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Unfinished: The Simulated World

-Run experiments with random assignment on social psycholgical and anthropological questions.
-Imagine three monotheistic religions, with the same characters, stories and shared scriptures, that have minor differences about some historical figures. (and same city)
-Pre-historic history
-Theoritical historians
-And all you’re doing is exposing people to the same dangers and pains they would be exposed to in reality.
-Plus, you can hardwire suffering buffers like endorphins to lessen the pain of death. Or you can pull the sentient being entirely and have an autoresponse for others.
-You can start and stop, and change as needed.
-You can only be certain of your own subjective experience, the continuity of your memories, and the behavior of others.


From the Notebook

-If anybody wants to make a big deal about it, today is the celebration of the anniversary of the day my life became legally protected under Roe v. Wade.

-Finished reading Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” earlier this month. I had about three weeks to read the novel and prepare a long essay on the topic to try to win a contest to help pay for some of my graduate school bills. I will probably save a longer critique of the book for a later day. I will mention I think Ayn Rand is occasionally a good storyteller. Atlas Shrugged held my interest through almost 900 pages. As a novel though, it falls apart after John Galt’s speech.

-Also finished Oliver Sacks’ “An Anthropologist on Mars”. It is a wonderful book of unusual case studies involving some fascinating bits of brain “conditions.” There is the artist who went colorblind (so colorblind in fact he lost the very memory of “color”). Another essay was about another artist who had an almost photographic memory about his childhood home in Italy. As someone interested in the field of Psychology, I found the book engrossing.

-A personal note, I finished up another quarter in the MBA program, got an A in both marketing and human resources. I’m getting to the last few classes of the program and will have to soon decide to do either a thesis or a business plan. Not sure which one to do.

Travels through America’s Purgatory: Rochester, MN

Just a note: I have finally finished this essay, over a year after I originally started writing it and almost 14 months removed from the event that took me to Rochester.

It’s famously known for being the home of the Mayo Clinic, the premier medical center of the world.

Well, if it weren’t for the hospital, there really wouldn’t be much else to Rochester.

And why is the hospital so important? Aren’t hospitals about death, dying and sickness? Wouldn’t you rather have your town known for other things?

Say what you will about Milwaukee, at least they have Bob Uecker.

I shouldn’t say Rochester is only known for the Mayo Clinic. They also have a water tower painted to look like a giant ear of corn. Yea.

I was in Rochester for the MNGOP state convention. Oh yeah, I’m living the gangsta life.

Timing myself rather successfully, I got to Rochester early enough to drive around a bit. I soon realized leaving this place wouldn’t be hard at all.
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Quote o’ the Day

When I die, I’d like to be scattered over my hometown. But not, like, cremated or anything.

–Mitch Berg

More Cases for Capitalism

Via one of the guys on my Twitter feed.

Lost Twins Q&A

So, the Twins community at the Bleacher Report used to do regular roundtables where a bunch of us were asked questions related to the Twins team. We never really got around to doing these this year (not a big loss) but I found my responses to an old one for this year (published by Dan W). It dates to before the start of the season and my responses are humorous in hindsight.

Does the addition of Joe Crede make the Twins substantially better or are fans setting themselves up for a disappointment?

Count me among the naysayers. At best, Crede forecasts as a light-hitting average-fielding 3rd baseman. At worst (and much more likely) this year should represent Crede’s last year as a major league caliber player at barely above replacement level value. I would put his OPS under .700 and would put him just below the median point in Zone Rating and Range Factor on defense. He’s no better than a Buscher/Harris platoon and I think he represents a downgrade from Matt Macri, who is ready for a long look in the majors. By mid-season the Twins will be embarrassed by left side of their infield. The money spent on Crede was wasted.

Should the Twins continue their pursuit of Juan Cruz, even if it means leaving Jose Mijares in AAA?

Sure, pursuing Juan Cruz actually makes sense. This would seem to doom any deal. As for Mijares, we can’t make too much of his limited action in the majors last year, and he still has options, so it makes complete sense to vet him some more at AAA.

How should the Twins honor Carl Pohlad? If you were asked to designed one, what would your arm patch look like?

The Tengu were mythological creatures who guarded the forests and mountains of Japan. They were fierce and skilled warriors and soldiers often sought out Tengu in hopes of becoming great warriors themselves. They were considered both malevolent and honorable, but few who rendezvoused with them kept their sanity. As Tengu were to warriors, Carl Pohlad was to businessmen.

