Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Few Notes: Dyson on Holt #2

James Holt has a new book called Why Does the World Exist? This is culled from Dyson's review of it in the NYT.
The antithesis of John Leslie is David Deutsch, whose book The Beginning of Infinity I recently reviewed in these pages. Holt visited Deutsch at his home in a village a few miles from Oxford. The chapter describing the visit is entitled “The Magus of the Multiverse.” Deutsch is a professional physicist who uses physics as a basis for philosophical speculation. Unlike most philosophers, he understands quantum mechanics and feels at home in a quantum universe. He likes the many-universe interpretation of quantum mechanics, invented in the 1950s by Hugh Everett, who was then a student in Princeton. Everett imagined the quantum universe as an infinite assemblage of ordinary universes all existing simultaneously. He called the assemblage the multiverse.
The essence of quantum physics is unpredictability. At every instant, the objects in our physical environment—the atoms in our lungs and the light in our eyes—are making unpredictable choices, deciding what to do next. According to Everett and Deutsch, the multiverse contains a universe for every combination of choices. There are so many universes that every possible sequence of choices occurs in at least one of them. Each universe is constantly splitting into many alternative universes, and the alternatives are recombining when they arrive at the same final state by different routes. The multiverse is a huge network of possible histories diverging and reconverging as time goes on. The “quantum weirdness” that we observe in the behavior of atoms, the “spooky action at a distance” that Einstein famously disliked, is the result of universes recombining in unexpected ways.
According to Deutsch, each of us exists in the multiverse as a crowd of almost identical creatures, traveling together through time along closely related histories, splitting and recombining constantly like the atoms of which we are composed. He does not claim to have an answer to the question “Why does the multiverse exist?” or to the easier question “What is the nature of consciousness?” He sees ahead of us a long future of slow exploration, answering philosophical questions that we do not yet know how to ask. One of the questions that we know how to ask but not to answer is: “Does quantum computing play an essential role in our consciousness?” For Deutsch, the physics of quantum computing is the most promising clue that may lead us to a deeper understanding of our existence. He theorizes, Holt tells us, that “all the different parallel universes in the multiverse” could “be coaxed into collaborating on a single computation.”

My favorite version of the multiverse is a story told by the philosopher Olaf Stapledon, who died in 1950. He taught philosophy at the University of Liverpool. In 1937 he published a novel, Star Maker, describing his vision of the multiverse. The book was marketed as science fiction, but it has more to do with theology than with science. The narrator has a vision in which he travels through space visiting alien civilizations from the past and the future, his mind merging telepathically with some of their inhabitants who join him on his journey. Finally, this “cosmical mind” encounters the Star Maker, an “eternal and absolute spirit” who has created all of these worlds in a succession of experiments. Each experiment is a universe, and as each experiment fails he learns how to design the next experiment a little better. His first experiment is a simple piece of music, a rhythmic drumbeat exploring the texture of time. After that come many more works of art, exploring the possibilities of space and time with gradually increasing complexity.
Our own universe comes somewhere in the middle, a big improvement on its predecessors but still destined for failure. Its flaws will bring it to a tragic end. Far outside the range of our understanding will be the later experiments, avoiding the mistakes that the Star Maker made with our own universe, and leading the way to ultimate perfection. Stapledon’s multiverse, conceived in the shadow of the approaching horrors of World War II, is an imaginative attempt to grapple with the problem of good and evil.
Opinions vary widely concerning the proper limits of science. For me, the multiverse is philosophy and not science. Science is about facts that can be tested and mysteries that can be explored, and I see no way of testing hypotheses of the multiverse. Philosophy is about ideas that can be imagined and stories that can be told. I put narrow limits on science, but I recognize other sources of human wisdom going beyond science. Other sources of wisdom are literature, art, history, religion, and philosophy. The multiverse has its place in philosophy and in literature.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Few Notes: Dyson on Holt #1

James Holt has a new book called Why Does the World Exist? This is culled from Dyson's review of it in the NYT.

Materialists imagine a world built out of atoms. Platonists imagine a world built out of ideas. This division into two categories is a gross simplification, lumping together people with a great variety of opinions. Like taxonomists who name species of plants and animals, observers of the philosophical scene may be splitters or lumpers. Splitters like to name many species; lumpers like to name few.
Holt is a splitter and I am a lumper. Philosophers are mostly splitters, dividing their ways of thinking into narrow specialties such as theism or deism or humanism or panpsychism or axiarchism. Examples of each of these isms are to be seen in Holt’s collection. I find it more convenient to lump them into two big groups, one obsessed with matter and the other obsessed with mind. Holt asks them to explain why the world exists. For the materialists, the question concerns the origin of space and time and particles and fields, and the relevant branch of science is physics. For the Platonists, the question concerns the origin of meaning and purpose and consciousness, and the relevant science is psychology.
...The word “axiarchism” is Greek for “value rules,” meaning that the world is built out of ideas, and the Platonic idea of the Good gives value to everything that exists. John Leslie takes seriously Plato’s image of the cave as a metaphor of human life. We live in a cave, seeing only shadows cast on the wall by light streaming in from the entrance. The real objects outside the cave are ideas, and all the things that we perceive inside are imperfect images of ideas. Evil exists because our images are distorted. The ultimate reality hidden from our view is Goodness. Goodness is a strong enough force to pull the universe into existence. Leslie understands that this explanation of existence is a poetic fantasy rather than a logical argument. Fantasy comes to the rescue when logic fails. The whole range of Plato’s thinking is embodied in his dialogues, which are dramatic reconstructions of the conversations of his master Socrates. They are based on imagination, not on logic.
In 1996 Leslie published a book, The End of the World, taking a gloomy view of the human situation. He was calculating the probable future duration of the human species, basing his argument on the Copernican principle, which says that the situation of the human observer in the cosmos should be in no way exceptional. Copernicus gave his name to this principle when he moved the earth from its position at the center of the Aristotelian universe and put it into a more modest position as one of the planets orbiting around the sun.
Leslie argued that the Copernican principle should apply to our position in time as well as to our position in space. As observers of the passage of time, we should not put ourselves into a privileged position at the beginning of the history of our species. As Copernican observers, we should expect to be in an average position in our history, rather than close to the beginning. Therefore, we should expect the future duration of our species to be not much longer than its past. Since we know that our species originated about a hundred thousand years ago, we should expect it to become extinct about a hundred thousand years from now.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday 6/28/15

Today's gospel is a continuation of the wild day where Christ calms the sea storm and casts devils into pigs.
In comparison, today's gospel is very human. 
One of the synagogue officials, who is actually named in the bible--Jairus, comes and asks for help: His daughter is "at the point of death" (in Mark--already dead in other versions.)
On the way to his house, others come with the news: “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” This is a wonderful effort on the part of these people to rise above their human concerns, to be spiritual and profound.: Why trouble the teacher any longer, indeed.
Christ says, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” Christ is not setting the observers up here, although it sounds like He is. He is making a point of Death as a temporary state in general, a point crucial to His life on earth and His message to Man. 
He raises the girl from Death. The girl rises and, in a very eerie moment, "walked around" as if out of place. Then, in an incredible tribute to Life, Christ asks that they give her something to eat.

A Prayer for my Daughter

William Butler Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cab Thoughts 6/27/15

"....[in politics]...every man must be supposed a knave.”--David Hume

Slave owners were a tiny minority (1.4%) in the U.S. and they were not only whites. In 1830 about 25% of the free Negro slave masters in South Carolina owned 10 or more slaves: that is a much higher percentage (ten times more) than the number of white slave owners. 

