Caterpillar Inc. said it chose a site near Athens, Ga., for a new $200 million factory that will employ about 1,400 people and make construction equipment currently produced in Sagami, Japan.That will do a lot of good around here. It's a good choice -- we've got rail lines to Atlanta and Savannah, as well as the port at Charleston, and I-85 running through the territory as well. This has been a pretty depressed area the last several years, so this is very good to hear. A lot of my neighbors will be helped by it.
I had a horse do this once, with a couple of differences. First, he wasn't as athletic -- which means he didn't jump as far up in the air while coming over, but also that he weighed a lot more. Second, he landed right on me, crushing all the ribs on my right side. I guess that would have been about 2006. Still hurts sometimes.
Black-Scholes underpinned massive economic growth. By 2007, the international financial system was trading derivatives valued at one quadrillion dollars per year. This is 10 times the total worth, adjusted for inflation, of all products made by the world's manufacturing industries over the last century. The downside was the invention of ever-more complex financial instruments whose value and risk were increasingly opaque. So companies hired mathematically talented analysts to develop similar formulas, telling them how much those new instruments were worth and how risky they were. Then, disastrously, they forgot to ask how reliable the answers would be if market conditions changed.
Black and Scholes invented their equation in 1973; Robert Merton supplied extra justification soon after. It applies to the simplest and oldest derivatives: options. There are two main kinds. A put option gives its buyer the right to sell a commodity at a specified time for an agreed price. A call option is similar, but it confers the right to buy instead of sell. The equation provides a systematic way to calculate the value of an option before it matures. Then the option can be sold at any time. The equation was so effective that it won Merton and Scholes the 1997 Nobel prize in economics. (Black had died by then, so he was ineligible.)It's a genius act of advanced mathematics, which gives us predictability in an area of uncertainty and allows us to trade options at the level of ten times the total value of a century's production. There turns out to be just one little problem with it.
The Black-Scholes equation relates the recommended price of the option to four other quantities. Three can be measured directly: time, the price of the asset upon which the option is secured and the risk-free interest rate. This is the theoretical interest that could be earned by an investment with zero risk, such as government bonds. The fourth quantity is the volatility of the asset. This is a measure of how erratically its market value changes. The equation assumes that the asset's volatility remains the same for the lifetime of the option, which need not be correct.
Despite its supposed expertise, the financial sector performs no better than random guesswork.Oops. Guess that's why all those folks who used to have good jobs in construction are now raising their kids on the EITC. It wasn't because they didn't realize how dumb they were; it's because somebody else thought he was too smart.
This seems like a problem for our model too, though. We just finished a long talk about how markets make better decisions -- at least, when immediate information is available locally. Now, the financial sector is nothing if not a market. Isn't that right?
The dryer ran really loud, really hot, and quit after ten seconds.
Now at first I thought I had just been sold a lemon by a guy who had 'bought a better dryer' because the old one didn't work. After all, I'd wired it up correctly according to the diagram: white ground wire on the center, two hot wires on the sides.
After a little internet research, however, I found out that this is a common problem if the dryer is wired wrongly, i.e., if you get the ground on the wrong attachment. So I went down into the basement and snooped around, and found out that the previous owner of the house apparently did the dryer wiring themselves as an aftermarket. It's a rather amazing job -- not up to code, and somewhat more resembling a spider web than a professional installation. Still, it worked for two years, so I figured it probably still worked -- it just wasn't wired right according to code.
Once I sorted that out, I found the true ground and swapped the wires around, and the dryer works perfectly now. I kind of wish the previous owner of the house had mentioned his little adventures in electricity, though; but I suppose he would have believed that it would have lowered my offering price for the house. (He would have been right, too.)
Four-star junior tailback Alvin Kamara of Norcross, Ga., couldn't believe what he found in his mailbox after getting home from school one recent day. Or rather, what he found falling out of his mailbox.
