Feb 012016
 

Last Tuesday morning, I was visited by Dr. Singe Saleté, Federal Policy Consultant to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “I’ve been waiting nearly a week for an opening in your schedule,” she complained as she seated herself in the chair immediately in front of my desk. “It appears you are a very difficult person reach. Is it always this hard to see you?” “The last ten days have been especially tough,” I explained. “Because of the snow storm, everyone with an appointment on Friday the twenty-second wanted to move it to one of the days earlier in the week, and everyone with a Monday appointment this week wanted to move it to today or tomorrow. The inherent chaos created […]

Jan 052016
 

Like most other federal facilities that aren’t directly concerned with law enforcement or national defense, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a vast tract of land near the town of Burns in eastern Oregon, was closed on Saturday, January 2, 2016 in observance of the New Year holiday weekend. There’s an administration center there, consisting of several rustic stone and wood frame buildings set in an otherwise deserted, essentially uninhabited, high Western plains landscape. Under cover of darkness that night, a group of individuals, some of whom, at least, were armed, occupied those buildings, subsequently notifying whoever would listen that they comprise a militia with serious issues regarding the relationship between the citizens of the United States of America and its […]

Nov 192015
 

This morning, my ten-thirty AM consultation was with an economist from the USDA. We spent about an hour and ten minutes discussing the ramifications of the Renewable Fuel Standard and its impacts on the corn market. Manufacturing fuel ethanol from corn was a stupid idea when it got started during the Carter administration, of course, and it’s a still a stupid idea today, but stupidity never kept the US government from doing anything the farm lobby and agribusiness happen to want. There was still plenty of analysis remaining, but my guest cut things off twenty minutes early. “Thanks, Tom,” she said with a smile as a gentleman whom I had never met opened the door to the reception area and […]

Sep 212015
 

This morning, I received a visit from Dr. Benjamin Cash, a branch chief from the Treasury Department. He was there to review the results of a currency logistics mathematical model which I developed after being requested to do so last June, when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that a portrait of a woman would replace Alexander Hamilton on the obverse side of the US ten dollar bill. The model calculates the lengths of service and rates of circulation, inactivity and return for destruction of ten dollar notes bearing various female portraits, assuming the reverse remains constant and consists of a neutral image of a well-known public building, in terms of a matrix of parametric partial differential coefficients representing esthetic, political, […]

Sep 072015
 

As regular readers of this Web log know, Gretchen and I make special preparations for visits from my client “Ahmed.” These involve scheduling him as the last consultation on a Friday, preferably before a long weekend such as this one, which includes Labor Day on Monday, installing new filters in the office air purification system, and making sure there are sufficient supplies of high thickness, low gas exchange oversized sealable plastic bags, impermeable polymer gloves, and activated carbon canisters for the gas mask Gretchen bought with her own money, all of which she needs in order to dispose of the filters on Tuesday morning, and to subsequently replace them with fresh ones before the first client takes their seat in […]