Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Conversation

FLG:  Hey FLG, isn't that David Boies over there in front of the U. S. Court of Federal Claims?

FLG:  Why, yes, FLG, I do believe it is.  You should add him to the celebrity sightings list.

FLG:  Is he widely known enough to be called a celebrity?

FLG:  Have you looked at the list lately?  He is more famous than a lot of other people who made your list?

FLG:  Okay, I'll do it.

FLG:  Can I ask why are you talking to yourself?

FLG:  I was about to ask you the same question.

Could've Been Appeared in a London Paper in the 1770s

FLG read this David Ignatius column and thought to himself, if you change a few names around, this could've appeared in a London paper in the 1770s.   To be clear, FLG is NOT drawing a moral equivalency between ISIS and American Revolutionaries.  Far from it.  But from a military perspective, sentences like this:

When the jihadists stand and fight, as they have done in the northern Syrian town of Kobane, they get pounded. U.S. officials estimate the jihadists have lost 400 fighters in that battle.

Could just as easily have been:
 When the American rebels stand and fight, as they have done in the Battle of Long Island, they get pounded. Crown officials estimate the rebels have lost 3,000 fighters in that battle.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

DAGOR

FLG wants one.   But he'll probably just end up buying a Jeep Wrangler, which he knows from previous ownership, is as good an off-road vehicle as he'll ever need because, well, he doesn't go off-roading all that much and Wranglers can go pretty much anywhere anyway.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ya Don't Say?

FLG watched this video, which reveals the closely held secret that when you deposit money in the bank it isn't placed in some super-secure vault and left there.  No, the bank...wait for it...lends the money out.   At, you'll never believe this, a higher rate of interest than they are paying you on your deposit.  This all leads to some sort of financial voodoo by way of fractional reserve banking and the money multiplier.

Thanks.  FLG had no idea.  Oh, neither did fucking Aristotle back in 300 something BC.

Also, while in theory this is maybe slightly interesting, there's this thing called the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that backstops all this.  So, for retail investors, you know, depositing bank notes as described in the video, this is all more or less irrelevant.

If, however, he wanted to do an educational video on the repurchase agreement or Eurodollar markets and how these both affected and were affected by the financial crisis in 2008, well, that might actually be relevant.

FLG Is Intrigued

Thursday, October 23, 2014

FLG's Prediction

Jeff Bezos will be recognized as one of the most influential business people of all time.  Up in the pantheon with the likes of John Pierpont Morgan, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton.  Steve Jobs will probably end up close behind, but despite what most people currently think, FLG is convinced Bill Gates will be light-years down the list.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Quote of the day II

Peter Weinberg:
Haters insist that Humanities majors graduate with no marketable skills. But what about the ability to bullshit? 

Funny article, but gets at the point FLG has been trying to make for years.   Technical skills are valuable, but soft, people skills are far, far more valuable.  And if you can understand what people want and need, even if they don't fully understand it themselves, and then turn that into a product that engineers can make, well,  the world will beat a path to your door.

Quote of the day

C.S. Perry:
I just need to meet a girl who smells of campfires and whiskey.

Object Sex Inspiring Art

Un "plug anal" géant installé place Vendôme

Video is in English with French subtitles.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quote of the day

David Brooks:
Politics is slow drilling through hard boards. It is a series of messy compromises. The core functions of government are negative — putting out fires, arresting criminals, settling disputes — and much of what government does is the unromantic work of preventing bad situations from getting worse.

Amen. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

WTF!

FLG minor was watching a cartoon where the characters were making a time capsule.   This reminded FLG that when he was in elementary school it was the 25th anniversary of the school's founding and they had us put together a time capsule to be opened on the 50th anniversary.   After doing a bit of math in his head, FLG realized that would have been 2010.   So...FLG started googling for local news articles.  He found one.

It has been 25 years since teachers and students at Cranbury Elementary School buried a metal time capsule behind the school's main building, in ground now overrun by the root network of a tree that is flush with late spring greenery. [...]
Though they couldn't retrieve the original time capsule because of the position of the tree, parents, teachers, students and administrators last Friday afternoon celebrated the school's 50th Anniversary by burying a second time capsule -- this one made of plastic -- on the Cranbury grounds.

Couldn't retrieve the time capsule?   WTF?!  We worked hard on that thing.  Get a freaking backhoe or something.

