This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



June 2013

Curmudgeon’s Corner: That Kind of Smell

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Travel Planning
  • Phone Safety
  • Bachmann Retirement
  • Photo Journalists / Channel Drift

Recorded on 3 Jun 2013

Length this week – 1:11:26

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Congressional Velocity (June 2013 Update)

In our annual predictions show for 2013 one of the items Ivan and I disagreed on was if the 113th congress would enact laws at a higher or lower velocity than the 112th. (Enact of course meaning passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.)

So I have started to track that. Here are the charts so far (one with a linear scale, one with a log scale to better show the early detail):

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 13.58.36482

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 13.59.00760

Minus any new laws recently signed that might not have made it to my source at yet, as of 155 days into each of the three Congresses (that would be June 7th of the first year in all three cases) we have the 111th having 25 laws enacted, the 112th having 17 laws enacted, and the 113th having 13 laws enacted.

It is interesting to note the somewhat similar patterns in the shapes of the curves, indicating that although the velocity may be different, there seems to be a nice pattern to how Congress ramps up, when it takes breaks, when it speeds up and does more, etc. Bursts around holidays and in the lame duck period, lulls during the summer, bigger lull in the run up to elections, etc. (Of course, to really examine this, you’d need to look at more than 3 congresses, the similarities may not bear out with robust scrutiny.)

So far I am correct in my prediction that the 113th would enact fewer laws than the 112th. But there is still plenty of time before the end of the year for this to change and for Ivan to be proven right instead.

At the moment I am not making any statement on if that is a good or a bad thing. :-)

@abulsme tweets from 2013-06-06 (UTC)

  • Reading – 22 Maps That Show The Deepest Linguistic Conflicts In America (Walter Hickey) 17:50:11
  • Reading – U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program (Gellman/Poitras) 22:29:20
  • Reading – NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily (Glenn Greenwald) 22:42:17
  • Reading – NSA has direct access to tech giants' systems for user data, secret files reveal (Greenwald/MacAskill) 23:20:15
  • This week's surveillance revelations are unsurprising, but still very sad. Any marginal security from this is not worth it. Not even close. 23:21:48
  • The thing to always remember: Even if you trust the current leaders to wield vast powers, what about the next guys? Or the ones after that? 23:28:42
  • You should never set up a system that allows people (anybody!) to wield powers you wouldn't want your worst enemies to wield. 23:29:32
  • Because if a system exists, if the powers exist, you can be sure that sooner or later, people you violently disagree with will use them. 23:30:28
  • Thus the reason for explicit limits on power, and strong checks and balances to prevent abuse. 23:34:46
  • Too bad when people get scared, limits get lifted, and the people who are supposed to check and balance just… don't. 23:35:30