Hallelujah! Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate and will now fill the ‘Scalia seat’ on SCOTUS. This brilliant constitutional jurist is just what the country needs to slow our headlong rush to socialism, and assure us all that the high court will fulfill its constitutional role without encroaching on Congress or acting in its silence as an extension of the Executive.
The ‘Nuclear Option’ used to confirm Judge Gorsuch does not spell the end of federal governance as we know it, no matter the gnashing of teeth and rending of garment by the Dems. After all, it was they who came up with that little piece of weaponry in the legislative arsenal. We are also reminded that the Senate’s 60-vote cloture rule did not come down from Sinai, nor is it ensconced in the Constitution. Our senators can pretty much do what they like when they cobble together or mend the rules which guide their proceedings. But having gone nuclear should now make elections and party control of Congress much more interesting, important, and volatile.
Tomahawks over Syria, about time. Without parsing the exact see-saws of Trump’s or even Washington’s wisdom about escalating the conflict in that part of the Middle (actually Near) East, it is good on its own that the US again showed the willingness to use its tooth and claw. No matter whether/how the bombardment of Assad’s Syria continues, it is important for bad actors from Putin, through Iran’s mullahs, to the fat kid in North Korea to see that there’s a new order and resolve in Washington. And the constant carping about ‘consistency’ by our Dems be damned. Under Obama the world came to know us as consistently lame; now a little sampler of inconsistency should make people appropriately apprehensive about how this man will play the hand he was dealt.
[8apr17 update] ‘Where Non-Techies Can Get With the Programming’ reports on the growing popularity of computer programming courses across the nation. These courses range from the introductory/survey type all the way to multi-month programs that pump out certificated coders who are ready to earn a living in industry. Almost all universities now have programming courses for their non-STEM majors, and for-profit training factories charge in the tens of thousands to make a programmer out of you in three to six months.
The importance of algorithms and the ability to algorize has finally been recognized by our non-techie business and (gasp!) humanities communities as a pre-requisite for critical or systems thinking. This gospel has been preached here for years, and now it has bubbled up to the level where even folks at the NYT appreciate how algorizing is actually a fundamental skill that is also the foundational common denominator of creativity (more here). Everyone who learns to code becomes an algorist, and can eventually learn to think thoughts denied to mere mortals (cf. Sapir-Whorf and all that). For those heading for STEM careers, computer programming is a natural gateway to the systems sciences the tools of which many of us have come to know open up more than a lucrative livelihood for their practitioners. Here is something I wrote years ago as a short intro to algorithmics at a time when using the word algorithm was beyond the communal ken and thought to be only obscure jargon and propeller-head talk. The times they are a’changin’.
[10apr17 update] Regarding this morning’s shootings at a San Bernardino elementary school about which we at this time know very little, but which is again raising all the gun control questions in the minds of our left-leaning neighbors. A commenter below asks for my “pragmatic approach to the 2nd Amendment” in view of this latest tragedy, and the question deserves a more considered answer. For the present let me just reiterate that the 2nd Amendment is not about duck hunting, and that the right of a large free peoples - now sheltering under a gossamer social contract while sharing fewer cultural assets than ever - to possess firearms does not come without a palpable price. And that price should be viewed as calmly and reasonably as possible when from time-to-time it must be paid. For recent readers and those who may have forgotten, my past scribblings – philosophical, pragmatic, and practical – on the private ownership of guns can be reviewed here, here, here, here, and here.
[11apr17 update] In days of yore when a store had to order some out of stock item for you, the typical wait was usually somewhere between 2-4 weeks. And we were OK with that. Today, it’s a given that an online order will arrive tomorrow or the next day; and from a brick and mortar outlet the pressure is to replicate that service or the customer will go elsewhere. Now that Amazon has set the new standard, there have sprung up dozens of new shipping companies to serve the small retailers desperate to compete. And the new paradigm is that these shipping companies are offering inventory stocking warehouses to which retailers can have their suppliers deliver the designated SKUs for rapid fulfillment. (more here) Ever wonder if UPS and FedEx missed the march by not expanding their package shipping/distribution centers to also offer inventory stocking services? Big online retailers like Amazon are not shy in also entering the shipping business. Changing times.
[13apr17 update] Softballing the opioid epidemic. Fox News’ decline as a hard-hitting right-oriented network proceeds apace. They now want to enlarge their audience from the sea of double dummies. Covering the opioid epidemic which is reported to kill 91 Americans per day, FN goes into hyper-anecdotal mode reporting on the tragic death of a good looking 20-something young man by sticking a mike into the faces of his bereaved parents. Opioids have a tremendous salutary effect as a prescribed pain killer that is used properly by millions of Americans. We can only put the ‘epidemic’ in perspective if given the ratio of opioid abusers (including gateways to heroin) to those consuming it properly to alleviate pain. But that stat is considered a yawn by the likes of FN. We already know how to do such tradeoffs for societal benefit. Traffic accidents also kill about 90 people a day, yet no one is proposing to curb the use of vehicular traffic in the US. Somehow those deaths are worth the price for the benefit we derive from a facile, low cost transportation system.