Mathews and Tobin head to head on separation of church & state

In a breathtakingly tight argument, Chris Matthews corners Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin, who has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., from receiving Holy Communion due to his views on abortion.

Because here’s the moral hypocrisy at the heart of the Church’s abortion position: If it’s really and truly murder, you’re talking about prosecuting mothers, sisters, lovers and friends for having them. Tweety is quite aggressive with the bishop, demanding to know exactly what legal penalties he thinks should be legislated.

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http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/chris-matthews-gets-heart-abortion-ma

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 6:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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Innovation

Selected from Delancey Place

In today’s excerpt – historically, 85% of the increase in per capita GDP (gross domestic product or wealth) in the U.S. economy has come from innovation – the invention of new products and services or the invention of better ways to make existing products and services. It follows that any durable and sustainable program to create jobs in an economy would focus foremost on innovation:

“Since the 1950s, economists have understood that innovation is critical to economic growth. Our lives are more comfortable and longer than those of our great- grandparents on many dimensions. To cite just three improvements: antibiotics cure once-fatal infections, long-distance communications cost far less, and the burden of household chores is greatly reduced. At the heart of these changes has been the progress of technology and business.

“Economists have documented the strong connection between technological progress and economic prosperity, both across nations and over time. This insight grew out of studies done by the pioneering student of technological change, Morris Abramowitz. He realized that there are ultimately only two ways of increasing the output of the economy: (1) increasing the number of inputs that go into the productive process (e.g., by having workers stay employed until the age of sixty-seven, instead of retiring at sixty-two), or (2) developing new ways to get more output from the same inputs. Abramowitz measured the growth in the output of the American economy between 1870 and 1950 – the amount of material goods and services produced – and then computed the increase in inputs (especially labor and financial capital) over the same time period. To be sure, this was an imprecise exercise: he needed to make assumptions about the growth in the economic impact of these input measures. After undertaking this analysis, he discovered that growth of inputs between 1870 and 1950 could account only for about 15 percent of the actual growth in the output of the economy. The remaining 85 percent could not be explained through the growth of inputs. Instead, the increased economic activity stemmed from innovations in getting more stuff from the same inputs.

“Other economists in the late 1950s and 1960s undertook similar exercises. These studies differed in methodologies, economic sectors, and time periods, but the results were similar. Most notably, Robert Solow, who later won a Nobel Prize for this work, identified an almost identical ‘residual’ of about 85 percent. The results so striking because most economists for the previous 200 years had been building models in which economic growth was treated as if it was primarily a matter of adding more inputs: if you just had more people and dollars, more output would invariably result.

“Instead, these studies suggested, the crucial driver of growth was changes in the ways inputs were used. The magnitude of this unexplained growth, and the fact that it was exposed by researchers using widely divergent methodologies, persuaded most economists that innovation was a major force in the growth of output.

“In the decades since the 1950s, economists and policymakers have documented the relationship between innovation – whether new scientific discoveries or incremental changes in the way that factories and service businesses work – and increases in economic prosperity. Not just identifying an unexplained ‘residual,’ studies have documented the positive effects of technological progress in areas such as information technology. Thus, an essential question for the economic future of a country is not only what it produces, but how it goes about producing it.

“This relationship between innovation and growth has been recognized by many governments. From the European Union – which has targeted increasing research spending as a key goal in the next few years – to emerging economies such as China, leaders have embraced the notion that innovation is critical to growth.”

Josh Lerner, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Princeton, Copyright 2009 by Princeton University Press, pp. 43-45.

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Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cognitive Miser

Selected from: Delancey Place

In today’s excerpt – the human brain is a “cognitive miser”- it can employ several approaches to solving a given problem, but almost always chooses the one that requires the least computational power:

“We tend to be cognitive misers. When approaching a problem, we can choose from any of several cognitive mechanisms. Some mechanisms have great computational power, letting us solve many problems with great accuracy, but they are slow, require much concentration and can interfere with other cognitive tasks. Others are comparatively low in computational power, but they are fast, require little concentration and do not interfere with other ongoing cognition. Humans are cognitive misers because our basic tendency is to default to the processing mechanisms that require less computational effort, even if they are less accurate. Are you a cognitive miser? Consider the following problem, taken from the work of Hector Levesque, a computer scientist at the University of Toronto. Try to answer it yourself before reading the solution.

