Meet the Beer Bottle Dictator: For years, one man has approved virtually every beer label design in the United States. Among brewers, he’s a tyrant. A legend. A pedantic pain in the ass. Brewers and legal experts speak of him in hushed tones, with equal parts irritation and reverence. "He’s the king of beer. His will is law," said one lawyer who works with him regularly. The lawyer asked to remain anonymous, for fear of crossing the beer specialist. "There’s one dude in the government who gets to control a multibillion-dollar industry with almost no supervision." And he goes by the name "Battle."
The US Office of Personnel Management's Retirement Operations Center is housed about 230 feet below the surface inside the caverns of an old limestone mine. The trucks full of paperwork come every day, turning off a country road north of Pittsburgh and descending through a gateway into the earth. Underground, they stop at a metal door decorated with an American flag. [more inside]
Turkey: The Erdogan-Gulen showdown - "A political fight to the death had just broken out between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, and his former allies in the movement of Mr Gulen... The prime minister argues that the Gulenists have set up a 'parallel state' within the bureaucracy, following orders from Pennsylvania and pursuing an agenda of their own." [more inside]
The Control Revolution And Its Discontents - "the long process of algorithmisation over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
Adam Humphreys created a successful business helping people navigate the Chinese embassy's bureaucracy (in a van parked across the street).
The Age of Imperialism is over, but its impact remains, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy through cultural norms. Comparing individuals on opposite sides of the long-gone Habsburg Empire border within five countries, it shows that firms and people living in what used to be the empire have higher trust in courts and police.
Need some dessert ideas? The Pentagon has recipes for brownies and oatmeal cookies. (26 page pdf)
There is a law in South Carolina that forces any subversive organization to register before the Secretary of State. Penalties for refusing to do so include a fine for up to $25,000 and 10 years imprisonment. You can download the form here. [more inside]
Simulated U.S. Government Agency Responses to Vampire-Americans "Every spring, [the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce] runs a policy simulation designed to illustrate the difficulty of operating an organization in the context of asymmetric and limited information. Every fall, I run a two hour mini-simulation designed to give students a sense of how the larger simulation will play out. ... Since vampires seem to be in the news lately, this year I chose a vampire oriented scenario."
Why bureaucracy, like gas, fills up all available space. From the archive of The Economist, 1955 [via ArchiveDigger.]
Wondering which Obama administration job is right for you? The Plum Book (2008 Edition) is a US government publication that lists some 8000 jobs (including salary ranges) in the executive branch that will become available upon the inauguration of President-Elect Obama. (Individual chapters are .pdf files.) [more inside]
Government waste. While the report had very libertarian leanings, John Stossel's special on how royally inept our government is at accomplishing anything is an indictment of the entrenched ways of doing things. There must be some sort of crossroad where liberal social policies can meet with real accountability without bureaucracy.