Friday, August 23, 2019

Wawenock Hotel,1944 by John W. McCoy (1910–1989)

Wawenock Hotel,1944 by John W. McCoy (1910–1989)

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Oft, evil will shall evil mar.

I am driving between meetings today and hear on NPR of David Koch's passing. Over the next couple or three hours I keep hearing him described as a conservative and as a sponsor of far-right think tanks. He was, of course, famously, a libertarian rather than a conservative.

And think-tanks were not his only philanthropy by any means.

He gave tens of millions to PBS and sat on the board of one of the flagship broadcasters, WGBH out of Boston. Most his money went towards science documentaries as far as I can tell.

In a couple of hours of broadcasting across the day, I repeatedly heard of his funding for right-wing think-tanks and have heard not a word about his funding of public television.

This unwillingness to tell the truth about a man is caught in this tweet.

Agree with him or not on any given policy stance, at least tell the truth even if it is inconvenient.

You follow the responses and you see all sorts of ignorant, childish foot stamping. The bitterness and hatefulness combined with the ignorance and untruthfulness of so many twitter commenters is repellant. Oft, evil will shall evil mar.

Best of the Bee

The demand for apocalyptic climate brands is not near what it used to be.

Just because I was curious. Over the past twenty years, those trying to use AGW as a means to change political and economic systems away from traditional democratic capitalism towards centralized decision-making by statists have had to keep rebranding their proposition since the public remains unconvinced by every new forecast of "just ten years to save the world."

Think of it as a brand management issue. Demand is not near what you might desire. What branding works best?
Anthropogenic Global Warming?

Global Warming?

Climate Change?

or the most recent

Climate Crisis?
Hard to measure. One proxy might be the language of people's searches. If you accept that premise, we can use Google trends and see what language people are using to search and how that has changed over time.

Clearly AGW never took off and climate crisis has not caught on.

Global Warming seemed to work for the first decade of data but has given way to climate change since then. Probably owing to the lack of clear cut evidence that the forecasted warming has occurred in the fashion predicted. Climate change is much easier to defend than global warming because climate change has been the default condition over the entire histroy of the planet.

That tells us about the brand. But the same graph shows us the public concern about climate change peaked circa 2010 and is about 20% of what it was at its peak in April 2007.

OK, how does concern about climate change compare to more quotidian concerns? Healthcare, unemployment, stock market?

About 4% of attention in comparison of those practical concerns. So it remains on the cognitive radar screen, but pretty far behind more concrete and immediate concerns.

But now we have a category error, comparing near term, concrete issues to a distant, strategic issue. How about Family, International Relations, Religion, and Environment? Those seem suitably abstract and long term.

Obviously family swamps everything at 92% of searches. But environment swamps climate change even though it feels like the entire conversation is about climate change and not the environment.

Many claim that a belief in climate change is the secular equivalent for atheists of religion for everyone else. Even something as abstract as religion swamps climate change (5:2).

And yes, Americans are as insular as foreigners claim with international relations representing less than 1% of searches.

If I were a brand manager for the climate alarmists, I would lay off the feat tactics and focus on how I could link climate change to family.

The public may be inattentive but they are not stupid.

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit is good at coining pertinent adages which, once heard, are long remembered. And used. One of his most enduring is "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who tell me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis."

This is one of the biggest hurdles for advocacy groups, celebrities and politicians. They can't help themselves. The disconnect between what they claim and how they behave is great and so obvious to everyone that no one believes them.

And yet they are unwilling to close the gap. One of the more recent examples were all the business titans, royals, movie celebrities, politicians and other self-regarding saints of the Mandarin Class flying in on private jets to, where? Malta?, for a global climate change conference in which everyone hobnobbed, had their pictures taken, spouted pieties and platitudes, decided nothing, sacrificed nothing, and then flew out again on their private jets. Middle income citizens can put two and two together and see that these people don't really believe in global warming because they are not acting as if it is the crisis they claim.

Reynolds points out someone else who has a similar observation.

The AGW sham is manifest. The Mandarin Class want ordinary citizens to turn over power carte blanche to them to remake the economy in a totalitarian fashion. They use the "crisis" of AGW to warrant this action. And then they behave as if AGW were not a real thing.

The public may be inattentive but they are not stupid. They eventually pay attention to a con.

Upon a Time by Jonathan David

Upon a Time
by Jonathan David

If ever the sweet spring comes,
I'll put aside these dead books
And try to feel the herbage freshen
Along the withered boughs of old dry thoughts.

I'll walk out somewhere a garden grows,
And there I'll stand some summer evening,
Hat beside elbows on the gray stone wall,
And the wind will stir, coming from behind the hill.

Afterward I'll walk home, hands behind me,
And pause a moment before going in,
Half fancying some one has called my name,
Or been awakened to a flutter as I passed.

Of course, I'll enter, but leave the door ajar,
For someone might come in, you know,
Expectantly I'll sit to fancy the long evening through
That a pair of eyes in the summer night

Might light a candle in the dull world,
So softly that none might see to smile at,
Yet ardently enough - like a vestal candle burning -
For a little heat in a cold house.

A deep, Stygian gloom that existed between sundown and sunup

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan. Page 61.
The British numbered 1,400. The plan was simple: the British Legion and American Volunteers, Tarleton in command, would proceed swiftly and silently at night and attempt to take the Americans by surprise. Webster and the main body would follow to provide any necessary support. As we will see, Tarleton’s postwar History must be used with care, but there is no need for strictures with regard to his description of the action. An attack in the night was judged most advisable,” he wrote, and the small advance detachment of horse and foot set out, with “Profound silence . . . observed on the march.” It was 10:00 P.M., according to the diary of Lieutenant Anthony Allaire, a Tory from the Huguenot community of New Rochelle, New York, who served in Ferguson’s command.

Living as we do in a world in which our waking hours are spent in almost constant light, to capture the full flavor of that eventful night and other nights two centuries ago we must try to imagine darkness we never know, a world whose nights were filled with almost constant dark, not the half dark to which we are accustomed but a deep, Stygian gloom that existed between sundown and sunup, relieved, if the weather was right, only by the moon and the stars. The difference between that night in 1780 and our time can be measured in silence as well as light. People made noises, and so did animals and the wind and the rain and other sounds of nature, but there were no motors, no constant hum of traffic in the distance. There was a stillness both day and night that are rare today, found only in the great empty places.

That is what it was like at 10 o’clock on the night of 13 April 1780 when Banastre Tarleton and the vanguard took the road to Monck’s Corner with the aim of letting loose Milton’s “brazen throat of war.” It was very dark and the only sounds were of marching feet and horse hooves on the dirt road and the creak of saddles. Scouts captured a black man who tried too late to move off the road to avoid them, which indicates how quietly the British were marching.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

These Are The Days by Van Morrison

Double click to enlarge.

These Are The Days
by Van Morrison

These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
There is no past, there's only future
There's only here, there's only now

Oh your smiling face, your gracious presence
The fires of spring are kindling bright
Oh the radiant heart and the song of glory
Crying freedom into night

These are the days by the sparkling river
His timely grace and our treasured find
This is the love of the one magician
Turned the water into wine

These are days of the endless dancing
And the long walks on the summer night
These are the days of the true romancing
When I'm holding you, oh, so tight

These are the days by the sparkling river
And His timely grace and the treasured find
This is the love of the one great magician
Turned the water into wine

These are the days now that we must savor
And we must enjoy as we can
These are the days that will last forever
You've got to hold them in your heart.

