Link roundup, 1/5/2015

Sara Robinson has launched her new blog, Future Imperfect, with an insightful post on the Oregon militia standoff. You may recognize Sara from the comments section here, but she has a long history writing for the New Republic, New York Magazine and other outlets. I’m eager to follow her work partly because she seems to epitomize a force that deserves a lot more attention – the political orphans of Silicon Valley.

Though spread all over the country (Robinson is in Seattle), Silicon Valley is their de facto capital. They share a business orientation that would traditionally push them toward the GOP combined with a left-libertarian social orientation that pulls them toward Democrats. Most today are Democrats, but as our political polls continue to scramble they will increasingly be in play.

Elsewhere in the world:

From Quartz: With tensions growing between Iran and Saudi Arabia, here’s a primer on the Sunni/Shia divide

From The Week: A look at the failing campaign of Rand Paul and its implications for Libertarianism

From Texas Tribune: Four Texas Congressional campaigns with national implications

From Governing: How the growth of performance pay may change public service

From Wired: How US patent issues might affect the expansion of the gene editing technology, Crispr

From The Atlantic: As deep poverty becomes more and more a rural phenomenon, the impact to countryside schools is becoming severe

From Daily Dot: What the family of Tamir Rice plans to do next about his killing

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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28 comments on “Link roundup, 1/5/2015
  1. flypusher says:

    Time to unfriend Saudi Arabia?

    http://theweek.com/articles/597537/time-america-dump-saudi-arabia

    I’d say yes. The relationship totally defiles us, and we’re really not getting much return on the selling out of what we say are our principles. They fed many of the Sunni NJs who plague the region.

  2. Rob Ambrose says:

    Man, if anybody wants to see an example of how greasy and corrupt the justice system can be to poor, uneducated, unsophisticated ppl? Watch The Making of a murderer on Netflix.

    Its an emotional masterpiece.

  3. flypusher says:

    From that laboratory of bad ideas in Government, the state of Kansas:

    http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article53116750.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

    Yeah, that ought to make skilled workers just flock there!

    • MassDem says:

      This plan fits into the conservative vision of completely privatizing public education in America. Kind of makes their “equality of opportunity” schtick ring hollow, doesn’t it?

    • johngalt says:

      When I think of Kansas currently, “skilled workers” is not the first thing that comes to mind.

  4. Creigh says:

    Rural schools: my parents preferred rural living, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time there. It seems to me that rural communities need an economic justification first to create a critical mass of something to build on. For myself, I might be able to live in a relatively isolated place (especially as I get older) if I had a good internet connection. Rural internet connectivity would be where I’d start to rebuild.

    • MassDem says:

      A problem with rural kids getting college degrees is that they end up leaving their community if there are no jobs for them. Many rural counties are losing population rapidly, making it even more difficult to provide services to the remaining residents. Creigh is absolutely right that Internet connectivity should be a high priority.

      One of the topics at our Christmas dinner table was how a family friend had recently been involved in a venture to bring high-speed internet to rural Vermont. The idea was that with better access to the internet, residents of that economically depressed area could telecommute to jobs since it was almost impossible to get companies to relocate there.

  5. Glandu says:

    I’m unimpressed by the Performance pay link(others are very instructive, thanks for them). Just paying people more because they met objectives is one common, but big, mistake. Joel Spolsky explains why here : http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000070.html

    And in France, since police chiefs are paid depending on the “results”, the “results” are good. With no link to what really happens in the real world. As it’s easier to catch 10 pot smokers than 1 dangerous thug, the dangerous thug is less & less threatened. And does more & more damage. Too hard too catch, to costly on the “results”. Fits Joel Spolsky’s predictions.

    I don’t mean that we shall stay to “everyone paid the same”, but giving specific objectives with bonuses associated to perfectly “objective” measurable goals, means the goal is suddenly everything that counts, and the real purpose of the job is forgotten. The purpose of police is not to arrest 80% of the criminals, it’s to make streets safer. But that’s no more what french police big chiefs are aiming for now(fortunately, below them, a lot of quality people are still doing their job with the right purpose in mind, assuming risks to their career for the good of all).

    • johngalt says:

      These abuses of performance pay are clearly a problem in the private sector as well; witness the manipulation of stock prices (through buybacks, for instance) or the twiddling of accounts to hit targets in this quarter to trigger executive bonuses.

      The public sector has another problem with bonuses, though, and that is the public perception of them. The Texas Agricultural commissioner recently handed out bonuses to his staff and this was widely reported as front-page news. Whether or not these bonuses were legitimately earned was not discussed. The public has a real problem with their tax money being used in this way. As a result, the public sector will always struggle to recruit and retain the truly talented people needed to run complex organizations. The U.S. Veterans Administration spends $170 billion per year taking care of ex-military members and has been an unmitigated mess for decades. If I hired someone with serious experience to fix the VA, paid them serious dollars, gave them defined performance targets, and offered a mega-bonus (say $50 million) for hitting them, would this be worth it? Of course it would, but it will never happen because the public won’t stand for it, even if this saves them piles of money in the long run.

