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Archive for the ‘Follow-Up Question’ Category

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post about a press release I found concerning the Presidential Commission on Electoral Administration (PCEA).

The PCEA was a commission asked for by the President to come up with recommendations on how to better run elections.

Yes, I realize I am late to the party but allow me to post on the final report put out by the PCEA which came out in January of this year.

In its report (PDF version here), the PCEA has six key recommendations. In order, they are…

Online registration: The PCEA says the trend towards online voter registration should continue and that states should allow eligible voters to vote and update their registration via the Internet.

Interstate exchange of voter lists: The PCEA recommends that states check their voter registration lists against each other to ensure accuracy.

Expand Election Day: To reduce congestion on Election Day, the PCEA suggests that states expand alternative modes of voting (e.g., vote-by-mail, in-person early voting)

Use Schools as Polling Places: The PCEA recommends that states encourage the use of schools as polling places as those locations can provide the best facilities to conduct elections.

Adopt Resource Allocations Tools: The PCEA links to their own website and to a resource allocation calculator which election officials can use to determine how voting machines and staff that might be needed.

Upcoming Crisis: The PCEA says that within the next decade, many voting machines will have reached their end-of-life and will need to be replaced. The PCEA recommends that the standards and certification process for new voting technology be reformed.

With those six recommendations in mind, my follow-up question is this: Will my home state of Virginia adopt any of these recommendations or is this PCEA report yet another federally created doorstop?

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Since I love randomocity, here’s a story I first saw in from WIRED magazine about researchers showing that random picking of stocks does just as well as hiring a financial advisor.

We’ve seen one of the lead researchers, Alessandro Pluchino, before in my writing when I discussed the 2010 Ig Nobels being handed out and Pluchino took home an award for his work (along with co-researchers Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo) showing that organizations do better when they promote employees at random instead of using a rational practice (like merit).

Pluchino, along with Alessio Biondo, makes the case in this paper that picking stocks at random is on par, if not better, than hiring a financial advisor.

My follow-up question is this…What would be a good name for a brokerage that made its stock picks solely at random?

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Left Hanging

Having recently passed the one year anniversary of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed, there have been voices venting their frustration that no one has been called to task for this crime.

Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times even partially titles his column on this issue with “Where is the Justice?”

Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, will hold hearings in the next two weeks (according to this article) to investigate the attack and, for the first time, survivors of that deadly night will testify.

While some people clamor for justice for Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty one year on, my follow-up question is this…

When will there be justice for Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Mike Teague?

Those names are most likely not familiar anymore, but in March of 2004, these four Americans were killed in Fallujah, Iraq. Their beaten and burned bodies were then strung up and put on display on a bridge in that city.

To date, nearly a decade since that heinous crime, no one has even been accused, much less brought to face justice.

So, best of luck Mr. Scarborough and Representative Rogers on your search to find justice, but don’t look to history to be your guide lest you become depressed.

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If it is acceptable to criticize or even mock someone for their beliefs about…

…politics (examples here and here);

…economic theory (examples here and here);

…climate change (examples here and here);

…child rearing (examples here and here);

…etc. etc. etc. for dozens of other topics, my follow-up questions is this…

Why is it not acceptable to criticize or even mock the spiritual beliefs of another?

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Tripping through the wonderland that is the juxtaposition of cyberspace the federal government, I came across this blog post from the Department of Commerce.

In it, the Department of Commerce (specifically, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)) is proud to announce that they have teamed up with the United States Forest Service to create risk assessments for wildfires. The maps created by the government team-up show the risk posed by wildfires to various communities.

The image in the blog post, while interesting, reminded me of another type of map that contained a variety of colors to show risk – the flood map. Some examples of what flood maps like are here and here.

This realization of a comparison between flood maps and the wildfire maps brought me to a question.

I could use the new wildfire maps to assess my home’s risk for wildfire. With that information, I could contact the insurance agency that holds my home’s fire insurance and adjust my policy.

However, if I were to look at the flood maps for my home’s area, there are almost no private insurance companies I can contact to purchase – forget about adjusting – flood insurance.

If there is the philosophy that private enterprise does everything better than the federal government, then here is my follow-up question:

Why don’t most private insurance companies offer flood insurance when there is a need?

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This year of 2012 is coming to close. While some choose to look back and see who should win The Person of the Year award bestowed by TIME, I instead opt to opine that this was a horrible year for those in the prediction trade.

In South Africa, an amendment to a law would impose a sentence of ten years and a fine of 800,000 pounds on any meteorologist who issued a severe weather warning without receiving official permission first.

In Australia, a federal court issued a judgement against Standard & Poor’s, a financial services company, for providing high ratings to financial products that ultimately lost most of their value.

In Italy, six scientists and a government official were given prison terms of six years for failing to predict a 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila that killed nearly 300 people.

In the United States of America, during the presidential election of this year, many political prognosticators and pundits (and mostly those not relying on actual data) had egg on their face on November 7 when the final tally was not as close as their public pronouncements made out. Probably the biggest forecasting failure belonged to Dick Morris, who at least did admit he was wrong and offered up an explanation.

Given that three of my four stories above deal with legal and financial consequences being handed out for people and organizations that failed in their predictions, and;

Given that twenty-eight out of the thirty-nine political pundits being tracked by PunditTracker that have grades have a grade of “F”…

…my follow-up question is this:

What do you think would happen to the industry of talking heads and political pundits if each prognosticator faced a fine or other consequence for every wrong prediction they made?

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Given that in 1956, as Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower was running for a second term as President of the United States of America, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We favor self-government, national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States for residents of the District of Columbia.;

And given that in 1976, as Republican President Gerald Ford was running to be reelected as the President of the United States of America, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We again…support giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
;

And given that in 1996, as Republican Senator Bob Dole sought to win the presidency, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We…reject calls for statehood for the District.;

And given that in 2012, as Republican Governor Mitt Romney sought to win the presidency, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We oppose statehood for the District of Columbia.

My follow-up question is, “What changed?”

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Richard Nixon had Watergate.

Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra.

Bill Clinton had Monica Lewinsky.

Since the second term of some of our most recent Presidents have involved a scandal, my follow-up question is this…

What will be the scandal that crops up before 2016 that almost brings down the Obama Administration?

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Flag Day

My apologies for being a day late with the hook for this post.

Yesterday, in the United States, was Flag Day, a holiday designed to honor Old Glory and the Stars and Stripes.

In that vein, I offer you this story from last year of a member of the French Parliament offering an amendment that would prohibit the flying of foreign flags in public places. That was probably not the best time for the proposed ban by MP Guy Teissier as the French city of Annecy was bidding to win the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Pyeongchang, South Korea, will host those Games.

So my follow-up question is this: What is more worthy of a forehead-slap…

a) Living in a country where the legislature debates prohibiting foreign flags (which is almost as absurd as taxing all foreigners living abroad)

or

b) Living in a country where wearing (or not wearing) a flag pin is considered to be a worthy topic for debate (see here and here and here and here)?

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Wanted to try something new and see if I could kick off a series of posts all around the seven deadly sins.

Starting off alphabetically, our list begins with anger.

Given that I do not live in the United States anymore, I receive news about my former country of residence courtesy of the Internet. Mostly I look at the articles from international sources such as Reuters, BBC News, and CNN International. If I knew more French, I would try Le Monde, but I don’t so I can’t.

I believe that my distance from the United States and the fact that my sole source of information comes from cyberspace skews the news that I am receiving about where I used to live. With that in mind, I have been reading a pair of stories and the amount of umbrage that it has spawned seems to be equal.

So my follow-up question is this…

Which is group is angrier?

a) Protestors angry over the killing of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin.

b) People who bought “Angry Birds in Space” and then took to cyberspace to express their anger over the delay in the launch, the fact that the game doesn’t work on older iPhones, is not available for the Kindle Fire, or that the game is rife with in-app purchases (for those complaints, you’ll have to head on over to the iTunes Store).

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