Approaching Shadow, 1954 by Fan Ho

Approaching Shadow, 1954 by Fan Ho

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Best of the Bee

Estimating age


Systems without bias still show differential outcomes

This rerun was playing on NPR the other day. From What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap? (Ep. 317) by Stephen J. Dubner. Draws heavily on the research of Cody Cook et al. which I have earlier commented on but pulls in other researchers as well.

Basically, in bias free environments and working the same number of hours, women earn 7% less than men due to 1) differences in the time and location (20% of the gap), 2) differences in how productive they are (number of tasks completed per hour) (30% of the gap), and differences in fast they drive (50% of the gap). A 2% difference in driving speed translates into a 3.5% difference in income.

A paper with a rich history of dogma and doctrine

Its an opinion piece in the Grauniad, a paper with a rich history of dogma and doctrine. Jew-baiting is part of the Trump playbook. It's a feature, not a bug by Lloyd Green.

Hmmm. The President with a Jewish daughter and son-in-law, the President who finally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel after several decades of delay, the President who overturned the existentially threatening treaty with Iran.

Who is spouting this nonsense?

A superannuated low-level establishment party Mandarin Class apparatchik trying to fight reality.
Lloyd Green was opposition research counsel to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign and served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992
They are scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of writers and in terms of claims.

A Very Short Song by Dorothy Parker

A Very Short Song
by Dorothy Parker

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad -
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

‘We none of us can expect the honours of state; they are all given away, to worthless, poor sycophants.’

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan. Page 23.
After ten years in England, William Henry Drayton returned home and in March 1764 he married an heiress, Dorothy Golightly, who was even richer. In his political career he was more vocal than his friend Arthur Middleton. His views, over time, ran the gamut from a staunch defense of the rights of the Crown to flaming revolutionary ideology, and at no time was there doubt about where he stood. As a King’s Friend he became so unpopular that he left again for England, where he was presented at court as a defender of British rights. As a Rice King, William Henry Drayton was at the top of the heap in South Carolina and accustomed to deference. In England he was just another colonial, and it has been suggested that he returned home in 1772 with the bitter taste reserved by the British aristocracy for colonials whatever their status at home.

Back in South Carolina William Henry Drayton was appointed an assistant judge by his uncle, Lieutenant Governor William Bull. But he was enraged when he discovered that he was subject to being replaced by an Englishman. The same thing had happened to Charles Pinckney, who in the 1750s had been replaced as Chief Justice by an English appointee of the Crown. Such men were called placemen, English political hacks receiving patronage from English sponsors, a practice that was just one more nail in the coffin of the first British Empire. More than one Rice King spoke with bitterness of such appointments to the New Englander Josiah Quincy, Jr. “The council, judges, and other great officers are all appointed by mandamus from Great Britain,” Quincy recorded in his journal entry of 25 March 1773. “Nay, even the clerk of the board, and assembly! Who are, and have been thus appointed. Persons disconnected with the people and obnoxious to them. I heard several planters say, ‘We none of us can expect the honours of state; they are all given away, to worthless, poor sycophants.’"

The men who in less than a century had achieved great wealth and most of its trappings seethed over such treatment and hankered after power in their own right. The causes of the American Revolution are beyond the scope of this book, but of the Rice Kings some explanation is required. Although various factors influence historical events of great consequence, a taproot usually exists, and we would not be led astray if we consider the observation made as early as 1681 by French planters on Guadalupe and Martinique. They asked permission of Colbert, Louis XIV’s Minister for Finance, to trade with the English colonies: West Indian rum and molasses for New England provisions. In their plea to Colbert, they maintained that “the English who dwell near Boston will not worry themselves about the prohibition which the King of England may issue, because they hardly recognize his authority.” (A good mercantilist, Colbert refused permission.)

This growing apart, which eventually led to American insistence on self-government within the empire while the British were bent on tightening the screws of empire, was exacerbated in South Carolina by men who, presumably aside from their maker, came to recognize no authority but their own. Ten years before the Civil War, a writer in the Constitutional Union of Georgia found in them “an overweening pride of ancestry; a haughty defiance of all restraints not self-imposed; an innate hankering after power, and self opinionated assumption of supremecy.” The speculation that William Henry Drayton bitterly resented his treatment in England and by placemen comes to mind when considering a conclusion by Frederick R Bowes in his excellent study, The Culture of Early Charleston (1942): “Theirs was an intellectual decision, founded on their concepts of right and honor and the best interests of their class. Proud, cultivated, sensitive, they could not tolerate interference to accept the inferior status imposed on them by the British government. Rather than submit to this indignity they resolved to take up arms, fortified in their minds with the conviction that they were defending the inestimable Rights of Life, Liberty, and property.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

New York Freedom one World by Ty Carter

New York Freedom one World by Ty Carter

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Best of the Bee

The facts did not support our Russia-Trump Collusion Hoax. We need to call on like all of our muscles, all of our resources, all of our creativity, all of our empathy to come up with something as lethal as the original Hoax but ideally at least plausible.

It is hard not to read this and interpret their actions as - The public did not buy our two-year Russia-Trump Hoax. How do we come back from that? Focus on racism. Its all we got.

From Slate's transcript of a New York Times all hands meeting.
Baquet: OK. I mean, let me go back a little bit for one second to just repeat what I said in my in my short preamble about coverage. Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump, not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let’s not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.

The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?

I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.

This is no longer a story where the Washington bureau every week nails some giant story by [Washington correspondent] Mike Schmidt that says that Donald Trump or Don McGahn did this. That will remain part of the story, but this is a different story now. This is a story that’s going to call on different muscles for us. The next few weeks, we’re gonna have to figure out what those muscles are.

In terms of how to keep people from having these discussions on social media, I’m not 100 percent sure. I think we should tighten the rules a little, which always upsets people a little bit. I mean, there were tweets that people at the New York Times retweeted or liked last week that were really painful for this newsroom and for me personally. So I’m gonna keep saying that, and maybe we should talk about the rules, too.


Staffer: When it came to actually changing that headline, how much influence did the reader input have? I mean, OK, all you guys didn’t like it. You were unhappy. But was a change in the works, or was it the response?

Baquet: We were all—it was a fucking mess—we were all over the headline. Me. Matt. The print hub. Probably [assistant managing editor] Alison [Mitchell]. We were all over it, and then in the middle of it, [deputy managing editor] Rebecca Blumenstein sent an email—but we were already messing with it —saying, “You should know, there’s a social media firestorm over the headline.” My reaction [inaudible] was not polite. My reaction was to essentially say, “Fuck ’em, we’re already working on it.” And we were working on it, on deadline. We had already lost half of the papers, and it was too late to redraw the whole page. We would’ve lost the whole thing.

This is a hard story. This is larger than the headline. This is larger than the other stuff. This is a really hard story. This is a story that’s going to call on like all of our muscles, all of our resources, all of our creativity, all of our empathy....
It seems a massive declaration that the NYT is no longer a newspaper with reporters. It is the house organ of the DNC brooking no dissent and demanding complete deference in their campaign to unseat a duly elected president.

Pandora's gift is still with us

Always kind of useful to check the bubble. Based on articles I see in Washington Post, New York Times, National Review, RealClear Politics, etc., I had the impression that there was a clear break a couple of months ago from talk about Mueller and Russian Collusion and now when the mainstream media is clearly talking about and trying to push the idea of America as inherently racist (see the NYT's 1619 Project and their explicit internal discussion to use racism as a political cudgel), the threat of rising white supremacists, and the prospect of an eminent recession.

That is clearly what is happening in the mainstream headlines and articles. They lost their Mueller/Russian Collusion weapon and are now trying to find anything else which might work.

But are the racism, white supremacist threat, and eminent recession narratives working? Sure, the papers are pushing them, but are they being received by the public?

Acknowledging the manifest limits of Google Trends as a perfect proxy, it still is a real-time large data set. What are people searching on? Are they getting concerned about racism, white supremacy and recession based on the mainstream media narratives? Were they concerned about Russian Collusion?

Broadly, no.

Taking the five year view, and comparing Mueller, Racism, Collusion, Recession, and White Supremacy search terms, the public are not responding to much other than Mueller and very recently, recession. Racism, white supremacy, and Russian Collusion are minuscule searches and have not changed much between the last two and half years of the Obama administration and the Trump administration. They are a latent but negligible concern for those outside the mainstream media, no matter ho many barrels of ink are spilled.

White Supremacy had its fifteen minutes in the second week of August 2018 during the Charlottesville rally but then settled back into the swamp of popular dismissal. Concern about racism is no greater, based on searches, under Trump as it was under Obama. Apparently no one other than the mainstream media has ever been concerned abut Trump-Russia Collusion. At least, not concerned enough to search about it.

Mueller rises from popular obscurity during his Special Prosecutor period, especially when he releases his report and when he gives testimony, but then plunges back into popular irrelevance once there was no discovery of wrong-doing.

No concerns about racism or white supremacy or Russia-Trump collusion. Interest in Mueller only when he was doing his search. Not much there, there.

And interestingly, it parallels the long run results from Gallup. Concern about racism bubbles to the surface every few years over the past three or four or five decades but it usually languishes down there among the 1% concerns.

Similarly, aspects of the economy are reasonably heavy and consistent staples over time on the Gallup results. Usually, among the top three concerns. Concern about a potential recession has been hot on the airwaves this last week. Presumably because they are noticing that racism and white supremacy just aren't the goads to the public that the mainstream media thought.

Perhaps concern about recession has traction because of the sudden blanket push on recession narrative. Perhaps it has traction because there are legitimate concerns that are too easily ignored because they are so chronic. The European economy is weak and with the Brexit crisis as well as a debt mountain, might tip over into recession at any moment. China is on a high wire crisis with Hong Kong, debt overhang, trade wars, loss of political legitimacy, etc. As the largest economy, any check there has a tsunami effect on smaller economies.

Ignoring the international side of things, we also have to confront that this is one of the longest expansions since a recession on record. The prospect of a recession is real even if it is being oversold.

Because it is not a certainty. America is reinvesting, reinventing, renegotiating trade, reforming tax policy and dramatically cutting regulations. Pretty dramatic actions that have not occurred in a long time and which might prolong the expansion even further.

Point is, though, recession is the only messaging to which the public seems to respond despite all the other narratives the mainstream media pushes (collusion, racism, white supremacy). Comparing public interests and concerns (based on searches) and the sustained messaging from the media reveals a huge disconnect. The MSM are in a different bubble from everyone else it would appear.

As reflected in this comparison. All the search terms remain the same except the replacement of recession with that saving grace of Pandora - Hope.

Hope swamps all the negative concerns and narratives of the mainstream media.

Memory enables perspective

Helping mainstream media recall events they reported on in the past two years as an aid to maintaining perspective.

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A Sea-Prayer by William Stanley Braithwaite

A Sea-Prayer
by William Stanley Braithwaite

Lord of wind and water
Where the ships go down
Reaching the sunrise,
Lifting like a crown,

Out of the deep-hidden
Wells of night and day -
Mind the great sea-farers
On the open way.

When the last lights darken
On the far coastline,
Wave and port and peril
Sea-Lord - all are thine.

America has never had an aristocracy, only pretenders and strivers.

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan. Page 22.
This is our vision of the city-state created in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by men and women who for the most part came to America seeking opportunity. They quite frankly wanted to get rich, and some did and very quickly, which puts them squarely in the American mainstream—but with a peculiar twist. Within the lifetimes of the Revolutionary War generation, those who got rich because of brains, ability, drive, luck, the accident of birth, canny marriages, or combinations thereof came to be called aristocrats, and historians and writers of every political persuasion have commonly referred to the Low Country aristocracy. Let us, however, put this myth to rest. America has never had an aristocracy, only pretenders and strivers.

The Low Country establishment, however, believed the fiction, and this led to a wrenching crisis between them and the mother country they loved and whose aristocracy they aped. For them rebellion made no economic sense. Their incredible prosperity was closely tied to the British mercantile system, and those ties went beyond the snug economic link. Many sons were sent to England at an early age for their education. Arthur Middleton (1742–1787), heir to a great Low Country fortune, spent nine years away attending Westminster School, Cambridge, and for his law studies Middle Temple. His friend William Henry Drayton — Charles Lee’s “damned bad engineer” — his background interchangeable with Arthur Middleton’s, his ancestry impeccable, his fortune assured, went to England when he was eleven to be educated at Westminster School and Balliol College, Oxford. While there he was looked after by another Rice King, Charles Pinckney and his wife Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who were living in Surrey supervising the English education of their own sons, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and his brother Thomas. The brothers spent over sixteen years in England, yet returned home to serve steadfastly the cause of independence from Great Britain.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The amber bear amulet, 3500 years old, Artist Unknown

The amber bear amulet, 3500 years old, Artist Unknown

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Best of the Bee

A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system

I am very skeptical of the entire AGW movement to centralize power and primitize lives. Even so, the tone of this article also raises my skeptical hackles. From ‘Global Temperature’ — Why Should We Trust A Statistic That Might Not Even Exist? from the I & I Editorial Board.

None-the-less, they are addressing a central issue (one among many) which rarely gets discussed. How are we measuring AGW and are the measurements reliable, extensive and useful? They are not. We don't have much reliable data in terms of territorial coverage or in temporal terms.

I&I are getting at the more fundamental issue of exactly what is the metric we are choosing to use?
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is quite certain Earth will be in trouble if the global temperature exceeds pre-industrial levels by 1.5 degrees Celsius or more. But how can anyone know? According to university research, “global temperature” is a meaningless concept.

“Discussions on global warming often refer to ‘global temperature.’ Yet the concept is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility,” says Science Daily, paraphrasing Bjarne Andresen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, one of three authors of a paper questioning the “validity of a ‘global temperature.'”

“The temperature obtained by collecting measurements of air temperatures at a large number of measuring stations around the globe, weighing them according to the area they represent, and then calculating the yearly average according to the usual method of adding all values and dividing by the number of points.”

But a “temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system,” says Andresen. The climate is not regulated by a single temperature. Instead, “differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate”.

While it’s “possible to treat temperature statistically locally,” says Science Daily, “it is meaningless to talk about a global temperature for Earth. The globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless.”
Fair enough.

Here is the aspect which I don't think I have seen before.
A few years after the University of Copenhagen report was published, University of Guelph economist Ross McKitrick, one of the report’s authors, noted in another paper that “number of weather stations providing data . . . plunged in 1990 and again in 2005. The sample size has fallen by over 75% from its peak in the early 1970s, and is now smaller than at any time since 1919.”

