More gruel
Link Roundup, 1/9/2017

Link Roundup, 1/9/2017

From Quartz: Coping with modern life requires us to embrace uncertainty. That isn’t easy.

From the New York Times: Now that middle income white people are using heroin, it’s an “epidemic.” Get ready for lots of soft-core profiles of junkies structured like this piece.

From Washington Monthly: A great contrast to the piece above, a portrait of the life and death of Marion Barry’s son.

From Futurism: Fighting climate change is great, but the real promise of solar energy is nearly limitless, nearly free energy, and it may be right around the corner.

From Mother Jones: I’ve never understood why the ordinary dangers of childbirth get left out of the abortion debate. Great reminder of why that matters.

From the Houston Chronicle: The town of La Grange in central Texas does not celebrate the history of its oldest business (one of the oldest in Texas), the Chicken Ranch. The new owner of the property is trying to change that (paywall).



  1. Phone calls work.

    ” hearings for would-be education, labor, and commerce secretaries Betsy DeVos, Andrew Puzder, and Wilbur Ross have been delayed after complaints that they’d be testifying without having signed off on ethics agreements.”

    Is there any doubt that these hearings wouldn’t have gone forward if people hadn’t risen up to protest?

    My little circle (like Aaron’s) got on the horn and called. It may not change the outcome of the confirmation but it made the process more accountable.

  2. I am shocked at this decision by SCOTUS regarding NC’s request to stay the elections that were ordered as a result of a lawsuit that overturned Republicans heavily gerrymandered voting districts by race. I will be looking for the full explanation. This doesn’t make sense.

    1. Here’s background on the case. NC Republicans assert that the requirement for special elections would cause undue harm to incumbent office holders. My question? What about the harm that has been done to the voters?

      And, here.

    1. Re-elected? Geez, I’ll be stunned if Trump is even on the ballot in 2020. There’s only so far you can push this act. He will eventually tangle himself up in things that lies won’t fix.

      No, I just think it’s going to be a long time before there is a consensus for anything at the federal level, even if the Democrats regain power. Washington is about be very badly broken, beyond what can be fixed in one or two elections.

      1. My “stun” meter is seriously jammed. From the speed with which the GOP is moving, the damage that will be done in this first year alone will take decades to reverse. Nothing would surprise me in 2020 – Donald Trump winning or promoting Ivanak as POTUS would not be too far fetched given the abdication of intelligent, rational decision-making.


      2. “No, I just think it’s going to be a long time before there is a consensus for anything at the federal level, even if the Democrats regain power. Washington is about be very badly broken, beyond what can be fixed in one or two elections.”

        In the past, a Great Depression and a World War did the trick. Possibly a climate change catastrophe could do it this time?

  3. From the Quartz article: “Wisdom doesn’t emerge from knowing with certainty, but from being aware of your level of uncertainty.”

    I am in full agreement with the importance of intellectual humility. Unfortunately for America, our incoming POTUS doesn’t have a clue.

    Judgement. It’s all about judgement or the lack thereof.

  4. Here’s a current meme running around FB:

    The federal week in review:
    1. Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day.
    2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee’s salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
    3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump’s first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
    4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.
    5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.
    6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
    7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
    8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department–for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don’t like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it.
    And those are just the big things.
    COPY AND PASTE this entire post into your own status update instead of sharing. More of your friends will see it!

    I don’t have time to fact check, and ‘The Real World’s has begun with my full time job and stuff, but I am leaving it here to return to later. If anyone else wants to verify, would also be nice.

    1. Add to Aaron’s list:

      9. Trump has appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as Special Advisor, a position that does not require confirmation.
      10. Republicans have filed a bill, Stop Sanctuary Cities”, that would remove federal funding from cities that refused to prosecute undocumented immigrants.

      1. We probably need to move this list to Off Topic as it is going to continuously get longer.

        11. House Freedom Caucus Republicans are drafting regulation to reduce or potentially eliminate American funding to the UN unless it reverses its ruling on Israel’s settlements. Senators Graham, McCain, Cruz, Cotton are leading the effort in the Senate.
        12. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Marco Rubio (FL) and Dean Heller (NV) introduced legislation that would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. Under the proposal, the embassy would only receive 50 percent of its allotted funding until the move is completed.

      2. I’m not opposed to strongarming when the situation calls for it, but for the United States to try and single-handedly force the UN to reverse one of its rulings sounds like biting off more than it can chew, to put it mildly. Is the US’ funding so substantial that it can afford that kind of leverage?

        That aside, this move by Cruz, Rubio and Heller to effectively kiss Israel’s ass strikes me as the kind of overtly dog wagging move that’s going to inflate Netanyahu’s ego even more than it already is.

      3. The article stated that the US provides 20% of the UN budget. That’s substantial. Hopefully, if Congress makes this move, the 14 other countries who signed onto this rebuke will pony up the difference and tell the US to take a hike………..

  5. The piece from Quartz brought back memories. Having to deal with complex chemical matrices for decades exposed me to a lot of uncertainty. Running into contradicting data and tests happens in the real world. Most of the time there is more than one solution to a problem. Then having to make predictions from this data to manipulate processes that have real money and sometimes lives attached to them is stressful to say the least. All technical people experience similar things and it kind of humbles you. I sometimes am a hobbyist programmer. Conceiving a program and debugging it is a similar process. As is investing which is a combination of luck and skill. No guarantee you will get from point a to point b no matter how skillful. It is a little amazing to me that most people do not see this uncertainty . Which may be why so many ignored the potential catastrophe of Trump in power. No imagination to be able to see the many ways thing could go very wrong.

      1. Mary, can’t read it without subscribing. But basically, I don’t regard the trade deficit as a problem.

        Fundamentally, a nation is constrained to consume what it can produce for itself, or what it can obtain through trade with another nation, giving up some of its own production in return. One of the things we produce in this country is dollars. For reasons of their own, foreigners wish to trade TVs, clothes, etc. for dollars. So we do that, voluntarily on both sides. IOW, we export dollars.

        That situation won’t last forever. When it ends, foreigners holding dollars will wish to exchange them for something we produce or hold, and will make offers. At that time we will decide to accept or not, again it will be voluntary on both sides.

        That’s all there is to it.

      2. Mary, Mr. Buffett presents this problem as a moral issue (“Spendville” vs. “Thriftville”) which is a completely irrelevant analysis. He says that a trade deficit “transfers our net wealth to other countries.” What actually happens is what I described earlier – we import electronics and finished textiles, and export dollars – an even trade in both parties’ view, or they wouldn’t agree to it.

        The consequences of exporting dollars is simply that foreigners hold dollars, and presumably will at some point offer to trade those dollars for goods we have created. There’s nothing else they can do with the dollars. And if we find the offered trade to be advantageous to us, we’ll accept the offer. If not, we won’t.

        This kind of nonsense is why you should be suspicious of anyone who says we should “run this country like a business.” When they say that, you can be sure they don’t understand the situation. And that also goes for anyone – Republican or Democrat – who presents domestic budget deficits as a moral issue.

      3. Good insight, Creigh. Somebody needs to tell Republicans. Buffet at least is offering ideas to make the world a better place for more people which makes him worth listening to. Ryan has a specific plan which he will be pushing. That’s the plan I need to watch.

      4. Should have said “This kind of nonsense is why you should be suspicious of anyone who says we should “run this country like a business.” When they say that, you can be sure they don’t understand the situation *or hope you don’t*.”

  6. I grew up in red neck central. I can tell you if power gets cheap enough to get from solar and good power storage is develop people particularly southern peasant (red neck) will retreat further into the woods. This will decentralize society more. As manufacturing moves to be done on demand by individuals, information is readily available anywhere only towns based on University, research and art may remain . We are on the verge of a major civilization change.

    1. Interesting comment. I see the urge to withdraw from society among a large set of people, and I see the deterioration of social networks like church and politics. But I also see a community of people who gather together in cities and on the internet, creating their own social networks and politics.

      Perhaps this, more than “conservative” and “liberal”, more than rural and urban, is the tribal divide we are seeing today.

      1. I see it more as a class divide. People retreating to their comfort zones. It is imperative to have a 50 state strategy and reach into rural and urban areas…It’s more work but it pays off. Where division becomes a problem is the narrowing of thinking that occurs through geographic segregation. This also happens in suburban areas vis a vis gated communities or essentially single class ownership. The value of urban areas is that people mix in all aspects of life – employment, neighborhoods, schools, socialization. Of course, all of the above are generalizations or there wouldn’t be liberals like me living in majority conservative communities. I do my level best to be a gadfly (-;

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