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Archive for the ‘Follow-Up Question’ Category

Today in Thailand, as I write this, is the sixth day of May in the year 2014.

I started this blog in northern Virginia in January of 2010.

Four years after I started putting thoughts down in bits and bytes, I am here now to say I am done.

It’s been fun. It’s been interesting. It’s been a learning experience in some case. However, this path has been completed.

I find myself with less time to write and even less interesting thoughts to write down.

What started as an outlet to spit out some of my more random thoughts and earlier writing morphed into an avenue into publishing my former roommate’s autobiography.

Now that David G’s work has been released into the wild and now that I find myself with less free time due to the demands of a new job, existing family, and the stresses of living in a foreign country, I find that I cannot give this blog space the time and love I feel it deserves.

Plus, I am deeply hooked on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and that game takes up gobs of time.

Until something of planet-shaking proportions occurs, I take my bow and thank you all for your patronage.

May we meet again one day.

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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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