SocraticGadfly: 8/13/17 - 8/20/17

August 19, 2017

India plans to go all-electric on cars by 2030

No, really! That's what the government claims, per the World Economic Forum.

Yeah, right.

Both Modi's currently ruling BJP AND Congress would be more likely to let Pakistan have Kashmir than for this to become a reality.

(And, as of August 2019, Modi's moved MUCH further away from that reality. The reality of Kashmir as a "giant prison camp" and how India  — led by the BJP, but with Congress and allies in acquiescence — got to this point is explained in detail by Arundhati Roy.)

I mean, given that by 2030, India will likely pass China as the world's most populous nation, thanks to Modi having declared a "birthrate war" with Beijing, AND, given that India's been a foot-dragger to this point on even voluntary efforts to help fight global climate change, this would be great.

But, it ain't happening.

There's ZERO charging infrastructure there. But, that's a minor problem.

One-third of rural Indian homes lack electricity, even though just about all the country (theoretically) is wired. Many houses that do have juice don't have it for a full 24 hours a day. It's intermittent and unreliable.

And, by India's current grid, going all-electric could be worse than having more gas-powered cars. Coal makes up nearly 60 percent of its power generation, and a fair amount of that is dirty lignite.

After all, in advance of the Paris Accord talks, the Modi government said India should be lumped with sub-Saharan Africa, not China, on standards. If it was telling the truth, then it knows it can't meet these promises. If it was lying, then it may well be lying now.

And, per that link and my "birthrate war" comment above, if ANYTHING is ANTI-climate change battling, it's deliberately asking your country to increase its birthrate.

To the degree India cleans up its electric generation, and produces more, other demands on it will go well ahead of electric cars.

August 18, 2017

Grocery wars, part 2

A week and a half ago, per the graphic above, I blogged about what appears to be a new showdown in grocery wars, starting with Kroger's end to a 13-year sales growth, along with the announced expansion of Aldi and cousin Lidl mean for the grocery industry.

Well, we've got a couple of updates.

First, at the nearest Kroger, in a town that also has an Aldi's, Kroger's done a bunch of price-whacking on house brand products from deli "pan" style premium bread to crackers, potato chips and more. And Aldi has responded.

Bigger yet?

Aldi's is rolling out a trial run of grocery delivery. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metromess, the nearest big city to me, is one of the trial areas.

Now, everybody from wags to serious economic analysts wonder how many Aldi's shoppers will pony up for this.

I'd say: You're stereotyping Aldi's shoppers and possibly more than you realize, at least in some places. I'd also say: You're making assumptions about how much Aldi will charge.

Perhaps of better note? Aldi's CEO said it would be adding more house brands.

That means, in Dallas, more of a possible war not just with Kroger, but with the recently invading Winco Discount Foods, which in terms of overall selection combined with a value range of products near Aldi on price and wider in products, is the best of all three stores.

August 16, 2017

The Nation and its DSA bromance vis-a-vis the Green Party

I have longly, loudly and repeatedly, for many years, bitched about The Nation's refusal to give any real coverage to the Green Party. Said oversight is not just limited to presidential election seasons, and it is clearly deliberate.

The Democratic Socialists of America? Different story. Now that Bernie Sanders has made it OK for Bernibros to come out of the closet or whatever, they are. And so, the mag has run not just one but two stories, by John Nichols and by Jesse Myerson, puffing the DSA.

And, "puffing" both are.

First, Nichols talks about the DSA's "long, storied tradition."

So, let's look at that tradition.

First, the DSA is NOT a political party. It's merely an activist group. It is arguably the most conservative splinter of the breakup of the old Socialist Party, per its Wikipedia page. While I'm no David Cobb fan, Greens should note the DSA endorsed John Kerry ahead of Cobb in 2008, and Barack Obama ahead of both Cynthia McKinney in 2008 and Jill Stein in 2012. (Of course, the Communist Party USA also endorsed Obama, showing just how far tokenism can go at times.)

Unfortunately, judging by a Facebook group, there's plenty of Greens who have a DSA bromance, too, and not all of them are Berniecrats wearing (for now) Green get-up.

Second, on Myerson's piece? I'm more a socialist than the Berniebros, by and large, and I'm certainly more of a socialist than Bernie himself.

And, re Myerson's breathless reporting on its growth rate? First, that's the old fallacy of appeal to the crowd. Second, the Green Party, though having a disappointing 2016 presidential run, is also growing.

Next, the likes of Maxine Phillips opposing a full-on BDS illustrate, among older members, just how conservative the DSA is.

Speaking of, Nichols in his piece ignores reporting on how perennial Socialist candidate Norman Thomas was long on the CIA payroll, a fact that I am quite sure he knows, especially since he wrote a whole book on the party. World War I-era socialists, even before Wilson Administration persecution, never would have done that.

Some people may claim the DSA is leftist by its voting at this year's convention to leave the Socialist International. Big deal. The Socialist Party USA, which is an actual party as well as an activist group, did that back in 2005. Unlike the DSA, the SPUSA, per Wiki, does not in any way, shape or form collaborate with the Democratic Party. It may not run many candidates, but it runs more than the non-party DSA. It may not be big, but at least until this year's DSA convention, it was at least as big as the DSA.

None of this, though, will ever be reported by The Nation. And, as a result, "none" is what sort of subscription I will ever buy, or money I will ever send.

And, as for Greens? Basically, to riff on a GP name or two above, the DSA is kind of what AccommoGreens like Cobb and Stein would like to make the Green Party — an activist organization to prod Dems left first (remember Dear Leader asking for that, then getting mad when anybody did it), and a political party of the left a distant second.

As for Greens shouting over the DSA having a libertarian sectional at this year's convention? I accept certain elements of libertarian socialism, while noting that not all libertarian socialists are anarchic, that I am definitely not, and that I reject anarchic ideas for the Green Party.

Otherwise, is the DSA "bad"? No. Am I glad it's moving further left? Yes.

But, Greens? For any of you having a Nation-type bromance for the DSA? Again, what presidential candidates have they endorsed?

August 15, 2017

TX Progressives denounce #Charlottesville, Trump non-response, await #txlege sine die

The Texas Progressive Alliance strongly condemns the racist Nazi violence in Charlottesville as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at July finance reports in key State Senate districts.

Socratic Gadfly examines Consortium News' latest in-depth piece on how Putin did NOT "do it" on the DNC hacks and and ties this together with Sy Hersh's comments about Seth Rich.

With only a few days remaining in the special legislative session, it appears that Greg Abbott won't come close to getting everything he wanted out of it, says PDiddie at Brain and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas calls out the Texas Republican hate on display this week - from LGBTQ bashing, immigrant bashing and the bashing of the poor.

Neil at All People Have Value went to the monthly meeting of the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The meeting was well-attended and many tangible actions were discussed. APHV is part of

Ted at Jobsanger offers up some statistics about Muslims in America.

Lewisville Texan Journal has a profile of John Wannamaker, one of four Dems vying to challene Rep. Michael Burgess.

Texas Watch wants the state department of insurance to investigate car insurers for allegedly cutting corners on paying for repairs.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Marc Campos eulogizes former Governor Mark White, while the TSTA Blog remembers his legacy.

Texas Vox needs some help for its challenge to one of Trump's deregulatory executive orders.

Lone Star Ma makes the case for breast pumps.

The Daily Report notes that now-former Corpus Christi mayor Dan McQueen is going to go Steve Stockman and primary Ted Cruz.

The Rivard Report notes San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg telling Greg Abbott to back off the attack on cities.

The Texas Living Waters Project frets about the zebra mussel invasion.

August 14, 2017

Another job, another age discrimination?

A marketing communications job at a state university, where the job description doesn't even include the phrase "social media," decided to hire another person after its interviews of me and other finalist candidates.

Not going to name the place,  as, unlike the now-being-named Bastrop Advertiser newspaper, who I blogged about before with the use or misuse of "social media" questions as what I believe was a screening tool, I don't know who this state university hired. (I know who Bastrop hired and I knew him personally and it was no surprise he left after less than a year.)

But its initials are SFA State University and it's in Deep East Texas.

