Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dear Prudence: Feminists are upset that I don’t have much sexism to complain about in my STEM career.

Dear Prudence: Feminists are upset that I don’t have much sexism to complain about in my STEM career.: "A: How strange that people who say they are fighting for equality are dismayed when they encounter it. How sad that they don’t want to hear the good news that you have been welcomed into this traditionally male field, that your male peers and bosses treat you wonderfully, and that you are thriving. It’s exciting this has been your experience—what a great ambassador you can be for younger women seeking to enter your field. There is an unfortunate strain of obsessive grievance-mongering in feminism today. It’s a kind of sport for these self-proclaimed guardians to venomously attack those they feel don’t precisely toe their line. You’re a scientist who lives in the world of facts. You are finding that ideologues aren’t interested in facts, thus they go after you when your reality trumps their ideology. My general advice is that it’s best not to engage with unpleasant people, especially those who seek to lecture you about your own experiences. Feel free to extract yourself and say, “You’ll have to excuse me, but I’ve got to get back to the lab.” But if you feel like it, you can also counterpunch by saying something like, “It’s funny, but the only people who try to bully me are women who aren’t in my profession.”"

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Modest Proposal For Amendments to the Constitution | Power Line

A Modest Proposal For Amendments to the Constitution | Power Line: "First, President Obama has asserted the power to issue decrees or executive orders that have the force of law. This seems plainly at odds with the framework of the Constitution, but pundits and politicians have not been able to reach a consensus that such rule by executive order is improper. So, to resolve the issue once and for all, I propose that the following language be added to the Constitution:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. 
 That would make it crystal clear that only Congress can enact legislation."

'via Blog this'

The post continues in this vein.

Debate - King v. Burwell and the Validity of Federal Tax Subsidies Under the Affordable Care Act

Debate - <i>King v. Burwell</i> and the Validity of Federal Tax Subsidies Under the Affordable Care Act: "But, as we know, Justice Roberts decided to join the four moderates on the Court and uphold the mandate—not as an exercise of the Commerce Clause power but rather as a legitimate tax.xv The ACA, and its three-legged stool, lived for another day (though the Court struck down a significant aspect of the law’s Medicaid expansion)."

'via Blog this'

This is the most obnoxious political-spin-as-legal-analysis article I've read in a while.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons -

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons - "The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

 The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war."

'via Blog this'

You've got to wonder why we're only hearing about this now. This would have been very useful information to know back when we were making decisions about who should lead the country.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Facebook: "“When is the time you felt most broken?”
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ --- then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”"

'via Blog this'

Here's something Obama said that I appreciate.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Education Debate

I had the following debate with a co-worker on whether common core was a good idea. His arguments in favor of common core were:

  1. The states are not doing a good job educating our students
  2. We need to do a better job educating so we don't live in a county of idiots, who will elect Sarah Palin!
  3. The states' main obstacle to doing a good job is the teachers unions
  4. States cannot take on the teachers union, even in Republican states. Its easier for unions to buy off state governments than it is to buy off the federal government
  5. The federal government will require accountability from state schools through common core
  6. The evidence that the federal government will do this is common core itself. The fact that teachers unions hate common core is evidence the federal government is sticking it to common core
  7. Might as well try something. We can't screw it up too badly, since our education is already screwed up
  8. Creating a basic curriculum and enforcing compliance with it is not so complicated that the federal government can't pull it off, and
  9. Vouchers would work, but that is not a politically feasible solution
My arguments against:
  1. I agree, our education system is not great
  2. The states do not do a good job because they have the wrong incentives. We need to properly align the decision makers and incentives to get a good education system
  3. Parents have the most invested in their children and the strongest incentive to get their kids a good education. The largest problem is that parents cannot control their kids' education, other than by moving out of the school districts. The school districts in rich neighborhoods are usually good, because those parents have chosen those schools. Poor parents often don't have that option of moving their children into good school districts, and are so are stuck sending their kids to the schools in the district where they live. A voucher system would give parents control
  4. Putting the federal government in charge of curriculum goes the opposite direction from aligning incentives. It makes it even less likely that a parent can influence the kind of education the child is getting
  5. What examples are their of the federal government taking on a problem and actually improving it? The federal government does not usually solve problems it tackles
  6. Teachers unions are a problem, but largely created by government privileges given to unions.
  7. In fact, putting the federal government in charge may make a bad situation worse.
Arguments I wish I'd made:
  1. Why was no child left behind not enough accountability? Where is the evidence that it worked?
  2. Why should we believe that the federal government is going to stand up to unions? Particularly in the face of at least two counter examples I can think of:
    1. The GM bailout: investors and bond holders took a haircut; the union did not
    2. Teachers unions hated the DC voucher program, and President Obama did their biding and defunded it in his budget, even though it was popular in DC.