Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cab Thoughts 5/8/13

“It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty — instead of the truth”--Diederik Stapel
There is an interesting observation in a new book, "Daily Rituals," about the habits of the very successful. There's no such thing as the way to create good work, but all greats have their way of doing it. There are a lot of different, and sometimes wacky, routines but every productive person has a routine.
The completely un-American concept of capping profit and wealth, as was floated recently in Obama's only budget ever with regard to retirement plans, has some interesting economic implications as well as the obvious quasi-philosophical ones. Of great concern in the government apparently is the tendency of people and businesses to hold cash. Companies are not reinvesting or hiring more people. This is usually attributed to the uncertainty that this peculiar administration has created. But if the government caps earnings, growth potential and wealth won't that cut the reward potential and thus make risk worthless? And won't that stimulate a move to cash?
Diederik Stapel became dean of the Tilburg University's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Netherlands after several years of successful and prominent publication of original studies. In November od 2011 the University announced Stapel had committed fraud in at least 55 of his papers, as well as in 10 Ph.D. dissertations written by his students. The students were not culpable, even though their work was now tarnished. Stapel did not deny that his deceit was driven by ambition. But it was more complicated than that, he said. He insisted that he loved social psychology but had been frustrated by the messiness of experimental data, which rarely led to clear conclusions. His lifelong obsession with elegance and order, he said, led him to concoct sexy results that journals found attractive. “It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty — instead of the truth,” he said. This is a very profound lie.
George Turner was a Union soldier who wrote over 200 letters, mostly to his parents and family, during the Civil War. Turner spent the majority of his time during the war at Fort Wells, a captured Confederate fort in Hilton Head, South Carolina. He was employed as the cook for his company but also served as a gunner on the gunboat George Washington which patrolled the waters surrounding Hilton Head and Port Royal for several months. When the George Washington was destroyed in April of 1863 by a Confederate battery near Port Royal Ferry, Turner was one of the few to survive unscathed. His letters describe the daily life of a soldier as well as his growing dislike for freed Blacks whom he felt were treated better than the regular white Union troops. General Ormsby M. Mitchel created a community where ex-slaves were allowed to govern themselves, and work the surrounding land for their own profit on the northern corner of the Island. With the establishment of "Mitchelville," Hilton Head Island became a major place of refuge and opportunity for runaway and freed slaves. This was a new and unique approach to dealing with the masses of ex-slaves that the Civil War and emancipation created. Turner joined the army to stop the rebellion; he was not committed to emancipation. He was very complimentary of Black soldiers, however. Turner remained close to his family, survived the war and returned to Providence, Rhode Island in 1864.
Who was...Nikola Tesla? And what was Room 3327?
A Southby book sale is coming up that includes some Washington material. A fresh copy of the 1754 Journal of George Washington, his account of the French and Indian War prepared for the House of Burgesses (est. $100/150,000) and an important letter signed by him about securing New York City during the Revolutionary War (est. $70/100,000). Also "probably the world’s finest" set of Captain James Cook’s Voyages (est. $100/150,000), "exceptional" copies of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (est. $90/120,000) and On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (est. $100/150,000), and an inscribed first edition (est. $65/95,000) and proof copy (est. $80/120,000) of Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence of Arabia.
A citizen and voter, Henry Gribbohm, was attempting to win an Xbox Kinect playing a carnival game at a Manchester carnival. He lost his life savings of about $2,600.
There is a monument in Georgia depicting the only president of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, riding beside generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It is two football fields wide. There is a petition being circulated to have it torn down. Perhaps they could have the Taliban do it.
Literature as advertisement: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sold the rights to his memoir to HarperCollins.
An interesting and instructive debate has broken out on Wikipedia. It seems that there are contributors fascinated by categories, categories that reflect society's tendencies. Consequently there is a tendency for subdivision. For example there are no women American Writers but rather Women American Writers. This gets further subdivided (African American Women Writers) and some women are saying this implies bias. (90% of the Wikipedia editors are men.) But this subdivision has been exactly what society has been demanding for years. One wonders if those objecting are successful enough to disdain the quotas concept.
Presidential leadership: "My policy from the beginning has been . . . for Assad to step down and to move forward on a political transition. . . . We've organized the international community. We are the largest humanitarian donor. . . . What's happening in Syria is a blemish on the international community, and we've got to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect the Syrian people. I've also said that the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer, not simply for the United States but for the international community. And the reason for that is that we have established international law and international norms. . . . So when I've said the use of chemical weapons would be a game changer, that wasn't unique to—that wasn't a position unique to the United States, and it shouldn't have been a surprise. . . . But we don't know who used them. We don't have a chain of custody. . . . We've also called on the United Nations to investigate." This is an abridged answer to a question on Syria from Obama's recent press conference. This is his answer to his plans for Guantanamo: "Ultimately we're going to need some help from Congress. And I'm going to ask some folks over there who, you know, care about fighting terrorism but also care about who we are as a people to step up, and help me on it."
There was a conference on Marx at the University of Washington recently. Some of the papers under discussion were: “Reconsidering Impossible Totalities: Marxist Deployments of the Sublime,” “A Few Thoughts on the Academic Poet as Hobo-Tourist,” “Reading Hip-Hop at the Intersection of Culture and Capitalism,” “Annals of Sexual States” and “The Political Economy of Stranger Intimacy.” Well, times have changed.
Saltationism: (sal-tey-shuh-niz-uhm) noun Biology
Any of several theories holding that the evolution of species proceeds in major steps by the abrupt transformation of an ancestral speciesinto a descendant species of a different type, rather than by the gradual accumulation of small changes.
The Congressional Budget Office expects 7 million workers — and possibly as many as 20 million — will lose their employer coverage because of ObamaCare.
Arport lounges. Annual membership costs are stiff: $500 for the Admirals Club (American) and the United Club (United), and $450 for the Sky Club (Delta) and the US Airways Club. Memberships that include a spouse or partner range from $675 to $825 per year. Alaska Airlines charges $450 per year for its much smaller Board Room lounge (with five locations plus 50 affiliate locations) and Hawaiian Airlines charges $299 per year for its Premier Club (with six locations, five of which are in Hawaii). Airspace Lounge is a new start-up that is building a network of independent U.S. airport lounges where entrance will be $20.
Golden Oldies:
Coal provided just 37% of America's power last year as gas grabbed market share and generated 30% of the nation's electricity. But so far this year, with gas prices rising, coal surged up and provided 40% of our power, while gas sank to 26%.

AAAAAAaaannnnnddddd..... a graph:

No comments: