I hope I'm not stepping on the other front pagers toes with this, but somehow the Jeb! campaign's 112 page (!) power point briefing for big donors (that took place before the latest GOP debate) was let loose on these here internets. It is, uh, quite a thing to see (like the BT-16). It has me seriously considering my disdain for .ppt as a means of communication, because without it we wouldn't have such pearls of wisdom as "race will remain fluid for some time because... voters have A.D.D." (ellipses in the original) and describing Ricky Marco Rubio as the "GOP Obama."
So, good times in there. I hope we see similarly vapid power points leaked from all sides. Anyway, open thread for your discussing pleasure. Also, too, U.S. troops in Syria? Sure, why the fnck not....
Ivanhoe was one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century, with an enormous influence on the literary landscape and on culture in general. Some of that influence persists to this day: reading Ivanhoe, we could see the roots of epic fantasy literature, of the Society for Creative Anachronism, of Renfaires and Medieval Times.
But what we couldn't see is the Ivanhoe many other people claim to have read. From 19th-century fans to 21st-century scholars, the majority of readers seem to have latched onto a few elements in Ivanhoe, but not to have absorbed the actual text as a whole. It's as though all they know is a "Good Parts Version" -- and it's one that edits out a lot of *our* favorite parts.
Siegel et al. studied three different cultures: two foraging ("hunter-gatherer") groups in Africa, and one foraging+ horticulture group in the Bolivian Amazon. They all had very similar circadian rhythms: everyone wakes up about an hour before dawn, is most active in the morning, then quiet (though not usually napping) during the hottest part of the day at noon and just after. People then become somewhat active at sunset, and stay awake for 3-4 hours (or more) after that. The net result is that of the (average) 11 hours of darkness (12 hours of sundown minus a half hour of twilight on either end), no more than about 8-9 are spent resting, and around 7 are spent sleeping -- which isn't a whole lot different from the sleep humans get in industrial societies with lots of artificial light.
Why would chimps need so much more sleep than humans? As Siegel and his colleagues have argued, sleep has multiple functions. One possible function of nighttime sleep for diurnal animals like apes (and humans) is that it keeps them out of trouble: they don't move around and attract the attention of nocturnal predators, while conserving energy they'll need for useful daylight activities. For chimpanzees, the most important predators (aside from humans) are the big cats: lions and especially leopards (because they climb trees).
The useful activities around the fire are social: eating, food-sharing, and talking -- the equivalent of the social grooming that takes up a lot of other apes' time. And our ancestors could afford to make noise and delicious smells after dark, because fire is a really strong deterrent for big cats and other predators.
In other words: there is no such thing as "pre-technological" humans. Our ancestors tamed fire, and fire tamed them right back. At least a little artificial light is natural to us.
A few weeks ago, a guy named Scott Waters published this account of his time in the UK.
More recently, Paul Owen published this reply in the Guardian UK.
I draw no earth-shattering conclusions from the comparisons, I just thought they were both interesting and candid pieces. Chances are many or even most of you have seen them already, I just enjoyed them and thought folks here might do so as well.
It's always interesting to see yourself through another's eyes.
Really pleased to pass on this as a weekend open thread topic
October 24th (this Saturday) brings the 40th anniversary of Iceland's 'Women's Day Off'(1975), a general strike that an estimated 90% of women in Iceland partook in to raise awareness of inequality. Today Iceland occupies the top spot for equality of women in the world.
One of the participants (Vigdís Finnbogadóttir) became the first democratically elected female head of state anywhere.
Canada is going to the polls today, and from down here it looks like a real nail-biter. Éric Grenier, Canada's version of Nate Silver, projects the Liberals to get a plurality of seats, but then have to form a coalition government:
This comes after the polite, Canadian version of a roller-coaster election season:
Here's an open thread as I ask Canadians and knowledgeable others to talk about what's going on and why. Why did the NDP rise and then crash in the polls? Why did the Conservative Party have a substantial majority of Ontario seats in 2011, but is projected to have a minority there this time?
