Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dear Jim Hackett,

If you would like to know how your alumni are feeling, go to an Al-Anon meeting.  See those women sitting around the meeting, crying quietly into their Kleenexes, each alone in their misery, yet happier to have someone to share it with who really understands?  Yes, that’s us.

We know our qualifiers have never meant to lie or even mislead us.  They just have not been capable of following through on their promises.  Well, that, and a healthy dose of narcissism.  We keep hoping they will change, and we keep expecting what we expected back when we met them.  They keep letting us down.  We feel foolish for always returning for more, and guilty for continuing to support their obviously self destructive habits, and of course publicly humiliated.

RichRod, in case you have already blocked out the memories, refused to recruit for or implement a defense.  The changes to the offense were a tough transition, but the complete lack of defense was just impossible to live with.  In addition, he was dismissive (to be generous) of Michigan tradition.  I’m sure you know this, but there are books about it (written by Bo, and also John U. Bacon).  Why couldn’t RR make that small effort?  It’s like he forgot our collective birthday.  And anniversary.  And Christmas.  In the event that the new coach is not familiar, please have the books delivered to him immediately.

Then DB.  The DB.  MMINO.  Please take a look at the whole game day experience again.  How can you make people prefer to go to the game rather than watch it on TV?  Or does that even matter?  These are questions to consider.  As an alum, I would like to go to the games once in a while, and have it feel like a college football game.  You already know the objections to the current situation re. pricing, piped in music, etc.

And now Hoke.  We had such high hopes.  He seemed like a true Michigan Man.  But then so did DB.  And I guess in their own ways, they were.  But not in the ways Bo meant.  Hoke nailed it on the integrity part (where DB failed).  But he was just not competent.

Don’t get too hung up on the terminology.  When the right coach is in place, he will be a Michigan Man.  Because if he isn’t one, he can’t be the other.  It’s not about where he’s from, or where he went to school, or what kind of offense he runs.  It’s about #1 integrity and #2 winning.

You know all of this.  I know you understand.  We can’t take another awful transition.  Your job is to be The One Who Gets It Right.  You must step into the pressure and throw that Hail Mary, and it must be good for the winning score.

Go Blue.

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Process vs. Person

Whenever a cop does something that can be perceived as “bad,” while on duty, there are two typical reactions from those whose first inclination is to side with law enforcement:  1) It was wholly or partially justified (see Michael Brown), and/or 2) This cop is a bad apple, and not representative of law enforcement as a whole.

There is some discussion of changes to law enforcement over the years, particularly the increase in use of SWAT teams and the effects of DOD programs that arm police departments with military gear.

Have these changes been thought through?  It doesn’t seem that way.  What are the goals of a local or state police force?  Surely more than seizing assets when possible and ensuring the safety of themselves first and the interests of the politically well connected second.  Or at least one would hope.

When there is a success in policing, like this Ferguson officer, it is presented much like the failures:  He’s a lone actor, a cult of personality out there doing good in his own little individual way.  From NYT:

Before, during and after that first night of violence, few law enforcement officials have done more on the ground to ease the volatility of protesters than Lieutenant Lohr, who is white. And few of his white colleagues have been able to connect with the largely black crowds better than he has.

After embracing the lieutenant, Mr. Williams was back at the barricades, his mask again covering his face. “We were having a conversation one day out here, and he seemed like a pretty decent guy, so I grew to like him,” said Mr. Williams, who is black and lives in Ferguson. “He’s the only one I feel comfortable being around. The rest of them — no, I don’t.”

Lieutenant Lohr, a Nashville-born former Texan and father of three with an Army-style buzz cut, is one of the commanders overseeing security at the Ferguson police station. He never wears riot gear, even when he wades into a group of protesters to answer questions, resolve disputes or listen to a stream of insults. Protesters at the gates ask for him by name, so they can make complaints, for example, about the use of tear gas or of officers being too aggressive in arresting a woman.

One night, he approached a woman who led protesters onto the street to block traffic. She looked at her watch.

“It’s 11:12,” she told him. “Give me to 11:15 with these folks out here.”

Lieutenant Lohr agreed, set a timer on his wristwatch and helped direct traffic around them.

Black residents here have long said that their outrage after Mr. Brown’s killing stemmed from the nearly all-white Ferguson police force’s poor community relations and what they said was its abusive and racially targeted practices. Lieutenant Lohr, to many of the protesters, is evidence that law enforcement officials have improved community relations at a divisive time.

That last sentence is really not the case.  Were there any other officers out there without helmets and somehow covering or obscuring most of their faces?  Not dressed in all black with their pants tucked into their boots?

This is a process issue, not a personality issue.  The police in Ferguson and really everywhere need to take a look at their goals and their mission in the community.  They need to start matching their actions with their intentions (assuming they are not intending to alienate the entire community, starting with the poorest and most marginalized groups).

The job of law enforcement should be first to do what Lt. Lohr is doing.  Purposefully, as a group.  Talk first.  Be respectful, even to those who are not respectful of you.  Aim to lessen the emotion and energy in scary situations.  Middle school vice principals all over the US know the importance and specific strategies for how to do this, both one on one and in groups.

Process, not personality.

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Kind Manipulation

Another excellent post from Eric Barker:

5 Non-Evil Ways To Get People To Do What You Want, From Dan Pink


I’ve posted about getting people to like you, winning arguments and FBI methods for negotiation — but let’s take it to the next level.

There are ways to deal with people who are difficult but brass tacks here, folks: most of the people who cause you problems aren’t going anywhere.

You work with them, you live with them, heck, in many cases you love them, but the people closest to us can still cause a lot of problems.

How do we get them to behave better over the long haul?

I decided to call an expert. Dan Pink is the bestselling author of numerous great books about human behavior.

  • First, Get Their Attention
  • Telling People What To Do Doesn’t Work, Showing Them Does
  • Make Them Feel Something

Engaging people emotionally can be far more effective at producing change (and easier) than trying to make them think.

Dan’s team changed the disabled parking signs so they had a photo of a person in a wheelchair on them looking right at you.

This did not reduce abuse of disabled spots –it totally eliminated it.

  • When Nothing Else Works, Distract

Research shows distraction is great for reducing anger:

According to this theory, anger can be reduced indirectly by interfering with the feeling of anger rather than by dealing directly with the source of anger.

(To learn how you can use dog training methods — yes, dog training methods — to get people to change, click here.)

  • Tell Them Why 

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Filed under Positive Mind

How to make small talk

From Bernardo Carducci, via The Atlantic:


Carducci has written a five-step guide for how to get a good conversation rolling with a perfect stranger:

1) Getting Started. Begin with comments about the weather or other facets of the environment (e.g., “Boy, this line is long”). Let others know that you are willing to make conversation, nothing more, nothing less.

2) The Personal Introduction: Who You Are, Something About You. In addition to clearly enunciating your name, you can anticipate the next question and provide information about what you do for a living or recreation. A common mistake made by bad conversationalists is to provide only a terse comment within the personal introduction, such as “I work at the mall.” A more constructive response might be, “I work at the mall selling cell phones, and you would not believe the reasons people give me for wanting a cell phone.”

3) Pre-Topical Selection: Fishing for Topics. Next, throw out topics for possible discussion. “I really like this movie.” The implicit rule is, when someone throws out a topic, support it either by asking a question or making a comment.

4)Post-Topical Elaboration: Expanding the Topic. For example, when talking about the vacations, you might say, “Speaking of vacations, we had some great Caribbean food on our last vacation.” Now you can talk about food or food-related topics (e.g., other ethnic foods, cooking shows, music heard in restaurants).

5) Conversation Termination: A Gracious Ending that Creates the Connection.  Finally, when terminating a conversation, let the person know you’ll be leaving soon, express gratitude for the conversation, summarize some of the major points, and set the stage for future conversation.

More worthwhile details at the link.

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Filed under Miscellaneous

Guaranteed Minimum Income

If this comes to pass, it will be very interesting to see the results.  From Grant Williams:

Switzerland May Give Every Citizen $2,600 a Month
Switzerland could soon be the world’s first national case study in basic income. Instead of
providing a traditional social net—unemployment payments, food stamps, or housing credits—
the government would pay every citizen a fixed stipend.
The idea of a living wage has been brewing in the country for over a year and last month,
supporters of the movement dumped a truckload of eight million coins outside the P
building in Bern. The publicity stunt, which included a five-cent coin for every citizen,
came attached with 125,000 signatures. Only 100,000 are necessary for any constitutional
amendment to be put to a national vote, since Switzerland is a direct democracy.
The proposed plan would guarantee a monthly income of CHF 2,500, or about $2,600 as
of November 2014. That means that every family (consisting of two adults) can expect an
unconditional yearly income of $62,400 without having to work, with no strings attached. While
Switzerland’s cost of living is significantly higher than the US—a Big Mac there costs $6.72—it’s
certainly not chump change. It’s reasonable income that could provide, at the minimum, a
comfortable bare bones existence.
The benefits are obvious. Such policy would, in one fell swoop, wipe out poverty. By replacing
existing government programs, it would reduce government bureaucracy. Lower skilled workers
would also have more bargaining power against employers, eliminating the need for a minimum
wage. Creative types would then have a platform to focus on the arts, without worrying about
the bare necessities. And those fallen on hard times have a constant safety net to find their
feet again.
Detractors of the divisive plan also have a point. The effects on potential productivity are
nebulous at best. Will people still choose to work if they don’t have to? What if they spend
their government checks on sneakers and drugs instead of food and education? Scrappy abusers
of the system could take their spoils to spend in foreign countries where their money has more
purchasing power, thus providing little to no benefit to Switzerland’s own economy. There’s also
worries about the program’s cost and long term sustainability. It helps that Switzerland happens
to be one of the richest countries in the world by per capita income.
The problem, as with many issues economic, is that there is no historical precedent for such
a plan, especially at this scale, although there have been isolated incidents. In the 1970s, the
Canadian town of Dauphin provided 1,000 families in need with a guaranteed income for a short
period of time. Not only did the social experiment end poverty, high school completion went up
and hospitalizations went down.
“If you have a social program like this, community values themselves start to change,” Evelyn
Forget, a health economist at the University of Manitoba, told
The New York Times.

Similar plans have been proposed in the past. In 1968, American economist Milton

Friedman discussed the idea of a negative income tax, where those earning below a certain
predetermined threshold would receive supplementary income instead of paying taxes.
Friedman suggested his plan could eliminate the 72 percent of the welfare budget spent on
administration. But nothing ever came to fruition.
It’s what makes the potential experiment in Switzerland so compelling. Developed countries
around the world are struggling to address the issues of depressed wages for low-skilled workers
under the dual weight of automation and globalization.
For German-born artist Enno Schmidt, one of the founders of the proposal, a living wage
represents continued cultural progress along the lines of women’
s suffrage or the civil rights
movement by providing dignity and security to the poor, while unleashing creativity and
entrepreneurial spirit.
“I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves,” Schmidt told
the Times. “What would you do if you had that income?
Does this cause inflation due to increase in velocity of money?

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Filed under Financial, Government

Police safety and self defense

No doubt police officers must be able to defend themselves when they are attacked.  From Andrew Sullivan:

Shackford reflects on the revelation that last year was an all-time low for killings of police and a 20-year high for killings by police:

It’s an important reminder when Cleveland police kill a 12-year-old boy carrying a toy gun. It’s an important reminder when we see stories that police have killed more people in Utah over the past five years than any other form of violence outside of domestic conflict. Police have killed more people in Utah since 2010 than gangs or drug dealers. Obviously, it’s a positive that fewer officers are being killed in the line of duty, just as it’s a positive that crime trends are heading down. We should be worried, though, if police internalize the idea that this increase in their own shootings is what is keeping them safe in the field and not the general drop in crime.

Nick Wing adds that “Bureau of Labor Statistics list of the 10 most-dangerous professions doesn’t include law enforcement officer”:

The BLS said law enforcement accounted for 2 percent of total U.S. fatal on-the-job injuries in 2013, with 31 percent of those injuries caused by homicide.Other studies on the deaths of officers in the line of duty also showed police were far less likely to be killed in 2013 than they had been in decades. According to a count by the Officer Down Memorial Page, which collects data on line-of-duty incidents, there were far fewer deaths last year than in more than 40 years.

A 2013 tally by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund showed 100 officers died in the line of duty last year, the fewest since 1944. Traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer deaths in 2013. The report found that “firearms-related fatalities reached a 126-year low … with 31 officers shot and killed, the lowest since 1887 when 27 officers were shot and killed.”

Ingraham points out that the true number of individuals killed by police is unknown:

It’s particularly worth noting that the FBI data on justifiable homicides is widely understood to be substantially undercounted — some states don’t participate in the FBI’s data-gathering programs at all, and others don’t tally justifiable homicides separately. So while the figures above are useful for generating a trend, the actual national numbers are considerably higher.

Ellen Nakashima provides more details on the subject:

Federal officials allow the nation’s more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report officer shootings. That figure, [Wes] Lowery reported, hovers around 400 “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement each year. Several independent trackers, primarily journalists and academics who study criminal justice, insist the accurate number of people shot and killed by police officers each year is consistently upwards of 1,000 each year, Lowery reported.

This needs to be rethought from the beginning.  What is the purpose of police?  What is the purpose of physical arrest of a person?  When is it required to immediately limit someone’s freedom?  There are some obvious answers to this, like someone in the commission of a crime.  Or someone who requires an immediate physical test for evidence, like a DUI.  But some answers are not so obvious.  If someone has committed a non violent crime, like a drug crime, do they need to be chased down and arrested on the spot?  Lots of drug arrests happen as the result of an investigation, with mass arrests happening all at once (generally with no shots fired), so it seems that no, that is not necessary.  One way to reduce danger to police and the public is to limit the emotion involved in situations.  If you can take any of the heat of the moment out of law enforcement, it will improve safety for everyone.

Then when police encounter people, there is a lot they can do to escalate or deescalate a situation.  People are mirrors, especially people who are reacting, not thinking, and these are the people who are most likely to commit crimes.  So the police bear a huge responsibility for how the situation unfolds.  Things are not just “happening to” them.  It is not safe to try to establish dominance when the person you are facing is also trying to establish dominance (no matter how wrong and foolish that may be).  And is it necessary?  The militarization is a real problem here.   Cops don’t need to establish mental or physical dominance.  They don’t need to be the big man.  They have the law on their side, and everyone knows what happens if you fight the law.

Lastly, the top killer of cops on duty is car accidents.  Why do we need police car chases?  I think only in the event of danger to a person in the car, like a kidnapping or carjacking, or if it is known that the person is in the commission of a crime, or if it is an unknown person who has committed a violent crime.  Even so, most big cities are all militarized and have helicopters.  Why would they ever need to chase by car?  Maybe for 5 minutes, tops.  Lots of innocent people die in cop car chases, too.

I must say, policing as described above would be boring.  Mostly writing up paperwork and waking up people at 10AM to go in, get fingerprinted and see the DJ.


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Filed under Government

Hurricanes and Climate Change

This is not that obvious or easy to understand.   From Scientific American:

A combination of cooler seas and a quiet West African monsoon season made for a less active Atlantic hurricane season, giving the South and East Coasts of the United States one of their lengthiest reprieves in history from a major hurricane, forecasters said on Monday.

“This is the longest without a major hurricane hitting the U.S. since the Civil War era,” said Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground.

Wilma in 2005 was the last major hurricane to make U.S. landfall. Sandy was not a hurricane by the time it reached land.

“There’s been a whole sequence of conditions that suppress these storms,” said Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster.

Among factors that tamped down storm formation were below-average temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and an active Pacific storm season that saw more than 20 named storms in its most active season since 1992.

“It’s a seesaw effect; often when the Atlantic is more active the Pacific will be suppressed,” Bell said.

At the start of the season forecasters had predicted up to 13 tropical storms with winds topping 39 mph (63 kph), and at least one major storm.

They left out Ike, which hit Texas in 2008 and caused $27B in damage, #3 all time, and Irene, which hit the East Coast in 2011 and caused $15B in damage, #7 on the all time list.  That’s major, even though they were category 2 and 1, respectively. (source)

Is it the overall global water temperature that is increasing?  Are we seeing overall more storm activity globally?

It turns out the measure of global storm activity is called Accumulated Cyclone Energy.  There is data back to 1970 and it can be found here.  This chart shows the total global accumulated cyclone energy, which is reported monthly, as an annual summation (each data point is the total energy for the previous 12 months):


Here’s the global water temperature data, showing both the top 700m and the top 2000m:


That explains the “cooling oceans.”  They are cooling in the top layer, or at least not continuing to warm as quickly.  For a longer time scale, here’s dating back to 1960, but only for the deep layer:


These graphs are from RealClimate.

So it would appear that total storm energy has not been increasing along with ocean heat content.  At least not yet.  But then why did the NOAA credit cooler ocean temperatures for fewer storms?

This climate stuff is just not that simple.


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Filed under Science

Market Moves

From Eddy Elfenbein at Crossing Wall Street (ht BR).  Just, WOW.



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Filed under Financial

Immigration – Open borders

There are people who have organized to promote open borders.  From Vox:

…in recent years, a small but devoted group of advocates have succeeded in turning open borders from a dirty word to a real movement with strong arguments backing it up. The team at — Vipul Naik, John Lee, Nathan Smith, Paul Crider — has led the charge, as Shaun Raviv wrote in an excellent profile of the group in the Atlantic. The University of Colorado’s Michael Huemer honed Carens’ moral case, while the Center for Global Development’s Michael Clemens has been hugely influential in arguing that we’re leaving trillions in potential economic growth on the table by enforcing border restrictions.

Two quick quotes that sum up the argument for, and the rebuttal to the main objection:

“What would you think about a law that said that blacks couldn’t get a job without the government’s permission, or women couldn’t get a job without the government’s permission, or gays or Christians or anyone else?” George Mason economist Bryan Caplan asks. It’s a pretty easy question. Obviously, such a law is discriminatory on its face, serves no rational purpose, and is unacceptable in a liberal democracy. But Caplan continues: “So why, exactly, is it that people who are born on the wrong side of the border have to get government permission just to get a job?”

…think about what happened in the 1960s and ’70s as more and more women joined the workforce in the United States. Was the result mass unemployment for men, as women took all their jobs? Of course not — the economy adjusted, and we’re all better off for it. “Would we really be a richer society if we kept half the population stuck at home?” Caplan asks. “Isn’t it better to take people who have useful skills and let them do something with it, than to just keep them locked up someplace where their skills go to waste?”

In addition, Caplan argues for more of what Obama just did with his executive order:

More incrementally, he wants Obama to take as expansive a view of executive power as possible for the sake of benefiting immigrants. “I think my first step would be, if not legislative amnesty, then presidential fiat amnesty,” he says. “Essentially, the kind of things that Republicans accuse Obama of secretly plotting to do are what I think should be done.”

Same goes for the Central American migrant crisis. “I would be against any effort to curtail what’s going on with the child migrant crisis,” he says. “This is a loophole, and I believe in pushing loopholes as far as you can possibly can.” He also wants Obama to fill the asylum quota — bafflingly, something that hasn’t been done in most years. “You’re telling me there aren’t 100,000 people on earth who are going to be horribly persecuted by their governments and who want to come here?” he asks. “Come on.”

Great idea.  It’s not about whether or not you like Obama, or what he says he plans to do, or any of what he has actually done, or whether or not any of it is actually legal.  At this point, given the toxic environment in Washington, it’s about getting something, anything, done.  Toxic environment is defined as not only the D vs. R circus, but also the corporate cronyism that keeps things at a standstill or worse, and the what they say vs. what they do that is in evidence everywhere.

Also, it seems nearly criminal that we haven’t allowed in more of the people who foolishly helped the coalition during the Iraq and Afghan wars, especially if there are asylum spots open.  These are people who helped us and now need our help and we’re bringing no one rather than them.  Well, these are the same people who manage the VA.


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Filed under Government

Guilty Pleasure

OK, not so much the video, but the song.  I can hear the John Stout marching band arrangement in my head.

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Filed under Uncategorized