His business exploits are the stuff of legend. He once purchased a public transportation company, made it profitable, used government money to buy another business (an airline) then sold the transportation company, now an empty husk of broken and failing equipment, back to the government. Some say he was playing the state of Minnesota for suckers from the beginning and that’s probably right. When it came to the Twins, it must be remembered Pohlad was perfectly willing to contract the team when it was in his best interests. He was a great businessmen but he lacked an loyalty or morals; he was all that was wrong with businessmen today. But, under his watch the team enjoyed some of its greatest successes, along with a decade of darkness.

The patch I would design for Carl Pohlad would be of a Celtic Sword, gripped by a warrior, with a dollar bill skewered on the tip.

Who will surprise us in Spring Training the way Denard Span did last year?

Danny Valencia, Steve Tolleson and Trevor Plouffe should be the prospects to watch. All three are close to the being major league ready. Luke Hughes might come into camp swinging a sweet bat, but the one guy everyone will probably miss is Matt Macri. The guy can hit and should be in top form. Age-wise he’s at the peak of his production value. Another guy to look forlornly at is Jason Pridie, who won’t be playing for the Twins out of Spring Training unless there’s some sort of terrible bus accident. When putting my money on the one player I suspect most capable of a Span-like charge, Macri is the winner.



This year, I choose to remember what was lost, not how it was lost.

Lincoln the Hack

From LINCOLN’S YARNS AND STORIES by Alexander Kelly (via DailyLit):


In October, 1864, President Lincoln, while he knew his re-election to the White House was in no sense doubtful, knew that if he lost New York and with it Pennsylvania on the home vote, the moral effect of his triumph would be broken and his power to prosecute the war and make peace would be greatly impaired. Colonel A. K. McClure was with Lincoln a good deal of the time previous to the November election, and tells this story:

“His usually sad face was deeply shadowed with sorrow when I told him that I saw no reasonable prospect of carrying Pennsylvania on the home vote, although we had about held our own in the hand-to-hand conflict through which we were passing.

“‘Well, what is to be done?’ was Lincoln’s inquiry, after the whole situation had been presented to him. I answered that the solution of the problem was a very simple and easy one–that Grant was idle in front of Petersburg; that Sheridan had won all possible victories in the Valley; and that if five thousand Pennsylvania soldiers could be furloughed home from each army, the election could be carried without doubt.

“Lincoln’s face’ brightened instantly at the suggestion, and I saw that he was quite ready to execute it. I said to him: ‘Of course, you can trust want to make the suggestion to him to furlough five thousand Pennsylvania troops for two weeks?’

“‘To my surprise, Lincoln made no answer, and the bright face of a few moments before was instantly shadowed again. I was much disconcerted, as I supposed that Grant was the one man to whom Lincoln could turn with absolute confidence as his friend. I then said, with some earnestness: ‘Surely, Mr. President, you can trust Grant with a confidential suggestion to furlough Pennsylvania troops?’

“Lincoln remained silent and evidently distressed at the proposition I was pressing upon him. After a few moments, and speaking with emphasis, I said: ‘It can’t be possible that Grant is not your friend; he can’t be such an ingrate?’

“Lincoln hesitated for some time, and then answered in these words: ‘Well, McClure, I have no reason to believe that Grant prefers my election to that of McClellan.’

“I believe Lincoln was mistaken in his distrust of Grant.”

I found this story remarkable. Lincoln discussing using his influence over the military as President in order to win an election. An action ethically dubious at best.

(And let’s be clear, Lincoln did encourage generals of soldiers from states that didn’t allow military men in the field to vote absentee to furlough as many troops as possible for election day.)

The lesson?

Never forget that no matter who the politician is, they are a politician. Lincoln used powers at hand that his opponents didn’t have for his own political gain.

Always look upon any office holder with skepticism, even if you admire the person.

The September Campaign

It’s the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. I was originally hoping to write a series of posts on the invasion, but life and grad school got in the way. Instead I point you all to Mitch Berg’s excellent piece on the subject.

But, Mitch only scratches the surface. So, I’m requiring all of you to read up on the Invasion of Poland and admire the extreme bravery and tenacity of the Polish people.

(And I’ll point to some specific people to help out: There was a general who never never lost an engagement until his army ran out of ammo. There was the CIC of the Polish Armed Forces who, after escaping the ruins of Poland with his life, smuggled himself back into occupied Poland to help with the resistance. And there were the guys in the Modlin Fortress who held out for over two weeks until they were basically defending a pile of rocks with nothing but rocks.)