Thursday, June 6, 2013

An Alcohol Prescription

Alexis Coe:
Six months before the Senate passed the 18th Amendment banning "intoxicating liquors,” the American Medical Association proclaimed that alcohol’s "use in therapeutics as a tonic or stimulant or for food has no scientific value."
Two years later, Prohibition had successfully lured millions of principled citizens into the highly lucrative, illegal liquor trade. That included physicians. Under the 1919 Volstead Act, doctors could easily procure special permits from commissioners, which allowed them to prescribe “Spiritus Frumenti” for medicinal purposes. There was no new study refuting the American Medical Association’s 1917 contention, and yet, during Prohibition, doctors wrote far more prescriptions for alcohol than ever before.
What was Nancy Rooker’s malady? Her prescription, which can be purchased for $295 from the Early American History Store, did not require such detailed information. Perhaps the resident of Baltimore, Maryland exhibited symptoms related to typhoid or heart disease. Lethargy, anxiety, or indigestion would have done just fine as well.
Dr. Otto Prickhardt was more specific on a supplementary note in 1931, writing “This is to certify that the post-accident concussion of Hon. Winston S. Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at meal times.”

Beach Creatures

Theo Jansen's work:

Previously featured here.

IRS Scandal at a Glance

Via Ritholtz:

I'll be interested to see what is the truth to this story.

Rural Population Declines

The number of people living in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) counties now stands at 46.2 million--15 percent of U.S. residents spread across 72 percent of the land area of the U.S.* Population growth rates in nonmetro areas have been lower than those in metro areas since the mid-1990s, and the gap widened considerably in recent years. While nonmetro areas in some parts of the country have experienced population loss for decades, nonmetro counties as a whole gained population every year for which county population estimates are available--until recently. Between April 2010 and July 2012, nonmetro counties declined in total population by 44,000 people, a -0.09-percent drop according to the most recent release of annual county population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. County population change includes two major components: natural change (births minus deaths, also available separately) and net migration (inmigrants minus outmigrants). Nonmetro population loss during 2010-12 reflects natural increase of 135,000 offset by net outmigration of -179,000.
New population estimates are subject to revision, the rate of nonmetro population decline since 2010 is quite small, and the trend may be short-lived depending on the course of the economic recovery. Nonetheless, the 2010-12 period marks the first years with estimated population loss for nonmetro America as a whole. Even if temporary, this historic shift highlights a growing demographic challenge facing many regions across rural and small-town America, as population growth from natural change is no longer large enough to counter cyclical net migration losses.
If anybody should pay attention to this, other than rural folks themselves, it should be Republicans.  All those red areas aren't going to count for much in future elections.  The thing is, rural areas have been subsidized by big city residents for years.  As the population in rural areas decreases, it becomes even more expensive to pay for all the infrastructure to serve these areas.   This is terrible news for rural areas.

From the Department of Lack of Self-Awareness

Mark Bittman calls out one Congressman who recommends slashing the food stamp program:
Among them is Congressman Stephen Fincher, Republican of Tennessee, who justifies SNAP cuts by quoting 2 Thessalonians 3:10:  “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
Even if this quote were not taken out of context — whoever wrote 2 Thessalonians was chastising not the poor but those who’d stopped working in anticipation of the second coming — Fincher ignores the fact that Congress is a secular body that supposedly doesn’t base policy on an ancient religious text that contradicts itself more often than not. Not that one needs to break a sweat countering his “argument,” but 45 percent of food stamp recipients are children, and in 2010, the U.S.D.A. reported that as many as 41 percent are working poor.
This would be just another amusing/depressing example of an elected official ignoring a huge part of his constituency (about one in seven Americans rely on food stamps, though it’s one in five in Tennessee, the second highest rate in the South), were not Fincher himself a hypocrite.
For the God-fearing Fincher is one of the largest recipients of U.S.D.A. farm subsidies in Tennessee history; he raked in $3.48 million in taxpayer cash from 1999 to 2012, $70,574 last year alone. The average SNAP recipient in Tennessee gets $132.20 in food aid a month; Fincher received $193 a day. (You can eat pretty well on that.)
Since 1995, Fincher has received almost $3.5 million in subsidy payments, including one year when he received $550,000.  I am guessing that was so high because of LDP payments.  I'm not sure how somebody can quote the Bible to justify not spending money on kids' food, but I really don't understand it when the guy gets more than most peoples' annual wages in government welfare payments of his own. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Bow Tie Retires

Bye, Gordon:
Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is calling it quits.
Following the revelation of recorded remarks in which he criticized Notre Dame, Roman Catholics and the Southeastern Conference, Gee announced his retirement Tuesday through the university. He will make his official announcement in an email to students, faculty and staff this afternoon. His retirement is effective July 1. Executive vice president and Provost Joseph A. Alutto will be named interim president. Alutto previously served as interim president in 2007. Gee's success as a college president has often been overshadowed by verbal gaffes. During the meeting in December, he referred to "those damn Catholics" and joked that priests at Notre Dame are holy on Sunday but "holy hell" the rest of the week. Additionally, he once called Ohio's governor a "dummy" and likened the job of running a university to the Polish Army.
His retirement isn't going to break me up.  However, it will probably put a dent in Ohio State's fundraising efforts.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Climate Change, Farm Policy and Soil Erosion

Big Picture Agriculture features some ugly washouts from a farm which recently came out of the CRP program in North Dakota.  The farm is part of the prairie pothole region of North America, and is at high risk for erosion.  I'm afraid that as storms drop more rain on areas that we'll see increasing damage from soil erosion.  That is one of the major threats to the future of agriculture.

