Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/30/16

I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer. -Douglas Adams, author (11 Mar 1952-2001)

Aubrey McClendon who founded Chesapeake Energy wrote seven-figure checks to groups such as the Sierra Club to run a campaign called “There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal.”
The objective was to shut down coal production in America. Why? Greens hate coal because of carbon fears, and McClendon was one of the leading producers of natural gas. ‎His motive was transparent: Kill coal so that power had to come from natural gas that emits fewer greenhouse gases. He gets rich while helping save the world. Fracking and horizontal drilling exploded the supplies of oil and natural gas, and gas prices fell from $13 to $3 per million Btu. Natgas was no longer just a “bridge fuel” but the energy source of the 21st century.
So the greens then aimed their campaign against fracking and natural gas. They blocked pipelines and drilling, claimed fracking emits more methane into the environment and had President Obama pass new EPA regulations to cripple McClendon’s industry.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, announced that his group would no longer take McClendon’s money and would now wage war against natural gas.
The supporter was the "bridge" to his own destruction.

A study by Broda and Romalis show that the prices of the items in the market basket that low-income families buy have increased less than the prices of the items in the basket that high-income families buy. It shows that the increase in income inequality in the United States has been dramatically overstated and, in fact, that income inequality might have fallen between 1994 and 2005. Second, one reason prices rose less for low-income people is that they were buying goods from China.
The debate over the current administration's use of "administrative lawmaking"--something that is clearly an oxymoron that every citizen should recognize and oppose--has brought forward an analogy, admittedly oversized but true nonetheless, from old, The Star Chamber. Star Chamber regulations offered yet another avenue for extralegal legislation, and they therefore became one of the reasons for the court’s demise.  Of course, some of these regulations were valuable. Coming, however, from an unrepresentative body that exercised power outside the law, they seemed both heavy handed and incompatible with liberty.  As Parliament explained when it abolished the Star Chamber in 1641, the “decrees of that court” had been “found to be an intolerable burden to the subjects and the means to introduce an arbitrary power and government.” 
Who is..... Sergio Ricossa?
“A bureaucratic organization is an organization that cannot correct its behavior by learning from its errors.”--Michel Crozier concluding his study of French bureaucracy . Sounds like a definition of "stupid."

Barack Obama has sharply criticized David Cameron for the UK’s role in allowing Libya to become a “shit show” after the fall of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an unprecedented attack on a British leader by a serving US President.  Mr Obama said that following a successful military intervention to aid rebels during the 2011 Arab Spring revolt, Libya was left to spiral out of control – due largely to the inaction of America’s European allies. In a candid US magazine interview, Mr Obama said: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong… there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.” Unprecedented--pun intended. Just a groundbreaker--as in "harrowing."

How are things? Security-wise, I mean. If Mrs. Clinton is casual about her server security, does it mean much? Here is a list of recent important public breaches:
1. The September 2007 successful hacking of the DHS and DOD networks.
2. The October 2007 hacking of more 1,000 computers at the Oak Ridge National Labs
3. The January 2008 hacking and theft of information from the CIA that involved at least four different incidents
4. The high-profile reporting in March 2008 by U.S. government officials that American, European and Japanese companies were experiencing unprecedented industrial cyber-espionage resulting in the theft of intellectual property worth billions of dollars.
5. The summer 2008 hacking and downloading of the data bases of both the Republican and the Democratic presidential campaigns by foreign intruders.
6. The November 2008 hacking of classified networks at DOD and Centcom by foreign intruders.
You would think a conscientious politician would be careful.

Most human rights experts agree that the worst abuses of Haitian children involve young people called retavecs, or poor children who work as house servants for urban families. Their parents hope that host families will feed and educate their children, but some hosts physically and sexually abuse the resavecs. Experts estimate that 300,000 Haitian children are living as slaves. There seems to be a lot of bitterness in the West over the history of slavery but relative quiet regarding the present existence of it.

The individual and the State are always involved in a tug-of-war. Property rights are at the rope's center. This is a nice summary of the anti-state argument from Herbert’s June 7th, 1906, lecture at Oxford University, “Mr. Spencer and the Great Machine”: Our task is to make it clear to the whole nation that a great principle, that which involves the free use of faculties, the independence of every life, the self-guidance and self-ownership, the very manhood of all of us, that commands and constrains us to preserve the inviolability of property for all its owners, whoever they may be.  The inviolability of property is not simply the material interest of one class that happens today to possess it; it is the supreme interest of all classes.  True material prosperity can only be won by the great body of the nation through the widest measure of liberty – not the half and half, not the mock system, that exists at present. Create the largest and most generous system of liberty, create – as you will do with it – the vital energizing spirit of liberty, and in a few short years the working classes could cease to be the propertyless class; would become with their great natural qualities the largest property owners in the country.

Golden oldie:

In 1996, after three hours, world chess champion Garry Kasparov lost the first game of a six-game match against Deep Blue, an IBM computer capable of evaluating 200 million moves per second. Kasparov had previously defeated Deep Thought, the prototype for Deep Blue developed by IBM researchers in 1989, but he and other chess grandmasters had, on occasion, lost to computers in games that lasted an hour or less. In 1997, a rematch took place between Kasparov and an enhanced Deep Blue. Kasparov won the first game, the computer the second, with the next three games a draw. On May 11, 1997, Deep Blue came out on top with a surprising sixth game win–and the $700,000 match prize.
In 2003, Kasparov battled another computer program, “Deep Junior.” The match ended in a tie. Kasparov retired from professional chess in 2005.
Kasparov was born in 1963 in Baku, Azerbaijan. He became the Soviet Union’s junior chess champion at age 13 and in 1985, at age 22, the youngest world champ ever when he beat legendary Soviet player Anatoly Karpov. He was and is considered by many to be the greatest chess player in the history of the game. That includes Fischer.

The Beatles went to director Stanley Kubrick and pitched him to do Lord of the Rings with them. "It was something John was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage, but he didn't like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it," said Jackson.

