Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Some Time At Eve by Elizabeth Clark Hardy

Some Time At Eve
by Elizabeth Clark Hardy

Some time at eve when the tide is low,
—I shall slip my mooring and sail away,
With no response to the friendly hail
—Of kindred craft in the busy bay.
In the silent hush of the twilight pale,
—When the night stoops down to embrace the day,
And the voices call in the waters' flow—
Some time at eve when the tide is low,
—I shall slip my mooring and sail away.

Through the purpling shadows that darkly trail
—O'er the ebbing tide of the Unknown Sea,
I shall fare me away, with a dip of sail
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
—Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
—To the Mystic Isles where at anchor lay
The crafts of those who have sailed before
O'er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.

A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy bay;
—Some friendly barks that were anchored near,
—Some loving souls that my heart held dear,
—In silent sorrow will drop a tear—
But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In moorings sheltered from storm or gale,
—And greeted the friends who have sailed before
—O'er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Child's Laughter by Algernon Charles Swinburne

A Child's Laughter
by Algernon Charles Swinburne

All the bells of heaven may ring,
All the birds of heaven may sing,
All the wells on earth may spring,
All the winds on earth may bring
All sweet sounds together—
Sweeter far than all things heard,
Hand of harper, tone of bird,
Sound of woods at sundawn stirred,
Welling water’s winsome word,
Wind in warm wan weather,

One thing yet there is, that none
Hearing ere its chime be done
Knows not well the sweetest one
Heard of man beneath the sun,
Hoped in heaven hereafter;
Soft and strong and loud and light,
Very sound of very light
Heard from morning’s rosiest height,
When the soul of all delight
Fills a child’s clear laughter.

Golden bells of welcome rolled
Never forth such notes, nor told
Hours so blithe in tones so bold,
As the radiant mouth of gold
Here that rings forth heaven.
If the golden-crested wren
Were a nightingale—why, then,
Something seen and heard of men
Might be half as sweet as when
Laughs a child of seven.

I see wonderful things

Click for thread.

Lord Uxbridge himself went back there some years later, and insisted on dining at the table he had been carved on.

From Waterloo A Near Run Thing by David Howarth. Page 191.
Lord Uxbridge’s was the most celebrated of the thousands of legs sawn off at Waterloo, and his attitude to the loss of it was typical. ‘By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg’ was a figure of speech, if he said it at all: the leg was not shot off, but the knee was shattered. After he had been carried to Waterloo in a blanket, three miles from where he was wounded, he discussed the chances of saving it with the surgeons. All agreed it would have to come off. While they were making ready, he wrote a letter to his wife and chatted with his staff about the victory. During the operation, he never moved or complained: nobody held his hands, although that was a common practice. He said once perfectly calmly that he thought the instrument was not very sharp - and indeed, by that time of day the surgeons were in difficulties with knives and saws which were blunted by use. When it was over, his nerves did not seem shaken, and his pulse was unchanged. ‘I have had a pretty long run,’ he said. ‘I have been a beau these forty-seven years, and it would not be fair to cut the young men out any longer.’ Soon afterwards, another cavalry general came to see him. ‘Take a look at that leg,’ Lord Uxbridge said, ‘and tell me what you think of it. Some time hence, I may be inclined to imagine it might have been saved, and I should like your opinion.’ The visitor looked at the gruesome object, which was still in the same room, and confirmed that it was better off; and satisfied with that, Lord Uxbridge composed himself for sleep. Within a week, he was dressed and sitting up in a chair as if nothing had happened. Within three weeks, he was back in London, where a crowd took the horses from his carriage on Westminster Bridge and drew it through the streets, and the Prince Regent made him a marquess.

The owner of the house where the operation was performed, a M. Paris, shrewdly saw the value of the relic. He made a coffin for it, and with the permission of its owner he buried it in his garden. Above it he planted a weeping willow tree and put up a tombstone: 'Ici est enterré la jambe de I’illustre, brave et vaillant Comte Uxbridge . . .’ Generations of people went to see the grave, to the benefit of the Paris family, and Lord Uxbridge himself went back there some years later, and insisted on dining at the table he had been carved on.
The incident to which Howarth refers is the loss of Lord Uxbridge's leg. Wellington and Uxbridge were seated on their horses on a ridge, observing the battles when a cannonball took off Uxbridge's leg. Glancing down, the following exchange is supposed to have occurred.
Uxbridge: By God, sir, I've lost my leg!

Wellington: By God, sir, so you have!
The British stiff upper lip and sangfroid in the presence of catastrophe have stood them in good stead over the centuries.

Observing Christmas by Robert Bateman

Observing Christmas by Robert Bateman

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Best of the Bee

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Success-adjacent loser

There's a term I have not heard before -
Success-adjacent loser
Sure seems apt. This is in the comments from "She attended college at Brown, and spent a summer in Los Angeles trying to become an actress and a model, and going to clubs with Leonardo DiCaprio." by Ann Althouse. Althouse's post is red-meat for lifestyle-condemning comments and the commenters do not disappoint. Sadly, their factual arguments are not wrong.

Strikingly, there is a fair amount of commonality between the comments of the NYT where this appears and Althouse's commenters.

But back to success-adjacent loser. Great term for all the wannabes out there. Adjacent to excellence or productivity or success or whatnot but without the capacity themselves. They all seem to end up writing tripe mainstream media desperate for content.

The human mind is generally far more eager to praise and dispraise than to describe and define

From The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
The human mind is generally far more eager to praise and dispraise than to describe and define. It wants to make every distinction a distinction of value; hence those fatal critics who can never point out the differing quality of two poets without putting them in an order of preference as if they were candidates for a prize.

Off Beat Humor

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Friday, December 13, 2019

The Complacent Cliff-Dweller by Margaret Fishback

The Complacent Cliff-Dweller
by Margaret Fishback

I have a little home amidst the city's din
With kitchenette and shower bath and tub thrown in,
With fresh milk and vegetables and taxis close at hand--
The country can't beat that though Nature is grand.

The garbage is collected and I am not concerned
With where the men take it to be drowned or burned.
There are lots of different places that I can go for lunch
And autumn leaves are selling at fifty cents a bunch.

I see wonderful things

Click for thread.

Kincaid observed that after most battles people asked who had been hit, but after this one they asked who was still alive.

From Waterloo A Near Run Thing by David Howarth. Page 187.
The paralysis of the army in the dark seems strange in retrospect. Wellington, who rode back across the battlefield, and then sat down to his dinner and went to sleep, gave no order and made no suggestion about the wounded until the following evening. Nor did any other senior officer, so far as can be known. The army medical service was overwhelmed, and it was nobody else’s business even to give first aid. Everyone was distressed by the groans and shrieks he could hear, but nobody walked a yard from his bivouac to fetch water or to help to bandage men who needed it. Everyone, of course, was tired, and that was some excuse. And the dark field, where friends and mortal enemies were lying mixed together, was genuinely terrifying. Above all, it was an unfamiliar situation, for which there were no standing orders. Battles seldom ended so suddenly, so conclusively, or so exactly at dusk: more often both armies had moved before nightfall, one in retreat and the other in pursuit, and both had to be ready to fight again the next morning. So active soldiers were accustomed to leaving their wounded companions behind with their dead and quickly forgetting them all. The idea of halting among them was unfamiliar, and nobody liked it. Some British regiments at Waterloo moved off the field before they biv­ouacked, simply in order to spend a quiet night. And the rest of them slept, compact little groups of healthy men among the sea Of suffering, waiting like armies everywhere for somebody to tell them what to do.

As soon as daylight came, everyone was active again. Officers strolled about exchanging stories and asking for their friends: Kincaid observed that after most battles people asked who had been hit, but after this one they asked who was still alive.

The categories of books

My life. Painting by Tom Gauld

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Best of the Bee

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Off Beat Humor

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Proximate and ultimate; intended and emergent order

Excellent point from Steve Stewart Williams in The Ape that Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve.
One more point: As soon as we start applying functional explanations to the mind, it’s important to draw a clear and careful distinction between proximate explanations and ultimate explanations. A proximate explanation is one that focuses on the immediate causes of behavior. An example would be “People have sex because they enjoy it.” An ultimate explanation is one that focuses on the evolutionary function of behavior: the effects for which the behavior was selected. An example would be “People have sex because sex results in the production of offspring.” These explanations – enjoyment and reproduction – are not inconsistent with one another. Indeed, the latter explains the former; we have sex because we enjoy it, but we evolved to enjoy it because sex results in the production of offspring. The reason the proximate/ultimate distinction is important is that people make a pastime of mistaking ultimate evolutionary explanations for everyday psychological ones. Critics of evolutionary psychology are among the worst offenders. A fairly standard criticism of the field goes like this: “Evolutionary psychologists claim that we have sex in order to have children, but that’s just not true – most of the time we have sex just for fun. In fact, often the last thing we want when we have sex is children!” From what I’ve said already, it should be clear that this is simply a misunderstanding. When evolutionary psychologists argue that sex is about making babies, they’re talking about the evolutionary function of the behavior, not what people want. The critics have failed to distinguish the ultimate from the proximate, the evolutionary mode of explanation from the psychological.

The generalized form of this error is the idea that, according to evolutionary psychologists, people have an innate motivation to pass on their genes, and that we’re all constantly scheming about how we might achieve this. As the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker points out, though, “If that’s how the mind worked, men would line up outside sperm banks and women would pay to have their eggs harvested and given away to infertile couples.” Rather than having a very general motivation to propagate our genes, humans have a portfolio of more specific motivations – motivations to eat and drink, to run away from predators, to have sex and care for our young. Collectively, these lead us to act as if we’re trying to propagate our genes, but without any strategizing on our part and without us having gene propagation as an actual, literal goal. To be more precise, our basic drives and motivations led our ancestors to act in ways that typically propagated their genes in the environment in which our species evolved. These motivations may or may not accomplish this goal in our current environment. I’ll say more about this soon. At this stage, the thing to remember is that, although we’re gene machines, we don’t have a built-in motivation to pass on our genes, at either a conscious or an unconscious level.
Great points which tie into Hayek's Knowledge Problem and the concept of emergent order. As Wikipedia notes,
The thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment were the first to seriously develop and inquire into the idea of the market as a spontaneous order. In 1767, the sociologist and historian Adam Ferguson described the phenomenon of spontaneous order in society as the "result of human action, but not the execution of any human design".
I have always loved that summary - "result of human action, but not the execution of any human design."

As a management consultant, this has been an issue across my career, helping clients balance the tactical and strategic, balancing the micro and the macro, and unshackling oneself from the chains of deterministic thinking.

The great majority of the time, clients have a known pain point and they want to solve it by implementing a point solution. Too high personnel turnover? Raise wages! Frequent product returns? Improve manufacturing process! Sales are down? Cut the price! Too high accident rate? Deploy safety training!

Occasionally the point solution is indeed the appropriate response to the pain point. But that is often coincidental.

The more complex the system, the broader the scope, the greater the consequences, the more likely it is that it warrants investigating the ultimate cause over the apparent proximate cause.

High personnel turnover? Sure, it might be wages. It might also be career expectations. It might be a dangerous work environment. It might be salary structure (fixed versus at risk, benefits, etc.). It might be a toxic culture. It might be commuting distances. It might be variable work hours. People have a range of motivations for why they work beyond just compensation. If you want to bring down turnover on a sustained basis, you need to understand those deeper causal elements in order to craft a more appropriate solution.

If the ultimate cause of turnover is bad management behavior and you raise wages significantly, you typically get a temporary reduction in turnover but then it reverts to mean. You end up with a higher labor cost and still have the too high turnover, all because you fixed what you thought was the proximate cause without exploring the ultimate cause.

This reality is unpleasant. The client wants you to solve a "simple" problem with a "simple" solution. As soon as you start going after ultimate, deeper causal elements, the client will see you as simply chasing an expanded scope. And indeed, there are all sorts of charlatan consultants who simply seek to maximize revenues.

But the reality remains that not all, and in fact, most intractable problems appear proximate in nature but have causal elements that are far removed.

And the solutions are rarely deterministic fixes but rather are more fundamental in terms of system design, incentive structures, culture, etc. More interesting, more effective, but also less deterministic.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Vitaï Lampada by Henry Newbolt

Among my favorite poems, Vitaï Lampada by Henry Newbolt and read by Tom O'Bedlam.

Double click to enlarge.

Vitaï Lampada
by Henry Newbolt

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

Johnny's Hist'ry Lesson by Nixon Waterman

Johnny's Hist'ry Lesson
by Nixon Waterman

I think, of all the things at school
A boy has got to do,
That studyin' hist'ry, as a rule,
Is worst of all, don't you?
Of dates there are an awful sight,
An' though I study day an' night,
There's only one I've got just right -
That's fourteen ninety-two.

Columbus crossed the Delaware
In fourteen ninety-two;
We whipped the British, fair an' square,
In fourteen ninety-two.
At Concord an' at Lexington.
We kept the redcoats on the run,
While the band played Johnny Get Your Gun,
In fourteen ninety-two.

Pat Henry, with his dyin' breath -
In fourteen ninety-two -
Said, "Gimme liberty or death!"
In fourteen ninety-two.
An' Barbara Frietchie, so 'tis said,
Cried, "Shoot if you must this old, gray head,
But I'd rather 'twould be your own instead!"
In fourteen ninety-two.

The Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock
In fourteen ninety-two,
An' the Indians standin' on the dock
Asked, "What are you goin' to do?"
An' they said, "We seek your harbor drear
That our children's children's children dear
May boast that their forefathers landed here
In fourteen ninety-two."

Miss Pocahontas saved the life -
In fourteen ninety-two -
Of John Smith, an' became his wife
In fourteen ninety-two.
An' the Smith tribe started then an' there,
An' now there are John Smiths ev'rywhere,
But they didn't have any Smiths to spare
In fourteen ninety-two.

Kentucky was settled by Daniel Boone
In fourteen ninety-two,
An' I think the cow jumped over the moon
In fourteen ninety-two.
Ben Franklin flew his kite so high
He drew the lightnin' from the sky,
An' Washington couldn't tell a lie,
In fourteen ninety-two.

I see wonderful things

Click for thread.

I did not know that.

Years ago I heard someone use the term yid as slang for Jew. I inferred that it was derogatory slang but have never been certain. I never considered the etymology.

In The Jewish Dilemma by Joel Kotkin, he quotes Sholem Aleichem:
Es iz schwer tzu sein a yid.

- It is hard to be a Jew.
So there's the etymology. Yid is the Yiddish word for Jew. I am kind of surprised in both directions; that yid is Yiddish for Jew but also that the language Yiddish basically translates as Jewish. I guess the second surprise arises from my custom of thinking of Yiddish as a dialect of German (which it is.)

From Wikipedia.
The word Yid (/ˈjiːd/; Yiddish: ייִד‎) is a Jewish ethnonym of Yiddish origin. It is used as an autonym within the Ashkenazi Jewish community, and also used as slang by European football fans, anti-semites, and others. Its usage may be controversial in modern English language. It is not usually considered offensive when pronounced /ˈjiːd/ (rhyming with deed), the way Yiddish speakers say it, though some may deem the word offensive nonetheless. When pronounced /ˈjɪd/ (rhyming with did) by non-Jews, it is commonly intended as a pejorative term. It is used as a derogatory epithet by antisemites along with, and as an alternative to, the English word 'Jew'.
So I was right to infer a possible negative connotation but cannot be certain because it would depend on the specifics. I first heard it when I was in school in the New York area and think it was from some Jewish friends. If that was the context, then it was perhaps simply a colloquial autonym. However, if whomever I heard it from was not Jewish, then it might have been derogatory. Those details are lost in time.

Still, I am kind of surprised to not have known any of this. I am interested in and read a fair amount of language and linguistics texts. I have a lot of Jewish friends including many in the New York area, a traditional reservoir of Yiddish, and read enough German to have occasionally scanned Yiddish texts.

I recall the thrill of recognition when, sometime in the late seventies, I was walking down some Manhattan street behind three young Yeshiva students talking between themselves and overhearing their conversation. I had heard of Yiddish and knew that was what they were speaking but up until that moment I had not realized that Yiddish was a dialect of German and finding that I could understand what they were saying.

We should never ignore how much we can blithely not know. Or, at least, I should not ignore it.

And all the horror and slaughter round him, he reflected, was to gratify the ambition of one man

From Waterloo A Near Run Thing by David Howarth. Page 186.
Mercer also spent the night among the carnage, because he could not move the wreck of his battery. All the survivors of his troop lay down together a little distance away from the wreckage, which they said was too horrible to sleep with; but he made a kind of tent of a canvas cover on one of his limbers, and crept under that. His mind was too active for sleep. About midnight, he got up to contemplate the battlefield, now calm and still below the fitful moon.

Five paces away from him, a young French soldier was groan­ ing: otherwise, deaf as he was, the scene of violence seemed to him to be quiet. Here and there, men were sitting up among the countless dead, trying to stop their own bleeding. From time to time, a man would struggle to his feet and stagger away a few steps to look for help, and fall again. Horses too would sometimes try to rise, or writhe convulsively. One in particular sat all night on its tail, looking about as if it expected help. It seemed to have lost both its back legs, and he knew it would be a mercy to shoot it, but after the bloodshed of the day he could not find the courage to do it, or even tell anyone else to do it: and when he moved away the following afternoon, the horse was still sitting there.

Looking up at the moon, Mercer thought of the homes it was shining on far away, and the people peacefully sleeping in them, not knowing yet that the men they loved were dead. From where he stood on the top of the ridge - so small was the battlefield - he could see the moonshine on unravaged woods and peaceful villages, and ripening untrodden corn. And all the horror and slaughter round him, he reflected, was to gratify the ambition of one man, who had risen from a station as humble as his own.

Mercer was a civilized, compassionate man, but while it was dark not even he thought of doing anything to help the wounded. He simply stood in his philosophic mood and watched them. When it was light again, he began to do a little, but by then it was too late for many of them.

Swan Island by Henri Rivière

Swan Island by Henri Rivière

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Best of the Bee

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Moishe promptly fainted, and Mendel carried him outside

From The Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor by Henry D. Spalding.
The rabbi needed funds with which to purchase supplies for the synagogue so he called a meeting, but prudently avoided mentioning that he intended to ask for money. Among those who attended were Moishe and Mendel, two of the most notorious tightwads in the city. Even the good rabbi was curious to see how they would respond.

The rabbi got right down to business and explained the purpose of the gathering. He then announced that a collection would be taken.

Upon hearing this unpleasant news Moishe promptly fainted, and Mendel carried him outside.

Off Beat Humor

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Journalists are hounding the movie depiction of their earlier hounding of an innocent man.

Fascinating. From The Freakout Over Trump’s Executive Order on Jews Was Wrong by Ted Frank.

Sometime in the past 12 hours I became aware of yet another crisis. The Trump administration issued some draft wording for an executive order to address rising anti-semtism, especially on university campuses where the BDS movement has been vocal and powerful in the past few years at deplatforming and shutting down Jewish or pro-Israel events.

It is of course an exceptionally fine line between defending free speech and precluding speech. We want the BDS people to be able to spew their anti-semitic and hateful venom on the grounds that freedom of speech is near absolute. On the other hand we need to ensure the BDS free speech is not used to in turn suppress Jewish free speech as they have so frequently demonstrated is their goal. It is a very narrow needle to thread.

Translating a good intent (protect free speech for everyone) into clear law is challenging. That is what the draft wording is about.

But the NYT and their cousin NPR quickly flamed this into either emerging white nationalism on the part of the Trump administration a la some form of legislative Kristallnacht. I caught a snippet on NPR yesterday afternoon that was so garbled, incoherent and nonsensical that I knew there must be more to the story.

And of course there is. Frank has the background to the legislation which is multi-decadal in nature and bipartisan in support across multiple administrations. The Trump administration is merely continuing the work of the Obama administration in this area.
Early Tuesday evening, the New York Times Politics Twitter account tweeted out that “President Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality,” and Twitter immediately went into overdrive. Was Trump classifying Jews as un-American and promoting the dual-loyalty smear? Were Nazi deportations and Nuremberg Laws around the corner? No. The sky isn’t falling. The Trump executive order simply enshrines as policy decades of existing anti-discrimination laws meant to protect Jews.

The issue is this: a number of anti-discrimination laws are phrased as protecting people from discrimination based on “race or nationality” — but not religion. Do these laws reach discrimination against Jews?
The consensus has long been yes. In a 1987 Supreme Court decision, Justice Byron White, a JFK appointee, held that Jews were a “race or nationality” protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The decision was unanimous, joined by liberal icons like Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan.

But it was unclear if the Supreme Court’s reasoning applied to the same “race or nationality” language in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protecting against discrimination in education. While congressmen in the 19th century thought of Jews as a race, that classification is offensive in modern times.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration Justice Department provided informal guidance that Title VI did apply to discrimination against Jews qua Jews (and Muslims and Sikhs), if the discrimination could be classified based on ethnic identity or national origin.

In recent years, there has been a bipartisan movement to provide legal protections to students and academics against the anti-Semitic BDS movement. Left-wing anti-Semitism has been a troubling trend on campus, with incidents such as a UCLA student government panel questioning whether a Jew could serve on its judicial board. The U.S. Senate has repeatedly taken up legislation to endorse the Obama administration view of Judaism-as-nationality for purposes of Title VI, most notably in the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, though it died in the House.
Twitter blue-checks did not cover themselves in glory in the first 24 hours after the Times tweet.

As the Times story (which was considerably less incendiary than the tweet) noted, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and his Jewish chief of staff, David Krone, had pushed this issue hard. Even after Reid retired, Krone reached out to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, to lobby the administration on the issue. Other Jews within the administration supported the policy change, and an executive order modeled after the 2016 Senate bill was developed. The Times story correctly expressed no concern about the “nationality” implications, restricting its news hook to ACLU concerns about possible infringements on speech opposing Israel. (Proponents deny that there are any free-speech implications.)
But because it is an action undertaken by Trump, the TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) of the NYT, NPR and the blue-check brigade of Twitter all kicked into action with their themes of Nazi, Racist, Speech suppresser, etc.

All nonsense. Presumably they didn't read the draft text, they did not know the legislative history, and are unaware of the threat from BDS (or are comfortable with its speech suppression). Ben Rhodes journalists in other words.

At this point it is seems almost a Pavlovian response - Trump action of whatever nature leads instinctively to calls of Nazi, Racist, Incipient Dictator. The NYT is certainly free to lose its own money doing this but why on earth are we using nearly half a billion dollars of taxpayer money for journalism from excitable, neurotic, ignorant ninnies?
Twitter blue-checks did not cover themselves in glory in the first 24 hours after the Times tweet. CNN’s Bianna Golodryga called the executive order “Soviet.” The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg called it “the same kind of shit that Nazis did.” The Good Place creator Mike Schur sneered that Trump was doing the bidding of bigots. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, apparently unaware of his own lack of opposition to identical language in 2016, took to Twitter to complain, “My nationality is American.”

Law professors and journalists and celebrities bemoaned the appeal to white supremacy. A few voices on the Left, such as Media Matters’s Matthew Gertz and the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, tried to stem the tide with accurate information, but they were barely heard over the noise. The refusal to apply Occam’s razor was astonishing. What was more likely: That someone without legal training was misunderstanding an executive order they hadn’t seen, or that a bipartisan coalition of Jewish policymakers persuaded Jared Kushner to convince Trump to issue the preliminary groundwork for a 21st century version of the Nuremberg Laws in America? You can guess which tack got the most retweets and likes.
The tragic irony is that while the Mandarin Class were cloaking themselves in ignorance and bigotry, real anti-semitism was on clear display in Jersey City where two members of the Black Hebrew Israelite hate-group targeted and murdered three innocent Jewish shoppers.

The response from some of the Jersey City residents? Video in this article.

NYT, NPR, the Mandarin Class on Twitter are all far more eager to score political points than they are to do factual reporting or address real problems.

With particular irony, the NPR piece on the new legislation to protect from anti-semitism was followed soon after by an interview with some mainstream media movie critic about the new Clint Eastwood movie Richard Jewell. Both the critic and the NPR interviewer were outraged by a character in the movie, Kathy Scruggs, who, in the movie, is intimated to have offered sex to an FBI agent for a scoop. Scruggs was a real reporter for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.

The protectors of the guild of journalists tried to turn their criticism into a feminist critique. That Scruggs was being demeaned as a woman rather than as an unreliable reporter.

I was living in Atlanta at the time of the Centennial Park bombing and it was horrifying to see, in real time, the mob power of the press to shape an investigation and to target to the point of destruction an innocent and heroic individual. At the time it appeared that they chose to target Jewell because he was a lower class, not especially articulate, intermittently employed white guy. Their pursuit of him was charged with racism, classism, credentialism. It was appalling.

And of course it was wrong. Wrong in approach and wrong in that their mob pursuit of the wrong suspect diverted attention from the real perpetrator.

As I say, all this was visible as it was occurring. Seemingly though, the mainstream media couldn't help themselves. Despite all the red flags going up, their prejudices, self-regard, and privilege drove them onwards. Onwards and over the credibility cliff.

And Scruggs, with her hometown advantage, was at the front of the howling pack, seeking to take down a living embodiment of all they hated. Who happened to be innocent.

Did the offer of sex for sources as depicted in the movie occur? It seems that that element is in there for dramatic effect. As far as I can tell, no, it did not occur. But as I was digging around trying to find out, it does appear that Scruggs had a number of relationships over the years, not infrequently with individuals in the police force. My sense is that she was a journalist covering crime and dealt with police a lot and that was the natural pool for relationships. I did not come across anything as tawdry as explicit sex for sources but it also does not appear that the movie script is far outside the bounds of reality.

The mainstream media movie critic and his NPR interviewer came across as precious defenders of their profession's reputation. They cast it in terms of not sullying a person's name who died many years ago. They cast it in virtuous terms of feminism. But it came across completely as "Journalists are good people and you shouldn't say bad things about them."

They were defending their privileges.

A pretty unsustainable position as reported in Why is everyone pretending reporters never sleep with sources? by Stephen L. Miller.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Neil Young

Double click to enlarge.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart
by Neil Young

When you were young
and on your own
How did it feel
to be alone?
I was always thinking
of games that I was playing.
Trying to make
the best of my time.

But only love
can break your heart
Try to be sure
right from the start
Yes only love
can break your heart
What if your world
should fall apart?

I have a friend
I've never seen
He hides his head
inside a dream
Someone should call him
and see if he can come out.
Try to lose
the down that he's found.

But only love
can break your heart
Try to be sure
right from the start
Yes only love
can break your heart
What if your world
should fall apart?

I have a friend
I've never seen
He hides his head
inside a dream
Yes, only love
can break your heart
Yes, only love
can break your heart

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I'll Never Find Another You by The Seekers

I'll Never Find Another You by The Seekers

Double click to enlarge.

I'll Never Find Another You
by The Seekers

There's a new world somewhere
They call the promised land
And I'll be there someday
If you could hold my hand
I still need you there beside me
No matter what I do
For I know I'll never find another you

There is always someone
For each of us, they say
And you'll be my someone
Forever and a day
I could search the whole world over
Until my life is through
But I know I'll never find another you

It's a long, long journey
So stay by my side
When I walk through the storm
You'll be my guide, be my guide
If they gave me a fortune
My pleasure would be small
I could lose it all tomorrow
And never mind at all
But if I should lose your love, dear
I don't know what I'd do
For I know I'll never find another you

But if I should lose your love, dear
I don't know what I'd do
For I know I'll never find another you
Another you, another you

When Father Carves the Duck by Ernest Vincent Wright

When Father Carves the Duck
by Ernest Vincent Wright

We all look on with anxious eyes
When Father carves the duck
And mother almost always sighs
When Father carves the duck
Then all of us prepare to rise
And hold our bibs before our eyes
And be prepared for some surprise
When Father carves the duck.

He braces up and grabs a fork
Whene’er he carves a duck
And won’t allow a soul to talk
Until he’s carved the duck.
The fork is jabbed into the sides
Across the breast the knife he slide
While every careful person hides
From flying chips of duck.

The platter’s always sure to slip
When Father carves a duck.
And how it makes the dishes skip!
Potatoes fly amuck!
The squash and cabbage leap in space
We get some gravy in our face
And Father mutters Hindu grace
Whene’er he carves a duck.

We then have learned to walk around
the dining room and pluck
From off the windowsills and walls
Our share of Father’s duck
While Father growls and blows and jaws
And swears the knife was full of flaws
And Mother laughs at him because
He couldn’t carve a duck.

Mind the gap (between the real world and the hot house of MSM/Academia/Washington D.C.)

Gallup has been tracking what the public considers to be The Most Important Problem for some decades, at least since the 1980's if I recall correctly.

There are some methodological criticisms that can be made, and certainly there is a framing issue. Still, it is longitudinal data which is interesting for comparison purposes.

Usually, and certainly most of this millennium (i.e. since 2000), the overriding single largest concern has always been the economy.

How times have changed. Before Trump, back to 2000, Economic Issues was usually the single largest concern for some 40% of the population.

Second (between 20-30%) and third place (between 10-15%), are usually any of Quality of government, Terrorism, Immigration, Crime, Race, Healthcare, or Health Insurance.

First - Third place issues usually aggregate to about 60-70%.

Fourth tier concerns typically garner 1-6% and tend to be very noisy over the years. I think Race relations for some brief period, perhaps after Ferguson, rode to 15% for a few months but is usually around 5%. Similarly with War. Environment occasionally bounces to 10% but is usually down around 4%. Same with climate change. Gun control is usually down around 2-4%.

Doing a comparison of what editors think are important issues (as measured in column inches) and what the public thinks are big problems is always bracing.

Among the most popular mainstream media biggest problems one might include
Climate change
Gun Control
Income Inequality
Election reform (secure voting, Voter ID, Electoral College, etc.)
School Shootings
as determined by the column inches written by the smart kids with journalism degrees.

For everyone else, none of these really register as an important issue.
Race - 5%
Poverty - 4%
Climate change - 3%
Gun Control - 2%
Income Inequality - 2%
Election reform - 1%
School Shootings - 0%
Not to say that these issues aren't important. But they are not existential threats which is how they are usually represented by the mainstream media. It is useful to regard the items which the mainstream media choose to report not as news but as advertising by advocacy groups.

The mainstream media, academia, the inside-the beltway denizens live in an entirely different world from everyone else. They have the megaphone but what they are shouting about is largely irrelevant to most citizens.

I see wonderful things

Click for thread.

The Prussians had come

From Waterloo A Near Run Thing by David Howarth. Page 153.
From time to time all through the afternoon, the outcome of the battle had hung by the thinnest threads. Now for some minutes everything depended on this solitary Prussian, his horse and his powers of persuasion. He overtook the retreating troops, and by luck he soon found von Zieten. The appearance of a general all alone, on a sweating horse and in a state of desperate anxiety, made von Zieten halt. He was reluctant to countermand his order and turn his men round again. ‘You are mistaken,’ Muffling assured him, ‘the British are not in retreat, they are standing fast. But the battle is lost unless you come back at once.’ At last, von Zieten turned his men; and in doing so he turned the tide which had reached its lowest ebb. In fifteen minutes, his advance guards were in action at the end of Wellington’s line. British cavalry which had been stationed there all day was moving along the back of the ridge to support the wavering centre. And the news was spreading along the line from man to man and from regiment to regiment: the Prussians had come.

Light Amidst the darkness by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky (1868-1945)

Light Amidst the darkness by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky (1868-1945)

Click to enlarge.

Best of the Bee

Click for the thread.

That's exactly what I did!

From The Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor by Henry D. Spalding.
Yankel was afraid to return home without a kopek to his name. His shrewish wife, he knew, would din a never-ending tirade into his ears until they ached. She had cautioned him against leaving their small town to seek his fortune in Moscow, but would he listen? No, not he! He had to be the big fortune-seeker with the big ideas!

Now, after spending a year in the metropolis, he realized that she had been right; he never should have left. Misfortune had confronted him on all sides, and at year's end, he was left with only one problem— how to save face before his wife.

"How can I return home without bringing any money at all?" pondered Yankel. "I must think of a logical excuse or I will never hear the end of it."

Just then he hit upon a brilliant idea. Reaching into his pocket he withdrew a large red handkerchief and tied it across his face so that only his eyes were visible.

The moment he opened the door to his house, his wife screamed: "Oy gevald! What happened to your face?"

"It was terrible!" moaned Yankel quite convincingly. "Just before I reached town I was held up by a band of Cossacks who ordered me to give them all my money or they would cut off my nose."

"Shlemeil!" wailed his wife. "What kind of life will you have without a nose! Why didn't you give them your money?"

"Sha! Sha! Don't carry on so," grinned Yankel, snatching off the red handkerchief. "That's exactly what I did!"

What does your mental model tell you?

It has been two days since the release of the Horowitz investigation of the FBI. Enough time to let things simmer down? Perhaps not but like some browning motion device, much more time and new directions will have spawned.

I occasionally seek to memorialize what I am thinking so that I can look back a year or five from now to understand my state-of-mind at a given point based on my interpretation of what I think I see being reported at this particular point.

As could be predicted, all movie watchers saw the one of two movies they wanted to see even though they were watching the same movie. On the far left, the Horowitz report was a full exoneration of the FBI. On the far right, the Horowitz report fully validates the Deep State coup theory.

Certainly there is evidence for both positions and neither extreme interpretation is likely to be true.

My position for the past couple of years is that, similar to the mainstream media, there is a persistent left-lean to government employees and many branches of the government, distinctly and significantly disproportionate to the voting population. Does it constitute a subterranean secret socialist Deep State? No! But that doesn't mean the systemic bias isn't there.

One of my other predicates is that there is something deeply amiss among our national intelligence and even security agencies. We got early intimations of this early in the Obama administration, (or was it late in the Bush administration?), when, over a number of years, there were periodic reports of wild Secret Service parties, drinking, drugs, prostitutes, possibly under-age sex workers, at locations both here and abroad. An agency which we once assumed to be deeply professional was revealed to be a frat with unlimited budget for parties.

During the Obama administration we saw jailing of reporters, strategic leaking by agencies for political purpose, Capitol Hill Police incompetence (Awan case), CIA spying on Congress, and CIA and NSA leadership providing false testimony to Congress. Again, formerly well-respected institutions seemingly dissolute in values and purpose.

My original focus was on what was happening in our intelligence services but in the past six months I have begun to wonder what might be happening in the military leadership ranks. These are by-and-large trustworthy individuals with deep integrity but I have begun to wonder about what the institutional impact might have been from the Obama years when some large number (500?) officer careers were terminated early in order to accelerate new leadership more amenable to the climate change, light-hand-on Islam, gender, and other social justice priorities of the Obama Administration.

I have wondered whether the Obama Administration might have affected the future decision-making of the military branches in a fashion similar to what is happening under the Trump Administration in terms of the Court system.

So my bias is to assume that there is a Deep State and that it markedly left-leaning and also that there is something wrong and possibly political about our intelligence agencies and security departments disjoint from the past.

But I have also been deeply skeptical that this arises to a conspiracy, coup, or coordinated action. It represents systemic bias, amplified by normal human incompetence, and not structured actions.

So where do we stand after the Horowitz report?

Of course there was the first wave of opinion pieces released within an hour of the report's release. Pieces pre-written and based on opinion rather than content of the report. From the mainstream media came pretty uniform reports that Horowitz exonerated the FBI and found no conspiracy.

The second wave over the past 36 hours has included the first pieces from those who have actually read the report. This messaging is quite different from the first wave.

My interpretation is that Horowitz basically defaulted to the Nuremberg defense. That bad actions occurred but the perpetrators were following orders and the orders came from individuals in a system with a notable absence of checks-and-balances, oversight, or accountability. Therefore there was no crime to reveal.

Yes, bad and unacceptable actions occurred. Yes, there was a systemic bias in the direction of those actions. And yes, this is entirely legal.

From my perspective at this moment in time, it appears to me that there is great value to the Horowitz report. It seems to confirm that the Democratic Party funded the creation of a specious dossier (the Steele Report), that that report was quickly known to be at least suspect and likely substantively untrue. That the Clinton campaign in concert with members of the Administration, coordinated with mainstream media outlets to place the Steele Dossier in the public marketplace devoid of caveats. That the former Administration departments (DOJ, CIA, FBI) knowingly used the false Steele Report to obtain warrants to monitor (spy) on members of the Trump campaign and therefore, effectively spied on the campaign. That the then President knew of and was briefed on this spying. That allied intelligence agencies in other countries participated in this campaign of spying and entrapment.

And Horowitz finds that it was all likely legal.

Which explains why both sides find justification for their respective positions.

My interpretation is based on reading samplings of the whole report. My assumption that I am broadly correct is bolstered by the reporting of two registered Democrats, legal scholar Jonathan Turley (Horowitz report is damning for the FBI and unsettling for the rest of us and Democrats offering passion over proof in Trump impeachment) and reporter Matt Taibi (‘Corroboration Zero’: An Inspector General’s Report Reveals the Steele Dossier Was Always a Joke). It seems that there is a building revision to the initial mainstream reports of exoneration. The new version emerging seems to be - Yes, legally exonerated but bad actions and behaviors confirmed.

How correct am I? I won't know for some period of time. The validation of mental models is the degree to which it provides the basis for usefully accurate forecasts. To test my mental models, I need to forecast.

My forecast consists of eleven predictions (probabilities in brackets):
An indictment for impeachment will be executed rather than just a vote to censure (95%).

The House will endorse the two-charge indictment (80%).

The vote will be overwhelmingly, if not completely on party lines (95%).

There will be immense tensions within the Democratic Party with the large number of moderate Democrats elected in 2018 fearing for their political careers a la the 2010 election (80%).

Probably 30-40 Democrats will wobble. Even though Pelosi seems to have shown a marked decline in her iron-fisted control of the Democratic caucus, I suspect that virtually all Democrats, barring perhaps half a dozen, will fall into line. The fact that this mirrors the hardline whip for the Obamacare vote and the subsequent loss of 63 Democratic legislators in 2010 makes the possibility of a caucus revolt possible but I suspect unlikely (65%).

When the indictment hits the Senate, some faction of the Republicans will advocate for an instant dismissal but that will be rejected (60%)

The Republican Senate will use the impeachment process to further elaborate documented biases and failings on the part of the intelligence agencies (80%).

The Republican Senate will use the impeachment process to lay the groundwork for indictments of current and former members of the intelligence agencies who have committed bad acts that are not black-letter law illegal (80%).

After a 1-4 month impeachment process, the Senate will vote against impeachment (90%).

Evidence amassed from the impeachment process, from the Horowitz investigation, and from the Durham investigation will be used as the basis for some wholesale reform and personnel changes in the Intelligence agencies, possibly in other agencies as well (65%).

Evidence amassed from the impeachment process, from the Horowitz investigation, and from the Durham investigation will be used as the basis for only selected prosecutions (2-6) against individuals with the most egregious behaviors and demonstrated malicious actions. For all others, it will be the basis for dismissal from their positions to extent that they still retain them (55%).
My mental model is on the hook.

We'll see how usefully accurate it will turn out to be over the next year.

Off Beat Humor

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Down To The River To Pray by Alison Krauss

Down To The River To Pray by Alison Krauss

Double click to enlarge.

Down To The River To Pray
sung by Alison Krauss

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sisters, let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O sisters, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O brothers, let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
Come on, brothers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O fathers, let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O fathers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O mothers, let's go down
Come on down, don't you wanna go down?
Come on, mothers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sinners, let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O sinners, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

The Kid Has Gone to the Colors by W. M. Herschell

The Kid Has Gone to the Colors
by W. M. Herschell

The Kid has gone to the Colors
And we don't know what to say;
The Kid we have loved and cuddled
Stepped out for the Flag today.
We thought him a child, a baby,
With never a care at all,
But his country called him man--size
And the Kid has heard the call.

He paused to watch the recruiting
Where, fired by the fife and drum,
He bowed his head to Old Glory
And thought that it whispered "Come!"
The Kid, not being a slacker,
Stood forth with patriot-joy
To add his name to the roster--
And God, we're proud of the boy!

The Kid has gone to the Colors;
It seems but a little while
Since he drilled a schoolboy army
In a truly martial style.
But now he's a man, a soldier,
And we lend him listening ear,
For his heart is a heart all loyal,
Unscourged by the curse of fear.

His dad, when he told him, shuddered,
His mother--God bless her!--cried!
Yet, blest with a mother-nature,
She wept with a mother--pride.
But he whose old shoulders straightened
Was Granddad--for memory ran
To years when he, too, a youngster,
Was changed by the Flag to a man!

I see wonderful things

Click for thread.

Men will always die for lack of discoveries made soon after they are dead.

From Waterloo A Near Run Thing by David Howarth. Page 135.
In cottages and barns on both sides of the battlefield, surgeons were busy with their knives and saws. Most of the wounded still lay where they had fallen, but enough had walked or been carried off the field to overwhelm the medical services.

It is easy now to look on the surgery of 1815 as mere butchery. But each generation is satisfied with the medical treatment of its own time, and men will always die for lack of discoveries made soon after they are dead. At Waterloo, there were no antiseptics and no anaesthetics: both were in the future. But it was a time when army surgery was improving quickly. People could still remember the days when no treatment at all was given to the wounded, who were largely left to the care of the local popu­lation, whether it was friendly or not. Not very long before, the great surgeon John Hunter had written that ‘it was hardly necessary for a man to be a surgeon to practise in the army’. And John Hennen, who was a surgeon at Waterloo, remem­bered that in his own early days army surgery was looked on as ‘the lowest step of professional drudgery and degradation. If a man of superior merit by chance sprung up in it, he soon abandoned the employment for the more lucrative, the more respectable, and the less servile work of private practice.’ By 1815, there were still some very bad surgeons in the army, but there were some good ones too, who were working on the frontiers of the knowledge of their day. So a soldier looking back on his father’s time could think himself lucky.

Winter Seas by David Utting

Winter Seas by David Utting

Click to enlarge.

Best of the Bee

Click for the thread.

Natural Science

To the world when it was half a thousand years younger, the outlines of all things seemed more clearly marked than to us.

From The Waning of the Middle Ages by Jonathan Huizinga. Published in 1924. Magnificent opening paragraphs.
To the world when it was half a thousand years younger, the outlines of all things seemed more clearly marked than to us. The contrast between suffering and joy, between adversity and happiness, appeared more striking. All experience had yet to the minds of men the direct­ness and absoluteness of the pleasure and pain of child-life. Every event, every action, was still embodied in expressive and solemn forms, which raised them to the dignity of a ritual. For it was not merely the great facts of birth, marriage, and death which, by the sacredness of the sacrament, were raised to the rank of mysteries; incidents of less importance, like a journey, a task, a visit, were equally attended by a thousand formalities: benedictions, cere­monies, formulas.

Calamities and indigence were more afflicting than at present; it was more difficult to guard against them, and to find solace. Illness and health presented a more striking contrast; the cold and darkness of winter were more real evils. Honours and riches were relished with greater avidity and contrasted more vividly with surrounding misery. We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed.

Then, again, all things in life were of a proud or cruel publicity. Lepers sounded their rattles and went about in processions, beggars exhibited their deformity and their misery in churches. Every order and estate, every rank and profession, was distinguished by its costume. The great lords never moved about without a glorious display of arms and liveries, exciting fear and envy. Executions and other public acts of justice, hawking, marriages and funerals, were all announced by cries and processions, songs and music. The lover wore the colours of his lady; companions the emblem of their confraternity; parties and servants the badges or blazon of their lords.

Between town and country, too, the contrast was very marked. A medieval town did not lose itself in extensive suburbs of factories and villas; girded by its walls, it stood forth as a compact whole, bristling with innumerable turrets. However tall and threatening the houses of noblemen or merchants might be, in the aspect of the town the lofty mass of the churches always remained dominant. The contrast between silence and sound, darkness and light, like that between summer and winter, was more strongly marked than it is in our lives. The modern town hardly knows silence or darkness in their purity, nor the effect of a solitary light or a single distant cry.

All things presenting themselves to the mind in violent contrasts and impressive forms, lent a tone of excitement and of passion to everyday life and tended to produce that perpetual oscillation be­tween despair and distracted joy, between cruelty and pious tender­ness which characterize life in the Middle Ages.

What more proof do you need?

From The Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor by Henry D. Spalding.
The German-Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, was an intimate friend of Frederick the Great.

Once, while strolling aimlessly on Unter den Linden, the chief thoroughfare of Berlin, the king met his learned friend. After saluting each other in an amiable fashion, the monarch asked his Jewish subject where he was going.

"I don't know," Mendelssohn replied quite truthfully.

The eyes of the mighty ruler flashed with quick anger. Friend or not, this man could not trifle with His Majesty. "I will ask you just once more," he growled ominously. "Where are you going?"

"I'm sorry, Your Highness, but I don't know."

The king at once ordered his guards to arrest the "insolent" man, but before the day was over he relented. He visited the eminent philosopher in his cell.

"Look here, Mendelssohn," he scolded, "what was the idea of trifling with your king in such a frivolous manner?"

"I didn't mean to trifle with you, Your Majesty," explained the scholar ruefully. "I really did not know where I was going. It certainly must be clear to you by this time. Earlier today I set out for a simple stroll and I landed in jail. What more proof do you need?"

The readiness to solve medical problems with death varies from place to place.

An astute observation from Anne Althouse in About that man in Germany who died from bacteria transmitted by a dog's lick.
She's pointing out that the actual story is different from what is being fore-fronted for the clicks.
If the German man had received amputations and continued full-strength antibiotics, would he not still be alive? The real story here seems to be not that a dog's lick could kill you — the attention-getting scare headline — but that the readiness to solve medical problems with death varies from place to place.

Off Beat Humor

Click to enlarge.

A widening cognitive inequality gap.

Not quite sure what to make of this. Large sample size is useful. However, it would be desirable that it should cover more than the fourteen years under study. Nonetheless, it is new data on a long simmering topic.

From The Flynn effect for fluid IQ may not generalize to all ages or ability levels: A population-based study of 10,000 US adolescents by Jonathan M.Platt, Katherine M.Keyesa, Katie A.McLaughlin, and Alan S.Kaufman. From the Abstract:
Generational changes in IQ (the Flynn Effect) have been extensively researched and debated. Within the US, gains of 3 points per decade have been accepted as consistent across age and ability level, suggesting that tests with outdated norms yield spuriously high IQs. However, findings are generally based on small samples, have not been validated across ability levels, and conflict with reverse effects recently identified in Scandinavia and other countries. Using a well-validated measure of fluid intelligence, we investigated the Flynn Effect by comparing scores normed in 1989 and 2003, among a representative sample of American adolescents ages 13–18 (n = 10,073). Additionally, we examined Flynn Effect variation by age, sex, ability level, parental age, and SES. Adjusted mean IQ differences per decade were calculated using generalized linear models. Overall the Flynn Effect was not significant; however, effects varied substantially by age and ability level. IQs increased 2.3 points at age 13 (95% CI = 2.0, 2.7), but decreased 1.6 points at age 18 (95% CI = −2.1, −1.2). IQs decreased 4.9 points for those with IQ ≤ 70 (95% CI = −4.9, −4.8), but increased 3.5 points among those with IQ ≥ 130 (95% CI = 3.4, 3.6). The Flynn Effect was not meaningfully related to other background variables. Using the largest sample of US adolescent IQs to date, we demonstrate significant heterogeneity in fluid IQ changes over time. Reverse Flynn Effects at age 18 are consistent with previous data, and those with lower ability levels are exhibiting worsening IQ over time. Findings by age and ability level challenge generalizing IQ trends throughout the general population.
Their summary:
When outdated norms are used, the Flynn Effect inflates IQs and potentially biases intellectual disability diagnosis

In a large US-representative adolescent sample, a Flynn Effect was found for IQs ≥ 130, and a negative effect for IQs ≤ 70

IQ changes also differed substantially by age group

A negative Flynn Effect for those with low intellectual ability suggests widening disparities in cognitive ability

Findings challenge the practice of generalizing IQ trends based on data from non-representative samples

The Works of Fisher Ames

The Works of Fisher Ames. Looks like it could be interesting.

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan

Double click to enlarge.

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
by Bob Dylan

Well it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
Ifin' you don't know by now
An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It'll never do some how
When your rooster crows at the break a dawn
Look out your window and I'll be gone
You're the reason I'm trav'lin' on
Don't think twice, it's all right

And it ain't no use in a-turnin' on your light, babe
The light I never knowed
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the road
But I wish there was somethin' you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin' anyway
But don't think twice, it's all right

No it ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
Like you never done before
And it ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
I can't hear ya any more
I'm a-thinkin' and a-wond'rin' wallkin' way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I am told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don't think twice, it's all right

So long honey babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
Goodbye is too good a word, babe
So I just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

Male and female academics are equally cited

From A Rare Case of Gender Parity in Academia by Freda B Lynn, Mary C Noonan, Michael Sauder, and Matthew A Andersson. From the Abstract.
In academia, women trail men in nearly every major professional reward, such as earnings, publications, and funding. Bibliometric studies, however, suggest that citations are unique with regard to gender inequality: female penalties have been reported, but gender parity or even female premiums are routinely documented as well. Two questions follow from this puzzle. First, does gender matter for citations in sociology and neighboring social science disciplines? No theoretically informed study of gender and citations exists for the social science core. We begin to fill this gap by analyzing roughly 10,000 publications in economics, political science, and sociology. In contrast to many big data studies, we estimate the effect of author gender on citations alongside other author-, article-, journal-, and (sub)field-level predictors. Our results strongly suggest that when male and female authors publish articles that are comparably positioned to receive citations, their publications do in fact accrue citations at the same rate. This finding raises a second question: Why would gender matter “everywhere but here”? We hypothesize that the answer is related to the mechanisms (e.g., self-selection, biased assessments of commitment) that are activated in the context of some professional rewards but not citations. We discuss why a null gender finding should not be discarded as an anomaly but rather approached as an analytical opportunity.
There are two elements to this argument. They are leading with the analysis of citations and the finding that when male and female researchers publish, the sex of the research author has no predictive value in determining the frequency of citation whereas prior research, institutional prestige and the like are good predictors of the volume of citation.

Men and women researchers accrue citations in equal fashion.

Lynn et al are intrigued by the fact that there is non-discrimination as measured by citations based on sex of researcher whereas there are clearly documented differences between the sexes in terms of awards, recognition, etc. and are seeking to understand why this might be the case.

This is analogous to the labor market topical concern of the past thirty years when it was assumed that differences in total average compensation between men and women in the marketplace must be due to discrimination. What has been found, however, is that men and women earn nearly exactly the same amount as one another when you control for obvious factors such as years in the field, hours worked, past accomplishments, etc. Deviant outcomes (average compensation) arise between the sexes based on deviant decisions (field of practice, perseverance in the field, duration, hours worked, etc.) made between the sexes and not based on systematic discrimination.

Understanding the corresponding dynamics in academia is the second part of the Lynn et al argument. They posit that there are three commonly acknowledged mechanisms for differentiation:
There is broad consensus that inequality is rooted in one of three main classes of mechanisms: (a) gender differences in human and social capital, (b) self-selection, and (c) various forms of discrimination, including taste-based discrimination (Becker 1971), biased assessments of competence (e.g., Moss-Racusin et al. 2012; Ridgeway and Correll 2004), and biased assessments of commitment
They argue that self-selection (choices by women on where to spend their time) and commitment (perceptions by others of women's commitment) are irrelevant or mute in determining number of citations but plausibly causal in determining other rewards.

They are still trying to find discrimination as a cause of reward disproportionalities. Possibly that is the cause. But, given the lessons learned from the field of labor economics and the three decade effort to find that bias and discrimination are the root causes of income variance only to eventually have to acknowledge that income variances are due to personal choices, the odds are that rewards variances in academia are also going to end up to be due to productivity variances arising from personal choices rather than active bias and discrimination.

We already see elements supporting the latter conclusion. Academia tends to be pretty generous and egalitarian with benefits, including parental leave. There have been a couple of papers or more in the past couple of years, gnawing on the revelation that female academics take parental leave and invest that time in caring for their children whereas their male peers take that time and write more papers. Choices.

Monday, December 9, 2019

I Am An American by Elia Lieberman

I Am An American
by Elia Lieberman

I am an American.
My father belongs to the Sons of the Revolution;
My mother, to the Colonial Dames.
One of my ancestors pitched tea overboard in Boston Harbor;
Another stood his ground with Warren;
Another hungered with Washington at Valley Forge.
My forefathers were America in the making:
They spoke in her council halls;
They died on her battle-fields;
They commanded her ships;
They cleared her forests.
Dawns reddened and paled.
Staunch hearts of mine beat fast at each new star
In the nation’s flag.
Keen eyes of mine foresaw her greater glory:
The sweep of her seas,
The plenty of her plains,
The man-hives in her billion-wired cities.
Every drop of blood in me holds a heritage of patriotism.
I am proud of my past.
I am an American.

