Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Do you think he has a little ego?

There was no issue of Time that had this cover that year.

Wise Words

From Winston Churchill:
Let us learn our lessons. Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations all take their seats at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.

The Judge is not a Lawyer

In the New York legal system there is a position known as town and village justice. There are 2,000 of these justices operating in villages and small towns. They are not required to be lawyers or to have any formal legal training. Nearly three-quarters of them are not lawyers, and many — truck drivers, sewer workers or laborers — have scant grasp of the most basic legal principles. Some never got through high school, and at least one went no further than grade school. And their courtrooms could be tiny offices or basement rooms without a judge’s bench or jury box. Sometimes the public is not admitted, witnesses are not sworn to tell the truth, and there is no word-for-word record of the proceedings.

The  New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct oversees all the judges in the state. 70 percent of the disciplinary cases heard by the Commission involve these justices. Some charges: a justice removed for drunk driving; another for physically abusing a colleague; another who, while not a lawyer himself, had nonetheless intervened in a friend’s case in another court by appearing as the friend’s lawyer.

Clean Water?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Supervisory Stress Test

The test is conducted by the Federal Reserve. It looks at what would happen to the 34 largest banks should we go into a deep recession. The Fed projects losses of $493 billion. But there is a total  of 5,856 FDIC insured banks. And the federal deposit insurance fund as of March 31, 2017 had on hand only $84.9 billion to bail out all banks that go under. So, who do you think will come to the rescue? You and me!

Note that the projected losses are based on one day's activity (January 3, 2017). Would not the projections be more reliable if they were based on the average for several days?

Monday, June 26, 2017

What is in the bill?

Changing the quality of science at the EPA

For many, many years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has relied on its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) to review and advise EPA’s internal research departments on their scientific methodology. There were thirty-eight members of  BOSC when Trump was sworn in. Soon, there will be eleven. They will be replaced with more scientists from regulated industries. Since the new administration seems to take a very long time filling positions, the BOSC will likely be unable to function for quite a while.

The former BOSC Chairperson Deb Swackhamer notes "Science is the bedrock of EPA policy, and external independent advice by BOSC to guide and continually improve the research at EPA is critical to its mission. I am concerned that this will also impact the competitiveness of EPA science and the high regard it has in the world."

Thinking Time

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How to make $81,000,000

Forest or Desert

Afghanistan is not exactly a forest dreamland. Only 2.1 percent of the country’s total land area is covered with forest, the rest is mainly desert. Yet, we spent $94,000,000 to buy “woodland pattern” uniforms for the Afghan National Army. We could have supplied regular uniforms for free, but the Afghan defense minister liked the pattern. The fellow, Dr. Tim O'Neill, who created the camouflage pattern which served as the basis for the Army Combat Uniform, says, "DESERT DESIGNS DON’T WORK WELL IN WOODLAND AREAS AND WOODLAND PATTERNS PERFORM POORLY IN THE DESERT." Changing the uniforms used by Afghan troops “could save U.S. taxpayers between $68.61 million and $72.21 million over the next 10 years,” the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan says.

While there is not much news about Afghanistan, we are spending $3.1 billion a month there. Firther, we have committed $66 billion to equipping and supporting Afghan security forces, supplying them with fuel, ammunition and weapons to fight Taliban insurgents. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spelling the correct word

Today is the day of the summer solstice. And this sundial located in Southern France tells us so. It will also tell us the days of the winter solstice and the equinoxes.

Thanks to a Duncaster scientist.

Social Progress Index

The following is taken from the site of the Social Progress Initiative:
We created the Social Progress Index to broaden how country success is measured, beyond economic indicators like GDP per capita. Social progress is about meeting everyone’s basic needs for food, clean water, shelter, and security. It is about living healthy, long lives, and protecting the environment. It is about education, freedom, and opportunity.
I've tried to find out who "We" is but the site is not the clearest in the world when it comes to saying who they are unless one is willing to spend a lot of time on the issue. The site lists a number of foundations that fund it and thanks a raft of people. Yet, it's hard to judge the accuracy of its work. 

The index is based on three major areas: 
1. Basic Human Needs, which are defined as Nutrition and Basic Medical Care, Water and Sanitation, Shelter Personal Safety.
2. Foundations of Wellbeing,  which are defined as Access to Basic Knowledge, Access to Information and Communications, Health and Wellness, Environmental Quality
3. Opportunity, which is defined as Personal Rights, Personal Freedom and Choice, Tolerance and Inclusion, Access to Advanced Education.

The report covers 128 countries.  We did not do very well; we ranked 18.