“There are serious quality problems in the surface temperature data sets that call into question whether the global temperature history, especially over land, can be considered both continuous and precise. Users should be aware of these limitations, especially in policy-sensitive applications.”
A 75% reduction in land based temperature measurement? Hmmm. Not sure what to make of that.

Satellite heat measurement came in to place in the 1970s. If the decline in land-based measurement systems is real, might it simply be a displacement of land based instruments by satellite measurement? I would guess that is the case but it would be interesting to know.

And it is still probably a problem, for several reasons. We need land-based measure to validate and calibrate the satellite measures. We still need to geographical coverage because large portions of the globe are only partially measured. There are mismatches between land and satellite measurements which still need reconciling (unless that has been resolved since the last time I looked at this a few years ago.) If you get rid of one of the two measures, you may be losing information because you still don't know the source of the difference.

What do American university admissions processes have in common with those of Chinese universities prior to the Cultural Revolution?

Hmmm. Ideologically based affirmative action which prioritize admissions on factors other than capability.

From Gail Heriot in REMEMBERING THE CHINESE CULTURAL REVOLUTION’S RED AUGUST (ADDENDUM). I had not realized that Mao was secretly a biological determinist and fan of Gregory Clark's work.
Red Guard students also tended to be the beneficiaries of preferential treatment in admissions. All during the 1950s and 1960s, the children of party members and at least in theory the children of peasants and workers received a kind of “affirmative action” in admission both to elite schools and to colleges and universities. Frequently a revolutionary pedigree was a more important credential than a good academic record. Early on, a popular meme (if not exactly a Shakespearean couplet) was “If the father is a hero [of the Revolution], the son is a good fellow; if the father is a reactionary, the son is a good-for-nothing—it is basically like this.

Like students who receive preferential treatment here in the USA—diversity students, legacy students, and athletes—on average the Chinese recipients of preferential treatment got poorer grades than other students. Mao is reported to have acknowledged this: “The political performance of the children of revolutionary cadres in schools can only be rated as second-class, but students with bad family backgrounds [i.e. the children of alleged capitalists, landlords, rich peasants, and counter-revolutionaries] have performed very well. However, no matter how well they have performed, revolutionary tasks cannot be put on their shoulders.”

"The political performance of the children of revolutionary cadres in schools can only be rated as second-class." There is some tart comment in there about Journalists and the Mandarin Class.

This is civilisation

Double click to enlarge.

For Sleep, Or Death by Ruth Pitter

For Sleep, Or Death
by Ruth Pitter

Cure me with quietness,
Bless me with peace;
Comfort my heaviness,
Stay me with ease.
Stillness in solitude
Send down like dew;
Mine armour of fortitude
Piece and make new:
That when I rise again
I may shine bright
As the sky after rain,
Day after night.

All seems at present to be trade, riches, magnificence, and great state in everything

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan. Page 21.
“On the eve of the Revolution, a young, well-connected New Englander, Josiah Quincy, Jr., arrived in Charleston following a voyage from Boston through storms that left him prostrate: “exhausted to the last degree, I was too weak to rise, and in too exquisite pain to lie in bed.” But in a reference that many observers made to the sickly pallor of fever-ridden Carolinians, he wrote his wife in March 1773 that “There are such a multitude of ghosts and shadows here, that I make not so bad a figure on comparison.” On the splendor and prosperity of the town he had no reservations. “The number of shipping far surpasses all I had ever seen in Boston. I was told there were then not as many as common at this season, tho’ about 350 sail lay off the town.” In an oft-quoted passage Quincy wrote that “This town makes a most beautiful appearance as you come up to it, and in many respects a magnificent one. Although I have not been here twenty hours, I have traversed the most popular parts of it. I can only say in general, that in grandeur, splendour of buildings, decorations, equipages, numbers, commerce, shipping, and indeed in almost every thing, it far surpasses all I ever saw, or ever expected to see in America. Of their manners, literature, understanding, spirit of true liberty, policy and government, I can form no adequate judgement. All seems at present to be trade, riches, magnificence, and great state in everything: much gaiety, and dissipation.” Quincy’s final remarks have been linked to his Puritan heritage, but as we have seen the European soldier Captain Hinrichs presented in even stronger terms the same picture of a nouveau riche society greatly enjoying itself.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sunday Gardening by John Falter

Sunday Gardening by John Falter

Click to enlarge.

Best of the Bee

Luxury beliefs

From ‘Luxury beliefs’ are the latest status symbol for rich Americans by Rob Henderson. In some ways this is just a reiteration of what is already known, but it is done with a clever marketing twist or word play if you will.
A former classmate from Yale recently told me “monogamy is kind of outdated” and not good for society. So I asked her what her background is and if she planned to marry.

She said she comes from an affluent family and works at a well-known technology company. Yes, she personally intends to have a monogamous marriage — but quickly added that marriage shouldn’t have to be for everyone.

She was raised by a traditional family. She planned on having a traditional family. But she maintained that traditional families are old-fashioned and society should “evolve” beyond them.

What could explain this?

In the past, upper-class Americans used to display their social status with luxury goods. Today, they do it with luxury beliefs.
Indeed. Just this last week I was mentally reviewing the long litany of magical beliefs from the past three or four years which were pretty patently improbable and yet fervently believed - The Trump-Russia Collusion Hoax, the Inequality Obsession, the Disparate Impact Standard, the AGW obsession, the Diversity is Our Strength prayer, the Michael Brown Was Murdered Hoax, the Rolling Stone Rape Hoax, the Rising White Supremacy Hoax, the Gun Regulation Will Solve the Murder Rate fantasy, the Universal Basic Income fantasy, the $15 minimum wage without consequences fantasy, the Better Zoning Will Solve Homelessness fantasy, etc. There is just so much cognitive pollution being mooted about with nary a factual foundation among them.

Much of this is described as a function of virtue signaling and I do think that is an element. Holding progressive ideas which are demonstrably untrue can signal excess virtue as well as tribal belonging.

In Coming Apart by Charles Murray commented about the class paradox - Upper middle class people were both the strongest exhibitors of traditional bourgeoise behaviors as well as the class most likely to denigrate the value of those behaviors.

The Success Sequence (get your education, get employed and stay employed, marry then have children) is one of the better documented sociological phenomenon. It ought to be taught in middle school - You want to be successful and independent? Follow the Success Sequence!

We know the Success Sequence and similar bourgeois behaviors a predictors of good life outcomes. And yet we teach children that anyone can be successful doing anything.

Henderson is leveraging all of this, but Luxury Beliefs is so much a better branding of the whole portfolio of social justice intersectionality ideas with which the very wealthy are adorning themselves and others.

Henderson's explanation for the riot of pre-cognitive misbeliefs:
In the past, upper-class Americans used to display their social status with luxury goods. Today, they do it with luxury beliefs.

People care a lot about social status. In fact, research indicates that respect and admiration from our peers are even more important than money for our sense of well-being.

We feel pressure to display our status in new ways. This is why fashionable clothing always changes. But as trendy clothes and other products become more accessible and affordable, there is increasingly less status attached to luxury goods.

The upper classes have found a clever solution to this problem: luxury beliefs. These are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.
Very good, Read the whole thing.

When your ideological commitment is the real root cause

A fascinatingly incoherent piece. From Two mass murders a world apart share a common theme: 'ecofascism' by Joel Achenbach. In the recent El Paso shooting, the press instantly tried to make this the act of a white supremacist. Of course that is a possibility. But as the shooter's manifesto has come out, that effort to impose a white supremacist narrative has become much more difficult. It appears to me that his justification (which might not be the same as his motivation) is some toxic mix of eco-extremism, xenophobia, and possibly nationalism.

