Saturday, February 9, 2019
Henize 70 is actually a luminous superbubble of interstellar gas about 300 light-years in diameter, blown by winds from hot, massive stars and supernova explosions, with its interior filled with tenuous hot and expanding gas.
full story here
Recent research, however, shows something different. When scientists analyse people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren't all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, "disciplined" people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.
The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the least. It's easier to practice self-restraint when you don't have to use it very often. So, yes, perseverance, grit, and willpower are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing your were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.
-James Clear, Atomic Habits
"The whole history of the world shows that legislation will generally be both unwise and ineffective unless undertaken after calm enquiry and with sober self-restraint."
-Theodore Roosevelt, from his first "message" to Congress, December 1901 (as quoted by Edmund Morris in Theodore Rex
......................from Martin Gurri's The Revolt of the Public:
"Propaganda was the totalitarian's admission that his power wasn't total."
"It is perfectly possible for the elites to lapse into paralysis while the public staggers into nihilism. Indeed, this could be our future."
"Modern governments can keep an eye on a thousand moving parts, but they can't predict discontinuity. They can't comprehend phase change. Then the crisis arrives, they are slow to grasp its dimensions. When the effects become palpable, they reflexively reach for the crude tools they have at their disposal, whether or not these will improve the situation. In essence, governments can throw money at unwanted change, or they can hurl bombs and policemen."
"The public, in command of the information sphere, has found corruption everywhere at the Center, and has wielded its new persuasive power to attack the legitimacy of every authoritative institution."
(Concerning 2008 and the beginning of the Great Recession) "In the economic carnage that followed, the expert and political elites betrayed astonishing levels of cluelessness, and did so at center stage, where the whole world could see. Bankers and regulators, politicians and bureaucrats—all turned out to have made drunken-sailor bets on the future, in effect helping to push the US economy over a cliff of illiquidity and bad debt. The consequences were immediate and devastating."
"Put in simpler terms: governments craved control, and the experts, in exchange for a place in the hierarchy, offered to demonstrate how it could be imposed."
"The bankruptcy of the expert class was a bipartisan affair."
Digital or analog?
Adams or Jefferson?
Audrey or Marilyn?
Mountains or beach?
Orwell or Huxley?
Television or reading?
Giuliani or Bloomberg?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Draw your own portrait here.
Friday, February 8, 2019
Also, there is nothing to write about. Covington? Northam? If we have the luxury of turning these stories into headlines, then we are either doing very well as a country or else we are desperate for distractions from whatever real problems we have.
-Arnold Kling, from this blog post
Thursday, February 7, 2019
It is our responsibility to leave the men of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant; if we suppress all discussion, all criticism, saying: 'This is it, boys, man is saved!' and thus doom man for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before,
It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress and great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress that is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom, to teach doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed, and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations."
-Richard Feynman, from his 1955 speech/essay, The Value of Science
Instead, we should humbly evaluate to what extent it is possible to steer complex systems at all.
Isn't it that "humbly" part that causes us all the trouble?
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
At the book store.........................................................
It is one of the sorry human habits to play the game of: What was I doing when it happened?
After I heard that Helena Pearson had died on Thursday the third day of October, I had no trouble reconstructing the immediate past.
That Thursday had been the fourth and final day of a legitimate little job of marine salvage. Meyer made a lot of small jokes about Travis McGee, salvage expert, actually doing some straight-arrow salvage. He kept saying it almost made my cover story believable. But he did not say such things for any ears by mine own.
-John D. MacDonald, being the opening paragraphs of The Girl In The Plain Brown Wrapper
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Roosevelt could see little relief for the rural unemployed in the immediate future. A place like York, Pennsylvania . . . was the typical country town grown too big. There were more than a thousand such cities across the nation. For its new poor, York offered only more poverty. A laborer might trade his hoe for a hammer, but a few extra dollars a week, the increment was meaningless, given urban costs. His children would still run barefoot through November, and in midwinter their breath would be ice on their bedsheets. Even more wretched than these migrants were the immigrants from unsalubrious parts of Europe further crowding American cities. Since January, nearly have a million had poured in. With their greasy kerchiefs and swollen cheekbones, they seemed content to live in any slum and do any work, for pig's wages. Not surprisingly, the native-born Americans they had supplanted felt rage and ethnic contempt. Roosevelt's journalist friend William Allen White spoke for many in his syndicated diatribes against "Hunkies and Italians, the very scum of European civilization."
-Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex
Environment design is powerful not only because it influenced how we engage with the world but also because we rarely do it. Most people live in a world others have created for them. But you can alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative cues. Environment design allows you to take back control and become the architect of your life. Be the designer of your life and not merely the consumer of it. . . .
Our behavior is not defined by the objects in the environment but by our relationship to them. In fact, this is a useful way to think about the influence of the environment on your behavior. Stop thinking about your environment as filled with objects. Start thinking about it as filled with relationships. Think in terms of how you interact with the spaces around you.
-James Clear, Atomic Habits
McKinley had chosen carefully: a more orthodox phalanx of Republicans would be difficult to assemble. To a man, these conservatives believed in the sanctity of property and the patrician responsibilities of wealth and power. . . . They tacitly acknowledged that Wall Street, rather than the White House, had executive control of the economy, with the legislative cooperation of Congress and the judicial backing of the Supreme Court. This conservative alliance, forged after the Civil War, was intended to last well into the new century, if no forever. Senator Hanna was determined to protect it: "Let well enough alone!"
Roosevelt was too restless and too reform minded to heed such a motto. On the other hand (to use his favorite phrase), he despised the theorists who advocated radical change. . . .
The United States, with seventy-seven million citizens, was still uncrowded and healthily competitive. But its social balance would be threatened if poverty spread in proportion to immigration. . . . Somehow he must grant a little leisure, and a little extra money, to multitudes currently working to survive. This would enable them to develop those noneconomic virtues—intelligence, unselfishness, courage, decency—which he loosely defined as "character". Character defined the worth of the individual, and "what was true of the individual is also true of the nation."
At the same time, he must persuade Union League Republicans that perpetual, mild reform was true conservatism, in that it protected existing institutions from atrophy, and relieved the buildup of radical pressure.
-Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex
Monday, February 4, 2019
Sunday, February 3, 2019
................................................to enhance life its ownself.
A pretty good list of things to do, and things to not do. Check it out.
Andrew Sullivan points out that, contrary to popular belief, Donald Trump can be a unifier.
If you’ve been waiting for the U.S. Senate to exercise its constitutional prerogatives in the era of Trump, you need wait no longer. A big bipartisan majority has finally stood up to Trump … by voting to advance an amendment in favor of continuing the 18-year occupation of Afghanistan and the ongoing intervention in Syria!
Mitch McConnell actually went on the Senate floor to argue that Trump’s proposed exit from Afghanistan, where no serious progress has been made for almost two decades, would be far too sudden. “The precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either [Syria or Afghanistan] could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security,” he argued. “I believe the threats remain.” Precipitous!
In fact, the vote was — at 68-to-23 — veto-proof.
43 Republican senators (out of a total of 53) were joined by 25 Democratic senators (out of a total of 47). Bipartisanship!