"There were 105 letters from Alabama," Kamara told Rivals.com.Sending a kid lots of letters is a really nice way to ask him to join your football team, especially given how much work it is for someone from Alabama to write a letter.
Still, it sounds pretty weak compared to the old Bear Bryant play.
"If I wanted a kid bad enough," Bear Bryant of Alabama once said, "I used every trick I could think of.... [W]hen I was at Kentucky I dressed our manager, Jim Murphy, in a priest's outfit to recruit Gene Donaldson away from Notre Dame. Maybe Jim Murphy did tell Donaldson he was a priest. Shucks, I'd have told him Murphy was Pope....Well, the old days are gone forever.
Anybody who enters into even a casual discussion with a US citizen about their country’s constitution will be struck by the ease with which they reference names, dates and significant events in the creation – and subsequent amendment – of that 225-year-old document.How nice that this is the perception! Most of us would prefer only to deepen American appreciation for the Constitution and its history.
The author goes on to note that his own countrymen are not as excited about the constitutional process that underlies their present union. There are some reasons for this, including the fact that one of the most significant acts of union was the 1801 acts that brought Ireland into union with existing Great Britain. Technically two different acts -- one in each parliament -- it turns out that no one was much interested in celebrating the bicentennial in 2001.
In his turbulent career Jonson had many scrapes with the law, including prosecution for manslaughter, having killed the actor Gabriel Spencer in a duel in Hoxton Fields. Jonson escaped the gallows thanks to the old law excusing those who could read the so-called “neck-verse” from Psalm 51 as a test of literacy. In several plays, Jonson echoes his own experience with allusions to characters being “saved by the book”.The Cavalier Poets were a really interesting group, sadly not as well known these days. They favored a life of courage and boldness, humane and even bawdy: one of my favorite of their poems is built around a dream in which the poet imagined himself as a vine twining about his lady love, but found when he awoke that he was "more like a stock than like a vine." The allusion to the thick root stock, contrasted with the qualities of the vines that grow from it, would have been obvious enough in a more agricultural age.
One of the reasons I like the Cavalier Poets so well is that they often force us to rethink whose 'side' we are on in reading history. It is very common for Americans to take the side of revolution against the kings to be the side of progress, and to see in Oliver Cromwell a kind of predecessor. For part of the country, that's even somewhat true -- the Roundheads were the ancestors of the Puritans of Boston. Yet the attitudes of modern Boston have nothing to do with the Puritan ones, and will find very much more to recognize in the rowdy, bawdy Cavaliers.
There is an ironic reversal here in the South, for whom the Cavaliers make up many of our proper ancestors. In Theodore Roosevelt's day it was a commonplace of historians to divide the nation into the Roundhead Yankees and the Cavalier Southerners; Roosevelt does it himself in The Winning of the West. Yet of course, today the South is the Bible Belt, and far more likely to exhibit something like Puritanism than anywhere settled by the Puritans. On the other hand, the South is also the home of Outlaw Country Music -- and David Allen Coe would find much to recognize in Ben Johnson, as might Willie Nelson, or Johnny Cash, or Johnny Paycheck.
In any case, it turns out that Ben Johnson was buried in Westminster Abbey -- head first.
(H/t: Arts & Letters Daily)
Apparently this is an unusually snowy winter in Italy, however!
(Hat tip to Medieval News, though I gather the snow is current.)
Meanwhile, down at the Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival, two weeks ago in Flordia, they were singing about the Holy Land... sleeveless. Shirtless, even.
Drift back to the fall, and you can hear that piper at something closer to his best... along with a banjo player. I'm not actually in this video, but I easily could have been: I was right there all day, just not at this very moment. Several friends of mine pass in and out on the left hand side at times, though you won't be able to tell anything about them, being in the distance as they are. Still, a pleasant memory.
No, not that.
Actually, the news story that I found most striking today was this description of his economic plan. Now, his plan is interesting to me because it does several things that are outside the usual playbooks for either party:
[In addition to cutting spending by $5T in five years he wants to flatten the tax code...]
His plan would also likely mean a cut for many of the tens of millions of households making between $17,400 and around $50,000. They'd presumably fall into the 10 percent bracket, down from the 15 percent rate they currently pay. In keeping with his traditional views on social issues, Santorum also wants to encourage family formation (he and his wife have six children themselves), by tripling the personal deduction for each child, and by scrapping marriage tax penalties.
Unlike Mitt Romney, Santorum has said he opposes a rise in the minimum wage, although he wouldn't scrap the concept altogether, as some in his party would. As well as auditing the Fed, he'd have it focus only on controlling inflation, and not on promoting employment. Santorum supports Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to save money by transforming Medicare into a system of private insurance. And like every 2012 Republican presidential candidate current or former, he'd repeal President Obama's health-care law.
So far, that's a plan that sticks pretty closely to the standard GOP script. But other aspects of Santorum's proposal set him apart from his party, by grappling with issues of concern to Americans further down the economic spectrum.
Again like most of his GOP rivals, Santorum would lower the corporate tax rate. But he'd establish two new rates: 17.5 percent -- a 50 percent cut from the current 35 percent rate -- for most businesses, and zero for manufacturers. The goal, his website says, is to "multiply job opportunities for struggling middle-income families and renew communities that have lost critical manufacturing jobs."
In campaign appearances and debate performances, Santorum has often appeared eager to reinforce that focus on restoring middle-class jobs -- implicitly bucking the standard Republican line that derides issues of economic inequality and mobility as class warfare.
"We need to talk about income mobility," he implored his party at a Republican debate on economic issues in November, noting the sky-high jobless rate for Americans without college degrees. "We need to talk about people at the bottom of the income scale being able to get necessary skills and rise so they can support themselves and a family."
By the same token, Santorum hasn't shied away from mentioning poverty. "I don't believe that poverty is a permanent condition," he declares in the plan. "How do we effectively address poverty in rural and urban America? We promote jobs, marriage, quality education and access to capital and embrace the supports of civil society."Now, since we're in the middle of a bruising primary battle, let's assume that whomever the final nominee happens to be will adopt the best ideas out of all the competing plans to take forward to the general election. What are the best ideas here? What might need to go? What do other candidates have that you'd like to see added to the final plan? For example, do you like minimum wage increases, or do you prefer to avoid them, or would you like to see the minimum wage discarded entirely?
Do you like the concept of fighting poverty by promoting marriage -- we've often seen good evidence that getting and staying married is among the most crucial factors in staying out of poverty. Will increasing the incentives for marriage cut poverty?
What about the tax benefit for kids? It appears he is proposing a deduction increase that can only answer to your actual liability, rather than an increase in the Child Tax Credit that (like the EITC) it can bring a "refund" even though you didn't pay the taxes in actual dollars. At the lower end this might move some families off welfare; although some on the right regard the EITC-type plan as a form of welfare, since it results in transfer payments to poorer families.
I don't think I agree, though, because families raising children is what produces the best and most successful citizens, who will go on to pay taxes in the future. It is therefore a kind of public good, in that all of us reap the benefits whether or not we pay into it (at least, all of us who live long enough to go on Medicare, or drive on the highways). It's something we might reasonably support, not out of charity, but because it's the right thing to do, and because -- like making sure children are educated -- it works to the benefit of all of us.
Anyway, it's an interesting set of proposals. What ideas did other candidates have you'd like to see added? Which of these ideas do you not like, and why?
[T]he more that physicists stopped worrying about what their complicated equations meant and simply ran the numbers, the more progress they made. Some of their predictions have now been confirmed by experiments to 10 decimal places or more— the most accurate predictions in history.
Real objects cannot have infinite charge or mass or whatever. But when scientists in the 1950s started calculating those quantities with their latest and fanciest theories, infinities kept sprouting up and ruining things. Rather than abandon the theories, though, a few persistent scientists realized that they could do away with the infinities through mathematical prestidigitation. (Basically, they started calculating with and canceling out infinity like a regular old number, normally a big no-no.)
