Sunday, March 22, 2015

Aha! A new problem w/Congressional politics--or is it? (UPDATE)

I like what Congressman Crescent Hardy is saying about Yucca Mountain ("let's explore if there's any scenario in which having Yucca Mountain be the nuclear waste repository might make sense for Nevada"), but I can't reach him via email because I don't live in his district.  His email bounces back with a "ask your own Congressperson" response.  I get the point that Congresspeople should pay attention to their own constituents first, but it seems to me that blocking communication from outside the district leaves each representative a little too insular.  Why not just sort the emails by "in district" and "out of district"?

Oh, and Congressman Mark Amodei: This post is for you, too.  Do Congressional rules not let you hear from other Nevadans?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One of the best days of my life--my trip to Bogotá.

Two days ago, I had the great honor of giving two talks on behalf of the Superintendencia de Sociedades in Bogotá (more info about the talks here) at the request of the wonderful* Superintendent Francisco Reyes.  Superintendent Reyes hosted a seminar in the morning (organized by the talented Diana Silva), and he also hosted a talk in the afternoon.  I was able to visit with members of the bench and bar and heads of companies after the morning's presentations, and the questions that they asked after my talk made the experience even better.

The trip had its funny moments:  I was a little tired that day, having missed my connection to Bogotá by five minutes (United did a lot of maintenance on the plane that was picking us up in Las Vegas--a lot of maintenance), so I hung out in Houston for nine extra hours and arrived in Bogota at 5 a.m. on the day of the presentations.  Maybe the sleep deprivation is a good excuse for what happened in the afternoon:  when I was giving the second presentation, I didn't notice the earthquake** that everyone else in the room noticed quite readily.  When the audience got up and walked out of the room after about 2/3 of my presentation, I thought:  "Wow--this talk is not going well...."  (Years of living in San Francisco, and I didn't feel an earthquake???)  The building evacuation was orderly, with everyone knowing where to go and everyone quickly accounted for by floor.***  After the "all clear," I gave an abbreviated rest of the talk.  The classic part?  I'd asked, earlier that day, if Bogotá had earthquakes.  Bravo for life's little ironies.

Bogotá has some wonderful museums, and I was able to see the Gold Museum, which was flat-out amazing, and tour Plaza de Bolívar.  So with the experience of meeting great people, being able to visit again with Superintendent Reyes, having a chance to tour a bit of Bogotá, eating two memorable meals, and enjoying everyone's friendliness (and their ability to talk in fluent English, given that I have yet to learn Spanish),**** I can say that my trip was one of the best I've ever had.  I'm still floating on air (as you can probably tell from this post).

* And multi-talented:  he is also a very gifted musician.
** Yes, it was a 6.6 quake, but its center wasn't in Bogota, so the news media wasn't quite, um, accurate in its reporting of the earthquake experience in town.  Some buildings were affected, though, but not ours.  Ours was built to withstand a quake, and it did.
*** We could learn something from their emergency procedure training.  Ours is typically not as well organized.
**** And a chance to hear Superintendent Reyes play keyboards and drums.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Jim Thomson and Jesse Sussell have done an interesting new study on Congress's increasing polarization.

I'm lucky enough to be able to claim Jim as a colleague here at UNLV--and he's marvelous.  Check out his bio, which only scratches the surface of why he's so cool.

You can read the summary here, and here's the paper (Are Changing Constituencies Driving Rising Polarization in the U.S. House of Representatives?).