As of Jan. 1, 2015, physicians will be fined if they have not gone to electronic medical records. Medicare payments will be cut, by 1% this year, rising to 3% (potentially 5%) in subsequent years.
700 to 200 BC is what historians have called the Axial Age because it was pivotal to the spiritual development of humanity. It saw the rise of agricultural societies that created a large and vulnerable peasant class, unlike the more egalitarian hunter-gatherer period that preceded it. At the core was the development of surplus, the ability of a farmer to feed more than himself and his family. That is, surplus gave rise to wealth and a distinction among people. This seems to have been a major impetus for the independent beginnings of Buddhism and Hinduism in India, Confucianism and Taoism in the Far East, and monotheism in the Middle East--religions and philosophies that seemed to arise to accommodate these new disparities. The problem is that this thesis is entirely manufactured; we have no way of knowing if any part--even the Rousseau-like egalitarianism of the hunter--is even remotely true. 
But one thing is true: We carbon units love a story.
Who is ....Oswald Spengler?

Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology was published in Marion Reedy's weekly magazine, The Mirror. Over the next six months Masters would write the remainder of his 244 "epitaphs," publishing them in book form in 1916. Both the magazine and book publications carried the pseudonym of "Webster Ford" as protection: Masters was a successful lawyer, and he feared that the backlash from local readers who objected to his unflattering view of life in a Midwest village -- a "degenerated" New World Eden, said one critic -- would ruin him. The book was an instant hit and soon became the best-selling book of American poetry to date.  Masters was eventually able to give up legal practice and become a full time writer. Of his fifty books -- poetry, novels, plays, biography -- none would come close to the popularity of Spoon River.

91 percent of Wikipedia editors are men.
Oswald Spengler was a German historian and philosopher whose major work, The Decline of the West, brought him worldwide fame. In it, he contends that every civilization passes through a life cycle, blossoming and decaying like a natural organism, and that Western culture has passed its creative stage and entered the period of decline. He was ostracized after 1933 for refusing to support Nazi ideas of racial superiority.

Golden oldie:

At 9:30 a.m. on a sunny weekday, the phones at Candelia, a purveyor of sleek office furniture in Lille, France, rang steadily with orders from customers across the country and from Switzerland and Germany. A photocopier clacked rhythmically while more than a dozen workers processed sales, dealt with suppliers and arranged for desks and chairs to be shipped. (Times)Candelia is one of a number of so-called “Potemkin” companies operating in France. Everything about these entities is imaginary from the customers, to the supply chain, to the banks, to the “wages” employees receive and while the idea used to be that the creation of a “parallel economic universe” would help to train the jobless and prepare them for real employment sometime in the future, these “occupations” are now serving simply as way for the out-of-work to suspend reality for eight hours a day. Here’s The Times again: These companies are all part of an elaborate training network that effectively operates as a parallel economic universe. For years, the aim was to train students and unemployed workers looking to make a transition to different industries. Now they are being used to combat the alarming rise in long-term unemployment, one of the most pressing problems to emerge from Europe’s long economic crisis.

So many fans visit King’s Cross station to take pictures of platforms 9 and 10 that the station management erected a sign that says “Platform 9 ¾” which, in the Harry Potter books, is invisible to Muggles but acts as a gateway for witches and wizards.
One study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that emergency-room doctors spend 43% of their time entering electronic records information, 28% with patients. Another study found that family-practice physicians spend on average 48 minutes a day just entering clinical data.

When a troop of guenon monkeys gets a new leader, the new alpha-male will sometimes kill all babies who are still being suckled--an evolutionary behavior known as kin selection, where the male protects his own offspring by killing the offspring of other males. This is also known as the Ottoman Empire.
"The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue." So writes Richard Horton in The Lancet. "Can bad scientific practices be fixed?" he continues. "Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivised to be productive and innovative."
Much of the popular debate in modern science has this unspoken background, the basic mistrust of modern scientific technique and motive. It colors all modern science and is the foundation of the global warming debate.
In Iran, 70% of population is under age 35, having been born after the Revolution. 60% of university graduates are women.
New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006; it swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007, and will conduct a five-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015. Pluto closest approach is scheduled for July 14, 2015. As part of an extended mission, the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.


On May 28, 1998, Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter intentionally walked Barry Bonds with the bases loaded. Bonds came into the game with 13 homers and a fantastic 1.045 OPS. So when he came up with the bases loaded, two outs, and Arizona up by two runs, Showalter walked him. Pitcher Gregg Olson got the next batter, Brent Mayne, to line out to right on a full count.  The strategy also worked the next time it was used: In 2008 Rays manager Joe Maddon called for a bases-loaded intentional walk to Josh Hamilton with two out and a four-run lead. Since the intentional walk was first recorded as a statistic in 1955, those are the only two instances of batters being handed an RBI along with their free pass. But researchers have discovered four prior instances, and each and every time, the team issuing the bases-loaded intentional walk has gone on to win the game.
Heart disease accounts for 40% of all U.S. deaths, more than all forms of cancer combined.

A report in The New York Times highlights another intriguing Clinton Foundation activity. According to the report, former President Bill Clinton turned down repeated offers to speak at Czech model Petra Nemcova's annual charity event benefitting Happy Hearts until she directly offered the Clinton family's foundation $500,000 of the proceeds for appearing. Happy Hearts is a charity that helps rebuild schools after natural disasters. It was created after Nemcova survived the 2004 tsunami that devastated Indonesia and parts of Thailand. Doug White, director of Columbia University's fundraising management program, told The Times that the arrangement was strange because Clinton's foundation is so much bigger. "This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate," White said. "The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful." The Times story, written by investigative reporter Deborah Sontag, described the charity-to-charity payment model as "extremely rare" for a fundraising event. 
"Distasteful," huh? I suppose that depends on just what exactly "distasteful" means. How about "scandalous." "Outrageous." "Unethical." "Degrading." And "avaricious, grasping, greedy, mercenary, acquisitive, and rapacious," not to mention "border-line criminal."

Americans spend an astounding 60 billion dollars a year on weight loss programs and products.

"For Congress to guarantee a right to health care, or any other good or service, whether a person can afford it or not, it must diminish someone else’s rights, namely their rights to their earnings.  The reason is that Congress has no resources of its very own. ...for government to give one American citizen a dollar, it must first, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.  If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn.
To argue that people have a right that imposes obligations on another is an absurd concept.  A better term for new-fangled rights to health care, decent housing and food is wishes.  If we called them wishes, I would be in agreement with most other Americans for I, too, wish that everyone had adequate health care, decent housing and nutritious meals.  However, if we called them human wishes, instead of human rights, there would be confusion and cognitive dissonance.  The average American would cringe at the thought of government punishing one person because he refused to be pressed into making someone else’s wish come true.
None of my argument is to argue against charity.  Reaching into one’s own pockets to assist his fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable.  Reaching into someone else’s pockets to do so is despicable and deserves condemnation."--Walter Williams
When Christopher Columbus landed on what he later named Hispaniola in 1492, the people greeted him with offerings, unaware that he was claiming their lands for Spain. By 1508, the Hispaniola’s native Arawak/Taíno population had fallen from about 400,000 to just 60,000 due to the devastating social, political, ecological, and immunological effects of Spain’s arrival. Ten years later, less than 3,000 Arawak/Taínos remained alive on Hispaniola.
The average American woman is 5'4" and weighs 140 pounds. The average model is 5'11" and weighs 117 pounds.
The world of unintended consequences: When Britain abolished slavery at home and in the British Empire, its example was soon followed by other European countries.But Britain encountered a fierce resistance from both Africans and Middle Eastern Muslims, who saw no reason to renounce a lucrative trade, not accepting the moral motives that had made European Christians give up this enormous source of profit. Britain had to engage in violent conflicts and wars in order to impose the abolition of slavery on African and Asian peoples and enforce it. The British navy would scour the seas and oceans of the world to intercept any ship carrying slaves and seize their human cargo. In this way other countries were obliged to stop their slave trade. The last country to abolish slavery in the Western Hemisphere was Brazil. When a Brazilian vessel saw a British ship, it quickly threw its slaves overboard in order not to be found out.
"What is uniquely Western is not slavery but the movement to abolish slavery". --Dinesh D'Souza 
Sinecure: noun: A position in which one is paid for little or no work. ety: From Latin beneficium sine cura (a church position not involving caring for the souls of the parishioners), from sine (without) + cura (care). Earliest documented use: 1662.

AAAaaaaaannnnnnddddddd.....a great picture:
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.


Friday, June 26, 2015

The Waggoner

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong.
"O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress," quoth he. 
But Hercules appeared to him, and said:

"Tut, man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel."
Moral of Aesop's Fable: The gods help those that help themselves

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oil, Batteries and Weighty Subjects‏

"We can break our dependence on oil…and become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.” President Obama said this in his January 2011 State of the Union address. But right now there are  less than 180,000 plug-ins on U.S. roads today. ( Worldwide, there are only 400,000.) Less than 70,000 Leafs, 71,00 Volts. And Fisker is bankrupt.
Treason? Gridlock?
All the hope and subsidies in the world cannot overcome the physics of energy density: Hydrocarbons--oil--store 40X the energy pound for pound than does the electrochemistry of batteries. The engine-battery system of a Leaf is 1000 pounds more than the engine+gas tank of a Mustang. And the Mustang can run all day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cab Thoughts

Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference. Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Violet Jessop, an ocean liner stewardess and nurse, survived the disastrous sinkings of both the RMS Titanic and her sister ship, the HMHS Britannic, in 1912 and 1916 respectively. In addition, she had been on board the RMS Olympic, their other sister ship, when it collided with the cruiser HMS Hawke in 1911.

A secret Pentagon document from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) written 2012 provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS had, three years ago, welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Syria's Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.” In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”
The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”
In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’)
The Salafists are a Sunni subset and the most prominent is ISIS. ISIS. We do this stuff so well.

Who is...Uwe Reinhardt?

Y'know, the world is just not dangerous enough. Apparently the U.S. was so happy with the Russian disaster in Afghanistan they tried to recreate it in Chechnya. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in “another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces.”
Bodansky revealed the entire CIA Caucasus strategy in detail in his report, stating that US Government officials participated in a meeting in Azerbaijan in December 1999 "...culminating in Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US ‘private security companies’. . . to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing Jihad for a long time…Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism.”
"Private security companies?" We do this stuff so well.

Golden oldie:

"Graduate college" or "graduate from college?" The original phrase was "Mary was graduated from college." This is a "passive" construction and is on the decline. It is now "Mary graduated from college," an "active" construction. But, more basically, "graduate" is intransitive, that is it can not take a direct object like "hit" can. One can say "Mary hit the ball," but not "Mary slept the bed" or "Mary fell the hole." Nor can one say "Mary graduated college;" she, showing her education, says "I graduated from college."

According to the AAMC's survey of 141 U.S. medical schools, 87 percent of deans are concerned about the number of clinical training sites available for graduates, up from 72 percent in 2010. And 71 percent of deans are concerned medical school enrollment will outpace the growth in graduate medical education.  Although the number of applicants to residency programs has steadily risen, growth in PGY-1 (first-year postgraduate) positions hasn't kept up.

It is interesting that, following the recent scandals, the Catholic Church has stopped accepting homosexuals as priests while that same policy is being reversed by the Boy Scouts.

A recent article, without references, claims physicians chose less medical intervention than they advise their patients. One argument is that they have a better understanding of success of intervention than the general population. CPR is a case in point. A study in the Rochester community of 1177 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests showed a 5% survival to 1 year. The literature reports an average survival rate of 15%. At least 44% of the survivors have significant decline in functional status at the time of discharge. Improved survival rates with good functional recovery are reported with duration of CPR shorter than 5 minutes and CPR occurring in the ICU. Chronic illness, more than age, determines prognosis in the elderly; elderly with chronic illness have an average survival rate of less than 5%. For those with advanced illness, survival rates are often less than 1%.
Experts speculate that survival rate misconceptions are further complicated by the fact that 67% of resuscitations are successful on television.

Shanghai is the only city of over 24 million people.

Hardy–Ramanujan number: 1729 is known as the Hardy–Ramanujan number after a famous anecdote told by the British mathematician G. H. Hardy regarding a visit to the hospital to see the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. In Hardy's words: "I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. "No," he replied, "it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.""
The two different ways are these: 1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103
Some people think like this.

HuffPo has their lead headline "Healthcare for millions hangs in the balance" over pictures of five justices, presumably the ones who are not certain to affirm the ACA. Aside from the implications that these judges are all preprogramed to vote a certain way, this question does not seem to be very complicated to these news people. It seems to be a vote for, or against, healthcare for poor people. A larger question can not fit in their small, parochial room.

The Constitution was drafted in secret by a group of mostly young men, many of whom had served together in the Continental Army, and who feared the consequences of a weak central authority.  They produced a charter that shifted power to a national government. “Anti-Federalists” opposed the Constitution. They worried, among other things, that the new government would try to disarm the thirteen state militias.  Critically, those militias were a product of a world of civic duty and governmental compulsion utterly alien to us today. Every white man age 16 to 60 was enrolled. He was required to own – and bring – a musket or other military weapon.--Michael Waldman’s The Second Amendment: A Biography

Keynes thought money a tool and that inactive money was useless. Thus “the abolition of the rich will be rather a comfort”, and those hoarders of money for its own sake referred instead to “specialists in mental disease”, like Sigmund Freud.

Commentators have been analyzing the Irish gay marriage vote and the backlash against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church comes up often as a factor. This is an interesting problem. In the 1960s and 1970s between 1.5 and 4 per cent of Roman Catholic clergy were involved directly or indirectly in the abuse of young people under their authority. The figure includes those who may not have physically abused anyone but were aware in some way of the abuse and by not stopping it enabled it and allowed the abusers to repeat the offense. The exact number of victims will never be known because not every victim has come forward. Most of the abused were boys between the ages of twelve and sixteen--an important distinction, but younger boys and girls were also molested. Now for the stunner: Clinical child psychologist Wade F. Horn wrote a report on the work of researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, where it was shown that nearly 20 per cent of low-income women in their study had experienced sexual abuse as children, mostly by family friends followed by uncles and cousins, then stepfathers, and then brothers.
In 2002, the Christian Science Monitor reported on the results of national surveys conducted by an organization called Christian Ministry Resources and stated that, "despite headlines focusing on the priest paedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American Churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff, but Church volunteers".

Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IB Times analysis of State Department and foundation data.

“This is a Christian nation.”--the Supreme Court in 1892. “America was born a Christian nation.”-- Woodrow Wilson. “This is a Christian nation.”-- Harry Truman. “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.”-- Barack Obama.

The NYT wrote an interesting and, for them, unusual article raising questions about the propriety of the E.P.A. and certain regulations they proposed. In essence, the Times asked if the E.P.A. was "lobbying," an act illegal for the government. Here is the author's reply to the inevitable criticism he received:
"Urging the public to endorse their proposed rule — and asking people explicitly to express this support by going to an E.P.A. webpage where they could click through to get to a place to comment on the rule and also explicitly asking people to go onto social networks to proclaim their support — that is classic grass-roots lobbying. That is what grass-roots lobbying firms are hired to do. It is known as “indirect lobbying,” as it creates the appearance of a groundswell of support — which elected officials then notice and react to.
These actions took place in coordination with environmental groups, like Sierra Club and N.R.D.C., which were “Thunderous Supporters,” of the Thunderclap campaign, as well as partners in other efforts we documented. And it took place at a time when the E.P.A.’s own personnel were weighing the rule and Congress was considering legislation to block it.
This combination was not only extremely unusual, and threatened to undermine the integrity of the process, according to prominent academic experts. But in the view of certain members of Congress, and opponents of the rule, it may have violated the Anti-Lobbying Law. That is what the article said. Glad we did it."

Spain passed a law in 1999 giving workers with children younger than 7 the right to ask for reduced hours without fear of being laid off. Those who took advantage of it were nearly all women.
Over the next decade, companies were 6 percent less likely to hire women of childbearing age compared with men, 37 percent less likely to promote them and 45 percent more likely to dismiss them, according to a study led by Daniel Fernández-Kranz, an economist at IE Business School in Madrid. The probability of women of childbearing age not being employed climbed 20 percent. Another result: Women were more likely to be in less stable, short-term contract jobs, which are not required to provide such benefits.
So....when employers’ costs of employing workers rise, employers employ fewer of those workers. What an insight.

In 2013, archaeologists working in Alsace, in eastern France, uncovered something incongruous, and to the untrained eye, very strange. The researchers discovered the tomb and skull of an aristocrat, who died some 1,600 years ago. Her skull was heavily deformed, with the front flattened, and the rear rising into a cone shape. An amateur digger might have been forgiven for thinking they had found one of the “Grey aliens” that UFO-spotters regularly claim to see. 
This was an example of “artificial cranial deformation,” or in layman’s terms, the practice of altering the head’s natural shape through force. As odd as it seems, this was not a singular incident, or only representative of fifth-century practices, or something that only happened in France. Until the early 1900s, a form of artificial cranial deformation was still taking place in Western France, in Deux-Sevres. Known as the Toulouse deformity, the practice of bandeau was common amongst the French peasantry. A baby's head would be tightly bound and padded, to protect it from accidental impacts. At around the same time, the practice was still occurring in Russia and the Caucasus, as well as in Scandinavia.
Originally, head flattening was instituted to "distinguish certain groups of people from others and to indicate the social status of individuals." In Europe the practice was most popular with tribes that emigrated from the Caucasus region of Central Asia, like the Huns, Sarmatians, Avars, and the Alans. Indeed, that region is where the remains of the earliest suspected practitioners of artificial cranial deformation were discovered. It also appears in the Americas and Polynesia.
While early European observers of the practice in France and in Eastern Europe reportedly pitied children whose heads had been bound, subsequent research has led experts to believe that cranial modification has no impact on cognitive function, nor is there a difference in cranial capacity.

Deliberate modification of the skull, also called the "Toulouse deformity." (Photo: Didier Descouens/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0)
 File:« déformation toulousaine » MHNT.jpg

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tolpuddle Martyrs

 In 1833, after several years of reductions in their agricultural wages, a group of workers in Tolpuddle, a small village east of Dorchester, England, formed the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. Led by George Loveless, a farm laborer, the union rapidly grew in the area, and it was agreed that the men would not accept work for less than 10 shillings a week. With the urging of the British government, which feared a repetition of the rural unrest of 1830, local authorities arrested Loveless and five others on charges of taking an unlawful oath, citing an outdated law that had been passed in the late 18th century to deal with naval mutiny. In March 1834, these six men, including one who had never taken the oath, were sentenced to seven years imprisonment at an Australian penal colony.
Public reaction throughout the country made the six into popular heroes, and in 1836, after continual agitation, the sentence against the so-called “Tolpuddle Martyrs” was finally remitted. Only one of the six returned to Tolpuddle; the rest emigrated to Canada.
The event is seen as the beginning of trade unionism in Great Britain.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Holophrase and The Identity TKO.

A holophrase is a single word used to express a complex idea. While adult uses like "Help," "Fire," "Go," and "Come" are all legitimate examples, the concept is really pre-linguistic, applied to children more than adults. So a child will say "Up," rather than "I want you to lift me up into your arms,"  "Food," rather than "I want food."

Which brings us to what appears to be holophrasis in its modern, grown-up extension of the juvenile: The Self-described Identity, or The Identity TKO. In a way, it is the obverse of the old, bigoted sneer, like "Commie," or "Mick," but turned on itself with its attendant enhancement. So one might declare oneself a "Native-American," or a "Woman," or a "Black" and this single identification contains all the history and narrative a deprived or suppressed culture might have.
And, as such, it trumps all argument, debate and criticism.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday 6/21/15

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Today on the Sea of Galilee a fierce gale whips up and the boat is threatened. Christ quells the storm and the apostles wonder at His control over Nature.
There is a wonderful, almost cosmic humor about this. These were men of the sea, these fishermen, braving risk to live. "Doing business in great waters." They chose their struggle and were at home with it. Yet they were fearful at this instant. And Christ is asleep! On a cushion! The real world and the spiritual did not seem aligned. They say, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Christ awakens and says, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Certainly these apostles knew many other fishermen killed in these waters, faithful pious men whose lives were not saved by their faith in God.
But Nature--and life--is not the whole point here. The spiritual becomes merged with both. So Christ saves them--for the day. The spiritual subdues the natural. And the spiritual remains a force in their lives.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.--Psalm 107:23,24 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

-John Masefield

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cab Thoughts 6/20/15

"As the saying goes, if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Community organizers like Huerta don't teach anyone how to fish: they teach activists how to steal their neighbors' fish. This is what Huerta and her ilk call social justice." --Matthew Vadum        

The exhibition “ Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” has opened at the Museum of Modern Art. People who liked The Beatles have significant antipathy towards Ono as they feel she was responsible for the very talented band's dissolution. But the truth is, she may have been a symptom, not a cause, of Lennon's disillusion. MoMA is taking her seriously enough to have a show centered on her. And she said something quite interesting: “Artists are not here to destroy or to create,” she wrote in 1971. “The job of an artist is . . . to change the value of things.”

News anchor and co-host of “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos, donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation but neglected to disclose that information while interviewing Peter Schweizer, author of “Clinton Cash,” a book critical of the foundation and the Clintons. Following this revelation, Politico reported that dozens of media organizations donated money — from the thousands to the millions of dollars — to the Clinton Foundation.

A 2014 Gallup poll found that “Americans' confidence in the media's ability to report ‘the news fully, accurately, and fairly' has returned to its previous all-time low of 40 percent.” 
At Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, Obama said, "We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people." This was, he said, a "moment of success." So, we had a stable independent Iraq? What happened?

Who is....Slava Fetisov?

Five of the world's biggest banks, including JPM, Citi and Barclays, agreed to plead guilty in a currency-rigging probe. There will be no actual convictions. No one will go to jail. There will be fines. The fines will be paid by the banks'....shareholders. Yes, shareholders.

"The word caviar is of Turkish derivation and refers to the eggs of the sturgeon -- a prehistoric animal that has not evolved in 180 million years. It is a huge migratory fish that, like the salmon, is anadromous, that is, it lives in saltwater but swims upstream to spawn in the freshwater place of its birth...The medieval rivers of Europe were full of egg-bearing sturgeon. They were common in the Seine, the Gironde, the Thames, the Po, the Danube, the Ebro in northern Spain, and the Guadalquivir in southern Spain. The fish were often a subject of royal privileges....Sturgeons, which can weigh up to two tons, have little resistance to industrial pollution....During the twentieth century, as industrial pollution and oil spills killed off sturgeon around the world, commercial caviar fishing was largely reduced to the Caspian Sea. Historically the Caspian has always been controlled by Russia from the northern shore and Iran from the southern shore, giving these two nations a virtual monopoly on caviar...The prices of the caviar from the three varieties -- beluga, ossetra, and sevruga -- are not a reflection of quality but rather of the rarity of the fish. The giant beluga are hardest to find, and therefore their caviar is the most expensive. It takes twenty years for a female beluga to mature, and at that point she can weigh as much as 1,800 pounds and be up to twenty-six feet in length. Such a fish could yield twenty pounds of eggs."--Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

The percentage of the population employed by the Government in Europe range from 30% in Germany (the most free-market) to 56% in France (the most socialist). You’re talking about a joint economy of $16 trillion in which 30%-56% of the population is employed by the Government.

In October 2012, potentially market-moving information about highly confidential Federal Reserve monetary deliberations made its way into a financial analyst's private newsletter. The leak occurred the day before the scheduled public release of meeting minutes that shed new light on the Fed's decision to embark on a third round of bond buying to boost the economy, according to ProPublica. The newsletter containing the leaked material came from an economic policy intelligence firm called Medley Global Advisors whose clients include hedge funds, institutional investors and asset managers. On Oct. 3, 2012, Regina Schleiger, an analyst with the firm, sent clients a "special report" titled "Fed: December Bound." The report focused on the Sept. 12-13 open market committee meeting, where the panel had approved what's called "QE3," a new program of large-scale purchases of mortgage-backed and Treasury securities.
According to the WSJ, The Federal Reserve is providing a congressional panel with the names of its staffers who had contact with a consulting firm that published details of market-sensitive policy deliberations in October 2012, “with the understanding that the names will be kept confidential,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said. Huh?

Although the Bernanke Fed has disbursed $2.284 trillion in new money (the monetary base) since August 1, 2008, one month before the 2008 financial crisis, 81.5 percent now sits idle as excess reserves in private banks. The banks are not required to hold excess reserves. The excess reserves exploded from $831 billion in August 2008 to $1.863 trillion on June 14, 2013. The excess reserves of the nation’s private banks had previously stayed at nearly zero since 1959 as seen on the St. Louis Fed’s chart. The banks did not leave money idle in excess reserves at zero interest because they were investing in income earning assets, including loans to consumers and businesses.

There was a wonderful story on HBO on hockey; one of the players that was focused on was former NHL star Slava Fetisov whose story is compelling. In the late ‘80s, Fetisov famously fought the Soviet bureaucracy to make the move to the NHL--banned by the Soviets-- before he got too old to be effective. Now Fetisov, a current Russian senator, has called for rules that would prevent Russian hockey players from going to the NHL before they turn 28. 

In 1755, an earthquake flattened Lisbon, set it aflame, and then caused a massive tsunami that swept the Tagus River into the city, killing more than 40,000 people. Theologians claimed the disaster was divine retribution for earthly pride and sin.The French philosopher Voltaire argued, though, that it was simply nature’s systems that had caused the movement of the earth’s crusts. He criticized the Catholic Church for claiming God was behind the disaster rather than the clock-maker master of the system of nature. Voltaire’s opinion led to a famous international debate that helped him move public opinion away from mystical explanations of natural phenomena and toward scientific authority. It is seen by many as a brick in building the Enlightenment.

Publishing in Current Biology, authors of a new study looked at the genome of a 35,000-year-old wolf from the Taimyr Peninsula in northern Siberia. "We find that this individual belonged to a population that diverged from the common ancestor of present-day wolves and dogs very close in time to the appearance of the domestic dog lineage," they wrote in the abstract.
That makes the dog a much earlier development--and an earlier Man's BFF.

Golden oldie:

The potato in its various sizes and colors shaped the eating habits of northern Europeans -- with devastating effect in nineteenth-century Ireland where the population had become too reliant on this one crop for sustenance. Spanish conquistadors introduced tomatoes to Europeans. The Three Sisters --corn, beans, and squash --became European staples. So many foods we identify with non-American cultures originated in the Americas.

Before and during the American Civil War, church denominations split over the issue of slavery. The Methodist Church, the largest American denomination at the time, split in 1844 due to divisions over slavery. Southern Baptists split from northern Baptists in 1845 over the issue of forbidding Southern slave-owners from becoming ordained missionaries. In 1861, Presbyterians in the Southern United States split from the denomination because of disputes over slavery, politics, and theology precipitated by the warAfter the war, southern churches struggled as membership declined, but these division had been so bitter that they refused financial help from the north. 

Outer space is really that: Space. The Milky Way has about 300 billion stars but those stars are dispersed across a chasmic piece of three dimensional property 100,000 light-years in diameter. That's roughly 6 trillion miles. If Earth is a fine grain of sand, "...the sun, then would be an orange-sized object twenty feet away while Jupiter the biggest planet of the solar system would be a pebble eighty-four feet in the other direction-almost the length of a basketball court -- and the outermost orbs of the solar system, Neptune and Pluto, would be larger and smaller grains, respectively, found at a distance of two and a quarter blocks from Granule Earth.....Beyond that, the gaps between scenic vistas become absurd and it's best to settle in for a nice comfy coma. Assuming our little orrery of a solar system is tucked into a quiet neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, you won't reach the next stars -- the Alpha Centauri triple star system -- until somewhere just west of Omaha, or the star after that until the foothills of the Rockies."--The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier

Codex: n. A manuscript volume (as opposed to a scroll), especially of an ancient text. ety. From Latin codex (tree trunk, wood block, book.) Earliest documented use: 1581

Putting it all together, the economic projections of most members of the FOMC call for growth in real gross domestic product of roughly 2-1/2 percent per year over the next couple of years, a little faster than the pace of the recovery thus far, with the unemployment rate continuing to move down to near 5 percent by the end of this year. And for inflation, as I noted earlier, my colleagues and I expect inflation to move up toward our objective of 2 percent as the economy strengthens further and as transitory influences wane.
Of course, the outlook for the economy, as always, is highly uncertain. I am describing the outlook that I see as most likely, but based on many years of making economic projections, I can assure you that any specific projection I write down will turn out to be wrong, perhaps markedly so. For many reasons, output and job growth over the next few years could prove to be stronger, and inflation higher, than I expect; correspondingly, employment could grow more slowly, and inflation could remain undesirably low.--This is from a speech by Red Chairman Janet Yellen in Providence, Rhode Island.
" I can assure you that any specific projection I write down will turn out to be wrong, perhaps markedly so." Well, that's reassuring.

George Soros at the World Band Bretton Woods Conference warned that unless the U.S. makes 'major concessions' and allows China's currency to join the IMF's basket of currencies, "there is a real danger China will align itself with Russia politically and militarily, and then it is not an exaggeration to say that we are on the threshold of a third world war."

AAAAAaaaaannnnnddddd.....an astonishing graph showing that the Fed is giving banks money but they are keeping it. 81.5 percent now sits idle as excess reserves in private banks:

Friday, June 19, 2015

U.N., Climate and Sacrificing Something (or Someone)

Is the U.N. a danger to humans?
Officials within the UN are pushing the notion that we, humans, are a danger to the world. They suggest the human population be reduced in order to combat climate change more effectively. Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) has been a leading proponent in this field. In 2013, Figueres had a conversation with Climate One founder Greg Dalton regarding “fertility rates in population,” as a contributor to climate change. (Climate One is a self described public affairs forum which advocates extreme action to combat climate change. It is a branch of The Commonwealth Club of California based in San Francisco.)

“But isn’t it true that stopping the rise of the population would be one of the biggest levers and driving the rise of green house gases?” Dalton asked.
“Obviously less people would exert less pressure on the natural resources,” Figueres answered, also noting that estimates suggest the Earth’s population will rise to nine billion by 2050.
Dalton then questioned whether that figure could in some way be stalled or halted. “So is nine billion a forgone conclusion? That’s like baked in, done, no way to change that?” he asked Figueres.
“There is pressure in the system to go toward that; we can definitely change those, right? We can definitely change those numbers,” Figueres said in response. “Really, we should make every effort to change those numbers because we are already, today, already exceeding the planet’s planetary carrying capacity.” 
“So yes we should do everything possible. But we cannot fall into the very simplistic opinion of saying just by curtailing population then we’ve solved the problem. It is not either/or, it is an and/also,” the UN official added.

Figueres previously described the goal of the UNFCC as “a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world.”
She has also repeatedly said that a Chinese style communist dictatorship is better suited than the U.S. constitutional system to fight “global warming.”
Figueres told Bloomberg News last year that the Chinese government is “doing it right” when it comes to climate change, even though China is by far the biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses. Perhaps she means "doing it right" outside of carbon production, maybe by decreasing human carbon units through forced abortions, infanticide and compulsory sterilization.
Figueres noted that a partisan divide in the U.S. Congress--by this she presumably means "debate"--is “very detrimental” to passing climate related legislation, while the Chinese Communist Party, sets policies by decree.

It is so annoying when people get in the way of planners' good ideas. Perhaps President Obama  could start issuing executive orders on climate change. Culling the population might be an urgent problem, too urgent to pursue by lower birth rates. So maybe a more pro-active approach should be used. Now, how to determine what humans to cull.....
What is irksome is our underwriting this blathering class and their regular meetings in 5-star hotels and restaurants.
Anyone interested in the U.N.'s history of principled and visionary behavior need only retrieve the White Paper on the U.N.'s behavior in Rwanda during the extermination of the Tutsis.

(For those thinking this is too bizarre, please check The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement defined by Wiki as 'an "extinctionist" movement which advocates the self-extinction of humankind. This movement argues that humankind is responsible for ecological unbalance and the destruction of the global environment,and believes that our planet's environment would be better off without humans.')

Thursday, June 18, 2015

4 Moms

We visited the new offices/workplace of 4 Moms this week. This is a jarring evolution. A business that started with a few guys around a desk is now a sizable company in four floors of a building on Ft. Duquesne boulevard  overlooking the Ninth Street Bridge and the river. Really lovely. There are no offices, only work spaces and meeting rooms. The largest and nicest space is an employees space for lounging and eating. There are almost 200 employees.
The employees are startlingly young. The European sales director showed five of us around and could not have been 28. They are remarkably reflective; the complaint area is softened with fabrics--the only fabrics I saw--to have a milder phone conversation. And they have six 3D Printers to make their prospective developments and/or changes--big Fortus, several uPrint and smaller OBjet--running 24 hours a day.
And they are optimistic; they have been up 60% in sales every year for the last five years and are well funded. Several new products are set to launch this year.
This is a young company in a competitive field that has brought modern electronics to a stable business with hopes of "disrupting" it. Their success is still in the balance but it is an exciting example of American entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cab Thoughts 6/17/13

The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism. --Karl Marx

Rachel Dolezal, the president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, has resigned, according to a letter from her that was posted Monday. Her parents, who are white, allege that she has been lying and presenting herself as black when she is not. She began identifying herself more with the African-American community in 2007, according to her parents. Now why is her identity as another race any different than having another identity as a gender, as Jenner did? And why do we, as a culture, have so much regard for the one decision and so little for the other?

Ross Andersen writes that "cosmology’s hot streak has stalled. Cosmologists have looked deep into time, almost all the way back to the Big Bang itself, but they don’t know what came before it. They don’t know whether the Big Bang was the beginning, or merely one of many beginnings. Something entirely unimaginable might have preceded it. Cosmologists don’t know if the world we see around us is spatially infinite, or if there are other kinds of worlds beyond our horizon, or in other dimensions. And then the big mystery, the one that keeps the priests and the physicists up at night: no cosmologist has a clue why there is something rather than nothing."
There may be limits to our understanding; theories in the future may be beyond proof. They may require faith.
The Persian Gulf holds 60% of the world’s oil reserves. Iran alone has reserves of 125 billion barrels of oil, or 10% of the world’s total reserves. Iran pumps nearly 4 million barrels of oil each day.
What is.... Open Science Framework?
Man is generally considered by statesmen and projectors as the materials of a sort of political mechanics. Projectors disturb nature in the course of her operations on human affairs, and it requires no more than to leave her alone and give her fair play in the pursuit of her ends that she may establish her own designs…. Little else is required to carry a state to the highest degree of affluence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.  All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel, or which endeavour to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are unnatural, and, to support themselves, are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical.--Adam Smith
Sandy Koufax was the youngest player ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To point out how things have changed in the world, he chose not to pitch Game 1 of the Dodger's 1965 championship World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.
Cynosure: n: 1. something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.: the cynosure of all eyes. 2. something serving for guidance or direction. An interesting evolution; Cynosure entered English in the late 1500s in reference to the most prominent star in Ursa Minor, Polaris. It can be traced to the Greek word Kynósoura meaning "dog's tail," a description of what the constellation was thought to resemble. 
The first great Holocaust in history, the mass murder of Mozarabs (Spanish Catholics culturally assimilated by Islam) in Spain was undertaken by Muslims: One third of the Spanish nation was exterminated. (In the last thousand years, only the Qing extermination of the Dzhugarians was more complete.) 
The search for consensus: The suggestions by geneticist Barbara McClintock in the 1940s and ’50s that some DNA sequences can “jump” around chromosomes, and by biochemist Stanley Prusiner in the 1980s that proteins called prions can fold up into entirely the wrong shape and that the misfolding can be transmitted from one protein to another, went so much against prevailing orthodoxy that both researchers were derided mercilessly—until they were proved right and won Nobel prizes.
In Spain while fighting for the Republican cause, George Orwell was shot in the throat in front-line fighting.

In a 2014 report analyzing long-term data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), investigators found that among the nearly 50,000 study participants, more than 6,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer during the 24 years of follow-up. “There appeared to be a slight increase in the risk of prostate cancer among the 25 percent of men who had undergone vasectomy compared with those who had not, and there was also a modest increase in the rates of high grade and lethal prostate cancer,” said Thomas J. Walsh, MD, MS, associate professor of Urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Director of the University of Washington Men’s Health Center.
The ability of a cat to find its way home is called "psi-traveling." Experts think cats either use the angle of the sunlight to find their way or that cats have magnetized cells in their brains that act as compasses.
"We're going to have to change how our body politic thinks, which means we're going to have to change how the media reports on these issues, and how people's impressions of what it's like to struggle in this [economy looks like."--President Obama. "Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."--Hilary Clinton. Where does the certainty of how to think come from? Why does the political elite have such a good grasp of it? And how, exactly, will the religious and political beliefs of the public be changed?
Golden oldie:
Open Science Framework (OSF) is a plan for the improvement of scientific projects. Essentially it is a registration plan. Researchers write down in advance what their study is for and what they think will happen. Then when they do their experiments, they agree to be bound to analyzing the results strictly within the confines of that original plan. This sounds like what every researcher does but the fact that it has emerged as a popular idea for improving research proves it does not. Interestingly, the area it has caught on most firmly has been, historically, the biggest manipulator of research data: Pharmaceuticals.
In 1758, 10-year-old Mary Campbell was abducted from her home in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, by Lenape Indians. The Proclamation Line of 1763 prohibited  settlement beyond the Appalachian watershed but this was repeatedly violated which led to a united Indian effort to push white settlers back to the coast; this was known as Pontiac's War.  Campbell was returned to a European settlement at age 16 in the famous release of captives orchestrated by Colonel Henry Bouquet at the conclusion of Pontiac’s War in November 1764. At the end of a year of dispersed fighting between western Indians, the colonist Bouquet and a force of over 1,000 men managed to convince the allied Indian forces, who faced a winter low on supplies, to surrender without an exchange of fire.
She is said to have lived through the major turning points of late 18th-century America. She was a child taken captive during the imperial competition between Britain and France, an adolescent among the Indians as they attempted to reassert their rights to the American landscape and a woman among colonists as they fought to free themselves of the British empire. She married in 1770 and bore seven children into the new America.
This is a recent opinion on the state of the U.S. economy: The U.S. economy ground to a standstill in the first quarter of 2015 wracked by massive job losses in the oil sector, falling personal consumption, weak exports and droopy fixed investment. Real gross domestic product (GDP), the value of the production of goods and services in the US, increased at an abysmal annual rate of just 0.2 percent in Q1 ’15 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis demonstrating conclusively that 6 years of zero rates have done nothing to improve the real economy, boost demand or reduce unemployment. Economic recovery requires credit expansion, business investment and jobs. The Guardian reports all three of these were severely impacted by the Obama’s goofy plan to push down oil prices in order to destroy the Russian economy. 
Here’s a brief summary: “John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)
"Allegedly." As with so much of the world, there is little to support this heartfelt contention. Saudi oil production has actually dropped so...is the price of oil and the wreck it has made in the U.S. production side a function of demand--i.e. is the decline of oil a result, not a cause, of the declining economy? A real science would at least raise the possibility.

"Regardless of firm size, minority-owned firms are less likely to receive loans than non-minority owned firms," the White House stated in a report. "When minority-owned firms do receive financing, it is on average for less money and at a higher interest rate than for those firms owned by non-minorities." One can see where this is going despite, according to the Federal Reserve, African-American owners are more likely to have bad credit and default on business loans. In fact, black owners are three times as likely as white owners to have bankruptcies and judgments against them.
Alexander Pope was born in London in 1688 , the only child of middle-aged, Catholic parents. This was the year of the Glorious Revolution, and the broom that swept out Catholic James II and swept in Constitutional reform also brought new restrictions and suspicions upon English Catholics. His Catholicism barred him from politics, from attending university in pursuit of such careers as law and medicine --even from living within ten miles of London. Pope began as an outsider and seemed destined to remain so. In his early teens he contracted a tubercular bone disease--called Pott's Disease--which caused him to be hunchbacked, no more than 4' 6" tall, and he was plagued by various secondary ailments. Many attribute Pope's legendary sourness and satire to such circumstances, agreeing with Samuel Johnson that "The weakness of his body continued through his life, but the mildness of his mind perhaps ended with his childhood." Nonetheless, it is said that Pope was the first English writer to achieve financial independence solely from his writing.

AAAAAaaaaaannnnnddddd..... a map.  This map depicts free states in pink and slave states in dark green. The light green area in the West was composed of a number of territories at that time.
Map Comparing Slave and Free States
Reynold's Political Map of the United States…,
[New York]: William C. Reynolds, 1856.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Poetry of War

'All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic.'--Oscar Wilde
Among the most successful television programs in the Middle East is “Sha‘ir al-Milyoon” (“Millionaire Poet,” but also “Poet of the People”), which is modelled on “American Idol.” Every season, amateurs from across the Arab world recite their own verse in front of a large and appreciative studio audience in Abu Dhabi. Winners of the competition receive up to 1.3 million dollars—more than the Nobel Prize in Literature, as the show’s boosters are fond of pointing out. Last year, the program had seventy million viewers worldwide.
While Mohammed had little use for the poetic tradition it eventually began to adore him so he put up with it. It is now a quality of Arab life and is a banner of jihadist life.
Of all jihadi poets, bin Laden was the most celebrated. In one letter, written on August 6, 2010, bin Laden asks a key lieutenant to recommend someone to lead “a big operation inside America.” In the very next sentence, he requests that “if there are any brothers with you who know about poetic metres, please inform me, and if you have any books on the science of classical prosody, please send them to me.”
Ahlam al-Nasr is the current poet laureate of militant Islam. Her first book, “The Blaze of Truth,” consists of a hundred and seven poems in Arabic—elegies to mujahideen, laments for prisoners, victory odes, and short poems that were originally tweets. Almost all the poems are written in monorhyme—one rhyme for what is sometimes many dozens of lines of verse—and classical Arabic metres. Ancient styles with ancient topics, they describe a world as fanciful and romantic as Sir Walter Scott with heroic knights, arrows, sacrifice and suffering for a cause.
Allusions, recondite terms,  baroque devices, acrostics (in which the first letters of successive lines spell out names or phrases) are especially popular. The poetry often contains the rejection of the nation-state. Shiites, Jews, Western powers, and rival factions are, of course, relentlessly vilified and threatened with destruction. Jihadi poems often use the conceit of a child speaker; it provides them with a figure of innocence and truthfulness. (One of bin Laden's famous poems has two-parts, forty-four lines long: the first half is in the voice of bin Laden’s young son Hamza; the second half is the father’s reply.) The Hadith states “Islam began as a stranger, and it shall return as it began, as a stranger. Blessed are the strangers” and, expectedly, the idea of stranger and isolation are common jihadi themes. 
Muhammad al-Zuhayri, a Jordanian engineer whose Web alias is “the Poet of Al Qaeda,” illustrates some of these whimsical themes in a poem dedicated to Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, the first head of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The lines are addressed to an unnamed woman:
Wake us to the song of swords,
and when the cavalcade sets off, say
The horses’ neighing fills the desert,
arousing our souls and spurring them
The knights’ pride stirs at the sound,
while humiliation lashes our foes.
(from The New Yorker)

Monday, June 15, 2015


John Wyndham was the pen name of John Wyndham Harris, a successful science fiction writer. His famous book was The Day of the Triffids(1951) which became a sci-fi movie classic. His other very successful book was The Midwich Cuckoos, a story about an English village where everyone falls asleep for several hours one afternoon and the women of childbearing age are found to be pregnant, conception dating from that day, several months later. The phenomenon is found to have been duplicated in several other areas in the world and the children, at birth, reveal extraordinary powers. The movie called Village of the Damned was very good. The lead role of Professor Gordon Zellaby was played by George Sanders.
A sequel, Children of the Damned, followed in 1963, and a remake--not as good--starring Christopher Reeve was released in 1995, also called Village of the Damned.
Interestingly, the first Village of the Damned, a very British-looking creation, had been originally developed as an American film but, when the plot was publicized, it was opposed by the very Catholic Legion of Decency on the principle that the story line was reminiscent of the of Mary's virgin conception. For some reason the film being done in Britain made them more comfortable.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday 6/14/15


Today's gospel is the beginning of what is called The Parables of the Kingdom where Christ talks about God and the universe of God in terms of, today, sowing and the mustard seed. There is an interesting line on Man watching the planted seed sprout and grow "he knows not how." This implies a distance between analysis and what is happening.

Here are a few connections to the idea:

"I wonder to myself how they can all get on without me - how they manage, bird and flower, without me to keep the calendar for them. For I noted it so carefully and lovingly, day by day, the seed-leaves on the mound in the sheltered places that come so early, the pushing up of the young grass, the succulent dandelion, the coltsfoot on the heavy, thick clods, the trodden chickweed despised at the foot of the gate-post, so common and small, and yet so dear to me."                                                                                          'Hours of Spring' (1889), 'At Home on the Earth: A new selection of the later writings of Richard Jefferies' (2001).

