About marc

I am a scientist interested in laser safety, modeling and simulation, and statistics. I speak some Spanish, German, and Chinese.


All of this was fixable. The sum total of reforms (a bit simplified, to be fair) is this:

  1. Limit campaign donations:
  • A citizen may only donate to a person for whom (s)he may vote in the next election.
  • The sum total of donations must be a very small amount, allowing access to any person.

2. Limit access to lawmakers:

  • Every meeting with every individual who is not a constituent must be logged and recorded as a permanent record.
  • Every meeti

3. A holder of national office must divest his or her holdings:

  • An exception to this is dwelling real estate or small (very small) business.
  • Real property of little financial value may be retained.
  • Value of previously held stocks, bonds, etc. would be directed to an anonymous and wide-ranging fund directly proportional to the standard holdings within the US citizenry.
  • A non-partisan legal and fiduciary committee would review all transactions of the national officials with veto authority.

The Confederacy

Let us consider the 11 states that would have stars in the Confederate flag. The first official Confederate flag was the “Stars and Bars” and not the early “Beauregard flag,” its successor, the “Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia,” or the second (“Stainless Banner”) or third (“Bloodstained Banner”) official Confederate Flag. Nevertheless, for this calculus, we will consider the listed states as having been under the “Confederate Flag” for the entire period from the official formation of the Confederacy to the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse. This period, from 08 FEB 1861 to 19 APR 1865, lasted 1,521 days. For comparison, the duration from original statehood to formation of the Confederacy is considered along with the time from Lee’s surrender to now. The percentage of that total time during which these states claimed to be a part of a separate nation is shown on the right.

Date of
StateDays as USA State (Antebellum)Days as CSA StateDays as Returned USA StatePercentage Confederate
23 MAY 1788South Carolina265581521566951.79%
10 DEC 1817Mississippi15766 1521 56695 2.06%
03 MAR 1845Florida5821 1521 56695 2.38%
14 DEC 1819Alabama15032 1521 56695 2.08%
02 JAN 1788Georgia26700 1521 56695 1.79%
30 APR 1812Louisiana17816 1521 56695 2.00%
29 DEC 1845Texas5520 1521 56695 2.39%
25 JUN 1788Virginia26525 1521 56695 1.79%
15 JUN 1836Arkansas9005 1521 56695 2.26%
21 NOV 1789North Carolina26012 1521 56695 1.81%
01 JUN 1796Tennessee23628 1521 56695 1.86%

An insignificant fraction of total statehood of each was spent under one iteration or another of the various Confederate flags. As such, it would seem there must be some other reason for certain people to venerate this particular part of their collective history.

I wonder what that could be.

The Confederate Flag

Today I had a discussion with a colleague on the “Confederate Flag” (the most common representation is not any of the three official iterations of the Confederate Flag). I hope I bored her to tears, but I find the topic interesting. I may have to expound upon this topic.

Gig Work

Today I found a author/editor whose work I know complaining that he had been applying for jobs. The context was that he has been a gig worker for some time (to the extent that he may be considered internet famous). I have found the idea of gig work unseemly for as long as I’ve been aware of it. Like so many things these days, I see it more as a symptom of a systemic problem.

There have long been freelancers. Though the word itself is only from the early 19th century, the concept of mercenary goes back at least to medieval times in Europe, and has analogs in other cultural systems.

The freelancer can be quite a bargain:

  1. The equipment (the “lance”) is literally free. A musician or another artist generally brings along the tools of his trade.
  2. The training he brings was already acquired prior to the employment, so it is also free.
  3. The employer generally has little or no obligation to continue compensation after termination.
  4. There is no implied continuity of support before or after the term of employment.
  5. The employer may renegotiate the contract in his favor at his pleasure.

The important feature of the last three points is that there is a required context. This context is that there should be little or no safety net. Any social safety net will work against these features. Insurance – be it unemployment, health, disability, etc. – provides a level of assistance that reduces the level of urgency intrinsic to a spell of unemployment. As such, the bargaining power of the potential employer is greatly reduced.

Since FDR, the Republican Party has made a religion of dismantling the social safety net.

The concept of the “gig,” coupled with this weakening of support, allows for the greater power of the employer over the employed. The combined result is the rapid upward transfer of wealth from the employed to the employer.