoying because a close victory for Clinton invariably produces more accusations of vote rigging and chicannery than a clear win. Clear wins, of course, also produce such complaints, but they have less resonance outside the core Sanders supporters.
But really what the primary showed was the stability of the Democratic primary race. It confirms, again, that the progressive/Sanders wing of the party is about 40-45%, with centrist wing at about 55-60%. Depending on if you look at the present or the future, it means that either the progressives need to accept that a solid majority of the party is unwilling to accept their choice, or that the Dems need to embrace the progressives to attract the younger voters and Dem-leaning independents critical to the future of the Democratic Party as a party.( Collapse )
So the next 3 months or so culminating in the D convention are going to be an enormously irritating pain in the ass, which is why I am hiding out here rather than hanging on FB. I'm not sure I could srsly follow FB for the next 3 months and not end up punching people in the nose. Curating my own FB timeline was taking way too much effort.
|Tuesday, May 17th, 2016|
|Link Harvest: Adam Ruins Everything On Millenials
A good 20 minute talk by Adam Conover on many of the fallacies of generation naming, but with a nod to real demographic study and analysis.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HFwok9SlQQ
TL;DR -- Yes it's true that generational experiences can have broad impact, and we can study certain statistics about any age grouping. But the modern idea of grouping "generations" with catchy names is mostly an invention of writers imposing their stereotypes about younger people on young people (and young people reciprocating to the previous generation).
In terms of marketing, most of what people try to do is lazy and insulting. Since this was a conference to marketers, did not get into the demographic trends that are useful in the aggregate for certain kinds of analysis.
|Wednesday, May 11th, 2016|
|Monday, May 9th, 2016|
|Odd Connection Between NC Anti-LGBTQ and FCC Preemption of Anti-Muni Statutes
This article gives a good summary of the N.C. anti-LGBTQ law. In addition to the "bathroom" provision everyone focuses on, the law also prohibits any locality from having a stricter anti-discrimination law than the state's. Since NC does not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ, the law preempts ordinances passed by localities that protect LGBTQs from discrimination.http://www.vox.com/2016/2/23/11100552/charlotte-north-carolina-lgbtq-pat-mccrory
If you read the article, you will note that the DoJ does not raise the preemption issue in its letter to NC as to why this is a violation under the Civil Rights Act. Why not? The answer, oddly, has to do with the position DoJ has taken on the ability of federal legislaion to preempt restirctions by states on how municipalities govern themselves. This issue is being litigated by the FCC, and DoJ declined to join the FCC in defending the right of the FCC to preempt state legislation prohibiting local governments from offering broadband services.
Small legal world in 10th Amendment land. But it is also an example of how a legal consistency works, rather than being simply results oriented.
UPDATE: The DoJ has filed a lawsuit against NC. It only challenges the "bathroom provision."https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2827915/NC-DOJComplaint.pdf
|And so, best beloved, this is why you have a period . . . .
Every now and then, I see the emergence of yet another "Just So" story that explains why x or y behavior emerged. Most recently, someone posted this in my direction on "How and Why Did Women Evolve Periods?"http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/05/06/how-and-why-did-women-evolve-periods/#4435e5493ca0
As I wrote long ago (but now sadly cannot find), I generally regard most of the efforts to draw a direct connection between x trait and y survival benefit as being less about science and more about the attitudes on those who insist on such correlations. I am a big believer in Gould's theory that evolution is complicated, with lots of complicated tradeoffs, and isolating particular traits to find specific correlations is generally not useful. We can look at a package and say "hey, that particular orgnaism seems to have achieved a good balance of trade offs" or "this set of things makes sense when playing the odds." But the direct cause and effect for a particular trait (like menstruation) ends up being a just so story with no proof. That may be fun speculation, but it ain't science -- and the cause of science is made worse when people insist on presenting such things as immutable fact.
What we do know is that human beings in their mating habits are both substantially different, but also have considerable overlap with, our closest primate relatives (chimapnzees, great apes or orgutans). The tradeoffs for things such as a bigger brain case and upright posture seem to have come with a general package of things other mamals don't have. Nor is it possible to really distinguish which are learned behaviors and which are genetic behaviors. Human mating habits at times resemble our promiscuous chimp relatives, sometimes our monogamous oragutan relatives, and sometimes our "dominant-male-with-a-harem-that-is-n
ot-always-faithful" great ape relatives.
The limitations of fossil evidence make it impossible to know when menstruation crept into human evolution, and what relationship it might have with other traits. Complex stories like the above may explain at some level how the package of traits humans evolved worked out and why it has proven so successful over time. Or they might be no better than the story that we have winter because Persophene ate pomegranite seeds while visiting with Hades.
|Sunday, May 8th, 2016|
|RIP: Hossein Ali Qomi, mka Dr. Gregory Rose
I've posted this on Facebook, but not everyone here is there. My friend fatlefty
, also known as Baron Hossein Ali Qomi in the SCA, and known mundanely as Dr. Gregory Rose, died this morning from complications of a stroke.
Greg and I were firends for over 25 years. When his beloved wife Terry died and he was unemployed he moved in with us and lived here from 2004 until 2008. For the last several years he has lived with his domestic partner, Jillian, out in Oregon. We kept in touch by phone. We always talked about getting together again but, there never seemed to be a good time. Greg tried to come out in April to NYC, but his doctors told him he could no longer travel safely for long distances by plane.
Last time I talked to Greg was a few weeks ago. He had reached me at a bad time and I said "I'll give you a call back." But it's been busy and, besides, it seemed like there would always be time.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better. I believe that I've been changed for the better. But, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
Goodbye my friend. The wolrd is a less interesting place than it was yesterday.