This day relenting God Hath placed within my hand A wondrous thing; and God Be praised. At His command, Seeking His secret deeds With tears and toiling breath, I find thy cunning seeds, O million-murdering Death. I know this little thing A myriad men will save. O Death, where is thy sting? Thy victory, O Grave?
~Sir Ronald Ross
Poem he wrote following the discovery that the malaria parasite was carried by the amopheline mosquito. 

The great physicist Freeman Dyson was interviewed about his book of essays Dreams of Earth and Sky on BookTV and was asked about his favorite sci-fi writers. He gave a few suggestions and then said this about sci-fi and their writers:
They are all wonderful stories, but people primarily concerned with religion than science and that is the truth, religion goes far deeper into history, goes far deeper into our way of thinking than science so I am an advocate of science fiction not because it has anything to contribute to science but because it has a lot to contribute to wisdom. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cab Thoughts 6/13/15

"I have not the pleasure of knowing my reader but I would stake ten to one that for six months he has been making Utopias, and if so, that he is looking to Government for the realization of them."--Bastiat

Approximately 11% of all Americans aged 65-74 have diabetes. About 20% of those over 75 years old have diabetes, and nearly half of them are unaware they have the disease.

China and India are sending more immigrants to the U.S. than Mexico, following more than a decade of decreasing immigration from Latin America, according to the latest numbers from the Census Bureau. Between these two time periods, 2005-07 and 2011-13, the Chinese age groups that saw the largest percentage point increases were 15 to 19 years old and 20 to 24 years old, for both men and women, Census said. From India, the flows are concentrated in the 20 to 34 age group, especially people ages 25 to 29, for both men and women. These are potentially young workers starting and building their careers, or postgraduates getting more education—as opposed to older people or college students or teenagers.

“Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”  “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.” (On a restaurant): “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Yogi Berra is remembered as a lovable goofball but he could play baseball. He hit 358 home runs, was an All Star on 15 occasions and was named American League M.V.P. three times. Casey Stengel, the Yankee manager of the team that had Ford, Mantle, Maris, among many terrific players was asked who he would pick to start a new team and he pointed to Berra.

Who is....Steven Weinberg?

Several reports say that the ISIS destruction of archeological sites may have a less pure and less fundamentalist motive. While there is no firm evidence of the amount of money being made by the Islamic State group from looting antiquities, satellite photos and anecdotal evidence confirm widespread plundering of archaeological sites in areas under ISIS control.

The Mighty Mongrel Mob is an outlaw motorcycle gang from New Zealand who favor menacing face tattoos and Nazi symbols. They are primarily of Maori descent.

Steven Weinberg became famous for his elegant The First Three Minutes (1977), which described what happened during the Big Bang. Two years later, he shared a Nobel Prize for unifying electromagnetism and the nuclear weak force – a large step towards today’s Standard Model of particle physics. The citation for his Benjamin Franklin Medal of 2004 said he was widely considered “the preeminent theoretical physicist alive today”.

The recent Jenner revelations recalls a famous individual who, as a child, insisted she was a different sex (perhaps encouraged by her father): the author Daphne du Maurier whose unhappy but productive life was filled with conflicts and uncertainties.

Mary Queen of Scots ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V in 1542. Her great-uncle was Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England. Mary’s mother sent her to be raised in the French court, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King Francis II of France in 1559 and died in 1560. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch. In 1565, she married her English cousin Lord Darnley, another Tudor, which reinforced her claim to the English throne and angered Queen Elizabeth. In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o’ Field, and Mary’s lover, James Hepburn, the earl of Bothwell, was the key suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year enraged the nobility, and Mary was forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James. In 1568, she escaped from captivity and raised a substantial army but was defeated and fled to England.

Plastic bags are easier to recycle and require less energy to produce than paper bags. (Refdesk)

In February 1979, Abdi Ipekci, a liberal newspaper editor, was murdered near his home in Istanbul. Mehmet Ali Agca was arrested and charged with the crime. While awaiting his trial, Agca escaped from a military prison in November 1979.
In his cell, he left behind a letter that concerned John Paul II’s planned trip to Turkey. The letter read: “Western imperialists who are afraid of Turkey’s unity of political, military, and economic power with the brotherly Islamic countries are sending the Crusader Commander John Paul under the mask of a religions leader. If this ill-timed and meaningless visit is not called off, I will definitely shoot the pope. This is the only reason that I escaped from prison.” Pope John Paul II was shot in 1981. Agca's motives have never been clear but, in the 1970s, Agca joined a right-wing Turkish terrorist group known as the Gray Wolves. The group is held responsible for the assassination of hundreds of public officials, labor organizers, journalists, and left-wing activists as part of their mission to cleanse Turkey of leftist influence. In recent years, to confuse matters more, it has been revealed that the Gray Wolves had close ties with far-right politicians, intelligence officers, and police commanders.

During the 12 Bush years, net private-sector job creation totaled 747,000— versus 19.6 million during the Clinton 8 years and 8 million more, so far, under Obama (or 12.3 million if you don’t count the first few months of horrific job losses one might argue were inherited from his predecessor). What this means, I do not know.

The world's first seismometer was built and installed in Scotland in Comrie.

A Clockwork Orange made Anthony Burgess internationally famous, largely due to the controversey surrounding the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film. Some dismissed both book and author outright: "Anthony Burgess is a literary smart aleck whose novel, A Clockwork Orange last year achieved a success d'estime with critics like William Burroughs, who mistook his muddle of sadism, teddyboyism, jive talk and Berlitz Russian for social philosophy." Burgess said that it was his least favorite book, but he did not think that he was in a muddle over meaning: the muddle was due to the film being based on the American edition of the book, which omitted his last chapter. In his introduction to the 1986, restored, American edition, Burgess says the American editors   turned his novel into a fable, something merely sensational and not "a fair picture of human life." He explains that in his previously omitted last chapter "my young thuggish protagonist grows up" because he recognizes "that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction"  "... a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange -- meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State."

John Lloyd Wright, son of famous architect Francis Lloyd Wright, invented Lincoln Logs.
, son of famous architect Francis Lloyd Wright, invented John Lloyd Wright, son of famous architect Francis Lloyd Wright, invented ohn Lloyd Wright, son of famous architect Francis Lloyd   
The Black Death was a form of bubonic plague that was pandemic throughout Europe, the Middle East, and much of Asia in the 14th century. Thought to have been caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, it killed between one-third and half of Europe's population and at least 75 million people worldwide.

Syzygy  \SIZ-i-jee\ : n: 1. Astronomy. an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet: Syzygy in the sun-earth-moon system occurs at the time of full moon and new moon. 2. Classical Prosody. a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds. Ety: from the Greek term syzygía meaning "union, pair," which in turn derives from the Greek verb zeugnýnai meaning "to yoke." It entered English in the mid-1600s.

North Korea executed its defense chief by putting him in front of an anti-aircraft gun at a firing range, Seoul's National Intelligence Service told lawmakers, which would be the latest in a series of high-level purges since Kim Jong Un took charge. He was charged with treason, including disobeying Kim and falling asleep during an event at which North Korea's young leader was present. Can you imagine executing everyone who falls asleep at a political talk?

Most Chinese students don’t finish school until 6 p.m., watch little television, and play few video games. They're prohibited from working before the age of 16, so they can concentrate on school. Plus, most students attend tutoring classes after school and on Saturdays. “Very rarely do children in other countries receive academic training as intensive as our children do. So if the test is on math and science, there’s no doubt Chinese students will win the competition,” said Sun Baohong of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Aaaaaaannnnnddddd....... AAaannnndddd.....a picture of Shane Harrison of the New Zealand Mighty Mongrel Mob:

Mongrel mob murder accused in photo exhibit. (Source: Seven Sharp)