Achenbach points out that this seems similar to the Christchurch, New Zealand shooter earlier this year, his manifesto also emphasizing immigration, overpopulation, environmental catastrophe and threat to the nation. The New Zealand shooter in turn took inspiration from the Norwegian shooter of 2011, also a xenophobic nationalist.

The chain goes on back from there. One enraged psychopath inspiring another, each being repurposed for the political debate of the moment. In Norway, when the mainstream media were pushing the notion that there was a Western anti-Muslim movement, the emphasis was on his hatred of Muslim immigrants when his actual words were about immigration in general. With the El Paso shooter, the mainstream media, with the collapse of their Russia-Trump Collusion Hoax and its replacement with the Rising White Supremacy Hoax, are all in on the shooter being a white supremacist when his own words say eco-terrorist xenophobe.

Achenbach acknowledges the eco-terrorism element but wants to salvage the white supremacy aspect. He also appears to want to segregate the apocalyptic existential extremism of the AGW movement from the clear impact of their messaging on these violent unsettled individuals.
Many white supremacists have latched onto environmental themes, drawing connections between the protection of nature and racial exclusion. These ideas have shown themselves to be particularly dangerous when adopted by unstable individuals prone to violence and convinced they must take drastic actions to stave off catastrophe.
So is the problem to do with extremist white supremacist language or is the problem to do with environmental extremism and totalitarian thinking.

Or maybe neither. These mass killers do not seem crazy in our vernacular way of thinking about it. The tragedy is that they show too much calm planning and self-control, not too little.

I reject the proposition that specific words, dog whistles, engender specific responses. Palin did not cause Gifford being shot.

Words are consequential but not in that fashion. We know that people are far less susceptible to reasoned argument than we might wish. We also know, as did the ancients, that the power of rhetoric is through getting people to change their minds based on emotion rather than evidence, reason, and logic. We all of us communicate through the energy of rhetoric.

We also know that our psychiatric and psychological knowledge is still too rudimentary to forecast which individuals are likely to be mere cranks and which are likely to turn violent.

If there is a single paragraph in Achenbach's piece which seems to most demonstrate incoherence, it is:
In recent years, the mainstream environmental movement has moved strongly in the direction of social justice - the very opposite of what hate groups seek. Now the leaders of those organizations fear white nationalists are using green messages to lure young people to embrace racist and nativist agendas.
Yes, much of the environmental movement has adopted the totalitarian socialist ideology of social justice and been coopted by statism. But it does not follow that that is the "very opposite of what hate groups seek." Totalitarian systems, social justice or otherwise, are always violent suppressors of human rights. The entire AGW movement is profoundly statist and anti-human. Eliminationist rhetoric is rife as is disdain for those who insist on reasoned argument and evidence. Hate groups and social justice groups may have different goals but they are both powered by hatred of the other.

And both reject the humanitarianism, reason, and respect which are the bedrock of Classical Liberalism.

"Now the leaders of those organizations fear white nationalists are using green messages to lure young people to embrace racist and nativist agendas" - what poppycock. All those trying to create a white nationalist movement or white supremacist movement out of whole cloth cannot even define what those terms mean, much less identify individuals. Who are these white nationalists trying to lure young people into racist agendas. And notice how they are now conflating racist with nativist. They are rhetorically attempting to redefine terms so that looking out for your own national interests is inherently racist. A clever trick if you can pull it off. But the logical and evidentiary incoherence tend to stop this nonsense from taking root to broadly.

There is more such desperate pleading.
Michelle Chan, vice president of programs for Friends of the Earth, said, "The key thing to understand here is that ecofascism is more an expression of white supremacy than it is an expression of environmentalism."
A claim not made decades ago when the Rainbow Warrior, for example, was in its prime, taking direct action against those whose actions it condemned. Even then, apocalyptic violent rhetoric was the norm.
The world is sick and dying, the people will rise up like Warriors of the Rainbow.
The actions looked similar, the language was similar, but no one claimed then that it was an expression of white supremacy.

There is no escaping that when you use apocalyptic language and encourage physical confrontations, others may respond in kind.
Environmental activists want to create a sense of urgency about climate change, the loss of biodiversity and other insults to the natural world, but they don't want their messages to drive people into deranged ideologies.
Well, yes. But when you propagate 30 years of hysterical ten-years-till-doom forecasts, that is the risk you run. And whether that hysteria is picked up by the all-to-plentiful social justice warriors, or the vanishingly rare white supremacists, it is the fanned fanaticism which is the problem.

There is plenty more refutable nonsense in the piece.

From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson

From a Railway Carriage
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with a man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Their hospitality was, perhaps, owed more to vanity and pride than to true generosity of spirit

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan. Page 20. Regarding Charleston, South Carolina, occupied by the British.
During the British occupation Sergeant Roger Lamb of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, although he took a dim view of a city in which black slaves were far more numerous than whites “in this boasted land of liberty,” and called the water “putrid” and the “climate unhealthy,” noted “splendid equipages” and inhabitants who “are very extravagant in their living.” The Hessian Jäger Captain Johann Hinrichs, who was in the city in 1780, wrote in his diary that “No other American city can compare with Charleston in the beauty of its houses and the splendor and taste displayed therein. The rapid ascendancy of families which in less than ten years have risen from the lowest rank, have acquired upwards of £100,000, and have, moreover, gained their wealth in a simple and easy manner, probably contribute a good deal toward the grandiose display of splendor, debauchery, luxury and extravagance in so short a time. Furthermore, the sense of equality which all possessed during this time of increasing incomes induced the people to bid strangers to enjoy their abundance with them and earned the renown of hospitality for this city, which she owes, perhaps, more to vanity and pride than to true generosity of spirit.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Indian leaders demonstrated how seriously they took this faraway war by bickering over whose car they should go in, Gandhi's of Jinnah's

Oh, I try so hard to winnow out books from my overcrowded library and home. Indian Summer by Alex von Tunzelmann. Surely that is a good candidate to go? I like Indian History and World War II history, but am not so wild about decline and defeat. A lot of histories of India are not especially well written. Perhaps this one can go.

Let's check the writing style. Opening randomly to page 107.
On1 September 1939, Hitler's armies invaded Poland. Three days later, the Viceroy, by then Lord Linlithgow, summoned Gandhi and Jinnah. The Indian leaders demonstrated how seriously they took this faraway war by bickering over whether they should go in Gandhi’s or Jinnah’s car to the meeting, a scrap which Jinnah, for what it was worth, won. The Viceroy did not take their contribution seriously, either. He informed them that India had already declared war on Germany – without their approval.
OK. This goes back on the shelf to be read at some point.

Still falls the rain by Alexey Butyrsky

Still falls the rain by Alexey Butyrsky

Click to enlarge.

Best of the Bee

By the man who brot. A Camel from Alexa.

A weekend ago I was in Quantico for my youngest son's commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Marines. Fantastic weekend of ceremony and tradition and pomp and family. On Sunday, we had a few hours before our flight, so we stopped at Mt. Vernon to look around. Wonderful history.

In the gift shop on the way out, I purchased a couple of Christmas ornaments for our tree. One was of a camel. We were in a hurry, I had no time to investigate, but I knew there had to be a story there. Back home and after a week of catching up, I look into the Mt. Vernon camel. From their website, Camel by Mary V. Thompson.
"By the man who brot. A Camel from Alexa. For a show. . . .0.18.0."1 These limited words found in George Washington's expense ledger are the only surviving mention of a camel's visit to Mount Vernon for Christmas in 1787. However, based on surrounding information, it is possible to gain some insight into the camel's arrival at Mount Vernon.

George Washington had a significant interest in both domestic and rare animals, and often paid to see them on display. Over the years, Washington and various members of his household were able to learn something about the world outside of Virginia from the itinerant entertainers who traveled along the eastern seaboard and would have been drawn to large gatherings of people at events such as fairs. Many of these individuals worked with rarely seen or specially-trained animals. In one instance, Washington recorded paying 10 shillings to see a "Lyoness" in June of 1766. While President Washington saw a "Cugar" in Philadelphia as well as a "Sea Leopard," a type of sea lion.2

There is nothing in the surviving records to indicate precisely how the camel ended up at Mount Vernon for Christmas in 1787. However there is evidence pointing towards who might have had the opportunity to view the animal. According to George Washington's diaries there was a fairly large crowd gathered that day at Mount Vernon that could have viewed the camel.3 Also at the Mansion House Farm were slaves, several of whom might well have previously seen camels with trading caravans in Africa before their enslavement in the Americas. The large number of people at Mount Vernon that Christmas is a possible explanation for the fairly high sum paid by Washington to see the camel, eighteen shillings.

That is admirable in politics. It is antithetical to one of the signal goods of higher education.

When I read something, I am always in argument mode - do I accept the author's premise, is the problem statement fairly framed, do the conclusions follow, how robust is the data? You reach the end of an article, a paper, a book and you are somewhere between 100% disagreement and 100% agreement. It is almost always in the middle, agreeing on some elements and disagreeing on others.

But I pretty much agree with most of The Downside of Diversity by Anthony Kronman; perhaps 90%. Once the Supreme Court ruled that discriminating based on race was unconstitutional, universities and other institutions were desperate to find a way to discriminate based on race, birthing the transparently racist diversity movement, full of good intentions and empty slogans and just as obviously wrong as the earlier affirmative action.

You cannot believe in equal human rights, equality before the law, primacy of individualism and due process and also support the racism of affirmative action and diversity edicts. As it turns out, most of our universities and many of our formerly respected institutions are perfectly fine disavowing equal human rights, equality before the law, primacy of individualism and due process as long as it allows them to pursue the fabulism of social justice and the chimera of virtue signaling.

From Kronman
But diversity, as it is understood today, means something different. It means diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Diversity in this sense is not an academic value. Its origin and aspiration are political. The demand for ever-greater diversity in higher education is a political campaign masquerading as an educational ideal.

The demand for greater academic diversity began its strange career as a pro-democratic idea. Blacks and other minorities have long been underrepresented in higher education. A half-century ago, a number of schools sought to address the problem by giving minority applicants a special boost through what came to be called “affirmative action.” This was a straightforward and responsible strategy.

But in 1978, in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court told American colleges and universities that they couldn’t pursue this strategy directly, by using explicit racial categories. It allowed them to achieve the same goal indirectly, however, by arguing that diversity is essential to teaching and learning and requires some attention to race and ethnicity. Schools were able to continue to honor their commitment to social justice but only by converting it into an educational ideal.

The commitment was honorable, but the conversion has been ruinous. The effects of racial prejudice have always been the greatest slur on our commitment to democratic equality. But the transformation of diversity into a pedagogical theory has weakened our democracy by undermining the common ground of reason on which citizens must strive to meet. The crucial confusion is the equation of a diversity of ideas with diversity of race, ethnicity and sexual preference. This has several pernicious effects.

One is that it encourages minority students, and eventually all students, to think that a departure from the beliefs and sentiments associated with their group is a violation of the terms on which they were admitted to the university. If students contribute to the good of diversity by expressing the racially, ethnically or sexually defined views that members of their group are expected to share, then a repudiation or even critical scrutiny of these views threatens to upset the school’s entire educational program. It takes special nerve for an African-American student to defend inner-city policing or a gay student to support the baker who refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

For this program to work, it is essential that students remain in the corners to which they have been assigned. Indeed, it is not enough merely to recognize that the members of each group contribute some distinctive dimension to their school’s diversity. To reassure those whose groups have been the victims of social prejudice and discrimination, extra deference must be given to their life experience. The members of more privileged groups must be taught to “check their privilege,” and the identity of minority students must be treated as a possession that no one else may “appropriate,” in however well-meaning a way.

The upshot is that students are lauded for the beliefs and feelings they bring to their school on account of their separate identities, rather than being reminded of what they all stand to gain by being there—the inestimable privilege of joining in a rational inquiry that subjects every one of their sentiments and beliefs to the same rigorous demand for explanation and justification.

In politics, group solidarity is a condition of success. But in college, it is an obstacle to the pursuit of what Walt Whitman colorfully called the “idiocracy” of individual temperament and expression that sets each of us apart from every other. The politically motivated and group-based form of diversity that dominates campus life today discourages students from breaking away, in thought or action, from the groups to which they belong. It invites them to think of themselves as representatives first and free agents second. And it makes heroes of those who put their individual interests aside for the sake of a larger cause. That is admirable in politics. It is antithetical to one of the signal goods of higher education.
Read the whole thing.

Such were the perils and uncertainties of eighteenth-century seaborne troop movements

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan. Page 5.

An example of the difficulties of combined land and naval actions in the days of sail.
Meanwhile, Sir Henry Clinton, who had left Boston on 20 January, arrived off Cape Fear on 12 March to find that he had no Tories to link up with and no sign of Lord Cornwallis. His Lordship, scheduled to leave Cork in December 1775 but hindered by bureaucracy, had finally sailed on 13 February, but terrible storms delayed and dispersed the fleet and even drove some ships back to Cork. The first sails appeared off Cape Fear on 18 April, and most of the others did not drop anchor until 3 May. A final straggler limped in on 31 May. Such were the perils and uncertainties of eighteenth-century seaborne troop movements and communications.

Sonnet 35 by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 35
by William Shakespeare

No more be grieved at what thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authórizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense -
Thy adverse party is thy advocate -
And 'gainst myself in a lawful plea commence.
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
That I an áccessory needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

River basins of America.

River basins of America.

Click to enlarge.

They were so hounded by Rebel neighbors that many men spent the next four years hiding in woods and swamps

Finally getting around to posting some excerpts from The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan, an account of the last year or so of the American Revolution and the Southern Campaign. I purchased this book two or three years ago and finished it sometime in the past year. Excellent historical story-telling, packed with information and new insights. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the past year or so, based on my genealogical research, I am now aware of nearly half-a-dozen ancestors and family members who fought in this battle, some from Tennessee, some from Virginia, at least one from New Jersey.

I don't recall exactly which book it is, perhaps Redcoats and Rebels by Christopher Hibbert, but some historians have commented to the effect that the Southern Campaign was, to some extent, a mere transference of historical conflicts from the British Isles to the Americas. In particular, conflicts between English, Lowland Scots, Highland Scots, and Border Reivers.

An instance of which is intimated in the following account from page 4.
Clinton’s primary objective was Charleston, the most important southern port and then the richest city in North America. But the Royal governor of North Carolina, Josiah Martin, had convinced British authorities that on the way North Carolina could also be reclaimed for the King. Clinton’s mission seemed to the King and his ministers rather simple. As Sir Henry Clinton described it, “For it seems that the governors of those provinces had sent home such sanguine and favorable accounts of the loyal disposition of numbers of their inhabitants, especially in the back country, that the administration was induced to believe ‘that nothing was wanting but the appearance of a respectable force there to encourage the King’s friends to show themselves, when it was expected they would soon be able to prevail over’” the Rebels.
Hard to keep an appropriate perspective. Were you to have asked me which was the richest American City in 1780, I would listed Boston, Philadelphia, and New York before I'd have guessed Charleston.
At Cape Fear the British intended to link up with Tory forces from the interior, especially the Scottish Highlanders settled in the vicinity of Cross Creek, about 100 miles from the coast. Much was expected of these legendary fighters, who set out for the sea on 20 February 1776 following a stirring speech by their commander, Brigadier General Donald MacDonald. By 26 February, in the middle of a swampy landscape, they learned that six miles in front of them about 1,000 Rebels were entrenched in front of Moore’s Creek Bridge, well armed with muskets and the two cannon they had named “Old Mother Covington and her daughter.” By then General MacDonald, reputed to be almost seventy, was too ill to continue in active command. At a council of war MacDonald argued for caution, but the young bloods among his officers prevailed over the opinions of an old, sick man. The decision was made to attack at dawn. General MacDonald’s impetuous deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Donald McLeod, took command. Although the Tories numbered about 1,600, only 500 had firearms.

They marched at 1 o’clock on the morning of 27 February. At the bridge they found empty entrenchments. The Rebels had withdrawn and formed on the other side of Moore’s Creek, which was about fifty feet wide. An advance party discovered that about half of the bridge’s planks had been removed and the two stringers greased with soap and tallow. That made no difference to Donald McLeod. Elan would carry the day. About eighty men armed with broadswords were formed in the center to act as an assault force under Captain John Campbell. “King George and Broad Swords” was the rallying cry. As they had done so often in the old country, to the beat of drums, to the keening of the great war pipes, the Highlanders charged into disaster. Following McLeod on one stringer and Campbell on the other the broadswordsmen made their precarious way across the bridge. The Rebels let McLeod and Campbell reach their side of the creek. Then, at close range, Old Mother Covington and her daughter boomed and muskets roared. Not a Highlander was left standing on the bridge. Some fell between the stringers into Moore’s Creek and drowned. McLeod and Campbell were killed immediately, although it was said that Donald McLeod half rose and pointed his sword at the Rebel works only a few feet away before he was hit again and fell forever. Thirty dead were later counted but there were probably more at the creek bottom and in the swamps. Their fate convinced their comrades to run far and fast, but for most it was neither far enough nor fast enough. The pursuing Rebels, who had two men wounded, one of whom later died, took about 850 prisoners, including the ailing General Donald MacDonald.

That short fight should have been a warning to the British, but it was not heeded in London among those who made important decisions. The Highlanders, however, did pay heed. Not only soundly defeated, they were so hounded by Rebel neighbors that many men spent the next four years hiding in woods and swamps. London, however, maintained the hope that they would rise again once a British army appeared among them, and the threat of another rising could not be ignored by the Rebels.
British Generals McLeod and MacDonald and Captain Campbell, highland Scots all, leading American Scottish settlers against the Rebels, many of whom were Lowland Scots.

Best of the Bee

In conversation

Universities are the robber barons of our era.

The Loch Ness Monster - frequently sighted, never found

Heh. In the comment to An on-line reunion by Will Davis.
White supremacy is the Loch Ness monster of the Left: big, scary, and imaginary.

But I didn't have the ability

From Ron White
I had the right to remain silent — but I didn't have the ability.

Deeply repentant of my sinful ways by Gaspara Stampa

Deeply repentant of my sinful ways
by Gaspara Stampa
translated by Lorna De Lucchi

Deeply repentant of my sinful ways
And of my trivial, manifold desires,
Of squandering, alas, these few brief days
Of fugitive life in tending love's vain fires,
To Thee, Lord, Who dost move hard hearts again,
And render warmth unto the frozen snow,
And lighten every bitter load of pain
For those who with Thy sacred ardours glow,
To Thee I turn, O stretch forth Thy right hand
And from this whirlpool rescue me, for I
Without Thine aid could never reach the land;
O willingly for us didst suffer loss,
And to redeem mankind hung on the Cross,
O gentle Saviour, leave me not to die.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Athenian image from 460 BC

Athenian image from 460 BC

Click to enlarge.

As longstanding economic theory predicts.

From Is There a Gender Wage Gap in Online Labor Markets? by Tyler Cowen. No! As keeps being documented by more and more evidence. For big systems, all gaps trace back to productivity differences.

As longstanding economic theory predicts.

POMO Critical Theory Intersectionality suggests otherwise based on theory, but real-world data refutes them every time.

The original paper is Is There a Gender Wage Gap in Online Labor Markets? Evidence from Over 250,000 Projects and 2.5 Million Wage Bill Proposals by Estrella Gomez Herrera and Frank Mueller-Langer.

From the Abstract:
We explore whether there is a gender wage gap in one of the largest EU online labor markets, PeoplePerHour. Our unique dataset consists of 257,111 digitally tradeable tasks of 55,824 hiring employers from 188 countries and 65,010 workers from 173 countries that made more than 2.5 million wage bill proposals in the competition for contracts. Our data allows us to track the complete hiring process from the employers’ design of proposed contracts to the competition among workers and the final agreement between employers and successful candidates. Using Heckman and OLS estimation methods we provide empirical evidence for a statistically significant 4% gender wage gap among workers, at the project level. We also find that female workers propose lower wage bills and are more likely to win the competition for contracts. Once we include workers’ wage bill proposals in the regressions, the gender wage gap virtually disappears, i.e., it is statistically insignificant and very small in magnitude (0.3%). Our results also suggest that female workers’ higher winning probabilities associated with lower wage bill proposals lead to higher expected revenues overall. We provide empirical evidence for heterogeneity of the gender wage gap in some of the job categories, all job difficulty levels and some of the worker countries. Finally, for some subsamples we find a statistically significant but very small “reverse” gender wage gap.

Best of the Bee

Their conclusions are without basis

It asks an interesting question but its methodology is wretchedly bad. From The world’s most-surveilled cities by Paul Bischoff.

According to this, Atlanta, with only 7,800 CCTVs is the tenth most surveilled city in the world. More surveilled than Singapore.

The problem is that they have the number of CCTV cameras and the nominal population and they just did a simple division. There are actually two sets of problems. The more egregious is that they have not normalized definitions of jurisdictional boundaries and therefore are not controlling for density. Some cities they are using metropolitan areas, some they are using jurisdictional areas.

In Atlanta, with some 450,000 people, there are huge swaths of countryside within the city limits and the density is comparatively low for other cities in the list. The CCTV cameras are concentrated down town and then are thinly distributed into the neighborhoods, with many neighborhoods with no cameras.

The second issue, which is an emerging one, is the degree to which government surveillance incorporates private security cameras. In Atlanta, there are probably ten or more times as many private cameras covering public property as there are government cameras. Some of them are integrated with the public surveillance, most are not.

It is an interesting question as to which cities are most surveilled but this simplistic approach does not answer the question. And without addressing their methodological flaws, their conclusions are without basis.

