The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
 
 
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Politics ... Science ...

It looks like America will not wake up this November 9th to the prospect that Donald J. Trump will be its next President. [Nov 9, 2016: OUCH!!] But Trump is not the kind who will just fade as the political sun sets over them, as with Mitt Romney, Bob Dole and Al Gore. So a lot of pundits have been discussing where Trump goes next. Most seem to agree that if Trump can’t be President of the US, he will then try to become the President of a Trump TV Network.

Joe Klein just posted a good article in Time Magazine which outlines the rationale for a post-election Trump TV network, and what it will look like. It will probably be a combination of politics, reality TV and extreme fighting. Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingram will no doubt be a big part of it. I’ve been listening to Hannity’s radio talk show on my way home from work for the past year or so, and it became clear to me by the third or fourth month that Hannity is more of an an entertainer than a legitimate news reporter or a political analyst, despite his current pretensions with Fox News.

As Klein cogently observes

Trump’s campaign orbit–a ridiculous political operation–looks far more plausible as a communications company: Steve Bannon of Breitbart, Roger Ailes and Roger Stone . . . We’ve been heading this way for a long time: a fusion of politics and entertainment, a political party that’s also a network that’s also a reality-TV show.

Well Joe, remember that  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:56 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Food / Drink ...

Not long ago I took a liking to cinnamon tea. I had purchased a bag of cinnamon sticks on eBay and when you take a handful and soak them in a cup of boiling hot water, they make a really spicy and comforting brew that goes down really easy. I don’t put any sugar in this tea, but it still tastes very sweet. I gather that the sweet sensation is some kind of trick that cinnamon oils play on your mouth, given that there isn’t supposed to be much real sugar in cinnamon sticks (which are dried tree bark).

Over the past 6 months I had gotten into the habit of drinking a small cup of cold-brewed black coffee right after dinner, sometimes with a few cookies (I drank the coffee cold, but would warm up the cookies a little in the stove or microwave — a nice little desert). I am really sensitive to caffeine and coffee in the evening definitely keeps me up well into the small hours. But I was using decaf, and so I seemed to get to sleep OK after I finally hit the pillow (but as to sometimes waking up too early, that remained and still remains an issue with me).

Nevertheless, I had a doctors checkup coming, so I started taking my blood pressure to see if there were any issues with that. If things are ok, my pressure will dip down quite a bit after dinner, even after my stomach finishes digesting things at around 8:30 (surprisingly, blood pressure goes down for most people while digesting food; even though the heart is working to help the stomach do its thing, enough water is absorbed out of the blood and into the stomach and intestines during this time so as to lower overall blood pressure). My blood pressure crawls down throughout the evening, and by bedtime it often is only a few points higher  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:39 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Economics/Business ... Politics ...

The theme of the September 2016 issue of Scientific American was “The Future”. That is not an unusual theme for a science magazine. Over the past few decades, however, SciAm has become more and more “socially conscious”, for better and for worse. Science certainly does have to answer to society, and what society values will influence science (although by the same token, science needs and has traditionally maintained some independence and shelter from the whims of politics and business; science is supposed to be about truth, whereas politics and business so often aren’t!).

Therefore it was not all that unusual to see an article in the “future” issue written by a Princeton economics professor. This article was titled “The Threat of Inequality“, and it discussed the potential social and political consequences of the economic trend over the past few decades (but especially since the 2008 financial crash) of declining economic growth and growing income inequality. The name of the author is Sir Angus Deaton. Whoa, now there’s a name that reeks of authority! Well, in my book, anyway. But let’s see what Professor Deaton has to say.

Sir Deaton starts by reminding us how much economic progress the world has made since the 18th century. “We are enormously wealthier and healthier now than at any time in human history”. Over this time, Prof. Deaton admits that the world has not shared uniformly in this progress. “Per capita incomes in the US are 4 times higher than China, 10 times higher than in India or Nigeria, nearly 20 times higher  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:55 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Art & Entertainment ... Photo ...

Here’s a shot that I took back in the summer of 1969. It was taken with a crummy instamatic camera in a setting with not-so-good lighting, but the subject is perhaps interesting (to urbanologists anyway). It’s a shot of the Myrtle Avenue “L” train somewhere in Brooklyn (near Myrtle Avenue, no doubt; L here means “elevated”; the actual subway route for this line was the “MJ” line). I’m a boy from the Jersey suburbs, but as a kid I would sometimes make an urban venture across the Hudson River, often with my cousin Mike. On this day, Mike and I were exploring the Myrtle Avenue subway line, which the New York MTA was about to abandon. You can see why, it was kind-of old and creaky, and there were other subway lines and bus routes in that neighborhood.

Since my teen years, I have learned a little bit about fine art, and I came to appreciate the works of the “Ash Can School“, especially painter John Sloan. The Ash Can School was active and prominent in the decades leading up to World War 2, and focused on every-day urban scenes using something of an impressionist style. I thought it might be interesting to take my Myrtle Avenue L shot and run it through the Photoshop “artistic” conversions, to see what a Sloan or a Glackens might have made of the Myrtle Avenue L. Here’s what I came up with, for better or for worse:

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:52 am       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Economics/Business ... History ... Public Policy ... Society ...

In my last post, I discussed the notion of a “political economy” and reviewed some very insightful thoughts by political journalist John Judis, which seek to explain the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in economic terms. In a nutshell, Judis feels that both Sanders and Trump represent different points on the same underlying wave of populist dissatisfaction with our nation’s current political economy. Just what is this “economy” that so many people are dissatisfied with? It’s a high-tech version of what we called “Reaganomics” back when it was introduced in the early 1980s, with various modifications and adjustments made during the presidency of Bill Clinton. As such, I call it the “Reagan-Clinton1” political economy, although Judis gives it the more academically acceptable tag of “market liberalism” (not to be confused with political liberalism, which largely detests Reaganomics).

Many other pundits have explained the rise of Trump in terms of racism, perhaps a backlash against the ascent of Barack Obama. They admit that many of Trump’s largely white supporters have experienced tough economic times, but contend that the motivations behind Trump’s ascendancy largely reflect the fact that minorities have gained power, and that whites are increasingly anxious about this. Certain pundits, however, (e.g. David Roberts and Derek Thompson) also contend that this racial resentment has an economic component, a racial selfishness reflecting the belief that whites are no longer automatically first in line when it comes to reaping the benefits of the system.

My question is whether the political responses to Reaganomics from the black community and its leaders have in any way fed into the white racial anxieties that Trump seems to have drawn much of his support from.

Ironically, a look at some income statistics spanning the past 40 years indicates that in the aggregate, whites  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:33 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
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