Patterico's Pontifications


Just So You Know…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:39 pm

[guest post by Dana]


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Here’s some more detail on that, from the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama will call on the new Republican-led Congress to raise taxes on investments and inherited property and to create or expand a range of tax breaks for middle-income families, laying out an opening position in a debate over taxation that both parties see as a potential area of compromise.

Mr. Obama will outline the measures in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He will propose using revenue generated from the tax increases—which would fall mainly on high-income households—to pay for a raft of new breaks aimed at boosting stagnant incomes for low- and middle-income households.

Those initiatives include tripling the child-care tax credit and creating a new credit for families in which both spouses work, senior administration officials said on Saturday.

I already wasn’t going to watch the speech. This cements that decision.

UPDATE BY DANA: Veronique de Rugy points out the sad truth:

“Whether he announces proposals during the speech or in the two weeks preceding the speech, the bulk of what the president wants to do is give stuff away for “free”:

Two “free” years of community college for Americans who are “willing to work for it.” This is obviously not free because taxpayers would be footing the bill. It’s also a bad idea since it wouldn’t even accomplish its intended goal.

“Free” paid sick days and paid family leave. It won’t be free for the employers who would have to shoulder the cost, or the employees who would suffer from the unintended consequences of a policy that would make hiring more expensive, cuts workers’ wages, and make employment contracts more rigid.

If Congress doesn’t pass the president’s paid sick days and paid family leave plan, he’ll encourage state and local governments to act. That too would be “free” . . . except for taxpayers who get stuck paying for a proposed $2.2 billion plan to help states study paid leave.

Universal access to broadband and high-speed Internet. That will come “free” by having the FCC trample on state laws that restrict municipalities from building their own networks. The language he’s using to sell this plan (“clear away the red tape” and “help communities succeed in our digital economy”) makes it sound free, right? It won’t be. My colleague Brent Skorup notes that the government has “spent billions on broadband.” As Skorup explains in a piece that I highly recommend, federally funded public broadband networks aren’t just costly – they’re also unwise and unhelpful in terms of getting people access to fast Internet.

Organizing for the New Year? Try Workflowy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:19 pm

I’m trying to get my time management issues under control, and have been reading Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. It seems like a pretty good handbook for getting all those projects and goals under control that you have scattered about.

However, the book is old (it was written in 2001), and many of the paper-based recommendations are laughably out of date. The most whiz-bang technology recommended, for those really into high-tech gadgets, are those newfangled PDAs (!).

But today, there are dozens if not hundreds of organizational tools out there that can serve the critical functions of organizing.

Two that I have been using are Wunderlist (which I have been using for a few weeks or months now) and Workflowy (which I just discovered). Both are free. Although I see people debating their merits, I have (after a lot of pondering and trial and error) found a way to use them in a complementary fashion that I am pretty excited about.

Workflowy is an absurdly simple concept with almost no learning curve, which makes it ridiculously useful. It’s just an outline program, which is always available on your computer or smartphone, updated in real time between them. In a second I will discuss how I use it, but it’s actually useful for basically any situation where you want to keep lists of any sort. The more I use it, the more uses I think of for it.

Basically you just type in something, and there it is. Need a subcategory? Hit enter and tab and there it is. Moving things around is far easier than editing in Microsoft Word.

The initial impetus for signing up with Workflowy was to find a way to organize notes on books I am reading. Between Audible, the Kindle app, and hard copies of books, I am in the middle of reading more books than at any one time in my life, and I love doing it this way. When I get bored with one, I just switch to another. I’m easily reading one or two dozen books at one time in this way. (And yes, I do finish them. I just finished Thomas Sowell’s “A Conflict of Visions”, Ron Paul’s “The Revolution: A Manifesto”, and Tom Woods’s “Real Dissent”, all in this past week.)* As I read the books, I like to make notes about things I am learning — possibly for a blog post, and possibly just to refer to in the future. Previously, I was making all of these notes in separate files on my Notes App on my iPhone. But there was no organization to this process at all. This made it difficult at times to retrieve the notes when I wanted to consult them. One of my goals for the New Year was to organize this process.

Workflowy does this perfectly. I have transferred all my notes to a single organized folder, which is labeled “Books” which in turn is in a folder called “Personal Education” which is in turn in a folder titled “Personal.” Here is what a portion of that “Books” folder looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 12.53.04 PM

The ellipses represent my extensive notes which pop up when I click on them. I have notes on “A Conflict of Visions” and the Madison biography as well, but for some reason those ellipses did not show up in the screenshot.

Under “Personal Education” I also have notes from podcasts I have listened to, online courses I am taking, and so forth.

The only thing Workflowy lacks is a reminder/calendar function or syncing capability. It’s basically useful for lists, and that’s it. That’s where Wunderlist comes in. It is a program where you can dump, organize, and prioritize things you need to do. You can set reminders and sync it with your calendar.

If you have David Allen’s book or end up reading it, this will make sense to you: I am currently using Workflowy for things like Project lists, Someday/maybe lists, and so forth, whereas I use Wunderlist for “Next action” lists that need to sync with the calendar and need reminders to pop up on the computer or phone at the appropriate time.

Anyway, I highly recommend that you just give Workflowy a spin. All you need is an email and a password. If you sign up for it, please use this link. That will give you double the number of items per month that you would otherwise get under the free program (which seems like plenty), plus it gives me more free items as well. Give it a try.

Execution In Oklahoma

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:53 am

[guest post by Dana]

On Thursday, after Charles Frederick Warner’s application for a stay of execution was denied by the Supreme Court, he was executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma. It was the first state-sanctioned execution in Oklahoma since last year’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

Joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan, Wise Latina Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissent. As issue was the “reliability of the first drug to be used in the three-drug Oklahoma protocol, saying there was significant scientific doubt about whether it would succeed in causing unconsciousness in an inmate, and thus potentially exposing him to “searing, unnecessary pain before death.”.

From the dissent:

“I find the District Court’s conclusion that midazolam will in fact work as intended difficult to accept given recent experience of the use of this drug.”

“It is true that we give deference to the district courts. But at some point we must question their findings of fact, unless we are to abdicate our role of ensuring that no clear error has been committed. We should review such findings with added care when what is at issue is the risk of the needless infliction of severe pain.”

“Petitioners have committed horrific crimes, and should be punished. But the Eighth Amendment guarantees that no one should be subjected to an execution that causes searing, unnecessary pain before death. I hope that our failure to act today does not portend our unwillingness to consider these questions.”

Apparently, Warner felt some pain during the execution procedure (as well as felt really badly about what he did…):

“It hurt. It feels like acid,” Warner said from the gurney. “I’m sorry for all the pain that was caused. I’m not a monster. I didn’t do everything they said I did. I love people, love my family. I love Jesus.”

“No one should go through this. I’m not afraid to die. We’s all going to die.”

Searing, unnecessary pain before death must be in the eye of the beholder because Warner was convicted in 1997 on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree rape and no amount of searing pain suffered by him could ever, ever come close to the extraordinary searing and unnecessary pain he inflicted on his tiny victim, 11-month old Adrianna Waller:

Adriana’s jaw and three of her ribs were broken, and her lungs and her spleen were bruised. Her liver was lacerated, and she suffered from brain hemorrhaging because of Warner’s attack.

Note: Death row inmates were executed Thursday in Florida and Oklahoma with the same three drugs used during Oklahoma’s botched execution in April. Florida has now used the method without incident 11 times.

Further, as a reminder, state attorneys claimed the cause of the botched Lockett execution was not due to the drugs being used, but rather the inexperience of the attending medical technician who missed the vein.


Parents Questioned By Authorities for Letting Children Walk Home from Park

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:26 am

It’s a cowardly new world:

It was a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. But what the parents saw as a moment of independence for their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they say authorities viewed much differently.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say they are being investigated for neglect for the Dec. 20 trek — in a case they say reflects a clash of ideas about how safe the world is and whether parents are free to make their own choices about raising their children.

. . . .

On Dec. 20, Alexander agreed to let the children, Rafi and Dvora, walk from Woodside Park to their home, a mile south, in an area the family says the children know well.

The children made it about halfway.

Police picked up the children near the Discovery building, the family said, after someone reported seeing them.

. . . .

The Meitivs say that on Dec. 20, a CPS worker required Alexander to sign a safety plan pledging he would not leave his children unsupervised until the following Monday, when CPS would follow up. At first he refused, saying he needed to talk to a lawyer, his wife said, but changed his mind when he was told his children would be removed if he did not comply.

Following the holidays, the family said, CPS called again, saying the agency needed to inquire further and visit the family’s home.

And it goes on like that.

My son Matthew is a walker, an apparently genetic trait passed down to him from my mom through me. In grade school, he decided he wanted to start walking home, rather than being in the after-care program. It’s about a mile, all downhill, and it gave him time to be alone with his thoughts, some measure of independence, and a head-start on being home.

If authorities had tried to intimidate me over that, I would have raised holy hell.

Government is starting to take over society, replacing traditional institutions and systems like the family, religion, fraternal organizations, and many others. As a commenter recently noted, it’s not all government’s fault; we vote for these people. We need to remake society. I’m just not sure how.

For now, I’ll keep doing my little part by speaking out against it.

Thanks to G.R.

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