Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Interesting Aphorisms about religion

 If God created us in his own image we have more than reciprocated.

The God of the Christians is a father who is a great deal more concerned about his apples then he is about his children.

There can be no creator, simply because his grief at the fate of his creation would be inconceivable and unendurable.
Elias Canetti

God is ashamed when the prosperous boast of his special favor.
Rabindranath Tagore

The only thing that stops God from sending a second Flood is that the first one was useless.

From the moment that a religion solicits the aid of philosophy its ruin is inevitable.

All religions promise a reward for excellence is of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding.

If God were suddenly condemned to live the life which he has inflicted on men, He would kill himself.
Alexandre  Dumas

Oxford Book of Aphorisms

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Items That Caught My Eye on 11-22-15

Recently, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society (SRS) reached a consensus that recognized that while individual needs for sleep vary, most adults should get seven or more hours of sleep to avoid the health risks of inadequate sleepAccording to Dr. Rosenberg, one of the most common misconceptions he encounters from the general public is that older people need less sleep.

Older folks’ sleep cycles shift, rather than shrink. “Their circadian rhythm change in a way that makes them more prone to sleeping earlier than usual, which explains why we see the elderly have a tendency to fall asleep while watching television or have 4 p.m. 

U.S. refugee policy dates to the end of World War II. During the 1930s and 1940s, the nation turned away thousands of Jews fleeing the Third Reich, even though our immigration quotas remained unfilled . Politicians justified their actions by arguing that German spies and subversives might be hiding among the refugees, but anti-Semitism was the more likely motivation for American neglect.

In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower had to convince a wary American public that it was in the national interest to accept Hungarian refugees. A Hungarian rebellion against Soviet domination had elicited a brutal crackdown that forced more than 200,000 refugees into Austria and Yugoslavia and destabilized two countries still reeling from World War II. Opponents argued that communist spies and saboteurs would arrive with the refugee flow and harm the nation. 

Luckily, we now know for sure when old age begins. The Mirror reports that, in a survey of 2,000 Britons, 68 is the true age at which middle age ends and "old age" begins.


All thinking is wishful thinking.

You only really discover the strength of your spine when your back is against the wall.

Money is poor compensation for all of the time we lose in making it.

Image trumps information.

The best response to a great performance is not applause but silence.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paul Krugman: The Farce Awakens

What the hell is wrong with this country? The hysteria after the Paris terror attacks have brought out the worst in many of our citizens and certainly among the leading candidates in the Republican party. I could not agree more with Mr. Krugman's article shown in its entirety below...

Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of the website RedState.com, is a serious power in right-wing circles. Speechifying at RedState’s annual gathering is a rite of passage for aspiring Republican politicians, and Mr. Erickson made headlines this year when he disinvited Donald Trump from the festivities.

So it’s worth paying attention to what Mr. Erickson says. And as you might guess, he doesn’t think highly of President Obama’s antiterrorism policies.
Still, his response to the attack in Paris was a bit startling. The French themselves are making a point of staying calm, indeed of going out to cafes to show that they refuse to be intimidated. But Mr. Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”

It’s a bizarre reaction — but when you think about it, it’s part of a larger pattern. These days, panic attacks after something bad happens are the rule rather than the exception, at least on one side of the political divide.

Consider first the reaction to the Paris attacks. Lightsabers aside, are Mr. Erickson’s fears any sillier than those of the dozens of governors — almost all Republicans — who want to ban Syrian refugees from their states?
Mr. Obama certainly thinks they’re being ridiculous; he mocked politicians who claim that they’re so tough that they could stare down America’s enemies, but are “scared of widows and orphans.” (He was probably talking in particular about Chris Christie, who has said that he even wants to ban young children.) Again, the contrast with France, where President François Hollande has reaffirmed the nation’s willingness to take in refugees, is striking.

