"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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John Barnes asks: Are we as a society putting too much emphasis on abstract categorization rather than practical application? The so-called Flynn Effect says that average IQs worldwide rise by about 3 points per decade, but:
Stuart Brown has described younger engineers at advanced research facilities who are “good at filling in bubbles” but don’t seem to be able to make a machine work. Senior engineers lament that the next generation overvalues its high test scores and undervalues the things that get the job done. Fine arts teachers tailor assignments to students who want to express simpler ideas with easier tools rather than acquire more open-ended and sophisticated skills.
Speaking of 3-D printing, GE is running a couple of interesting contests. First, there is the GE jet engine bracket challenge–participants submit a design taking advantage of additive manufacturing capabilities to meet all performance criteria while minimizing mass. Submitted designs will be evaluated by simulation: the top ten will then be fabricated and subjected to actual loads. There is also the 3-D printing production quest: high precision and advanced materials. This one is focused on making parts requiring extreme precision with complex geometries, especially for healthcare applications–entrants are going to need production as well as design capabilities, and in addition to the $50K prizes there may be an opportunity to become a GE supplier or otherwise “collaborate” with the company.
I read Bloomberg every day. My WSJ online page is dusty to use an offline analogy compared to Bloomberg (although I skip over his gun control diatribes).
In this article titled “Putin Dividend Push Flops as Micex Discount at 4-year High” they discuss how the Russian stock index sports an extremely low price / earnings ratio of 5 and by other measures’ as well they are valued about half their “BRIC” peers. Putin was attempting to cajole Russian companies into paying larger dividends to increase this ratio but it largely has fallen on deaf ears. The final (cheeky) paragraph illustrates why Bloomberg knows how to write:
“The Russian corporate sector would do almost anything on earth to be seen as modern and transparent, Eric Kraus, a managing director at Nikitsky Capital in Moscow, where he manages about $200 million in assets, said by e-mail on May 28. “Anything but pay fair dividends, respect minority interests in corporate transactions, or allow truly independent directors. There is a disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality.”
While across the pond in London I saw these blokes pedaling some sort of “party bike” (there is an entry in wikipedia for it with a similar photo on Tower Bridge) through London traffic. Apparently there is one sober guy who steers and everyone else drinks and likely occasionally pedals. I saw a few of them and as they went by the pedestrians lots of people hooted at them or tried to give some sort of hi five or British equivalent. In River North we have the party buses (trolleys) these seem more eco-friendly, I guess.
By the way I am trying this blogging for the first time with an application through my iPad so if it looks a little funky I will get better over time.
Not only is Tom’s Diner the background for Seinfeld, it inspired the Suzanne Vega song “Tom’s Diner”. More importantly, the remix version of “Tom’s Diner” was called “The Mother of the MP3” because the guy that made the compression format used this song and worked on it over and over to use MP3 to build a faithful version of the sound.
It’s that time of year again. There are hordes of people just like this guy who were out at 6am here at River North in Chicago and the bars are packed to the gills. Last year at this time it was 80 degrees and beautiful (that will never happen again in my lifetime) but this year it is a more typical 32 degrees with a bruising wind. That won’t stop the fun though and everyone I run into is buying booze or taking cash from the ATM or trotting from bar to bar or waiting in line somewhere.
St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago has to be seen to be believed and I am not talking about dying the river green.
(A reprise post from SSDB archives – about the legendary ‘teflon man’ broadcaster who shall be nameless here, although anyone who served in certain units will recognize the legend of whom I speak.)
And some things which should not have been forgotten… Have not been, because they are either funny or excellent cautionary tales. The Teflon Man, for instance: he bestrode the small world of military broadcasting, providing a rich legacy of horrible gaffes, cringe-inducing miscalculations and antics which reflected no credit whatever upon the unit to which he was attached. Spend more than a couple of years as an NCO in military broadcasting, and you will know everyone, or know of everyone, and the Teflon Man was a legend, like Bigfoot or Elvis, because nothing ever seemed to stick. He had more lives than the wily coyote, bouncing back time and time again from incidents that would have seen any other military broadcaster sent back to civilian life, working the overnight TV board shift for the last-rated station in Sheboygan or Bakersfield. Read the rest of this entry »
“So I said, ‘Oh, really, Erich, that sounds terrible, who are they?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘one of them is Paulette Goddard and the other is Marlene Dietrich.’ So I said, ‘Well, Erich, my God, you’re in real trouble here.’ But he was deadly serious. ‘Which one do you think I should go for, Douglas? ‘That is a terrible dilemma, Erich, I mean, my God, this is something we have to think about very carefully.’ ‘You know,’ he said, ‘Marlene is very attractive, but Paulette is really good at the stock market. I think I should go for Paulette.’ So I said to him, ‘Well, Erich, the stock market is very important, no doubt about that.’
As a Remarque fan, I certainly hope he was kidding about this decision process. (Which would tend to belie the title of the linked autobiography: Erich Maria Remarque: The Last Romantic.)
In any event, he did marry Paulette Goddard, and (unlike his previous marriages and relationships), the marriage lasted. (Given Remarque’s comment about the stock market, I was wondering if there was any data on her long-term annualized rate of return–the comment here about “her talent at accumulating wealth” suggests that it was probably pretty good.)
“It was really just a visualization for resourcefulness,” he clarifies, ”because people who are not resourceful drive me bananas.”
Jeff married MacKenzie Bezos, a writer, in 1993. I can’t speak to her jail-springing skills, but I’ve read her novel The Testing of Luther Albright…I wasn’t all that impressed with it on first reading, but went back and read it again and thought it was quite good.
It’s been most unsettling, over the last month or so, watching as the ship of state powers straight towards the reefs of financial meltdown, while the Dems and Pubs – establishment ruling class, with just about every one of them grubbing snout deep in the trough – do nothing much but squabble over the arrangement of the deck chairs, and figure out how to be the first one into the purser’s office to loot the safe. And if that wasn’t bad enough to put a dent in my enjoyment of the season: the Newton massacre of school children, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the murders in my own neighborhood, the fact that a basically decent and widely experienced candidate could be defeated in a national election by a legislatively untalented and inexperienced machine hack … all of this was depressing in itself. And don’t get me started on the State Department and the Mysteries of Benghazi. But when a credentialed spawn of academia is given op-ed space in the so-called paper of record to call for deep-sixing the Constitution as an outdated and discredited piece of paper, network television personalities can hector and abuse interviewees with regard to the Second Amendment of same, and an editorialist in a mid-western newspaper(who may be exaggerating for humorous effect, not that he would have a micro-speck slack cut for him if he were a conservative ripping on progressives by name) can call for the torture and execution of those not in agreement on a particular matter, and some fairly senior military commanders can be abruptly side-lined and discredited for playing hide-the-salami (or being assumed to have been playing hide the salami) with a woman not their spouse … well, really, one has to wonder what has been happening here. The ‘othering’ proceeds at a perfectly dismaying rate of speed, with mainstream media and assorted celebs cheerleading from front and center. Read the rest of this entry »
(From the old SSDB archive – a reminiscence about the search for the perfect Christmas tree, December, 1981.)
It really takes a gift to find yourself on a soggy-wet mountainside in on a Sunday afternoon in December, with a fine drizzle coagulating out of the fog in the higher altitudes, slipping and sliding on a muddy deer track with a tree saw in one hand, and leading a sniffling and wet (inside and out) toddler with the other.
Yep, it’s a gift all right, born of spontaneous optimism and an assumption based on the map on the back page of the Sacra-Tomato bloody-f#$*%^g Bee newspaper, and a promise to Mom. Said map made the %$#*ing Christmas tree farm look like it was a couple of blocks, a mere hop-skip-and-jump from the back gate of Mather AFB’s housing area, an easy jaunt on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, a lovely and traditional Christmas pastime, choosing your own tree from the place they were growing in! Read the rest of this entry »
Times change. Recently I was at a Starbucks in Old Town when I noticed that a woman near me got up and left her purse and other valuables at her table while she went to use the restroom or get another coffee.
Then I figured out what she was doing… her friend that she was Skyping with was sitting there, watching her belongings! From what I could see her friend was very vigilant in her task, like an overhead drone.
Only the finest in India. The author drinking a Miller High Life sold only in Haryana with a henna tattoo (a whale, I think). Note that the straw is in the other beer so that girls can drink while their tattoos on the inside of their hands dry.
The immortal lines of Oscar Wilde had the famous quote about the cynic:
A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing
Binny’s makes it easy to at least quantify the “value gap” between what you pay and what you get on crappy beer. They show prices in terms of cost per ounce which is at least one common metric from what is good and what is bad.
Coors Light! Dan’s favorite! On sale it is only FIVE CENTS AN OUNCE. By contrast you are paying maybe 10 cents for bottled water and 20 cents (or more) for Starbucks.
And here is a beer rated “100″ by the beer adviser (I don’t like stuff that heavy, but I’m sure that if you were a connoisseur of that type of beer it would be fantastic). At 29 cents an ounce, it is almost 6 times more than what you pay for Coors Light.
At least now you have a consistent metric showing 6x in terms of awful-ness.
Recently I received a proposed amendment to the Illinois State Constitution in the mail. The purpose of the amendment is to require a 3/5 majority before pension increases can be passed for state employees.
In short, the amendment to the constitution is required because our elected representatives refuse to do any basic “governing”. Illinois recently implemented a massive tax increase (after all, that’s what “Blue State” governors usually do when they must choose between cutting state expenditures and raising revenues) on the revenue side of the ledger but kicked the can for the umpteenth year in a row for SERIOUS reform of our pension crisis in Illinois.
It made me reflect on the giant overhead and general incompetence of our state’s government. We have a state senate, house, a governor, and an amazing array of local authorities. According to this article, Illinois leads the nation in governmental entities, with almost 7000 of them.
On the other hand, the Onion summarized state and local government with a brilliant and pithy line.
Alabama State Constitution changed to “Roll Tide”.
Perhaps Illinois should do something simpler and just change our state constitution to the famous line