Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Income inequality report - A crushing cycle

The researchers, led by Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, surmised that wealthy people embedded in a milieu where rich and poor live in starkly different circumstances may feel more entitled to their moneyed status, or more threatened by the prospective loss of privilege that would come if resources more evenly distributed. They may feel that the system whereby wealth is apportioned is fairer because they so rarely come into contact with the poor.
The findings, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, indicate that an urgent need — making rent, getting money for food — tugs at the attention so much that it can reduce the brainpower of anyone who experiences it, regardless of innate intelligence or personality. There's a widespread tendency to assume that poor people don't have money because they are lazy, unmotivated or just not that sharp, said study coauthor Sendhil Mullainathan, a behavioral economist at Harvard University. "That's a broad narrative that's pretty common," Mullainathan said. "Our intuition was quite different: It's not that poor people are any different than rich people, but that being poor in itself has an effect." "Almost like a computer that has some other process running the background, poverty creates this nagging background process and that could itself have an effect on actual cognitive capacity," Mullainathan said.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.

"Not one glance of compassion, not one commiserating reflection that I can find throughout his book, has he bestowed on those who lingered out the most wretched of lives, a life without hope in the most miserable of prisons. It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself. Nature has been kinder to Mr. Burke than he is to her. He is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird. Accustomed to kiss the aristocratical hand that hath purloined him from himself, he degenerates into a composition of art, and the genuine soul of nature forsakes him. His hero or his heroine must be a tragedy-victim expiring in show, and not the real prisoner of misery, sliding into death in the silence of a dungeon."
Thomas Paine,
Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

John Gray - the silence of animals notes quotes

Freud – “In the realm of fiction we find the plurality of lives which we need.”
Tertullian – “Credo quia absurdum – I believe because it is absurd. “
Few human beings are as unhappy as those who have a gift that no one wants.
The myth of progress is the chief consolation of modern humankind.
Freud dying…Near the end of his illness, when he could no longer smoke, he described life as “a small island of pain floating in an ocean of indifference.”
“The rest is silence.”
“All philosophy is a critique of language.” Wittgenstein
If human life requires repression, it also needs myth.
Denying reality in order to preserve a view of the world is not a practice confined to cults. Cognitive dissonance is the normal human condition.

Friday, October 16, 2015

David Foster Wallace on Toxic Postmodernism

I have revisited David Foster Wallace and what I appreciate about him is that he critiques the postmodern hyper sarcasm and cynicism...too much of it can be a paralyzing force... it makes me think of the era of the Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park where nothing is real, genuine, sacred, or meaningful...
“What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human [...] is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.” ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
"Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. There's some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who's come to love his cage… The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years."
“There's good self-consciousness, and then there's toxic, paralyzing, raped-by-psychic-Bedouins self-consciousness.”
David Foster Wallace

Monday, September 7, 2015

On the heights of Despair in Damascus دمشق

“We were fond together because of the sweep of open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to remake in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep, and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.”
T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
Picture of Lawrence in Damascus on the height of success in the Arab Revolt. There is something haunting about it. Getting to the top and realizing there is something like an abyss.
The philosopher Cioran wrote a book of essays called "on the heights of despair"

Monday, August 31, 2015

Game of Thrones quotes

Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.
Cersei Lannister
A Clash of Kings
I rose too high, loved too hard, dared too much. I tried to grasp a star, overreached, and fell.
A Dance with Dragons, George R. Martin
I never wanted to see half the things I’ve seen, and I’ve never seen half the things I wanted to.
A Feast for Crows, George R. Martin
He may not look as tall or strong as some, but he is worth more than all of them.
A Storm of Swords
There are no heroes…In life, the monsters win.
A Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark
How much can a crown be worth, when a crow can dine upon a king?
A Feast for Crows
The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.
George R. Martin
My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel.
Sansa Stark, A Storm of Swords

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Living Wage News: Restaurant pays waiters $25 an hour

"I think that restaurants will have to do this,” said Ms. Cohen, who pays servers at Dirt Candy $25 an hour, well above the $7.50 for tipped workers that will go into effect in New York at the end of the year. “How else do you compensate for this extra money you’ll have to pay?”
Like many owners, Ms. Cohen has long wanted to close the yawning earnings gap between those who prepare the food and those who serve it. Tips are not shared with the kitchen staff, whereas the revenue from certain types of surcharges and higher menu prices can be distributed to everyone. Restaurateurs tick off a long list of reasons for being drawn to the idea. In some cities like New York, where tipping is subject to a confusing welter of federal, state and local regulations and tax laws, eliminating it would simplify bookkeeping. Managers say it would also allow them to better calibrate wages to reward employees based on the length of their service and the complexity of their jobs.
NY Times Article

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians

"Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians." Muhammad Iqbal
TE Lawrence after the Arab revolt and how the politicians of France and Great Britain took over the process: “…the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew.”

Fallen Leaves

I imagine leaves must feel like this after they have fallen from their tree,” Lawrence wrote a friend one week before the motorcycle accident that killed him.