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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Nicholas D. Rosen's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, December 10th, 2016
1:36 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment this week, and I did an Office Action on my oldest amendment, so I'm back to five amendments, like a week ago.

I also finished my oldest Regular New case this week, and I'm working on another Regular New, which I hope to have done by Monday at 3:00 PM.
Thursday, December 8th, 2016
11:58 pm
Robby Soave at Reason takes the view that Dr. Thomas Szasz is the hero we need but don't deserve; Dr. Szasz famously denied that there was such a thing as mental illness, strictly speaking, only physical illnesses and problems in living. Soave was inspired by an article on Yellowbrick, a clinic for Millennials who fail to launch.

These young adults -- or should one call them superannuated twelve year olds? -- have problems, but is their failure to accept adult responsibilities an actual disease? The pshrinks at Yellowbrick think so, and are charging their families $27,500 per month for "treatment," but one may have doubts. To be fair, it's hard to know who is just a lazy slacker, and who may doing the best he can in the face of a biochemical illness. My inclination would be to tell these young people to earn their livings, or perhaps go to school if they are prepared to learn something useful, and actually study hard and make good grades. Coddling them too far and too long may be responsible for making them the psychological messes they are.

Another question, aside from that of sloth or brain disease, is whether the treatment at Yellowbrick is actually doing anyone any good. The author has heard from a former patient who calls it "awesome," but not, it seems, from anyone who is actually earning a living, raising a family of his own, and doing his best to repay his parents for his hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Yellowbrickery. It does sound like a scam or a cult.
Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
10:57 pm
Fire and Housing Policy
There's an article in Slate connecting the casualties from the fire in Oakland with the Bay Area housing crisis. Basically, people couldn't afford normal, legal housing, so they settled for cheap digs in a warehouse that wasn't in compliance with the fire code at all, and then came a fire.

One might note that restrictions on construction combined with low taxes on land (Proposition 13) deserve a large share of the blame for this situation. I do not claim that Georgist policies, disasters like the recent fire could never happen, but we could at least avoid some e evils, including evils which most people do not link to tax policy and zoning regulations.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
3:25 pm
When I started work at the Patent Office in 1998, Mr. J was my trainer, and Miss X was another primary examiner in the Art Unit. (I became a primary myself in 2003.) When I was going home yesterday evening, I saw the two of them by the elevators, and we shared an elevator heading down. I remember saying something like "And good to see you too, Jenny (Miss X's first name), right? I haven't seen you in quite a while."

She said that she and Mr. J were now married, or maybe he did; I remember him saying that the wedding had been in late October. "Congratulations," I said, "and felicitations," turning to her.

Mr. J's wife died of cancer a couple of years ago. I'm glad that he found someone, and I hope that the two of them are happy together.
12:07 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment on my Expedited docket this week, and dealt with that tous de suite. I also wrote an Office Action on one of my older regular amended cases, so I'm down to a total of five. I wrote something up for another amended case, but that isn't off my docket yet, since the situation is special, and the Group Director -- my supervisor's boss -- will have to sign the Office Action, assuming that he approves.

I finished my then-oldest Regular New case before 3:00 AM Monday, so it got counted for last biweek. I've been working on my current oldest Regular New, and have made some pretty good progress.
Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
11:36 pm
How to Manipulate Donald Trump
I am skeptical about attempts to psychoanalyze public figures, but this piece by William Saletan probably comes close to the reality of Trump's personality. The author doesn't claim special insight into the depths of the man's soul, but draws conclusions from his observable words and deeds.

I hope that the saner and more decent people in the prospective administration show some skill in manipulating the new inhabitant of the the house occupied by Jefferson, Lincoln, and Cleveland, and that the worst of the deplorables do not.
11:27 pm
Shortly after I got home Monday evening, I got a telephone call asking me to answer a few questions. The first was, "Which of these do you consider to be Virginia's most important issue?" followed by a list. I said that I couldn't answer, because they all mattered, and they were interrelated. The polite young lady at the other end tried to get me to choose nonetheless, but I demurred.

