Thursday, March 31, 2016

Agreeable extroverts don't care about your typos and grammatical errors

If researchers would just bother to look, they would find these kinds of personality-effect interactions all the time. Most researchers would be content with a study that only showed that typographical or grammatical errors negatively affected perception of potential housemates. They would miss that this effect is found only among introverts and low agreeableness individuals.

"The authors recruited 83 volunteers (on MTurk) and asked them to imagine that they’d placed an online ad looking for a new housemate. The volunteers were then asked to evaluate a set of 12 ‘response e-mails’, as if from people replying to their ad. Some of the responses contained errors. Each participant got shown one version of each email: either well-written, or with typos, or with grammos [i.e., grammatical errors] (not both.)
The results showed that both typos and grammos had a negative impact on how likely the participants would be to accept the sender of each email as a housemate. Typos had the larger effect.
Yet there were individual differences in the tolerance of errors, and Boland and Queen found that this correlates with personality. They had participants fill out a questionnaire measuring the “Big 5” or OCEAN personality traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Some traits were associated with more negative reactions to the errors. For instance, introverts tended to judge text with typos more harshly than extroverts. Less agreeable people took a harder line on grammos. These personality-error interaction effects were, in some cases, even larger than the overall effects of grammos."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Even physicians don't know what to say when your family member died of suicide

"It will be much more pleasant chatting if you don't mention anything awkward, like a family history of suicide, or, God forbid, your own recent thoughts about ending your own life."

Science of Us
"Few people know what to say when someone dies, and this is perhaps especially true when the cause of death is suicide. In 2008, psychologist Maggie Gugliemi interviewed people who lost loved ones to suicide, and their combined experiences speak to that isolation. Here’s a story from a woman named Alyssa:
I’ve been to a number of different doctors, medical doctors [since the death] and they always take your health history when you go see a new doctor. I recall a couple of times the doctor asking about family medical history. When they asked about my dad and I’d tell him he was deceased, the next question they would ask was, “How did he die?” I would respond, “Suicide,” and then there was silence. Nothing, no response. No “I’m sorry,” no further questioning, just silence. It happened a couple of times … You know that they don’t even know where to begin with questioning about something like that."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Is your cat giving you schizophrenia?

No. Note that barely half of the mentally ill persons in these studies had a cat during their childhoods. Data such as these are all it takes to add "having a cat during childhood" to the long, long list of "risk factors for schizophrenia." Having an infection of any kind (t. gondii or not) increases risk for genetically vulnerable individuals, as does head injury, birth complications, childhood hunger, etc.

Torrey & Yolken (2003), Emerging Infectious Diseases

"Epidemiologically, two studies have reported that adults who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder had a greater exposure to cats in childhood. In one study, 84 (51%) of the 165 affected versus 65 (38%) of the 165 matched controls had owned a house cat in childhood (p = 0.02) (39). In the other study, 136 (52%) of the 262 affected versus 219 (42%) of the 522 matched controls owned a cat between birth and age 13 (odds ratio 1.53; p<0.007) (40)."

39. Torrey EF, Yolken RH. Could schizophrenia be a viral zoonosis transmitted from house cats? Schizophr Bull. 1995;21:16771.PubMed
40. Torrey EF, Rawlings R, Yolken RH. The antecedents of psychoses: a case-control study of selected risk factors. Schizophr Res. 2000;46:1723. DOI PubMed

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Nun Study and Alzheimer's

Marcoantonio Bassetti (1611), Old Nun.

Atlas Obscura
"The participants of the Nun Study included 678 women, all over age 75, with some already exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms. Since the sisters at the convent lived similar lifestyles, many factors could immediately be ruled out, providing some experimental control. Over the next few decades the Sisters dutifully took cognitive, memory and physical strength tests: recalling word lists, pulling on weighted cords, and getting physical and mental checkups.
The participating nuns shared written accounts of their lives and personal essays from when they first took their vows with researchers, and even these turned out to provide possible clues to the disease. Indeed, Snowden found that sisters who wrote more complex personal essays in their youth tended not to develop the disease."

In other words, high IQ is a protective factor against Alzheimer's dementia. The smarter novitiates wrote more complex essays and were -- 60 to 80 years later -- less likely to develop dementia. In unguarded moments, neurologists talk about having "brain to burn."

It's good to know that the original Nun Study has inspired other studies:

"Compared to the original Nun Study, the Religious Orders Study is huge: it currently has over 1,350 participants, involves data from over 40 religious orders (including the School Sisters of Notre Dame), and is studied alongside the separate Rush Memory and Aging Project, a study of over 1,850 laypeople. It also includes more diverse group across races and backgrounds."

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Wings -- George Herbert (1593–1633)

They're angels wings, get it?

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sinne,
                  That I became
                        Most thinne.
                        With thee
                  Let me combine,
            And feel thy victorie:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Don't Get Around Much Anymore -- Duke Ellington (ft. Al Hibbler)

I missed the Saturday dance
I heard they crowded the floor
It's awfully different without you
Don't get around much anymore

I thought I'd visit the club
I got as far as the door
They'd have asked me about you
Don't get around much anymore

Darling, I guess that my mind's more at ease
Nevertheless, why stir up memories

I've been invited on dates
I might have gone but what for
 It's awfully different without you
Don't get around much anymore

I've been invited on dates
I might have gone but what for
It's awfully different without you
Don't get around much anymore, more, more, more
No baby, don't get around much anymore


Friday, March 25, 2016

CPB Classic: Where the Jobs Are—and How to Get One

From September 2013:

Where the Jobs Are—and How to Get One

In which the president and founder of Express Employment Services, the fifth-largest employment agency in America, bemoans the fact that 25% of would-be workers in the U.S. can't pass a drug test. (Guess what -- legalization of marijuana isn't going to make employers want to hire you! They care that you are a pothead, not that pot is illegal.) The same fellow claims that psych, poli sci, and sociology grads are unemployable, which is actually a baseless claim. The ability to complete a four year degree in any field signals a degree of cognitive ability and conscientiousness that is vanishingly rare in the pool of job applicants.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pensive and faltering -- Walt Whitman (1868)

PENSIVE and faltering,
The words, the Dead, I write;
For living are the Dead;
(Haply the only living, only real,
And I the apparition—I the spectre.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

At the last, tenderly -- Walt Whitman (1868)

AT the last, tenderly,
From the walls of the powerful, fortress'd house,
From the clasp of the knitted locks—from the keep of the well-closed
Let me be wafted.
Let me glide noiselessly forth;
With the key of softness unlock the locks—with a whisper,
Set ope the doors, O Soul!
Tenderly! be not impatient!
(Strong is your hold, O mortal flesh!
Strong is your hold, O love.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Noiseless, patient spider -- Walt Whitman (1868)

NOISELESS, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to con-
nect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Darest thou now O soul -- Walt Whitman (1868)

DAREST thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream'd of in that region, that inaccessible land.

Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.

Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Whispers of Heavenly Death -- Walt Whitman (1868)

WHISPERS of heavenly death, murmur'd I hear;
Labial gossip of night—sibilant chorals;
Footsteps gently ascending—mystical breezes, wafted soft and low;
Ripples of unseen rivers—tides of current, flowing, forever flowing;
(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human tears?)
I see, just see, skyward, great cloud-masses;
Mournfully, slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing;
With, at times, a half-dimm'd, sadden'd, far-off star,
Appearing and disappering.
Some parturition, rather— some solemn, immortal birth:
On the frontiers, to eyes impenetrable,
Some Soul is passing over.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Touch Me in the Morning -- Diana Ross (1973)

Pop music for grown ups. Fantastic towards the end where she sings a duet with herself. Who better to sing with Miss Ross?

Touch me in the morning then just walk away
We don't have tomorrow but we had yesterday
 Hey, wasn't it me who said that nothing good's gonna last forever?
And wasn't it me who said let's just be glad for the time together?

It must've been hard to tell me
That you've given all you had to give
I can understand you're feeling that way
Everybody's got their life to live

Well, I can say, "Goodbye" in the cold morning light
But I can't watch love die in the warmth of the night
If I've got to be strong
Don't you know I need to have tonight when you're gone?

'Till you go I need to lie here and think about
The last time that you'll touch me in the morning
Then just close the door
Leave me as you found me, empty like before

Hey, wasn't it yesterday
We used to laugh at the wind behind us?
Didn't we run away and hope that time wouldn't try to find us
(Didn't we run)

Didn't we take each other
To a place where no one's ever been?
Yeah, I really need you near me tonight
'Cause you'll never take me there again

Let me watch you go with the sun in my eyes
We've seen how love can grow, now we'll see how it dies
If I've got to be strong
Don't you know I need to have tonight when you're gone?

'Till you go I need to hold you until the time
Your hands reach out and touch me in the morning
(Mornings where blue and gold and we could feel one another living)
Then just walk away
(We walked with a dream to hold)
(And we could take what the world was giving)

We don't have tomorrow
(There's no tomorrow here, there's only love and the time to chase it)
But we had yesterday
(But yesterday's gone my love, there's only now and it's time to face it)
Touch me in the morning

Miller, Ronald N. / Masser, Michael

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Otto Prohaska books by John Biggins

How could I not have heard of this 2005 book? Or its three sequels? Seems like a must for George MacDonald Fraser fans.

From Publishers Weekly

The Austro-Hungarian submarine service during WW I is the unusual setting for first-time author Biggins's exciting debut, a retro techno-adventure story that falls somewhere between Tom Clancy and Patrick O'Brian. In an extended flashback, centenarian Ottokar Prohaska, ending his life in a Welsh nursing home, recalls his participation in the earliest days of undersea war, commanding U-boats so primitive that every dive was an adventure. Biggins brilliantly reconstructs the turn-of-the-century Hapsburg Empire, where situations might be hopeless but never serious. Prohaska is a well-rounded, sympathetic character whose point of view perfectly reflects the navy's officer corps. He and his crew sink ships, kill men and endure depth charging. They carry a pretender to the Albanian throne and transport a camel from North Africa to Crete. Underlying the picaresque adventures of these pioneering submariners is the ever-present prospect of dying in a steel coffin, whether from enemy action, asphyxiation, engine failure or mud. Prohaska's war has no glory--only the satisfaction of duty in a cause they believed in. This is top-notch military fiction with a literary flair, must reading for fans of the genre.

From Library Journal

Looking back on his career as a naval officer in the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy during World War I, 101-year-old Ottokar Eugen Prohaska narrates his experiences as a submarine officer in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas from 1915 to 1918. Stark realism and finely crafted humor characterize this well-balanced account of the Austrian submarine service during the conflict. Humorous episodes such as flushing a toilet while submerged, known as "U-boat baptism," and transporting a camel by submarine from North Africa to Albania are interwoven with moments of terror such as depth charge attacks and gun actions with ships. Biggins's use of narration, his thorough knowledge of the Adriatic, and good technical detail make this first novel of a little-known area of conflict compelling reading for those interested in the sea fiction of the period. Recommended for libraries with sea fiction collections.
Harold N. Boyer, Camden Cty. Coll., Blackwood, N.J.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Seamus Heaney on W.B. Yeats: Happy St. Patrick's Day

by Seamus Heany, The Atlantic, Nov 1997
"Already, at the age of thirty-six, Yeats was something of a legend. In his day-to-day life he presented a very deliberately composed profile to the world; in the course of his writing he equally deliberately re-presented himself. In the first schoolboy letter collected in the first volume of his correspondence he told about his efforts to walk on stilts (and provided a sketch of himself doing so), and from that point onward, right down to his final, valedictory poem, "Under Ben Bulben," in which he put himself into the third person and into history as "Yeats," the compulsion was always the same -- to raise himself to a new plane and a new power. His affectations, in other words, were just one consequence of his egregious need to manifest the artistic temperament. He famously declared that the man who sat down to breakfast was a bundle of accident and incoherence, whereas the man reborn in a poem was "intended" and "complete"; one way to see his life's work is as a pursuit of that intention of completeness. A writer's style, Yeats believed, is the equivalent of self-conquest, and he always envisaged his art as the reward of labor. The guardian angel of his "unchristened heart" was Plato's ghost.
His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
The word "apprentice" in the subtitle of this magnificent first volume of Roy Foster's biography endorses the poet's view of himself as a toiling intelligence, a Dantesque spirit pushing toward ever higher levels of visionary understanding and stylistic mastery. But the word "mage" is a reminder that the stylistic was not the only kind of mastery that Yeats sought. He would have liked to be able to boast with Shakespeare's Glendower that he could "call spirits from the vasty deep," and from his youth he committed himself intensely to the project of becoming an adept in the occult sciences. It was, for example, mediums rather than madams that he visited when he was in Paris in 1914, whereas twenty-seven years earlier, in London in 1887, he had found his way to Madam Blavatsky, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, a personage who proved as attractive to the realist in him as to the occultist. He liked her Russian horse sense and perspicacity; she was "a sort of old Irish peasant woman with an air of humour and audacious power," a woman who could say, "I used to wonder at and pity the people who sell their souls to the Devil, but now I only pity them. They do it to have somebody on their side."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