And it’s pretty hard to find anyone on that side of the aisle, even among seemingly respectable voices, showing the slightest hint of perspective. Jeb Bush, the erstwhile establishment candidate, wants to clamp down on accepting refugees unless “you can prove you’re a Christian.” The historian Niall Ferguson, a right-wing favorite, says the Paris attacks were exactly like the sack of Rome by the Goths. Hmm: Were ancient Romans back in the cafes a few days later?

But we shouldn’t really be surprised, because we’ve seen this movie before (unless we were too scared to go to the theater). Remember the great Ebola scare of 2014? The threat of a pandemic, like the threat of a terrorist attack, was real. But it was greatly exaggerated, thanks in large part to hype from the same people now hyping the terrorist danger.

What’s more, the supposed “solutions” were similar, too, in their combination of cruelty and stupidity. Does anyone remember Mr. Trump declaring that “the plague will start and spread” in America unless we immediately stopped all plane flights from infected countries? Or the fact that Mitt Romney took a similar position? As it turned out, public health officials knew what they were doing, and Ebola quickly came under control — but it’s unlikely that anyone on the right learned from the experience.
What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.

Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?

Sure enough, polling since the Paris attack suggests that Mr. Trump has actually gained ground. The point is that at this point panic is what the right is all about, and the Republican nomination will go to whoever can most effectively channel that panic. Will the same hold true in the general election? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times by A.C. Grayling (Notes)

Notes and mental highlights:

" Christianity not only does not have a monopoly on tolerance, kindness and generosity – these are attributes of individual human beings of any religion and none – but in a bloody and tumultuous past it has often exhibited the opposite of these characteristics, and that must not be forgotten."

" If you get to the New Testament for instruction on how to live, you are told to give away all your possessions, make no plans for the future, reject your family if they disagree with you, and stay celibate if you can.  This is the outlook of people who sincerely believed that the Messiah was going to return next week or next month, anyway very soon."

" Christianity is not Christianity but borrowed Greek philosophy."

" The story of a prominent individual's life cannot be complete without the truth about what people felt at the moment of summing up, whether it is in mourning or rejoicing. Let us say what we think, and be frank about it: death does not confer privileges."

" Remember that all this Christian teacher training is aimed at Christian indoctrination of the young, not least the very young. Without indoctrination of the young religion would wither and die of its own implausibility."

" Children should be taught about religion as a socialogical and historical fact, and left to make up their own minds about the merits, such as they are, but each when they have reached maturity.

" When individuals cannot allow their religious loyalties to be trumped by their public responsibilities, they should resign; the alternative is for the public domain to be invaded and disrupted by a Babel of claimed individual religious sensitivities, or even worse, by various religious organizations whose prejudices, taboos, anxieties and antipathies distort the overall public endeavor for a decent and equitable social order which is as inclusive as possible."

"  The Internet is like the Agora of all, except that everyone can attend and have a say. The downside is the volume of rubbish, the anonymous viciousness and sneering, the ad hominem attacks, the paragraph long pretensions to authoritativeness, the degrading of debate it encourages, making the Internet what I before now called the biggest toilet wall in history."

" The sleep patterns of famous people are intriguing. Churchill slept in about two short bursts, the first in the predawn and the second in the afternoon. Lady Thatcher is said to have scarcely slept it off, and some would say it showed. As we age we sleep less, subconsciously aware that we are soon to sleep forever."

"  Is it in irony, a sense or an encouragement that the traditional gift to a retiring employee is a watch?  It is an irony if retirement is a state in which time no longer matters, and the days drift into each other, all resembling Sunday. It is a hint of mortality if retirement is seen as the last chapter in life story, for then it will measure the counting down of one's days. But it is an encouragement if it suggests that the time is at least come to have freedom, fun, opportunities, variety, classes, travel, projects, hobbies, new beginnings."

"  The chief mortuary technician told him that he would not be much needed until January; 'Not many people die at Christmas', said the technician 'but we will be swamped after new year'. My friend asked why, surmising flu and pneumonia, but the technician said, 'People see family and friends over the holidays. But for the old and ill, early January is the start of a long, cold, dark time, with nothing to look forward to. They switch off in droves.'"

