Interview About Jotwell

The Scholastica Blog interviewed me about Jotwell.

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Salacious?

Today’s Miami Herald leads with a big article about Jeb! Bush’s $570,000 haul as a director and consultant with InnoVida. The gig lasted until shortly before the firm’s CEO got arrested and eventually sent away for almost 13 years.

On the one hand, Jeb! clearly was being (over?)paid to lend his name to InnoVida’s credibility and to make introductions. On the other hand, so what? Like lots of former office-holders Jeb! tried to cash in on his connections.  It’s not like he went to work for a firm he’d done favors for as Governor, nor is it a classic revolving door story.  It does seem from the article that Jeb! made some significant efforts to look into the company’s bona fides before signing on, even visiting its factory in Dubai. And plenty of folks got fooled including Chris Korge, who invested millions.  On the Richter scale of sleaze in these corrupted times, this story rates about a 2.9.

Thus, why exactly this story merits top placement on page one and consumes all of page two is slightly baffling. But even more baffling is the second of these two paragraphs which appeared near the start:

Bush, who also served on InnoVida’s board, was never accused of wrongdoing in Osorio’s Ponzi-like swindle that prosecutors said netted him and other co-conspirators about $50 million. But InnoVida occupies noteworthy real estate in the broad landscape of Bush’s business dealings, since it’s the only one to have ended in the kind of full-blown scandal that occurs when a CEO is led away in handcuffs.

InnoVida’s salacious finale is drawing renewed attention as Bush readies for a presidential run. The Republican touting the power of free enterprise in his “Right to Rise” campaign served on a corporate board that presided over a venture fraught with bogus accounting statements and fictional business deals.

Salacious? As in “arousing or appealing to sexual desire or imagination“? I know sojeb!me people find money sexy and all that, but even so.

Very odd word choice if you ask me.

(Note: “Jeb!” is not a typo. It’s reference to his old bumper stickers when he ran for President in 2008.)

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It’s Working!

Ebola Outbreak Finally Receding in Sierra Leone; CDC Modeling Was Incredibly Accurate

Posted in Politics: International, Science/Medicine | Leave a comment

Help Identify Miami’s Totemic Animal

Miami’s a tough challenge for a totemic animal – this place is a melting pot of not-very-melted elements. It’s South but not Southern. Cosmopolitan but, as the joke says, ‘so close to the United States’. Urban and sunbelt sprawl. And it could all be underwater in a couple of generations.

So. inspired by Sarah Lyall, Our Mascot Won’t Wear Wellies – Who Needs Paddington? Seeking a Mascot for New York City, I invite suggestion for Miami’s totemic animal.

Here are a few candidates to prime the pump:

  1. The alligator. Gator
    Case for
    : We got lots of ‘em. Can swim. Lots of sharp shiny teeth. It’s tough, it hangs around.  Lazes around most of the day, but can be really fast when it sees something it wants.
    Case against: Wrong sort of lounge lizard. Lives in the Everglades, not Miami. Too stupid.  Not just native to the region, has been around for millions of years unlike majority of locals who were born in another country. Totemic animal of U.F., which has nothing to do with South Florida.
  2. The pitbull.
    Case for:  Lots of sharp shiny teeth. It’s tough, and hangs around.
    Staffordshire Bull Terrier brindle portrait by Gemma Longman - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Staffordshire_Bull_Terrier_brindle_portrait.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Staffordshire_Bull_Terrier_brindle_portrait.jpg320px-Pitbull_(7906724602)

     Case against:  Can’t sing.  Too much of a horn dog.
  3. The Ibis.
    Case for: We got lots of ‘em. Flighty. Can swim.
    white-ibisSebastian

    Case against: Small one gets confused with a duck. No teeth. Larger one scares small children. Larger one is already UM’s mascot, can’t do double-duty.

  4. BurnieThe Burnie.
    Case for: You look at it and think, what the Hell is that?  Has been described as “the Philly Phantic on an acid trip” which nods to Miami’s drug culture.
    Case against: Dumbest-looking mascot in the NBA. Already belongs to Miami Heat. Doesn’t even have a mouth, much less teeth.
  5. The Burmese Python.
    Copyright Todd Pierson 2008Case for: An exotic alien species destroying the local ecosystem. Semi-aquatic. Not only has teeth but can eat an alligator.
    Case against: Not named the Miami Python. It would be OK if it were called the Cuban Python, but Burma is just too remote from Miami.

What do you think our totemic animal should be?

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Eric Holder’s Finest Hour

Goodbye to most civil forfeiture. I have never been much of a fan of Holder’s — indeed I thought he was one of the most destructive members of the Cabinet in large part for his failure to prosecute torturers, but also for a bunch of other things, starting with the issue of holdover US Attorneys.

But this move is just plain good.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred.

Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.

Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.

Holder’s decision allows some limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total. This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program.

While police can continue to make seizures under their own state laws, the federal program was easy to use and required most of the proceeds from the seizures to go to local and state police departments. Many states require seized proceeds to go into the general fund.

A Justice official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the attorney general’s motivation, said Holder “also believes that the new policy will eliminate any possibility that the adoption process might unintentionally incentivize unnecessary stops and seizures.”

And if this is what he’s like once Holder is on the way out, does it not suggest we should have gotten him out a long time ago?

Posted in Law: Criminal Law | 6 Comments

A New Way to Find Collaborators (the Good Kind)

A speed-dating-like event designed to break silos and promote interdisciplinarity? Could be horrible, and I don’t know if there’s anything I’m currently doing that needs a collaborator, but I sort of wish I could go just to support the concept:

Find a new research collaborator and learn what your colleagues are doing at the first Research Speed Networking forum sponsored by the Office for the Vice Provost of Research from 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday, January 23 in the Hurricane 100 Room at the BankUnited Center. During the event, which is similar to “speed dating,” participants will talk to colleagues in ten-minute intervals, sharing their research experiences and directions. The goal is to stimulate collaborations.

To attend, RVSP by Wednesday, January 21 at http://fs24.formsite.com/VPR1/form13/index.html, and be prepared to submit an abstract of current and future research directions. These will be compiled and made available to all participants at the meeting.

Unfortunately, there’s a conflicting can’t-miss faculty meeting, so no one from the Law School will be there.

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Taking (and Giving) the Punch

Krugman: “in today’s world, the crucial credibility central banks need involves, not willingness to take away the punch bowl, but willingness to keep pushing liquor on an abstemious crowd.”

À propos the Swiss revaluation of the Franc (which triggered the bon mot quoted above), what I want to know is how many Swiss banks had hints this was coming, and how big a killing they made on the markets.

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment