Category: Books-Arts and Entertainment

Inequality, Fair and Reasonable

“In a paper published in April in the journal Nature Human Behaviour called ‘Why people prefer unequal societies’, a team of researchers from Yale University argue that humans – even as young children and babies – actually prefer living in a world in which inequality exists. It sounds counter-intuitive, so why would that be? Because if people find themselves in a situation where everyone is equal, studies suggest that many become angry or bitter if people who work hard aren’t rewarded, or if slackers are over-rewarded.
For example, in one study, a group of six- to eight-year-olds was tasked with divvying up erasers among two boys who cleaned a room as rewards. Researchers found that, if they told the group of children that both boys did a good job, and then gave the group an odd number of erasers, the kids made the unanimous decision to throw away the extra eraser rather than give it to one of the boys as an unfair bonus.
And yet? When the researchers told the kids that one boy worked harder than the other, the group awarded the extra prize to the harder worker.
“We argue that the public perception of wealth inequality itself being aversive to most people is incorrect, and that instead, what people are truly concerned about is unfairness,” says Christina Starmans, a psychology post-doc at Yale who worked on the paper.”

John Galt Speaks

” You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for the unwillingness to practice the virtues you have demanded .Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the course of you plight. You sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial, You have sacrificed happiness to duty.”

Atlas Shrugged

Perhaps we need more debate about lifestyles.

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Jobs, who was a college dropout, told the Stanford graduates:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. … Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

“When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog … It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand …

“Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’ … And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.”

Steve Jobs was not in it for the money; he wanted to change the world. He had very good and very bad points but they were his and not of a person trained for a job. Steve had gifts of sizing up people and calling a spade a spade. He did not worry about criticizing but also could be very charming and inspirational when it was called for. He bullied people that did not stand up to him and only wanted “A” grade people around him as he did not have the patients to deal with second best.  Some would call that discrimination.

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

A good read by an excellent writer, a book that is a must the young.

How Social Networks Drive Black Unemployment

Favoritism and social connections among whites, not just racial discrimination, hurt blacks in the job market.

I am reading Steve Jobs biography and one thing is very apparent that people choose different cultures and their friends and associates from those cultures. Steve dropped out of college and experimented with LSD he also traveled to India to find a spiritual leader. A little later in life he was a rebel and as he started Apple Corporation he hired what he called pirates as he did not even wear shoes at work. One interview with a white qualified candidate that was in a suit and tie he could sense the team misfit so he asked how many virgins did he screw and how many times did he take LSD.

Is this discrimination? Yes, in a sort but not race discrimination.  Many jobs are filled because of friends recommending people they know that fit the culture of the work place. The “A” team is one with the highly qualified that works well together and many times also play together.  Being qualified and having a degree in this day in age is not good enough you have to have connections and develop relationships with people in your field of interests.  Professional groups are the first place to start to learn the cultures and connections in the field you are inspired in.

Out side of the box thinking

A rallying cry for revolutionizing democracy in the digital age, Citizenville
reveals how ordinary Americans can reshape their government for the better.
Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, argues that today’s
government is stuck in the last century while—in both the private sector and our
personal lives—absolutely everything else has changed. The explosion of social
media, the evolution of Internet commerce, the ubiquity of smart phones that can
access all the world’s information; in the face of these extraordinary advances,
our government appears increasingly irrelevant and out of touch.

Drawing on wide-ranging interviews with thinkers and politicians, Newsom’s
Citizenville shows how Americans can transform their government, taking
matters into their own hands to dissolve political gridlock even as they produce
tangible changes in the real world. When local Web designers wanted to prevent
muggings in Chicago and Oakland, they created innovative crime-mapping tools
using public police data. When congressional representatives wanted citizens’
input on new legislation, they used interactive blogging tools to invite public
comments and changes. When a town in Texas needed to drum up civic engagement,
officials invented a local digital “currency” to reward citizens for
participating in government—making small-town politics suddenly as fun and
addictive as online games such as Farmville. Surveying the countless small
advances made by ordinary Americans in reinventing government for the
twenty-first century, Newsom unveils a path for American prosperity and
democratic vitality.

Newsom explains how twenty-first-century problems
are too big and too expensive for the government simply to buy solutions;
instead, Americans must innovate their way out. Just as the post office and the
highway system provide public infrastructure to channel both personal and
private enterprise—a platform upon which citizens can grow—so too could a modern
digital government house the needs, concerns, information, and collaboration of
an enlightened digital citizenry.

A vision for better government that
truly achieves the ancient goal of commonwealth and a triumphant call for
individuals to reinvigorate the country with their own two hands,
Citizenville is a timely road map for restoring American prosperity and
for reinventing citizenship in today’s networked age.

 

“Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government”

Gavin Newsom

(Author), Lisa Dickey (Author)

Responsibility?

Are we free to be responsible for our lives? Do we have to have laws dictating every move we make? What has happened to the responsibility to survive?

Text of the 2nd Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Notice it does not say Federal Government but State. It seems concentrating power in a united way changes a State to a party member with few individual rights.

Is the United States too big to fail? Do we need a Constitutional Convention to change the Constitution to fit beliefs or do we need to restructure the way we agree on common goals? Do we even have common goals?

There is something seriously wrong with America and government services and laws are not going to fix it. We live in a world that thinks growth is the answer to finite resources. Central control is not going to make people responsible for their survival and living together in harmony when growth is reducing material resources for most all humans.

The sun has been the main source of energy on earth. Fuels are nothing more than stored solar energy done by biological matter. Biological humans are using stored energy faster than the sun can make it. This also affects the carbon cycle that separates carbon from oxygen when the energy form the sun is applied to plants. Then millions of years later the fuel has been concentrated and we burn and release the stored energy and rejoin carbon with oxygen.  This process also affects the climate. It adds heat to the atmosphere and traps the short wave radiation that would have escaped to space; it is like insulating the attic to keep the house warmer when you are warm enough.

Distractions such as psychological problems caused by too much growth and quick fix for bigger problems changes humans to rats caged in a frustrating world.

Are we being responsible for survival?

 

“Collapse” by Jared Diamond

 

In “The World Until Yesterday,” Jared Diamond holds up tribal groups as a mirror for our lives and asks what they can teach us about parenting, elder care and conflict.

Spring to Winter

Age, what does it entail? Life changes with age starting with being born into circumstances. We each have a unique set of genes but not totally different and much in common with our parents and descendents.

“Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution” by Peter J. Richerson

Wisdom comes with age, experiences and knowledge. Historically older people gave the knowledge to the younger. In today’s world I am not so sure this system still is as important. Population growth has diluted the older knowledge base and then we added the internet. Many of the traditional ways such as books and stories handed down are being corrupted by the media and ability to psychologically manipulate populations in mass.

Why do people retire today? Do they lose their inspiration to work on their goals or is it a matter of ending life long slavery? I suspect that depends on the person and should not be a national standard. Many leaders have made mistakes that ended their life long work. Mistakes are part of learning and if you are a life long learner you fix the problem and go on.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming “ Wow! What a Ride!”  -Hunter Thompson

A different perspective of age

Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein

This book is about an old scholar revisiting a Greek Island of Hydra that he embraced in his youth.   He questions and embraces the winter of life as it appears in different cultures. The reflections of time play a different tune than most Americans listen to.

When I was young many old timers said to me I wish I should have done this or that when I was young. I figured that I would take their advice and do it. As age sets in the twilight has a different sense as it opens up new ways of seeing. No regrets, only a child’s thirst for being curious.

This is a fun book that just might make you think.

Recent Releases

Recent releases I found worth reading.

The Power of Politics by Bob Woodward

If the “Fiscal Cliff” interests you this is a must read. Bob Woodward of Watergate fame follows the  inside story of President Obama and the U.S. Congress’s attempts to find a fiscal policy that reduces debt and results in stability. It covers the three and a half years of conflict and inside deals. Weather you are a Democrat or a Republican this book tells it all as it is. Crafted from meeting notes, interviews, documents, working papers and interviews with key players we get a peak at the secret world of Congressional deal making. Like sausage making, not always pretty. In fact after reading and seeing what is going on today not much has changed. Everyone is dug in. Preliminary it was Obama and Boehner negotiating. Majority Leader Eric Cantor is in the background undermining negotiations with the blessing of the extreme right and Tea Party as things begin to fall apart. Does Boehner actually represent the Republican caucus? At one point there was a chance at a $800 billion deal only to fall apart. Now the President wants $1.6 trillion. Everything is documented and the firsthand accounts show how the broken relationships between the President, congress and the Senate have driven the U.S. economy to the fiscal cliff.  It makes me sorry that any of the House and Senate candidates got elected. We have no leaders in Washington. Read and see if you can find one.

 

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, the Passage of Power by Robert Caro

This is book four in the story of LBJ. The time covered is 1958 thru his Vice Presidency and the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1964 when he assumes the Presidency. In 1958 LBJ begins to position himself for a run at the Presidency in 1960. The Presidency was not in the cards. As  Majority Leader LBJ  trades one of the most powerful jobs in Washington for the least powerful. Vice President of the United States. I was aware of the dislike Bobby Kennedy had for LBJ but never knew that it bordered on hate. The day JFK asked LBJ to be his VP on the ticket,  Bobby was running up and down the stairs trying to talk him out of acceptance. There were rumors on the convention floor of a  fight to get anyone other than LBJ.  The truth of the matter was JFK knew that Lyndon could bring Texas and the southern states electoral votes with him thus making a win for JFK and the Democrats a possibility. Without Texas and the south JFK could not win.  As Vice President, Johnson was humiliated by the Kennedys and left out of almost every decision including the one committee he was supposed to chair. One of the questions after  the assassination, and while Johnson was on Air Force One awaiting word of  the status of JFK, was who could administer the oath to swear in Johnson. Did Johnson call the Attorney General bobby Kennedy to ask. Should he be sworn in in Dallas or wait several days or until after the funeral. Should he take Air Force One to Washington and what about the dead President and Mrs. Kennedy? Would all of JFK’s staff stay with him or leave him high and dry. What about his nemesis Bobby Kennedy. Keeping the players on board would give him creadibility.  We see Kennedy’s assassination thru Lyndon B. Johnson’s eyes. Great historical read.

 

The Oath by Jeffery Toobin, The Obama white House and the Supreme Court.

From the  best selling author of The Nine comes the story of a tense and confrontational relationship between the President and the Supreme Court. From the very beginning with the swearing in. Chief Justice Roberts started the swearing in, Obama jumps the gun, Roberts got confused and in the end the question is asked by the President’s staff, “Is he really the President?” At the request of White House staff the next day Justice Roberts comes to the White House to re do the oath. Of course Obama was President, but given the tenor of the nation towards Obama and a questionable birth certificate the staff wanted no question. So from the very outset there was an antagonistic relationship. While Obama felt that his biggest obstacles would come from Congress he gave little thought to the 5-4 margin Chief Justice Roberts held on the Court. The battle has often been bitter and public as when the President criticized the Court in his 2010 State of the Union message bringing up the decision in Citizens United.  Bush appointee Justice Alito mouthed the words “not true” when the President publically disagreed with the decision. With an election coming the court accepted many issues near and dear to the conservatives. The court rendered decisions on women’s rights, gun rights, the right to sue, freedom of speech, the death penalty and finally healthcare reform. The two most important individuals in these opinions, the President and Justice Roberts were front and center.  Jefffery Toobin is a writer for the New Yorker and a legal analyst for CNN. I met and heard him discuss the Affordable Care Act at a health care conference last year in Baltimore. What treat. He is truly a student of the Supreme Court and a great word smith.

These are interesting reading if you like reading about the plaayers in government and how it does and does not work. My present reading is The Creative Class, Revisited  and the newly released “The Tupelo Man” the biography of Tupelo resident and owner of the Daily Journal and The Create  Foundation, George McLean.

 

Dansette