"  There is not much middle ground when it comes to teachers. They are either good, in which case they are among the most important people in the world, where they are not good, in which case at best they represent a missed opportunity – which is a serious matter – and at worst they are positively harmful. Teachers are harmful when they put students off a subject of study, thus depriving them of a chance at the fullness of what it could offer. To put the matter harshly, the crime involved is not far removed from poking out someone's eye with a sharp stick."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Saving Capitalism: For The Many, Not Just The Few by Robert Reich (Notes)

As income and wealth have concentrated at the top, political power has moved there as well. Money and power are inextricably linked. And with power has come influence over the market mechanism. The invisible hand of the marketplace is connected to a wealthy and muscular arm.

 In 2010, the majority of the Supreme Court of the United States decided in Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission that corporations are people under the First Amendment, entitled to free speech. Therefore, said the court, the McCain-Feingold act, which had limited spending by corporations on political advertisements, violated the Constitution and was no longer the law of land.

Higher share prices have added substantially to the incomes and well at those at the top. In the bull market that sent stocks soaring from 1994 to 2014, America's rich hit the jackpot. By 2010, the richest 1% of Americans own 35% of the value of American owned shares, both directly and indirectly through their pension plans. The richest 10% owned more than 80%.

The compensation of CEOs in America's largest corporations over the last three decades, relative to the pay of average workers went– – from a ratio of 20 to 1 in 1965, 230 to 1 in 1978, hundred 23 to 1 in 1995, 296 to 1 in 2013, and over 300 to one today.

 Professor William Lazonick  of the University of Massachusetts has documented that a major means by which corporations accomplish such pumping is to use their earnings, or to borrow additional money, to buy back shares of stock. This maneuver pumps up share prices by reducing the number of shares owned by the public. A smaller supply effortly increases the price of each remaining share. In recent years, such buybacks have become a major corporate expenditure.  Not only do stock buybacks enrich CEOs and other top executives at the expense of smaller investors who do not know about the timing or amounts of buybacks, they also drain away money the corporation might otherwise spend on research and development, long-term expansion, worker retraining, and higher wages.

 Corporations deduct CEO pay from their income taxes.

The reason Wall Street bankers got $26.7 billion in bonuses in 2013 was not because they work so much harder or were so much more clever or insightful than most Americans. They received those bonuses because they happen to work in institutions that hold a privileged place in the American political economy. The subsidy going to the big banks comes from you and me and other taxpayers because we paid for the last bailout and it is assumed we will pay for the next one.

 In 2013, an American household smack in the middle of the earning scale received less than the equivalent household did 15 years before, in 1998, when pay is adjusted for inflation. Median household earnings were 8% below what they were in 2007.

 Between 2020 13, the real average hourly wages of young college graduates declined. By 2014, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the share of recent college graduates working in jobs that typically do not require a college degree was 46%, versus 35% for college graduates overall.

The so-called recovery from the great recession has been among the most anemic recoveries in American economic history, especially given how far the economy fell into thousand eight in 2009.  The ongoing problem is inadequate overall demand, the same impediment that had delivered the economy into the great recession in the first place. After the crash of 2008, most Americans did not have the resources to buy enough goods and services to convince businesses to invest, expand and hire.

 The third job category I named  "symbolic – analytic services." Here I included all the problem-solving, problem identifying, and strategic thinking that go into the manipulation of symbols – – data, words, oral and visual representations. The essence of this work is to rearrange abstract symbols using a variety of analytic and creative tools – – mathematical algorithms, legal arguments, financial gimmicks, scientific principles, powerful words and phrases, visual patterns, psychological insights, and other techniques for solving conceptual puzzles.

