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Showing posts from May, 2011

'Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations and People Always Die, and Life Gets Faster'

Cities can grow past control and businesses can stagnant and die. The following is a fascinating look at scale and what it means when applied to more than just living things. It is long but interesting.

"The question is, as a scientist, can we take these ideas and do what we did in biology, at least based on networks and other ideas, and put this into a quantitative, mathematizable, predictive theory, so that we can understand the birth and death of companies, how that stimulates the economy?"

A Conversation With Geoffrey West

"The great thing about cities, the thing that is amazing about cities is as they grow, so to speak, their dimensionality increases. That is, the space of opportunity, the space of functions, the space of jobs just continually increases. And the data shows that. If you look at job categories, it continually increases. I'll use the word "dimensionality." It opens up. And in fact, one of the great things about cities is that it supp…

"Everybody pulled his weight, Didn't need no welfare state...Those were the days!"

"One of the ironies of Archie Bunker's worldview is that the 1930s, 40s, and 50s weren't nearly as conservative as he remembered them. The same faulty nostalgia drives the so-called conservatives of today's Republican Party and the Tea Party movement, who imagine those decades as a time when hard-working Americans pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps.

It's true that Americans worked hard during these years. But the bootstraps stuff is nonsense. The 30s through 50s were the time of the New Deal, low-cost loans from the Federal Housing Administration, the GI Bill, huge subsidies for defense contractors during the Cold War and other industries that employed millions of people, massive transfer of funding from cities to the burgeoning suburbs, federal projects like interstate highway construction and the space program, generous investment in public schools, record union membership, high tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, good job benefits, and Social …

Reason is not Rational

Long ago reading Derek Parfit's 'Reasons And Persons' I became fascinated with all the reasons we give for our actions. Parfit was interested in the various ways we rationalize our behavior and our justifications in a secular world. One item that fascinated me was the debate on self interest and actual behavior. I had had a long debate arguing 'self interest' is not the only motivating factor in our decision making. My wife told me just recently that I am never self centered. I liked that thought. Finding this piece adds to the complexity of reasons and persons.

"Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That's why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. So, as they put it,[b]"The evidence reviewed here shows not only that reasoning falls quite short of reliably delivering rational beliefs and rational decisions. It may even be, in a variety of cases, detrimental to ratio…

The UBL spin begins....

Let's give credit where credit is due, Obama, and this adminstration's focus on capturing OBL, did what Bush Cheney could not, he/they did not ignore the intelligence reports. Had Bush paid attention to the intel prior to 911, we may not even be having this discussion.

But in a curious way thanks are due to Jimmy Carter as well, it was the failed attempt in Iran that lead to the backup helicopters and a successful operation this time. I had to add that comment as I hear so much negativity about Carter.

"WASHINGTON — For years, the agonizing search for Osama bin Laden kept coming up empty. Then last July, Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar, Pakistan, and wrote down the car’s license plate."

(...)

"Prisoners in American custody told stories of a trusted courier. When the Americans ran the man’s pseudonym past two top-level detainees — the chief planner of the Sept. …