Sunday, January 22, 2017

Awesomeness Is Everything: Past is a Foreign Country

I, may I rest in peace — I, who am still living, say,
May I have peace in the rest of my life.
I want peace right now while I’m still alive.
I don’t want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg
of the golden chair of Paradise, I want a four-legged chair
right here, a plain wooden chair. I want the rest of my peace now.
I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without
and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always
my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.
Wars with the old weapons — sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,
dull ripping knife, love and hate,
and wars with newfangled weapons — machine gun, missile,
words, land mines exploding, love and hate,
I don’t want to fulfill my parents’ prophecy that life is war.
I want peace with all my body and all my soul.
Rest me in peace.

From “In My Life, on My Life” in “Open Closed Open,” translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld (Harcourt, 2000). 

It’s about our one life, our one and only life.

Pretty Big Dance Company Gets More Than A Pretty Big Audience

As in 7 million YouTube views. “When people look at a full-figured girl, automatically they just think, they can’t do. But there are lot of plus-sized people that can really dance and move. I mean, you have to know your body as a dancer. You have to know how to transfer your weight. Of course, you know, being a woman of my aesthetic, I know my body. I know what I’m capable of doing. So you just have to be comfortable in your own skin.”

What If The Future Is As Real As The Past?

Physicists have been suggesting as much since Einstein. It’s all just the space-time continuum. “So in the future, the sister of the past,” thinks young Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, “I may see myself as I sit here now but by reflection from that which then I shall be.” Twisty!

To be alive is to marvel — at least occasionally, at least with glimmers of some deep intuitive wonderment — at the Rube Goldberg machine of chance and choice that makes us who we are as we half-stride, half-stumble down the improbable paths that lead us back to ourselves. My own life was shaped by one largely impulsive choice at age thirteen, and most of us can identify points at which we could’ve pivoted into a wholly different direction — to move across the continent or build a home here, to leave the tempestuous lover or to stay, to wait for another promotion or quit the corporate day job and make art. Even the seemingly trivial choices can butterfly enormous ripples of which we may remain wholly unwitting — we’ll never know the exact misfortunes we’ve avoided by going down this street and not that, nor the exact magnitude of our unbidden graces.
In her final letter, written as Freedman was en route to a deathbed visit but only delivered two weeks after Carson’s death, she writes:

My darling,
You are starting on your way to me in the morning, but I have such a strange feeling that I may not be here when you come — so this is just an extra little note of farewell, should that happen. There have been many pains (heart) in the past few days, and I’m weary in every bone. And tonight there is something strange about my vision, which may mean nothing. But of course I thought, what if I can’t write — can’t see to write — tomorrow? So, a word before I turn out the light.
Darling — if the heart does take me off suddenly, just know how much easier it would be for me that way. But I do grieve to leave my dear ones. As for me, however, it is quite all right. Not long ago I sat late in my study and played Beethoven, and achieved a feeling of real peace and even happiness.
Never forget, dear one, how deeply I have loved you all these years.

Always, Rachel is an achingly transcendent read in its entirety. Complement this particularly poignant portion with Oliver Sacks on the measure of living and the dignity of dying, then revisit Carson on why it is more important to feel than to know.

Time-Travel Therapy

Can a faux 1950s downtown sharpen the minds of dementia patients?

Awesomeness Is Everything

Malchkeon explains why encountering vastness makes us more spiritual, generous, and content

The National Security Agency is an enormous organization by nearly any corporate standard, with more than 35,000 employees. Former Deputy Director Chris Inglis once joked that the spy agency is “the biggest employer of introverts.” More frequently though, the NSA refers to itself as the largest employer of mathematicians. In recent years, while the U.S. has continuously confronted new threats in cyberspace, the agency has increasingly become a training ground for young, talented, highly educated computer security professionals. Underlining the NSA’s race to hire the best and brightest is a list of 213 universities that the spy agency has designated as “National Centers of Academic Excellence.” These schools offer a myriad of computer security training programs, each providing a stepping stone into the secretive agency. In this context, Carnegie Mellon University is to the NSA what the University of Alabama is to the NFL. And Professor David Brumley is CMU’s Nick Saban.

Tribal Warfare in Economics Is a Thing of the Past

Scientists turn mild-mannered mice into killers Financial Times Do I not like where this goes. The obvious application will be the military.


Dwight Eisenhower was the first U.S. President to use a teleprompter during the 1952 presidential campaign (c) Life Magazine by Alfred Eisenstaedt

No matter our age or stage in life, we can all relate to relationship woes. Long lost loves. Loves of lives past. Every relationship we have informs who we are today. So I can certainly relate to the age-old dilemma – what to do when you unexpectedly run into of an ex?! Regardless of your current relationship status, I agree with our semi-regular relationship contributor Megan – it is an act of human decency for an ex to acknowledge the kindness and loving that once existed between you. Sadly, it doesn’t always go down that way. Sound familiar? Read below to see if this story applies to you too.

Open records requests are a key to governmental transparency. Being personally subjected to one is unnerving.
How do you avoid such a request if you work at a public law school? You stay silent. Non-involvement with anything in the least bit controversial helps protect you from the possibility that anyone will ever ask to see the content of your emails.
I have often asked myself the theoretical question: if I had lived in Nazi Germany, or in the McCarthy era, would I have remained silent or would I have taken the risk and spoken up. That question is no longer theoretical.
Andrea A. Curcio, law professor at Georgia State College of Law, was one of 1,400 law professors who signed an open letter opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Her email, along with the email of colleagues working at public institutions, is being subjected to an Open Records Act request from a conservative political publication that seeks ‘a copy of each email (inbound, outbound, deleted, or double deleted) for the university email accounts of Andrea A. Curcio and [a colleague who also signed the letter] from the dates of December 15, 2016, to and including January 3, 2017, which includes any of the keywords ‘Sessions,’ or ‘Jeff Sessions’ or ‘Attorney General.’
[Gavel bang: TaxProf Blog]

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Question Time: Trump

A Modest Proposal for Improving Communications Between the Executive and Legislative Branches in the Age of Donald Trump

Two words… Question Time

Taxcast: South Dakota as Tax Haven, Stopping Corporate Tax Dodgers

How South Dakota is helping the US become an even bigger player in the tax haven game

I guess we’ll see about the Teflon… 
Jubilant Trump awaits inauguration as US president FT. Trump: “If it really pours tomorrow, that’s O.K., because people will realize it’s my real hair.”
Donald Trump inauguration South China Morning Post. Round-up of SCMP stories.
Trump Transition
Soros Says Markets to Slump With Trump, EU Faces DisintegrationBloomberg and Buffett Says He Supports Trump’s Cabinet Picks ‘Overwhelmingly’ Bloomberg. ZOMG! Even the good billionaires are fighting amongst themselves!

People are intensely loyal to groups which abuse newcomers. Why? |

Freedom is a thread of light snaking
the canyon like an ant through a conch...

The totalitarian phenomenon is not to be understood without making an allowance 
for the thesis that some important part of every society consists of people 
who actively want tyranny: either to exercise it themselves or
 — much more mysteriously — to submit to it
~Jean-François Revel, born around this date in 1924

Some of our most important thoughts, feelings, and experiences are inexpressible. But can we know something if we ... can’t articulate it?

Should you make your “to-do” list transparent for everyone to see?

By Vlad Tarko penned brilliant biography of Elinor Ostrom, it reminds me of NSW PAC female leadership .  Here are two excerpts:
She went to Beverly Hills High School, across the street from her house.  “I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” she later recalled, “because 90 percent of the kids who went to Beverly Hills High School went on to college.  I don’t think I would have gone to college if not for that environment.”  She recalled that her “mother didn’t want me to go to college — [she] saw no reason whatsoever to do that…”
“Basically I put my husband through law school,” she recalled…Her own [first] husband objected to her getting a PhD, which led her to divorce him.
This book captures the essence of Elinor Ostrom.

The Difference Between Chance And Luck

Luck is chance viewed through the spectacles of good or bad fortune. It’s really good news, at least for you, if you win the lottery, and it’s really bad news if you’re one of the passengers on the plane when it crashes. Chance, then, is the objective reality of random outcomes in the real world, while luck is a consequence of the subjective value you place on those random outcomes. Luck, we might say, is chance with a human face. Understanding this gives us a clearer view of reality, and a clearer view of reality means we can choose better courses of action.”

People are intensely loyal to groups which abuse newcomers. Why? Were those Czech Army Experiences Worse than Joining the Loyal Crown Employees or Joining the Intense Employees of Certainty of Life ...

In the autumn of 1900, Oscar Booz, a 17-year-old student at West Point military academy, was hazed by fellow cadets. Tabasco sauce was forced down his throat on three different occasions, and he was coerced into boxing a much larger student who savagely beat him. After the fight, he became ill, moved home and died.
The hazing became the subject of a national scandal when a congressional investigation into the death was launched. Ultimately, congress declared that West Point was not accountable for Booz’s death, but the committee was harsh in its assessment of the academy. Congressman Edmund Driggs issued a fiery denunciation: ‘[the hazing] was atrocious, base, detestable, disgraceful, dishonourable, disreputable, heinous, ignominious, ill-famed, nefarious, odious, outrageous, scandalous, shameful, shameless, villainous, and wicked’. It was a serious embarrassment for West Point, and senior military figures pledged to mercilessly stamp out the culture of hazing.
They failed. As recently as 2015, at least 30 freshmen cadets at West Point were injured during a mass ‘pillow fight’ brawl organised by their seniors. Rumours suggested that the injuries were due to some cadets concealing heavy objects in their pillowcases. Twenty-four cadets suffered concussions.

Antipodean V Bohemian Groups - We Are All the Same ...

When You See Your Novel Translated From The Language You Wrote It In To Your Mother Tongue

“To have one’s novel translated – on one hand, an honor. On the other – you might as well be trying to have sex using another person’s body.” Now imagine that that body used to be yours, and you remember it. Boris Fishman tells the story of reading from the Russian translation of his A Replacement Life at a book tour event in Estonia.

The CIA’s Reports on Philosophers

Via the interesting and often rather amusing Twitter feed of Nolen Gertz, aphilosopher at the University of Twente, we learn of what is surely just some of the work that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has done on philosophers. (more…)

Another day, another lawsuit charging a social media company with material support for terrorism. This time it’s Twitter and IS attacks in Paris, Brussels [Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare; Tim Cushing, Techdirt] More: And yet another (Dallas police officer versus Twitter, Facebook, and Google; listed as one of the filing attorneys is 1-800-LAW-FIRM, no kidding, complaint h/t Eric Goldman);  

Fact-checking gets sued in Germany

A project conducted by students from the Cologne School of Journalism got into legal trouble for assigning truth rankings to the politicians they fact-checked. The right-wing AfD party pounced on methodological flaws to persuade a court to order the project organizers to retract or correct their work. The legal issues faced by "Faktenzoom" put into sharp focus the challenge of quantifying truthfulness across politics. Read the article on