Biotech Smack-Up

During last year’s insane election, Trump made big claims about really taking drug companies to task, reigning in the crazy expenses of medicine, and in general giving the overpaid makers of drugs the kind of smack-em-up they all deserve. Well, right on the heels of his rousing success building a border wall (and having the […]
Slope of Hope

3 Things the Charts Are Saying About the 10-Year

Three things the technical set-up is telling us about the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield: The Momentum low of the correction after last year’s advance from 1.32% (7/06/16) to 2.64% (12/16/16) was established on 4/18/17 at 2.17%. All of the downside action in yield thereafter, into mid-late June 2017, has been unconfirmed by Yield Momentum. On 6/14/17, Yield […]
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US State Department hostile to the transgendered; postal workers get 4-hour lunch breaks

Our youngest is almost two years old, so it is time for him to get a passport. He needs to catch up to Lani Shea, who had visited 100 countries by age 2 years, 8 months (Wikipedia entry on Travelers’ Century Club; also this BBC article on Lani’s dad). First stop: Niagara Falls! (Can we see everything that matters to toddlers in one day? Do we actually need to go to the Canadian side? Or if we ride Maid of the Mist will we get a good enough view of the Canadian falls to avoid La Migra?)

The State Department passport application form provides only two options for “Sex”: “male” and “female”. This is true both for the applicant and the applicant’s (not to say “his or her”) parents. Could this be Rex Tillerson’s fault? (see “Proof that being straight and gay are not treated the same in the world of business“) Or do we blame Donald Trump?

Separately, I looked for places where we could go and submit the application (both parents, lots of IDs, etc.) and our local post office showed up at the top of the list. Thursday is the walk-in day for passports. But you can’t go during the lunch break. “Lunch Start” is at 10:00 and “Lunch End” is at 14:00. (There are only three establishments in our town that serve lunch commercially. The farthest from the post office is a 1-minute walk.)

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog


The quarter’s end is upon is, and all in all it’s been a total meh. Month after month, CB-driven lifetime highs on the indexes. I’ve been able to survive this continuing debacle surprisingly well, and one of my many short positions that I’m still cheering is FInish Line. I’ve shown it before, but this is […]
Slope of Hope

Practical ideas for resolving custody disputes

Presenters and attendees at the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017 had some ideas for improving the way that custody disputes in U.S. family courts are resolved (see Real World Divorce for how they typically are resolved now).

Presenters agreed the the temporary order process, which comes early in what might be years of divorce or custody litigation, is a critical part of why shared parenting is so uncommon in the United States. “That’s the end of the children’s relationship with one parent,” said a panel speaker regarding temporary orders favoring the other parent, and the rest of the panel nodded. Kari Adamsons, of the University of Connecticut (a great state for alimony plaintiffs!), summarized this with “there is a lot of momentum from temporary orders, especially for kids.”

The psychologists suggested mandated 50/50 shared parenting via temporary orders because it gives judges the opportunity to test the workability of  shared parenting. When the trial comes around months (or two years, in Massachusetts, or maybe never, in Canada) later, the court will know whether or not shared parenting has been successful. Kentucky has recently put this suggestion into effect (see “New child-custody law lets Ky. children win with shared parenting,” April 12, 2017, Lexington Herald Leader). [Note that litigation over possession of children is less intense in Kentucky than in many other states because it is difficult for a plaintiff parent to get more than $ 14,700 per year per child in child support revenue.]

Given that a lot of states’ family courts see their mission as “maintain the status quo,” this Kentucky-style temporary order presumption would be likely to change the custody outcome statistics.

Some of the psychologists wanted courts (with the help of paid psychologists, typically!) to investigate “conflict.” Instead of simply ignoring one party’s assertion of “conflict,” as a lot of Western states do when awarding a 50/50 schedule to children, psychologists should try to figure out which parent was responsible for the conflict. The psychologists said that there was usually one parent who had “moved on” with a new lover, maybe some new kids, etc. while the other person had “not moved on” and would generate conflict. They never explained, however, how this was better than a fairly strict 50/50 presumption. Nor did they address “How are people supposed to move on when one person has to pay the other every month?” (unlike in England, for example, where they try to achieve a “clean break” of transferring assets from defendant to plaintiff in one big lump) The most that they came up with was that parents would be “taught” (by psychologists?) how to cooperate. Professor Linda Nielsen didn’t contradict her colleagues directly, but she noted that “most shared parenting arrangements are in fact parallel parenting. There is very little need for communication. Children are not benefiting from parents being buddies. There should be less emphasis on looking at parent-parent relationship and more on the parent-child relationship.”

Psychologists were sometimes realistic about the limitations of their profession. Pamela Ludolph, a PhD in clinical psych at University of Michigan, said “there are some awful custody evaluators out there” but admitted that she doesn’t know how to fix the problem.

Some of the American experts presenting almost tripped over themselves in advocating for victims of domestic violence, though they simultaneously presented statistics showing that domestic violence was generally not a relevant factor for separated parents, whether children in 50/50 or primary/secondary parenting. Richard Warshak, for example, opened his panel talk by saying that judges shouldn’t award shared parenting if there was “a history of intimate partner violence.” He didn’t acknowledge, however, that the financial and practical rewards to becoming the winner parent might shade witness testimony and make it challenging for judges to determine the truth of “intimate partner violence” allegations. Nor did he explain how, if one parent is actually violent, why it is a good idea for the children to be with that violent person roughly 30 percent of the time or for the violent parent and the victim parent to have four or five face-to-face interactions every two weeks (Wednesday pick-up for dinner, Wednesday drop-off after dinner; Sunday night drop-off every other weekend) as opposed to zero face-to-face interactions in a 50/50 week-on/week-off arrangement with exchanges at school or camp.

A European researcher in the audience reacted privately to these righteous sentiments by asking why American courts would even want to hear either parent-parent or parent-child abuse allegations simultaneously with a divorce or custody dispute. “People can have a child and care for the child 100 percent of the time, but the state will take the child away if he is being abused. Why not presume a 50/50 care arrangement and then, separately, the state can investigate whether or not the child is being abused under one or both parents’ care? If one parent is abusive, the child can then be taken away by the child abuse agency and put into the other parent’s care for 100 percent of the time.” (Certainly every state in the U.S. does have the machinery in place to implement her idea. There is always a DSS or DCF or CPS. See Family Law Reform Conference Report, for example: “Child Protective Services [in Texas] gets a report on every father in high-income custody and child support cases. They love to go out and investigate upper-middle-class white men in safe neighborhoods and will spend a whole day with a father who is the target of a custody action. CPS social workers don’t like to go into housing projects where they might get their asses kicked.”)

Summary: It is tough to believe that American voters would, starting from scratch, ask for a litigation-based parenting dispute system like the one that we have. On the other hand, even the experts are reluctant to let it go and their suggestions tend to be tweaks of the legacy system that can easily consume 100 percent of what would have been a child’s inheritance in order to protect his or her “best interests.”

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Volatility Heats Up…Summer Selloff Ahead?

The following three ratio charts compare the strength of the NDX, RUT, and SPX with their respective Volatility Index. The following NDX:VXN ratio chart shows that NDX is sitting in a precarious spot at a rising trendline, but well below what is now major resistance. All 3 technical indicators are still in “SELL” mode, as rising volatility outstrips price performance. Compare that to where the RUT:RVX ratio is […]
Slope of Hope

And The Failure…….

Well, my power to type words is diminished since the tool for doing that is starting to fail – – for instance, I cannot type the letter that appears after “A” and prior to “C” – – so I’ll visit Fry’s after the close. Anyway, just yesterday morning, I wrote……..”I suspect this third test of […]
Slope of Hope