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February 2016
Today

John Matel shared a link.
Watching the “Groundhog Day” Marathon. This is my favorite movie. I have history with it. The first few times I saw it was when we were in Orlando for the first time. The kids were small enough to be really excited. It was in late October and the Florida weather was perfect, especially wonderful since we were coming from coming from Krakow. Krakow is a beautiful city but less pleasant than Flor See More

John Matel shared a link.
Something to recall next time profits rise.

John Matel shared a link.
“If the entrance polls that showed her [Hillary] winning handily had proved accurate …” This is maybe the most interesting detail. Many caucus-goers went in supporting Hillary and came out supporting Sanders.
Yesterday

John Matel updated his status.
Iowa’s Democratic caucus remains too close to call, with Hillary Clinton clinging to a 49.9 to 49.6 percent lead over Bernie Sanders. Did anybody think it would be this close?

John Matel shared a link.
Cauliflower is my favorite vegetable. I buy one every week and I did notice it seemed to be getting a little more expensive.

John Matel shared a link.
Yeah. If you watch Monty Python, you see it really is the precursor of PC. They thought they were joking when they featured the blind bus driver or who insisted on being a woman AND having babies.

John Matel shared a link.
When our Brazilian friends inaugurated their “Science w/o Borders” program in 2011, they wanted to send students to the “best” schools to study STEM. To them “best” often meant Ivy League. We (Vera Do Val Galante, Luiz Valcov Loureiro and others) advocated for a broader choice to include especially land grant universities. Nebraska, Michigan or Ohio can be a more appropriate choice than Harvard See More

John Matel shared a link.
People respond to incentives in complex ways. It is good to test programs and see what they really do. Of course, lots of programs that employ lots of people don’t do what they are supposed to do and some of the most politically popular programs are likely worse than useless, so don’t expect too many of these studies.

A general problem is lack of the null hypothesis. If you do a program and it See More

John Matel shared a link.
The trouble with insurgent candidates is that you don’t know what they will do. Beyond that, the very reason they are attractive is that they promise to make changes and imply that they will do this by unconventional means.

This is an ancient problem. Our word tyrant comes from ancient Greek. It did not at first have the pejorative connotation it has today. Rather, a tyrant was just a guy – us See More

January 2016
January 31
One of the biggest challenges of managers is exactly this. It is so much easier just to give (i.e. dump) work on those who will be it well w/o complaining. Doing the right thing is especially hard in the USG. You not only usually cannot get rid of poor performers, at least not in a reasonable time, but you also know that the poorest performers are those best prepared to defend themselves. They a See More
Prioritizing reactive firefighting over proactive forest management might’ve created a monster…

John Matel shared a link.
Stocking filler

economist.com
Lessons from the past. The “war on alchohol” changed America. It made criminals of many ordinary Americans and helped grow organized crime. But there was more.

“Despite its reputation as a historical oddity, Prohibition was another development in the growing power of the American state in the early 20th century, she argues. Woodrow Wilson’s Progressivism and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal also See More

John Matel shared a link.
A good reminder about democracy. When we seek the metaphysically perfect representation, we lose the real practical freedom. And even when rulers are benevolent and wise, we are poorer if we are robbed of our own initiatives and responsibilities.
January 30

John Matel shared a link.
Sometimes doing things right is wrong. We know how to make traffic flow and we design streets to help. BUT maybe traffic optimizing traffic flow is not the goal. Ironically, we improve traffic flow and then put in speed bumps to slow it. Maybe make streets narrower and corners sharper. It would indeed annoy drivers (as do speed bumps, BTW) but maybe save pedestrians and make cities more pleasant.

John Matel wrote on Dorothy Bozich‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday. Is the Fonz actual life size? We went to the wax museum, where the figures are proportioned to the real person. It is surprising how different they can be compared with the image.
January 29

John Matel shared a link.
They say money can’t buy you love. It evidently also cannot buy elections. If it could, Hillary and Jeb would already be in the clear. Bernie is making gains w/o previous big bucks and Trump has the big bucks but does not need to use them.
January 28
The most significant work I did in the FS was helping almost 30,000 young Brazilians study STEM in the U.S. I was honored to work with Vera Do Val Galante, Luiz Valcov Loureiro & Alexandre Prestes Silveira (who posted this originally). IMO, there is nothing we can do in public diplomacy the equals helping smart kids study in the U.S. I regret that we too often fail to follow up with them and I See More
Kind of loses its meaning when you predict it that long and nothing happens. Like the little boy who cried wolf. Perhaps it would be better to continue the clock.

John Matel shared a link.
Think tanks, what are they good for? This was the theme of the discussion I attended at Wilson Center yesterday (January 27). Their title was a bit longer than mine above, “Why Think Tanks Matter to Policy Makers and the Public in the US: Research with Rigor, Relevance and Reach.” Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO, introduced the program and then turned it over to James McGann, Director See More

John Matel shared a link.
Never thought I would hope that Russia and OPEC can come to an agreement to limit oil production. They probably will not succeed, but if they do it just means more for American producers.

John Matel shared a link.
It is easy to criticize the Danes for being unwelcoming. But it is a good idea to think through what might happen. Denmark it one of the most pleasant places on earth. Living standards are high; crime is low; they even are very green in their production of energy. It is like a whole country of NPR donors. This results from their culture and habits built over many generations.

And the Danish p See More

January 27

John Matel shared a link.
You cannot create innovation but you can create conditions that foster innovation. Places like Florence or Silicon Valley happened through happy chances as well as skill in spotting talent. The question is whether we can create the conditions by design.

A big challenge is the narrative fallacy. We read the past from the vantage point of their future. The golden age may have looked different fo See More

John Matel shared a link.
Yes, we should mock these little tyrants … The Safe Space is a terrible trap. It grants you temporary relief from ideas you don’t like, but at the expense of your individuality, your soul even … Liberate yourself—destroy the Safe Space.

John Matel shared a link.
I can understand not serving wine at the dinner held for the Iranians. But covering great works to pander to their prejudice is wrong. Maybe don’t go to the museum if you so dislike the great works of humanity.

John Matel shared a link.
One animals crap is another’s food source.

John Matel shared a link.
One interesting aspect of this major correction is that the politicians and media commentators who a few years ago were outraged over rising gas prices, denouncing “gouging” and “speculators,” are now curiously quiet. Don’t expect a follow-up for the May 2011 Senate Finance Committee hearing when oil-company executives were called in and excoriated for the sin of returning a profit to shareholders.

John Matel shared a link.
johnsonmatel.com

johnsonmatel.com
Ben Franklin “retired” at the age of forty-two and became a Gentleman of Leisure. It was the start of the most productive and interesting time of his life. I don’t pretend to equal him, but his is a useful example as I transition to from worker to Gentleman of Leisure. I am coming to terms with what that means.

First, let me admit that it is a good thing, but then assert that it is not as no See More

John Matel shared a link.
It really gets dumb and dumber. I thought this was a satire too, until I followed the link to the Oregon student newspaper. Are universities trying to make themselves ridiculous and irrelevant?

How does this kind of silliness hurt? It hurts by harming the capacity of our great universities to enter into serious and useful debate. It hurts by diverting resources to support stupidity AND allowing See More

January 26

John Matel shared a link.
I got one of these things when I graduated with my MBA in 1984. Should have bought one before I started. I was both pleased and chagrined that this little machine could do all the equations I had learned in through grim effort in finance or regressions classes. AND it didn’t make mistakes as I did. On the plus side, I didn’t have to remember formulas anymore. On the down side, seemed like I had put in a lot of work to master techniques now easily available for just over $60. I tell myself that it was good to learn it the hard way, but that is not true.

John Matel shared a link.
The first reaction is anger at the home town firm that moves its HQ overseas just to avoid taxes. It is like being abandoned by a longtime friend or lover. Most people can relate to that experience Relate the experience a bit further. The first reaction is to blame them for their fecklessness. But ask why they are doing it and why so many others are doing it.

If a few people don’t like you, See More

January 25

John Matel shared a link.
“How, then, are the Kochs members of the radical Right? They are pro-gay marriage. They favor liberal immigration policies. They are passionate non-interventionists when it comes to foreign policy. They are against the drug war and are spending a bundle on dismantling so-called “mass-incarceration” policies. They’ve never seized a national park at gunpoint.”

John Matel shared a link.
I think it is reasonable to demand that a reasonable person would know that he/she is committing a crime before you can prosecute for that crime.

John Matel shared a link.
As a young diplomat, I quickly realized that I didn’t understand my country well enough to represent it. So I embarked on a lifelong study, which included traveling to as much as America as possible, as well as reading and listening to lectures about the basics of our culture and democracy. It is a never ending quest and you can never be proficient, maybe just good enough.

Among my first and ur See More

John Matel wrote on David R. Remer‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday.
January 24

John Matel updated his status.
English is a wonderful and unique language because it often gives you many word choices that mean almost the same thing, but with different nuances. Most of the words we commonly use are English-Germanic. But the plurality off the words in the dictionary are from medieval French. And many professional words are directly from Latin or Greek. There is a hierarchy of sophistication.

The ones we a See More

John Matel shared a link.
We have a right to judge behaviors. Cities become unpleasant when people do unpleasant things. I recall Washington of the 1980s with people begging and doing nasty things. You could not use the parks. Kids could not play safely.

We need to have a reasonable standard. Public places belong to all citizens and the common enjoyment of these places depends on reasonable behavior by all. If you li See More

John Matel shared a link.
This one is better than my first one. Evidently, you can try as many times as you want until you get one you like.
December 2015
December 31

John Matel updated his status.
I may have to sit out the next election if it is Trump v Clinton. This small note from WSJ –

Longest Books Ever Written

“All the People Donald Trump Insulted in 2015”—video title, Washington Post website, Dec. 30
“Cataloguing the Clinton Lies”—headline, Washington Times, Dec. 29

John Matel shared a link.
It needs to be done. The dogs and the hunters like it. They pay to do what the taxpayers would otherwise need to pay someone to do. All to the good.

John Matel shared a link.
People in prehistoric times were savage and not in the noble savage way. They had short and violent lives. Nasty, brutish and short, in the more famous phrase. The reason that most did not develop “modern” diseases such as cancer or heart disease is that something else usually killed them sooner, oftne a neighbor, wild animal or bad luck of breaking a bone. We really today live in the best of times. Unfortunately, life remains always fatal.

John Matel shared a link.
We don’t learn. This is what got us in trouble eight years ago.

John Matel shared a link.
Let’s hope what goes down will soon go up.
December 30

John Matel shared a link.
The end of history, at least in this particular place.

John Matel shared a link.
He did a study of outcomes. It starts with a natural experiment of kids who got into good charter schools and those that did not. It is done by lottery, so the two populations are similar going in. The good charters produce good results, which expand over time.

Why?The successful schools couldn’t really answer the question. So he studied practice. Teacher salaries, class size & per pupil exp See More

John Matel shared a link.
Interesting talk on “permission-less innovation” & what worked and what did not work in the wake of Katrina.
It doesn’t rhyme in English but it is a good staying. God helps those who sit and study.

John Matel shared a link.
My father said that if he could live past 110 he would never die. He based his belief on careful statistical research. Every day he read the death notices in the paper and saw that lots of people died when they were 70 or 80. Fewer died in their 90s. Only occasionally would he find someone more than 100 and never had he seen reports of anybody dying over the age of 110. He was joking (I think) See More
December 29

John Matel shared a link.
Great news for the environment and the economy, as long as the Luddites don’t manage to shut it down with repressive anti-science laws.
The “oak openings” ecosystem once common between Milwaukee and Madison was a fire dependent landscape. Aldo Leopold mentions it in “Sand County Almanac.”

John Matel shared a link.
What we are seeing is the beginning of the oil-end-game. As renewable energy comes online more cheaply, oil will be phased out. It will not be worthless, but it will be worth a lot less and much will be “stranded,” i.e. not saleable at a price worth production.

The idea now is to sell it like it is going out of style, because it is. Somebody is going to be left holding the bag. I prefer it is See More

John Matel shared a link.
No.3: The data or the hunch

intelligentlifemagazine.com
This kind of thing leaves me in a quandary. I am a “boots on the ground” type guy, who believes in going to see for myself to make decisions. This is a species of hunch or impressionistic decision making. On the other hand, I understand the value of data & have long studied the various ways our intuitions can be wrong.

The article emphasizes a few points that I know are true, but I don’t like See More

We are behind the curve on this one. The “problem group” of the future, and maybe already today, is young males, who go to college at significantly lower rates than young females and will face career problems in the near future. There will always be challenges but we have done a good job of addressing the problems of young women. Maybe we need to broaden priorities.
December 28

John Matel shared a link.
When you install solar, you hope that it will cut your utility bills by more than the costs of installations and maintenance. In some respects, you also become a power generator and you can sell your excess solar to the utility company. This is a good thing. The question is price. Net metering is not justified for reasons explained in the article attached.

Consider the system as applied to ot See More

John Matel shared a link.
“Paired with Census data showing rising incomes for single women, the case gets more convincing.” There is a chart in the article that shows the 10 U.S. cities where the share of women 1 earning more than $100,000 increased the most from 2012 to 2014.

John Matel shared a link.
I get lots of these kinds of stories in my email. They are often very similar to each other, but I think it is good to have the continual reminders.

My core belief is that we as individuals can and should reinvent ourselves, that we are not victims of circumstance, that we can make choices and that if we want to change our outcomes they need to change our habits and behaviors. Change your respo See More

John Matel shared a link.
Baltimore could be a wonderful city. It has lots of parks and green space with attractive neighborhoods. The problem is crime. Crooks broke into my daughters house three times in the last year. They took almost nothing, but they caused damage that cost lost of money to repair and created feelings of fear and unease. We cannot send her gifts through the mail because somebody steals the packages. T See More
December 27

John Matel shared a link.
What an inconvenient fact it must be that Mexicans are now leaving the U.S. in greater numbers than they are arriving.
History should be a lesson, not a burden, and there should indeed be a statute of limitations on mourning or recriminations. My general standard is living memory. If nobody any longer remembers the incident as a living witness, we can put the whole episode into the “common heritage of humanity” category. Good or bad, it now provides experience for all interested in taking the time to learn and belongs to everybody in general & nobody in particular.

John Matel shared a link.
I lived four years in Norway and learned that our American categories do not easily apply. This seems a good explanation of neighboring Denmark. The article is linked and excerpts below.

“The first thing to realize is that Denmark, as are the other Nordic countries, quite free markets, apart from their welfare state transfers and high government consumption. They tend to get rather high ranki See More

December 25

John Matel shared a link.
We are in the midst of a big experiment. Crime rates have been dropping for a quarter century. The reasons for this are disputed. Many people who study these things point to changes in policing, but that is not the only cause.

In the last year, protests against police violence have created incentives for the police to be less proactive. Many of the intellectual underpinnings of proactive polic See More

John Matel shared a link.
People spend the big bucks for this stuff because they know others cannot. I think this is a good thing for the very rich. Anybody who would spend money on these things deserves to lose the money.

John Matel updated his status.
I say “Merry Christmas.” I don’t object if people say “Happy Holidays” or whatever their habit. It is nice when people want to share their joy and good people take in that spirit. Those who parse these things are unfortunates who lack the empathy to share in the joy of others. We should pity them and maybe repeat the greeting with a nice smile and understanding.
December 24

John Matel shared a link.
“There’s a lot of stuff in the guidelines that was right 40 years ago but that science has disproved…. [S]ometimes, the scientific community doesn’t like to backtrack,” David McCarron, the incoming chairman of the medical nutrition council at the American Society of Nutrition, told the Washington Post.

