SocraticGadfly: 7/29/12 - 8/5/12

August 04, 2012

Passive-aggressiveness and the boss is always right

About a week ago, I wrote a blog post in defense of passive-aggressiveness, at least on behalf of employees dealing with employers.

To follow up on that, I have a few brief additional thoughts about bosses, and superiors in general, and one aspect of their deploying passive-aggressiveness. 

If you're a "superior" dealing with an "inferior," and you're a Type A person in general, and as part of that, convinced that you generally know the best way to run your business or other operation, that's where passive-aggressiveness comes in. You simply refuse to discuss new ideas, therefore, you avoid having to discuss if old ideas are wrong.

Or, when mistakes happen, even when the "inferior" admits his or her responsibility for at least some of them, but also notes systemic problems, you refuse to discuss that. There's no compromise allowed.

And, not to go too Chris Mooney here, but that probably has certain bosses more likely to have certain political stances.

August 03, 2012

#Cybercrime, #NSA, #new snooping

ProPublica has a decent story asking whether an often-bandied figure of $1 trillion isn't at least a touch, if not way more than a touch, too high a figure. (Cyberespionage, and even cyberwar is included here, even when, in the case of China, Team Obama refuses to call a spade a spade.)

That said, there's the lead-in for saying why this is only a decent and not a great story.

For it to be that, we'd have to have ProPublica ask:
1. How much does cyberespionage/cybercrime cost globally?
2. How much of that is US caused?

And, by that, I don't mean spammers and hackers who live in the US rather than China, Russia or Nigeria.

 I mean (ahem, Stuxnet) how much does US government-caused cybercrime (or, arguably, cyberwar, with Stuxnet) cost elsewhere in the world? I mean (ahem, BushCo [and probably, Team Obama, too] spying on UN Security Council members, including ways that could be considered cyberspying?

Other questions abound.

Does the National Security Agency endorse, and regularly use, McAfee's $1 trillion estimate because it's angling for new budget dinero? Or, even worse, for even more "black arts" countermeasures, with a likely further eroding of American civil liberties.

In other words, the NSA is into "marketing" just like McAfee. Only thing, this is a lot scarier, if you really think about it.

Beyond that, this is an issue of American exceptionalism.

The story could be seen as implying that only the US has that serious of worries about cybercrime. Or that the US doesn't really do it that much itself. Or both. 

That's just not true.

Beyond the government-side issues, how much cybercrime on the corporate side is done by American companies?

August 01, 2012

Schadenfreude, thy name is Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma

Jim Inhofe/Wikipedia
Schadenfreude is watching Oklahoma bake under 110-degree temperatures even as people like Sen. Jim Inhofe lie about global warming in a Senate hearing, then lie again about global warming to their constituents back home.

Including lying through a book published by lie-masters World Nut Daily: 
Earlier this year, he authored a book entitled "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future," which was published by the conservative news site WorldNetDaily. In a review which says Inhofe "claims he is winning in his fight to debunk global warming," American Geophysical Union member and retired chemistry professor J.C. Moore, says "Inhofe's greatest adversary is nature itself."
And, 110, nothing. 
Weather Underground says Tulsa is supposed to break 115 Thursday.

I bear no special grudge toward Oklahomans.

Other than their being in one of the "reddest" states in the nation, indeed. Willing to talk about "welfare cheats" when the farmers and ranchers in the state will have no problem listening to Inhofe's lies, then begging for federal disaster relief as the drought and heat wave, quite likely made more likely by anthropogenic global warming, intensified by global warming or both, continue and wreck their pastures and crops.

 Oh, no, I have no special grudge against such lying hypocrites at all.

And, the the hardest-core religious right among them, if you don't want to blame your part in AGW, don't blame the "sins" of gays or whatever. First, there's plenty of gays (albeit worriedly anonymous) in rural Oklohoma. Second, as the divorce rate is higher in the Bible Belt than elsewhere, you've got other sins to worry about, including what often causes divorce, and that's especially when you drive a county away from your dry county for the nearest liquor store.

Don't know if he's a booze hypocrite or not, but Inhofe is one of those religious righters, otherwise. From that same top link:
While promoting his book in March, Inhofe denied the possibility of human-induced climate change, saying on a Christian radio program, "The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what [God] is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
OK, by this same illogic:
1. It was arrogant to build atomic bombs and nuclear power plants to change what God was doing in the atom.
2. In his own state, it's arrogant to look for oil using modern geological techniques, and arrogant to pump for oil, because of what God did to the dinosaurs. (They, too, were surely killed for their sins. Insert picture of gay T. Rex here.) 
3. It's arrogant to use that oil to make plastics because ...  God will melt them, if they're plastic streetlamp shades, in the heat! (Maybe he's punishing you for buying Made in China plastics, too.)

So, red state Oklahomans? Don't ask for federal disaster aid from the drought. Ditto for Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and other red states with shriveling corn. It would be arrogant to ask humans to bail you out from what God caused. 

It's just too bad Inhofe can't ask God to share some of the heat with his fellow GOP Senate denialist Jeff Sessions in Alabama. 

#RickPerrysTexasMiracle — income segregation

A new study from Pew reportedly says that income segregation in America's major metropolitan areas is getting worse, and that Texas metro areas are the worst of the worst:
Among the 30 biggest metropolitan areas, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas show the greatest segregation of neighborhoods by income, the report said.
And, for those of us who don't already know this, we're told why:
Most of the metropolitan areas showing the greatest increase in segregation have seen significant population growth as people moved in.

For example, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are among the fastest-growing U.S. cities, with growth partly fueled by low-wage immigrants moving in along with better-paid high-skill workers and well-off retirees.
 After all, a study last year said that Texas had no net job growth in the previous decade that wasn't immigration-based, and said indirectly that a fair amount of that was due to illegal immigrants. After all, they're not just digging up onions in the Valley, they're building homes in those metro areas for Rick Perry best buds like Bob Perry.

July 31, 2012

2nd-half preview, #MLB — #Stlcards on outside looking in

Now that the trade deadline dust has settled, we can look at winners and losers and how this will all play out.

1. Definite winner, this year, possible for longer — Los Angeles Angels. The Zach Greinke deal was great for this year. But, if they don't resign him, it could be a long-term loss.
2. Possible winner, this year and beyond — Texas Rangers. If they get the Ryan Dempster of this year, it's great for a rotation missing Neftali Feliz and moving Roy Oswalt to the bullpen. If Dempster regresses to career numbers, it's a different story.
3. Possible big winner, long-term — Pittsburgh Pirates. If Wandy Rodriguez plays well outside of Houston, and the change of scenery helps Travis Snider, they're looking good for some time. Rodriguez is inked through 2014, Snider is not yet arbitration eligible and star Andrew McCutchen is inked through 2017.
4. Possible medium-big winner, longer-term — San Francisco Giants. It is a lesser version of the Angels. Hunter Pence is arbitration eligible next year and hits free agency after that. Can the Giants keep him long-term? If so, what's that say for Tim Lincecum and his Bay Area future?

Minor winner? Los Angeles Dodgers. Shane Victorino and lesser moves may be enough to hold off the Giants or at least get a wild card. Not big for longer term

A wash, without listing players — Cincinnati Reds. All that really matters to them is Joey Votto's situation.

A loss, without listing players — St. Louis Cardinals. One weak fire sale deal with the Miami Marlins won't likely be enough to get into the playoff hunt. And, with the highest run differential in the National League, does this mean they should have gotten some bullpen help? Does this reflect on Mike Matheny's bullpen management without Dave Duncan around to help?

Texas Cong Dist 25 heats up

The Republican primary runoff for the gerrymandered, Hill Country-based U.S. Congressional District 25 in Texas is heating up.

In the one corner, we have GOP establishmentarian, one-time Texas Secretary of State (and rumored one-time "friend" of Rick Perry's — ah, weren't those the days, eh?) Roger Williams.