An Ohio Accent?

Researchers think Neil Armstrong's accent may have caused the misunderstanding as to whether he said, "one small step for man" or "one small step for a man":
Even after all these years, there's some debate on what, exactly, Neil Armstrong said when he landed on the moon. Armstrong had said on the record that the quote was the grammatically correct, "One small step for A man, one giant leap for man kind." But back on Earth, most people thought the "a" was omitted. Maybe Armstrong flubbed the quote, or it didn't come through clearly on Earth. Or maybe, as a team of speech scientists is now suggesting, Armstrong's accent was the problem.
The researchers, from Ohio State University and Michigan State University, say the "a" could've been short and blended in to the earlier part of the quote: something like, "One small step 'frrr(uh)' man." That, the team says, would be consistent with the accent Armstrong would have from growing up in central Ohio. Combine that accent with the poor audio being broadcast from Earth to the moon, and you've got a recipe for a whole planet mishearing history.
To test that hypothesis, the researchers dug through an archive with conversations from 40 people raised in Columbus, Ohio. (Armstrong, from nearby Wapakoneta, had a similar accent.) People said "for a" 191 times. The researchers then measured the time it took those people to say "for a" versus just "for." Turns out, it doesn't take Ohioans much longer to say "for a" than it does "for," which indicates some blending of the words. Armstrong's frrr(uh) clocked in at 0.127 seconds, meaning it fell in that blended range.
I don't know about furrah, but I definitely say yuh, for you and worsh for wash.  I prefer to think Armstrong said this when he set foot on the moon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Working Relationships

From Lapham's Quarterly:

The rat facts are pretty amazing.

NASA Photo of the Day


A Roll Cloud Over Uruguay
Credit & Licence: Daniela Mirner Eberl
Explanation: What kind of cloud is this? A roll cloud. These rare long clouds may form near advancing cold fronts. In particular, a downdraft from an advancing storm front can cause moist warm air to rise, cool below its dew point, and so form a cloud. When this happens uniformly along an extended front, a roll cloud may form. Roll clouds may actually have air circulating along the long horizontal axis of the cloud. A roll cloud is not thought to be able to morph into a tornado. Unlike a similar shelf cloud, a roll cloud, a type of Arcus cloud, is completely detached from their parent cumulonimbus cloud. Pictured above, a roll cloud extends far into the distance in 2009 January above Las Olas Beach in Maldonado, Uruguay.

Time To Mow Hay

With a little break in the forecast, it looks like today is the day to mow hay.  We're going to have to get started putting on nitrogen, also, but it might be hard to get going along on that and get the hay baled up before rain is forecast to return on Thursday.  I guess we'll see what happens.

What Is Really in the IRS Scandal?

A group of anti-abortion activists in Iowa had to promise the Internal Revenue Service it wouldn’t picket in front of Planned Parenthood.
Catherine Engelbrecht’s family and business in Texas were audited by the government after her voting-rights group sought tax-exempt status from the IRS.
Retired military veteran Mark Drabik of Nebraska became active in and donated to conservative causes, then found the IRS challenging his church donations.
While the developing scandal over the targeting of conservatives by the tax agency has largely focused to date on its scrutiny of groups with words such as “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, these examples suggest the government was looking at a broader array of conservative groups and perhaps individuals. Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives.
The emerging stories from real people raise questions about whether the IRS scrutiny extended beyond applicants for tax-exempt status and whether individuals who donated to these tax-exempt organizations or to conservative causes also were targeted.

Read more here:
I would be curious to find out how this stuff really works.  When someone applies for tax-exempt status, do their personal returns get closer scrutiny to check and make sure there isn't something questionable on them?  Is this just the randomness of the audit process?  Or is there something much darker there?  I don't know how much good information we will be able to get about this, but I would guess that reality isn't nearly as ominous as what is inferred in this story.  Hopefully, McClatchy and others will look further into this, and we will get the real scoop.


BACK TO THE FUTURE from Jamie Jessett on Vimeo.

Congressmen Targeted on Farm Bill

National Journal:
Heritage Action Fund is targeting three Republicans and a Democrat in agriculture-heavy districts over the farm bill with a round of radio ads, a spokesman tells Hotline.
The advertisements, complete with squealing pig sound effects, hit Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Martha Roby (R-AL), Frank Lucas (R-OK) Mike McIntyre (D-NC) for pushing what Heritage calls a "food stamp bill" through Congress.
The members are "putting a tuxedo on a pig" by backing the bill, the ads say. Heritage Action will spend a total of $50,000 across the four districts; the ads begin running today, according to Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler.
I would be curious to know why only these few members of Congress were targeted.  Are they the only rural members supporting the Farm Bill.  I doubt it, even though I'm pretty sure Jim Jordan will vote against it.  I would guess these are the only lawmakers representing rural districts that they narrowly won who are supporting the Farm Bill.  Probably, they are the only lawmakers representing rural districts that were narrowly won, since rural areas are generally very conservative.