Argument over NAFTA and free trade is likely coming with Trump's ascendency. It will be interesting, especially since NAFTA was done under Bill Clinton's presidency and Hillary will probably have to defend the concept because, like her candidacy, it is probably familial. Or venereal. Or something.
The economist Sergio Ricossa has died at age 88, after a long illness. This is a comment on his philosophy: Marx was horrified by seeing that "every person speculates on creating a new need in another... The increase in the quantity of objects is therefore accompanied by an extension of the realm of the alien powers to which man is subjected, and every new product represents a new potentiality of mutual swindling and mutual plundering". What "perfectionists" (so Ricossa called them), either from the left or from the right, cannot stand is precisely innovators multiplying goods and services available for all individuals, and people autonomously deciding if they like it or not. The "seigneurial mentality" finds economic change vulgar, and consumers irrational. "Imperfectionists", on the other hand, are happy to have the common people give it a go.
Ricossa identifies a "seigneurial mindset" that considers market relationships as essentially debased and ill-mannered. For Ricossa, this mindset goes hand-in-hand with a hubristic attitude that considers the rise of an immutable order free of change (and exchange) as desirable and possible. The seigneurial mindset considers "the pursuit of utility" in striking contrast to "the quest for the true and righteous" and sees profit-seeking as inherently corrupt. 

Historians of the future, when they look back on our times, may be completely baffled when trying to understand how Western civilization welcomed vast numbers of people hostile to the fundamental values of Western civilization, people who had been taught that they have a right to kill those who do not share their beliefs.--Sowell
Documents from the United States Department of the Army reveal that in April 2015, 400 soldiers in the 67th Signal Battalion at Fort Gordon, Georgia, were subjected to a “white privilege” briefing, including a PowerPoint presentation instructing the attendees: “Our society attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual …”
“Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans.” It alleged that there are unspecified “powerful forces everywhere” keeping different kinds of people from being valued, accepted, and appreciated, but “we act as if it doesn’t exist.” This alleged privilege creates a “yawning divide” in income, wealth, and dignity. 
The material described a mythical African woman who isn’t aware that she’s black until she comes to America, encounters “white racism” and discovers the U.S. is “organized according to race.”
The writers of the New Left are never specific about what will replace capitalism. Instead, they view it as obvious that tearing down existing institutions will be sufficient to bring about utopia. Because the capitalist system is the source of all evil, once you destroy it, only good will remain.
This approach gives the New Left the ability on offense to attribute every imperfection in society to existing institutions, especially markets. On defense, the New Left itself offers no program with specifics that might be attacked.--Rodger Scruton
Harrow: n: A device consisting of a heavy framework having several disks or teeth in a row, which is dragged across ploughed land to smooth or break up the soil, to remove weeds or cover seeds; a harrow plow. An excruciating verb: To drag a harrow over; to break up with a harrow.
To traumatize or disturb; to frighten or torment.
The headless horseman harrowed Ichabod Crane as he tried to reach the bridge.
To break or tear, as with a harrow; to wound; to lacerate; to torment or distress; to vex.
Feminist Glaciology! The Abstract from a paper titled "A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research:" Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.
And Feminist Physics! “(Baby) Steps Toward Feminist Physics” has appeared written by Barbara L. Whitten, a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

Friday, April 29, 2016

CRISPR, or Overdone

 Using a groundbreaking gene editing technique, University of California scientists have created a strain of mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its progeny, ultimately eliminating the insects' ability to transmit the disease to humans.
The study underlines the growing utility of the Crisper method, a powerful gene editing tool that allows access to a cell's nucleus to snip DNA to either replace mutated genes or insert new ones. Results appear this week in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Earlier this year, UC San Diego biologists Ethan Bier and Valentino Gantz working with fruit flies announced the development of a new method for generating mutations in both copies of a gene. This mutagenic chain reaction involved using the Crispr-associated Cas9 nuclease enzyme and allowed for transmission of mutations through the germ line with an inheritance rate of 95 percent.
To ensure that the element carrying the malaria-blocking antibodies had reached the desired DNA site, the researchers included in the cassette a protein that gave the progeny red fluorescence in the eyes. Almost 100 percent of offspring -- 99.5 percent, to be exact -- exhibited this trait, which James said is an amazing result for such a system that can change inheritable traits.
The implications here are staggering. We are learning to edit genetic material and have the new edition persist into subsequent generations. It will only be a matter of time before the self-appointed seers among us start to improve the species according to their vision.
What could be more reasonable?

And from a previous blog:
This is a paragraph from the Boston Globe on the anxieties over a new gene editing technology, CRISPR-Cas9:
"A truly ethical bioethics should not bog down research in red tape, moratoria, or threats of prosecution based on nebulous but sweeping principles such as “dignity,” “sacredness,” or “social justice.” Nor should it thwart research that has likely benefits now or in the near future by sowing panic about speculative harms in the distant future. These include perverse analogies with nuclear weapons and Nazi atrocities, science-fiction dystopias like “Brave New World’’ and “Gattaca,’’ and freak-show scenarios like armies of cloned Hitlers, people selling their eyeballs on eBay, or warehouses of zombies to supply people with spare organs. Of course, individuals must be protected from identifiable harm, but we already have ample safeguards for the safety and informed consent of patients and research subjects."
This wonderful open-mindedness should be applauded--with a caveat. The experienced researchers in this field of CRISPR-Cas9 is the Chinese Huang group. Their recent paper showed the lack of specificity of the CRISPR-Cas9 with unexpected and wide ranging deletions in the genome. Worse, Huang says that the paper was rejected by Nature and Science, in part because of ethical objections; both journals declined to comment on the claim. But Huang did say this: “If you want to do it in normal embryos, you need to be close to 100%. That’s why we stopped. We still think it’s too immature.”
Which is to say, they were afraid.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Alias The Waste Land‏

T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land was published  in 1922, a banner year in literature considering that Joyce's Ulysses and Woolf's Jacob's Room were also published that year. The poem has always been a benchmark in the amalgamation of the sensory and cerebral elements of poetry so it is surprising to learn that the poem's original title was "He Do the Police in Different Voices."

The consensus among T. S. Eliot's contemporaries seems to be that he was very strange -- certainly Conrad Aiken was referring not to the poetry but the man when he said, "Eliot cries out for analysis." Siegfried Sassoon thought he had "cold-storaged humanity," and Ottoline Morrell called him "the undertaker." Virginia Woolf, one familiar with the type, saw a nervous neurotic; nor was she the only acquaintance to notice Eliot's use of pale green face powder, sometimes with lipstick.