My knowledge of Canadian politics is largely based on Canadians I know on social networks. This is their consensus opinion of the Conservative Party in general and Stephen Harper in particular:
At the moment, there is some (OK, substantial, and rising) doubt as to whether Congress will get its act together and raise the Federal debt ceiling by the end of the month. The obvious question would be: So what?
Skip over, for the moment, the obvious impact on the "full faith and credit" of the United States. Look instead at who would and would not get paid. Or, if you prefer, who could and could not get paid.
The Federal government has gotten by, since sometime last spring, basically on accounting tricks. For example, money in accounts for funding Federal pensions, nominally in Federal bonds, has been pulled out to fund on-going expenses. But when those tricks run out, what happens?
Basically, the government can only spend each day what they take in that day. The current estimate is that we hit that point between November 3 and November 5. (Note that, if the earlier date is correct, the impact of November 10 below would be a week earlier.)
There are a bunch of big bills which come due at various moments. There are also a variety of payments due every day: Medicare and Medicaid ($3 billion), payments to military vendors ($1 billion), etc. You can try to prioritize, and short some or all of them.
But here are the biggies that can't be finessed:
-- November 10: $14 billion in Social Security benefits. Income: $6 billion
-- November 16: $30 billion in interest on Treasury securities (plus $3 billion in salaries for military personnel). Income $27 billion.
The list goes on and on.
The big kicker, politically, is November 10. If Social Security benefits don't get paid on time (and they cannot be, if the debt ceiling isn't raised) there is no real question but that there will be political hell to pay. And does anybody think that the Republican's refusal to act can be successfully blamed on the Democrats? I mean, no doubt they will try, and try hard. But, as we saw last time the government got shut down, that doesn't seem likely to work out as they expect/hope.
The political fallout for actions, and inactions, in Washington generally seems to be smaller and less long-lasting than those who live inside the beltway expect. But if the Social Security checks don't come in on time across the country? Somehow I suspect that won't be forgotten, or forgiven, any time soon.
That said, the bigger impact (if things get that far) will be November 16. Because Treasuries are not just obligations used by lots of individuals and things like pension funds. They are also, due to their supposed absolute security, the basis for much of the global financial system. And thus for the economies of most countries are at risk -- including the economy of the United States.
Mere missed Social Security payments can be made up later. People will suffer, sure, and be furious as a result. And you can argue over which party would get the blame. But the harm to the overall economy will be transitory. A crash the global economy, on the other hand, which missed payments on November 16 would cause? It would make the Great Depression seem like just a temporary ripple.
President Obama is expected to announce a plan Thursday to keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan into 2017, ending his ambitions to bring home most American forces from that war-torn country before he leaves office.
Obama will also slow the pace of the reduction of American forces and plans to maintain the current U.S. force of 9,800 through “most of 2016,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to preview the president’s announcement.
The larger force of 5,500 troops is projected to cost about $15 billion a year, or about $5 billion more than the smaller, 1,000-person Kabul-based force would have cost.
To review the bidding, we've now had troops in Afghanistan for 14 years. If one becomes "politically aware" at age 8 (which I'd say is very young), then if you're a senior in college we've effectively had military forces in Afghanistan actively fighting for your entire life, which now will apparently continue for 2 more years at a minimum. At the bargain basement price of $2.7 million per soldier per year, which I'm sure is an accurate estimate and not, say, low balling it as that would never happen.
Of course, we've had armed forces stationed in Japan, Germany, Italy, the UK, etc. for my parent's entire lifetime, so I'm not sure why I should be surprised.
I hope I'm not stepping on the open thread (and thanks for keeping stuff going, and apologies for lack of posting), but this article, about Peter Norman, the third person on the Mexico City Olympic medal stand when Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave their black power salute, was a really powerful read for me.
It’s a historic photo of two men of color. For this reason I never really paid attention to the other man, white, like me, motionless on the second step of the medal podium. I considered him as a random presence, an extra in Carlos and Smith’s moment, or a kind of intruder. Actually, I even thought that that guy – who seemed to be just a simpering Englishman – represented, in his icy immobility, the will to resist the change that Smith and Carlos were invoking in their silent protest. But I was wrong.