 We are faced not just with labor reducing technologies but with knowledge replacing technologies. The combination of advanced sensors, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, big data, text mining, and pattern recognition algorithms is generating smart robots capable of quickly learning human actions, and even learning from one another.

 The demand for well-educated workers and United States seems to a peak around 2000 and then fallen, even as the supply of well-educated workers has continued to grow.  Since 2000 the vast majority of college graduates have experienced little or no income gains at all. Even those in the top 90th percentile of college graduates increased her cumulative income by only 4.4% between 2020 and 2013. Over the same years, the entry level wages of college graduates actually dropped, a decline of 8.1% for women graduates and 6.7% for men. To state it another way, while a college education has become a prerequisite for joining the middle class, it is no longer a sure means of gaining ground once admitted to it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Greed Is Good (at TD Bank?)

TD Bank announced additional layoffs both in their US and Canadian operations. Listed below are some interesting online comments from observers who are not fond of TD Bank or the decision to layoff employees...
"Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank... Give a man a bank and he can rob the world."

"The TD Bank has been cutting staffing and FTE (full-time equivalent) hours in the branch banks for the past 4-5 years now. Ask any Branch manager that is willing to say something about this and you will find out that in the same of some "productivity" measure most branches barely have enough staffing compliment to keep a branch open according to the compliance standards set by the TD banks themselves."

"This is a problem that starts with shareholders. Shareholders expect a certain return; call it $1B in profits. Why $1B; so that their shares keep their value and the Corporation can keep paying dividends to keep them happy. When the bank can no longer meet expectations of their forecasts, they have to reduce their largest expense; salaries. The problem; Greed. Executives will do whatever they have to keep their jobs, and their 7 or 8 figure salaries. Do they need this much money; absolutely not, and they could keep ten, or hundreds of jobs if they each took a pay cut. But why would they? Their objectives are to meet very aggressive forecasts, in an economic climate that is quite unstable with potential downside. So, the question is why not set a more realistic forecast, that is risk weighted, and would not upset analysts and investors. Again, it comes to shareholder greed, and the need for executives to keep them happy. It's a circular loop, that at the end of the day, comes down to profits. Although profits are important to reinvest in the company, when you hold significant cash balances, you can have a bad year. Agreed? Certainly the case at the public company that I worked at!"
"TD makes billions but will give you next to zero return on your savings."

"Make $2B profit, cut staff. Disgusting."

"As a shareholder I do feel the expenditure of millions on consultants to tell a business that maintains its own HR department and has row after row of executives that could do an in-house review does not speak well of senior management that are paid to run the business. I doubt you will find the report suggested the layoff of any of the executive management or the rollback of any bonus programs for same. As for those laid off, they are but the victims of the CEO protecting his pay package."

" Restructuring 101, Rule 1: Restructuring begins at the level immediately below yourself."

"You work at TD, so does someone I know. My friend knows a whole whack of people at the lower levels that have been shown the door or told their job will no longer exist.
TD has been cutting, cutting and cutting for some time -- and yet the "goals" for the front line staff have been increased substantially -- my friend says there are at lot of really stressed out, really unhappy employees. And of course a lot of these back-office function cuts that have been going on only make it worse, since now it takes forever to reach someone or get something done from the back-office. I also know a person in the mutual fund industry - his comment is that TD is by far the slowest when it comes to transferring monies -- once again, back-office cuts. Obviously these are only some of the stores -- I have a lot of other ones that are a lot nastier, but suffice to say, this bank has cut too deep, and yet continues to cut further. I've been a client for over 30 years, and have a lot of TD shares, but I'm very seriously considering abandoning ship on both fronts. Not happy with the direction I see them going in."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus by David Brooks

I am publishing David Brooks's article in its entirety. The italics below are mine. This article should be read by every intelligent voter and citizen in this country as it's dead on correct.

"The House Republican caucus is close to ungovernable these days. How did this situation come about?

This was not just the work of the Freedom Caucus or Ted Cruz or one month’s activity. The Republican Party’s capacity for effective self-governance degraded slowly, over the course of a long chain of rhetorical excesses, mental corruptions and philosophical betrayals. Basically, the party abandoned traditional conservatism for right-wing radicalism. Republicans came to see themselves as insurgents and revolutionaries, and every revolution tends toward anarchy and ends up devouring its own.

By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions. They also see the nation as one organic whole. Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.

All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party. Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.

This produced a radical mind-set. Conservatives started talking about the Reagan “revolution,” the Gingrich “revolution.” Among people too ill educated to understand the different spheres, political practitioners adopted the mental habits of the entrepreneur. Everything had to be transformational and disruptive. Hierarchy and authority were equated with injustice. Self-expression became more valued than self-restraint and coalition building. A contempt for politics infested the Republican mind.

Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions. It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests.

But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.

A weird contradictory mentality replaced traditional conservatism. Republican radicals have contempt for politics, but they still believe that transformational political change can rescue the nation. Republicans developed a contempt for Washington and government, but they elected leaders who made the most lavish promises imaginable. Government would be reduced by a quarter! Shutdowns would happen! The nation would be saved by transformational change! As Steven Bilakovics writes in his book “Democracy Without Politics,” “even as we expect ever less of democracy we apparently expect ever more from democracy.”

This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence. Running a government is a craft, like carpentry. But the new Republican officials did not believe in government and so did not respect its traditions, its disciplines and its craftsmanship. They do not accept the hierarchical structures of authority inherent in political activity.

In his masterwork, “Politics as a Vocation,” Max Weber argues that the pre-eminent qualities for a politician are passion, a feeling of responsibility and a sense of proportion. A politician needs warm passion to impel action but a cool sense of responsibility and proportion to make careful decisions in a complex landscape.

If a politician lacks the quality of detachment — the ability to let the difficult facts of reality work their way into the mind — then, Weber argues, the politician ends up striving for the “boastful but entirely empty gesture.” His work “leads nowhere and is senseless.”

Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus.

Really, have we ever seen bumbling on this scale, people at once so cynical and so naïve, so willfully ignorant in using levers of power to produce some tangible if incremental good? These insurgents can’t even acknowledge democracy’s legitimacy — if you can’t persuade a majority of your colleagues, maybe you should accept their position. You might be wrong!

People who don’t accept democracy will be bad at conversation. They won’t respect tradition, institutions or precedent. These figures are masters at destruction but incompetent at construction.

These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Immoral U.S. Economy??

"We’ve witnessed over the last two decades in the United States a steady decline in the willingness of people in leading positions in the private sector – on Wall Street and in large corporations especially – to maintain minimum standards of public morality. They seek the highest profits and highest compensation for themselves regardless of social consequences.

CEOs of large corporations now earn 300 times the wages of average workers. Wall Street moguls take home hundreds of millions, or more. Both groups have rigged the economic game to their benefit while pushing downward the wages of average working people."

Robert Reich  America's Economy is Immoral

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Feeding Your Mind

Just as there are a lot of choices to feed your stomach, there are a lot of choices to feed your mind. And just as there is too much junk food to clog your arteries and negatively impact your health, there is too much information junk (you see many of these from magazines at the cashier's station when you are ready to pay for your groceries.)

The internet is full of junk reading. Lies, rumors, slanders and inaccurate information abounds.

Too many people read articles and books that feed their prejudices and not enough materials that may open their minds and improve their judgments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hypocrisy of the Thumpers

Trump-ward, Christian Soldiers?

Let me get this straight. If I want the admiration and blessings of the most flamboyant, judgmental Christians in America, I should marry three times, do a queasy-making amount of sexual boasting, verbally degrade women, talk trash about pretty much everyone else while I’m at it, encourage gamblers to hemorrhage their savings in casinos bearing my name and crow incessantly about how much money I’ve amassed?

Seems to work for Donald Trump.

Polls show him to be the preferred candidate among not just all Republican voters but also the party’s vocal evangelical subset.