V. S. Pritchett's description of Eliot was as "a company of actors inside one suit, each twitting the others." Eliot's manuscript title for the poem The Waste Land was "He Do the Police in Different Voices," taken from Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, where the orphan Sloppy is so praised for his dramatic abilities when reading out the crime news.
(from King)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/27/16

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

Scientism: 1 :  methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist 2 :  an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

The Smithian moral theory tends, then, in the direction of decentralized, rather than centralized, systems of order.  Even if Smith knows that people will make mistakes regarding their moral sentiments, he worries far more about the dangers of third-party interposition.  The reason is not difficult to understand.  Despite the real risks decentralized orders pose of allowing sentiments or behaviors to arise that we dislike or find objectionable, the good news is that decentralism also allows both competition and dissociation.  If no single set of sentiments, preferences, values, or behaviors can be cemented into policy, people may choose not to associate with those who adopt sets they do not like.--James Otteson
This, again, is the importance of association and the freedom to do so.

In 1803, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806), Haiti’s first ruler, created the nation’s flag by ripping out the white stripe in the French red, white, and blue flag, claiming he would rip white people from the nation. The remaining blue and red stripes represented blacks and mulattos of Haiti. Haiti’s coat of arms sits in the center.

Who is....John Bunyan?

When Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands adopted a VAT--all between 1968 and 1971--their stated revenue goal was neutrality: Gains in revenue from the VAT were to be fully offset by reduced taxes elsewhere. (France already had a VAT but needed to revise it to meet European Economic Community Standards.)
All failed. Government revenues--and spending--rose substantially as a percentage of GDP. In 1967 in France, the year before that country adopted its EEC-compliant VAT, total government revenues were 33.4% of GDP. In 1968, France adopted a VAT rate of 13.6%. By 2014, its VAT rate was 20% and government revenues were a whopping 45.2% of GDP. When Britain adopted a VAT, the government's stated goal was to reduce revenue. That failed, too.
Only one country, Denmark, adopted a VAT to increase revenues. It succeeded.--David Henderson
Tyranny created for our own good: The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. Scary stuff. Consider that until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. The benevolent government searching for national norms. A tyranny created for our own good has no limits because our potential good has no limit.

Bordeaux on Free Trade: There is nothing unique or special about losing a job to imports compare to losing a job to any of the countless other sources of job losses, and (2) any suffering that Jones endures from the economic institution of open trade must be weighed against the benefits that Jones reaps from that economic institution. He then compares the situation to Free Speech, where a politician might be harmed by a columnist's opinion.

The wife of a senior Islamic State leader who was killed in a U.S. raid last year has been charged in federal court with holding American Kayla Mueller hostage and with contributing to the aid worker's death. Mueller, from Prescott, Arizona, was taken hostage with her boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, where he had been hired to fix the Internet service for the hospital. Mueller had begged him to let her tag along because she wanted to do relief work in the war-ravaged country. Alkhani was released after two months. She was not because....women make great prisoners.

Golden oldie:
Although it is much colder on Mars than on Earth, the similar tilt of Earth’s and Mars’ axes means they have similar seasons. Like Earth’s, Mars’ north and south polar caps shrink in the summer and grow in the winter. In addition, a day on Mars is 24 hours 37 minutes—nearly the same as Earth’s. No other planet shares such similar characteristics with Earth.

As Aleppo was about to fall, the Russians seemed to have no interest in negotiating the leadership of Bashar al-Assad. The problem for the US and its regional allies is simple: if Russia and Iran wipe out the opposition on the battlefield, there’s no need for peace talks. The Assad government will have been restored and that will be that. ISIS will still be operating in the  east, but that’s a problem Moscow and Tehran will solve in short order once the country’s major urban centers are secured. Aleppo falling to Assad would mark a truly humiliating defeat for US foreign policy and, more importantly, for the Saudis' goal of establishing Sunni hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is said to have held imaginary conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi as a therapeutic release, according to a new book written by Bob Woodward, as reported in Sunday's edition of The Chicago Sun-Times. I wish she'd talk to Lincoln.

According to the Hesiodic myth, however, instead of giving bountiful gifts, Pandora opened a jar, in modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as "Pandora's box", releasing all the evils of humanity—although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by Hesiod—leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act.(Wiki)
Ah, that audacious Hope again.

The global economy seems trapped in a "death spiral" that could lead to further weakness in oil prices, recession and a serious equity bear market, Citi strategists have warned. Just as if they were thoughtful observers and not mostly to blame.
Education officials across China are aggressively recruiting male teachers, as the Chinese news media warn of a need to “salvage masculinity in schools.”

In 1807, the U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States…from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.” Initially, European indentured servants were far more numerous in the North American British colonies than were African slaves. However, after 1680, the flow of indentured servants sharply declined, leading to an explosion in the African slave trade. By the middle of the 18th century, slavery could be found in all 13 colonies. The trade of African slaves to Brazil and Cuba continued until the 1860s. By 1865, some 12 million Africans had been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, and more than one million of these individuals had died from mistreatment during the voyage. In addition, an unknown number of Africans died in slave wars and forced marches directly resulting from the Western Hemisphere’s demand for African slaves.

An argument that the Bill of Rights gave the government the idea of unlimited power. This from Alexander Hamilton: I go further, and affirm, that Bills of Rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power.

A Pilgrim's Progress sold 100,000 copies in John Bunyan's lifetime, and is still reported to be the most sold book in the world, next to the Bible. It describes Christian's allegorical journey from "this World to that which is to come" and requires him to triumph over Obstinate, Pliable, Worldly-Wise, Ready-to-Halt and Madame Bubble; to negotiate the Slough of Despond and the town of Carnal Policy; to cross the Valley of Humiliation and the Plain of Ease; to rise above Lucre-Hill and the Delectable Mountain; and, like all who would arrive at the Celestial City, to make no purchase at Vanity Fair: "Therefore at this fair are all such merchandise sold: as houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms; lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts-as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.
And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be deceivers, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues and that of every kind.
Here are to be seen, too-and that for nothing-thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood red colour...."

In the Fall of '53 Dylan Thomas left England on his last, fatal, American tour -- for money, he said; for "flattery, idleness and infidelity," said his wife.

AAAAaaaaaaannnnnnddddddd......a graph:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gerhart Riegner’s Cable

Gerhart Moritz Riegner was the secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress from 1965 to 1983. On August 10, 1942, when secretary of the World Jewish Congress, he sent the so-called Riegner Telegram through diplomatic channels to Stephen Samuel Wise, president of the World Jewish Congress.
 A longer version more detailed and very accurate was not sent.