In the other corner is Tea Party favorite Wes Riddle.

(Update, July 31, 8:40 p.m. — And it dies back down. Whether my wondering about Democratic crossovers for Williams was true or not, he's off to a comfortable lead and should have this race in the bag.) 

The  biggest claim against Williams is that he's lying about opposing the auto bailout. Given that his wife, president of his group of auto dealerships, personally lobbied for it, this is a clear lie in spirit, at least.

Riddle? The biggest claim against him is that he's lying about being a resident of the district. The truth is he appears to be outside it, but not way outside of it. Stand by for a "clarification."

Now, given that this is a largely rural district, the fun is that this is about as clear of a taste as we will get about relative strength of Tea Party vs. Texas GOP establishment. I wouldn't be surprised to see Riddle win this.

Riddle is helped by coming off as "relatively sane" for a tea partier, and by that "West Point instructor" portion of his resume.

A few hours from now, we'll see if he does it.

I'm also curious, since early voting was fairly heavy, if some Democrats aren't crossing over to vote for Williams.

Housing prices — is light at end of tunnel now here?

That's what S&P/Case-Shiller is intimating. The major housing market monitor says that, nationwide, prices have risen four consecutive months.

Housing industry monitors say that, with another couple of months of good news, we could soon see a year-over-year increase in housing prices.

Now, will that provide a dose of economic optimism for the larger economy? A resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. certainly hopes so, for one.

I would say that, if we have one more month of housing price rises, and even prices alternating with rises for the rest of the way out, no spikes in gas prices, and a reasonable papering over of Eurozone issues, that adds up to 1 full percentage point in voting for Obama.

In a Virginia, a Pennsylvania or Ohio, maybe even a North Carolina, that could be a difference maker.

July 30, 2012

Get used to this summer? A century of drought?

Per, that's the gist of a new study.

I hope not, but it seems plausible. Between additional warming releasing carbon dioxide and methane from Arctic tundra, and drought right now killing off plants, especially in lower middle latitudes, feedback loops could exacerbate droughts in areas already starting to have them.

And, the many, many damned lakes in those areas will evaporate and shrink rapidly, between lessened rainfall and higher heat. Especially the shallower lakes.

Basically, anywhere in the U.S. west of the 96th meridian and south of the 41st parallel or so (that's the rough coordinates for Lincoln, Neb. is certainly got some likelihood of longer-term "iffiness" on good farming and ranching climate. Anywhere west of about the 98th merdian and south of the 39th parallel (Ellsworth, Kan.) is very likely to face "iffinessness" and somewhat likely to face at least semiregular drought, I'll venture.

And anybody west of the 100th meridian and south of the 37th parallel (Meade, Kan., just south of Dodge City) is more than likely to be facing drought, if this is all true.

The first point is in the heart of America's corn belt. The second is in the heart of the wheat belt. The third is in the heart of America's irrigated farming (on the Plains) belt and the cattle belt.

Food for thought, pun intended.

That not to mention water supplies for 6.5 million people in metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth, 1 million in metro Austin, 2 million in metro San Antonio, etc.

Will Slick Willie's popularity translate to Dear Leader?

Gallup reports that a full two-thirds of Americans now view Bill Clinton favorably.

Question is, will this translate over to Barack Obama in the presidential campaign stretch drive?

Question two is, given different statements recently on the future of the Bush Obama tax cuts, how well will the Slickster stay on message?

Question three is, how much will Obama use him after the convention?

Question four is, if Questions 1-3 are all favorable to Obama, how much will popularity translate into electoral help?

My tentative answers?

On 1, the popularity will translate modestly to moderately.

On 2, he'll stay moderately to mostly on message.

On 3, he'll get fairly heavy usage.

On 4, it won't mean a lot of help outside of Virginia, the Ohio Valley states and just maybe North Carolina. He should win Colorado and New Mexico without such help. The upper Midwest will depend on more than just that, like anger at Republican governors vs. the state of the economy in the "rust belt."