My persistent mantra is moderation in everything. If you eat nothing but bacon and eggs, you will have trouble. If you never eat bacon and eggs, you are missing out on a great taste experience.

December 23

John Matel shared a link.
The conclusions of many in this article are truly stupid. A family was stopped from traveling. It may be a mistake and it may be for valid reason. We do not know. What we do know is that it was not the result of a Trump exclusionary policy. Yet these guy talk mostly about what could not have happened.

In the comments section, I see many of my fellow Americans beating up their country for thin See More

John Matel shared a link.
First, note that the article describes boring as that “effective managers tend to be highly adjusted, sociable, friendly, flexible, and prudent.” Steve Jobs would not quality. That shows that it depends on your line of work. Something really new might require a more colorful personality. But there are fewer of these situations than we think & most government managers SHOULD be boring.

We will s See More

December 22

John Matel shared a link.
I check email at night because I am curious. Usually I do not answer and ignore anything I do not want to do until OOB.

John Matel updated his status.
I have been learning more about the concept of cultural appropriation and I am very much in favor of it. We should appropriate whatever we think is appropriate whenever we feel it appropriate. Culture is dynamic. We learn from others by copying what we consider useful, adapting it to our uses and improving it. If we look at the history of civilization, cultures that were adapt at this thrived. See More

John Matel wrote on Scott Powell‘s Timeline.
happy birthday
December 20
We take a lot of criticism, much of it deserved, but the world would not be a better place w/o the U.S.
December 19

John Matel updated his status.
Chrissy & I spent the day in Baltimore putting plywood on Mariza’s basement windows. She was the victim of a break in for the third time in the last year. She really loves her house and the neighborhood, but it gets harder to love these things when you don’t feel safe.

And it gets expensive. The first time someone broke in by throwing a big rock through her big basement window. She had to b See More

John Matel shared a link.
I sided with Bob Bob Cratchit when I was a kid, but I have come to understand the Scrooge position much better. As the article points out, Scrooge was trying to save coal. If all had been like him, perhaps the problems of climate change would be less severe today. I recently watched “Doctor Zhivago” again. The most interesting character, the only guy with a sense of irony and humor, is Victor See More

John Matel shared a link.
Not to mistake meeting and conferences for work and results.
December 18

John Matel shared a link.
“The mismatch theory is not about race. It is about admissions preferences, full stop. Mismatch can affect students who receive preferential admission based on athletic prowess, low socioeconomic status, or alumni parents. An important finding of mismatch research is that when one controls for the effect of admissions preferences, racial differences in college performance largely disappear.”

John Matel shared a link.
A sad things, a hopeful thing and one just interesting. The sad thing is that it is much like a family curse. You inherit the cancer propensity from ancestors you may not have known existed. The hopeful thing is that if you can identify the problem, you can address it. The interesting thing is how many descendants one couple can have after only about 300 years. It make sense when you think of See More

John Matel shared a link.
Mostly conservative AEI & mostly liberal Brookings have gotten together to address the problem of persistent poverty. Both sides agree that it is a problem that needs to be addressed but both sides are suspicious that the other doesn’t really care.

We have a better opportunity today than we have for a long time. We have today better access to tools that can test programs under real world condit See More

John Matel shared a link.
Going global

economist.com
The influence of diasporas on the world economy is often overlooked. They form networks that facilitate exchange of goods and – maybe more importantly – ideas and practices. The keys to success seems to be pragmatism and the desire to adapt

One of the failings of push to develop poorer countries was the belief that it was capital – i.e. stuff – that was the basis of property. Capital is more o See More

John Matel shared a link.
Faith’s archivists

economist.com
This speaks to the debate about “repatriating” cultural objects. Sometimes they are not safe in their places of origin. And human migration makes it even more complex, as the creators of the cultural objects might be unrelated to the current occupants, might even have been the enemies that pushed them out and would have destroyed the objects given the chance.

I subscribe to a common heritage of See More

John Matel shared a link.
How airlines cut costs

economist.com
GoAir, an Indian low-cost carrier hires only female flight attendants because they are on average, 10-15 kg lighter than men. Such parsimony pays off. Fuel accounts for a third of an airline’s cost and every kilo thus shed reduces $100 from an aircraft’s annual fuel bill.
December 17

John Matel shared a link.
The Worst Year in Washington

washingtonpost.com
It was going to be Clinton v Bush again. I was a little unhappy with the dynasty idea, but it seems inevitable. Republicans seem not interested in the Bush alternative. IMO, Democrats would treat Clinton similarly if they had a real alternative. But it is true that both had an unusually difficult and unexpectedly bad year.

John Matel shared a link.
Mens sana in corpore sano
Everything is easier when people are well-behaved and polite.

John Matel shared a link.
Wookienomics

economist.com
“Economists, who can render the most exciting of material dull, will be more interested in the state of the galactic economy. Did the destruction of the Death Star at the end of the sixth film in the series trigger a massive financial crisis?”

John Matel shared a link.
A question and a comment. Why would you want to become a morning person unless you were in an occupation – like farming – where you depended on sunlight to do your work? And this article was obviously written by a young person. How do I know? Principle #1 Drink lots of water. It is hard to sleep when you are thirsty. Same for hunger and food. If I do that, I will not get a good night’s sleep at all, since I will be visiting the bathroom a half dozen times.
December 16
“Thanks to the industrious Bosnians, an entire neighbourhood in southern St Louis, Bevo Mill, was transformed from a crime-ridden area pockmarked by abandoned buildings into a decent quarter with small shops …Their community has lower crime and unemployment rates than among the general population. And they are better off: Jack Strauss of St Louis University has found that immigrants in the area, many of them Bosnians, earn on average $83,000 a year, or 25% more than those who were born in America.”

John Matel shared a link.
Charles de Gaulle said the graveyards were full of indispensable men. Maybe it is even worse than he thought. Science advances when the greats, defenders of the faith, die. For a guy near retirement like me, this might be both inspirational and depressing.

This study addresses “the extent to which eminent scientists shape the vitality of their fields by examining entry rates into the fields of See More

John Matel shared a link.
Let’s assume that we stop or largely slow use of fossil fuels in the medium run future. What does that mean we should do now? Consider that the unused fossil fuels will become a stranded resource, i.e. one with no practical value. So who will be left holding that bag? I can think of several deserving candidates, but my main concern is that it NOT be Americans.

Therefore, the dominant strategy See More

John Matel shared a link.
The politics of Star Wars

www.npr.org
A government that size could never function. It is vague because it would be impossible. We need to suspend belief when watching a fantasy movie.

It is a problem for most science fiction. To be interesting, they need to focus on few key individuals in personal contact with each other. Human cognition really is not built intuitively to understand close interaction of groups beyond 12-15 or systems See More

December 15
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I got called for a random drug test today. First time in my 30+ year career. I think I passed. They do our tests at the Department of the Interior. It was a beautiful and unusually warm day, so it was a pleasure to walk over there. And the building is great.

It was built during the Depression and it has the WPA look. They did a good job of art. You can see my pictures of the frieze of bison See More

John Matel shared a link.
Better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven?
I started to study behavioral economics back around 1990 as a way to improve my public diplomacy skills. I figured that persuasion often based on the interaction of often unspoken (or even unknown) variables. Behavioral economics provided insights into irrational, but often predictably irrational, behaviors.

The kind of research described in the article is related in that what we think will hap See More

John Matel shared a link.
Common Ground

vabf.org
Take care of the dirt and the dirt takes care of everything else.
People wonder about the “next China” and fear that the best days of world growth are behind us. Africa will be the next world success story. Of course, not every country and it will not be like China to the extent that it is not one disciplined country. But – like China – countries of Africa are shaking off the old dirigiste ideas, in practice is not in theory. There is no reason why many of these places should stay poor. As national management improves, the next boom will be there. It seems impossible now, but I remember when the world wrote off China as perpetually poor. It was actually not a poor country just a country managed poorly. This is the general problem around the world.
We have had beavers on our land. They can be good or bad, depending exactly where they are.
December 14

John Matel shared a link.
The mayor gave a very passionate speech about the need for the authorities to address the problem of the police and the citizens. But who was the target of this passion? He is and was the mayor. He is the man in charge. Now he is shocked – shocked – to find problems?

This is becoming too common among leaders. Harry Truman said “the buck stops here.” Today it never stops at all. Politicians t See More

John Matel shared a link.
To the extent that global warming is an urgent problem, natural gas is as close as a gift from God as we can get. It has helped us immensely in the short run. In the medium run, we will need to expand nuclear power and in the long run we will depend on yet undeveloped renewables. I have confidence in the human ability to innovate.

IMO, the government role in all this should be something similar See More

December 13

John Matel shared a link.
I am a strong believer in public education, but it need not be delivered through a large public bureaucracy. Innovation rarely comes from centralized authority. It bubbles up.

I just saw that John Matel liked a photo that I did not recognize. I clicked on “my” name and found another John Matel. Mine is not a very common name, but there are a few of us.
December 11

John Matel shared a link.
Complexity creates unexpected results. This woman ate two cheeseburgers every day for a year. She did not gain weight and ended up healthier. It was not that cheeseburger were so good for her, but since compensated by eating better in other ways and exercising more. In this case, the interaction produced a good result. This is not always so.

The Freakomonics guys looked at laws mandating menu See More

December 10

John Matel shared a link.
Interesting. Some politicians call for taxes on sugar to fight obesity. American sugar prices are already well above world prices because of old-fashioned protectionism.

John Matel shared a link.
I think that Trump opponents fail to understand his appeal. It is not, IMO, what he says but that he says it. In a society where leaders must apologize from “micro-aggression” that few could even identify, here you have a man who says truly outrageous things with evident impunity. You have to admire his audacity even as you hate the substance.

Another factor is theater, which is related to his See More

John Matel shared a link.
Elegy for lost verbiage

theworldin.com
A little disturbing. I try to use common/simple words in my writing and speech. Reading through this list, I find that I thought that many of these “difficult words” were simple/common. It reminds me that it is not important what you think you say as much as what those receiving think they hear and if they don’t understand the words you use, or get the meaning wrong, communications fail.
December 9

John Matel shared a link.
Lawlessness among those enforcing law when they decide the result in a fact-free environment.

John Matel shared a link.
Admissions trying to judge the “whole person” when talking about 18-year-old is silly and usually dishonest. It favors the already well-connected whose parents know how to game the system. The young person is incomplete. They will change in school and the 18-year-old who comes in will be very different from the 22-year-old graduate. If not, school was useless.

I have a better system. Recogni See More

December 8

John Matel shared a link.
An example of forest restoration in São Paulo state in Brazil. In 2004, they planted about a hundred types of native species on degraded land. These were over-story trees, including fast-growing trees to provide cover. Now other species of trees and forest plants have moved in, along with all sort of animals The soil is improving and the water quality in the lake is improved. All this happened in only ten years. I understand that most viewers here will not understand the Portuguese narration, but look at the pictures and if you want more you can always get a basic idea from one of those of online translation programs. One of the trees is already about 90 feet high.
Interesting that everything is partisan. But I suspect it is as much related to age and exposure. Among those who actually remember the living Beatles, Paul is the clear winner. Paul’s dominance increases with experience. All of the original fans are 60+ and they love Paul. John wins among those too young ever to have seen him, probably lower information fans for whom John’s salience has more to do with the circumstances of his death than the music he made while alive.
December 7

John Matel shared a link.
I have decided to put in my FS retirement papers on the day my last promotion is ratified by the Senate, which will probably be before mid-January. I just want to be able to go out on my own time. I have been in the process of retiring for more than ten years, but each time I get ready to jump I get a good assignment. This time for real.

That will be the end of my 30+ years in FS (and it has See More

This is a key point. The way around this dilemma, IMO, is not to elevate too many things to our region of concern. Many things are just not our business. If we were to judge them, we may dislike them. But maybe better not to get much involved, keep things to the transaction level.

We can have a meaningful work or business relationship with people we might otherwise despise. Don’t open a can of worm unless you like to eat worms.

John Matel wrote on Danna Van Brandt‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday.

John Matel shared a link.
Good news for freedom, but tyrants have a way of hanging on.
December 6
Right

John Matel shared a link.
Good talk. The personal is NOT the political. We need a bright line between the two. Ideas can be wrong; people are not.

Maybe I am an apostate as a public affairs professional, but I no longer much believe in dialogue. It is certainly not sufficient and maybe not necessary. If you have a dialogue focused on differences, you just figure out in more detail why you dislike the other side.

Mayb See More

December 4

John Matel shared a link.
We need to treat similar behaviors similarly and different behaviors differently regardless of race, creed, religion or national origin, i.e. we should judge behaviors, not status. This is the moral thing to do, not discriminate based on status.

Disparate impact does nearly the opposite. It uses status to judge behaviors. If you are doing an academic study, it is useful to consider disparate imp See More

Generally, use the simplest word possible. I dislike it when people add in the uncommon words when others would do.

I particularly hate the word utilize. There are no situations when utilize is better than the simple use besides maybe utilization.

John Matel shared a link.
All forms of energy exploration have problems, sometimes not obvious at first. The challenge of wind often lies in the transmission lines that require clearing and keeping clear significant corridors of acreage and building access roads across them. We have eight acres under lines on one of our farms.

John Matel shared a link.
You should have to know you are breaking a law in order to be guilty.
We should manage our lands to maximize the results we seek within a sustainable context. They key concept should be sustainable, not native or natural.

Ecological change and especially climate change alters the whole concept of natural or native. A native plant or animal superbly adapted to Virginia of 1607 might be wrong for the new conditions and an outsider might be right. Let’s not get hun See More

Nanotechnology is changing materials and manufacturing. It will ensure that we have all the stuff we need for the future. Biotechnology will help us adapt to climate change and feed our larger population. The world will likely be a much better place in 2015 than it is today, just as 2015 was better than 1915 and that year was better than 1815. Life is good an improving in general.
December 3
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Pictures are from near my house last week. The last of the beautiful fall colors. They are red maples, Japanese maples and ginkgo respectively

John Matel shared a link.
As much as 95% of the greenhouse gas produced by cattle comes from methane from their farting or from manure. Their bodies digest the fibers from grass and produce the gas. But in the Brazilian tropics, this is much lower.

John Matel shared a link.
We cleared 46 acres in June. The brush is already in place to make great deer and quail habitat for the next few years.
December 2
I have been trying to figure out this series. It is free if you have Amazon Prime and based on a novel by PK Dick, the man who also wrote books that became “Blade Runner” & “Total Recall,” After the first episode, I bought and read the book. Still in the dark. The series is worth watching for the drama plus the sci-fi twists.

The article, BTW, is interesting but does not explain the story itself.

John Matel shared a link.
I guess we have to learn and relearn. I do not consider myself a great negotiator, and I don’t think I ever dominate, but I usually get what I want. Who knows how?
December 1

John Matel shared a link.
The title sums up the challenge of democracy since the time when the ancient Greeks invented it.
November 30

John Matel shared a link.
IEA – World Energy Outlook

worldenergyoutlook.org
I went to CSIS for the release of the 2015 IEA World Energy Outlook. Oil and gas are prices are low. Coal is at rock bottom. Renewables are coming along. In 2014 renewables will account for more than 50% of new energy installation for the first time.

