Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cab Thoughts 5/7/16

“Atlanta needs an affirmative-action program like the Vatican needs a program to protect its Catholic residents from religious persecution.”--someone

In Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, his hero, Fogg, lands in San Francisco in the middle of a riot. Fists, banners, some gunfire--the place is a teeming madhouse. He finally escapes to a train where the porter explains what was happening: “It was only a meeting assembled for an election…of a justice of the peace.”

The Mafia never embroiled us in senseless world wars or endless imperial campaigns. The Mafia never extorted 40 percent of our income in protection money. The Mafia never put anybody in prison for victimless actions such as using certain drugs. The Mafia never blanketed the world with “police” to harass and pester people, shoot their dogs, and terrorize entire neighborhoods in large cities in the USA and elsewhere. The Mafia never created thousands of nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles for them, giving control of them to lunatics in high places and threatening the future of all human life on earth. The Mafia never claimed that its only intention was to promote the public interest and protect people from global epidemics or climate change or an intolerably unequal distribution of income and wealth.  So, tell me again why you worry that without government as we know it, organized-crime gangs might take over.--Higgs

Goethe collected specimens — he was responsible for the meteorological collections of Jena University. By the time of his death, he had amassed over 17,800 minerals in his personal collectionthe largest in all of Europe. He did a similar thing with light: He collected observations. 

In 1950, female-headed households were 18 percent of the black population.  Today it’s close to 70 percent.  One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children lived with the biological mother and father.  In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families (composed of two parents and children).  What is significant, given today’s arguments that slavery and discrimination decimated the black family structure, is the fact that years ago, there were only slight differences in family structure among racial groups.

It is generally accepted that the first living cells on Earth were some form of prokaryote. In biology, a prokaryote is generally a single-celled organism that lacks membrane-bound organelles such as a nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplasts. Genetic material is instead organized into a ring-like structure called a nucleoid. Most prokaryotes are bacteria, and the two terms are often treated as synonyms. 

Who is.... Elfriede Jelinek?

In 1939, Nazi forces staged an attack on a German radio station and planted the bullet-riddled body of a Polish sympathizer at the scene, reporting the attack as the work of Polish saboteurs. The attack was part of a Nazi propaganda campaign called Operation Himmler, which involved a series of staged incidents intended to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany and provide a basis for the subsequent invasion of Poland.

Hans Asperger was an Austrian pediatrician who published a definition of autistic psychopathy in 1944 that was nearly identical with the definition published earlier by a Russian neurologist, Grunya Sukhareva, in 1926. Asperger identified in four boys a pattern of behavior and abilities that included "a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversations, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements". Asperger called children with AP "little professors" because of their ability to talk about their favorite subject in great detail. Asperger noticed that many of the children he identified as being autistic used their special talents in adulthood and had successful careers. One of them became a professor of astronomy and solved an error in Newton’s work he had originally noticed as a student. Another one of Asperger's patients was the Austrian writer and Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, Elfriede Jelinek.

The Zika virus was found in the semen of a British man two months after he was first infected, suggesting the virus may linger in the semen long after symptoms of the infection fade, British health officials reported on Friday. I have read not one single explanation of how the connection of genetic change and the virus was shown but, if both of these stories are accurate.....not good.

Apostasy: n: 1. a total desertion of or departure from one's religion, principles, party, cause, etc.The biggest story of the past fifty years in American politics has been the ascendancy of the right, and it's a story of apostasy.-- George Packer, "Turned Around," The New Yorker, February 22, 2016. ety: Apostasy can be traced to the Greek apostasis meaning "a standing away." It entered English in the mid-1300s.  

Miroslav Holub (1923–98) was a Czech immunologist who considered his poetry to be a pastime. When he was offered a stipend by the Czech Writers Union equivalent to his salary so he could devote himself to writing for two years, he turned it down. “I like science”, he said, and added “if I had all the time in the world to write my poems, I would write nothing at all”. Pastime it may have been, but it earned him a lot of admiration and respect, particularly after his works began to appear in English translation in the 1960s, though his standing in his native country remains ambiguous. Tom Paulin called him a “magnificent, astringent genius” and for Ted Hughes he was “one of the half-dozen most important poets writing anywhere”. The astringency comes, perhaps, from two things – exposure to political ideology and the experimental intelligence of the born scientist. --TLS

A provocative notion in a recent essay by Barlow: We are alone because instead of evolving different species to adapt to different geographies and climates, we adapt through culture. Our species is often described as a generalist, but in fact we are not, we are extremely specialized: everywhere, we are utterly dependent on vast bodies of stored, transmitted, and constantly edited and updated information, that is, on culture. Whether we are talking of books, films, television, or the Internet, modern mass media devalue the coin of local prestige. Today, this evolved trait is having the unforeseen result of turning young people all over the world into pop stars and athletes rather than their striving to become like local successes; it is also being deliberately exploited by extreme groups to create terrorists. "Biology is destiny only if we ignore it." (Barkow).

Golden oldie:
From Scott Winship:

  • An accurate accounting of who is gaining and losing in the U.S. economy requires a broad view across an entire business cycle: while the richest households tend to gain the most during economic expansions, this is partly because they also lose the most during recessions.
  • In the current, ongoing, business cycle, real incomes declined between 2007 and 2014; the top 1 percent experienced nearly half of that total decline.
  • From 1979 to 2007, 38 percent of income growth went to the bottom 90 percent of households, amounting to a 35 percent increase ($17,000) in its average income.
  • One of the most infamous precognitive dreams in history was President Lincoln’s in 1865. The president envisioned his own demise just a few days before he was assassinated in Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. 

    In 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter was published. It has a more shocking background than is generally known as among his seventeenth-century ancestors were two sisters who had been forced to sit in the Salem meetinghouse wearing forehead bands identifying their incestuous conduct (while their brother hid out in Maine). And another had been a judge at the witch trials.

    Eighty percent of North Koreans who escape into China are women. Nine out of 10 of those women become victims of human trafficking, often for sex. If the women complain, they are deported back to North Korea, where they are thrown into gulags or are executed.

    In her 1912 review of H.G. Wells' Marriage, Rebecca West derided Wells's depiction of passion, calling him "the Old Maid of novelists," his mind, "too long absorbed in airships and colloids" to react properly to a woman. The forty-five year-old Wells was the most celebrated novelist of the day and a noted philanderer; he invited West to tea, so beginning their volatile, ten-year affair. By the end, Wells was complaining of how West "splashed her colours about" and "exalted James Joyce and D. H. Lawrence, as if in defiance of me." Realizing that Wells would never divorce his wife for her, West settled for a substantial support payment for their son, and the last word: "The greatest use of marriage is for riveting the fact of paternity in the male mind."
    The philosopher Hannah Arendt’s most developed meditation on American political thought was On Revolution, in which she insisted on the distinction between “social” and “political” revolutions and found a prototype for the former in France and for the latter in the United States. (The distinction itself had a crucial precedent in Tocqueville.) In her view, the American Founders framed their revolution in exclusively political (and thus to Arendt, laudable) terms, whereas everything disastrous in the French case, most especially the post-revolutionary Terror, derived from the primacy of “the social,” or, in other words, the use of revolutionary means to settle what we might now call issues of distribution and economic justice. The impulse, she asserted with an eye towards the Soviet case, to settle questions of material needs by political means “leads to terror.” Arendt preferred the American Framers’ emphasis on freedom, and this despite their failure to take up the problem of slavery, of which she was well aware. (From a recent review) The American frame of mind and the Revolution, Arendt said in On Revolution, had been driven not by the Enlightenment but by “‘practical’ experiences.” Arendt explained that the Founders had been the inheritors of a very long “hostility between philosophy and politics, barely covered up by a philosophy of politics” that had “been the curse of Western statecraft as well as of the Western tradition of philosophy ever since the men of action and the men of thought parted company — that is, ever since Socrates’ death.”  

     AAAaaaaaannnnnnndddd......a cartoon:

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