Anyway, in case I need to, I bookmarked the particular job. And, I'm going to copy/paste the details.
General Description:
This is a professional position responsible for performing editorial work in support of the operation of the Office of University Marketing Communications. Responsible for contributing to the development, publication and dissemination of department-produced communications; assisting with the development and implementation of communications programs; assisting with special projects as assigned; and ensuring the quality, consistency, and conformity of departmental public relations, branding and publication functions. Works under general supervision, with moderate latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment. This is a security-sensitive position. Reports to the assistant director, University Marketing Communications (Creative & Editorial Services). 
 Essential Job Functions:
1. Researches, writes, and edits department-produced communications for use in print and electronic publications, branding efforts and communications programs.
2. Obtains, prepares, and disseminates informational and promotional items in the form of news stories, feature articles, or marketing collateral internally to the university community and/or externally to local and state media and the general public.
3. Confirms facts for releases, features, and marketing copy, adhering to journalistic standards for fact-finding, research and style.
4. Consults with university faculty and staff to obtain information for publication and/or to respond to media inquiries.
5. Contributes to the print and electronic publication of department-produced communications.
6. Assists with the development and implementation of communications programs that describe and promote the university by collaborating with departmental staff and/or other departments and contributing to decisions on content and style.
7. Upholds established editorial standards of official university communications.
8. Monitors comprehensive project schedule to ensure timely project completion.
9. Ensures the quality, consistency, and conformity of departmental public relations, branding and publication functions.
10. Provides periodic project status reports to supervisor.
11. Stays abreast of developments and emerging trends related to areas of specialization.
Non-Essential Job Functions:
1. Assists with copywriting as assigned.
2. Assists with photography and videography shoots as needed.
3. Assists with special projects as assigned.
4. May edit publications produced by other departments.
5. Performs other related duties as assigned. 
 Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
1. Knowledge of, or the ability to learn, university policies and procedures.
2. Knowledge of professional standards related to areas of specialization, including journalism principles, the concepts used in writing news and marketing copy, Associated Press style, desktop publishing and printing.
3. Skill in using computer applications including spreadsheet, database, publication, and word processing software.
4. Skill in completing assignments accurately and with attention to detail.
5. Skill in editing documents for correct grammar.
6. Ability to analyze, organize and prioritize work while meeting multiple deadlines.
7. Ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written form.
8. Ability to establish and maintain a good rapport with university faculty and staff, students and the general public.
9. Ability to think conceptually and creatively.
10. Ability to exercise sound judgment in making critical decisions.
11. Ability to problem-solve in a variety of situations.
12. Ability to maintain currency of knowledge and skills, including adapting to changes in technology and software related to areas of specialization. 
Completion of at least two years of college coursework or an Associate's degree in English, communications, journalism, marketing or a related field is required. Bachelor's degree is preferred. 
 Experience and Training:
Two years of related experience is required. Experience in news writing, marketing, advertising, public relations, communications or a related field is required. Graphic design experience is preferred. 
By the job description, on both education and experience, I was overqualified, if anything. Therefore, the idea that they hired somebody even better qualified, for a job that, at its base-level pay, pays less than the journalism job I now have?


I really doubt that, per the university's form "no" letter, they got somebody better qualified. (I'm doubly sure of that now; re-reading the job title, I realize I looked one line too high on the university's pay scale. At their pay range, I am VERY sure they didn't have somebody better qualified. Somebody cheaper, as part of being younger? Possible. Very possible. Or else, they hired somebody either far more desperate than me, or somebody who "got creative" on a resume and / or in the interview process.)

On the social media issue, you'll note that the phrase "social media" isn't even mentioned. And, other than details of how to apply, and information that would more specifically identify who the university is, that is the WHOLE job description.

I was asked at least three "social media" questions by one of the four interviewers. (They had split up questions; I don't know if they brainstormed question lists together or separately.)

I was asked in detail about my skill in personal and professional use of not only Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram and Snapchat.

First, WHY was I asked any of these questions?

Second, WHAT THE FUCK is Snapchat used for as a professional social media tool? Seriously?

At best, it could be seen as attempting to be hip to millennials making college decisions. However, they might at least feel patronized by such, and besides, that's really the business of recruitment and admissions anyway. But, to reach out to alumni? Professional organizations interested in professors and various colleges of a university? No.

Beyond all THAT, when folks on Twitter like the Democratic Party and Ted Cruz use the Snapchat icon as their Twitter icons, you know it's about to lose its "millennial cool."

Third, the supervisor for the position, when I queried by email later, having gotten the impression from interview questions that I was suddenly interviewing for a social media editor's position, told me that the job only involved a one per day to each of the social media accounts. (I still have that, and other, emails saved.)

Given all that, and that the person asking the social media questions was under 35, if not under 30 ...

Age discrimination is the only realistic conclusion I see. 

Even if it wasn't consciously done. (Sorry, Dan Kaufman, but this is why things like Project Implicit not only reveal a fair amount of truth, but are necessary.) Even if wanting somebody cheaper cuz younger.

Also, if this wasn't conscious age discrimination, it was godawful interviewing to ask somebody questions that aren't even on a job description.


I will be charitable enough to say they let me interview by Skype (OTOH, they might have pushed the "social media" issue even harder in person), and complete timed writing and editorial tests on an honor system.