The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Uncategorized


While we keep seeing new nation-states, I wonder how many primarily are facades for interfacing with the rest of the world? It wasn’t that long ago that dynastic families performed the same function.

H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency

Obligatory caveat: I’m an employee of the EPA, and nothing I say here reflects any official governmental stance.

But the political science nerd in me feels the need to point out that getting rid of the agency wouldn’t do much about the regulatory environment. A substantial portion of the EPA’s work deals with implementing the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and TSCA, both through scientific and regulatory work. If the EPA is abolished, those duties move to another agency, such as HHS, CDC, Interior, USDA, etc. It’s the law. (The EPA was originally a consolidation of environmental protection duties fragmented among other agencies.)

So, if the text of this bill eventually involves changing the CAA, CWA, and TSCA, it might actually accomplish something besides making the sponsors look good for their base during the next campaign.

There are quite a few ways of changing regulations, within the framework of the laws that authorize them:

  1. Executive orders can do a lot.
  2. Change the agency’s priorities by changing the leadership.
  3. Sue on the basis of the regulation not being authorized by the law. (Congress and the Executive have made this harder over the last 4 decades or so, but the newest Supreme Court nominee is well known for not deferring to agency interpretations.)
  4. Reduce or direct funding.
  5. And, most importantly, change the law.

1, 2, and 4 can get the government sued for not following its own laws, and 3 is harder to do, so the ideal way to handle things is 5. Of course, that includes Representatives and Senators willing to vote on the record to change those laws. Talk to yours.



Research covers a lot of ground

I’ve seen a tweet going¬†around that says people under the age of 44 are almost as likely to use Youtube for research purposes as they are Wikipedia.

Given that the tweet is being passed around in academic circles, I suspect the meaning of “research” is meant to be understood as scholarly research, which would be kind of appalling.

However, if you look at the actual question, it asks what sources people have used for “information.” I guess I’m just as guilty as anyone else, then, because Wikipedia has some great stuff about the Battle of Lepanto and Steven Universe, but it’s not great for figuring out how to replace a door handle in a 1998 Toyota Corolla.

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