Friday, June 17, 2011

Recommendations Approved!

For the past half year, I have been working as a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), assisting in the development of recommendations for how to enhance the notice and comment process by which many of our government regulations are developed. The latest step in this process, which I have documented on a number of previous occasions (see here, here, and here), was for the recommendations to be debated and approved by the full voting membership of ACUS.

With about 100 hundred of the nation's foremost experts in administrative law and process constituting the voting membership, I was curious to see how recommendations initiated by a social scientist would go over. And, sure enough, some of my recommendations, especially those oriented toward increasing the availability of information to researchers, were not received so well by all of the members. In the end, though, the overall spirit of my consultant's report, as well as a number of specific recommendations that stemmed from my initial work, were reflected in the document that was, after an extended debate, approved by the plenary.

What this means is that the recommendations are now official statements of ACUS and will soon be published in the Federal Register, the daily publication of the executive branch of the United States government. What will happen after that? Will agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Securities and Exchange Commission adopt the ACUS recommendations? Will Congress and the White House encourage agencies to take the recommendations to heart? Stay tuned...

~Steve

PS: Click here to view the streaming video of the session during which I presented my consultant's research and report. And keep watching past my remarks, as I was shortly thereafter followed to the podium by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who decades ago himself served as an ACUS consultant and fittingly offered an entertaining keynote address.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Summer Palace

In the nick of time, it looks like we have a place to stay for the summer. I say "looks like" because it is always a bit uncertain when you are conducting business over the Internet from half way around the world. So I still have visions of us showing up, at midnight, at the front door of an apartment that isn't actually ours. But, hey, I get paid (not very much!) to worry. As Desi puts it, "There's always the Jinjiang Inn!" Yes, Des, the Motel 6 of China may very well await!

~Steve

Monday, June 13, 2011

Of Gods And Men

Of Gods and Men is a movie about the toils of several priests living in a war torn
area. It has been well rated and has won many awards for the inspiring footage and moving characters. Several of our friends and our parish priest recommended this movie to us.

While Julie was away at HOBY, we decided to head o the movies to see this inspiring film. We got our popcorn with extra butter and our Sour Patch Kids and went into the theater. As we expected, it was full and we were forced to sit in the back row in the corner, not a very comfortable or attractive spot, but we were left with no choice.

The movie begins with footage of daily life in the mission. The priests each have a specific job that they perform in between the prayer services and Masses of the day. They treat the sick, harvest and plant crops, cook, clean, and pick up supplies for the mission and small village where the mission is located. One day, while performing their duties, some of the terrorists came to the mission to seek medical supplies for their wounded soldiers.

The priests are held at gunpoint, but they courageously tell the terrorists to leave. The head priest of the mission tells them kindly that weapons are not permitted in the mission and that they must be left outside. Rather that part with their weapons, the terrorists decide to leave.

Due to the fact that the terrorists were becoming bolder, the priests have to decide whether or not they should risk their lives and stay, or flee the village. The group is torn and after weeks of praying and meditating, they decide to stay and protect the village. They continue to care for the sick and pray for the needy, but they know the terrorists are coming back. When the terrorists return to kill the priests, only two priests manage to hide before the terrorists came into their room. The other priests were taken in the middle of the night and executed by the terrorists. Only one of the priests who escaped is alive today.

This movie lived up to its expectations and I would definitely call it moving. I recommend this movie to all people. There is some blood and violence that might not be suitable for young children but overall, this movie can and should be seen by all people.

~Steven (Z)