I am an American.
My father was an atom of dust,
My mother a straw in the wind,
To His Serene Majesty.
One of my ancestors died in the mines of Siberia;
Another was crippled for life by twenty blows of the knut;
Another was killed defending his home during the massacres.
The history of my ancestors is a trail of blood
To the palace-gate of the Great White Czar.
But then the dream came—
The dream of America.
In the light of the Liberty torch
The atom of dust became a man
And the straw in the wind became a woman
For the first time.
“See,” said my father, pointing to the flag that fluttered near,
“That flag of stars and stripes is yours;
It is the emblem of the promised land,
It means, my son, the hope of humanity.
Live for it—die for it!”
Under the open sky of my new country I swore to do so;
And every drop of blood in me will keep that vow.
I am proud of my future.
I am an American.

I see wonderful things

Click for thread.

Reunited after a year away.

Love this.

Click on the Tweet to get to the video.

Luckily, an aide-de-camp at full gallop caught him up before he reached the enemy and told him there was nobody behind him.

From Waterloo A Near Run Thing by David Howarth. Page 128.
After Lord Uxbridge’s first successful counter-charge, the infantry expected the same success to be repeated every time, but it was not. They began to grumble, as one arm of an army often does, and ask what the other arm was doing. And they had some reason: things had gone wrong in the allied cavalry.

Lord Uxbridge had had an ignominious experience. The British heavy cavalry was terribly thinned and exhausted by its earlier charges, and a light cavalry charge which he led had not had much success. But there were still large numbers of foreign cavalry who had not been in action yet. Uxbridge knew very little about them, not even the names of their officers. They had been under the Prince of Orange, but the Prince had asked the Duke that very morning, just before the battle began, to put them all under Uxbridge’s command. Now, in the desperate moment of the French attacks, he saw a column of Dutch cavalry, magnificently accoutred and splendid in appearance. He galloped back to them, called on them to charge, and led the charge in person. Luckily, an aide-de-camp at full gallop caught him up before he reached the enemy and told him there was nobody behind him. The Dutchmen were standing stolidly in their ranks. Uxbridge was naturally angry, and the British in general blamed the Dutch for cowardice. But possibly none of them, except their most senior officers, knew who Lord Uxbridge was. They may not have seen any obvious reason to follow an excited Englishman who gave his orders in a language they could hardly understand and galloped madly at a force of several thousand French.

Unknown title by Eyvind Earle (American,1916-2000)

Unknown title by Eyvind Earle (American,1916-2000)

Click to enlarge.

Best of the Bee

Click for the thread.

Let him walk, like other thirteen-year-old boys!

From The Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor by Henry D. Spalding.
Every ethnic group has its quota of unsavory characters and Jews are no exception. Jack "Legs" Diamond passed along his reputation as a gangster when he was cut down by machine gun bullets in the "Roaring Twenties," but his single legacy to humor remains:

When Jack ("Jake" to his family) approached the Bar Mitzvah age, his proud father was at a loss as to a suitable gift. So he consulted his son's Hebrew teacher. (Yes, the mobster came from a fine, respectable family.)

"Well, Mr. Diamond," said the instructor, "I can think of no better Bar Mitzvah present than an encyclopedia."

"What!" cried Mr. Diamond, outraged. "God forbid, he'd get himself killed in all this heavy traffic. Let him walk, like other thirteen-year-old boys!"

Somewhat exotic but rarely plush and frequently alarming.

Funny. I was just talking about this with my mother this weekend.

Click for the thread.

I was mentioning how sophisticated air traffic control has become in the US. They hold flights before departure to prevent pile-ups at destination airports, tactical re-routing during flight to avoid turbulence, etc. There is continuous real time monitoring of weather, flyings conditions and traffic congestion at every point in the flight. I mentioned that the flight I took last week into a snow storm area was mildly turbulent and that that was the first turbulence I had experienced in perhaps nine or twelve months. Its that rare now. Flying across the south in the summer can still occasionally startle, but again it is so rare compared to earlier years.

The flight into a snowstorm in the US in 2019 contrasts to our experiences in the 1960s. You could end up circling for half an hour or more at a destination airport owing to flight receiving congestion. Our flights across the Caribbean at 20,000 feet in prop planes were frequently dramatic. Not just unsettling turbulence but drops of a few hundred feet and massive side sheers. It really concentrated your mind on durability of construction.

It is so easy to ignore how much better almost everything is today compared to just a couple of decades ago.

Off Beat Humor

Picasso vs. Sargent by Norman Rockwell.

Click to enlarge.

Folsom Prison Blues/Pinball Wizard Mash Up

Pretty astonishing what creative things people come up with. Things for which there seemed to be no need, but are mildly intriguing anyway.

From Folsom Prison Blues/Pinball Wizard Mash Up (Cash/Who).

Double click to enlarge.

Aetheism is a product of low environmental exposure and lack of cultural diversity.

Suggestive. From The Origins of Religious Disbelief: A Dual Inheritance Approach by Will Gervais, Maxine Najle, Sarah Schiavone, and Nava Caluori. From the Abstract:
Religion is a core feature of human nature, yet a comprehensive evolutionary approach to religion must account for religious disbelief. Despite potentially drastic over-reporting of religiosity[1], a third of the world’s 7+ billion human inhabitants may actually be atheists—merely people who do not believe in God or gods. The origins of disbelief thus present a key testing ground for theories of religion. Here, we evaluate the predictions of three prominent theoretical approaches to the origins of disbelief, and find considerable support for dual inheritance (gene-culture coevolution) approach. This dual inheritance model[2,3] derives from distinct literatures addressing the putative 1) core social cognitive faculties that enable mental representation of gods[4–7], 2) the challenges to existential security that motivate people to treat some god candidates as real and strategically important[8,9], 3) evolved cultural learning processes that influence which god candidates naïve learners treat as real rather than imaginary[3,10–12], and4) the intuitive processes that sustain belief in gods[13–15] and the cognitive reflection that may sometimes undermine it[16–18]. We explore the varied origins of religious disbelief by analyzing these pathways simultaneously in a large nationally representative (USA, N= 1417) dataset with preregistered analyses. Combined, we find that witnessing fewer credible cultural cues of religious commitment is the most potent predictor of religious disbelief, β=0.28, followed distantly by reflective cognitive style, β= 0.13, and less advanced mentalizing, β= 0.05. Low cultural exposure to faith predicted about 90% higher odds of atheism than did peak cognitive reflection. Further, cognitive reflection predicted reduced religious belief only among individuals who witness relatively fewer credible contextual cues of faith in others. This work empirically unites four distinct literatures addressing the origins of religious disbelief, highlights the utility of considering both evolved intuitions and cultural evolutionary processes in religious transmission, emphasizes the dual roles of content- and context-biased social learning[19], and sheds light on the shared psychological mechanisms that underpin both religious belief and disbelief.
Stripping away the academic jargon and verbiage, it appears that this research suggests that atheism arises as a consequence of reduced religiosity in the subject's environment. Further it concludes that cognitive reflection had relatively little contribution to the probability of atheism.

Makes logical sense. Whether it is true or not awaits replication. I think there are good reasons to treat this as less than robust evidence for the time being. However, accepting the findings at face value, it does suggest that those lamenting a decline in social values (decline in religious observance and rise in atheism) are in part contributors to that decline by hiding their own religiosity. It also suggests that electing atheism is far less a reasoned and logical conclusion reached through high IQ thinking and much more simply a product of lack of environmental exposure.

Or at least that is one way to interpret the findings.