Riegner had received the information that led to his cable from Isidor Koppelmann, the Basel businessman who had been the liaison with the German industrialist Eduard Schulte, whom he had met on several occasions earlier on. While some details were inaccurate, it was essentially (in Christopher Browning’s words) an astonishingly accurate piece of wartime information. The basic difference between the Riegner cable and the various other reports was briefly this: The former maintained for the first time that there had been a decision at the highest level of the Third Reich to annihilate European Jewry. The others reported local cases of murder, deportation, and other forms of persecution.

There was, I believe, no conspiracy of silence, but there was a great deal of ignorance concerning the character of Nazism and its intentions.

Franz Neumann's Behemoth was, at the time, the “definitive analysis of the Third Reich” in the words of C. Wright Mills, who reviewed it. It dealt with profit motives and the general economic structure of the system, the relations between industrial and banking capital, and other important issues. But it was hardly likely to shed light on the fate of the Jews or other victims of the regime, for there was no obvious connection between profit motives, the economic structure of the regime, industrial capital, and Auschwitz. According to Neumann, racism and antisemitism were substitutes for the class struggle. The Jews were extremely valuable as scapegoats for all the “evils” in Germany, and therefore, the Nazis would not embark on a policy of “total extermination of all the Jews.”

The cable was very much in contrast to most of the Germany experts in the foreign ministries and the intelligence services in London and Washington. When the Riegner cable reached Washington and London, these experts rejected it: In their view, it did not make sense. If Jews were deported to the East, surely it was the Nazi intention to make them work for the war effort rather than to kill them. (In the book, The Garden of the Beasts, one gets the opinion that the Jews, as a group, did not have many friends among the "experts" in these departments.)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was strictly opposed to taking any action designed to save Jewish lives. The official excuse was that those killed by the Nazis were civilians, whereas the Red Cross was dealing only with military personnel.

It s estimated that 80% of the Jews killed were killed before 1943 when the Nazis were having battle success. The destruction of the Jews had been very high on the Nazi list of priorities, but from 1943 on this changed; they were fighting for their survival.
The cable:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Carbon Decisions

Global temperatures haven't risen in 19 years; no category 3-5 hurricane has struck the U.S. in a record 10 years; sea levels are rising at barely 7 inches per century; and Greenland and Antarctic ice are at record levels.

More than 2,400 coal-fired power plants are under construction or planned around the world. China and India will not consider reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) until 2030.
The EPA's own analyses suggest that its fully implemented Clean Power Plan would bring an undetectable, irrelevant reduction of perhaps 0.05 degrees F in average global temperatures 85 years from now — assuming that carbon dioxide actually does drive climate change.

But regardless of the climate debate, carbon fuel has a known, direct corollary. The major, undeniable effect of carbon fuel and emissions is growth and prosperity. Carbon and hydrocarbon energy still provide 81% of world energy, and support $70 trillion per year in world GDP. Cheap energy allows for less expensive production. And wealth. Some governments want to raise the price of that energy. To make that cheap energy expensive will cause a decrease in growth and prosperity somewhere and to some people.
Okay. Where and who?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Unit 731

Unit 731 was set up in 1938 in Japanese-occupied China with the aim of developing biological weapons. It also operated a secret research and experimental school in Shinjuku, central Tokyo. Its head was Lieutenant Shiro Ishii.
The unit was supported by Japanese universities and medical schools which supplied doctors and research staff.
An estimated 3,000 of enemy soldiers and civilians were used as guinea pigs. They were infected with plague, anthrax, cholera and other pathogens. Other experiments included vivisection without anesthesia and pressure chambers to see how much a human could take before his eyes popped out.
The prisoners were also used to breed pathogens and develop diseases that might have biological weapons potential. Hisato Yoshimura was in charge of the frostbite experiments. (It is said after the war he went on to occupy key medical and other posts in public and private sectors.)
Before Japan’s surrender, the site of the experiments was completely destroyed, so that no evidence is left. Then, the remaining 400 prisoners were shot and employees of the unit had to swear secrecy. The mice kept in the laboratory were infected with the bubonic plague; they were then released. The effect of their release is unknown.
It is also said that in a secret deal, the post-war American administration gave them immunity for prosecution in return for details of their experiments.
Lieutenant Shiro Ishii:
Shiro Ishii - The Unit 731 Commander

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Speak-easy: noun: A place where alcoholic beverages are illegally sold; specifically such a place during the period of prohibition in the United States.
Speak-easies so named were born in Pennsylvania in 1888, when the Brooks High-License Act raised the state fee for a saloon license to $500 from $50. The number of licensed bars promptly plummeted, but not all of the barkeeps unable to get a license shut their doors. Kate Hester had run a saloon in McKeesport, just outside of Pittsburgh for years; she refused to pony up the new license fee and wanted to keep from drawing attention to her newly illicit joint. When her patrons got too rowdy, she hushed them in a hoarse whisper, “speak easy boys, speak easy!” It wasn’t long before Hester’s “expression became common in McKeesport and spread to Pittsburgh,” noted the New York Times in 1890.
“Some day, perhaps, Webster’s Dictionary will take it up."--NY Times, July 6th, 1891.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/20/16

"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 

Lydia Fairchild was not biologically related to her children, she was prosecuted for fraud and faced the possibility of having them removed from her custody. Throughout her trial, Fairchild maintained that she had conceived and given birth to all 3 children. Further testing led to shocking results: Fairchild had two sets of DNA, one carried in her skin and the other in her internal organs.
Her children are the subjects of a British documentary called The Twin Inside Me (also known as "I Am My Own Twin").
Lydia Fairchild was pregnant with her third child when she and the father of her children, Jamie Townsend, separated. When Fairchild applied for welfare support in 2002, she was requested to provide DNA evidence that Townsend was the father of her children. While the results showed Townsend was certainly the father of the children, the DNA tests indicated that she was not their mother.
This resulted in Fairchild's being taken to court for fraud for claiming benefit for other people's children or taking part in a surrogacy scam. Hospital records of her prior births were disregarded. Prosecutors called for her two children to be taken into care. As time came for her to give birth to her third child, the judge ordered a witness be present at the birth. This witness was to ensure that blood samples were immediately taken from both the child and Fairchild. Two weeks later, DNA tests indicated that she was not the mother of that child either.
A breakthrough came when a lawyer for the prosecution found an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about a similar case involving a woman called Karen Keegan that had happened in Boston. He realised that Fairchild's case might also be caused by chimerism

The word "tragedy" is Greek for "goat-song" because early Greek tragedies honored Dionysus, the god of wine, and the players wore goatskins. Tragedies were noble stories of gods, kings, and heroes. Comedy or "revel," on the other hand, were about lower-class characters and their antics.

April 26 marks the 30 year anniversary of the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history. When a nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded, it coated the earth with radioactive material — as far as the picturesque, snow-capped mountains of Scandinavia, where for generations, the indigenous Sami people lived in harmony with nature.
Many worked as boazovázzi, or "reindeer walkers," herding the animals over hundreds of miles of terrain and selling their meat come slaughter season. The reindeer were a cultural and economic centerpiece for the Sami people. Chernobyl poisoned their way of life by turning the reindeer radioactive. Thirty years later, the reindeer walkers are still devastated.

Who is....Ludwig von Mises?

In 1939, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep was published. Chandler was fifty-one, an ex-oil company executive who had taken up writing at the age of forty-five after being fired for alcohol-inspired absenteeism. This was his first novel, and the first of seven featuring the inimitable but much-copied Philip Marlowe.

Using genetic fragments extracted from ancient remains spanning almost 30,000 years, scientists reconstructed the DNA of people who lived in Europe between 35,000 years and 7,000 years ago.
Focusing on mitochondrial DNA they were able to trace their maternal lines, and found that specific genetic markers present in the population suddenly disappeared at the end of the ice age.
The new findings suggest that all non-African people moved out in a single event, some 50,000 years ago.
Further evidence showed that the M-haplotype was gone completely from Europe by 14,500 years ago.
But the DNA analysis unveiled another secret.
One of the biggest changes to the European population, the researchers said, was the takeover of the population at the same time. This coincided with the warming climate.
'We uncovered a completely unknown chapter of human history: a major population turnover in Europe at the end of the last Ice Age,' explained lead author Professor Johannes Krause.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, there are more than 73,000 Americans still unaccounted for.

The Yezidi, or Yazidi, are members of a syncretistic religion that developed during the 12th century and mingles folk traditions with the beliefs and practices of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. According to Yezidi tradition, the world is under the care of 7 Holy Beings, or Angels. Preeminent among these is Melek Taus, or the Peacock Angel, leader of the archangels and a demiurge whose tears of repentance quenched the fires of hell. The Peacock Angle is seen as a demon by orthodox Islam and thus devil worship.

Syncretism: noun. 1. the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought. 2.: Linguistics: the merging of different inflectional varieties of a word during the development of a language. New Latin syncretismus, from Greek synkrētismos federation of Cretan cities, from syn- + Krēt-, Krēs Cretan. First Known Use: 1618

The writer Carson McCullers held a luncheon so Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke (Isak Dinesen) could meet Marilyn Monroe. Dinesen was increasingly debilitated by the syphilis she had contracted in her Out of Africa years, and reduced to about eighty pounds by her anorexic diet (oysters, grapes and champagne), still chain-smoking and taking amphetamines . She thought Monroe "almost incredibly pretty," full of "unbounded vitality" and "unbelievable innocence" -- "I have met the same in a lion cub that my native servants in Africa brought me. I would not keep her." 

A thought/question about minimum wage. A typical worker in Haiti makes only $2.75 a day. Because jobs are so scarce (approximately 70% do not have regular jobs), it is said that those who do have jobs are afraid to speak out against unfair labor practices. Sounds reasonable. But there is another question to ask. If this is so abusive, why doesn't a market develop to take advantage of it? For example, if the abusive company makes widgets, why doesn't a competitor come in, raise wages, steal the workers and dominate the scene?

"The good Hillary Clinton - knowledgeable, occasionally thoughtful (as when expounding on the centrality of gratitude in her life) - is inseparable from the bad Hillary Clinton - often dull and entirely incapable of hiding her greed." Tough talk from the WashPo.

The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises tried to capture the differences between the natural and human sciences with the following quip: "You throw a rock in water, it sinks; throw a stick in water, it floats; but throw a man into water, and he must decide to sink or swim." Mises was not denying the scientific nature of economics with this tale of human volition. Rather, he was attempting to get across to his audience the essential defining character of the human sciences - we study man with his purposes and plans.--Peter Boettke

There has been talk about the primaries in terms of "Revolution," as in French Revolution. And it is astonishing in appearance--and the distance it implies has developed between the citizenry and its leadership. But there are heavy biases toward the status quo. Half the nation now receives U.S. government benefits - in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, student loans, rent subsidies, school lunches and Earned Income Tax Credits, etc. People who rely on government benefits are unlikely to rally to a party that promises to cut government. And as half the nation pays no income tax, these people are unlikely to be thrilled about tax cuts.

AirBnB report: Nearly four years after Los Angeles County passed new requirements for pornographic performers, the porn industry has spread to nearby counties like Ventura County - and much of that filming is happening in residents' homes  without their knowledge. The pornographers are renting homes through AirBnB and bringing their crews in and filming. One woman has sued, saying the value of her house has been undermined. Not to mention the health risks.

New genetic analyses led by MIT researchers confirm that sea sponges are the source of a curious molecule found in rocks that are 640 million years old. These rocks significantly predate the Cambrian explosion - the period in which most animal groups took over the planet, 540 million years ago - suggesting that sea sponges may have been the first animals to inhabit the Earth.

Nearly every feature of the American system of manufacturing, from the elements of the new textile machinery to the concept of interchangeable parts, had actually been conceived earlier by Europeans.  But while a few Europeans could see the possibilities, their communities kept them powerless to give their ideas a fair trial.  Too many had a stake in the older ways.  Industrial progress in Europe required extraordinary courage to break the prevailing pattern; in America it required a willingness to try the obvious.  American genius was less for invention or discovery than for experiment.--Boorstin

AAAAaaaaaannnnndddddd....a chart of the commonest surnames in medical practice over time:
Last Name Over Time

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 19, 1775

At about 5 a.m. April 19, 1775, 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun. The British moved to Concord and found more resistance so they withdrew. They were attacked on their withdrawal through Lexington and were harassed all the way to Boston.

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Knoxville, Summer of 1915"‏

"May god bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away."

James Agee was a poet (Permit Me Voyage), an influential film critic (collected as Agee on Film), a social documentarist (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, based on his six weeks with Alabama sharecroppers), and a screenwriter (The African Queen), but he is best remembered for his autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family,  introduced by "Knoxville, Summer of 1915," the nostalgic prose-poem which Agee had published previously, and which composer Samuel Barber famously adapted in 1949. It is painfully beautiful.

Samuel Barber (1910-81) was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. This is a link to the music and the poem put to it sung by Dawn Upshaw, wonderful with wonderful pictures:

Knoxville: Summer of 1915  by James Agee (This is in its entirety with the same paragraph breaks as originally provided by the author. The “Samuel Barber” version set to music uses approximately a third of this text):
We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child. It was a little bit sort of block, fairly solidly lower middle class, with one or two juts apiece on either side of that. The houses corresponded: middle­sized gracefully fretted wood houses built in the late nineties and early nineteen hundreds, with small front and side and more spacious back yards, and trees in the yards, and porches. These were softwooded trees, poplars, tulip trees, cottonwoods. There were fences around one or two of the houses, but mainly the yards ran into each other with only now and then a low hedge that wasn’t doing very well. There were few good friends among the grown people, and they were not enough for the other sort of intimate acquaintance, but everyone nodded and spoke, and even might talk short times, trivially, and at the two extremes of general or the particular, and ordinarily next door neighbors talked quiet when they happened to run into each other, and never paid calls. The men mostly small businessmen, one or two very modestly executives, one or two worked with their hands, most of them clerical, and most of them between and forty-­five.
But it is of these evenings, I speak. Supper was at six and was over by half past. There was still daylight, shining softly and with a tarnish, like the lining of a shell; and the carbon lamps lifted the corners were on in the light, and the locusts were started, and the fire flies were out, and a few frogs were flopping in the dewy grass, by the time the fathers and the children came out. The children ran out first hell bent and yelling those names by which they were known; then the fathers sank out leisurely crossed suspenders, their collars removed and their necks looking tall and shy. The mothers stayed back in the kitchen washing and drying, putting things away, recrossing their traceless footsteps like the lifetime journeys of bees, measuring out the dry cocoa for breakfast. When they came out they had taken off their aprons and their skirts were dampened and they sat in rockers on porches quietly. It is not of the games children play in the evening that I want to speak now, it is of a contemporaneous atmosphere that has little to do with them: that of fathers of families, each in his space of lawn, his shirt fishlike pale in the unnatural light and his face nearly anonymous, hosing their lawns. The hoses were attached at spigots that stood out of the brick foundations of the houses. The nozzles were variously set but usually so there was a long sweet stream spray, the nozzle wet in the hand, the water trickling the right forearm and peeled-­back cuff, and the water whishing out a long loose and low­curved and so gentle a sound. First an insane noise of violence in the nozzle, then the irregular sound of adjustment, then the smoothing into steadiness and a pitch accurately tuned to the size and style of stream as any violin. So many qualities of sound out of one hose: so many choral differences out of those several hoses that were in earshot. Out of any one hose, the almost dead silence of the release, and the short still arch of the separate big drops, silent as a held breath, and only the noise of the flattering noise on leaves and the slapped grass at the fall of a big drop. That, and the intense hiss with the intense stream; that, and that intensity not growing less but growing more quiet and delicate with the turn the nozzle, up to the extreme tender whisper when the water was just a wide of film. Chiefly, though, the hoses were set much alike, in a compromise between distance and tenderness of spray (and quite surely a sense of art behind this compromise, and a quiet deep joy, too real to recognize itself), and the sounds therefore were pitched much alike; pointed by the snorting start of a new hose; decorated by some man playful with the nozzle; left empty, like God by the sparrow’s fall, when any single one of them desists: and all, though near alike,of various pitch; and in this unison.
These sweet pale streamings in the light out their pallors and their voices all together, mothers hushing their children, the hushing unnaturally prolonged, the men gentle and silent and each snail-like withdrawn into the quietude of what he singly is doing, the urination of huge children stood loosely military against an invisible wall, and gentle happy and peaceful, tasting the mean goodness of their living like the last of their suppers in their mouths; while the locusts carry on this noise of hoses on their much higher and sharper key. The noise of the locust is dry, and it seems not to be rasped or vibrated but urged from him as if through a small orifice by a breath that can never give out. Also there is never one locust but an illusion of at least a thousand. The noise of each locust is pitched in some classic locust range out of which none of them varies more than two full tones: and yet you seem to hear each locust discrete from all the rest, and there is a long, slow, pulse in their noise, like the scarcely defined arch of a long and high set bridge. They are all around in every tree, so that the noise seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, from the whole shell heaven, shivering in your flesh and teasing your eardrums, the boldest of all the sounds of night. And yet it is habitual to summer nights, and is of the great order of noises, like the noises of the sea and of the blood her precocious grandchild, which you realize you are hearing only when you catch yourself listening. Meantime from low in the dark, just outside the swaying horizons of the hoses, conveying always grass in the damp of dew and its strong green-black smear of smell, the regular yet spaced noises of the crickets, each a sweet cold silver noise three-noted, like the slipping each time of three matched links of a small chain. But the men by now, one by one, have silenced their hoses and drained and coiled them. Now only two, and now only one, is left, and you see only ghostlike shirt with the sleeve garters, and sober mystery of his mild face like the lifted face of large cattle enquiring of your presence in a pitch dark pool of meadow; and now he too is gone; and it has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by. A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt; a loud auto; a quiet auto; people in pairs, not in a hurry, scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually, the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk, the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber. A street car raising its iron moan; stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past, the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks; the iron whine rises on rising speed; still risen, faints ; halts, the faint stinging bell; rises again, still fainter, fainting, lifting, lifts, faints forgone: forgotten. Now is the night one blue dew. Now is the night one blue dew, my father has drained, he has coiled the hose. Low on the length of lawns, a frailing of fire who breathes. Content, silver, like peeps of light, each cricket makes his comment over and over in the drowned grass. A cold toad thumpily flounders. Within the edges of damp shadows of side yards are hovering children nearly sick with joy of fear, who watch the unguarding of a telephone pole. Around white carbon corner lamps bugs of all sizes are lifted elliptic, solar systems. Big hardshells bruise themselves, assailant: he is fallen on his back, legs squiggling. Parents on porches: rock and rock: From damp strings morning glories : hang their ancient faces. The dry and exalted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums. On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts.
We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there. First we were sitting up, then one of us lay down, and then we all lay down, on our stomachs, or on our sides, or on our backs, and they have kept on talking. They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. All my people are larger bodies than mine, quiet, with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of night. May god bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away. After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am. (c) 1938

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday 4/17/16

R. S. Thomas (1913–2000) said that “In order to understand imagination’s true meaning one must be acquainted with the work of Coleridge”. And, when writing the preface to his Penguin Book of Religious Verse (1963), it was to Coleridge that Thomas turned to justify the union of religion and poetry, paraphrasing him as saying that it is in the act of creating that one is closest to God.
Yet, in an essay in The Times Literary Supplement (TLS) in 1966, Thomas argued that poetry and religion are both “based on a homely foundation of common and palpable things, however high [their] uppermost towers soar”. The basis for meditations on life can be found in the concrete world around us.
Thomas says here there is no use in walking beside the sea with “theories” and a “vague philosophy”, as Thomas’s Coleridge does in this poem, for, like him, one will be “dazed” instead of enlightened by the “mock[ing]” sounds of nature, which appears actively hostile to scrutiny here – the “vain probing of [Coleridge’s] eye” is “repelled” and his theories “break” against the “nihilistic” sky. And so, Thomas has Coleridge – who defined the spiritual as being non-physical and believed the mind to “rise above Nature” – defeated and belittled by the world around him. (From TLS)
Or maybe it is just that Nature is an inadequate medium.


Walking often beside the waves’
Endless embroidery of the bare sand,
Coleridge never could understand,
Dazed by the knocking of the wind
In the ear’s passage, the chorus
Of shrill voices from the sea
That mocked his vague philosophy
In salt accents. And at tide’s retreat,
When the vexed ocean camping far
On the horizon filled the air
With dull thunder, ominous and low,
He felt his theories break and go
In small clouds about the sky,
Whose nihilistic blue repelled
The vain probing of his eye.

R. S. THOMAS (1952)

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15

We Americans stupidly recognize this day as the day taxes are due. So we emphasize money and materialism over greatness of mind and soul, greatness that was both a product of and an influence upon the nation. Taxes are trivial compared to what happened on this day in 1865. President Lincoln was shot by Booth on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 and died the next morning. Secretary of State Seward was brutally assaulted as was his son. There is good evidence that General Grant was stalked to his train the same night by the conspirators. This occurred 5 days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox and doomed the South to a reconciliation with the North shepherded by the usual political wolves. More importantly it deprived the nation and politics of the high standard of mind and spirit Lincoln embodied.

Tolstoy on Lincoln:
“.... how largely the name of Lincoln is worshiped throughout the world and how legendary his personality has become. Now why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skillful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character.

“Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country — bigger than all the Presidents together.

“We are still too near to his greatness,” Tolstoy concluded, “but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do.

“His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Shays' Rebellion‏

Debt-ridden farmers, struck by the economic depression that followed the American Revolution, petitioned the Massachusetts state senate to halt foreclosure of mortgages on their property and imprisonment for debt. When the senate failed to undertake these reforms, armed rebels, led by Daniel Shays and other local leaders, forcibly closed a number of debtors' courts. many of these were war veterns. One farmer, Plough Jogger, said:

"I have been greatly abused, have been obliged to do more than my part in the war, been loaded with class rates, town rates, province rates, Continental rates and all rates ... been pulled and hauled by sheriffs, constables and collectors, and had my cattle sold for less than they were worth ... The great men are going to get all we have and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it, and have no more courts, nor sheriffs, nor collectors nor lawyers."

A militia made short work of them.

Four thousand people signed confessions acknowledging participation in the events of the rebellion (in exchange for amnesty); several hundred participants were eventually indicted on charges relating to the rebellion. Most of these were pardoned under a general amnesty that only excluded a few ringleaders. Eighteen men were convicted and sentenced to death, but most of these were either overturned on appeal, pardoned, or had their sentences commuted. Two of the condemned men, John Bly and Charles Rose, were hanged on December 6, 1787. Shays himself was pardoned in 1788 and he returned to Massachusetts from hiding in the Vermont woods.

Jefferson's horrific line, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure," was written about Shays' Rebellion (while he was in France.)

It is said that the Rebellion influenced the Constitution when, at the time, the debate over the strength over the Federal government was the sticking point. The Confederation was weak centrally and the Federalists wanted it stronger, the anti-Federalists weaker. This flared after John Adam's presidency and was to some extent solved by the election--and success--of the anti-Federalist and surprisingly compromising Jefferson. While the anxiety over the rebellion seemed mild at the time, opponents of the new constitution were called "Shaysites" and the Federalists "Washingtonians".

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/13/16

On those rare occasions when social movements inspire large segments of the public to become involved in politics, it is because some large, glaring injustice stirs our passions.  But no one will become passionate about monitoring a thousandth of the daily activities of government.  To propose that the general public voluntarily sacrifice large portions of their lives to the task of studying such tedious matters as the provisions of the latest farm bill, all so that each can have a microscopic chance of improving a microscopic fraction of government policies, is at least as utopian as proposing that we all simply agree henceforth to work selflessly for the good of society.--Michael Huemer
Revenant: Bears can run up to 40 miles per hour, fast enough to catch a running horse. The fastest known human alive today is Usain Bolt, who can run 27mph.

This interesting assessment from a NYT book review:  "Thrillers require plot above all else, which makes it all too easy for them to avoid heroes with any depth or believability. The genre makes a point of satisfying readers’ expectations. In other words, thrillers are by their nature anti-literary, because literature is about, among other things, ambiguity." So LeCarre would be.... what?
It can be easily argued that narrative is everything. What we look for. It explains TV and the Internet. And probably a lot of political speeches. Narrative is all.
The academic just wants us to reach outside our box, poor dear. But we are so limited.
Systematic analyses by two biotechnology companies revealed that major findings in published papers could be reproduced for less than a quarter of the papers reviewed. One study examined 67 articles and the authors were able to replicate the results of only 25% of the studies. While the reproducible results were robust – that is, they were sustained using a variety of tests – the results from the other 75% of studies could not be reproduced even when the methods outlined in the original papers were replicated exactly.
Who is.....Kayla Mueller?
Roger Pielke is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado and a hugely respected expert on disasters. He thinks man-made global warming is real. But in his own area of expertise he is very clear that the rise in insurance losses is because the world is getting wealthier and we have more stuff to lose, not because more storms are happening. This is incontrovertibly true, and the IPCC agrees with him. But when he said this on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website he and Silver were savaged by commenters. Crushed by the fury he had unleashed, Silver apologised and dropped Pielke as a contributor.
The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter.
Interesting summary of the New Hampshire in WashPo: What both Trump and Sanders share is that they treat the problem as one of political economy, in which both the economic and political systems are rigged in intertwined ways, thus speaking directly to people’s understandable intellectual assessment of what is deeply wrong with our system and why it no longer works for them. The long term danger for Clinton is that Sanders has framed the whole race in a way that will make it very hard for her to counter this argument.

