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  • January 2011
    S M T W T F S
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  • Quote:"A nationwide crisis had developed in Russia affecting social, economic, and political relations. Disorder in industry and transport had intensified, and difficulties in obtaining provisions had increased. Gross industrial production in 1917 had decreased by over 36 percent from what it had been in 1916. In the autumn, as much as 50 percent of all enterprises were closed down in the Urals, the Donbas, and other industrial centers, leading to mass unemployment. At the same time, the cost of living increased sharply. The real wages of the workers fell about 50 percent from what they had been in 1913. Russia's national debt in October 1917 had risen to 50 billion rubles. Of this, debts to foreign governments constituted more than 11 billion rubles. The country faced the threat of financial bankruptcy.[1]

From the Notebook

Cover of "The Zero Game"

Cover of The Zero Game

-About 30,000 Romans died in riots over the 121 and 113 B.C. elections. Seven Black Republicans were murdered in Alabama in 1874. Or Ocoee Florida in 1920 where fifty Blacks were killed in a KKK driven pogrom. These are three examples among a tragic history of political violence the world has lived with for thousands of years. Versus today in America where one crazy anti-Semite obsessed with grammar (more than clearly mentally disturbed) committed an horrendous act of violence. While I’d like society to do a better job getting help to the crazies, I don’t see a meaningful correlation between our current political rhetoric and societal violence. It’s likely Loughner would have found anything to become obsessed and violent about.

-Anyone hanging around the U of M campus can pick up a copy of the Minnesota Republic. They’re publishing a serialized short story of mine taken from my novel. The novel should be available this summer. The short story is only available from the MNRepublic, they have a website but it hasn’t been updated in a year.

– Saw True Grit. It was not as good as people were saying. The dialogue was forced, the accents were mostly laughable, at times just mumbling somehow passed for “olde west speak” and there was a humorous scene with CGI rattlesnakes that took me right out of the movie. Sometimes it was pleasant, or at least not annoying. Initially I didn’t hate it, but now that I’ve had some time to think it over, I don’t really like the movie at all.

Books Read:

-Confucius’ Analects. Confucius suffers from a popular illiteracy in the United States. Many people like to say they have read, or are aware, of Confucius. But those that do are never really that familiar with the actual teachings. A lot like Buddhism. Confucius’ philosophy, as it appears in The Analects, is very subtle. Anyone not familiar with Taoism (particularly the concepts of te and Tao) will simply not “get” much of Confucius. However, The Analects is very approachable to novice readers, especially if you get an edition with plenty of footnotes and explanatory extras.

-Bill Buckley’s “Saving the Queen“. This is Buckley’s first Blackford Oakes spy novel. These novels provide an interesting look into the world of espionage that Buckley himself briefly participated after his graduation from Yale. It’s not the world of Mitch Rapp or 007. But it’s surprisingly close. As a novel it is superb, Buckley’s expertise in language, particularly his effortless vocabulary, is something to behold. I’ll be reading through all the Oakes spy novels in due time.

Brad Meltzer‘s The Zero Game. I hated, passionately, the first 70 or so pages, and almost threw this book away. I kept it in the sauna, reading it occasionally. Finally, somewhere near page 350, the book picked up enough to live up to the “thriller” label. I like the book more for its depiction of the nation’s Capitol Building than anything else. Whether I’ll read another Meltzer book? I just don’t know.

-Judith (Bible:NLT). Judith, a beautiful widow, stops an invading army by out-partying then chopping the head off of an Assyrian general. Possibly the first historical novel. Included in the Catholic canon. I really like the book.

-The Wit and Wisdom of Poor Richard’s Almanack (Ben Franklin). Dover Thrift, too thin to call it a book but I don’t care. Lots of good stuff in it.

links for 2011-01-25

  • Quote:"The fundamental problem with a career in law is that you aren’t doing anything of value for society. You are rubber-stamping the real work that other people are doing, at best. More likely, you are sucking wealth from society and throwing sand in the gears of our needlessly complex legislative and criminal justice systems. The western world would function much better with about 90% fewer lawyers than it currently supports.
  • Quote:"Even a cursory glance at medical journals shows that once heralded studies keep falling by the wayside. Two 1993 studies concluded that vitamin E prevents cardiovascular disease; that claim was overturned by more rigorous experiments, in 1996 and 2000. A 1996 study concluding that estrogen therapy reduces older women’s risk of Alzheimer’s was overturned in 2004. Numerous studies concluding that popular antidepressants work by altering brain chemistry have now been contradicted (the drugs help with mild and moderate depression, when they work at all, through a placebo effect), as has research claiming that early cancer detection (through, say, PSA tests) invariably saves lives. The list goes on.

Income Inequality

Had a conversation with some friends a while back about the economy. Income inequality was one of the topics discussed.

links for 2011-01-24

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links for 2011-01-21

  • Quote:"So do yourselves a favor. Instead of going with a has-been, just go here and order yourself some damn fine cigars. You want the-


    // So noted.

  • // College might have a positive ROI, if its free.
  • Quote:"Why believe that there is a God at all? My answer is that to suppose that there is a God explains why there is a world at all; why there are the scientific laws there are; why animals and then human beings have evolved; why humans have the opportunity to mould their characters and those of their fellow humans for good or ill and to change the environment in which we live; why we have the well-authenticated account of Christ's life, death and resurrection; why throughout the centuries men have had the apparent experience of being in touch with and guided by God; and so much else. In fact, the hypothesis of the existence of God makes sense of the whole of our experience, and it does so better than any other explanation which can be put forward, and that is the grounds for believing it to be true. This paper seeks to justify this answer; it presents in summary arguments given in more detailed form in my book The Existence of God,[1] and rebut criticisms

links for 2011-01-18