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AvatarComments by Michael Cain in reply to Road Scholar*

On “A Clusterfark in Wisconsin

IIRC, voting illegally in Texas is a second-degree felony, the same category that includes arson, manslaughter, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Minimum sentence for a second-degree felony is two years. Also from memory, in the rare cases where a DA decides to pursue it, sentences are typically in the five-to-seven year range.


58,000 non-U.S. citizens may have voted in at least one election here, election official says

I'll agree: 58,000 illegal voters is a problem that should be corrected. The next question is, why are we not seeing thousands of trials and convictions in Texas, or even stories about thousands of people being stricken from the rolls?

Anecdotal... A few years back, the Colorado Sec of State produced a list of 4,000 names and addresses that he asserted were people illegally registered to vote in Colorado. The list went to the county clerks, who investigated them all. The list was whittled down as naturalized citizens, people who weren't on the rolls, and people with duplicate or misspelled names or incorrect addresses were cleared. When the clerks were done, there were four people who were illegally registered. All of them had been registered by a single overzealous worker at a drivers license office who signed them up without asking their status. None of them had voted. Their names were removed from the registration system, drivers license workers were given remedial training, and the local DA declined to prosecute.


They did not. The judge's ruling was that clerks should count certain improper ballots. It did not change the rules for submitting a proper ballot. "I submitted a proper ballot" and "I submitted an improper ballot that a lower-court judge in an open case under appeal said should be counted" are two very different things.

On “Playing the Coronavirus Odds

I'm part of the generation with the biggest reputation for selfishness in history. The virus isn't a death sentence for us -- despite our age and crappy health habits, the large majority will (most likely) eventually get infected, not need to be hospitalized, not die. We're leaving some very large problems behind. (I claim we get blamed for too much stuff, but that's a debate for a different day.) A lot of the pain from the current response to the coronavirus is going to fall heavily on people younger than me. There's only so much sacrifice those young people should be asked to make for me -- and perhaps we're already asking too much.

With tongue only partly in cheek, if we're going to put today's college students through a Greater Depression, asking them to give up Spring Break seems petty on our part.

On “A Clusterfark in Wisconsin

When all is said and done, the SCOTUS let stand the part of the district judge's order that said absentee ballots postmarked by Apr 7 and received by Apr 13 should be counted. And as it turns out, that's exactly the relief that the plaintiffs in the case had requested. No one in the case asked that the witness requirement be waived or people be allowed to vote late -- that was stuff the district judge threw in.


The fundamental choices were: try to conduct the election as planned with the defined procedures, or make up something different on the fly. Even without the partisan considerations everyone's jumping on, I find it unsurprising that the legislature declined to make an "on the fly" attempt. Equally unsurprising that the courts found the executive branch lacked authority to try it. State legislatures have been far less likely to delegate as much authority to the executive as Congress does routinely.

Note that "we'll just have everyone vote absentee" on this kind of notice is very much an on the fly thing. States with vote-by-mail (CO, HI, OR, UT, and WA this year) all spent a year or two working the bugs out. States that are almost vote-by-mail using their absentee system (AZ and CA that I know of) have spent years building up the capacity to cope with it.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

Didn't Stanford start testing one on 2,500 or so volunteers yesterday?

On “Seven Slices of DQ Life

Yeah, and I know that there are cases where someone who has messed up their life turns things around completely as soon as there's a kid. Didn't make watching any easier. I only went to the one session -- the case worker told me she had six scheduled for that day. Left me with a serious bout of "It doesn't matter how much we're paying the case workers, it's not enough."


...for gawking at the willfully dysfunctional.

There's a lot of that going around.

The one thing I encountered when I was working for the state legislature that made me cry afterwards was when I sat in the back at a family counseling session paid for by a county family court. I don't think they were willfully dysfunctional, but... The parents were two people who should never have been allowed to have kids. The extended family was there, as the kids spent time with one or the other set of grandparents when mom and dad were in jail or rehab. At least IMO, the grandparents should never have been allowed to have children either. The case worker told me later I should visit more often; everyone was on their best behavior because of the stranger in the coat and tie.

I have no idea what's happening with that sort of county service during the local lock down.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

My general impression of Germany... have had less problems with unions behaving badly.

Take a long enough view and that's not true. Bismarck instituted public pensions out of fear of what the unions (and the rest of the socialists) would do.

My impression of the history since WWII is that Germany worked to make unions and capitalists all part of an "us". The US, as in other things, took a path that made them antagonists.

On “Seven Slices of DQ Life

Re your #6... I have read that animal shelters have adopted out most of the available population, many to people who are (temporarily) staying at home. I worry what happens to those animals when everyone goes back to the office.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

I remember clearly that he called himself a nurse, and that he worked in institutions rather than homes. I was more interested in all the places he was going to go to surf in the next six months.

On “Telehealth: Make Sure You’re Connected, the Writing’s on the Wall

Rural hospital collapse syndrome -- for lack of anything else to call it -- is a thing pretty much everywhere.

I see Gov. Cuomo is talking about sending the National Guard out to find currently unused ventilators and bring them to areas with the worst shortages. I assume this will result in stripping equipment from the rural hospitals for use in urban areas, as the zombie spread simulations have the epidemics reaching the rural areas later. I don't really expect to see small Great Plains towns barricading the single paved road that carries outside traffic. OTOH, I wouldn't be completely surprised if a few of them tried it.

On “Weekend Plans Post: Holding Steady

My trip to the grocery yesterday was surprisingly dangerous. The parking lot was mostly empty. Drivers in two different cars were ignoring the painted lines, other moving vehicles, and pedestrians. There was still no Diet Citrus Drop, Kroger's imitation (and possibly superior) Diet Mountain Dew knock-off. There was Diet Mountain Dew, but only in packaging that is priced outrageously. I have started an online deep-learning computer-vision class. How am I supposed to code new things without a glass of sugar-free caffeine-laden green carbonated nectar at my side?

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

Years back, on the shuttle from downtown Seattle to the airport, the only other passenger's luggage was clearly a case for surfboards. We had a nice chat. He was on his way to South Africa to start the off part of his six months on, six months off work schedule. He put it something like this: "I'm 6'2" 210 pounds and in great shape. I'm trained in one of the martial arts focused on restraining the opponent. I'm properly certified to work as a nurse in any facility for people with psych problems. I can land in any metro area in the US on Sunday, start making phone calls on Monday, and start work on Wednesday."

On “Telehealth: Make Sure You’re Connected, the Writing’s on the Wall

Somewhat relatedly, the State of Washington is going to take over the recently bankrupt Astria Regional Medical Center. The facility will be staffed by the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (one of the eight US uniformed services). The state signed a six-month lease; the PHSCC has booked an entire hotel in Yakima through the end of April for the staff.

Covid is likely to bankrupt a lot of rural hospitals. Yakima, where the facility is located, isn't typically rural (and this particular bankruptcy isn't Covid-related; the parent company declared Chapter 11 in May 2019). The county has almost a quarter-million people and has experienced substantial population growth from 1970 on.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

People are going to start going nuts sooner than latter.

I suspect one indirect consequence of this will be a bunch of people putting off their retirement. Not because their 401(k) crashed -- although that might be a part of it -- but because they've run into the question I've always asked colleagues contemplating early retirement: "How are you going to fill up all those hours?"


The remaining white-people version is custom wheat cutting. Capital intensive. A crew with a $250K combine and two or three big trucks will come through an area and harvest wheat for local farmers who can't afford the gear. They'll start in the Texas Panhandle and migrate north as far as the Canadian border as wheat ripens.


Chinese authorities report they have seized at least 40M masks with forged N95 markings. Such masks are starting to show up in imports received in the US. In may quickly become a truism that all kinds of mask are available, only we don't know which is which kind.


One of the things that I haven't seen mentioned in articles about all the companies starting mask production is exactly what kind of masks they are making. N95 masks certified by both NIOSH and the FDA? (NIOSH requires stopping particulates; FDA additionally requires stopping a stream of liquid at a specific pressure.) N95 masks certified only by NIOSH (often called "industrial" masks)? Surgical masks (which stop neither particulates or the liquid stream, but are required to be sterile when shipped)? Something else?

On “Wednesday Writs: Schoolboy Innuendo Edition wife is leading a teleconfrence of her work people just to touch base, let everyone get the little gripes and whatnot of quarantine of their chests.

Back in the day, when I was doing research on what could be done with IP multicast multimedia, one of the things I tried was a little "break room". Attaching to that particular group indicated you were willing to let people interrupt you to chat. It wasn't as good as face-to-face, but people preferred it to nothing.


Drinking, gambling, and not conforming to social distance rules. At least one of the news reports listed that specifically. I suppose that public displays of affection will no longer be tolerated.

On our wedding day, after the ceremony, I needed some piece of information from my wife. She was in one of the little rooms at the church changing from her wedding dress to regular clothes. I knocked and started to open the door when my new sister-in-law jumped in front of me and exclaimed, "She's not dressed!" As I smiled and moved her aside, I said, "It's all right, Gina. We're married now."


L9: Many of the animals have ended up at the 800-acre Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO. The Sanctuary has recently acquired almost 10,000 acres in SE Colorado that will provide a greater variety of terrain.

On “Joe Biden: Staying Alive

When I say things like “I’d rather vote Trump than Cthulu” that is hyperbole to get the Democrats to wake up and stop doing what they’re doing because it’s hurting their cause badly...

The thing I don't get for either side is that it's not "rather vote Trump than Cthulu", it's whether to vote Trump or Cthulu as modulated by Congress. Cthulu may be able to push the regulatory agencies as far to the left WRT policy as they were under Obama, but probably not much farther. Cthulu may be in favor of Medicare for All, but in any sane scenario where the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, that majority includes Joe Manchin and either nine or ten Senators from Mountain West states; M4A is DOA in the Senate.

On “The Free Market Case for Staying the Eff Home

So far as DC goes, I consider "hired" and "appointed" to be two different things. A habit I picked up from a friend who spent several years in the top levels of the civil service at the FCC, and who always made sure people knew he wasn't appointed to his positions.

Civil service ineptitude/overreach/etc seems to be largely independent of who was at the top when the people got hired.

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