CPB Classic: What shall we do with the Useless People?

I posted this interview excerpt one year ago and still find it chillingly relevant:

Vision of the 21st Century: Give The Useless People Drugs and Videogames!

It reminds me that one-third of Americans 16 and older are not working. And that the Pentagon has not been interested in mass conscription for a long time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"All that is necessary for ugliness to prosper is for artists to reject beauty."

Could it be that we live in an ugly world because we are girding ourselves to slaughter each other?

by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal

"The picture that adorns the cover of the Dumas exhibition catalog is titled The Painter. It is of a naked girl...who stands up straight, facing the viewer. Her expression is of a defiant scowl, almost menacing. Her dark, deep-set, intense but indistinct eyes seem to express hatred, not of a particular object but of the world itself (inclusive of the viewer). Most of her torso is covered in light blue paint; far more disturbing, her hands, which hang by her side, are covered in paint: the right hand the color of dark, venous blood and the left hand the color of bright, arterial blood. One gets the impression that she has just come from the postmortem room or has perhaps murdered her mother. One is never too young to be a psychopath.
It is an extremely disturbing image, painted with talent. You are not likely to pass it by or to forget it. When I showed it to friends, not artistically inclined and unfamiliar with the notion of transgression as the highest good, they shuddered and said that it was sick and that it displayed a diseased imagination. Some will retort that outraged bourgeois have often reacted in this way to new art that subsequent generations took in stride and perhaps considered great. But it does not follow from the fact that a great work once caused outrage that a work that causes outrage is great. For myself, I have no difficulty in both admiring and disliking Dumas’s art.
...[I]t is not that the world has become “objectively” worse in the interval between [18th Century British painter Joshua] Reynolds and Dumas. In many respects, precisely the reverse is true, though many terrible things were done in that interval. Childhood is not less childhood than it was; children are not physically the uglier. Nor is it that we have become more intellectually sophisticated in the meantime, such that we have a better understanding of what human life is about and how it should be lived, or of the true wellsprings of human action.
...Marlene Dumas was indeed fortunate that, having attended art school in Cape Town, she was saved from the kind of provincialism now rampant in London, Paris, and New York. Her writing, collected in a volume titled Sweet Nothings (a title intended, one suspects, to ward off serious criticism), has an apodictic, take-it-or-leave-it quality: “Art is a low-risk, high-reward crime.” Or: “Now that we know that images can mean whatever, whoever wants them to mean, we don’t trust anybody anymore, especially ourselves.” This is a world without enchantment. The following words are revealing:
My generation cherishes loneliness
prizing it even above sex.
They are so sensitive,
they are allergic to each other.
One cannot help but suspect that there is bad faith in all this, that this is not so much how people feel as how they feel they ought to feel in order not to appear naïve.
...Dumas is guilty of a much greater evasion, caused by a fear of beauty. In a perceptive note in the catalog of her exhibition, by the critic Wendy Simon, we learn of this fear. Simon draws attention to “the extreme ambivalence we now feel towards beauty both within and outside art,” and continues: “We distrust it; we fear its power; we associate it with compulsion and uncontrollable desire of a sexual fetish. Embarrassed by our yearning for beauty, we demean it as something tawdry, self-indulgent, or sentimental.
All that is necessary for ugliness to prosper is for artists to reject beauty.
Lenin abjured music, to which he was sensitive, because it made him feel well-disposed to the people around him, and he thought it would be necessary to kill so many of them. Theodor Adorno said that there could be no more poetry after Auschwitz. Our view of the world has become so politicized that we think that the unembarrassed celebration of beauty is a sign of insensibility to suffering and that exclusively to focus on the world’s deformations, its horrors, is in itself a sign of compassion."



Monday, March 14, 2016

So long, ego depletion. Is stereotype threat next?

For all the Freud-bashing that goes on these days, social psychologists sure do borrow a lot of psychodynamic terms. Ego depletion, indeed!

Michael Inzlicht's blog
"As someone who has been doing research for nearly twenty years, I now can’t help but wonder if the topics I chose to study are in fact real and robust. Have I been chasing puffs of smoke for all these years?
I have spent nearly a decade working on the concept of ego depletion, including work that is critical of the model used to explain the phenomenon. I have been rewarded for this work, and I am convinced that the main reason I get any invitations to speak at colloquia and brown-bags these days is because of this work. The problem is that ego depletion might not even be a thing. By now, many people are aware that a massive replication attempt of the basic ego depletion effect involving over 2,000 participants found nothing, nada, zip. Only three of the 24 participating labs found a significant effect, but even then, one of these found a significant result in the wrong direction!
There is a lot more to this registered replication than the main headline, and deep in my heart, it is hard to believe that fatigue is not a real phenomenon. I promise to get to it in a later post. But for now, we are left with a sobering question: If a large sample pre-registered study found absolutely nothing, how has the ego depletion effect been replicated and extended hundreds and hundreds of times? More sobering still: What other phenomena, which we now consider obviously real and true, will be revealed to be just as fragile?
As I said, I’m in a dark place. I feel like the ground is moving from underneath me and I no longer know what is real and what is not.
I edited an entire book on stereotype threat, I have signed my name to an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States citing stereotype threat, yet now I am not as certain as I once was about the robustness of the effect. I feel like a traitor for having just written that; like, I’ve disrespected my parents, a no no according to Commandment number 5. But, a meta-analysis published just last year suggests that stereotype threat, at least for some populations and under some conditions, might not be so robust after all. P-curving some of the original papers is also not comforting. Now, stereotype threat is a politically charged topic and I really really want it to be real. [!!!] I think a lot more pain-staking work needs to be done before I stop believing (and rumor has it that another RRR of stereotype threat is in the works), but I would be lying if I said that doubts have not crept in."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Damned Man, from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment (1536-1541)

Michelangelo's famous Damned Man.
I suppose a theological, if not artistic, criticism of Michelangelo's The Last Judgment is that it is inspired more by Dante's  (c. 1265–1321) Divine Comedy than by The New Testament.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Baigio da Cesena as Minos, from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment (1536-1541)

Minos, judge of the Underworld by Michelangelo
Baigio da Cesena was the papal master of ceremonies (The Pope's M.C.!) who criticized Michelangelo's depictions of nude figures, saying that they would be more fitting for a "public tavern" than the Sistine Chapel. So Michelangelo painted him into the scene, with the ears of an ass and a viper biting his genitals, about to be cast into the Second Circle of Hell. When da Cesena protested, Pope Paul III (God bless him), said, "I have no jurisdiction over Hell."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

St. Bartholomew holding his own skin, from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment (1536-1541)

St Bartholomew, from Michelangelo's Last Judgement
He's holding the knife with which he was flayed alive, a martyr to his faith, and a reminder of mankind's brutality and rejection of Christ, i.e., the deservedness of their damnation. Legend has it that the flayed skin is a self-portrait of Michelangelo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mary and Jesus, from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment (1536-1541)

Mary and Jesus, from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment (Sistine Chapel), 1536-1541. He's casting the damned into hell, and she can't bear to look.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Ronnie and Nancy Reagan's Marriage

"I admire his integrity, his courage, his honesty, his steadfastness." If only more women would select men for their virtues. "Being in love" and "excellent combined income potential" are insufficient grounds for marriage.

LA Times, March 3, 1989
"The Reagans' rustic weekends at Camp David, adjusting to life outside of Washington and other inquiries about domesticity were among the questions asked by about 350 members of the Music Center support group that had gathered at the Mark Taper Forum in the morning.
And while she handled the personal inquiries smoothly, Mrs. Reagan was thrown by the last question: What characteristics do you most admire in your husband?
"Just a minute!" boomed a voice off stage, and out strode Ronald Reagan, totally surprising his wife and bringing the audience to its feet.
"There are some things I don't tell you," he teased, as Nancy greeted him with a kiss.
"I just want to thank you for recognizing Nancy," he said. "I don't know of anyone who's more deserving of it. Being married to Nancy is like a dream come true, my adolescent boy's dream of what marriage should really be like. As a matter of fact, I have to tell you she just goes into the next room and I find myself missing her."
That last sentimental anecdote drew a chorus of "Awwwwwws" and a round of applause.
...And what does she admire about her husband?
"His ability to surprise me," she said. "Seriously, I admire his integrity, his courage, his honesty, his steadfastness. I admire everything he did during the eight years, and before. And I'm glad he misses me when I'm in the next room."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ithaka -- C.P. Cavafy

Odysseus and Penelope by BohemianWeasel

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you. 
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars. 
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. 
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now. 
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become,so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

See also: Ulysses -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Well, at least The Donald has business experience?

The Victorians, who were right about an awful lot, equated show business and prostitution.

  Non-Governmental Experience
Truman Family farmer, haberdashery owner
Eisenhower President, Columbia University
Kennedy Pulitzer Prize winning author
Johnson High school teacher, 1928-1930
Nixon Best-selling author ("Six Crises")
Carter Family farmer
Reagan Actor, President of Screen Actors Guild
GHW Bush Founder and President of Oil Company, 1951-1966
Clinton McGovern for President '72 campaign worker 
GW Bush Co-owner of Texas Rangers baseball team
Obama U Chicago Law School Lecturer (1992-2004); author of two memoirs
Trump Real Estate/Casino Developer, Reality TV star

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wanted: President of the United States. No Experience Required.

Cicero rose to the consulship of the Roman Republic via the cursus honorum ("course of honors"). A young male patrician would first serve 2-3 years as an officer (military tribune) with a Roman legion. He could then seek election as a quaestor, with responsibility for Rome's treasury and public records. Then came service as an aedile, in charge of the public games in Rome. After that, he could serve as a praetor, or judge. Only after faithful service in the preceding offices, and after attaining the age of 42, could he seek election as one of two consuls, presiding for one year over the Roman Senate and commanding its legions. In the days of Empire, he could then serve as proconsul, governing a major foreign province and its armies.

  Government Experience
County judge, Senator (1935-45), Vice-President
NATO Supreme Commander
Congressman (1947-53), Senator (1953-60)
Congressman (1937-49), Senator (1949-1961), Vice-President
Congressman (1947-50), Senator (1950-53), Vice-President
State senator (1963-67); Governor (1971-1975)
Governor, 1967-1975
GHW Bush
Congressman (1967-71), ambassador to UN, ambassador to China, CIA Director, Vice-President
State attorney general, Governor (1979-81; 1983-92)
GW Bush
Governor, 1995-2000
State senator (1997-2004), Senator (2005-2008)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Donald Trump and our civilizational decadence

Donald Trump graduated from the now defunct New York Military Academy, where they gave medals for Neatness and Order.

The potential Presidency of "The Donald" isn't quite so shocking when seen as a sign of our civilizational decadence, which I think speaks for itself.

Truman Artillery officer, combat in France, WWI
Eisenhower Supreme Commander, European Theater of Operations, WWII
Kennedy Navy PT boat commander, Purple Heart recipient, WWII
Johnson Commander, USNR,  Silver Star for gallantry, WWII
Nixon USNR Combat Air Transport Officer, Guadalcanal, WWII
Carter 1946 USNA graduate, lieutenant in the Navy's nuclear program
Reagan US Army Air Corps Reserves, 1937-45, made training films, WWII
GHW Bush Youngest naval aviator when commissioned; Distinguished Flying Cross, WWII
Clinton None; backed out of ROTC commitment after getting a high draft number
GW Bush Texas Air National Guard, fighter pilot (no Vietnam service), 1968-1974
Obama None
Trump None

I omitted Ford (Lieutenant, USNR, USS Monterey aircraft carrier, WWII) because he was never elected President in his own right.

See also: Wanted: President of the United States. No Experience Required.;  and, Can you name the past 10 U.S. Presidents?