No one liked this fudging, but because it led to such stunningly accurate answers, scientists couldn’t dismiss it. In fact, the reigning paradigm in physics today—which describes the workings of invisible “fields” (similar to magnetic fields)— would not exist without this hand waving. And now physics is stuck with fields: they’ve become more fundamental to understanding the universe than mass or charge. Fields have become the very fabric of reality—even if our understanding of them relies on some unrealistic assumptions.
There is a sense in which that solves the problem, but it doesn't, really. The problem isn't even employer-sponsored health insurance, although that is part of the problem. Moving it to the government doesn't relieve anyone who pays taxes of material support for abortion. That's why there are always debates about taxpayer support for abortions.
What really would work is for everyone who takes the provision of contraception and abortion to be a sacred duty to provide them on a charitable basis. Just as the Catholics are providing hospital care to the poor, you too can give your money and time away. If it is really that important to you, there are plenty of people out there right now who would be only too happy to accept your donation.
Then everyone who wants to obtain these things can obtain them; and everyone who wants to support them can support them; and no one is forced to violate his or her conscience over it.
The first step is to accept that some people really do believe that abortion is a moral horror, and that it isn't right to make them participate in it.
If you can't accept that, well, Elise has another good point that might convince you instead.
[To] carry off an affair, [the adulterer who started this discussing by asking Rogers for advice] had to feel entitled to this misbehavior. To what does he feel entitled? Not all entitlements are bad. He might feel entitled to be swept away by a grand passion. He might feel entitled to lots of worshipful attention. He might feel entitled to more sex. He might feel entitled to stress relief. Who knows? It’s worth asking, framed that way -- to what does this man feel entitled, enough to violate the terms of one of the very few vows he’s made in his life. Seriously -- we watch vows from Crusaders, and comic book avengers, and nuns and scarlett o’hara’s calorie count . . . but we only make one or two in our life. What sort of entitlement makes it easy to disregard that vow?
Sinner is also in thrall to some particular bad ideas in circulation. Love conquers all, love excuses all, I couldn’t help myself, affairs are sexy, while married love is boring . . . who knows? It’s all on sale in hollywood, so there’s a chance the guy is just a sucker for pop-culture. He might want to consider what influences he succumbed to. Did he go looking? “Dear penthouse letters. . . . I never thought it could happen to me . . . .” I think it’s kind of funny, b/c what I get out of it is nearly an animist belief that the whole world is one pulsing orgasmic reality slightly covered with clothes and manners. If he keeps the attitudes, without examining them -- he might think he’s enslaved to the boring woman and has heroically given up wildly satisfying sex, sacrificed any possibility of his own happiness . . . it’s worth checking, to see what he thought about all of this . . . .
. . . The pain is realizing that [your wronged wife is] in love with a different man -- the good man you might have been. You are experiencing, possibly, a form of jealousy: she loves another. She thinks it is you. That’s a poetic form of justice, don’t you think?
Why not fit his face onto yours, and pretend to be him? A good, honorable, decent, loyal, faithful man. At some point, the mask might become true, and your smaller, meaner, more selfish self will have crawled into a corner, to not be appreciated, or see the light of day in all his meagre dragony glory. To be unknown, as you sought to reveal yourself, you must admit, is a sort of punishment. To not be accepted just as you are, as incontinent, weak, helpless . . . it’s every infant’s nightmare. you’ve just dressed it up in grownup clothes.
Your wife loves another man. You could have been him, but you aren’t. That’s the burden you are trying to cast off -- you’re jealous of him, the one she knows and loves . . . .
Don’t confess, and kill the other, honorable man. Behave as if he were you. You are his doppelganger. Do him proud, Joseph Conrad tough-man proud. You’ll have the chance to grow to be honorable.
UPDATE: These two are not of the same type, but I think they are worthy additions. The first captures the beauty of horsepower (hat tip: BSBFB). The second, some rising beauties of courage and skill.
We are not called to material success. We are called to obedience. We are called to love. The True, the Good, and the Beautiful will find their true place in our culture only when many more of us are obedient to Love.
"What is the object of human life? The enlightened conservative does not believe that the end or aim of life is competition; or success; or enjoyment; or longevity; or power; or possessions. He believes instead, that the object of life is Love. He knows that the just and ordered society is that in which Love governs us, so far as Love ever can reign in this world of sorrows; and he knows that the anarchical or the tyrannical society is that in which Love lies corrupt. He has learnt that Love is the source of all being, and that Hell itself is ordained by Love. He understands that Death, when we have finished the part that was assigned to us, is the reward of Love. And he apprehends the truth that the greatest happiness ever granted to a man is the privilege of being happy in the hour of his death.
He has no intention of converting this human society of ours into an efficient machine for efficient machine-operators, dominated by master mechanics. Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that "they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate."
Not his enemy, to be sure! Jesus said "I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you[.] If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"
Chesterton put it into verse, a verse that all of you know well:
Yea, I will bless them as they bend and love them where they lie,
When on their skulls the sword I swing falls shattering from the sky.
The hour when death is like a light and blood is like a rose, --
You never loved your friends, my friends, as I shall love my foes.
If I am to love a man, I must love him as he is; yet if I am to love him as I love myself, then I may fight with him to the degree that I would fight myself. I may even kill him, if there are things I would rather kill myself than be guilty of having done.
If I can but forgive his soul, I am doing all that is asked in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." If I can do that, then we may fight each other as hard as needs be -- and we may even love the chance to strike a blow for what is right, best, just. Even the most wicked man is therefore lovable, insofar as he gives us the greatest opportunity to create good in the world. Even our own capacity for sin is lovable, for the same reason.
So, there are two lessons of substance here. The first is this: One of the things we might forgive God for is the idea of original sin. For if it were not for the evil in us, others would not have the chance to strive brightly against a terrible foe.
The second is the answer to a question Cassandra once asked: 'Why can't we just do the right thing, because it is the right thing?' The answer is that, if we did -- if we did just that -- no one would have the chance to brighten their spirit.
The evil in us bends to the good of others, and so even it is worth loving, in its way.
[W]ith the Norman Conquest, a new form of kingship was imposed on the English people. William I, for example, made far-reaching changes to solidify his regime-change, but at the same time showed less interest in England than in his own native Normandy. Lesyer says that for William, “England was a source of revenue, no more, no less.”
Although subsequent monarchs were somewhat better on establishing positive relations with their English subjects, the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 quickly led to the growth of his saintly cult and restarted pro-English views that had largely laid underground for the previous decades. Leyser makes a point of noting that it is “hard to find any English king who inspired affection,” and while countries like France produced hagiographies for some of their rulers, this did not exist in England.
Leyser argues that it was also during this period that as the story of King Arthur became popularized by writers such as Geoffrey of Monmouth, he began to be seen as the ideal king, who would return and right all the wrongs imposed on the English people – and that these wrongs often were committed by the present-day kings. For Leyser, nationalist sentiment emerged in opposition to the crown, with King Arthur one of the main representatives of these views.With this in mind, it is not surprising that many English monarchs were lukewarm to depicting themselves as a new Arthur, and it was during the reign of Edward III that another English hero was given more prominence – St.George, a soldier from late antiquity who became the focus of several hagiographic legends. King Edward did much boost the figure of St.George, as well as that of the Virgin Mary. He tied the fortunes of the Plantagenet family to these two saints, and used their cults to promote his own rule.Leyser concludes by noting that by the late Middle Ages it was St.George who became the leading symbol of the English nation, giving “a crippling blow on Arthur, from which he never recovered.”
One small problem with that thesis: Edward III died in 1377. Guess who was born about 1405?