Problem: Jack is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married, but George is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Cannot be determined

“More than 80 percent of people choose C. But the correct answer is A. Here is how to think it through logically: Anne is the only person whose marital status is unknown. You need to consider both possibilities, either married or unmarried, to determine whether you have enough information to draw a conclusion. If Anne is married, the answer is A: she would be the married person who is looking at an unmarried person (George). If Anne is not married, the answer is still A: in this case, Jack is the married person, and he is looking at Anne, the unmarried person. This thought process is called fully disjunctive reasoning – reasoning that considers all possibilities. The fact that the problem does not reveal whether Anne is or is not married suggests to people that they do not have enough information, and they make the easiest inference (C) without thinking through all the possibilities. Most people can carry out fully disjunctive reasoning when they are explicitly told that it is necessary (as when there is no option like ‘cannot be determined’ available). But most do not automatically do so, and the tendency to do so is only weakly correlated with intelligence.

“Here is another test of cognitive miserliness, as described by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Shane Frederick.

“A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

“Many people give the first response that comes to mind – 10 cents. But if they thought a little harder, they would realize that this cannot be right: the bat would then have to cost $1.10, for a total of $1.20. IQ is no guarantee against this error. Kahneman and Frederick found that large numbers of highly select university students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Harvard were cognitive misers, just like the rest of us, when given this and similar problems.”

Keith E. Stanovich, “Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests Miss,” Scientific American, November/December 2009, pp. 35-36.

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Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Subjugating Ireland

Selected from: Delancey Place

In today’s excerpt – subjugating Ireland in the early 1600s. England, having recently broken away from the Catholic Church, feared that Catholic Spain would use still-Catholic Ireland as a stronghold for invading England, and therefore had incentive to subjugate and “colonize” Ireland. England could look to the new European experiences in the New World for examples of how to colonize and subjugate. And the colonizing mission required colonists to wear civilized clothes and inhabit civilized housing – however impractical that might be:

“Ironically and perhaps fatefully, early English conceptions of Indian life and character became intertwined with the justification of another colonizing venture. Ireland was nominally under English rule, but effective control did not extend beyond the small district known as ‘the Pale,’ centered on Dublin. The rest of the island was home to ‘the wild Irish,’ who were divided into loose collections of warlike people with a common interest in defying the English. With the Spanish seemingly set on ruling the world, England awakened to the danger that Catholic Spain might take over Catholic Ireland as a stronghold for invading England. Subjugating the Irish became a way of forestalling Spain. Elizabeth began by parceling out the country to her favorites, [Sir Walter] Ralegh among them. These English overlords could either tame their wild Irish tenants or supplant them with a more productive and tractable population. It was the same problem that Ralegh faced at Roanoke and the Virginia Company would face at Jamestown, not to say the problem the United States would face in its long march across North America.

“[To the English,] the Irish shared with American Indians a profound deficiency that required correction if they were to make proper subjects: they were not civil. That word carried hidden meanings and connotations that would reverberate throughout American history. Civility was a way of life not easily defined, but its results were visible: substantial housing and ample clothing. Uncivil peoples were naked and nomadic. Civility required of those who deserved the name a sustained effort, physical and intellectual. It did not require belief in Christianity, for the ancient Greeks and Romans had it; but Christianity, or at least Protestant Christianity, was impossible without it. The Irish Catholics and those Indians converted by Spanish or French missionaries were not, in the English view, either civil or Christian. The objective of colonization was to bring civility and Christianity to the uncivil, in that order.

“The objective was threatened, indeed civility itself was threatened, if lazy colonists, coveting the unfettered life of the uncivil, went native, or, it might be said, went naked. ‘Clothes were of tremendous importance, … because one’s whole identity was bound up in the self-presentation of dress. The Scots and Irish – and soon the American Indians – could not be civil unless they dressed in English clothes, like civilized people, and cut their long hair,’ signs of a capacity to submit to the enlightened government of their superiors.

“England’s preferred way of civilizing the Irish was through force of arms, but after ruthless military expeditions failed to bring widespread peace, and with it civility, the new solution was to plant the country with people who already rejoiced in that condition. Refractory natives would learn by example, or simply give way, left to a wretched existence on the margins of a profoundly transformed Ireland. Not long before the Virginia Company began supplying people to Jamestown for much the same purpose, the English authorities began settling far larger numbers across the Irish Sea, an estimated 100,000 by 1641.”

Edmund S. Morgan and Marie Morgan, “Our Shaky Beginnings,” The New York Review of Books, April 26, 2007, pp. 21-22.

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Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bear Creek

Bear_Creek_Poster

Bear Creek Music & Art Festival

Third Annual Bear Creek Music & Art Festival

We live right across the road from “Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park”, and get to listen to this event…..all night long. ¬†ūüôā ¬†The bands and event goers don’t call it quits until about 5:00am . This makes for a very interesting night’s sleep….at times interrupted by some exotic music and sounds (sometimes firecrackers). ¬†The park, and our property (about 8.5 acres) is four miles from the city of Live oak, so there are no strict rules about loud noises in the middle of the night. I’ve lived on this property for almost 13 years and am still amazed at the goings on over there at “The Park”. ¬†I’m not complaining. Since my retirement, I’ve been thinking of even going over there and checking it out. ¬†Not sure what to wear, so I guess I should make a clandestine¬†reconnaissance¬†of the goings-on.

Anyway, you can check it out here

What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Frank

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Wind-Up Car

The Wind-Up CarWent to see movie “The Christmas Carol” in 3D…in Voldosta with Jesse. It was a good movie, we all liked it. When leaving the movie, Jesse noticed a “Wind-up car”…here’s the picture.



Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 2:09 am  Comments (2)  
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The American Dust Bowl

Selected from: Delancey Place

In today’s encore excerpt – the American Dust Bowl, which lasted from 1930 to as late as 1940 in some areas. Rated the number one weather event of the twentieth century, the Dust Bowl covered one hundred million acres in parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, and left thousands dead, diseased and destitute: “The rains disappeared – not just for a season but for years on end. With no sod to hold the earth in place, the soil calcified and started to blow. Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains – a force of their own. When the dust fell, it penetrated everything: hair, nose, throat, kitchen, bedroom, water well. A scoop shovel was needed just to clean the house in the morning. The eeriest thing was the darkness. People tied themselves to ropes before going to a barn just a few hundred feet away, like a walk in space, tethered to the life support center. Chickens roosted in mid-afternoon. …“Many in the East did not believe the initial accounts of predatory dust until a storm in May 1934 carried the windblown shards of the Great Plains over much of the nation. In Chicago, twelve million tons of dust fell. New York, Washington – even ships at sea, three hundred miles off the Atlantic coast – were blanketed in brown. Cattle went blind and suffocated. When farmers cut them open, they found stomachs stuffed with fine sand. Horses ran madly against the storms. Children coughed and gagged, dying of something the doctors called ‘dust pneumonia.’ In desperation, some families gave away their children. The instinctive act of hugging a loved one or shaking someone’s hand could knock two people down, for the static electricity from the dusters was so strong. …

 

“By 1934, the soil was like fine-sifted flour, and the heat made it a danger to go outside many days. In Vinita, Oklahoma, the temperature soared above 100 degrees for thirty-five consecutive days. On the thirty- sixth day, it reached 117. …

“On the skin, the dust was like a nail file, a grit strong enough to hurt. People rubbed Vaseline in their nostrils as a filter. The Red Cross handed out respiratory masks to schools. Families put wet towels beneath their doors and covered their windows with bed sheets, fresh-dampened nightly. …

“Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, [was the] day of the worst duster of them all. The storm carried twice as much dirt as was dug out of the earth to create the Panama Canal. The canal took seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was airborne that day. … As the black wall approached, car radios clicked off, overwhelmed by the static. Ignitions shorted out. Waves of sand, like ocean water rising over a ship’s prow, swept over roads. Cars went into ditches. A train derailed.”

Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time, Mariner, Copyright 2006 by Timothy Egan, pp. 5-8.

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Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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