The price of renewables is dropping because we are learning by doing. Science is the child of technology as much as the other way around and ren See More

November 2015
November 30

John Matel shared a link.
I was for the mandates before I was against them. The purpose of an experiment is to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It really is not an experiment if we just determine what to do in advance. Glad to see that the EPA is doing the right thing.
November 28

John Matel shared a link.
A modern ark

economist.com
Novel ecosystems will become the norm, but then they always were. Even w/o human intervention, forests and fields have been changing constantly.
November 27

John Matel shared a link.
I know that this is in Portuguese, so only my Brazilian friends will get it, but it is profoundly interesting. It is from the program “Globo Rural” and it talks about 30 years of progress recuperating old fields. They want to double the production of meat and grains in the next ten years w/o additional deforestation. The system is called harvest-cattle raising-forestry. We are doing similar sys See More

John Matel shared a link.
What’s in a name

economist.com
We use the term “fascist” too casually. But here it fits. These students are the seeds of fascism that seeks to redress real or imagined historical grievances by destroying connections with the past except those politically correct and approved. It leaves the mass of people w/o roots and direction and easy prey for the new order.

We should reject their mob justice.

John Matel shared a link.
Brave students are standing up for freedom,even if their professors and administrator are too craven to do so.

John Matel shared a link.
The challenge and joy of the next decades will be novel ecosystems with relationships currently not found in any natural system. When we study paleoclimates we find that forests are in a constant state of dynamic change. There is no balance and never was in the past. Humans can help. Of course, nature will fill in. We do not control the system but we are participants.

John Matel shared a link.
I assumed pellets were better than coal, but good to see it confirmed by science.

John Matel shared a link.
The study of paleoclimates can help us understand potential climate futures.

John Matel shared a link.
It is good for a leader to be a little more humble, but that is not the right way to write it up on the EER.

John Matel shared a link.
He makes sense. We need to be morally outraged when anybody demands the abridgement of free speech, especially on campus. We fought too hard and for too long to get this right. We should not now surrender it because we think the cause is good. Free speech will often be offensive. Most new ideas are offensive. The idea of a “safe place,” a place safe from unpleasant reality, is what is really offensive. If your ideas do not stand up to scrutiny, perhaps reconsider those ideas. Do not try to use coercion or mob action to silence the opposition.
November 26

John Matel shared a link.
Clear thinking needed

economist.com
Economist has a good series of articles about climate change. The good advice is that research is better than subsidizing particular technologies. The technologies that got us into this problem will not be sufficient to solve it and we cannot conserve our way into happiness.

We need to treat this as a scientific problem, not a moral one. We will not suffer retribution for our sins against nat See More

John Matel shared a link.
The problem with these absurdities in university is not that reasonable people believe them. The problem is that they crowd out intelligent inquiry. Like cuckoo birds, they grow big & aggressive, taking space and pushing out legitimate thought.

The sadness is the waste of all those intelligent people celebrating their peculiar characteristics instead of working on subjects to enrich the whole society, or at least make them more pleasant people.

I ain’t saying you treated me unkind
you could’ve done better but i don’t mind
you just kind of wasted my precious time
but don’t think twice, it’s alright.

November 25

John Matel shared a link.
The Iliad describes a remarkably savage time. Of course, one of the questions compares those times to Isis. It is not wrong. In ancient times, killing, raping enslaving were just expected parts of life. You did your best to avoid those things happening to you, but knew that they were as inevitable as the weather. In fact, it is only in recent times that we have started not to do those things are See More

John Matel shared a link.
Some people have to make things so complicated. Just be thankful for what you have. Share some with others. Watch the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears. Talk about the idealized version of thanksgiving as aspiration. Let the kids find out details in history class.

John Matel shared a link.
We should make a distinction between self-esteem and self-respect. Self esteem means that you think you are valuable and deserve rewards from others. Self respect means you think you are good and are doing the right things. The two overlap, although less often than you might think.

Self esteem need not be related to actually doing the right things. The biggest jerks in the world tend to have high self esteem. It is actually not a good thing in many cases and should not be encouraged. If you really are not good at something, it is useful to know so that you can get better and if you cannot get up to standard, you do not deserve to feel good about it. Maybe do something else.

November 24

John Matel shared a link.
We have a lot to be thankful for in the U.S. One of the advantages some people have is the capacity to be grateful.

John Matel shared a link.
Healthy forests provide green infrastructure that would cost billions of dollars if we had to pay for them.

John Matel shared a link.
I hate it that everything has to be made political. I used to be for ethanol mandates but now I am against them. I still like the idea of ethanol. It is the practical application that I question. It was a good experiment but the results show that widespread ethanol production is bad for the environment and generally bad for the economy.

We see the classic case of some being good and more bei See More

November 23

John Matel shared a link.
It is past time universities stood up to the thugs. Even if you are a victim, you do not have the right to impose your views on others.

“the University is committed to the principle that it may not restrict debate or deliberation because the ideas put forth are thought to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the members of the University community to make those judgments fo See More

John Matel shared a link.
Henry Ford II was showing Walter Reuther, leader of the United Automobile Workers, robots in an new car plant. “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues,” asked Ford. Reuther replied, “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?” The wisdom of Internet tells me that this story is apocryphal, but it does point to a problem we may soon have as population growth slows and then goes into reverse.

John Matel wrote on Christopher Datta‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday

John Matel shared a link.
Time travel

intelligentlifemagazine.com
Interesting view of travel 100 years ago. It still have some relevance if you substitute hours of days.

John Matel shared a link.
Educated young people moving back to cities is a good thing and a natural evolution. I remember Logan Circle in the late 1980s. When I first came to Washington, I got lost and wandered past it. I recall thinking what a nice place it could be, but it was very much destroyed. It looked a lot like cities in communist Europe, except more dangerous. I learned to coast to a stoplight when I had to d See More
November 22

John Matel shared a link.
Most of the things I thought were eternal truths when I was in HS are now … not. Much of this is good. The world turned out a lot better than I thought/feared. We solved the energy crisis. We have access to more resources than we had back then. The number of people in absolute poverty has dropped and the percentage had dropped even more. American forests and wildlife are more robust and the p See More
November 21

John Matel shared a link.
When we talk about the ’60s on campuses, we are really talking about the years more or less 1967-72. The end of the draft in January 1973 took to wind out of the protesters’ sails. I got to campus in August 1973. The smell was still there and the old hippies and perpetual students (some of whom probably still have not graduated) felt a palpable nostalgia, but I never liked it. I participated in See More
November 20

John Matel shared a link.
This is the danger. The black lives matter protests are silly. But if they provoke counter protests, it will be even worse.

John Matel shared a link.
Wood is a great building material from the environmental standpoint. When evaluating a material, you need to look at the total cycle, from growth, to gathering, to building to eventual ending. Wood is 100% renewable and biodegradable. Other advantages of wood as a building material are discussed int he article.

John Matel shared a link.
You cannot be an educated person today – in the international sense – w/o some English proficiency. Let’s hope that Cuba’s long nightmare will soon be over.

John Matel shared a link.
We have to reject in the strongest possible terms the tyranny of those trying to shut down speech. The hell with micro-aggression. Let’s make our opposition plain, open and as macro as we can. These people have a right to speak. The more they do, the more we know about them. They have no right to intimidate others.

John Matel shared a link.
cdn-images-1.medium.com

cdn-images-1.medium.com
This is supposed to be funny, but it really is sad. There is saying that you should work to live not live to work. It is bogus. People spend much of their lives at work. It is a serious problem if you have to spend five days suffering to get two days free.

Not everybody can love their work and nobody can love their work all the time, but we do need to reach an accommodation. Some people just See More

November 19

John Matel shared a link.
They grow bigger with less food. We can have more fish with less impact on the environment. Many stores will bow to the pressure of misguided activists and not sell the product. It will, however, no doubt be available on Internet. I will be among the first to buy.

John Matel shared a link.
I posted an article a few days ago about the changing demography with lower population growth. Here is another example of the already changed world. Our immigration debate is about the past, not the future.

We had a few big waves of immigration from specific areas. The largest was NOT the Hispanic wave; it was Germans. We also had big waves of Scots-Irish, Irish and Italians. Each time it seemed like it would go on forever and each time it abruptly stopped. Looking forward, we will suffer a shortage of labor and will be hoping for more immigrants, at least those with specific jobs or skills.

Yesterday’s debate was about how to keep them out; tomorrow’s will be how to attract them in.

John Matel shared a link.
But Qiu and Turner aren’t calling for slashing cornfields or removing city blocks. Instead, they say it is possible to get big gains in freshwater benefits by making small changes in targeted places, such as adding rain gardens or parks to urban areas.

I love rain gardens, but they are surprisingly unpopular. I suppose that is because they tend to look a little untidy (just what I like, BTW) and people claim they attract animals, which they probably do and is another benefit.

November 18

John Matel shared a link.
We don’t need one at all. We now have a much more diverse energy mix and there is more flexibility because of technologies like fracking.

John Matel shared a link.
I am a little annoyed when I go into SA 5 and see the LEEDS certification. It is a good idea to build sustainable buildings. What I object to is that they specify wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This is a fine organization and forest certification is great. But there are other certifications and MOST American forests are not FSC certified, so this puts American forests See More

John Matel shared a link.
I read about a Chinese project that paid peasants to plant trees. They planted trees every year and got their money. Every year the trees died because they were planted poorly and/or not well-adapted to local conditions. It is easy to decree what should be done. Getting things right on the ground is hard and requires incentives that make sense to the guys on the ground and incentives for long te See More

John Matel shared a link.
One of the good things about working in Brasilia Embassy was that there were no decent restaurants within walking or even convenient driving distances, so most of us had to eat at the cafeteria. I got to know my colleagues and I got to know a lot about what they were doing.

John Matel shared a link.
It depends on what you mean by “compassion.” If you have been through an experience, you know the challenges. You might know that it is going to be hard for a while or that you really have to put in the extra time. It would not be compassionate to feel sorry for the person and assure that everything will be fine, when it will not. Sometimes the most compassionate thing to say is, “get over i See More
November 17
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Weather in Arizona was very much like weather in Virginia at the same time. It rained – pretty hard – as we left Phoenix. The night before, we had supper at San Tan Flats. It was a very 1970s type place, reminded me of my college days parties. Just add 50 years to the party goers.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I guess that nobody owns pets anymore. Now humans are custodians who just clean up after them. Alex Sandoval and I took a walk in the hills near his and Lisa’s house.

John Matel shared a link.
The change has already happened. It is like the light of a distant sun. We are still seeing the past, since there are lag times of decades.

The big debate still going on is about immigration, too much. The debate will shirt to immigration – too little. Population growth in place like Mexico and South America is stopping. This means immigration from there will be/is stopping. We will miss the labor.

Half the world’s population already lives in countries with growth rates below replacement rate. Population will soon peak and then decline.

John Matel shared a link.
I did some research on Brazil’s population. The birthrate has fallen rapidly and now is lower than the U.S. and below replacement rate. Pensions are going to be – already are – a bigger problem in Brazil. People can retire very young.

We are facing aging and soon declining populations worldwide. The population bomb will implode in our lifetimes and we will be trying to get immigrants to come instead of trying to keep them out.

November 16

John Matel shared a link.
It is a challenge. We want to have a diverse student body AND we want to serve the people of the state AND we want to keep in-state tuition low SO it is good to make money from the out-of-state tuition BUT too much of any of these things is bad.

It is a good idea to spread international students to many institutions, however, so that they get the American experience. When student numbers from a See More

November 14

John Matel shared a link.
The problem with this story is that if it was not from a satirical publication we would assume it was from a real university.

John Matel shared a link.
I think we all need to stand up to these sorts of bullies. There were lots of mistakes made in the 1960s, when universities caved to ridiculous demands. It took decades to recover. We should not let that happen again to our institutions.

Speech should be free, except in instances of actual physical threat. Ironically, those activists calling for free expression for themselves are most eager to restrict it for others.

November 12
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Cousin Elise and Carl have a very artistic house.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
We stayed with cousin Elise and Carl at their house at Dove Mountain. It is a well planned development with natural areas preserved among the homes. I like the idea of mixing humans and nature. It is good for the human soul & allows for the sustainable preservation of nature when done correctly. The pictures are from the natural areas near their house.

You see my picture with the cactus. Carl saw my picture with my pine trees and liked the idea of the comparison. I have become a unit of measurement. This saguaro looks to be about five matels high.

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
It is hard for me to accept that there can be a mature forest that does not provide shade, but the saguaros qualify as forest and let most of the sun get to the ground. Saguaros are remarkable organisms. They grow slowly and can reach an age of 200. They grow only in the Sonoran Desert and are well adapted to the limited & seasonal rainfall. They soak up water when they can and save it for the dry times which always come.

The saguaros take a long time to get established. They often grow under the shelter of mesquites or palo verde trees. Later they return the favor by soaking up much of the water and out competing the nursery trees.

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Chrissy, Carl Hankwitz & I went to the Mirror Lab at University of Arizona. Arizona is the leading school for optics in the U.S. The Mirror Lab is making mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

GMT will be ten times as powerful than Hubble. The problem of looking through earth atmosphere has been addressed with adaptive optics. As the guide said, adaptive optics takes the twinkle out See More

John Matel shared a link.
Galileo made Church officials uncomfortable when he saw the moons of Jupiter through his telescope. Young Einstein made universities so uncomfortable they tried to keep him out. In fact, different ideas make those with weak minds uncomfortable. They need to hide in “safe places.” That is okay if they want to hide, but when they try to make others “respect” their safe places, we have the right to object.

Any idea that needs a “safe place” doesn’t deserve to have one. The kids are not okay when they demand an endless extension of their safe children’s play space.

John Matel shared a link.
Charter schools ARE public schools. They just are not required to work by all the same bureaucratic rules. Charters don’t exclude difficult students. Like other public schools, they aren’t allowed to discriminate.Charters serve some of the most troubled students, including a higher percentage in poverty than public schools generally.

It makes sense to allow variation. Not all charters will be bet See More

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Chrissy and I had a couple beers at the Barrio Brewery in Tucson. The beer and the atmosphere was good. I like it that small breweries are popping up all over. They often do it in the old industrial areas, hard to find. But GPS makes them accessible.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
A big fire in 2002 destroyed large areas of forest on the upper slopes of Mount Lemmon. Looking at the results more than ten years later makes you think about how/if/why to help nature.

Mountains in places like southern Arizona are sometimes called “sky islands.” The forest systems on the mountains are different from the surrounding deserts. They are often remnant communities, left over from See More

November 11
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
One of the few places where you can drive from Mexico to Canada in about a half hour is Mount Lemmon near Tucson, at least you can pass through the biomes on your way up. As you make the vertical climb, you move from the Sonora Desert environment, through mixed woodland and ponderosa pine and finally get to a mixed pine-fir forest near the top. On the first picture you can see the various biomes lined up

The temperature at the bottom was a comfortable 65 degrees. At the top is was 37 degrees. Chrissy and I rented a convertible so that we could see and feel all the differences on the way and and we kept the top down, admittedly with the heater on, all the way up.

November 10
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Frank Lloyd Wright had lots of good ideas but most didn’t work well. The irony is that he claimed to want to build houses for the common man and used inexpensive materials to do so, but demanded everything be essentially custom made, thereby making it impossible for the common man to afford his houses.

We went to visit the David and Gladys Wright house in Phoenix. It is beautiful to look at, b See More

November 9

John Matel shared a link.
A Revolt of the Coddled

commentarymagazine.com
We may have a genuine culture conflict here. I have no doubt that it important to seek truth and that seeking it may – probably will – make people uncomfortable. Consider the other side, IMO the people trying to pull us back, – “It is your job to create a place of comfort for students,” the outraged Ivy League co-ed exclaimed. “It’s not about creating an intellectual space. It is about creating a home here.”

John Matel shared a link.
In a just system, the guilty should fear the law and the innocent welcome it. This poor guy was in danger of 40 years in prison. His crime was that he deleted two emails from his telephone, something he did evidently w/o malice and something he acknowledged doing from the very start. I guess deleting email really can be a serious offense.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
The Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, Arizona was set up as a place to protect wildlife, but also – and maybe more importantly – to recharge local aquifers. Several shallow ponds are flooded to give treated wastewater and occasional runoff a chance to soak into the ground. Various ponds are occasionally drained and plowed so that the surfaces do not become too impervious to the water. It is a nice, green and peaceful area very popular with local residents as a place to walk and see animals.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Visited Casa Grande, the oldest national archeologically park in the U.S. The people her practiced irrigated agriculture, using water from the Gila River. It was evidently a fairly prosperous community, with a population perhaps as much as 20,000, but was not sustainable. The civilization crashed around 1450 and the people dispersed. Local oral tradition blames war. More modern interpretation See More
November 8

John Matel wrote on Jerry Calhoun‘s Timeline.
happy birthday.

John Matel shared a link.
I joked in my last EER that they should promote me because gave diverse value to groups. I added that I liked to think that it was because my searing unique insights challenged my peers, but the more likely explanation was that I was so obtuse that their need to simplify & explain things to me made them rethink their assumptions.

Challenges to conventional thinking must be not so far off the ma See More

November 6

John Matel updated his status.
Just finished the annual ethics training. I can understand how people coming from outside can have so much trouble with getting the ethics right You really cannot have any significant outside interests nor can your close family members. You cannot even have the appearance of having such ties and that goes for charities as well as for-profit. It is very inclusive –

•Any entity with which you are See More

John Matel shared a link.
It is a good idea to concentrate the houses on a smaller amount of land and leave the rest for nature and recreation.

John Matel wrote on Lance Olson‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday

John Matel shared a link.
The principle is that when you enforce little things, you catch and prevent the bigger problems. Of course, stressing the little things can be ridiculed. We did a good job in the last quarter century reducing crime in cities. Much of that crime resulted in the first place from dumb ideas of the 1960s where instead of stopping crime we looked for root causes. It looks like some of those ideas are coming back. The root cause of crime is crime itself. And crime helps cause poverty.

John Matel shared a link.
Walking helps you think.
November 5

John Matel shared a link.
The difference between a life-saving medicine and a life-taking poison is often in the dosage, or as the classic philosophy goes, nothing too much.
November 4

John Matel shared a link.
Nothing is w/o costs, but there are better and worse ways to do things.
Too cool not to share. Check out this trail camera video of the elusive fisher, taken in the Monongahela National Forest near Blackwater Falls. Fun facts: Fisher prefer old-growth forests and are one of the few predators that seek out and kill porcupines. © David & Laura Hughes

John Matel updated his status.
There is an interesting “equality” aspect here “Family coverage premiums in the health insurance program for federal employees and retirees will increase by approximately 7 percent for 2016 because of the introduction of a new option covering only the enrollee and one family member. Meanwhile, current family plan enrollees who switch to the new enrollment option, called Self Plus One, will save See More

John Matel shared a link.
I am an apostate. I used to be a true believer in technology, an accolade and evangelist. I have certainly not given up on the idea, but I am now more selective. I have gone back to hand notes on almost everything. In my notes I may refer to an electronic source, but I always write it down.

Writing by hand makes you more likely to think about what you are hearing and remember it. I sometimes See More

November 3

John Matel shared a link.
There are two works that I try to read, think I should read, but just cannot. One is the “Wasteland” and the other is Ulysses. The “Wasteland” has lots of cool lines, but overall it is just … a wasteland. Ulysses just makes no sense at all. In both cases I suppose that I am missing the bigger meaning. But I am giving up on both. There are other things to read that make more sense.

John Matel shared a link.
I think we make a mistake when we say that it is not planning. These self-organizing phenomena are the ultimate in planning. They are just decentralized so that some leader is not doing all the thinking. No individuals or group can aggregate and understand enough information to make all the moves. The best leadership recognizes emerging trends and works through partners, allowing autonomy and letting participants fill in most of the blanks. The best thing is to find shared aspiration and not boss everybody around.

John Matel shared a link.
The science is as definitive as science can be. GMOs are safe to eat. But the perception is different from the science. Just because science is right doesn’t mean people accept. This program addressed the problem of convincing people who are less influenced by facts than by emotion.

John Matel updated his status.
Everything needs a starting off point. There are lots of complaints today about the use of BC/AD (before Christ and Anno Domini), since it implies the birth of Jesus. Some get around this by using BCE, before the common era, and CE. This is just a little silly, since the common era was never worldwide in AD 1, and it still starts with the putative birth of Christ. CE, i.e. Common Era, is even See More

John Matel shared a link.
All our information comes from somewhere.
November 2

John Matel shared a link.
It looks like they have learned lessons from experience. Let’s hope it works.

John Matel shared a link.
The green revolution averted famines. The gene revolution will help us grow the food we need with less pesticides and herbicides. There is a strong consensus among scientists that GMOs are safe to eat. But politics is not about science. The Luddites can use fear and the anti-scientific “precautionary principle” to make the ignorant feel wise.

John Matel updated his status.
“Literature is not information-driven. Instead, it offers us a unique opportunity to see, even to experience, the subjectivity of others. This adds to our own stock.” – Professor Arnold Weinstein. From my most recent The Great Courses series.

John Matel shared a link.
I·at·ro·gen·ic- I learned a new word from the article. It describes illness caused by medical examination or treatment and complements two of my favorite sayings – “Sometimes things fail BECAUSE of and not in spite of our best efforts” and “The difference between a life-saving medicine and a life-taking poison often depends on the dosage and application.”

The article also alludes to the problem See More

November 1

John Matel updated his status.
A forward defense. The biggest treat to North American ecosystems in the next century will be invasive species. They have the capacity to destroy some of our most important resources, as they have with our chestnut trees, are doing with our hemlock trees and will be doing with our ash trees.

Everything has to come from someplace and invasive have a home where they are probably not causing so much damage. It is a good idea to identify potential threats before they get here, since modern trade and communications make it likely that they will get here eventually.

Green infrastructure.

John Matel shared a link.
I make a distinction between intellectuals and people of intellectual achievement. . . . An intellectual feeds on indignation and really can’t get by without it.

The perfect example is Noam Chomsky. When Chomsky was merely the most exciting and most looked-to and, in many ways, the most profound linguist in this country if not the world, he was never spoken of as an American intellectual. Here w See More

John Matel shared a link.
Classics of American Literature

thegreatcourses.com
I have a kind of George Clack questions of the week. Should students MAJOR in literature? Let me stipulate that I think that literature is very important and that people should read and study in college, but only as a complement to something else.

I drove down to Georgia a few days ago and both ways listened to The Great Courses series “Classics of American Literature.” I was familiar with mos See More

October 2015
October 31

John Matel shared a link.
Word definitions change, often in the direction of broadening the meaning. In recent years, the definition of hate has expanded to mean things someone might find offensive. In this case, it is not a natural evolution, but rather the weaponization of the word. If you can label something as hate speech, you can shut it down in a way that would be impossible with ordinary offense.

A parallel evolution is going on with the word judge. To judge was a neutral word maybe even a good one. Judging is a necessary part of living and good judgment is a virtue. But the word has taken on a negative cast.

John Matel shared a link.
Seems a smart idea. Baltimore has so many unoccupied and deteriorating houses. Refugees are in need of a place to start a new life and are likely to make a commitment to their new places. New people come with mouths to feed, but they also come with hands to work and minds to think & innovate. Sounds like a good bargain.
October 30
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
We went to see Superior Pine operation in Fargo, GA. They are using and helping develop superior genetic varieties of pine and working with a variety of silvicultural methods.

The little trees pictured were planted in November last year. Some are more than six feet tall in one growing season. There are a variety of families being tested. They made a special effort to clear competing vegetation See More

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
“Old Folks at Home” – Way Down Upon the Swanee River used to be the state song of Florida, but the Suwanee (the original spelling) actually starts in Georgia. Stephen Foster had never visited the river or knew anything about it. She just needed a name to go with his song.

We had lunch at the Suwanee visitor center. You can tell by the way the building is constructed that they get some flooding.

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Solar energy can be a really bad idea. I found this new solar installation along US 1. It is worse than a parking lot. I suppose the solar produces power, but it displaces forest. When you clear cut a pine forest, it is still a forest. It just is in a new stage. When you destroy all the soil and install solar, you are ruining the land for a long time. My bet is that this was built with government subsidy and it will not be economically sustainable after that money runs out. But it will be a sand desert for a century later. It is an abomination.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I took a side trip up through the sand hills in South Carolina and up into North Carolina, mostly following old US 1. It is a truly delightful area with lots of big pines and hardwood mix. I started off in the Sand Hill State Forest. There were logging operations in process and they clearly manage the forest very well. Use of fire is evident. The big longleaf pines remind me of the ponderosa pines in the West. It looks like snow in my pictures. That is the sand that gives the region its name and which probably explains why it is still in forest.

John Matel shared a link.
Government lawyers and bureaucrats are looking for victims. Sometimes they cannot find them, but they remain eager nevertheless.
October 29

John Matel shared a link.
The birth of a new species? Or maybe dogs, wolves and coyotes don’t really qualify as different ones. “Though coyote DNA dominates, a tenth of the average coywolf’s genetic material is dog and a quarter is wolf.” The new animal is stronger than a coyote, more cunning than a wolf and more able to be around humans than either. So, is it a bigger and better coyote, a smaller and more agile wolf or a wild dog?

About 3% of our DNA is Neanderthal. I suppose it was a similar process back then. Species really are not as distinct as we like to think.

John Matel shared a link.
“Hard cases make bad law,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr and he was right. This is a terrible, sad case. But consider the consequences. Everything is potentially dangerous. We like to visit parks and historical areas. They cannot be made 100% safe and the attempt to do so will make them uninteresting.

As a father, I can understand this guy’s pain. But he has no business trying to get money for it.

John Matel shared a link.
They use an algorithm to determine race, to determine if you were discriminated against and if you get money. There is a calculator with the article. Based on my name and where I live, I have a 36.56% chance of being Asian. With such a truly horrible algorithm, how could the Justice Department “prove” bias? Presumably, you need to identify someone before you can discriminate against them based See More

John Matel wrote on Fios‘s Timeline.
My phone does not work. I get a message from Verizon telling me that my mobile number is invalid. When I try to call the 800 # the messages tells me to use my mobile, which I cannot since Verizon says my mobile is invalid. When I try to chat, it tells me chat is closed at midnight. It is now 8:50. There seems to be no way to contact Verizon. My wife helped last time and got the chat. The guy was very helpful and said that my problem was a one in a million. Since that time it has happened again three times. What are the odds? Well, I thought they were one in a million. Bad luck.
October 28

John Matel updated his status.
My forest landowner conference ends tomorrow with a visit to a local forestry operation. People working in forestry are almost always happy and friendly. I think that comes from the long-term perspective you have to take. It is also a type of quiet optimism. We see that we can do lots of things, but patience and circumspection are prerequisites. Nature provides options but will not cut you an See More

John Matel shared a link.
A few years ago, it looked like carbon offsets would be a big business. It didn’t work out. I went to a few seminars and even qualified my land for carbon offsets. Forests do absorb carbon when they are growing. A young forest absorbs lots of carbon. But as it ages, it absorbs less and less. An old growth forests is essentially carbon neutral. It makes sense if you think about it. Carbon needs See More

John Matel shared a link.
In my earlier post, I was talking about some of the things l learned about forestry genetics. There is a consortium dedicated to aggregating the information, linked below.

Each year, we plant 820 million loblolly pine in the South. When you add in other southern pine species such as longleaf, slash etc, we are planting more than 1.2 billion trees every year.

Ironically, we are planting fewer See More

John Matel shared a link.
We can thank the French for saving us from that debacle.

John Matel shared a link.
Voice of reason. Don’t give up bacon.
October 27

John Matel shared a link.
PINEMAP

pinemap.org
Global warming will create winners and losers. Among the losers are inhabitants of low islands. Southern pine forests look like winners, based on current climate models.

I learned some details from Dr. Tim Martin, who had worked on PINEMAP, a series of projects designed to study the effects of warming on forests and their possible role in mitigation of climate change.

Productivity in southern pi See More

October 26
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
My last set of pictures. The plants look like invasive bamboo, but they are cane-break, a relative of sugar cane, that grows in southern forests that are wet, but not regularly inundated. Okay to look at from the boardwalks; hell to walk through. The old pioneer heroes said that they were raised in the cane-break by an old mother lion. It was a hard place to be. We like our nature “wild” but controlled. The next picture is the park sign, followed by a big beech tree and the world’s biggest loblolly pine.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I am not really fond of “old growth forests”. Old growth is mostly dead. It is like looking at 90-year-old humans. It is impressive that they are still alive and I guess you can impute a kind of beauty to the wrinkles, but I prefer a more robust community.

It started when I visited Białowieża forest in Poland. I was really excited to visit the oldest virgin forest in Europe. But it was a bust See More

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
The Congaree National Park is mostly swamp. They have a boardwalk that takes you across. W/o that, it would be nearly impassible. There are big bald cypress & water tupelo. Cypress have “knees” that stick up through the mud. The brochure says that scientist have not yet figured out the purpose. Maybe there is no purpose. Shit just happens.

I know all the photos look alike but consider. The first are bald cypress. Then you see the knees. The next picture is the tupelo. Notice the way the base of both species flair out to provide stability. Notice also the water lines. The water sometimes rises five feet or more above the ground level. It is a water dominated ecosystem.

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Went to Congaree National Park in South Carolina. I wanted to see the world’s biggest loblolly pine and I did. The park was established in order to protect un-logged old growth timber. It is a wet land. The trees grow big because the fertile soil and frequent inundation from the Congaree River, which carries water and silt.

The big pine was hard to see, since I could not linger. Even in on t See More

John Matel shared a link.
I choose to live dangerously. I will see the UN bureaucrats in hell.
October 25

John Matel shared a link.
I am in Florence, SC on the way to the conference linked below. Tomorrow I am off to Valdosta, GA, the venue for the conference. More or less on the way is Congaree National Park that is supposed to feature a great bottom-land hardwood forest & the world’s largest loblolly pine. I will stop and see that tomorrow morning.

John Matel shared a link.
Free speech is always unpopular, since it makes people uncomfortable. The game campus activists play is to demand free speech rights when they do not have power and then close it off when they get to run the show.

Truth is often offensive and the quest for truth is always. Lots of what people believe is wrong. This goes for all of us, but it is even more likely when you live in an environment See More

October 24

John Matel wrote on Angelina Smid‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday
October 23

John Matel shared a link.
I bought the book. The review made it seem interesting as did an NPR interview with the author. There are good life lessons and business ones too. His company grew 27 times better than the S&P 500 over a long time (almost 50 years). You can be lucky a few times but being lucky for 50 years is probably more than luck.

John Matel shared a link.
Such a small difference that it doesn’t make a difference. There is an interesting statistical quirk, however. People often think that the first born son or daughter is most successful. But a majority of Americans are a first born son or first born daughter. It is simple, really. If you have two boys, the first one is first born boy. If you have a daugter and a son, both are first born in th See More

John Matel shared a link.
Whether or not you agree, it is wrong to censor. The irony is that her talk was part of the “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series and was cancelled because she might make some people uncomfortable.
October 22

John Matel shared a link.
I bought a 12-pack at Target, not expecting much since good beer does not come in cans, right? Well, the “Mama’s Little Yella Pils” is extraordinarily good. Really excellent creamy foam and good cling. I am not an expert like the guy who wrote the article linked, but I liked it so much that I am going to wander over to the refrigerator and have another before bedtime.

