Monday, December 06, 2010

Not Crass, Class (A Response)

A response to Paul Krugman's Not Crass, Class

Regarding the narrowing of focus:
  • Unemployment doesn't matter, because no one we know is unemployed, and we aren't blue collar males
  • Police abuse don't matter, because we aren't black or hispanic
  • Profiling is perfectly acceptable, because none of us is black or muslim
  • Poverty doesn't matter, because, well, you know....
The list is endless, and this problem extends to most everyone's perceptions, but it is particularly important because the policy decisions affecting millions are made by people who have little awareness of problems of the less powerful, or of the problems they cause by warped policy decisions.

In retrospect I could have kept going, including one of the larger sets of underclass, women and children, particularly women of color, single moms, and their children.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A Response to How Puritans Turned Capitalist

The Ideas blog on the NY times published an article, How Puritans Turned Capitalist which I responded to:

From my own informal research on country measures using OECD data:

In developing countries, industry and work are essential to the wealth of the nation, but once countries reach a certain level of affluence, i.e, are considered developed, work and industry become negative correlates of welfare.

A Comment on Krugman's Post, First They Came For The Climate Scientists

The post, First They Came For The Climate Scientists which I responded to:

Einstein was a fuzzy-headed liberal, and that's a good thing.

Liberals are open to experience, e.g., have open minds, like to travel, and enjoy novelty, unlike conservatives, who tend be closed to new experiences. This also correlates to some degree with intelligence and to a non-literal intellect. Maybe there is something underlying this, like corporal punishment, but this in many ways explains the rabid stupidity and regressiveness of conservatives' beliefs.

A Response to the NYT's article, Prisoners of White Guilt

The Ideas blog on the NY times published an article, Prisoners of White Guilt which I responded to:

Without guilt, and similar emotions, we would simply be avaricious and vicious marauders. If it wasn't for the awareness of the past misdeeds, we would simply repeat the atrocities of our rapacious greed and inhumanity. One could better argue why we could do without the Nietzsche-like ego.

A Response to the NYT's article, Switch Sports After Injury? Never!

The Well blog on the NY times published an article, Switch Sports After Injury? Never! which I responded to:

Although I appear as a single-sport person to many, I've always had a bit of a need for change, and paired with my inevitable stress injuries that came from just running, or biking, or rowing, I gladly changed sports before I did serious damage. Even then, my relatively extensive training knowledge - I was certified as a personal trainer through ACE in the early 90's - taught me the need to training hard-easy, with intervals days followed by something longer and lighter, as well as active recovery.

I recently met someone who claimed to play four (4) hours of aggressive tennis almost daily. He related that he had developed a nagging injury and wanted to know my suggestion for resolving it. When I suggested he should takes some days easy, or replace tennis with weight-training, he was adamant that he could mange with his current regimen of icing and stretching, even though it was required every day he played and has not actually solved his problem. I would assign his inability to change to parts ego, social expectation, and pleasure. He was very proud to tell me about his 'fitness' regimen, particularly considering his age, also as a way to give his wife some free time, and as a pleasurable, intense activity.

A Response to Are Western Minds Different?

The Ideas blog on the NY times published an article, Are Western Minds Different? which I responded to:

It would be better if you had printed, or at least corrected, the acronym, WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic).

Although the more open-minded and academic would accept this as likely true and significant, we live in a country of the very narrow-minded - maybe most humans are - unable to consider things from other viewpoints. Those close-minded, hedgehogs won't be impacted by the fact that people are different. It's a lost nuance....

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Comment on "The rich are different from you and me"

The Economist has an article, The rich are different from you and me, on possible differences between classes in giving. Rather than taking a position, which is the wont of most commenters, a review of all the posts gives a good sense of the readers beliefs.

Various suggested reasons:

- The rich are rich because they are cheap
- The rich lack compassion for the poor because they don't experience poverty.
- The rich lack compassion for the poor because the poor are unlike themselves
- Neo-conservative values have tilted us toward "Greed is good."
- But the rich give more. Bill Gates and Warren buffet redeem us all.
- The rich believe people get what they deserve
- The rich enjoy their relative societal position
- ...even more so the larger the difference
- Overreliance on subjects from the developed world skews research.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cultural Aspects of Inequality

A response to Mind the Gap, a review of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger:

At one time, as an MBA student with academic leanings, I considered researching and publishing an analysis using Hofstede's cultural dimensions and economic outcomes. What I found was that economic inequality, as measured by the GINI coefficient, correlated strongly with negative social outcomes. Trying to explain the underlying social dimension in developed countries, excluding Japan because of the vast differences in culture, it seemed that masculine (gender-divided) cultures were more unequal, but the correlation was only about .3. Intuitively, it seems obvious that the children of Britain are grossly unequal and the least social-outcome positive, and although the Northern European states are more equal and more socially positive, France and its 'children', Belgium and Canada, also have better social outcomes and lower inequality than the Anglo-Saxon states.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Response to The Compromises of City Living

If it’s a condo in Manhattan, you pay about $1000 per square foot, but employers in Manhattan are often financials and they pay six figure salaries, so the cost is balanced against the income.

Some outlying areas have charms, and lower costs, but one of the biggest benefits is the short commute. I walk 30 minutes to work most days, and in prior positions I took the subway; I’m glad not to own a car, and we rent a car when we need to travel. Our carbon footprint is also smaller, and this dovetails with my long-standing environmental concerns.

Although life can be less expensive in outliers, that comes at a loss of convenience, and a longer commute. Additionally, our current building has services that we appreciate, doormen, groundskeepers – we overlook a block-sized inner courtyard – mailroom, and maintenance staff. We regularly avail ourselves of incomparable restaurants around New York, as well as film/movies that play first in Manhattan.

Compromise is a double-edged sword. To paraphrase, one person’s compromise is another person’s benefit.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Texting and EMail Etiquette

A response to Bolton's article on the NY Times (click the title):

These kind of issues are always judged by a relative yardstick, and it depends on the relationship you have with the person and what the other person would like or accept. It's often a matter of common human decency, although I think the general rule might be, unless it's allowed, it is forbidden. If the person is a stranger, it is never acceptable to read their private material, but if it's a spouse or friend, then let your feelings decide.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Is There a Physiology of Politics?

Reading Kristoff's blog, I was struck by how common it is for people to dismiss culture. Regardless of ingrained and hard-wired proclivities, Americans needs to look outside their own sphere, specifically Europe, to see how things could be different. The right-wing extremism of Americans, albeit related to inherited characteristics, has a particular flavor, driven by policies and media, and an outgrowth of our peculiar history. The specific attitudes are not hard-wired.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

IQ and Heart Disease

Not-particularly-insightful article - click the title to read it - at least for someone with an awareness of good study design.

IQ has a correlation with many outcomes and behaviors: educational attainment and performance, income and wealth, marital and social status, choice of residence, work review and performance. That people with lower IQ wind up worse off isn’t surprising, but how much IQ predicts health outcomes, and how much the interaction of other IQ-related outcomes needs to be elucidated.

The problem with the article is that it did not tease apart issues, nor did it delve deeply into other correlations, and will be used by right-wing racists to deny care to minorities.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Personal Annual Reports

The most interesting idea - click the title to read the article - that it might become the norm to track one's life, opens many possibilities. Like credit card companies that provide end-of-year spending reports, an automated collection service would be an interesting tool for examining and improving one's life. Did I really eat that poorly? Did I really spend that many hours playing video games? Although the specter of Big Brother hangs over our new age of technology, with corporations and the government tracking our digital lives, so does the hope that technology can be used to bring a greater, enjoyable, self-aware life.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

God's Work....

(Click the title to read the original article)

Adam Smith, on the need for reigning in self-interest, and the need for sympathy/empathy:

“If you have either no indignation at the injuries I have suffered, or none that bears any proportion to the resentment which transports me, we can no longer converse upon these subjects,” he wrote. “We become intolerable to one another. I can neither support your company, nor you mine. You are confounded at my violence and passion, and I am enraged at your cold insensibility and want of feeling.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Professor Is a Label That Leans to the Left

A significant set of studies had shown that the strongest correlate of liberal was being open in the Big 5 personality inventory, and conversely so for conservatives. Openness is typically defined as open to experience, but is alternatively describes as intellect. There are also obvious correlations with intelligence/education with higher levels of IQ and education correlating with greater degrees of openness.

A quick look at the job classifications would indicate that, generally, smarter people with abstract jobs are liberals, while less intelligent people with concrete jobs are conservative, with the biggest exceptions being the physical sciences. Obviously, the biggest difference between the two groups, of liberal versus conservative, was whether the job was abstract or concrete in nature.

A Response to an Open Letter to James Damore

I posted a comment in response to An Open Letter to James Damore by Debra Sterling , below: It doesn't get mentioned, but some of the ...