…and then listen

Figure out why someone believes what they believe. The best way to do this is simply to ask, “Why do you believe that?” and then listen. Don’t tell them why they’re wrong or “parallel talk” and explain what you believe. Figure out their reasons for their belief by asking questions.

Good advice, I think, from Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, authors of the forthcoming book How to Have Impossible Conversations.

It’s still 14¢ per mile

I was updating some of my files to show the 2018 IRS standard mileage deduction rates for business, medical, and charity driving and I noticed that while the business and medical rates have changed almost every year—sometimes up, sometimes down— the charity rate has not changed in at least 17 years; it remains 14 cents per mile. I wondered why.

A bit of googling yielded this article, which confirmed what I suspected. The charity rate is fixed in legislation; the other rates are not.

via Forty Cent Difference Between 2016 Business and Charity Mileage Deductions – NoloNolo

It might be time for Congress to do something about that. And who would complain? Who could be against it?


  • In 2000, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $1.51.  In December 2017, it was $2.37.
  • According to the Consumer Price Index, in November of 2017 it would take 20 cents to have the same buying power as 14 cents in 2000.

Of course, this may all be moot if, with our new tax laws, no one is itemizing deductions anyway.

How would George Mason make America great again? | SmartBrief

We often praise the Patrick Henrys of the world, the folks who explain their nonparticipation in particular change efforts as a principled stance. But perhaps George Mason is the better example both for our national politicians and for leaders in every company and organization in America today. Whether it is economic reform at the highest levels or new policies on leave or telework for your company, by being in the room, you can shape the debate even if you do not ultimately agree with the outcome.

Source: How would George Mason make America great again? | SmartBrief

Critical Analysis and Information Literacy

In today’s globalized information age, an ever-increasing proportion of misinformation accompanies the burgeoning wealth of new and changing information. As students are bombarded with social and news media that blur lines between fact and opinion, they need guided experiences to build their critical analysis of information validity and value.

Source: Critical Analysis and Information Literacy | Edutopia

And to determine the validity of information is becoming a more and more difficult task!

A little disappointed

I watched President Obama speak tonight and I was a little disappointed. I support him. I have voted for him twice, but tonight I wish he’d spoken differently. My wife said she thinks he looked tired; no doubt he was. Maybe my issue is with whoever wrote his comments. Maybe he didn’t have time to read and think about them before facing the cameras. Maybe I’m just off base and need to reconsider, but here are thoughts that went through my head as I listened:

  • His tone was so matter-of-fact.  I know this was a press conference, not a political rally, but I’ve heard him deliver such impassioned speeches.  I’d have liked a bit more emotion in his voice.
  • His remarks implied the suspect is guilty, period; not even guilty until proven innocent, let alone innocent until proven guilty.  That jarred me.

…why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?  How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?

  • I certainly hope we don’t find out later that these two brothers were not, in fact, to blame.  I hope that is unlikely, but it will be embarrassing should it happen.
  • The President said we’ve closed a “chapter.”  Have we?   I guess it depends on how you think of chapters.  It’s a metaphor that didn’t work for me.  Many of the books I read today have quite a high chapters-to-total pages ratio.  Perhaps that’s a reflection of our ever shortening attention span.  My reaction was that we’ve barely started a chapter.  Those survivors in the hospital, many having lost one or more limbs, are but a few pages into their current chapter.   If the chapter title is simply, “Arrest,” then I guess we have a chapter; if so, I suspect we have at least a trilogy, not simply a single book, ahead of us.

I’m often too critical, and this may be one of those times.  If you did not see the press conference, take a look.  Am I way off base?

To fit or not to fit, that is the question.

Simkins Says has lain fallow for some months, but California Senate Bill 432 has moved me to turn the soil and plant something.  You may have heard of this proposed legislation that would require fitted sheets in all “transient lodgings” in California.  Its aim is to reduce workplace injuries suffered by hotel maids.  I am all in favor of workplaces being safe places, but I have a few issues with this bill.

First, it really does seem the epitome of micromanagement.  The State Legislature should be setting policy, not mandating what kind of sheets hotels use.

Second, is it really any easier to change the sheets when you’re using fitted sheets?  Did Frederick Taylor do some classic studies on this I missed?  In my own personal experience, putting the fitted sheet on my bed is sometimes the hardest part.  Once I’ve washed my sheets a couple times, they often shrink a bit.  After I get the fitted sheet hooked over three corners, I have to heave up the fourth corner of the mattress and struggle to stretch the sheet over it.  The top sheet, on the other hand, just flops out on top.  A couple shakes, a pull here or there, and it’s in place.  I still have to get down on my knees to tuck it in.  If anything, learning about SB 432 is making me rethink the use of fitted sheets.  I’ve just always taken them for granted.  Now I’m thinking, maybe I’m a fool.  Maybe it would be easier to use two flat sheets.  When I’m groveling about to tuck in the top sheet and blanket, I could tuck in the bottom sheet at the same time.

Third, and related to the second, has anyone asked the maids what they think?

State Senator Kevin DeLeon introduced this bill, and I have read it is “close to his heart.”  I’m sure his heart is in the right place, but state law is the wrong place for a “fitted sheets mandate.”