John Matel shared a link.
We never “run out” of anything; we just find different ways to do things.

John Matel shared a link.
More green infrastructure.
October 21

John Matel shared a link.
Much of the best education is not relevant to the hottest issues of today. In fact, we should be looking beyond today’s newspaper (or cable news) to enduring values. And it is crucial to look beyond our personal identity. If we focus on the hot political topic of today, we will never get a worthy education. Keep politics in the political realm and let the rest to people.
Beats those clowns with the leaf blowers.

John Matel shared a link.
From Harvard Business Review – Shocked by Income Inequality? There’s More to the Story

Income-inequality figures in the U.S. overstate the gap between rich and poor, because of what’s known as the “Walmart effect”: As the number of poor people in a country rises, the market for inexpensive products expands and the purchasing power of the poor increases. In measuring this effect, Andreas Bergh a See More

John Matel shared a link.
This small program is a threat to established interests because it shows what can be done. I do not understand principled opposition to charter schools. If they do not work, few people will want to sent their kids and they will atrophy. If they do work, they save some kids now and may provide incentives and models to improve the way for more kids later.

I think we fall into a childish equality See More

October 20

John Matel shared a link.
Public education is essential in a democracy, but it need not be delivered by a large public bureaucracy. In any system, there will be failures. The key to success is not to prevent all failure or even fix those that occur but rather to be robust enough to bypass and adapt, recognizing that some things cannot be saved and should be replaced.

This is why charter schools provide hope.

John Matel shared a link.
This worked out pretty well for all involved. If reason prevails, we can have a true diversity of opinion.

John Matel shared a link.
When I graduated with my MBA in 1984, some firms interviewed all of the women before the first man. One of my good female friends had a job offer the day before my first interview for the same job at the same firm. Three of my female friends ended up getting the real plum jobs at great firms. They were smart and deserved the success.

But within two years, all three had “downshifted” and taken wh See More

John Matel shared a link.
I went to see Philip Tetlock at AEI last night. Tetlock built his reputation by assessing the actual ability of experts to predict complex political and societal trends. His research showed the experts were not much better, and sometimes not as good, as random chance.

The classic monkey throwing darts at the Wall Street Journal can often beat the stock pickers. This result is not a damning See More

October 19

John Matel shared a link.
Chiang’s China

worldif.economist.com
History does not provide us with control groups for experiments, but it is unlikley that we have achieved the best possible outcomes. Now that China has become more open to the free market, although still very controlling, we forget the terrible times under Mao. We always have a “compared to what” in history. Chiang was a dictator and repressive, but compared to Mao…

John Matel shared a link.
I attended this event last week. Whether or not you like the subject, it is interesting to watch the speaker. Richard Epstein is a truly brilliant man, the kind you rarely see. I am not generally this much impressed by speakers. Take a look at the video and maybe pay attention to the Q&A, where virtuosity is particularly on display.
October 18

John Matel shared a link.
Professor Dr Robot QC

economist.com
Any task that has enough consistency so that we can certainly define the steps, we can make a machine that can do it better than a human. Humans are good at the leaps of logic and the insights. Humans also need to apply values. A machine can do the how, but a human needs to supply the why.

Machines already do so many things once the exclusive territory of reasonably skilled humans. They have See More

John Matel shared a link.
I took a test of my “ecological footprint.” I require a little more than 22 acres to support me. The test is designed to make you feel guilty. It didn’t work with me. I think the test is seriously flawed.

What is the ecological footprint of a hunter-gatherer? It is probably much bigger than ours. Consider that it probably takes hundreds of acres to support a hunter gatherer. If all of us See More

October 16

John Matel shared a link.
One of the dumber essays I have seen in WSJ. I think the professor reached exactly the wrong conclusions. It is not often you see something so completly wrong by a person who is supposed to know better.

John Matel shared a link.
This man is brilliant, in line for a Nobel Prize. How do you handle brilliant individuals who have serious moral flaws? Removing him from his work deprives society of his intellect. If someone can cure cancer, should we remove him on moral grounds? We need forms of punishment that do not cause our loss to be as great as his.

John Matel shared a link.
When you consider the whole environmetnal value chain, wood is perhaps the most environmentally friendly building material available.

John Matel shared a link.
In the U.S., we mostly harvest sustainably. Good to try to extent that model worldwide.

John Matel shared a link.
A good example of a problem that is an opportunity. Thinning is a good forestry practice. “But thinning trees is pricey: DEC regional forester John Wernet has gotten estimates as high as $2,000 an acre for a potentially 200-acre project in the largely pitch pine Rocky Point forest.”

Of course, in a rational universe, you SELL the trees to make paper and it costs nothing, even makes money. I plan to thin 86 acres next year and we will earn money. Of course, that is in Virginia where people still do forestry right. Profit is good. Strong markets mean strong forests. It is time we all relearn that lesson.

October 15

John Matel shared a link.
No pig in a poke

economist.com
Pigs – the animals that keep on giving.

John Matel shared a link.
This is the nudge. So system is neutral, so you may as well design it – to the extent you can – to produce best results. A neglected road to success is to harness the power of inertia, sloth and procrastination. People will often avoid doing things, good or bad. It is good if the things they avoid are not good to do anyway. If you are too lazy to opt-out, it is a blessing to you to be opted in.

John Matel shared a link.
Article is interesting. Even more interesting is the picture with the shirtless Putin.

John Matel shared a link.
It is a sweet deal when you can borrow money essentially for nothing. In fact, it will be less than zero if inflation ever returns. But there is a moral hazard. If you load up on debt, even “free” debt, you still have debt. The USG is not like you and me. They pay off debt through economic growth, which increases tax revenues. But we are also growing very slowly, one reason interest rates are so low. All this is above my pay grade anyway.
The right way to handle crooks.

John Matel wrote on Tony Dunigan‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday.

John Matel shared a link.
We are much better off than we were in the 1970s. The way that people pretend that we are not is simply to discount all the progress. In 1970, only the very rich has anything like a mobile phone and even the richest man in the world had one inferior to the one most poor people have today. Most people in 1970 had no air conditioning. Cars were much less reliable. Houses were smaller. Electronic See More
October 14

John Matel shared a link.
This is the gap-mouth smile she usually deploys. But scroll up on the picture look at the eyes alone. You see a different emotion. I understand that you can read too much into one picture, but I see it consistenly with people who use that “politician enthusiasm.”

John Matel shared a link.
Green infrastructure is more than self sustaining. It is “upcycle” in that the benfiti greatly exceed the inputs. I hate the concept of “ecological footprint” or “carbon footprint” since it implies a one-way street and the direction is always down. We can have a positive effect on the environment and increasingly that is what is happening.
October 13

John Matel updated his status.
They all kicked Anderson Cooper around like a rag doll. Hillary just talked as long as she wanted.

John Matel shared a link.
Good old fashioned workers finally getting a break.

John Matel shared a link.
Sad that this happened to this guy but he is a clown and nuisance for this kind of law suit. Life cannot be made risk free. Anybody unwilling to take such “risks” should just stay home. You know what the response will be. The city will spend lots of money to make the park “safe”. Maybe they will make kids wear helmets. They will probably cut down large trees and make more areas off limits. Our freedom is limited by the complainers. I am going to take the reckless course of continuing to walk in the woods.

Recall that each year something like 350 Americans die in bathroom accidents. Life is risky and nobody gets out alive.

John Matel shared a link.
Beekeepers say the honeybee’s single greatest threat is a virus-carrying parasite called the varroa mite.

Varroa mites have devastated U.S. beehives since the late 1980s, when they arrived here from Asia. In 1996, half of the colonies east of the Mississippi River died due to mite infestations.

Now there may be a mushroom-based cure that can kill the mites w/o harming the bees. Good news.

John Matel shared a link.
When I was in the FS for about five years, I went back to U of M, where I got my MBA, and asked around to see what happened to my classmates. As far as I could learn, all of them made more money than I did. In fact, the average new MBA graduate earned more. But my job was more interesting. I have always felt that I was paid fairly. My theory has been that on the low end, I was happy with what See More
October 12

John Matel shared a link.
No bacon, no bratwurst, no hot dogs, no ribs, no pulled pork, no pork sausage, no pork loin and no ham. I don’t believe that many prisoners object to these foods.

The pig is one of the world’s great protein factories.

John Matel shared a link.
At 8? Give it a few years and worry about it later if it remains an issue.

John Matel shared a link.
Nobody can “have it all.” Nobody. And there is no way to change that. We all must make trade-offs.

John Matel shared a link.
The world has gotten remarkably better in our lifetimes. We live in the best of times. In fact, it is probably our great progress that makes us inpatient with problems still remaining.

John Matel shared a link.
This rule is a solution in search of a problem. It is not so much that it is a bad rule, but that it is an unnecessary one. The rule on rules should be that if it is not NECESSARY to do it, it is necessary NOT to do it.

John Matel shared a link.
It is good for convicts to do useful work and they should not be paid the same as non-convicts. It is part of paying their debt to society and covering the added costs of having to be guarded.

The problem with unfair competition with free labor could be addressed by charging a for-profit firm the same as the labor would cost in the open market with the extra (next of extra costs) going into a fund to pay restitution to victims of crime.

October 11

John Matel shared a link.
Went to the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia. Food was good, especially an excellent mushroom soup. They make a big deal about being a farm to table place, with most of the food coming from the local area. As our modern world becomes more homogeneous, people are looking for more authentic experiences, what you might call the back stories for their products. This applies especially to food.

Foo See More

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I took the train to the University of Pennsylvania on Friday to talk to James McGann, who runs the Think Tanks& Civil Societies Program there. It was an interesting meeting. Besides talking with McGann, I got to talk to his students about Foreign Service. I am always glad to talk to smart young people, restores my faith in the future.

Here are some pictures from the trip, except for the last one, which is a picture of a little green space near State Department, a good place to have lunch.

John Matel shared a link.
Brazil has a way of absorbing immigrants.

John Matel shared a link.
I refuse to go to any movies made by Michael Moore or Oliver Stone. I always liked Robert Redford (Jeremiah Johnson is one of my favorite movies) but maybe we need to add him to the list. It is okay to make historical dramas that are not 100% accurate. Many movies are “inspired” by actual events and intelligent people know “inspired by” means mostly fictional.

It is not okay to make them so cl See More

October 10

John Matel shared a link.
We should rethink recycling. It makes lots of sense to compost and putting food or yard waste in garage is bad. Recycling bulk paper and cans makes sense. Recycling small amounts of paper is silly. I do not recycle paper in the office.

The biggest thing we SHOULD recycle is biosolids. I was down on the farms today and its clear that we could absorb as much as they would give us. Some municipalities landfill their biosolids. This is the biggest waste.

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
More from the farms. Mariza and I also looked at the recent cut over. Not much of my clover has come up near the roads, but I was surprised how much had grown since the cut only a few months ago. Lots of the plants are from plants whose seeds blow easily in the wind; others are from roots long shaded int eh old forest or dormant seeds. We will plant 30 acres of loblolly, 15 acres of longleaf and an acre of cypress early next spring. I also have included a photo of the bald cypress I planted a few years ago along one of the streams It is one of my “pet” trees and I take special care of it.
October 9

John Matel shared a link.
There is only one sin against science, and that is to shut down the way of inquiry. The consensus of scientists is that human activity is influencing climate. There is no consensus on the details and scientific inquiry must never stop in any case. Using the power of politics to shut down any line of thought is unacceptable and we must condemn those who try, even if that means defending people and positions we find wrong or even odious.

John Matel shared a link.
Poland has made fantastic strides. When I first went there in the early 1990s, it was sometimes hard to find people who could speak English well. Today, Poland is among the best.

John Matel shared a link.
I hope something works. I recall walking through the beautiful, deep green shade of the hemlock forests near Old Rag mountain. Today there is nothing but a few skeleton trees.
October 8

John Matel shared a link.
Poop, flush, power!

washingtonpost.com
I would love to get more biosolids for my tree farms. There is a shortage and anything that makes more biosolids available is welcome. Unfortunately, some biosolids still end up wasted in landfills.

This is a new type of a technology but not new. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been making power from sewage and producing an excellent fertilizer – Milorganite – since 1926. Biosolids are probably the oldest type of fertilizer to be used by humans. Now they are getting better and easier to use. Good.

John Matel shared a link.
Great inequality is a danger in that it creates social pressure. Inequality beyond that is a positive good. That some have more than others is not a problem for justice. In fact, if we find a society with great equality it is either very poor or very unjust. If I was master of the universe and could create equality at no cost to anybody, I would not do it. Equality under the law is essential. Similar opportunities are good. Equality of outcomes is morally pernicious.
October 7

John Matel shared a link.
It gets too hard. A “good fit” is not really so important. Kids change in college and grow into the fit.

John Matel shared a link.
This looks like a pretty good deal. Kudos to the President.
Funny.
October 6

John Matel shared a link.
It is an interesting consideration of whether humans “create” the country. Nature provides potential, but all human wealth is human created. Interesting fact that the British believed that Palestine could hold no more than two million people without going thirsty. There are now more than 12 million. Human intelligence and innovation effectively created space & prosperity for 10 million people.

John Matel shared a link.
No matter how old we get or how successful we become, most Americans think of themselve as underdogs, fighting “the Man.” I thought about this when I sat on promotion panels and I have been thinking about it again as I consider how good State Department has been to me, even as I complained that they just didn’t get iconclasts like me. I like this old commercial, which sums up for many of us.

John Matel wrote on Vera Do Val Galante‘s Timeline.
happy birthday.

John Matel shared a link.
If you study literature from the beginning until now, you find mostly male writers. If you want to study Greek & Latin literature, for example, you can find a few female authors, but more than four in five of what you find will be male. When you talk about the effect of literature on people, you have to study those books they actually read, so even if you discover a previously unknown female aut See More
October 5

John Matel shared a link.
When you are running in the wrong direction, running faster will just get you farther from your destination. Money enables. It can enable success or enable failure. Money is necessary for most improvement but it is never sufficient. And sometimes it causes more harm than good when it extends bad behaviors.

John Matel shared a link.
Good on the President. I believe in conservation and wise use of resources. It is useful to divide the world into three broad categories. Some areas should be used intensively & others extensively. These areas can sometimes change places. But some places are valuable of themselves or as refuges and should be left alone with minimal human intrusions. The areas mentioned by President Obama seem reasonably to fit into this third category.

I am especially interested in the preserve in “my” Lake Michigan. It will include 875-square miles off shore from from Port Washington to Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

John Matel shared a link.
An interesting suggestion about the overabundance of animals like deer, geese & turkeys in urban and suburban areas. Let them be hunted (under closely controlled conditions) and let the hunters sell the meat at local farmers’ markets. This has the dual advantage of controlling animal populations and helping urban populations see their connections to the land. Hunting is the ultimate in locavore, free range animal production. Customers at the markets could have a chance to talk to the hunters, as they do other local producers, and understand better the nature of what they do and how it fits into the total ecosystem.
October 4

John Matel shared a link.
A think tank should be a place where people can think w/o fear of political persecution.
October 3
Density is needed to support mass transit and it makes providing other infrastructure much less expensive.
October 2

John Matel shared a link.
According to the new letter from Democratic economists, “Businesses sometimes finance policy research much as advocacy groups or other interests do. A reader can question the source of the financing on all sides, but ultimately the quality of the work and the integrity of the author are paramount. In Bob’s Litan’s case, both have been impeccable over a career of four decades. And, in keeping with those standards, he has been completely transparent about the support for, and conduct of, the study in question, as both Brookings and Senator Warren were well aware from the day he first testified before the Congress on the matter.”
October 1

John Matel shared a link.
Another example of how trying to totally avoid the thing you fear often causes it to afflict you.

John Matel shared a link.
Myths persist when they are useful to some large part of society or when they seem to explain an otherwise confusing situation. The problem comes not when we indulge them but when we make laws pertaining to them.
September 2015
September 30

John Matel shared a link.
This helps explain how asthma levels have increased even as the air has become significantly cleaner. The irony may be that we are TOO clean. Kids used to pick up beneficial bacteria from the environment. Today’s kids often lead such antiseptically clean lives that they miss out on them.

John Matel shared a link.
Let’s ask the meta-question of whether equality in outcomes among and between aggregated groups is an attainable goal or even a desirable one.

We need the support similar opportunities for individuals, no matter their race, gender, color or creed. And equality under the law is essential to democracy. But nobody is my equal, or yours, in other ways and we all strive to improve ourselves, i.e. b See More

September 29

John Matel shared a link.
This could be a win all around. We need to restore habitat and wetlands along rivers and in the Mississippi delta area, where there is a lot of oil and gas and the Gulf in general. We should indeed devote some of the money coming in to doing this. Seems a good deal if done right.

John Matel shared a link.
Cancer death rates have fallen by 20% from their peak about 20 years ago, according to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society.

John Matel shared a link.
Partnerships were the successful strategies of the past and the way for the future.
September 28

John Matel shared a link.
People who get offended by everything are both to be pitied and censured. It must be tough for them to find everything produced in the past to be a subject of outrage. But we really cannot let them pull everybody down with them. The best way to counter is not anger but ridicule. The little song in this piece does a good job of that.
Great development. Makes the city more like the forest. Unfortunately, it does not work well in cold climate, since the freezing ruins it, but our friends in warmer places, like Sao Paulo, could use it well.

John Matel shared a link.
We could have an interesting discussion on how to deal with evil. Mel Brooks said that he hated the Nazis so much that the best way to fight them was to ridicule and trivialize them rather than make them bigger by avoiding mention or making them illegal. That is why they appear in his comedies, like “the Producers.” This may be a species of that.

John Matel shared a link.
By the time they finish that wall, it won’t matter. Key points.

– Mexican arrivals are the lowest in five decades as a share of all immigrant arrivals, or 15% in 2013. Several factors are behind the trend, which has resulted in a steep decline in illegal immigration compared with a decade earlier. Chief among them is the lower birthrate in Mexico.

In 2055 the U.S. is expected to be 46% white and 24% Hispanic, with Asians representing 14% of the population—surpassing blacks, who will account for 13%.

September 27

John Matel shared a link.
Ironically, foreigners reading Shakespeare translated into their modern language may understand it better than modern English speakers trying to make out a changed language. You have to study a little before you can really understand Shakespeare.

The danger will be if translations try to be too cool. Imagine Romeo and Juliet translated into the language of the streets of the 1950s. That slang See More

September 26

John Matel shared a link.
Through most of human history, everybody was poor. Even the rich lived miserable lives. Nobody today would trade places with the King of France or the Emperor of China in 1600 based on access to a good life. I mean, they could boss others around, but they still had to put up with being healht and technology of those times. A peasant living in Roman Gaul in AD 1 would not notice a big change in the material quality of life if he changed places with a peasant in France in AD 1600. Then suddenly the world changed. Why?

John Matel shared a link.
As I look back on my career, I am content that I made some choices that hurt my career but made sense for things in my life that I thought more important. Life is multidimensional. Career is a really important part of life but not the only one. The day after you retire from even the most important job is the day you are an ex-whatever you WERE. You better have more in life than career if you want to be a success.

John Matel updated his status.
Just watched the Pope take off on a chartered plane. The real test of humility is whether he sits in business class or back in seat 24 A.
September 25

John Matel shared a link.
You can binge on these courses like on Netflix. This is an interesting course I started today. As many of us get farther from the land, it is more important to think about it. Aldo Leopold is the originator of the “land ethic” which forms the basis of much of our current understanding of environmental protection and conservation.

Hunting is essential to conservation and the particular way we See More

John Matel shared a link.
From the article – The median income for Indian-American families in 2010 was $88,000, nearly twice the national average.

The Indian-American community owes its good fortune as much to America as to talent and hard work. Only in a country built on respect for merit, rule of law, individual rights and free enterprise could a young immigrant group prosper so quickly.

John Matel shared a link.
Moocs are a way to learn from a distance. University of Wisconsin has a few.
September 24

John Matel shared a link.
The Outsider?

wsj.com
“If Hillary Clinton wins, she will become the first woman President, and her victory will be a transformative moment in our nation’s history. There will be tears, hugs, and prayers.” – Presumeatively same for Carly too.
September 23

John Matel shared a link.
Another example of all the great “truths” we learned are changing.
September 22

John Matel shared a link.
Good example of cooperation.

John Matel shared a link.
I didn’t know Green Giant was in trouble. I really like the nibblets corn. It is a big part of my “winter diet.” Baked potatoes and nibblets corn. You can live off it.

John Matel shared a link.
The whole earth was warmer in those days, but the polar regions were still cool and dark.
September 21

John Matel shared a link.
“Virtually all the leading reformers in our history – Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, the Roosevelts and Martin Luther King – couched their proposals in terms of fulfilling American ideals. Throw out the ideals, and those who originally formed them, and we lose the precious ability to meld our traditions with change. We are left simply with a postmodernist battle of interest groups, with no unifying or moderating principle.”

John Matel shared a link.
Back to the future? College kids used to earn enough during summers to pay for some, or most, of their education. Construction jobs require some skill, but rather more muscle and energy. Maybe some of those interns can build houses instead of making copies.

John Matel shared a link.
The commitment to keeping artifacts in their countries of origin is overdone. Most modern countries have no particular tie to their ancient predecessors. In many cases, the current rulers are more closely associated with those who conquered and to a large extent obliterated the cultures of the monument builders. ISIS is not the first set of barbarians to trample the ancient civilizations. Beyond See More

John Matel shared a link.
The guy did the right thing, but should not have even had to think about it. Give the money back.

John Matel shared a link.
Thinking you can just start from zero and forget tradition is the fatal flaw of most revolutions. Communism in China was more deadly than communism and fascism elsewhere in the total numbers killed, but even with all that they could not destroy all traditions.
September 19

John Matel shared a link.
What you study usually makes more of a difference than where you go. Another variable is the earning power going in. A student admitted to Harvard probably has greater earning potential than one going into a less prestigious college. The value added counts.
September 18

John Matel shared a link.
The zero tolerance idea is a problem. I recall the instance of some kid who got in trouble for eating a pop-tart into the shape of a gun. We need to lighten up.

John Matel shared a link.
If we read this article as a personnel file, would we vote to promote?
September 17

John Matel shared a link.
“She isn’t a woman running for president. She’s a presidential contender who happens to be a woman.”

John Matel shared a link.
The foundation statement for the first woman president? She really gave it to him good defeating bombast with subtlety.

John Matel shared a link.
I am a little worried about this. The economy has been fueled by the American energy boom (i.e. fracking) and very low (essentially zero) interest rates. Rates have been at zero since 2008. Our economic recovery has been weaker than any other in our lifetimes even with the unusual crutch of such low rates for so long.

Interesting fact. The Fed had not raised rates since before Twitter was invented. Nobody has ever tweeted news of a Fed rate hike.

John Matel shared a link.
So nature has been making GMOs for many years. Maybe our anti-science friends can now embrace GMOs and call them organic.
September 16

John Matel shared a link.
The drought certainly contributes to fires. Global warming may contribute. But the biggest cause is bad management of public lands and forests, especially decades of excluding small fires and prohibitions of thinning.

John Matel updated his status.
Watching the debates (with a little delay). I think Trump crashed. Bush did a good job of catching him on his lies about the power of his political donations. If this performance doesn’t blunt the Trump juggernaut … well, it will shake my faith in the intelligence of many of my fellow Americans.

John Matel shared a link.
This should not even be controversial. The choice is between good forest management and letting forests become unhealthy or burn (or both). The controversy seems fueled by the fact that thinning can produce revenue. Purist think that anything you do in nature should be somehow altruistic with no mixed motives. This is a silly old idea. Anybody who cannot figure out several reasons to do some See More
September 15

John Matel shared a link.
Did they need a trigger warning? A good point that Liberty University is now a symbol of toleration. Speakers unpopular with students have been shouted down or not invited to many of the formerly liberal (small l) universities. “Without jumping into the broader debate about political correctness, it’s worth pointing out that, if we’re going to buy the theory that the mere presence of a certain See More

John Matel shared a link.
True diversity, diversity of ideas, is a great benefit. Studies show that if you take a group of top-level experts and add a less accomplished person to the mix, you usually improve decision-making. The outsider adds a different perspective and may cause the experts to pause in their group-think as they have to answer the “dumb” questions and explain what they really mean.

We need to avoid being See More

John Matel updated his status.
Finished our work on the promotion panel and put the last touches on our board report today. As I wrote earlier, I was on the “threshold” panel that promotes from FS-01 to SFS. This is my second time doing it and it was a great experience both times.

Reading the files of colleagues makes me proud to be a member of the organization. We still have a strong FS culture. I don’t want to sound mus See More

September 14

John Matel shared a link.
Sometimes what you can do matters more than who you are. Asking who should get the job is like asking who should sing tenor in the quartet.
September 13

John Matel shared a link.
Trump inherited a pile of money. He held and increased his wealth by manipulating bankruptcy laws and by using the coercive power of government to force others to support his enterprises. He is unlike most Americans, unlike even most rich Americans, most of whom have had a greater role in the creation of their own wealth. Trump is a caricature of a successful business leader. He represents successful Americans the way a plastic Barbie dolls represents American women.

John Matel shared a link.
What an admirable man! If only other sports and entertainment stars were more like that. He makes the big bucks, but lives on around $25,000 a year. He is a great athlete, but understands that expansion of the mind is the key to long-term success.
September 12

John Matel shared a link.
Alex is off in Texas now. He got to travel first class after he got a perfect score on the physical fitness test. I am proud of my boy.
September 11

John Matel shared a link.
Many have the power to say no to projects but nobody can say yes.
September 10

John Matel shared a link.
Exodus

economist.com
Consider 4 million refugees pushed out of Syria. That compares with 1.2 million after the Balkan wars, 15 million in Europe after World War II and 711,000 Palestinians in 1948.
September 9

John Matel shared a link.
I started to wear hats a few years ago to protect my bald head from sun and cold. I quickly learned that they were also good for blocking sun and rain from the eyes. Yes, I rediscovered why they had invented brimmed hats. As I got used to wearing them, I felt less comfortable w/o a hat and now I wear one regularly. My favorites are Panama style hats, but I also like “western,” although not full-out “cowboy.” I have two Stetson hats. They are good quality. I hope hats make a fashion comeback. The hipsters can start wearing them now and get used to them for the time when they become follicly challenged, as most men do eventually.

John Matel shared a link.
Much of the movement is based on vividness bias, i.e. you recall and give more importance to something vividly portrayed. If you make a long list of what might kill you, the idea that it would be a cop when you are doing nothing illegal falls way near the bottom of the list. It is okay to be worried about low-probabilty risks – except when they distract from the more likely problems.

We don’t want to go back to the bad old days of the 1970-1990s. Emphasizing low risk events may make that more likely, and may have already. The variations of “broken window policing” have helped to reduce crime and lower crime rates have saved thousands of lives that matter.

John Matel shared a link.
People worry about low probability threats. On the long list of things that might kill me, my tray table appears near the bottom. In fact, the worriers are probably at greater risk because of the stress of worry. How many are overweight, drive too fast, drink too much …? It is actually a serious problem in our society. We emphasize lower probability but more interesting risks and ignore the real ones. It is a species of vividness bias.

John Matel shared a link.
Transforming Education

www.forbes.com
This trend is changing the nature of education and will bring down the costs significantly. The problem I see is that it also transforms the cultural experience. One reason you go to university is to be changed, improved. If you simply learned the facts w/o changing, you may have wasted your time.

John Matel wrote on Orris Olson‘s Timeline.
Happy birthday
September 8
'The evolution of #BLM'
The evolution of ‪#‎BLM‬

John Matel shared a link.
It would be interesting to do a follow up study in ten year’s time. Presumably, the whole family will by then be middle class and within twenty years the children will be entering university. If money was the thing holding them down, they are now free to dream and achieve. They have entered the famous 1%. A study would be interesting indeed.

John Matel shared a link.
Few people alive today even remember a world when the U.S. was not the dominant or predominant world power. We forget how rare it is to have such a long era of relative peace and prosperity. I know that lots of people object to that characterization of the years since 1945 but that is only because we do not read enough history anymore.

The world order has been supported by U.S. power. We have See More

September 7

John Matel shared a link.
Proper wildlife management requires some clear cutting.

John Matel shared a link.
Diversity means differences. Different choices and behaviors must produce different outcomes. “If you have people in various groups in the country, and their kids are all raised differently, they all behave differently in school, they do differently in school. And now they’re grown up and they go to an employer, and you’re surprised to find that they’re not distributed randomly by income.”

John Matel shared a link.
From moo to you

economist.com
Interesting short presentation about how agriculture is becoming more sustainable over the long term.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
We went down to the farms to plant clover on the new cut over, especially on near the trails, where there is more bare dirt. I was surprised how much had grown up by itself since the land was cut in July. Some is hardwoods sprouted from roots, but other plants are coming up from long-dormant seeds. The clover will hold the soil, provide nitrogen and be good wildlife forage. We will plant new tre See More
September 5

John Matel shared a link.
I am glad to see they are making money. I am a good and bad customer at the same time. I buy lots of their courses, but I always wait until they are on sale and never pay full price.
September 4

John Matel shared a link.
Thinning forests is important to conservation and you can make some money from the trees, a win-win. Thinking you are saving trees by preventing all cutting … that is just stupid.

John Matel shared a link.
Good, balanced article.
September 3

John Matel shared a link.
Clueless and immoral

economist.com
Things need not be true to be widely beveled. An interesting article about how stupidity can spread and be thought wise.
September 2

John Matel shared a link.
The announcement of a massive natural gas field off the coast of Egypt is just one more example of the phenomenal availability of energy. Just a few years ago, we talked about peak oil and thought that natural gas would be mostly exhausted by now. We massively transcended the energy crisis of the 1970s. We have new challenges, but it is good to be rich.

I have written about this wonderful develop See More

August 2015
August 31

John Matel shared a link.
Free enterprise beats the cartels.

John Matel shared a link.
W/o GM crops, we will need to devote much more land to agriculture and use more pesticides and herbicides, so being against GMOs is bad for the environment. My personal advocacy for GMOs comes from forestry, however. I see invasive pest destroying the tree species I love. The ashes could go the way of the chestnut. Oaks are wilting. Once deep green hemlocks are just skeletons. There is no way th See More
August 30

John Matel shared a link.
Superstition and fear trump reason and science.

John Matel shared a link.
It really is not a great idea to have too much investment in the place you work. If the place goes bad, you lose both your job and your savings. TSP or 401K invested in a diversified portfolio, however, is a good idea. The challenge is to turn income into wealth. Consistent investment in stocks over a long period of time is a good way to do it.
August 28

John Matel shared a link.
Eating local is good as an alternative. But if you insist on eating ONLY local, you will pay much more for the food you eat and run a big risk of malnutrition. You also perpetuate inefficient producers.
August 27

John Matel shared a link.
Authors of a recently released peer-reviewed study of New Orleans test scores were emphatic. “We are not aware,” they wrote, “of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short period of time.” – Some good from the tragedy.
August 26

John Matel updated his status.
I am working from home, reading promotion files for the panels. It is hard to work, however, because the landscapers are walking back and forth with the leaf blowers. Most of the blowing is done by the west wind, but the workers are contributing lots of noise and fumes. I hate those things. They are largely ineffective and they ruin the day.

I am not a big believer in raising minimum wages, b See More

John Matel shared a link.
Modern Americans live in the safest time in human history, in a society that is fundamentally just and tolerant society. This is not to say that there are not problems, but compared to what? In the last twenty-five years, violent crime is way down, especially the violent crimes we most fear like murder, rape and armed robbery. Yet fear is way up. Political correctness is based on the fear and See More
August 22

John Matel shared a link.
Good idea to make some good use out of invasive species. Wild boar is really good. Those things should be shot on sight anyway, but if you can get some good meat from them so much the better.
August 21

John Matel shared a link.
All human culture belongs equally to anybody who wants to study it and “appropriate” it. It belongs to nobody by virtue of their ancestry other than “human.” The basis of all learning is “appropriation.” We copy, adapt and improve on the practices of the past. We do not freeze things in place and need show no special sensitively beyond simple good manners.

John Matel shared a link.
It is good that we can generate power. I have to wonder, however, if blanketin this much acreage is going to be good for the environment in the long run. When I think of the solution, I think of more distributed power. Maybe solar collectors could cover things that are better off shaded.

John Matel shared a link.
The last remnants of the ancient civilizations of the region are now being eradicated.
August 20

John Matel shared a link.
Slavery existed all over the world from pre-history until only a few centuries ago, when Western Civilization worked to get rid of it. But it was not dead and may be re-surging. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Evil continues to exist. It can be limited but not eradicated.

John Matel shared a link.
Communism was bad for everything. The only thing it produced effectively was dire pollution.
August 19
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
One of the last intact maple-basswood forest in Milwaukee county was about to be made into a parking place for trucks back in 1972. The County bought it and preserved it as Cudahy Nature Preserve. It is only around 40 acres, but it had managed to avoid the ax for a couple hundred years, so it had the trees, soils and some natural communities intact.

I started to go out there before it was a pa See More

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Bur oaks are characteristic of “oak openings” or areas of oak mixed with grasslands. The famous naturalist Aldo Leopold wrote about them in “Sand County Almanac.” They are robust against fire, which is one of the ways they survive. They grow slowly. Some get pretty big; others just get old but stay small.

There are two bur oaks that I know “personally.” One is at Dover Street School and the See More

John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Natural succession is the way that the ecology changes over time. The textbooks usually take it from an open field or a pond to a forest. You can see natural succession in Warnimont Park in Cudahy. Around 1970, the park was mostly grass. I started to run down there about that time. They stopped mowing and soon wildflowers moved in, followed by pioneer trees Today, large parts are young forest. See More
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Finally getting around to posting from my trip to Milwaukee a couple weeks ago. My sister did a better job of posting some of the social stuff. My posts are mostly about changes with trees, so please feel free not to read more. I am interested in changes. I am surprised sometimes how fast and sometimes how slow things change. Let me start with my old house on Dover Street and the trees. So you See More

John Matel shared a link.
Carry on bags should not have wheels. If you cannot carry it in general, you should not carry it on.

John Matel shared a link.
Reasonable people can sometimes agree on big issues. I am glad that it ended reasonably well. The interesting thing is that the academics who authored the original lessons did not seem to understand that they were being radical. It shows how isolated many of them. We all live in our own worlds and sometimes think it is the only one or the only one that matters. Good to occasionally foray out.
August 18

John Matel shared a link.
It is the switch from hunting-gathering to agriculture in fishing.

John Matel shared a link.
Thanks largely to hydraulic fracturing, since 2005, domestic oil production has nearly doubled and natural-gas production has risen by about 50%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Methane emissions from the sector have dropped roughly 15% over that period through 2012, according to EPA data.

Interesting that we double production and cut emissions by 15%. Something is working. Counters the idea that we can only reduce pollution by doing less.

August 16
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I posted a couple items about the rapid development of self-driving cars. There will be big effects on traffic and safety, but one of the biggest will be on space. Consider how much pavement is required because cars need to be parked near destinations, because they need to have room to pass and because human drivers lack information about other drivers.

Consider the roads in my pictures. They See More

John Matel shared a link.
Midsummer murder

economist.com
Distrust of the police has deadly consequences. We are talking about a small number. Most victims and perpetrators come from a surprising small number of young men who often know each other. Others often know the killers too and it would be better if this information were available to the authorities.

“One study of a high-crime community in Boston found that 85% of gunshot victims came from a See More

John Matel shared a link.
My first experience with Brazil was 1985-8 when I was PAO in Porto Alegre. I went back as country PAO 2011-14. It was a really different place when I went back the second time and I thought the country was really going to make it.

Brazil is a great country and Brazilians are a truly wonderful people. I love Brazilians and hate to see them have this trouble. Unfortunately, they have governments See More

August 15

John Matel shared a link.
From horseless to driverless

worldif.economist.com
More on driverless cars. They may make cities much more livable again. 90% penetration of self-driving cars in America would be equivalent to a doubling of road capacity, which implies that we could do with half the roads we have now if demand remains similar. That is a big difference.

John Matel shared a link.
Interesting article that shows how labor has just disappeared. The ranch that used to have dozens of “cowboys” now can be handled by one man. We just need fewer people to do the work across the board.
August 13

John Matel shared a link.
Cars have ruined many cities. But the big problem with cars is not their presence but rather their parking. If people could be dropped off near their destination and their cars would “valet park” themselves, think of how we could eliminate lots of parking spaces. We could also narrow roads, since we would not longer require parking or passing lanes. So roads could be tree lined or feature park-like boulevards.

A big advantage not directly addressed is the ability to legally drink beer and have your car drive you safely – legally – home. It was well before my time, but I heard that in the old days the horse could often find its way home pulling the drunk in the buggy. Back to the future.

John Matel shared a link.
It is not only environmental issues. Generally, advocates must exaggerate in the competition to get money and attention. The fact is that the world now is better for most people than it was twenty-five years ago, much better than it was fifty years ago and much-much better than 100 years ago. I am confident that the future will be better than the past. It is not that we have no problems, but problems can be and have been manged.

John Matel shared a link.
This is a good idea in general, but kind of a back to the future thing. People used to use “gray water” to water their plants. We apply biosolids in farming and forestry. I don’t think this will satisfy the real water puritans anyway. Those who want to “shame” neighbors for using too much water will still find ways.
August 12
And this was BEFORE the war. We forget the lessons of history. Back then it looked like the totalitarians would triumph. The only question was whether it would be Nazi or communist variety. History is not determined. We narrowly missed that fate.

John Matel shared a link.
The whole immigration debate has been overtaken by events. Birth rates south of the border have dropped dramatically. The source of immigrants is drying up, whether or not we control the border. The great Latino wave will soon be a memory, just as the great German wave of a century past and the great Irish wave before that, both, BTW, were bigger as a percentage of the population at the time.
August 11

John Matel shared a link.
Don’t block the bike lane in São Paulo.

John Matel shared a link.
Rights for individual animals in anathema to ecological conservation.
August 9

John Matel shared a link.
The stone age did not end because we ran out of stone and the oil age will not end with the last drop of oil. Few imagined it possible even a decade ago. We have moved from managing scarcity to dealing with abundance. Fracking has given us more fossil fuel than we need. Energy efficiency has made us less energy intensive and lowered increases in demand, and development of renewables makes it almos See More

John Matel shared a link.
I worked at Medusa Cement as a young man. It was a union shop with two scales – inexperienced and experienced operator. After my first summer, I became an “experienced” operator and earned as much per hour as the guys who had been there ten or twenty years. There was a lot of resentment. Some of the older guys would put me – and other newly experienced operators – in difficult of compromising See More
August 8

John Matel shared a link.
I made my yard in Brazil a “nature preserve.” I spent many more hours out there managing it than I would have done simply mowing it down. When I left I had to restore it to its former manicured state. I do think that we should have some lawns, but not always and everywhere. Leaf blowers, however, should be banned. They do very little, or nothing useful.

John Matel shared a link.
We go through one of these hysterias every ten years ago or so. At the time they are going on, anybody who says that they are hysterias is strongly castigated and called whatever is the currently operative pejorative.
August 6

John Matel shared a link.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting. In fact, evidence shows that scientifically sound conservation programs that include limited, well-managed sport hunting can and do contribute to the long-term survival of the species.” The agency determined that the major threats to lions are habitat destruction, declines in the species they prey on, and increased conflicts between humans and lions.
August 5

John Matel updated his status.
I started on promotion panels today and will go until a/o September 10. This is my second time. I did FS01- FEOC in 2010. I am on the threshold panel again, but this time only for Economic, Management & Consular officers.
August 3
My visit with my sister and cousins in Milwaukee.
August 1

John Matel shared a link.
Learning unleashed

economist.com
Public education is essential, but it need not be delivered by a public bureaucracy and certainly should not be a public monopoly.
July 31
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
My last day at Smithsonian. I went to HST first for a couple of appointments and then road my bike over to Smithsonian. I took the long way, i.e. went around Hains Point. It is a near perfect place to ride a bike, with a smooth road surface and a flat terrain.

I used to run down there, especially when I was studying Norwegian, since I lived nearby. I used to memorize lines and then repeat the See More

July 2015
July 31

John Matel shared a link.
The thing I dislike most about some rhetoric these days is the evident rejection of the idea that you have to take responsibly and improve on the cards you have been given. As a young man, I taught myself to think of how I could improve even when faced with adversity “not my fault.” No two people start out with equal chances and that is okay. We make the most of what we have and often those who See More

John Matel shared a link.
Government works best when it works in partnership with citizens, not as their master or their patron.

Private property is the often overlooked hero of conservation. I can take care of my woods better than the Federal government could because I have greater resources. Of course, I don’t mean that I have more total money, but I have a few acres that have their own “ranger” (i.e. me) plus the h See More

John Matel shared a link.
I saw a movie “the Hitchhiker” about a sociopath who killed people who gave him rides. This guy is scary like that. People helped him and he just got tired of waiting so he killed them. You want to help strangers and most people are good, but some are just evil.
July 30

John Matel shared a link.
It is sad that we celebrate growth rates that used to be consider mediocre. But I remain confident that we will yet recover.

John Matel shared a link.
I have too much trouble trying to keep up with the latest permutations, so I mostly have given up. I try not to call people by names that they consider pejorative, but I figure it happens and I don’t care very much.
July 29

John Matel shared a link.
It is important to recall that farmers are not the end users of the water. The people who live in other parts of the state and the world eat the apples, drink the wine, wear the clothes and live in the homes created from the products of the land. So unless you do not eat, drink, wear clothes or live in a house, you are being dishonest when you complain that farmers use so much more water than you do.

As the article’s author says, farmers are working hard to conserve water and often are succeeding. Efficiency is important. But the idea that some are using more than their fair share is pernicious and ultimately not useful.

John Matel shared a link.
A few more good years.
July 28

John Matel shared a link.
I want some researchers to discover and study my bones long after I die. They can make up lots of stories. Bodies do not really matter. We respect them out of empathy for the living who knew the former occupant. But after they are gone, you become an artifact. Good. That is the goal for my body when I am done with it.
July 27

John Matel shared a link.
Graft, the President said, is “not something that is just fixed by laws, or that any one person can fix. It requires a commitment by the entire nation—leaders and citizens—to change habits and change culture.”

Behaviors and habits don’t guarantee outcomes, but the certainly weigh heavily. The President hit the right note.

John Matel shared a link.
I have been to NYC a couple times in the last few years and was impressed at how pleasant it was – none of that scary stuff from the movies of the 1970s. But it looks like the bad old days are coming back. It is amazing how fast dumb policies can wreck years of progress. Security is the most important civil right. If you are not safe, not much else matters.

John Matel shared a link.
There was a period in my youth,maybe from the 17-21, when I was pessimistic. I read all those apocalyptic books like “Population Bomb,” “Limits of Growth” & “A Moment in the Sun,” and despaired of the future. There seemed to be lots of challenges in the early 1970s. We have overcome all of the big ones I worried about. All of them. Life now is so much better than I thought it would be that I See More

John Matel shared a link.
Lots of things that seem to make sense don’t really work as supposed. That is why actually trying things out usually works better than just thinking them through and why incremental change and iterative methods work much better than big bangs and grand bargains. The problem is politics and more broadly human nature. We like the sweeping boldness of the big plan and then we accept the excuses about why it doesn’t work.

John Matel shared a link.
Now, this is a real tragedy in the making. Evidently growing hops is hard to to and hard work.
July 25

John Matel shared a link.
Being dependent on donations is actually a good thing. It helps build your team and prevents a candidate from going too far off the deep end. It is true that Trump has such piles of money that he can spend what he wants w/o answering to anybody. Without answering to anybody.

John Matel shared a link.
Yiddish on the rise

economist.com
Yiddish is a truly interesting language.
July 24

John Matel shared a link.
Go ahead, soak up some sun

washingtonpost.com
Everything in moderation. The fearful die a thousand deaths, avoiding eggs, bacon, sugar, sun, salt … and life.

John Matel shared a link.
Belief in extra-terrestrial life is faith-based. We have never had any evidence it exists except that “it must.” IMO, we are likely never to find intelligent life anywhere else. As a long time Star Trek fan, this is not something I like, but it is true. Beyond that, if extra-terrestrials ever found us, we would be toast. It is best to keep quiet so they don’t find us.

John Matel shared a link.
Green infrastructure largely takes care of itself, but occasionally requires some human inputs.

John Matel updated his status.
IT is a feedback loop & not so much the poverty causes crime but that crime causes poverty. This is the second time that Mariza’s house in Baltimore was attacked. Fortunately, both times nobody was home and both times the alarm scared off the bad guys. But they caused damage that has to be repaired and she has to invest in things like fixing the damage, fortifications and that alarm system. You a See More
July 23

John Matel shared a link.
Expensiquette

economist.com
I think the way our per diem lodging plus M&I w/o receipts works well. A reasonable person can make it on the per diem offered. Sometimes it seems a little high, but there are expenses not identified on any trip. For example, if you travel enough you will certainly lose something or wreck you clothes. A reasonable person accepts this cost of doing business and a reasonable employer understands t See More

John Matel shared a link.
Anybody who gets close enough to selfie with those beasts is nuts. The article talks about shooting the most aggressive bison with a yellow paint gun, kind of a warning. I think they should shoot the selfie people with that yellow paint gun and let them walk around the lodge like that. It is a better warning at a more appropriate target.

John Matel shared a link.
Well, if Yoko thinks its true … Anyway, pipelines are an important part of infrastructure we rarely think about since we rarely see them. They distribute resources more safely than trucks or even trains and reduce traffic. W/o pipelines for gas, it would be nearly impossible for any urban area to properly function.

If Yoko succeeds, the U.S. will emit more greenhouse gas than we otherwise would. Prices for heating in places like NYC will be higher. Traffic will be more congested and rural landowners will be poorer and more tempted to sell their land for development. But she probably doesn’t know these things and probably would not care if she understood.

July 22

John Matel shared a link.
I have been trying to figure out this bee thing. I understand that some bees are dying, but it is also true that in Europe and North America the numbers of bees are rising. The Europeans banned neonicotinoid insecticides and it had no effect, good or bad, on the bee populations. there. Colony collapse disorder is a problem, but this particular class of pesticides does not seem to be the crucial See More

John Matel shared a link.

John Matel shared a link.
I ran into a guy asking for “spare change” when I came out of CVS today. It made me realize that there are lots fewer beggars than there used to be. Incentives might be the reason. When we use credit cards, we don’t have change anymore. I used to come out of CVS with some coins, which I might drop in the beggar’s cup. Today, I use the credit card and have nothing to give. I am not going to giv See More

John Matel shared a link.
Hope this is not becoming a trend. I remember how bad crime was in the early 1990s and the unexpected and swift drop in the last 25 years. Violent crime is up in most major cities. We should be careful to make sure the police act responsibly, but we don’t want to go back those bad old days when the crooks ran the show in so many places.

John Matel shared a link.
An interesting comment on the capital gains tax. “When LBJ signed the 1965 act, the value of a dollar was almost exactly the same as it had been in 1792—0.77 ounces of silver.” Since then it has changed a lot. If you took that quarter you saved in 1965 and sold it for its silver value, you would be liable to pay capital gains tax. Would you have actually made any money, since you would be spending your quarter based on the value that the USG gave it back in 1965? Now they say it is worth a different amount.

BTW – the same stuff a quarter would have bought you in 1965 would cost you $1.92 today, so anything up to that should be exempt from capital gains taxes.

July 21

John Matel shared a link.
It depends on the sort of work you do. An FSO overseas tends to put in lots more than a 40 hour week, but what kind of work is it? What if I attend a reception? Attend a lecture related to work? Or even read “The Economist.” All these things are part of my job, but they are also things that I might do – maybe even pay to do – if I was independently wealthy and not “working.”

Of course, I cur See More

John Matel shared a link.
It does make you wonder about the NEED to face down ideological foes. Marxist-Leninism was a bad idea and maybe it would cure itself, like a bad bout of dysentery. On the other hand, it hung on in Russia for 70 years and took the lives of tens of millions of people and had a briefer but even more deadly reign in China. And maybe had it been allowed to advance, its life could have been prolonged. Tyranny will eventually end, but sometimes it remains in place longer than you can stay alive.

John Matel shared a link.
Still waiting for that housing boom. I didn’t expect the doldrums to last this long. I don’t think anybody did. My hope is that when we finally get rolling, we will go faster because of pent up demand.

John Matel shared a link.
We can do it; we ARE doing it. Sustainability is an achievable goal and we can do it in ways that maintain and enhance the lifestyles we enjoy.

John Matel shared a link.
Actually, it makes sense to name it after something from the Soviet Union. An insignificant plain on a world that used to be a planet but is now a just planetoid or a dwarf planet pretty much describes the defunct evil empire.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 9 – I don’t go there anymore but I thought I should include the old USIA. Old USIA is now SA 44 (State Annex 44). I spent more of my career associated with this building so it still seems like home. The neighborhood has improved a lot since I started here. They put in a completely new garden like area with elm trees. This used to be a surface parking area. the picture with the trees is along Constitution Avenue and finally is new construction along the waterfront.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 8 – This is my current place of work at Smithsonian. That little building is the Ripley Center, portal to a vast subterranean complex that houses my office, among other things. Were I to borrow up, like in the Shawshank Redemption, I would come up in the garden. Across the street are pictured the Capitol Mall and Earth Day Park.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 7 – As you come down the hill, you get a good look at Washington. It is a beautiful city. An unpleasant stray thought crossed my mind as I came down that hill. We think of wars as things that happen elsewhere or maybe not again, but this is fantasy. At some time, Washington might suffer the fate of Berlin or Warsaw, or maybe it will just be neglected and fall into ruin, like those many in See More
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 6 – The bike trail along Route 50 is wonderful going toward Washington. It is all downhill. I usually sit up straight as I go down in order to pick up more wind resistance to slow down, since the only concern comes at the end, when you have to merge back into the street. As I wrote earlier, the biggest danger from cars comes when they turn. This is especially true when they make right tu See More
July 20
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 5 – Arlington has lots of quiet streets with big trees and riding through them is another pleasant part of the morning ride. Next is Pershing. You really cannot see on the picture, but there is a stop light at the bottom of the hill. And I know it doesn’t look very much like a hill on the picture, but it is one. If it is red when I get to the spot on the picture, I start down the hill, si See More
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 4 – This is where I start on the streets, not very busy ones generally. These little houses were built in the post-war time to house the burgeoning population of the suburbs. I like them. Many people now think that they are too small and they are being torn down and replaces by bigger ones. But that was standard middle or upper middle class housing in those years. Next is the opening to See More
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 3 – The top is where I turn back onto the W&OD. This is my favorite few meters of the trail. I am not sure why. I always feel good and energetic when I hit it. There are a few miles of uninterrupted trail. The Custis Trail follows 66 on the other side. I don’t go there usually. You pass under Wilson Ave along the side of Four Mile Creek. This stream floods with even a little rain and See More
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Post 2 – This bridge crosses 495. My experience with commuting is atypical. I don’t think I have driven to work in Washington more than a dozen times in more than thirty years. I mostly share the trail with runners and a lot of women pushing baby carriages. Next is crossing Lee Highway. The most dangerous are people making right turns. MOST drivers are respectful of bikes. Things have improved a lot. There are more bikes now and drivers are better behaved, but you still need to watch.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I have been commuting on my bike in Washington for more than 30 years – on the same route, riding the same bike for almost 20 years. But this epoch is coming to an end soon. Thursday, I had the perfect bike day. It was only 63 degrees when I set off, with sunshine and low humidity, so I took my camera to document the ride.

It is a total of 17 miles from my house to old USIA, which I count a See More

John Matel shared a link.
Tracking D.C.-area homicides

washingtonpost.com
Whatever Virginia does is much better than what they do in Maryland or the District.
July 19

John Matel shared a link.
In my last post in Brazil, we developed a “partnership not patronage paradigm.” This meant that we would search for partners with common aspirations and work with them toward a common goals. The logic was that you make friends not by giving them stuff or by dialogue but by working together and demanding something from them. The only sustainable projects are those where the partners are willing See More
July 18

John Matel shared a link.
Trump is trying hard to insult everybody. He is like the old drunk who sits at the end of the bar and makes nasty comments about other patrons and everything else. Unfortunately, unlike the old drunk, this guy has celebrity status to make his words heard.

John Matel shared a link.
When I saw that title, I thought that it would address what I think is the key issue – the development of intellectual architecture that made industrialism and empire possible, things like the development of statistics and calculus, the widespread adoption of techniques such as double entry bookkeeping and the scientific method. These technologies of the mind are the software to the hare power See More

John Matel shared a link.
Commute makes a big difference to life satisfaction and personal productivity.
July 16

John Matel shared a link.
USDA ARS Online Magazine Vol. 50, No. 9

agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov
I have been studying up on soils, since I need to think about it related to our forestry harvest. I was interested to learn more about glomalin and how much carbon it can sequester. I also found information about the water holding capacity of soils. It is a great reservoir. Soil is an interesting subject. The discovery of glomalin just a few years ago shows how much more we still have to learn.

John Matel shared a link.
One of the most important aspects of “male privilege” is that most of us are largely immune to rapid changes in fashion. I want to keep it that way, so let’s continue to ridicule the dandies who insist of spending more time than necessary “looking cool.”

John Matel posted something via Slate Magazine.
GMO test. Scientist tell us that GMOs are safe to eat, but we still face lots of superstition. We need to recall that lots of people still do not believe in evolution and others oppose vaccinations. Just because there is a strong scientific consensus does not mean that you win the argument with some folks.

John Matel shared a link.
I am glad that they could find something to charge him with. What he need was a good kick in the keister.

John Matel shared a link.
My son is reading lots of those of 1950-70 destruction books. The same ones I read back then that predicted widespread ecological collapse, starvation & depletion of resources by the 1980s or 1990s. What these predictions always fail to consider is human ingenuity. We don’t just stand still.

Whenever there is a crisis, the non-participants always claim that we should have adapted sooner. Som See More

July 15

John Matel shared a link.
I would think anybody with a connection like that would try to keep it quiet.
July 14

John Matel shared a link.
Unfortunately, anger and resentment often trump optimism and hope. They certainly drive turnout.
July 13

John Matel shared a link.
The basis of civilization & prosperity is not generosity; it is reciprocity. In the long run only win-win is sustainable. It may need not be perfect reciprocity but merely being generous with no expectation of return can be only short term strategy. Generally, investment is better than generosity and shows more respect.

John Matel shared a link.
Why is there this fight? We should use what is appropriate. Much of agriculture today IS organic. Farmers use manure, crop rotations, biosolids etc. And many are building soils. But sometimes we need to use synthetic fertilizers or herbicides to increase yields. I don’t think there are any farmers that are completely non-organic. There is no reason to choose between them.

One of the dumber See More

John Matel shared a link.
This presents native-English speakers a big (if maybe enviable) problem. When others consider which foreign language to learn first, the answer is usually obvious. English is useful globally. It is harder for us. It is also hard to practice and/or have the incentive. English is just omnipresent; others not so much.

I have been trying to keep my Portuguese, but I am losing the battle. (I have See More

July 12
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
You find those moments of zen in obvious ones and some that do not make much sense. I had an unobvious one yesterday, as I was sitting waiting at the rental car place for Chrissy to pick me up. The view – below – just made me feel good.

My other pictures are just left over from the tree farm visit. It started to rain hard as I got to the CP unit. But since I did not want to waste the trip, I w See More

John Matel shared a link.
Something fishy

economist.com
A way that GMOs could make people healthier, the environment cleaners and provide high-quality protein at low cost. We are already facing a challenge of fisheries. A solution could be fish farming. Unfortunately, farming fish like salmon doesn’t really solve the problem, since the salmon eat other fish that must still be harvested from overtaxed fisheries.

One solution would be to make the sa See More

July 11
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
I decided to cut 45 acres a little earlier than the prime time because I am eager to replant. I will not live forever and I want to have a reasonable chance of seeing my trees mature at least a little. I am looking forward to watching the forest grow. We have about 90 acres of 28 year old pine. Usually, we would let them grow another five years or so. But I cut half for the reasons above. I wil See More

John Matel shared a link.
The key word in this title is “foster.” Government has been crucial to many innovations – indispensable in the development of the Internet, for example. But it is a kind of ecological relationship. Government can foster innovation by helping create an environment of innovation but it cannot manage innovation, since innovation is by definition unmanageable with current information and technology. See More
July 10

John Matel shared a link.
In the 1960s and 1970s, many came to believe we needed to address the “root causes” of crime, that included oppression, poverty etc. We got more crime. In the 1990s we treated crimes as a problem of … crime. Crime rates have been dropping for twenty years. It looks like we are back to that 1960s mentality in many cases. We are seeing upswings in crime in many cities.

It is not clear which direction causality runs. Poverty seems to cause crime but crime also seems to cause poverty. Maybe both are caused by disorder and they are in feedback loops.

John Matel shared a link.
Interesting article. I bought the book. Unfortunately, campaigning and governing are separate skills and some things that make someone a good campaigner are harmful to governing.

John Matel shared a link.
Virginia forest are also mostly in private hands, although we have plenty of parks and national forests, especially in the west.

John Matel shared a link.
Biomass can replace coal in many instances.

John Matel shared a link.
Grasslands require fire and grazing to be maintained. I visited the Texas Arboretum and Lady Bird Johnson wildflower garden a few years ago. They had the similar problem with cedars, which they solved by fire and grazing. I will also include in the comments a good TED talk about the importance of grazing in grassland biomes.

John Matel shared a link.
We could develop a leadership/management course based on the principles of forestry. Forestry, by its nature, requires long-term perspectives an understanding of the environment and the proper use of leverage. Consider the article below. We used to fight fires, sort of like the old command & control leadership styles. Today, we have learned to use fire as an ally. You really cannot control it See More
July 9

John Matel shared a link.
I return to my idea of a lottery. All qualified candidates are put in regardless of background or status. You can tell the kids the odds, so that they can make appropriate assumptions. But the “whole person” concept is nothing more than an invitation to bias. An 18-year-old is not yet a whole person to be judged by a committee. Why make them all crazy with the competition?

We need to be caref See More

John Matel shared a link.
The basis of civil behavior and maybe even civilization is reciprocity. I would not go to the bathroom in McDonald’s w/o buying something after. It is bad manners to sit too long and buy to little. The amount of time you could sit with a single cup of coffee would vary, but if the owner asks you to leave, you should feel embarrassed, apologize and go.
July 7

John Matel shared a link.
Being late creates a cascade of lateness.

John Matel shared a link.
Illegal farming is bad as illegal everything else.

John Matel shared a link.
This is one truly bad guy and he is only 18. I am usually a believer in redemption, but read the story and despair. I guess it hits close to home because most of us have used the Metro. The crook just got enraged when he couldn’t grab what he wanted. He didn’t even end up stealing the phone he grabbed. Evil exists.

John Matel shared a link.
An unexpected benefit for natural gas from fracking. A very large amount of the water we use goes to cooling power plants – 38%. Go to the article and look at the state by state changes. Ohio has the largest decrease in fresh water use; power generation there by natural gas has increased 741%, largely replacing much dirtier coal plants.
July 6

John Matel shared a link.
Fractured finances

economist.com
The Saudi attempt to smother the U.S. shale industry has failed, signaling the real end to the overwhelming importance of the Middle East. The U.S. is now the swing producer.

It cost only about $10 million to get shale well up and running. There is so much flexibility that we can expect to have destroyed forever the leverage of the oil and gas despots.

IMO – we should use first U.S. fuels. Renewables are developing rapidly. At some point oil and gas may become a “stranded asset.” When that happens, I prefer that asset be somewhere else.

John Matel shared a link.
The irony is the exclusion of fire has made reintroduction of fire a problem. As the debris remained on the forest floor, the roots of the old longleaf pine grew into the newly forming soil. Buring now would scorch those roots and may kill the old pine trees.

John Matel shared a link.
I recall reading about this in LBJ biographies. It seemed like a thing from the past but evidently not. “Five campaign workers, known as “politiqueras,” pleaded guilty to election fraud in Hidalgo County in a case involving votes bought with cash, beer and cocaine. In a separate case in neighboring Cameron County, nine politiqueras have been charged with manipulating mail-in ballots.

“A politi See More

July 4
John Matel's photo.
John Matel's photo.
Just a little out of sequence here, since we are back in Washington.

I took the Las Vegas Monorail to the end of the line, which is the MGM Grand, and walked back along the strip. Since I started at about 8:30, it was hot but not too hot.

Las Vegas has ersatz versions of almost everything. There is Paris, New York, Venice, among others. I passed a store that just sold M&Ms and M&M products and a Coca-Cola store. Neither was open at the time I passed. Good things too. The M&Ms would have melted in the bag. I did get a Coke Zero at the nearby vending machine and managed to drink it before it assumed hot air temperature. You have to stay hydrated in the hot, dry weather.

I can understand why some people like to live in Las Vegas and even more like to visit. It is built to entertain. I liked to visit, but I would not want to live here.

One of my favorite commercials is the Dos XX, with “the most interesting man in the world” I am not a big fan of Dos XX, but I am sometimes moved to buy a bottle just by the advert’s influence. I saw a poster parodying the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” slogan. It has the most interesting man with the caption, “What happens in Vegas is reported directly to him.”

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