He’s more beloved than Mike Huckabee, a former evangelical pastor, or Ted Cruz, an evangelical pastor’s son, or Scott Walker, who said during the recent Republican debate: “It’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve been redeemed.”

When Trump mentions blood, it’s less biblical, as Megyn Kelly can well attest.
No matter. The holy rollers are smiling upon the high roller. And they’re proving, yet again, how selective and incoherent the religiosity of many in the party’s God squad is.

Usually the disconnect involves stern moralizing, especially on matters sexual, by showily devout public figures who are then exposed as adulterers or (gasp!) closet homosexuals. I’d list all the names, starting with Josh Duggar and working backward, but my column doesn’t sprawl over an entire page of the newspaper.

Frank Bruni NYT 8-26-15

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Smartest Thing I Read Today (GOP and Trump)

From  The New York Times article by Paul Krugman "Trump on down, the Republicans can't be serious."

For while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.

It has long been obvious that the conventions of political reporting and political commentary make it almost impossible to say the obvious — namely, that one of our two major parties has gone off the deep end. Or as the political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it in their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” the G.O.P. has become an “insurgent outlier … unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science.” It’s a party that has no room for rational positions on many major issues.

Can Mr. Trump actually win the nomination? I have no idea. But even if he is eventually pushed aside, pay no attention to all the analyses you will read declaring a return to normal politics. That’s not going to happen; normal politics left the G.O.P. a long time ago. At most, we’ll see a return to normal hypocrisy, the kind that cloaks radical policies and contempt for evidence in conventional-sounding rhetoric. And that won’t be an improvement.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Philly Strikes Again!

Sad to say, Hitchbot had the same chance that a Cowboy fan wearing a Tony Romo shirt at an Eagles pep rally in getting through Philadelphia unscathed.

Hitchbot traveled safely through Europe and Canada. Shame he tried to go through Philly...

Friday, July 31, 2015

WTF??? Nuttier than Trump

"GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is open to the idea of using federal troops and the FBI to stop women from having abortions.

"I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this," Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and an outspoken social conservative, said Thursday at a campaign stop in Jefferson, Iowa. 

Huckabee addressed abortion again at his next stop in Rockwell City, Iowa, where a reporter asked him whether stopping abortion would mean using federal troops or the FBI.

"We'll see if I get to be president," Huckabee said, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

"All American citizens should be protected," he added."

Huff Post 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

we are all confident idiots by David Dunning

The American author and aphorist William Feather once wrote that being educated means “being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.” As it turns out, this simple ideal is extremely hard to achieve. Although what we know is often perceptible to us, even the broad outlines of what we don’t know are all too often completely invisible. To a great degree, we fail to recognize the frequency and scope of our ignorance.

In many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.

An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous—especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq). As the humorist Josh Billings once put it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Ironically, one thing many people “know” about this quote is that it was first uttered by Mark Twain or Will Rogers—which just ain’t so.)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Eleven Excellent Basketball Books That I Have Read

I have just finished  Not a Game:  The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen  Iverson.  Very good book.  Well documented.  As I am from  the Philadelphia area and a basketball fan, there were very few surprises upon reading the book. While Iverson was a star on the court,  he was not nearly as successful off it.  Babb  focuses on dark side of Iverson, his legal issues, marital woes, financial problems and lack of discipline in missing meetings, practices  and dealing with management ( including coaches.)

 I am also including a list of the top books that I have enjoyed about basketball. Off the top of my head and in no particular order:
  1. A Sense Of Where You Are by John McPhee
  2. A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein
  3. A  Season inside: One Year in College Basketball by John Feinstein
  4. The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojaarowski
  5. Dream Team by Jack McCallum
  6. Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich byMark Kriegel
  7. The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
  8. The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
  9. The Hoops Whisperer by Idan Ravin
  10. Showtime by Jeff Pearlman
  11. Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson