And available, here.
I’ve been extremely sick over the last couple of weeks, feeling better now though, but I’m way behind in all those household chores and other projects. Not to mention the novel, which is still on track to be published shortly.
- I think I already wrote a quick post on this already, but I’ll say it again: The liberal arts have become a joke degree because the liberal arts are not about looking stuff up on Wikipedia, stealing the sources, rewording the articles and getting college credit for “learning”. The liberal arts are about an intense exploration of the great ideas and the great books. And this has been lost from the modern curriculums. The liberal arts are about lots of reading, lots of thinking, and even more reading. Since modern technology has made it possible to get a liberal arts degree without actually pursuing the liberal arts, and combine that with the watered down curriculum, and the idea of going to college to get such a degree is foolish on the face of it.
- After the novel is done, I’m hoping to write a series of posts giving tips and pointers on how to write a novel, since it’s something I get asked a lot about.
- Completed the Discoveries Playlist on Khan Academy. These are groups of short videos containing almost no dialogue. They present the various possible ways things were discovered in human prehistory, including magnetism. Interesting stuff, good in conjunction with the more traditional science videos.
- Completed all the Reverse Engineering videos on Khan Academy. I really enjoyed these. Basically, a dude took apart some household appliances and showed how they worked. Good stuff.
Worthless by Aaron Clarey. Some of us made a huge mistake in the majors we chose to pursue in college. We were given no guidance, and we were not warned of the economic forces about to destroy the idea “Any College Degree Equals Comfortable Middle Class Existence.”
The Bubble Gum Card War by Dean Hanley. This was an interesting book, not only for the information regarding the creation of the modern baseball card, but for businessmen as well. How can a startup company defeat an established company? The right people, the right product, and a little bit of luck.
Medititations on the First Philosophy by Rene Descartes. This is the first step toward existentialism in Western thought, as well as an interesting introduction to skepticism and ontological proofs for the Divine. While the ontology part of this work is now discredited, the first parts dealing with “what can we know and how do we know it” are still considered essential philosophic reading.
- Liberal Arts: Dead Forever (martinandrade.wordpress.com)
- Is A Liberal Arts Degree Worth My Time? (tamu.uloop.com)
- Are Liberal Arts Degrees Still Worth It? [Infographic] (business2community.com)
Met with some of my draft readers the other day, and after lots of discussion, I decided it was about time to invoke the 90-90-10-50 Rule. Basically, the 90-90-10-50 rules states that on any writing project, 90% of your goals are achieved in about 90% of the time you’ve allocated for the project; but to achieve the other 10% of your goals will require 50% more time above what you’ve already put into it. Vince Flynn uses this rule as a stopping point, once he achieves 90% of his goals, he stops all creative work on a project and focuses on getting it published as fast as possible. I agree with Flynn in this regard, and also try to stop tinkering with a project at the 90-90 mark and move on to the next project. It’s simple pragmatism, I’d rather publish more novels than get stuck trying to make one novel absolutely perfect. I’m now at the 90-90 mark with my current novel, so I’m going to focus on getting it published as quickly as possible. Thanks to all my proofreaders for their feedback.
Fairly boring month, did some work on the novel (which is still on schedule) and watched a lot of movies. I also got a new job, so things are looking up.
- Seriously, I’m hoping to write a blog post every weekday for the next year. The blog is nine-years old tomorrow, I’d like to have a good year to finish up the decade I’ve spent blogging. I’m not sure why.
- If you have someone who is entering the “college” stage of their life, be sure to tell them about Straighterline.com, a website that offers real college courses, online, for pennies on the dollar.
- Vince Flynn’s The Third Option; Sometimes Vince writes stuff I can’t put down, and other times he gets lost in meetings. This was the latter. There were so many “meeting” scenes in this book that it took away from everything else. I know meetings are part of life, but I don’t want them in books about Mitch Rapp.
- Newt Gingrich’s Rediscovering God in America; Short little volume about the history of belief in the US. Gingrich makes the case that we’ve overreached in dividing Church and State. I agree, but this book is more about making Gingrich money than it is about, well, anything. I wouldn’t buy this book.
Happy New Year! I’ve been really busy the last six weeks or so, thanks to the job at Walmart. Since retail gets really crazy this time of year, I’ve had to put in a lot of hours. Which is good, since I’m temping. As such, I didn’t get a lot of anything else done. I discovered just how hard it is to do continuing education while working full time at a tough, labor-intensive job. [My temp period has ended, btw.] I’m still trying to get the novel done and into Amazon.com for everyone. I’m currently waiting on some reviewers and there’s always an endless stream of proofreading to do. I’m hoping to get everything done in January. Quick overviews of the books I read this month and my self-directed coursework is below…
- Audio Course from the Teaching Company: History of the Supreme Court by Professor Peter Irons. This comprehensive course surveys the entire history of the US Supreme Court, focusing on the major personalities that dominated the court and the important cases that defined the Bill of Rights. The course is taught by a very knowledgable professor who admits a left-wing bias (he’s an ACLU guy). Personally, I really enjoyed the course, a lot of emphasis was put on the civil rights movement in the latter half of the twentieth century. I would not recommend this course as an audio course for use in the car, the details are too technical and numerous to be absorbed during drive time. But I would recommend the course for people interested in law, but smart enough not to go to law school.
- “Marco Polo, If You Can” by William F. Buckley. This spy novel starring Blackford Oakes deals with events around the downing of an American U2 spy plane in Russia. (The 1960 U2 incident). This book includes some interesting theories regarding the historical flight, as well as fascinating portraits of Ike, Hoover and Kruschev. But I found it less enjoyable than the first Oakes novel, Saving the Queen. But I’m not giving up the series, which I will continue to read through until I’m finished.
- Audio course from the Teaching Company: Explaining Social Deviance by Professor Paul Wolpe. This short, ten-lecture course on sociological theories of deviance was very interesting. As someone who studied psychology, I think most of sociology is bunk. This course didn’t really shake me of this attitude, but being introduced to the methods of sociologists is invaluable to understanding how some of these intellectual ideas mold political thought. But, if you’re looking to find out why people do bad things, go somewhere else.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Holiday[s]. I can tell you this time of year is way different for those of us on the retail side of things. My temporary employment with Walmart ends on the 28th. I hope to be able to spend some time completing the novel and cleaning the house after that. Who knows, I might even have a blog post or two worth publishing in the near future.
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I’ll be taking a bit of a break after the election. My pWP stat did great, it was over 94% accurate in predicting the races where I was keeping track, and that’s a higher percentage than the model itself would expect. The model only failed to be predictive in races where there wasn’t regular polling (North Dakota). I’m hoping to write a long and detailed analysis of the 2012 election and codify all the lessons I learned in using pWP to create a guide for future elections. But I’m going to start a new job here very soon, so I may not get to any of that at all. There will be a few posts on here, from time to time, but for now I have some other big projects to get to. I’m still working on the final draft of a novel, which should keep me plenty busy. Thanks everyone for your interest in my pWP stat, I hope my Republican friends learn to embrace polling as another tool in winning future elections.
- Nate Silver: Obama’s big win doesn’t mean the 538 guru is an electoral genius (slate.com)
- Republican Rick Berg concedes to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota … – Washington Post (blog) (washingtonpost.com)
- Nate Silver Went 100% on Election Day: Super Accurate Statistical Analysis or Luck? (dailyfinance.com)
Filed under: Personal Update, Political | Tagged: Barack Obama, Democratic Party (United States), Election, Electoral college, Heidi Heitkamp, Mitt Romney, Nate Silver, New York Times, North Dakota, Politics, President, Republicans, Rick Berg, United States | Comments Off
- I have a new novel in the works. I’m completing the reviewer draft now. Then I’ll send it out, get feedback, make changes. My hope is to get this all done and published before the Christmas season, but the book will definitely be done by El Dos. More later, I assure you.
- It’s been a slow couple of months in the self-education department, but I did finish some Khan Academy Playlists: Core Finance, Credit Crisis, and two Art History lists (Medieval Era and Proto-Renaissance). Core finance is a beast of a playlist, but it has some really great stuff in it. The Art History playlists are really great, I didn’t think I’d continue watching them, but they’re very interesting and well done. I’m close to finishing all the economic and finance videos. When I do, I’m going to return to math and science. Not counting the math playlists (that have expanded and I went through them before KA found a way to track video views), I have completed 15 total playlists.
- I’ll be tracking pWP (political Win Probability) throughout the election cycle, looking especially for events that change pWP. Hopefully, we can begin to understand how and when elections are really decided. What is making this more difficult is the way RealClearPolitics lists their polls. I keep good notes on everything I record in my spreadsheet, but sometimes a Likely Voter (LV) poll reverts to a Registered Voter (RV) for some odd reason [and I don't use RV polls in calculating pWP], some polls disappear (because they are tracking polls and their totals are constantly renewed) and there have been some other problems. So the graphs may show some changes from time to time, I’ll do what I can to properly account for everything, but it’s been weird.
- This is a depressing personal note; I last appeared on the radio four years ago (Burger Tour interview on NARN). It’s been almost three years since I did a podcast. It was enjoyable while I was there, but it sure is fleeting.
- My dystopian short story about government healhcare is finished, and the remaining sections will be posted up here in the coming months.
Just more boring summer reviews. Nothing else going on.
- Saw the movie ”Prometheus” a couple of weeks back. And it was unwatchable. I would have walked out, but my theater has no pinball machine and I was with friends. It’s a prequel to “Alien” but I didn’t know that going in (and I found myself thinking, almost through the entire movie “this is just a ripoff of Alien”). The plot makes no sense; you have to fill in all the gaps that are left completely unexplained with your own imagination. And my imagination was much more interested in trying to clip my fingernails (which will make you a very unpopular person in a movie theater). I asked for, and got, an apology from the friend who chose this movie.
-Watched the entire Khan Academy MicroEcon Playlist; Sal explains most of the common topics covered in an introductory MicroEcon class. He actually covers more information than what was included in my MicroEcon 1001 course. It’s remarkable this level of instruction is available for free.
-Also got through the American Civics Playlist on Khan Academy. Here, Sal explains some of the basics of American polity, including how we pick a president and what our present budget situation looks like (it’s ugly). Another very good playlist to watch. Some of it will be reivew material for the politically interested, but it never hurts to review the basics.
-At the end of June, I will have been on Khan Academy for a full year, though I didn’t create an account until July 20th. On average, I have watched a video every day, and completed a math skills test every weekday. I can’t describe how edifying the hole experience has been, and how great it is to fill the knowledge gaps left by 12 years of government schooling.
-Plato‘s “Statesman”; in this dialogue, Plato tries to pin down exactly what is the true nature of a “statesman” and what constitutes the science of statesmanship. There are some fascinating passages, including more material attacking democracy. A true statesmen is like a basket weaver; if you’re wondering. (This text is part of the GBWW 10-year reading plan)
- “Kill Shot” by Vince Flynn; it’s Flynn’s second retrospective Mitch Rapp novel. And it’s not fun. There is a great scene in the first part of the book, as Mitch Rapp gets ambushed by some bad guys. Then there’s almost 200 pages of plodding, boring, uninteresting plot points (mostly scenes of people having meetings). Finally, there’s some gun play at the end. And because we know Mitch Rapp lives to save the US dozens of times later on in the timeline, we know Rapp isn’t going to die. It’s possible to make retrospective novels interesting, but Flynn fails here.
-”101 Golf Tips” by Peter Ballingall; I’ve read it before, but I haven’t reviewed it before. The copy I have is dated, but from what I can tell there’s a newer version available. The tips are somewhat helpful, and I’ll probably pick this book up and review some things on occasion. It’s definitely for true beginners.
- Taking the . . . Kill Shot (hopeofglory.typepad.com)
- Khan Academy (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- VIDEO: Khan Academy reinvents distance education (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Veteran Preference bills. One passed in Minnesota, allowing companies to create their own veteran hiring programs, giving preference to returning vets for jobs. I don’t believe in artificial preferences, ever. But, I would, if I were a hiring manager, prefer to hire vets anyway, due to their experiences and work ethic. I’ve worked with veterans and they’re great. But, as always, there are individual differences that need to be noted. Also, bills like this don’t solve the problem. Something is keeping hiring managers and HR types from hiring vets; vets face double the unemployment rate as the rest of the population. And that needs to be addressed, and I doubt the solution can come from government; it will have to come from business schools.
- Having a great difficulty writing. For about a decade I could reliably punch out a thousand words a day. The well has dried up. I’m trying to find a way to salvage a hobby I really care about and that has been the focus of my life for so long, but it’s getting tough. Once you get on the wrong side of the age/accomplishment curve, unless there’s real money at stake, your hobbies are going to die. There are a few short stories I’m going to finish, there’s also a novel I’d like to finish. And maybe a series or two of blogposts. But even those meager projects seem impossibly optimistic.
- Like everyone else, I struggle with my weight. I’ve been trying a new way to control my calorie intake. On average, a person needs 2000 calories a day. More, you gain; less, you lose. For an active male, 90 calories an hour is our balance point. So, I’ve been trying to eat 90 calories an hour, for every hour I’m awake. I have a four-hour breakfast, a four-hour lunch, and a four-hour dinner (all around 400 calories total). I allow some snacks to get to about 20 hours. And I stop there. So, I keep my calorie intake above the starvation-point (where your metabolism gets out of whack) and below the static-weight mark. It’s been just two weeks, but I’ve seen good progress. In order to stay full, I avoid dense calorie foods (like candy) and stick to more filling foods (fruits and vegetables and grains) so I don’t feel hungry. Now I’m waiting to see where I plateau, and from there I might adjust the calorie intake again (maybe down to 80 calories an hour). This seems easier than trying to track everything you eat all day in a diary; you only need to remember how many hours you’ve eaten or have left. The only simpler method is to try what Aaron Gleeman did, prepare a giant batch of food (in his case, rice) and eat from that batch all day.
- Watched the documentary “An Inconvenient Tax” (on Hulu) about our country’s income tax system. Conclusion? our tax code is really awful. But what is worse is when you add in state and local taxes, along with regulations. Once you have complicated taxes and regulations at every level, everywhere, you prevent growth. And this is where we are at now. We have a regulatory structure that is unnavigable, a tax structure that is incomprehensible, and an education system that is unreformable. This is a perfect storm for economic disaster. Other countries can reform and evolve (and many have, in fact) and send capital away from us, and impoverish us. And that’s bad.
- Saw “The Avengers” over the weekend. In 3D. And was really impressed. Other than some basic stupid (flying aircraft carriers) and bad physics (how many G’s can Stark take in that suit? 50?), the movie was very enjoyable. And it always pains me to give a movie a good review. In general, the fear of bedbugs keeps me from attending movies at theatres (seriously, research that, scary stuff), this movie is worth the risk.
-Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership; Hyde was a former communist who ran a communist newspaper. In this slim volume, he explains the tactics communists use to achieve their goals using the resources they have at hand. Hyde wants these tactics to be adopted by Christians (the ethical tactics, that is). As a manual for leadership, this book is pretty good.
-Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind; This was one of the greatest books I have ever read. It’s a survey of conservative thought since Edmund Burke, but it is also an intellectual and historical apologia for conservatism and a call to action for all conservative-minded individuals to devote themselves to defending and preserving ‘The Permanent Things’. This book will be near me for the rest of my life.
-Chris Kyle, American Sniper; Kyle was a SEAL sniper who operated in Iraq for a majority of the conflict, including the Battle of Fallujah. In his career, he recorded more sniper kills than any other American ever has. But the book is more than just a diary of a successful soldier. Through clear and concise prose, Kyle presents the realities of our war in the Middle East. It’s a brutal affair, no quarter is given by either side. There’s an intensity to this book absent from other war memoirs I have read. I’ll leave it at that. It’s a definite “to read” if you have interest in the subject area.
- Bradley Cooper Sets up NAVY Seal Movie AMERICAN SNIPER (geektyrant.com)