We spend 3.5% of our time driving, but driving is only 1.4% of deaths

Robin Hanson is one of our more provocative and interesting public intellectuals. As Bryan Caplan has put it:
When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is 'Eh, maybe.' Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is 'No way! Impossible!' Then I think about it for years.
Some of his ideas can indeed seem almost kooky. But the range of his intellectual interests and achievements serve as a check on simply dismissing him.
Robin Dale Hanson (born August 28, 1959) is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He is known as an expert on idea futures and markets, and he was involved in the creation of the Foresight Institute's Foresight Exchange and DARPA’s FutureMAP project. He invented market scoring rules like LMSR (Logarithmic Market Scoring Rule) used by prediction markets such as Consensus Point (where Hanson is Chief Scientist), and has conducted research on signalling.


Hanson received a B.S. in physics from the University of California, Irvine in 1981, an M.S. in physics and an M.A. in Conceptual Foundations of Science from the University of Chicago in 1984, and a Ph.D. in social science from Caltech in 1997 for his thesis titled Four puzzles in information and politics: Product bans, informed voters, social insurance, and persistent disagreement. Before getting his Ph.D he researched artificial intelligence, Bayesian statistics and hypertext publishing at Lockheed, NASA, and elsewhere. In addition, he started the first internal corporate prediction market at Xanadu in 1990.
Some of the most interesting people simply look at things differently and then try to find insights from that changed perspective. It is not a matter of true statements. It is a matter of paradoxes and perspectives which cause you to think more deeply and perhaps more clearly. You can see this from a recent tweet by Hanson.

Click for the thread and discussion.

As can be seen, there is a lot of pushback along the lines of whether he has properly matched populations for comparison, what exactly is being measured, etc. Commenters who immediately dive into the weeds.

But there is a one-two to Hanson's frame.

The "3.5% of time, but only 1.4% of deaths" may or may not be a well-framed comparison, but it is an interesting and suggestive one. It is so plausible that it creates a conundrum which needs to be figured out. Teasing out the apparent paradox is of some value in itself.

But the more interesting aspect is in the second punch - a challenge to relook at the value of the regulations in regard to the actual reality of the risk. Freedom should always be the default position and yet we routinely and almost unconsciously give up small slivers of freedom in order to reduce (or so we think) danger. What frequently gets lost is that all the small slivers usually end up being large chunks and we don't recognize what has been given up nor what has been lost and gained.

Hanson's tweet is an effective prod to relook at those questions.

In some ways, his tweet is the mirror of the precautionary principle which enjoins us against action without ascertaining first all the possible outcomes. It basically posits that we should not be free to act unless we can prove net benefit.

Hanson is, in my reading, instead poking us and suggesting that perhaps we should be more free.

The precautionary principle constrains us with "Why" and Hanson asks "Why not".

It's no use / Mother dear by Sappho

It's no use / Mother dear
by Sappho
translated by Mary Barnard

It's no use

Mother dear, I
can't finish my
You may
blame Aphordite

soft as she is

she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gone Fishin' by Kevin Daniel

Gone Fishin' by Kevin Daniel

Click to enlarge.

Best of the Bee

Why don't we just give away everything for free?

In the era of Greta Thunberg, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, this is dangerously close to straight reporting.

"She really has a plan for everything,” said Melinda Carlson, one of Susie’s enthusiastic supporters. “While Elizabeth Warren only has a plan for getting people free health care and free college, Susie has a plan to get everyone free everything. She’s truly a visionary.”

On a branch by Kobayashi Issa

On a branch
by Kobayashi Issa
Translated by Jane Hirshfield

On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Regulus returning to Carthage, 1791 by Cornelis Cels

Regulus returning to Carthage, 1791 by Cornelis Cels

Click to enlarge.

From Men of the West
The Carthaginians were driven to extremity, and made horrible offerings to Moloch, giving the little children of the noblest families to be dropped into the fire between the brazen hands of his statue, and grown-up people of the noblest families rushed in of their own accord, hoping thus to propitiate their gods, and obtain safety for their country. Their time was not yet fully come, and a respite was granted to them. They had sent, in their distress, to hire soldiers in Greece, and among these came a Spartan, named Xanthippus, who at once took the command, and led the army out to battle, with a long line of elephants ranged in front of them, and with clouds of horsemen hovering on the wings, The Romans had not yet learnt the best mode of fighting with elephants, namely, to leave lanes in their columns where these huge beasts might advance harmlessly; instead of which, the ranks were thrust and trampled down by the creatures’ bulk, and they suffered a terrible defeat; Regulus himself was seized by the horsemen, and dragged into Carthage, where the victors feasted and rejoiced through half the night, and testified their thanks to Moloch by offering in his fires the bravest of their captives.

Regulus himself was not, however, one of these victims. He was kept a close prisoner for two years, pining and sickening in his loneliness, while in the meantime the war continued, and at last a victory so decisive was gained by the Romans, that the people of Carthage were discouraged, and resolved to ask terms of peace. They thought that no one would be so readily listened to at Rome as Regulus, and they therefore sent him there with their envoys, having first made him swear that he would come back to his prison if there should neither be peace nor an exchange of prisoners. They little knew how much more a true-hearted Roman cared for his city than for himself—for his word than for his life.

Worn and dejected, the captive warrior came to the outside of the gates of his own city, and there paused, refusing to enter. “I am no longer a Roman citizen,” he said; “I am but the barbarians’ slave, and the Senate may not give audience to strangers within the walls.”

His wife Marcia ran out to greet him, with his two sons, but he did not look up, and received their caresses as one beneath their notice, as a mere slave, and he continued, in spite of all entreaty, to remain outside the city, and would not even go to the little farm he had loved so well.

The Roman Senate, as he would not come in to them, came out to hold their meeting in the Campagna.

The ambassadors spoke first, then Regulus, standing up, said, as one repeating a task, “Conscript fathers, being a slave to the Carthaginians, I come on the part of my masters to treat with you concerning peace, and an exchange of prisoners.” He then turned to go away with the ambassadors, as a stranger might not be present at the deliberations of the Senate. His old friends pressed him to stay and give his opinion as a senator who had twice been consul; but he refused to degrade that dignity by claiming it, slave as he was. But, at the command of his Carthaginian masters, he remained, though not taking his seat.

Then he spoke. He told the senators to persevere in the war. He said he had seen the distress of Carthage, and that a peace would be only to her advantage, not to that of Rome, and therefore he strongly advised that the war should continue. Then, as to the exchange of prisoners, the Carthaginian generals, who were in the hands of the Romans, were in full health and strength, whilst he himself was too much broken down to be fit for service again, and indeed he believed that his enemies had given him a slow poison, and that he could not live long. Thus he insisted that no exchange of prisoners should be made.

It was wonderful, even to Romans, to hear a man thus pleading against himself, and their chief priest came forward, and declared that, as his oath had been wrested from him by force, he was not bound by it to return to his captivity. But Regulus was too noble to listen to this for a moment. “Have you resolved to dishonor me?” he said. “I am not ignorant that death and the extremest tortures are preparing for me; but what are these to the shame of an infamous action, or the wounds of a guilty mind? Slave as I am to Carthage, I have still the spirit of a Roman. I have sworn to return. It is my duty to go; let the gods take care of the rest.”

The Senate decided to follow the advice of Regulus, though they bitterly regretted his sacrifice. His wife wept and entreated in vain that they would detain him; they could merely repeat their permission to him to remain; but nothing could prevail with him to break his word, and he turned back to the chains and death he expected as calmly as if he had been returning to his home. This was in the year B.C. 249.