Uncategorized

Review of “Granddad’s Dictionary: Reflections on life in America” by Michael Moffitt

During a time of such gr51hUJ7qX4HLeat political divide in the United States, it’s nice to sometimes step back and reflect on the great qualities that this country still has. Focusing on what makes the U.S. great does not have to be overly partisan and Michael Moffitt’s “Granddad’s Dictionary: Reflections on life in America,” finds a way to do that.

The book is a broad collection of terms that tie into the American experience.  Moffitt uses a well-balanced method of observations, personal experience, and research to help the reader relate to the each term.

One notable passage in the book is titled “Charity.”  In this, Moffitt criticizes the governments sizeable tax deduction of charitable giving by pointing out that it only benefits the wealthiest individuals that are able to give generously, while lower and middle class Americans are burdened with making up for this deduction.  He emphasizes that charity “has to be person to person to work,” and not through what he calls “charity by government.”

In the passage “Marriage,” Moffitt stresses its great importance to society and points out its alarming rate of decline over the past century. He claims that it is because people increasingly have “less commitment to each other and less understanding of the power of marriage.”  Which really brings the reader to ask themselves if society would be better if this trend were reversed?  Surely most would agree.

Although there are some opinions throughout the book, its true beauty is how Moffitt finds a way to allow the reader to question themselves and the environment around them.  Through the entire reading of “Granddad’s Dictionary,” you find yourself engaged constantly in thought.  As the reader raises constant questions, it only makes for a great reading experience and also one that you are not likely to forget.

I encourage you to buy the book and it can be purchased on Amazon simply by clicking the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Granddads-Dictionary-Reflections-life-America/dp/1490829164

The Rulemaking Process: How You Can Have A Say In Agency Regulation

When a legislature creates an administrative agency, the agency has to develop rules as part of its function. Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency or the Commission on Civil Rights have to follow a procedure for making new rules. What the general public need to understand about this procedure is that it calls for the general public’s participation.

Creation of an Agency

Congress passes a statute that creates an agency to regulate a specific part of society or to accomplish a specific goal or task, like during the Roosevelt administration, when the legislature created Social Security in 1935. The statute will explain how and why the agency is being created.

Once the agency is created, it cannot act outside of the restrictions of power the statute has given the agency. The agency then sets off to create the rules and regulations it will enforce. This procedure is governed by the Administrative Care Act, and ensures that all proposed and final rules are posted on something called the Federal Register.

Creating Rules

This process is extensive because a rule must go through many steps before it can be enforced. First the agency must look at it’s role given by congress and then look at many other variables to see how the rules are going to affect that sector of society.

After careful analysis and observation where the needs for rules exist. It’s time to get started writing and proposing a rule.

Proposed Rules and Public Comments

After the agency has researched and met with interest groups involving a rule, they write it up and propose it on the Federal Register (federalregister.gov). This site gives the public access to read the proposed rule. The agency poses a 30-60 day time for the public to comment on the rule. Comments can be mailed but generally agencies prefer electronic comments that can be posted on Regulations.gov.

This phase of the rule making process is the most important for the public to understand because it is where the public has a voice in determining the regulations we all have to abide by. The agency does not pass a rule based on how many interest groups or public comments are in support of the rule, but instead, must use data and reasoning to address concerns and prove that the rule will be helpful to the general public in that realm of society.

The Final Rule

The agency must then post the final rule with a summary and an explanation of why the rule is necessary. They must also show that they have the authority to make the rule. All final rules can be found on the Federal Register and go into effect usually within 30 days of being published.

Implications

While this may seem like a small part in the overall process of rule making, over the last century, administrative law has taken over the way businesses are run, farmers farm, restaurants perform, and schools are developed and maintained. The inclusion of electronic rule making on Regulations.gov and the Federal Register gives the public more accessibility and capability to involve themselves in the process than ever before in U.S. History.

Here is a link to a more detailed explanation of the rulemaking process and instructions of how you can get involved today.

Jeremy Smith writes for The McMinn Law Firm in Austin, Texas. Jeremy is ready to get more involved in agency regulation.

4 Superstitions Believed By Actual Governments

yellow gaze

We’ve all got that one relative, the one who insists on giving you tarot readings, or won’t let you say the word “Macbeth” in their presence, or keeps referring to the house ghost every time the pipes get a bit creaky.

Whether it’s avoiding breaking mirrors because it’s bad luck, keeping dismembered rabbit body parts about your person because it’s good luck, or eating far more Chinese food than is really healthy just so you can live your life according to the instructions of the fortune cookies, everyone has a little bit of superstition in them, a few rules that they will refuse to break to protect their good fortunes.

But you know, it’s fine for people to have their own beliefs, and in their jobs they’re in relatively unimportant positions where they can’t do any damage, in their retirement home or running a shop or teaching in primary school.

Surely nobody with beliefs like that would ever get into a position of real power, right?

Hong Kong’s Government Spends Millions on Feng Shui

Feng shui is the Chinese practice of orienting your rooms in such a way as to allow energy to flow through them in the best possible way. It’s a subjective but highly thought of art, and it’s widely agreed that nothing can screw up your feng shui like somebody building a railway line right past your house.

As with any other construction project damaging someone’s home, the government will often pay out compensation to people whose feng shui has been damaged by a nearby construction project, normally to the cost of a “tun fu” cleansing rituation, a ceremony conducted at the site of the damaged feng shui to, well, cleanse it.

This was until 2010, when the South China Morning Post badgered Hong Kong city officials into admitting that at least £6 million had been spent on compensating people whose feng shui was damaged by nearby projects.

Of course, after admitting this the Chinese government admitted that this was actually all just a scam by landlords and feng shui specialists to rip money off the government.

No, I’m kidding. They said there would be improvements in “operational transparency” on the feng shui payments and stricter guidelines on the practice.

Easington Council Hires Ghostbusters

There was something strange in the neighbourhood of the Fallon family in County Durham. Sabrina Fallon called the police to her home one night after a serious of loud bangs terrified her two children.

“It all started before Christmas. We were away and my sister’s husband had the keys,” Sabrina told reporters. “He let himself in one night and heard whispering and banging from upstairs. He shouted out: ‘You better get out or I’m calling the police. He said my dressing gown then came floating down the stairs and landed at his feet. He ran out and rang me crying like a girl saying something awful had happened – I thought he was drunk, but when we came back we heard the bangs and whispering.”

The family wanted to be rehoused, but the council offered to pay half of the fee for a medium to exorcise the house, something they described as a “cost effective solution”

Andrew Burnip, a housing manager from the council said: “This family was absolutely distraught and believed what was happening – that is not to say that the council believed. What we saw was a relatively small amount to pay for an outcome which in effect saved the taxpayer many hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean Mr Burnip dared stay a night in the house…

Bombay High Court Rules Astrology is Science

When Janhit Manch, and India-based NGO, sought action against astrologers, tantriks, practitioners of Vastu shastra and other people who sell things that are technically known as “made up” it didn’t expect much of a battle. It was wrong.

The court ruled that “So far as prayer related to astrology is concerned, the Supreme Court has already considered the issue and ruled that astrology is science. The court had in 2004 also directed the universities to consider if astrology science can be added to the syllabus. The decision of the apex court is binding on this court.” So as far as the Indian government is concerned, Brian Cox and Mystic Meg are in the same game.

This is a rule that’s caused a great deal of frustration to India’s real scientists, who are working on things like the country’s own working space programme.

Iceland Won’t Let You Build on Land Owned by Elves

In Iceland elves are big deal. Not the cute, point eared ones that help Santa, or the sexy, strangely androgynous ones in Lord of the Rings, but the badass rock-dwelling ones of ancient folk lore. The ones you don’t want to mess with.

It’s not unheard of for a road to be diverted if it’s likely to go through a rock that’s considered a potential elf home. In the town of Kopavogur the aptly named “Elfhill Road” was narrowed from two lanes to one in the seventies, because equipment broken down every time they tried to move a large rock believed to be an elf home. The rock is still there today.

Featured images:

Brenda is the blogger behind Baby Sashanmom.com and lives in a haunted house with perfect feng shui, even though the elves do keep moving things around…

Review of “To Divide and Not Conquer: Preventing Partisan Gerrymandering with Independent Nonpartisan Commissions”

I was recently contacted by a fellow writer by the name of Victoria Stoklasa who had asked me to review her essay titled “To Divide and Not Conquer: Preventing Partisan Gerrymandering with Independent Nonpartisan Commissions.”  Once I read the essay, I quickly agreed since the issue of gerrymandering is rarely brought into the public spotlight.

The essay begins as to explain what gerrymandering is by defining it as “the process of one population—in the case of this paper, a political party—to gain an advantage over others by changing district lines.”  For years, politicians have had control over where district lines are drawn and have often come in favor of the incumbent.  The goal of the essay is to examine which options would best adhere to the National Conference of State Legislatures seven principles of fair legislation.

Stoklasa breaks down the options into partisan commissions, nonpartisan commissions, bipartisan commissions, and the courts.  She then looks to the work of Jonathan Winburn who studied which type of organization would best follow the NCSL’s principles.  His study examined partisan commissions, neutral commissions, divided legislatures, unified legislatures, and the court system.  She explained that his work concluded that nonpartisan commissions would closely follow NCSL principles, she then looked on to examine if a nonpartisan commission or a bi-partisan commission would be the better choice.

To determine whether a nonpartisan or bipartisan commission would better serve the public, she then turns to the work of Michael Lyons and Peter F. Galderisi.  Lyons and Galderisi came to the found that bipartisan commissions experienced a lower incumbent displacement rate possibly because they did not adhere to the NCSL principle of using incumbency data.  Stoklasa uses this finding and combines it with Winburn’s work to conclude that independent nonpartisan commissions would better adhere to the NCSL’s principles.

Overall, Stoklasa put together a very well-written essay and supported her argument throughout her entire piece.  Every question that may arise in your mind as you are reading the essay is quickly answered with credible evidence put together in great synchronicity by Stoklasa.  If you are looking to better inform yourself on an issue that is rarely talked about by mainstream news outlets then I encourage you to check out her essay here.

A different side of the health care debate.

Human rights are often forgotten when it comes to the health care debate.  This article is questions America’s true view on human rights.  Although the author seems to forget that almost all countries at one point have had a human rights violation but when it comes to health care he does put forth an interesting argument.

http://technorati.com/politics/article/does-obamacare-make-americans-third-world/