Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Full Snow Moon Links

I'm not going to use the title supermoon, because that is a bunch of media hype, but here are some super links:

What happens to Loogootee water tower when Jack Butcher's wins record falls? and Doyel: State's winningest coach had no intentions of leaving home and J.R. Holmes will soon become second boys basketball coach in state to reach 800 wins – Indy Star.  80% of the decent stories I get from the Star are about high school basketball.  The rest are about stupid Indiana laws.

Should a Catholic priest be fighting in a boxing tournament?America.  As a Bengal Bouts alum, I say hell yes.  (Career record 0-4. 0-5 counting the novice matches in the fall of freshman year)

‘It Will Cause a Scandal.’ The Pope and a Trusted U.S. Cardinal Clash Over Sex-Abuse Crisis – Wall Street Journal 

Massive Loss Of Thousands Of Hives Afflicts Orchard Growers And Beekeepers - The Salt

‘Food and the Wisconsin Idea’ talk discusses Wisconsin farming, solutions to dairy crisis – The Badger Herald  and Food Banks Are Overflowing With Milk - Weekend Edition Sunday

Private Mossad for HireThe New Yorker  

In Need of Workers, the Midwest Recruits From Puerto Rico - Wall Street Journal (h/t cmoore)

Alabama newspaper editor calls for Klan return to 'clean out D.C.' - Montgomery Advertiser

Bolsonaro’s Brazil - London Review of Books

How the US has hidden its empire - The Guardian

Research, Extension, and Related Matters: Title VII - USDA ERS

Friday, February 15, 2019

Chart of the Day: Manufacturing Employment Edition

From Bloomberg:

While the number of manufacturing jobs is up from the low set during the Great Recession, the total is still lower than any other time since 1950.  Unfortunately, I believe it will plumb new lows in the next recession, and will almost certainly never get back to pre-2008 levels.  A few of the reasons for that are that manufacturing is hard, it is extremely capital-intensive, and new technology is eliminating the need for some employees.  It is a lot easier to make money in advertising or mergers and acquisitions or technology. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Early February Links

Some of my favorite stories from the previous week:

After the abuse Jackie Robinson endured, Frank Robinson refused to take it - Chicago Tribune

Farmers nearing crisis push back on Trump trade policies – Politico and ‘This One Here Is Gonna Kick My Butt’—Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring – Wall Street Journal

Is Fear Driving Sales Of Monsanto's Dicamba-Proof Soybeans? - The Salt

Long, strange trip: How U.S. ethanol reaches China tariff-free - Reuters

A Water Crisis Is Growing In A Place You'd Least Expect It - NPR

In Era of Drought, Phoenix Prepares for a Future Without Colorado River Water - Yale Environment 360.  Part 4 in a series.

CNX reports suspected cause of Utica Shale well problem near Beaver Run Reservoir - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How ‘Interior Landmarks’ Redeemed New YorkThe American Conservative and  Architectural history hidden by Detroit ceilings for years - Detroit Free Press

Fight the Ship - Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy. – ProPublica

The Five Families of FecesNew York Magazine  

Abuse of Faith - Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.  This is Spotlight-level investigative reporting.

A Tennessee clinic swindled the military out of $65M. This is how it got caught – The Tennessean

Simon Institute research shows state funding disparities benefit downstate - SIU News.  According to this, the suburbs, and to some extent Chicago, get hammered to benefit rural areas.

‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years - Washington Post

The hypocrisy of Trump’s jobs claims, in one chart - Vox (chart from Aaron Sojourner)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

End of January Links

More interesting stories from the previous week or so:

The Fight Over the Future of Football Has Become a Battle for California’s Soul - The Ringer

20 old Cleveland Rams photos to remind you L.A.'s Super Bowl-bound franchise began here - The Plain Dealer

Brianna Decker Will Get Her Prize Money After All, Just Not From The NHL [Update] - Deadspin

James Harden’s Transcendent Step-Back - The New Yorker 

Colorado a hotbed for North American yak ranching – Denver Post 

The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment - The Atlantic 

Particle physics may have reached the end of the line - Backreaction 

No One Is Prepared for Hagfish Slime - The Atlantic  

“Venture capital money kills more businesses than it helps,” says Basecamp CEO Jason Fried - Recode

How a retired couple found lottery odds in their favor - 60 Minutes.  Also featured here.

Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin just bought the most expensive U.S. home ever: A $238 million New York penthouse - Chicago Tribune and Daniel Snyder’s new $100 million purchase is the first superyacht with a certified Imax movie theater - Washington Post.  I don't think a higher top tax bracket would hurt anything.  It beats the guillotine.