"Well, he did make money for quite a while,” Munger said. “My attitude is that anybody who makes money running a casino is not morally qualified.” This is Charlie Munger, clearly not an open minded old white guy, on Trump. He was worse on Bernie. “As an intellectual he’s a disgrace,” Munger said of Sanders. Munger thinks he’s “a little nuts,” saying that the Vermont senator is too fixated on income inequality, which he says is simply a consequence of democracy. He thinks that people will accept their economic status if it’s justified—though Sanders‘ position appears to be that it isn’t.

Trump has raised the topic--if not the level--of discussion on trade barriers and, indirectly, minimum wage. He opposes free trade and the lower prices that that trade allows. It has always been curious to me about the attitude of Westerners toward abused workers in foreign lands; somehow they turn this inequity inward. The Chinese are not out producing this country; their low prices are the result of culturally ingrained abuse and a history of tyranny. Of course anyone can refuse to reward that culture by refusing to buy from it but, as usual, that would damage the already abused workers who are under it.

Golden oldie:
I watched the candidates speak for the first time as the leaders in New Hampshire commented on the final results. First was Hillary who delivered a specific, pointed speech in a clear effort to redefine herself. She still mysteriously poses as someone opposed to financial corruption and influence in politics. Next was Sanders whose vision of the country was almost childishly unreflective, with money and perks for all and no clear idea of any impact such policies could have. His posing was that of an outsider despite the fact that he was elected to go to Washington 25 years ago and has relentlessly advanced there. Finally Trump spoke. I had never heard him before and it was not enlightening. He mainly thanked people and then explained he was going to generally make things right in the nation by having smart people run and negotiate things. Generally Sanders seemed an old man mouthing really bad old ideas to a naïve and hopeful audience, Hillary gave the best speech but looks to be swimming upstream with her "I've been fighting for you all my life" nonsense and Trump looked like a guy substituting volume for content but his family is gorgeous. Kasich, a guy with an actual background of administrative success, was whimsical.  
A fascinating little tidbit: Manitou Lake on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron is the world’s largest lake within a lake (41.1 square miles).

After beating Sonny Liston in February, 1964, Cassius Clay went to a private party at a Miami hotel that was attended by his friend Malcolm X, an outspoken leader of the African American Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam. Two days later Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam and defended the organization’s concept of racial segregation while speaking of the importance of the Muslim religion in his life. Later that year, Clay, who was the descendant of a runaway Kentucky slave, rejected the name originally given to his family by a slave owner and took the Muslim name of Muhammad Ali.
Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.--Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
Hired "clappers" were routine in French plays and quite well organized with a chef de claque to direct things, commissaries to chat up the play at intermissions, rieurs to laugh, and pleurers to cry.
Sylvan: adj: 1. of, relating to, or inhabiting the woods. 2. consisting of or abounding in woods or trees; wooded; woody: a shady, sylvan glade.
Quote: The scene thrills one like military music!…wide grass-carpeted avenues that branched hither and thither in every direction and wandered to seemingly interminable distances, walled all the way on either side with compact ranks of leafy trees whose branches met above and formed arches as faultless and as symmetrical as ever were carved in stone; and here and there were glimpses of sylvan lakes with miniature ships glassed in their surfaces.-- Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad; or, The New Pilgrim's Progress, 1869
ety: Sylvan derives from the Latin term for "forest," sylva. It entered English in the mid-1500s.

Four times in the history of presidential elections, the candidate who won the most popular votes has not been elected president. This occurred in the 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000 elections.
When you strive for power you may form a temporary, fleeting alliance with the great principles, if they happen to serve your purpose of the moment, but the hour soon comes, as the great conflict enters a new phase, when they will not only cease to be serviceable to you, but are likely to prove highly inconvenient and embarrassing.  If you really mean to have and to hold power, you must sit lightly in your saddle, and make and remake your principles with the needs of each new day; for you are as much under the necessity of pleasing and attracting, as those who gain their livelihood in the street.--Auberon Herbert
"If markets are not efficient when monetary policy is off course, there is absolutely no reason to assume that monetary policy would be efficient when monetary policy is not off course. Inefficiency results from irrational pricing, it's either a problem or it isn't. People don't become irrational just because the fed funds rate is set at 2% rather than 3%. Either markets are irrational or they aren't. If they are irrational, then the case for government intervention is much stronger. Of course government intervention is also prone to errors, so market inefficiency doesn't automatically make intervention desirable, but certainly the case for it is stronger." I think there is a misprint here--I think he means "markets" not "monetary policy" after the first comma--but this is an interesting point about markets and interventions by Sumner. The underlying point is, why should we expect more accuracy from leaders than markets? And, if you are offering borrowers money at artificially low rates, what is irrational about taking it?

In a statement honoring American hostage Kayla Mueller on the anniversary of her death in Syria, her family suggests they are preparing to go public with “the heartbreaking story” of their attempts to ransom her from the Islamic State. And, they say, they will be speaking out about “those who hindered us” — an apparent reference to their frustration with officials in the Obama administration over how their daughter’s case was handled. U.S. officials have confirmed that Mueller was tortured by her Islamic State captors — and, according to debriefings of some who were held with her — even taken as a “wife” and sexually abused by the terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But much remains unknown about what happened during her ordeal. Although the family has received photos of her body, it has not been recovered and the way she died, whether murdered by her captors or killed by a coalition bombing, remains unclear.
The story is not the individual vs. the unfeeling state here; the story is the collision between wide-eyed innocent humanitarianism  and the vicious, rabid real world. Reality should be known and understood but, if you are a 20 year old girl it is probably best learned at home through good books; if you are going to confront it, it is best to be well armed.
AAAAAaaaaannnnnnnddddddd.....a picture of a woman, well armed: