Morning Ed: World {2017.07.25.Tu}

Pascal Emmanuel-Gobrey explains how Macron’s policies benefit France’s elites.

Pompeii is making a comeback. If you didn’t watch this video last time I linked to it, you should. (You can skip around, though.)

Attention Jaybird!: Is Qatar being punished for embracing our ideals?

From Jaybird: This article is interesting on two levels. The first level is the content of the article itself. Hey, a Muslim Gay Marriage! Love wins! The second level is the content of the comments. Seriously. Read the comments. (Oldest first.)

This is a lot of superhero and supervillain origin stories, right here.

Estonia just grew taller! (Okay, not really)

Luisa Lim writes of the political incorrectness of class in China.

When outsourcing goes horribly, horribly wrong. Meanwhile, in the United States


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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63 thoughts on “Morning Ed: World {2017.07.25.Tu}

  1. 1. Graduates from ENA seem to have much more power and status than our Ivy graduates and Ivy graduates have a lot of power, including a practical lock of the Federal judiciary.

    2. Soon will be wearing Roman clothing again.

    3. The Qatar crisis finally makes sense.

    4. Estonia is cheating.

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  2. Meanwhile, in the United States…

    That Daily Caller article is so poorly written and edited that I cannot tell if there is a there there or its just another thing bubbling up from sewer that is the alt right media ecosystem. And I’m not just trying to throw shade on the Caller. Look. In one sentence the article says this:

    Imran Awan has collected $1.2 million in salary since 2010, and his brother Abid and wife Hina Alvi were each paid more than $1 million.

    And then four paragraphs later, separated by some other random facts:

    Since 2003, the family has collected $5 million overall, with Imran making $2 million and Abid making $1.5 million, according to Legistorm.com, which tracks congressional staff data.

    It reads like a straight dump of someone’s notes. Also, I was going to ask why it is important that the folks in question are of Pakistani origin, but then I read the comments and remembered why the Daily Caller exists.

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    • Obviously the real headline here is “Pakistani family figures out how to work the system of The Other Party to their own benefit. Political elites horrified that this knowledge was acquired by immigrants.”

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    • That Daily Caller article is so poorly written and edited that I cannot tell if there is a there there or its just another thing bubbling up from sewer that is the alt right media ecosystem.

      I wondered the same thing until I noticed that the publication date is almost five months ago. If there was any semi-plausible there there we would have been hearing about nothing else. I infer therefore that this piece is complete bullshit.

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  3. I visited PompeiI just last month. Recommended for anyone on a tour of Italy. Try to get there as early in the morning as possible to walk around before the heat really sets in.

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    • I visited PompeiI just last month. Recommended for anyone on a tour of Italy.

      I can get a tour of Italy a whole lot cheaper at my local Olive Garden…

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    • “Our main competitor in Germany can get things done more quickly because they have a better labor pool,” said Michael J. Sherwin, chief executive of the 123-year-old manufacturer.

      Not to minimize the opioid problem, but I wonder what the pay and benefits are for the same position with their competitor in Germany. I’m not an expert, but it seems like your ability to get employees who can pass drug tests / background checks / show up on time / generally be responsible people is at least somewhat correlated with pay.

      “I don’t know if you smoked it this weekend or this morning,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I can’t take that chance.”

      This is a really interesting problem. If we move toward making marijuana a legal drug in the same vein as alcohol, presumably it becomes OK to use it on your own time as long as you don’t come into work high. If the test only says that you used it at some point in the past few months, it’s suddenly not very useful for distinguishing between problematic behavior and normal behavior.

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      • This is a really interesting problem. If we move toward making marijuana a legal drug in the same vein as alcohol, presumably it becomes OK to use it on your own time as long as you don’t come into work high.

        This very issue is now in the courts in CO. You can legally use it but state law doesn’t offer any protection from employers who may fire you.

        A more accurate test may help but lot of these policies are driven by workers’ comp and insurers.

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        • A more accurate test…

          …is unlikely to appear any time soon. THC binds to fat molecules in the bloodstream and elsewhere in the body. The rate at which this clears — hours, days, weeks — is very dependent on the details of an individual’s metabolism. Experiments with rats have suggested that both food deprivation and stress may cause the release of THC that has been previously stored.

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        • Isn’t the same true for alcohol? As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing that prevents an employer from prohibiting alcohol use on your own time and firing you if they find out that you’re doing it. It would just be a dumb thing to do. Hopefully they’ll figure that out about marijuana sooner or later.

          The marijuana issue is fraught for another reason: state vs federal laws and regulations. It would be surprising to me if any company with federal contracts could look the other way on marijuana use under the Drug Free Workplace policies.

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          • DoT standards are very firm on booze, in fact. Not on the job, and not in the preceding 8 hours. (Which works out pretty well, as most people wake up then go to work…few people drink while asleep).

            If they think you’ve had even a drink, they run you to testing — pretty rigid. They’ll flat out walk you straight to it. Refusal is grounds for termination.

            They also have random screens.

            As I noted, the only change would be needing a “Are you high right now” test versus a “Have you been high in the last several days” test and the booze rules will cover pot use without any change. And that test doesn’t exist because no one has needed one.

            Bluntly, the only updating you need is to classify pot like booze, specify acceptable tests and result ranges, and Bob’s your uncle.

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          • The California law had a specific provision that prevented employers from taking action. They are among the few states that do that with cigarettes, too.

            I am okay with having those provisions or not having them (prefer not), so long as there is some consistency.

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      • A small local burger chain shut down its last outlet last week; the owners are blaming that they can’t find “dedicated, honest, hard-working workers”

        my reaction was: I wonder just how badly they were paying? (some of the local fast-food chain places – the nationals – are up to about $9 an hour, I think. None of them has complained, that I’ve heard, about not getting/keeping decent employees)

        And yeah, the legal pot thing is gonna be an issue. Way back when I was a TA, I had to ask a student to leave lab (it was dissection day) because he was clearly still drunk from the bachelor party he went to the night before (it was an 8 am lab). I didn’t want him slicing his or anyone else’s fingers out of inattention.

        A buddy of mine also told a story about a guy who used to toke up in the parking lot over lunch and who came to an afternoon lab and hooked the bunsen burner to the faucet, resulting in a fountain. (I told Bruce – my buddy – he was lucky the guy didn’t hook the vacuum filter to the gas outlet instead)

        I had another student more recently I kind of suspected of being high in lab, I just watched him really carefully. (I figured his lab partner would say something if there were a problem – I knew that guy pretty well).

        I KNOW people say “legalizing it won’t mean more people use it” but I am not sure I believe that, and I already have to play “safety cop” too much in lab.

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        • As always, prices clear markets and I’m immediately suspicious of any employer who laments the lack of qualified candidates when the qualifications are, “Can show up on time and be trained to use a relatively simple machine,” and not something like, “Knows how to surgically graft ostrich legs onto a penguin with a 100% survival rate.”

          If all you’re looking for is normal adult human beings and you can’t find them, there’s something wrong. There are literally millions of them. They just clearly have better things to do than work for you.

          I KNOW people say “legalizing it won’t mean more people use it” but I am not sure I believe that, and I already have to play “safety cop” too much in lab.

          As somebody who advocates legalization, anybody who says that is talking crazy. Legalization will lower prices and barriers to use. There’s no way we won’t end up with more people using it. The interesting question is how many of them will come to work high or otherwise have trouble functioning. My guess is that the worst problem users are already probably using and that the marginal additions to the user pool are mostly people so easily deterred that they’re not very likely to head to the office smelling of weed.

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          • I’m interested in the extent to which legal marijuana comes with a decrease in use of other drugs – specifically prescription painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-depressants, by people who find that they’re able to find strains of marijuana that outperform their current medications in terms of price, efficacy, and side effects.

            I wonder because some of those folks are probably already having trouble functioning with their current prescriptions (or inability to consistently afford filling them), and their increased marijuana use may improve their level of functioning.

            Similar to the concern about more people driving while impaired by marijuana (which I figure probably will happen) – being conflated with more people driving impaired in total, and the average level of drivers’ impairment being greater. Of course I’d rather everyone driving be entirely sober, but if what’s on offer is that a bunch of current alcohol and opioid-impaired driving ends up shifting to marijuana-impaired driving, I guess that’s less worse, and I’ll take it.

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          • I think one of the failures of economics is how it discounts psychology and status. Yes Management is not paying enough but I think the issue here is that a lot of management gets psychological benefits and joy from power.

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      • Let’s set if up so that only people operating the heavy machinery that could harm people need to be tested while the people who only push paper but never operate a machine press need to be tested.

        “So you’re arguing that all of the blue-collar guys on the floor need to be tested but the white and pink collar people who sit in the building with the leather chairs don’t need to be tested?”

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        • What they’ll do is develop a field reaction/reflexes test for people who operate heavy machinery. Something that can quickly ID people who might be compromised (kind of like a field sobriety test, but more objective).

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          • It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel — legalize pot, and it’s basically just inhaled booze in terms of liability and workplace issues. So all you need is a standardized impairment measure and a test, and you hook it straight into the same legal and employment framework as booze.

            Probably a blood test, unless someone can measure THC levels via exhales.

            In terms of the real world, there’d be random tests and tests for cause — really the only change is switching tests that measure “have you smoked weed in the last few weeks” with “have you smoked it in the last eight hours”. There’s no standard test for that because, well, no one’s needed one. Pot was illegal, so urine tests were sufficient. I suspect the test mechanisms and such will appear relatively rapidly to meet the needs — it’s not like it’s a particularly challenging problem.

            I mean the issues with weed and the workplace would be, once legalized, identical to alcohol.

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          • That’s probably the best way to do it. I suppose it will skew to “discriminate” against older workers.

            But if the numbers show that older workers kill/maim more people on these machines than the younger workers do…

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        • For the record, as a white collar guy, it’s very likely that I’d tell an employer to take a walk if they wanted to drug test me. I’ve held security clearances and worked with all kinds of sensitive stuff without one and I don’t do anything that would get somebody killed if I fell asleep at my desk. Even though I don’t do any illegal drugs, if they want to pry like that, they can suck it unless they’re offering a seriously amazing deal.

          It’s up there with wanting access to my facebook page as being an indicator that an employer and I will not get along.

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                • I don’t believe you. If you thought that, it’d be odd that you proposed:

                  “Let’s set if up so that only people operating the heavy machinery that could harm people need to be tested while the people who only push paper but never operate a machine press need to be tested.”

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                  • I think it makes sense to have drug-free workplace rules for people operating heavy machinery that puts more than merely the operator at risk. I think it makes sense to have drug testing policies for people operating heavy machinery that puts more than merely the other people also in the shop at risk (think “airline pilots” or “train engineers” or “the guy operating a construction crane next to a busy street”).

                    I don’t think that people whose job it is to merely push paper need to have similar drug testing applied to them. The social media intern? Yeah, we can probably waive the drug test.

                    “Intoxicated at work” should probably still be an immediate firing offense, no matter who you are, though.

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    • Speaking of drugs.

      And I second ‘s point, a lot of drugs hang around in the body at detectable levels long after the effects have worn off. Having someone pop a pee test is about as indicative of being a druggie as a breathalyzer is of being an alcoholic.

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    • That article doesn’t mention the other working class drug, one that gets heavy use and abuse, meth. And there is no way that anyone who has had any contact with the users of that fun house would hire a potential addict to do anything. That said, is on to something with the idea that some of these drugs can have secondary release mechanisms in the body. And if you are hiring for millwright work, you aren’t going to take that risk. Unlike white collar work, people can die and kill others.

      Insurance just will not allow it.

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      • Meth, like most drugs, has lots of non-problematic users. What’s the problematic / non-problematic split? I really don’t know.

        Generally speaking, if you can tell from looking at someone that they’re a user of a drug, whatever drug, they are one of the problematic ones – but it doesn’t really tell you much about the base rate of use. With many drugs, those problematic users are the only users most of us know of encountering, because the stigma is sufficient that non-problematic users don’t discuss it unless they know you very well.

        If the only people I knew to use alcohol were the people I see around whom I can tell are impaired by it just by looking at them, I’d have a very different impression of that drug. But it happens that the stigma is very low around alcohol use in my social circles, so I have a bit better picture of the base rate of use.

        I have no idea how many non-problematic recreational methamphetamine users I have contact with. I know it’s at least half a dozen, because I was at a party where that many highly functioning people of my acquaintance took some meth. Probably it’s a lot more than that.

        For prescription use of desoxyn, I have no idea either – very few people of my acquaintance discuss the specifics of their prescriptions unless they incur a dietary restriction.

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        • The problem is insurance. There is no way a carrier is going to allow anyone near heavy machinery if there is a chance of drug use. And it is not the ones that have meth teeth or inner elbow tattoos, its the ones with an “occasional” use habit that can get through an interview, but not the drug test. When you have people using a 40 ton press, load ingots for smelting, drive a dozer, etc. you have a huge amount of liability as it is. One drug related accident and your coverage is going up. Two and you are looking at loosing coverage at a competitive cost.

          Industry has greatly increased its awareness of on-the-job safetly, as ADD is real in the trades. Drug awareness is a huge part of that.

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          • Serious question. Have the insurers required that employees taking some of the heavy-duty prescription narcotics for pain management — the ones that say explicitly on the label “Don’t operate heavy machinery” — report their use of those drugs and be kept away from heavy machinery?

            Had to have blood taken at the doc’s place today. Phlebotomist’s remark while looking/feeling for a place to put the needle, “Damn that’s a lot of scar tissue.” Yep, 10 gallons and a bit of blood donations.

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              • If you have a doc script, you are fine everywhere i have been involved. The script basically moves you to light duty or if they don’t have that available you get sent home. If it was work related, the hours get balanced (how long you were there vs. being sent home to make it to the 40 scheduled.) If it isn’t work related, they are under no requirement to find work for you (it was sweeping when I did inside logistics.) But you can take a leave of absence if the company allows it (most do) and use whatever sick time you have, vacation time usually, whatever. They might not be required to do that, but most will work with a good employee, and FMLA gets used quite a bit.

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                • I think that answers a slightly different question than the one I asked.

                  Let’s say I am a heavy machine operator. I’ve been doing the job well for 10 years now and never given my employer cause for concern. While on vacation, I take a header off a sand dune and end up on some pretty strong pain killers. I’m still on then when I return to work. Am I obligated to tell my employer? If the law doesn’t obligate me, can they somehow force me to offer this information? Can they punish me if I refuse to reveal it? I guess what I’m asking is whether or not there is some right to medical privacy employees have from their employers? This is probably a question for the legal beagles in the crew.

                  And, if there is no blanket right to privacy, are their limitations on what they can ask? It doesn’t seem unreasonable for an employer to ask a potential or current employee tasked with heavy machinery work if they are on prescription opiates. But it does seem unreasonable — and almost certainly illegal — for an employer to ask a female programmer if she is on pre-natal meds.

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          • I have a friend who used to work for CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation). He had some back pain and I said something about getting a medicinal marijuana card. He told me that getting an MMJ card was grounds for *IMMEDIATE* termination from CDOT.

            Back in 2014, I tried to call various companies around town and ask them about their hiring policies with regards to legal weed. Nobody would talk to me excepting one very small company.

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            • I remember that. I think the same holds true in CA, but much of that policy is from when (as far as I know) the cards where new. Now? I don’t know. When I ran drivers for IM it was a definitely don’t tell me kinda thing for low level drivers, but the guys and gal who had commercial licences? They knew they were up for DOT pull at any time and wouldn’t bother with it. Fed laws and all that.

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            • Transit orgs don’t mess around.

              A conductor on the PATH train (sort of like a subway that connects NY and NJ) was explaining that trains were delayed because someone took the wrong route. The thing was, the guy was instructed by dispatch to go the way he went, but he should have known that the information he was given was wrong and stopped to wait for clarification. At the end of the day, he took a 33rd St bound train to World Trade. Boom… automatic 30-days without pay, drug and alcohol testing. Doesn’t matter what his reason was. He was supposed to go left and he went right. And he would basically be stripped of his typical job security. With that black mark on his record, he could be fired for being a minute late to work.

              Assuming the guy was speaking accurately, seems harsh. Then again, train derailments and the other calamities that can emerge from even sober inattention to detail when operating mass transit ain’t nothing to fuck with.

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  4. On the question of: “Is Qatar being punished for embracing our ideals?”

    I’m not sure that it’s a question of “embracing our ideals” as much as “breaking the heck away from the Saudis”.

    One of the precipitating events, remember, was Qatar calling Iran an “Islamic Power”. And *THEN* they went on to call Iran to test the water on deepening ties with them.

    The whole issue of “embracing American ideals” strikes me as a misunderstanding of the ideals that they’re embracing. The Emir (may he live 1000 years) knows that Qatar needs (NEEDS) to diversify itself if it is going to be healthy in 50 years. Sure, the money is rolling in now… but the oil fields are projected to be mostly tapped out by 2023 if they stay at this level. That’s, like, really close. The plans involve slowing down oil exports… but that involves slowing down oil exports. The natural gas fields are bigger and, therefore, better, but that kicks the can down the road.

    If they’re going to be healthy in 50 years, they need to grow other areas.

    And if they stick to the recipe that the Saudis have been following for the last however long, they’re not going to be able to grow those other areas.

    So they’re making friends with Iran, they’re making friends with Japan, and they’re making friends with errybody.

    Those aren’t American values, per se.

    I suppose I could see how Saudi might think that they are… but I think it’s more that Qatar is making moves away from Saudi values than that they’re making moves toward ours.

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      • I’m pretty sure that they are. I have no idea how successful they have been at building those industries.

        They’re also branching out in tourism. The World Cup in 2022, regular tennis tournaments, the Souk Waqif, and all sorts of luxury kinda outings like mini cruises and we visited a weird luxury housing development called “The Pearl” which was luxury condos sprinkled around luxury shops.

        They are doing a good job of having lots of skyscraper real estate available for various corporations to rent cheaply so they can have a Qatari office if they’re so inclined.

        There’s lots of attempts to branch out.

        It’s the stuff involved in branching out that strikes me as the stuff that is being mistaken as adopting “American” values.

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