Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Review: The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

An excellent, incredibly insightful and informative book, somewhat marred by the tedium experienced in the authors' rehashing the ideas of organizations working for change. For most of this book, the writers masterfully tie together concepts in systems, mathematics, consciousness, the environment, society and biology, and for that, it is a brilliant read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision by Fritjof Capra

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Who Pays on the First Date? No One Knows Anymore, and It’s Really Awkward - WSJ

In response to Who Pays on the First Date? No One Knows Anymore, and It’s Really Awkward in the Wall Street Journal I wrote the following:
I am by no means a traditional man, but when I was dating via the personals, I paid. I make more than women, by virtue of my gender. I am smart, but only as smart as my now wife, and I am in a well-paying profession in a well-paying industry, but some of that is becuase of the sexsim of our culture. My wife has more education than I have, but works for a non-profit. I am sure, without the limitations placed on our respective genders, she could excel in my field, if allowed.

Although I have always paid in the beginning of a relationship, I knew that, if it lasted, the relationship would become a partnership, with each contributing as much as we could. Maybe not always the same amount, but fully.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree. - The New York Times

Responding to Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree. in the NY Times:
The US has some deeply ingrained aspects that make this situation intractable, a traditional culture that appreciates work in which men are supposed to succeed, along with a social system that denigrates women's work, and a socioeconomic system that provides no protection for labor, particularly service work, the kind of work traditionally done by women.

Where can it be improved?

Ideally, at least for someone like me, we would move towards an egalitarian society where quality of life matters more than work, that provides some degree of social welfare to buffet against the harms the economy can bring, and that protects labor, particularly service work. Seriously, I doubt that the US will become a culture that focuses on quality of life over work. I would also doubt that the sociopolitical world would change to protect service work. The only bright spot for male-type labor would be in the growing green energy sector, but the right-wing, those currently in power, are focusing on the old industries, which are looking to be in their death throes. Our traditional, unequal, inegalitarian culture makes all of that an uphill climb.

The US likely cannot solve this problem adequately, or at least will not, since it is the result of its dysfunctional culture. Yes, some solution would result, but likely an ugly patchwork that satisfies no one.

We would rather emigrate...

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Where Anti-Tax Fervor Means ‘All Services Will Cease' - The NY Times

A minor article, Where Anti-Tax Fervor Means ‘All Services Will Cease’, highlighting a small town's cutting of it's nose to spite its face, ala a No Taxes credo.
Although much of the effective drive against taxes can be traced to 'astroturf' political organizations, American short-sightedness paired with its individualism, has helped create high inequality and low taxes, resulting in little money in people's pockets and in government coffers, required to sustain decent lives.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Response to Therapists Offer Strategies for Postelection Stress

My response to the NYT article Therapists Offer Strategies for Postelection Stress garnered many likes, so I thought I'd repost it here:
Reduce the crap, avoid the hype, read the best sources. Get a life. Regardless of how miserable the idiot-in-chief and his cronies, the quality of your life matters, and don't let them ruin it. Get involved. Instead of worrying about the harm of the Republicans, get busy, not from home, but get out and help to bring about change.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 by Jonathan I. Israel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent book and ideas, with some flaws I found irritating. First, some quotes are provided without translations - I wish my French was better, and I have no real understanding of Dutch - and it would have been nice to link to the translation, if not had it displayed in the text. Second, the history is very detailed, a bit too much for my taste, and I would have preferred a somewhat higher-level view of the actions of the various actors in the enlightenment drama, although as I pored on, the complexity of the story was very engaging.

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Ordering Vindaloo or Hunting for Venison? How You Vote - The New York Times

I was active in a thread on the NY Times site, discussing how lifestyle choices correlate with lifestyle choice.

First Post:
This is nothing new. Diversity, is both cause and effect of openness to experience. Open-minded people, as per the Big Five and/or OCEAN personality inventories, tend to be liberal, and their lifestyle choices reflect that. They tend to get educated, move to cities, and enjoy a greater variation in travel, reading, and music. They enjoy urban, dense environments with a range of identities. People with low openness, or for the sake of simplicity, the close-minded, tend to stick close to home, favor family and church, and tend to distrust urban, diverse environments. This dimension seems to also informally correlate with disgust and fear of the unknown, something seemingly related to a fear of the foreign. 
You likely have guessed, or assume, that I am very liberal, and I am an fairly empathetic person, but I would not find engaging with such people enjoyable, or at least not for long. The ones I do have in my environment, the obvious ones, are the most belligerent, hateful people, and the more subdued ones are nice, but not people I personally engage with, although I can certainly enjoy conversations about personal topics with them.

In truth, the more my spouse and I understand how we do not fit in the United States, and that humanitarian and welfare concerns will likely be treated as less important than work, the more we consider emigrating. As individuals, we would better fit in Sweden or the Netherlands, while as a couple we might enjoy Canada or New Zealand.
An additional comment, in the same thread:
Manhattan is just fine for us, we are successful and we are surrounded by people that we like. Manhattan is a diverse place, with a wealth of culture. It is not that we can't find places we love, and might love us, like NYC, LA, SF, Seattle, etc., it is the national character that disagree with us so much, i.e., work over quality of life and short term over long term solutions. No matter, unless Democrats capture the government for the next few decades, human welfare, rights and the environment - too many concerns to mention - will take a back seat to work, the military, and religion. It is not worth the grief and upset to stick around.
Responding to an anti-Muslim post:
For some of us, it is just the opposite. I live in Manhattan, and although I do not like the stratification of ethnicity and class, I have few issues with diversity.
  • We own an NYC condo in a full-service doorman building, and our floor of 10 apartment is home to a diverse range of people, Canadian (female, working at the UN), a middle eastern couple, East Asians (immigrant and domestic, young and senior), Jews (NYC is home to the largest number), Indian (doctor at NYU), as well as some White people, like me. Our building staff is largely Hispanic and African-American, but also Asian. The super originated from the Caribbean, and the managers have been Hispanic.
  • I work in financial technology, and my coworkers are often from India, Russia and/or Eastern European states (Romaine, Ukraine), Ireland, Japan, Ecuador, China, and the US, with some of the latter working remotely from South Dakota and North Carolina, and the our team includes African-Americans as well. Sadly, it is disproportionately male.
  • The businesses we enlist locally are often run by ethnic groups, however stereotypical, with Asian dry cleaners, household cleaners that are Eastern European and/or Caribbean, with ethnic food prepared by people from many countries, wait staff from around the world, and from many parts of the US.
Although I dislike the stratification of class and race, diversity works for us.
Responding to an anti-liberal post:
That's nonsense. I see many conservatives in this forum, while claiming that liberals think of them as bigots and reprobates, essentially assume liberals are similarly disposed, but of course in another direction...
Responding to a post about IQ and the recent election:
It was not much different than usual, except maybe that conservative party voters were even less educated than usual. Those within the highest education groups tend to vote liberally, as do, sometimes the lowest, although this is mediated by ethnicity. The middle tends to be conservative. With this last election, it was not different, and as usual, increasing education tended to indicate voting liberally.

As per FiveThirtyEight:

Responding to a conservative post about high school graduation rates:
You might do better to compare similar demographic groups along levels of education and how that relates to voting, to avoid the confounds created by race, ethnicity, gender and religion. When comparing like to like, education is a great divider between Democrats and Conservatives.

Then consider Asians at 50.5% with Baccalaureates, with 21.2% having graduate degrees. Asians vote democratic too, at 79%. In truth, the prototypical Republican is White, Christian, exurban, male and less educated, while Democrats are typically Non-White, Non-Christian, urban, female and more educated. Obviously a broad stroke generalization, but these demographic splits predict a lot of variation.
Responding to a poster who thought the relationships were invalid, and simply about money and geography:
Maybe you didn't notice, but your criticism was mentioned and negated:

"These relationships persist after accounting for things like partisanship, income, education and geography."
Responding to a poster decrying the cost of education, and how that is impacting diversity:
It is not just the unaffordability of education, although it is an outcome, but the inequality, the lower quality of life that it engenders, and the maltreatment coming out of our government, and the short-sightedness of our culture, that is ruining American lives.

Review: The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

An excellent, incredibly insightful and informative book, somewhat marred by the tedium experienced in the authors' rehashing the ideas ...