25 March 2018

Non-Military And Paramilitary System Concepts

What new systems would be useful for first responders (paramedics, firefighters, wildfire fighters, police, school security officers, school nurses, lifeguards), search and rescue teams, and national guard units in domestic service (i.e. responding to disasters, riots, etc.)?

Here are some select ideas.

Wide Distribution Of Expanded First Aid Kits

Everyone has band aids, antiseptics, and over the counter painkillers. But, what about wider distribution of "industrial grade" first aid kits to deal with more serious conditions that someone with less training that an EMT could use, especially in more remote areas or areas where gridlock could prevent a rapid response:

* Videophone tablet with a very simple user interface containing instructional videos (for use when only offline access is available and in non-emergency cases), and having the capacity to link to a 24/7 trained remote instructor/mentor to guide a less experienced person through evaluating the situation and applying treatment where available. This device could also be used to communicate ahead to an emergency room so they could prepare to accept someone with less diagnosis time.
* Large capacity cans of liquid bandages for serious trauma like gunshots, and conventional bandages of similar size.
* Tourniquet kits.
* A sterile container for severed body parts with an easily activated cold pack (operating on a principle similar to a can of wart freeze treatment).
* Ketamine, in pre-filled syringes, as an alternative to opioids for someone in extreme pain from trauma.
* An eye wash kit for toxic exposure.
* Syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting where poisoning is suspected.
* Epipens or the equivalent, for acute, life threatening, allergic reactions. Note that bee stings are one of the leading causes of death from animals, and there are a significant number of deaths for allergic reactions.
* Asthma inhalers for asthma attacks.
* Narcan for opioid overdoes.
* Portable AED defibrillators (already common in airports and other public places).
* CPR equipment to aid in mouth to mount and chest compressions.
* Oxygen tanks with masks, for example, for treatment of someone who has suffered smoke inhalation.
* Rape kits for first responders with appropriate training.
* Emergency contraceptives.
* Standard anti-diarrhea mixture to which just clean water could be added to rehydrate someone.
Nasopharyngeal airway tube with lubricant which inserts through nose to keep airway open for unconscious person having difficulty maintaining airway.
* Neck braces.
* Collapsable backboards.
* Clot buster drugs to administer on an emergency basis for strokes in IV method if necessary.
* Jaws of life to remove someone from a crashed car.
* A tool to break window glass in vehicles and buildings.
* A heavy ax.
* A heavy duty fire extinguisher.
* A fire/chemical resistant jacket.
* Heat/chemical resistant gloves.
* Safety glasses/goggles.
* Rope with a short illustrated card explaining key knots.
* An air supply for attempting a rescue in a smoke or gas filled area without intense fire or falling debris.
* Gas masks.
* Instantly inflatable life jackets to toss to someone at risk of drowning. Where appropriate, these could be attached to a more powerful "gun" that would get them further out that someone could throw.
* A cold shower can that sprays someone with a large amount of cold water at modestly high pressure to immediately cool burns that might go more severe if not cooled and to cleanse toxic chemical and/or soot exposure.

A full service kit like this might be included as standard in law enforcement patrol cars, motorcycle based quick response EMT kits, school nurse's offices, large building security offices, etc.

Bullet Proof Tarps

In the Parkland shooting, Junior ROTC club members located bullet proof tarps or some kind to use to shield people from the shooter. This might be an appropriate device to have as standard equipment in first responder vehicles and distributed around potential targets (school rooms, office buildings, airports, concert halls, etc.), if they are effective.

First Responder Drone Supply Delivery

Small delivery drones similar to those used for donuts or pizza to deliver medical supplies that aren't available in standard first aid kits or ambulances that can reach a scene fast.

This could also be used to deliver supplies to law enforcement in hard to get places like extra handcuffs, ammunition, or perhaps firearms to a law enforcement officer cut off from his firearm where there is a rooftop or balcony or open window that can be accessed.

These could also be used to deliver pre-activated emergency phones to people trapped without communications in hostage situations, fires, or other situations.

Small Networked Recon Drones

A small fleet of hand held drones can scout out active shooter and hostage situations, active structure fires where rescue might be needed or resources might needed, road accidents, avalanche scenes, falling rock and mudslide situations, search and rescue missions, etc. where getting someone to the right place at the right time is critical. 

These might be designed to the video feed can be quickly outsourced to volunteers to monitor over phones or computers so they could flag things of interest.

It might even be possible to deploy many shorter range drones right to the scene with a larger supply drone.

Traffic Management Supply Drone

This remotely controlled larger drone could deliver traffic cones, flares, accident detour signage to exact locations to manage traffic until backup can arrive when the first responders on the scene have more urgent demands on their time.

Wider Use Of Flight For Life

Rush hour traffic can be just as great a problem as long distances or remote locations when someone who has experienced trauma needs to be taken quickly to a hospital, since getting in and out of traffic with an ambulance isn't necessarily quick.

Rescue Teams That Deploy By Aircraft

Some sort of helicopter, VTOL plane or quadcopter to rescue people in places like open water after being caught in a riptide or a lake (perhaps frozen with thin ice) or a balcony or roof of a high rise, or a mountain, could be more widely used.

Riptide Drones

These water based drones that carry someone trapped in a riptide to shore are already in use in Australia.

Airborne toxic spill/firefighting material drop aircraft

Aircraft are frequently used to drop huge volumes of water on wildfires. Why not have them at the ready for large structure fires? Why not have pods that could be grabbed and dumped on toxic waste spills quickly for different kinds of toxic waste.

Armored Indoor Vehicles

These would be airport cart/segway sized vehicles with armor that could be used to respond to active shooters in airports, office buildings, hotels, warehouses, etc. with some level of cover.

Sonic Shot Locators

The U.S. military developed and/or used systems that identify the direction and weapon that is the source of gunfire in an ambush that was carried in vehicles in convoys. Some cities have set these up in high incidence of gunfire neighborhoods (e.g. certain neighborhoods in Denver) and these could also be included on first responder vehicles. Ideally, this information could be quickly shared with recon drones to get other eyes on the threat.

Tracking Tags and Paint Guns

If a suspect is fleeing, deadline force is often illegal or inappropriate, but the desire to catch the suspect is great. A paint gun with a distinctive color of paint, or a tracking device inside a ball of adhesive, could be shot at a fleeing suspect or vehicle, to make it easier to find the fleeing person or vehicle later without a risky high speed chase or the use of lethal force, and would reduce cases of mistaken identity.

Tactically, the approach of closing in on a dangerous suspect with a paint gun or tracker, and then backing off until a situation defuses or backup arrives could be more widely used.

Trackers could also be used to highlight places to get someone to identified by a recon drone, in search and rescue missions where the person in need of rescue may need to be on the move.

Search and rescue dogs with body cams, trackers and telecommunications

Search and rescue dogs can go faster and into smaller places without human companions, but aren't good to communicating what they see back to controllers. A group of search and rescue dogs with body cameras, tracking devices and even some sort of telecommunications where the monitor could hear the dog bark and talk to it, could be a force multiplier in a search and rescue situation with dogs and could speed up often time critical searchers.

Tranquilizer Guns

Tranquilizer guns used typically on wild animals, would seem to be an attractive alternative to firearms for threatening individuals who might have a knife or crowbar or otherwise pose a danger to themselves or others who is difficult to get close enough to with a taser and who doesn't have a firearm.

24 March 2018

Flying Taxi Gets Real

Kitty Hawk, the Silicon Valley startup backed by Page, said it is building and testing "all-electric vertical take-off and landing products" in New Zealand.
Dubbed "Cora," the vehicle can "take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane," Kitty Hawk said in a statement on Monday. 
Cora is also self-piloting, can fly faster than 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) and has a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to the company.
From here.

This is a very cool invention. I have no idea what it costs, but it has received some form of regulatory approval in New Zealand.

The short range limits it to intracity or ferry type applications, but fitting vertical takeoff, self-piloting, and all electric propulsion into an aircraft is very impressive.

The basic concept also makes lots of sense for several applications in which helicopters are currently used in urban areas: flight for life, news coverage and police work.

22 March 2018

Quick Hits On Economics, Marriage and Education

Economics

Retail and Tourism

* There are lots of businesses that are in trouble: Claire's cheap earring stores are bankrupt, JC Penney is still in trouble, Toy's R Us is shutting down, Barnes and Noble had a weak Christmas season, and in general there has been a retail bloodbath. America's malls are rotting awaySears and Kmart continue their slow collapse. Sears hasn't recovered from being in deep trouble a year agoMacy's and Nordstrom are suffering. Now, maybe the right way to think about it is that we previously over-invested in retail and consumerism that adds little value. But, losing tens of thousands of low wage jobs, maybe hundreds of thousands, and creating huge holes on commercial real estate and municipal budgets is no small thing.

* There are winners in the retail sector as well, of course: online merchants, hobby stores, shoe stores, grocery stores and home improvement stores are still growing.

* Trump has been horrible for the U.S. tourism industry, scaring away tourists with his racism.

* I love Spotify but it's losing money hand over fist and facing huge lawsuits over obsolete royalty obligation rules that reflect the world's broken copyright laws.

Housing

* Trying to make housing affordable through deed restrictions that impose price controls is an ill conceived way to achieve this end.

Relaxing land use regulation near transit served areas is a much better solution. Building codes more friendly to tiny houses would also help. Seattle illustrates how zoning regulation also impacts educational opportunity. A critical look at the pros and cons of building more housing in San Francisco is worth a read. Lax land use regulations help control housing prices in Japan, but do does the fact that demand is pretty stable with lots of housing starts being scrapes to replace old homes with new ones.

* It is undeniable that Denver has some of the fastest surging apartment rents in the nations, however. This is because Denver's population is growing faster than it can build new housing (also here). The population growth, in turn, is a natural consequence of strong job creation in Denver.

* Condo construction is picking up in Denver, but this is largely a function of trends in rental rates and interest rates, rather than concerns about construction defect litigation. Rising interest rates, rising home prices, and student loan debt meanwhile have discouraged the latest generation from becoming first time homeowners.

* Alabama has the worst poverty of the developed world despite its low cost of living. Most Americans have regressed to Third World economic conditions.

Health Care and Reproductive Health

* The medical billing system in the United States is still corrupt, arbitrary and incredibly overpriced with no one controlling excess spending. Emergency rooms are serious offenders in these practices.

* "An increasingly common type of high-deductible insurance plan is touted for its money-saving potential, but a growing body of research indicates the plans don't motivate patients - or doctors - to curb spending on unnecessary medical services."

* But, using algorithms that aren't transparent to allocate health care and make other important decisions is also deeply problematic. Our system of public law to address this kind of problem in the public sector, and our parallel private law systems for addressing this kind of problem in the private sector, however, is not very good at the task of keeping these systems in check and working well.

Better birth control access would reduce abortions by two-thirds and save $12 billion a year.

In Japan, very few women use the pill, condoms are the main form of birth control, and abortions are quite common, guilty free and mostly done in the first trimester.

* What health conditions are affected by the business cycle? The 2008 recession increased obesity, diabetes and mental health conditions. It also dampened birth rates.

* Amish fertility rates closely track the rest of the country, despite the fact that the Amish don't use birth control and rarely obtain abortions. There is a parallel here to the decline in infectious disease rates before vaccines and antibiotics were in widespread use, once the germ theory of disease was widely known.

Marriage

Young, single, childless women actually have higher earnings that comparable men. Getting married and having children is the key factor that results in gender gaps in income.

* Relative income of husbands and wives is a powerful predictor of divorce.

* Lots of Americans in their 20s are having kids before getting married:
[M]ost American women without college degrees have their first child in their 20s. These young women and their partners—who make up about two-thirds of twentysomething adults in the United States—are logging more time at the diaper aisle of the local supermarket than at the local bar.

This would not be such a big deal except for the fact that many of these twentysomethings are drifting into parenthood, becoming moms and dads with partners they don’t think are fit to marry or at least ready to marry. For instance, almost 1 in 2 babies—47 percent, to be precise—born to twentysomething women are now born to unmarried parents. In fact, twentysomething women now have the majority of children outside of marriage, which—given that 30 is the new 20—makes them the new teen moms.

The reality is that children born to unmarried twentysomething parents are three times more likely to grow up with a disorienting carousel of adults coming and going in the home, compared to children born to married parents. This kind of carousel, as sociologist Andrew Cherlin notes in his book The Marriage-Go-Round, is associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy, behavioral problems in school, and substance abuse. By contrast, "stable, low-conflict families with two biological or adoptive parents provide better environments for children, on average, than do other living arrangements."
In my view this is due to two factors: first, working class men have declining economic prospects and have not shared in economic growth since the 1970s (as documented by Piketty among others), while second, economic opportunities have surged for working class women since the 1970s and these women pay a relatively low price in their careers for time spent away from the work force compared to upper middle class women. Automation accounts for a lot of the working class economic slump. Drug tests (sometimes legitimately necessary for the job in question) are a major barrier to workplace re-entry for working class men. Wisconsin has seen the biggest middle class decline of any state. Black unemployment is at record lows but still much higher than unemployment rates for whites, as black poverty is also at record lows (its amazing what good eight years of an Obama economy did).

Whether it is in the African-American ghettos of Northern cities, or the social welfare paradise of Sweden, or in working class white America, women aren't economically dependent upon the fathers of their children and marriages become fragile.

Middle class marriages meanwhile have become more stable, but the rising ranks of single people are changing our society. Upper middle class men have participated in economic growth, making them good providers, and contrary to conventional wisdom rising income inequality is largely driven by increased earning for the working rich rather than rentiers.

* African-American boys are strongly downwardly mobile. Even if their families are in the top income quintile, they have no better prospects than working class boys on average. The story in the link attributes are significant part of this downward mobility to living in single family households. But, not all scholars agree that parental separation has a major impact on the economic prospects of children.

* Someone makes a case that easy divorce favors assortive marriage.

* Late marriage ages contributed to the success of England's industrial revolution.

* Otherwise modern, upper middle class young women in India, who are generally liberal, are still strongly prefer arranged marriages. Caste endogamy, religious endogamy, and a practice of not moving away from home until you are married, even when you are an adult, all play a part. This is a huge difference from U.S. values where one of our most sacred norms is respecting everyones right to love who they want to love, no matter what.

* Survey data says that caste status has a big impact on the lives of South Asian Americans in matters including religion and marriage.

* In Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince has allowed women to drive and is giving them greatly custody rights in divorces. There is a strong correlation between affluence and security on one hand, and liberal-secular values on the other. Is affluence and security in Saudi Arabia changing that society's values from within?

Education

* We enjoy all time high African-American college graduation rates, although on a very gender imbalanced basis. The gender gap in college attendance in favor of women is present in all races to some extent, however.

* Discrimination against Asian-Americans in college admissions is as significant as discrimination against Jews in higher education used to be, because Asian-Americans outperform the applicant pool and colleges don't want that to translate into a larger share of Asian-Americans on campus apparently.

* Most students with student loans from for profit colleges default on their loans.

* High school behavior is a powerful predictor of adult success:  "Being a responsible student, maintaining an interest in school and having good reading and writing skills will not only help a teenager get good grades in high school but could also be predictors of educational and occupational success decades later, regardless of IQ, parental socioeconomic status or other personality factors, according to new research." Critics argue that this is "middle class behavior" not objectively better behavior.

Study skills and aggression in school students are closely related, fairly stable, and powerful predictors of decisions to drop out of school.

* Closing bad schools is a more effective way to improve the quality of education than trying to improve existing schools. Strategies that improve educational quality are very hard to reproduce. Ending schools that are dragging down students is much easier, and we don't have to know why they are failing to shut them down. I'm well aware that this approach horrifies many of my political and personal peers, but it does work.

21 March 2018

Word of the Day: Elisor

An Elisor is basically a bailiff, sheriff, or coroner serving on a contract basis in a manner somewhat analogous to a special master. It also includes a clerk of court appointed by the Court to execute deed or document on behalf of someone else.

20 March 2018

How Prosperity Gospel Thinking Undermines Meritocracy

The strong role of randomness in successful outcomes undermines meritocracy is rewards and resources are given to those who have already succeeded. 
In this paper, starting from very simple assumptions, we have presented an agent-based model which is able to quantify the role of talent and luck in the success of people’s careers. 
The simulations show that although talent has a Gaussian distribution among agents, the resulting distribution of success/capital after a working life of 40 years, follows a power law which respects the ”80-20” Pareto law for the distribution of wealth found in the real world. 
An important result of the simulations is that the most successful agents are almost never the most talented ones, but those around the average of the Gaussian talent distribution - another stylized fact often reported in the literature. The model shows the importance, very frequently underestimated, of lucky events in determining the final level of individual success. 
Since rewards and resources are usually given to those that have already reached a high level of success, mistakenly considered as a measure of competence/talent, this result is even a more harmful disincentive, causing a lack of opportunities for the most talented ones. 
Our results are a warning against the risks of what we call the ”naive meritocracy” which, underestimating the role of randomness among the determinants of success, often fail to give honors and rewards to the most competent people. In this respect, several different scenarios have been investigated in order to discuss more efficient strategies able to counterbalance the unpredictable role of luck and give more opportunities and resources to the most talented ones - a purpose that we think should be the goal of a real meritocratic approach. Such strategies have also been shown to be the most beneficial for the entire society, since they tend to increase diversity in research and foster in this way also innovation.
From here.

14 March 2018

Federal Jury Trials Scarce In 2017

The 2017 annual statistical data from the federal courts of the United States has been released, and the long, slow path of the vanishing jury trial in the federal courts continues.
Overall civil trials declined 7 percent (down 338 trials) to 4,234. Forty-nine districts reported fewer civil trials. Civil nonjury trials fell by 136 trials to 2,678, with 42 districts reporting decreases. Civil jury trials dropped 11 percent (down 202 trials) to 1,556, with 47 districts reporting reductions. 
About 54% of federal civil trial were one day. About 22% were two to three days. About 22% were four to nine days. About 3% were ten to nineteen days and 0.26% were twenty days or more. The total doesn't add to 100% due to rounding errors.

Roughly one in two hundred federal civil cases are concluded with a civil jury trial. Colorado had 35 civil bench trials and 34 civil jury trials in 2017. It takes a median of 23.3 months for a civil case resolved with a bench trial in federal court to get to trial and a median of 28.2 months for a civil case resolved with a jury trial in federal court to get to trial.
Overall criminal trials decreased 4 percent to 6,900 (down 282 trials) as 50 district courts reported reductions in criminal trials. Criminal nonjury trials declined 3 percent to 5,158 (down 135 trials), with 50 district courts reporting lower numbers of these trials. Criminal jury trials fell 8 percent to 1,742 (down 147 trials) as 51 district courts reported fewer trials of this type. Article III judges accepted guilty pleas from 62,245 felony defendants, down less than 1 percent from 62,468 in 2016.
Federal criminal trials tend to be shorter than federal civil trials (although some of this reflects trials that do not end in a verdict, e.g. by a plea bargain during trial). About 71% of federal criminal trial were one day. About 16% were two to three days. About 11% were four to nine days. About 1.7% were ten to nineteen days and 0.35% were twenty days or more. The total doesn't add to 100% due to rounding errors.

It takes a median of 10.4 months from notice of appeal to the final order in the U.S. Courts of Appeal to resolve an appeal, and the median appeal is resolved 30.4 months after the case was initially filed in the trial court.

In state court, criminal trials are overwhelmingly jury trials, but in federal court, bench trials outnumber jury trials by three to one. Less than three percent of criminal defendants in federal court take their cases to a jury trial. Colorado had 40 criminal bench trials and 10 criminal jury trials in 2017.

By comparison, in Colorado's state courts for fiscal year 2017:

In District Courts (the courts of general jurisdiction) and Denver Juvenile Court combined, there were 247 civil bench trials and 218 civil jury trials; there were 15 criminal bench trials and 973 criminal jury trials; there were 264 juvenile bench trials (mostly felony juvenile crime cases) and 44 juvenile jury trials (almost all termination of parental rights cases). No data was available for trials in Denver Probate Court where there were 147 formal testate probate cases where there was a right to a jury trial. There were 198 district court judges, 3 Denver Juvenile Court judges and there was 1 Denver Probate Court judge. There are a bit less than 9 trials (bench and jury combined) per judge per year at this level.

Trials do not reflect evidentiary hearings in domestic relations or mental health or probate cases, or pre-trial evidentiary hearings (e.g. on preliminary injunction requests, eviction hearings, or Rule 120 foreclosure requests).

In 2017, there were 89,632 civil cases filed, 51,775 criminal cases filed, 23,339 juvenile cases filed, 35,057 domestic relations cases filed, 7,947 mental health cases filed, 16,619 probate cases filed, and 1,068 water cases (involving 4,937 water claims) filed. Water cases are handled by one of seven water court judges who simultaneously serve as District Court judges. There are 1,116 cases per judge per year at this level.

In 2017 in the Colorado Court of Appeals (which hears appeals from District Courts, Denver Juvenile Court, Denver Probate Court and certain state agencies and has 22 judges), there were 989 criminal appeals filed, 874 civil appeals filed, 151 Industrial Claims Appeal Office appeals filed, and 341 other appeals (juvenile, agency, etc.) filed. Only about 7.5% of Colorado Court of Appeals cases produce published opinions. There are 107 cases per judge per year at this level although cases are generally decided by three judge panels, so each judge deals with an average of 321 cases per year.

In 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court, which has seven justices, had 1,285 filings of which 99 were civil cases for which there are direct appeals (mostly water law cases, ballot issue title disputes, judicial discipline and attorney regulation) and 27 were multi-district litigation hearings. It resolved 109 cases with written opinions. The remaining cases were resolved almost entirely with denials of petitions for certiorari and denials for requests for interlocutory relief of several types, or with pro-forma ratifications of matters subject to direct appeal. Every judge participates in almost every case except multidistrict litigation hearings.

In County Courts (the courts of limited jurisdiction with 145 judges), there were 801 civil bench trials, 14 civil jury trials, and 1,657 small claims court trials; there were 103 misdemeanor bench trials and 737 misdemeanor jury trials; there were 100 traffic bench trials and 585 traffic jury trials; and there were 3,912 infraction bench trials. There are a bit less than 55 trials (bench and jury combined) per judge per year at this level.

In County Court in 2017 there were 140,462 civil cases filed, 7,118 small claims cases filed, 61,298 misdemeanor cases filed (including 1 municipal court appeal) and 115,370 traffic cases filed (including 4 municipal court appeals). There are 2,236 cases per judge per year at this level.

Thus, for Colorado as a whole jury trials broke down as follows:

Total Jury Trials: 2,619 (about 1.7% of jury trials in Colorado are in federal court)

Civil Jury Trials: 270 (about 10.3% of all jury trials in Colorado are civil jury trials)

34 in U.S. District Court,
218 in state District Courts (1 in 411 civil filings), and
14 in County Court (1 in 10,000 non-small claims cases).

In federal court 49% of civil trials are jury trials. In state District Court 47% of civil trials are jury trials. In County Court 1.7% of civil trials are jury trials (excluding small claims court cases).

These rates are not adjusted for civil case types for which jury trials are not available (e.g. distaint warrants ratifying tax judgments, Rule 120 motions, foreign judgment registrations, appeals, name change requests, restraining orders, injunction cases, etc.). These rates are also not adjusted for default judgments.

Nationally, about 75% of civil jury trials are personal injury or discrimination cases, and about 25% involve fraud or breaches of contract or other claims.

About 12.6% of civil jury trials in Colorado are conducted in federal court.

Criminal and Quasi-Criminal Jury Trials: 2,349 (about 89.7% of all jury trials in Colorado)

10 in U.S. District Court,
973 in state District Court (1 in 53 criminal filings),
44 in state juvenile cases (1 in 530 juvenile filings),
737 in County Court misdemeanor cases (1 in 83 misdemeanor filings), and
585 in County Court traffic cases (1 in 197 traffic filings).

In federal court 20% of criminal trials are jury trials. In state District Court 98% of criminal trials are jury trials. In County Court 88% of misdemeanor trials are jury trials and 85% of traffic case trials are jury trials (excluding infractions).

Just 0.4% of criminal or quasi-criminal jury trials in Colorado are conducted in federal court.

The cost of a state court judge (simply dividing all judicial department appropriations by the number of judges) is less than $1.421 million per judge per year, and in some areas (e.g. the Court of Appeals) the cost per judge is considerably less because the non-judicial staff (e.g. probation officers) per judge is lower.

Realignment Likely To Continue

A Democrat, Lamb, won the 18th Congressional District that went to Trump by almost 20 percentage points in 2016 by a fraction of a percent in a special election held yesterday. Using the Cook's political report R+11 partisan voting index of PA-18 as a benchmark, only 112 Republican seats in Congress are safe seats. The other 126 GOP seats in Congress are vulnerable.

Control changes in the U.S. House of Representatives if the Democrats pick up 24 seats. This is possible winning only seats that are R+2. Just ousting Republicans from districts where Clinton got more votes than Trump would flip 23 seats in Congress.

In the Senate, the Democrats have lots of incumbents in conservative states defending races but if it can hold them, only needs to pick up two seats with Arizona and Nevada looking particularly promising.

Court ordered redistricting in Pennsylvania could flip four more seats to Democrats. Special elections since 2016 have favored Democrats by eight percentage points relative to what would be expected based upon PVI only.
The House has become well-sorted out: only 35 of 435 districts "crossed over" to vote for presidential and House candidates of opposite parties, down from 108 in 1996. Today, there are 23 Republicans sitting in districts Clinton carried, and 12 Democrats sitting in districts Trump carried. However, this is slightly higher than the record low of 26 "crossover districts" following the 2012 election.
From Cook's Political Report.

Given prevailing political trends a lot of those 23 "Clinton Republican" seats are going to swing to the Democrats.

Less obvious is how that breaks down regionally. 

Seven are in California. One is in Washington State. Two are in Pennsylvania. One is in New York State. One is in New Jersey. One is in Illinois. One is in Minnesota. One is in suburban Denver.  One is in Virginia in suburban DC. Two are in the far southern tip of Florida. One is on the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Texas, another from Texas is in Austin, and a third in Texas is from suburban Houston. One is in Arizona. One is in Kansas.

In other words, most of these district are on the tail end of the long process of "realignment". Pacific Coast Republicans and Republicans in the Northeast are continuing to become an endangered species. Blue enclaves in red or purple states are poised to oust Republican members of Congress. 

The Republican party has become a Southern/Rural White Christian nationalist party.

13 March 2018

Unsurprising But Still Worth Mentioning Causes Of High School Non-Completion

Behavior is more strongly tied to dropping out of high school than IQ. And, the kids who will drop out of high school are largely foreseeable.
High school completion provides health and economic benefits. The purpose of this study is to describe dropout rates based on longitudinal trajectories of aggression and study skills using teacher ratings. 
The sample consisted of 620 randomly selected sixth graders. Every year from Grade 6 to 12, a teacher completed a nationally normed behavioral rating scale. We used latent class mixture modeling to identify the trajectories.
Participants followed 3 trajectories of aggression (Low, Medium Desisting, and High Desisting) and 5 trajectories of study skills (Low, Average-Low, Decreasing, Increasing, and High). Over three-quarters of the sample were in stable trajectories of study skills over time. Most students in the High Desisting Aggression group were in the Low Study Skills group, and all students in the High Study Skills group were in the Low Aggression group. The overall dropout rate was 17%, but varied dramatically across combined aggression and study skills groups, ranging from 2% to 50%.

The results highlight the importance of early prevention that combines academic enhancement and behavioral management for reducing school dropout.

09 March 2018

Few People Die On The Job, Those Who Do Tend To Work Outdoors

At the close of 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released data on fatalities sustained within the U.S. workforce in 2016, and the results show a 7% rise over the prior year, representing the third consecutive year of increase. 
The total tally of all on-the-job fatalities for 2016 was 5,190, and it was the first year since 2008 that the number surpassed 5,000.
From Forbes magazine.

According to the U.S. Center For Disease Control: "In 2016, a total of 2,744,248 resident deaths were registered in the United States[.]" 

So, less than 0.2% of the U.S. deaths were work related injuries, and many of those deaths were from causes not usually considered particularly strongly related to the workplace environment like traffic accidents and homicides. In contrast, 99.8%+ of deaths were not work related.

This is pretty amazing. On a back of napkin calculation basis, most men spend roughly half of their waking hours for roughly half of their lives (about 25% of all of their waking hours in their lives) on the job, and most women spend only a modestly lower share of their waking hours in their lives on the job (perhaps 20%). So, you are roughly 100 times as safe on the job as you are when you are not at work.

The most dangerous activities in life, by far, are retiring and living your first year of life.

The top ten most dangerous jobs also illustrate the basic conclusion that working outdoors is much more dangerous than working indoors. 

10. Grounds Maintenance Workers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 217
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 17.4

9. First Line Supervisors Of Construction Trades And Extraction Workers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 134
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 18.0

8. Farmers, Ranchers And Other Agricultural Managers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 260
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 23.1

7. Drivers, Sales Workers And Truck Drivers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 918
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 24.7

6. Structural Iron And Steel Workers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 16
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 25.1

5. Refuse And Recyclable Material Collectors
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 31
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 34.1

4. Roofers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 101
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 48.6

3. Aircraft Pilots And Flight Engineers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 75
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 55.5


2. Fishers And Related Fishing Workers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 24
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 86.0

1. Logging Workers
Fatal Injuries In 2016: 91
Fatal Injury Rate Per 100,000 Workers: 135.9

In contrast, factory work, whose dangers gave rise to safety regulation in the workplace, is now almost as safe as working in an office or at the mall.

07 March 2018

Quote of the Day

Paul Ryan has a bold new plan for preventing people from being shot on Fifth Avenue. A staunch supporter of people not being shot on Fifth Avenue, he has an innovative program to provide vouchers to people that could be used to participate in a cash auction for the right not to be shot on Fifth Avenue. The winners would then be protected by a private police force that is subsidized by a tax on baby formula and insulin for diabetics. 
This is a conservative policy solution that will show real results, and demonstrates the kind of innovative policy vision that the fractured and sclerotic Democratic party cannot hope to match, with their hopelessly outdated “nobody should be shot on Fifth Avenue” proposal, which is both revenue negative and impossible to effectively implement.
From Lawyers, Guns and Money.