I probably wouldn't care whether a political candidate considered the environment or crime/justice to be more important, but I would care what he proposed to do about the environment, and about crime. Some set of numbers purporting to show what the citizens of Virginia care about and want is liable to be shaped by the answers of people who don't see the complications I do.
Sunday, November 27th, 2016
6:18 pm
Breathing and Swallowing Quite Well
The night before Thanksgiving, I posted that I had some congestion and a scratchy throat. That seems to have blown over; I've been breathing freely for days, and my throat is OK. I hope that posting this doesn't jinx my health.
Saturday, November 26th, 2016
1:14 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got two new amendments this week, and didn't finish any, so I'm up to six. I did meet with my supervisor, He Who May Not Be Named, and another examiner, and hold an Appeal Conference about the case on my docket of Amendments that is actually an Appeal Brief; the decision was to propose amendments, and if the applicant agreed, to allow the case; otherwise, I should write an Examiner's Answer and let the Board of Appeals decide. I updated my searches and called the attorney, who told me that he would email his client and get back to me. Maybe his client wasn't replying to emails while off for Thanksgiving; I'm still waiting to hear back.

I did finish an Office Action on my Request for Continued Examination case, and I been working on my oldest Regular New case, which I hope to finish by Monday at 3:00 PM.
Thursday, November 24th, 2016
12:53 am
Sneezing and Scratchy Mouth
I seem to be coming down with a cold. Why couldn't it have happened some other week, when I could stay home and take a couple of days' worth of my thousand plus hours of accumulated sick leave, instead of now when I get a vacation day anyway?

I made black bean chili with guacamole, and put plenty of spice and garlic in the stew. If it doesn't cure all that ails me, it at least cleared the sinuses for a while. I expect that that will also be my Thanksgiving dinner, and my Friday dinner.
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
12:01 am
Lucy Kellaway Is Moving on
For years, Lucy Kellaway's delightfully acerbic columns in the Financial Times have brightened my Mondays. She also does other journalism, and has written two novels, Who Moved My Blackberry? and In Office Hours. Well, she's announced that she will soon be moving on, and starting a new career in her fifties; she going to become a maths teacher (that's how the British describe mathematics for short) to teenagers in a London school.

Good for her, I'm sure, and I can just see her finding the right phrase to say in the right frosty voice to intimidate anyone who goofs off in class, but I'll still miss her columns.
Sunday, November 20th, 2016
8:16 pm
A Semi-Georgist Letter
On Friday the 18th, the Washington Post printed an at least somewhat Georgist letter that neither I nor Walter Rybeck had to write. Here it is:

Tax properties, not meals

The Nov. 15 letter "Fairfax County voters choose a few bucks over quality education," from Ross Pickford, a Fairfax County resident, attempted to shame those of us who refused to pony up for the Fairfax County meals tax, ostensibly because we are too cheap to anout education. I cannot speak for everyone who voted against it, but I know why I voted against the 4 percent tax on prepared meals: A regressive meals tax is no way to fund our schools.

A meals tax would have hurt small businesses and lower-income families. If there truly is no more excess spending that can be cut, then the county should raise our property taxes. Property owners are the beneficiaries of our awesome schools. Our property is worth more -- both in rental value and in sale prices -- because our children receive an enviable education.

My children will soon all be graduates of Fairfax Count Public Schools, and I would happily pay higher taxes to fund higher teacher salaries. That "investment" would pay off when I sold my home.

And had the meals tax passed, I would have paid nothing. I simply would have dined out in Prince William County to avoid it.

VaLoris MacDowell, Springfield

I don't know whether Mrs. MacDowell has studied Georgist thought, but I am planning to try to get in touch with her. She seems to have a sound grasp of the effect of government services like education on property values, but she may not be an actual Georgist; she hopes to profit when she sells her house, which would in large part be a sale of the underlying land. Nonetheless, I liked her letter.
Saturday, November 19th, 2016
5:50 pm
Trump University Settlement
I should be glad that Donald Trump, having proclaimed that he would not settle the lawsuit because he was in the right, is now paying victims of his Trump University scam millions of dollars in an out of court settlement. It is a disappointment, however, that the president-elect will not have to go to court and face cross-examination, and that the accusations of the people fleeced by Trump University will not be heard on national television, day after day.

That might help those of Trump's deplorables and dupes who are not entirely impervious to evidence and reason that their man is no hero, and has neither the knowledge and wisdom to be able to help them, nor the moral character to do his best on their behalf This is doubtless a large part of our prospective Con Man in Chief's reason for settling the suit.
12:48 am
The Red Queen's Race
I didn't get any amendments this week, and I dealt with an older amendment, so I'm down to four.

I also did a first action on a Special New case, and actually allowed it. I've been working on my one current Request for Continued Examination case, and should be able to finish reacting it with another hour or two of work.
Saturday, November 12th, 2016
3:38 pm
Advice from a Russian Dissident
Masha Gessen offers rules for surviving and staying sane in an autocracy. She may be unduly pessimistic about how much harm our President-elect can do, but a couple of years ago it would have been absurdly pessimistic to foresee him being elected. Just in case, I advise reading the article and taking notes before webpages like this go down.
Friday, November 11th, 2016
11:43 pm
Letter Published in the Post
The Washington Post published a letter of mine today (Friday) and here it is, as they printed it:

Reaping the rewards of Metro development

The Nov. 6 Business article "Big real estate is banking on Metro. Can Metro bank on it?" reported that $50 billion in real estate development is being actively built near Metro stations and that some want to capture part of the value Metro is creating for others through some type of tax on commercial property near stations. One concern is that such a tax could inhibit development near stations that have not yet experienced it.

The solution should be obvious: Instead of taxing all commercial property (land and buildings) or taxing sales, we should tax the land values Metro created. Taxing land would not inhibit development, because the same tax would apply to developed land and to vacant lots in the same neighborhood that speculators are sitting in, hoping to sell later.

If we replaced the current property tax with a tax only on the value of land, we could discourage speculation, leave people free to build homes and other useful buildings, and pay for Metro and other government services out of the land values they create.

Nicholas D. Rosen, Washington
The writer is president of the Center for the Study of Economics.

Actually, I live in Arlington, not Washington, but I have no other complaints.
11:30 pm
The Red Queen's Race
I got one new case on my Amended docket this week (an Appeal Brief, not an actual amendment), and I dealt with tow amendments, so I'm down to five, and I've been working on one of those.

I also finished a first action rejection on my oldest Regular New case.
1:53 am
How to Preserve Freedom
There was an article in Slate a few days ago on preserving liberal democracy in the face of a Trump presidency. Recommended.
1:43 am
Veterans Day
As is my habit, I will take a minute to thank our veterans. Two men I know are veterans of World War Two, and one cannot be sure whether they will live to see another Veterans Day. Let us thank them for their service, and if you are a veteran, thank you for all that you have done and endured.

As has not been my habit heretofore, I will thank a special hero who deserves the highest degree of admiration for his extraordinary courage and distinguished public service, even though he is not technically a veteran of the U.S. armed forces. As a teenager, he went to a military school, so he knows more about military matters than actual graduates of West Point and Annapolis. His heel spurs kept from from serving in Vietnam as he wished, but he refused to let that stop him from enduring grave dangers in his country's service. The risks of contracting STD's which he ran as a playboy were his equivalent of Vietnam.

When one considers that he combines the sterner virtues with profound humility, warm human sympathy, an impeccable record of honesty in business, generous philanthropic giving, untarnished marital fidelity and respect for ladies, and an eager willingness to fill whatever gaps he finds in his great learning, it is impossible to doubt his fitness to be the next Commander in Chief of the armed forces.
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
12:33 am
Gallows Humor
The late sf writer William Tenn described most of his stories as falling into the specialized genre of horror-farce. However, not even he wrote a story anticipating the 2016 election.

I'll bet champagne corks are popping at the James Buchanan Fan Club.

To emend Gerald Ford, our long national nightmare is just beginning.

I remember back in the 70's, I was on a high school camping trip to Assateague Island, and I amused my fellow students with a parody political speech, where I said something like "I point with pride to my last term: it was for five years, but they let me out early for good behavior." Unless I'm conflating this with something else, I was also a flunkey advising the politician on what to say, so I whispered to him, "Don't forget to say something about the imperial presidency," and then, as the politician, proclaimed, "And I will restore the imperial presidency to its former grandeur!"

Reality imitates satire.
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