      • Creigh says:

        Anybody out there have real experience with the VA? Anecdotal evidence from personal acquaintances is diametrically opposite to the unmitigated mess narrative. Outcome statistics compared to conventional healthcare doesn’t either. The VA recently authorized vets to get private appointments if they can’t get in quickly at the VA. Does anybody think they’ll do better outside the VA system?

  6. Tuttabella says:

    I read Sara’s blog entry about how to handle standoffs in the future. Very interesting. It made me think a lot about the role of the community and the role of the media in condemning such acts to prevent them from happening again. We usually hear opposing advice — it’s best to ignore them, not mention them by name; or else we should unite as a community to condemn them. I would think that even if many of us were to condemn their acts, in today’s media world, there will always be pockets, both large and small, of supporters who will feed the views of these people. And I don’t think we should censor the words of these supporters, either. Also, mocking these people sometimes just makes them angrier and more apt to do something crazy.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      It also made me think about our own personal responsibility and whether or not to speak up.

      I often disagree with Mime and Fly about this issue. They feel we should actively call out such behavior and beliefs. I usually consider it a waste of time, a pointless exercise, to engage such people, to go down to their level.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I do believe it’s worth a try to have a discussion with people with whom we disagree, and to call them out. However, if there comes a point when it’s obvious we’re not getting anywhere, that we will never agree, then I think it’s best to move on.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Especially when things get really ugly and attacks become personal. That’s what I mean when I say we should not go down to their level.

      • Creigh says:

        I had a troubling Facebook discussion with a relative about a commenter stating that as a non-Christian, he didn’t mind when people Merry Christmased him. I believed he was implying that because he wasn’t offended, nobody else should be either, and said I thought he was being presumptuous. The relative more or less accused me of trying to suppress free speech, and I couldn’t get across that I wasn’t. The whole noncommunication thing bothered me. It’s hard to keep these kinds of discussions from getting rancorous.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Creigh, when all is said and done, we each have our own personal opinions based on personal experience and circumstances, and I consider engaging in discussion with others about our opinions is almost a form of seeking the approval of others. We make ourselves vulnerable, and we are likely to get burned sooner or later. So it’s safer to say nothing.

      • Creigh says:

        Tutt, I’m not willing to completely give up on pushback against social issues, although one has to pick their battles. Unfortunately these things usually come up in social media, not in person, where it’s very hard to keep things rational and civil.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        “We need to pick our battles.” Well said.

  7. johngalt says:

    The reason Rand Paul’s campaign is faltering is that, no matter what they might say, voters have no interest in implementing the strict libertarianism he espouses, which is largely fiscal libertarianism. His father had a cult following based on being a cranky old man who hated government (while bringing home plenty of pork to ensure his own re-election), but he was never going to get more than 10% of the vote. The son can’t pull off curmudgeon and is not slick enough to sell this particular lemon.

    • moslerfan says:

      There are a few things about his libertarianism that aren’t cranky, like foreign policy and civil liberties, but the base doesn’t like them much either. As far as establishment Republicans go, the problem with his fiscal libertarianism is that he actually takes it seriously, and he’s as likely to bash them for ‘fiscal irresponsibility’ as he is Democrats.

    • MassDem says:

      Libertarianism: tragedy of the common sense

  8. vikinghou says:

    The patent case in the WIRED article is interesting. I am a Registered Patent Agent. For me the most important passage is:

    “This April, Berkeley filed for an interference proceeding that’s now been granted. The arguments will rest on whether getting Crispr to work in a test tube counts as the invention, which Doudna’s patents show first, or getting it to work in live cells is the real which, which Zhang’s patents show first.”

    If this is the crux of the case, Dounda should be considered the true inventor. Under the old rules the first person to have conceived of an invention is the true inventor, not necessarily the first to file a patent application. Reduction to practice is not required. As long as Dounda can show “diligence”—that she continued working on her invention between the time of conception and the filing date—she should be OK.

    It is likely, however, that there are some technical differences between the Dounda and Zhang patent applications, so there will be lots of wrangling about minutia.

    • johngalt says:

      The real winner of the patent dispute are the lawyers. They are the only ones guaranteed to make money. Berkeley and the Broad should negotiate a settlement based on both sets of researchers discovering the same thing at approximately the same time. Both institutions will benefit and, in this case, there will be plenty of royalties to go around.

      • vikinghou says:

        You’re right, but that isn’t how it often goes down. I was involved in a couple of cases in the realm of oilfield technology. They were knock down drag outs, leaving the loser with millions of dollars in court costs and having to pay my former employer damages plus licensing fees! My boss had one loser’s check blown up to poster size and framed. It hung in his office for years. Perhaps biotech people are more genteel.

      • MassDem says:

        I once worked for the guy who’s currently Director of the Broad, and although I found him to be the most awesome boss ever, I once heard him described by a competitor as someone who would smile at you as he stuck the knife in your back. So yes, biotech people are more genteel I guess.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        The impact of CRISPR may seem too huge to share. At work, our observation is that labs that were hesitant to invest in iffier technologies because of unpredictable results are now willing to invest with CRISPR because the results are stunningly predictable.

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