Advances in weather prediction - Science.  "But, as the American Meteorological Society celebrates its 100th anniversary, the improvement in forecasting stands out. Modern 72-hour predictions of hurricane tracks are more accurate than 24-hour forecasts were 40 years ago (see the figure), giving sufficient time for evacuations and other preparations that save lives and property." It amazes me how accurate rainfall forecasts can be, with the timing of the beginning of the storm down to the hour.

Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK Day Links

Interesting stories from the last week:

Don’t Worry, MLB — Hitters Are Killing The Shift On Their Own – FiveThirtyEight

Government shutdown puts ranchers in a bind – Rapid City Journal

What Life Is Like When Corn Is Off the TableThe Atlantic (h/t Kaye)

Is Trump Trying To Politicize Agricultural Data? Some Former USDA Officials Suspect Yes. – FiveThirtyEight

Quinoa Whiskey? Modified Crop List Spurs Distilleries To Try Alternative Grains - The Salt

On Prohibition's 100th anniversary, Supreme Court tackles state liquor laws - USA Today
How the Klan Fueled Prohibition – New York Times

In Rural America, There Are Few People Left to Drive the Ambulances - The New Yorker

A Farmer Found a Trojan Horse Inside an Insurance Contract.  Now He Might Bring Down the Canadian Insurance Industry. - Institutional Investor.  Bwahahahahaha

Welcome to Tax Breaklandia - Bloomberg.  This is going to blow a large hole in the U.S. Treasury.

Europe’s Most Important River Is Running Dry – Bloomberg

Farms, More Productive Than Ever, Are Poisoning Drinking Water in Rural America – Wall Street Journal

CovCath, Twitter, the Trump Presidency and a Nation Unhinged

Saturday afternoon and evening, I got sucked into the apparently fake controversy in which a kid in a MAGA hat appears to be standing in the path of a Native American protester from the Indigenous Peoples march, while his classmates surround them laughing and jeering.  I watched the video, and my initial reaction was, "man, these MAGA folks are assholes."  Then I saw this video from another angle.

My reaction to the second video perspective was a little different.  It hit a little closer to home.  First off, seeing the guy in the Covington Catholic  sweatshirt made me realize these kids were from the local area, and also Catholic.  Secondly, I saw a kid in the background wearing a Notre Dame cap.  That is my alma mater.  Finally, assuming these kids were ultra-conservative Trump supporters spouting racist crap about foreigners (build that Wall), I felt like I was looking at myself in high school.

I tried to write a post late Saturday night entitled, "In Partial Defense of the Worst Kid In America."  The gist of it was going to be that, I, like that kid, was once a super-conservative supporter of the GOP who held some pretty racist beliefs, so there is the real possibility that the kid will grow up to hold totally different views as an adult.  That pretty well describes my arc from high school kid who listened to WLW around the clock and believed the United States was being taken over by the Japanese, to an adult who finds conservative politics to be generally racist arguments that Democrats and minorities are moochers, and that social welfare programs should be slashed so that tax cuts can be given to the wealthy.  I gave up on it because it was late, I was tired and half-drunk, and I wasn't sure how in-depth I wanted to be about a few of the things I'm most ashamed of from my youth.

Come Sunday, when additional video came out, and it now appears that the supposed showdown was staged by the handful of Native American protesters, I ended up feeling bad that I was quick to assume the kids were being assholes, and that the furor raised by the Twitter mob could end up benefiting Trump's bid for re-election.  It is a pretty good example of how easily we can be swayed to believe the worst in our fellow citizens who happen to be in the opposite political camp, and how we can dramatically overreact. Even on Saturday afternoon and evening, when I assumed the kids were being assholes, I felt bad for the school administrators who were caught up in this political firestorm.  They were suddenly being overwhelmed with terrible publicity and national media attention because a group of kids were involved in a public incident, and the school was being overwhelmed with vitriol.  The administrators had to try to get out in front of the news even though they didn't really have any idea what had happened.  After the additional footage came out, the case for feeling bad for the administrators and students is overwhelming. 

I am absolutely no fan of President Trump, and I hope he suffers a landslide defeat in two years.  I equate MAGA hats with racism.  When I saw stories that the additional video showed the kids to be innocent and the Native American protester sparked the incident, I didn't want to believe it.  And yet, at the height of the Twitter freakout, when I thought the kids were the assholes in the situation, I was feeling badly for the school administrators and could look at the kid in the center of the incident and empathize with him.  If I was feeling that then, you can imagine how Trump supporters will see all of this.  It is a massive own-goal for everyone who wants to see Trump defeated. 

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Trump's inauguration.  We have two more years of this pressure-cooker political environment which will be played out in a brutal election campaign.  The events of this weekend will most likely not be the most divisive we'll see.  It is going to be miserable, and I'm afraid the wounds to our civil society are going to be even deeper than I believed before.  Everyone, myself included, needs to take a deep breath and try to back down the rhetoric.