Friday, October 3, 2014

FLG Still Thinks It's Time Horizons

David Brooks highlights the problems with pragmatism:

“This pragmatic liberalism,” Mumford writes, “was vastly preoccupied with the machinery of life. It was characteristic of this creed to overemphasize the part played by political and mechanical invention, by abstract thought and practical contrivance. And, accordingly, it minimized the role of instinct, tradition, history; it was unaware of the dark forces of the unconscious; it was suspicious of either the capricious or the incalculable, for the only universe it could rule was a measured one, and the only type of human character it could understand was the utilitarian one."

FLG concurs.  Although, his take goes back to the time horizons thing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

FLG's Stream of Consciousness Brain Dump

FLG has been having some conflicts at work.  He has only had conflicts at work very rarely, so this threw him for a bit of a loop.  It's a fundamental personality difference, but he had trouble explaining to the other party because they couldn't get beyond the minutiae of the proximate issue of conflict.   Straight-up could not understand what FLG was saying.  This led FLG to try and find some sort of framework to analyze and hopefully explain the situation, which in turn led him to the DISC model.

The DISC model is a bit like Myers-Briggs, but less complicated.  There are two axes  -- task-focused versus people-focused and then active versus thoughtful.  In case you are wondering, FLG squarely in the people-focused and active camp.   The person he is having conflict with is task-focused and thoughtful or Type C in the lingo.

"The C DISC Styles are accurate, precise, detail-oriented, and conscientious."  Also,  "The C may need to focus more on people in order to build strong relationships, as they may have a tendency to focus on tasks more than people and to want to work alone. At times, the C will need to push themselves to be decisive and take risks, even if all the research isn't there to support it."

Since FLG is so action and people-focused, analysis paralysis as well as seeing people pretty much solely as means and not ends, drives him fucking batshit.  As he tried to explain any of this, it was like trying to explain a desert to a polar bear.  There was just no frame of reference to even build upon.   People are important to get tasks done, so clearly they care about people.  All very weird for FLG.

Anyway, as FLG was pondering this further, he began to think of the Type C's he has encountered before and it occurred to him that they are all hostages to their insecurities.    Now, we all have insecurities.  Even action-oriented, people-focused FLG has insecurities, but he thinks the most insecure people are Type C's.

And then he began to think of the careers that appeal to Type C's -- technology, bureaucracy, and academia.  Anybody who has been around college professors can tell you that accurate, precise, detail-oriented people who try to "right" and "accurate" and worry about credentials.  Bureaucracy has plenty of risk-averse, overanalyzers, who are sticklers for rules, order, and hierarchy.   Technology, particularly programmers, same deal.  It's more or less why FLG left engineering school.

But then FLG went back to the model and the three types break up along these key lines:

Dominance
Perceives oneself as more powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as unfavorable.
Inducement
Perceives oneself as more powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as favorable.
Submission
Perceives oneself as less powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as favorable.
Compliance
Perceives oneself as less powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as unfavorable.

Therefore, the Type C's think of themselves as less powerful and the environment is unfavorable.   This, oddly, came back to FLG as he was watching Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  He realized that the absurdity of everything was trying to imply that deeper meaning was non-existent.  Or to state the opposite, the present and objective reality is the most real.  So, then the question is whether Type C's believe that.  And if we assume that they are focused on objective fact and afraid to take risks because of potential future adverse consequences, then that may very well be true.

FLG started thinking about this and realized that his time horizons theory would predict, through his corollary about empirical fact, that Type C's, if they are focused on empirical fact, have to be focused on short time horizons, then this means that Type C's would most often be liberal in their orientation.  And this holds for academics and bureaucrats, although probably for a lot of self-interested reasons in addition to the short time horizons.  Technology folks are probably a little different.

But then he went back to the model again.  It makes sense that somebody who perceives their environment as unfavorable and they lack the power to change would be political liberal, right?

See, but then FLG remembered Jacob T Levy's talk about taking politics less seriously in which he uses Augustine (and by extension FLG's homeboy Plato) to call for acceptance of the political environment and order, even if it is unfavorable.  FLG was confused.  But then he said, Ah!   That's Submission -- less powerful than environment, but environment is favorable.   What's interesting about Augustine in that argument is how he frames the environment.  It's not that Hippo was less powerful than the Vandals, for example,  and that environment is unfavorable.  No, no, no.  It is that we are less powerful than God and since we exist in his love the environment is favorable.

So then FLG started asking himself, if he is conservative and Type I and the argument about Submission is really a conservative argument, then does perceiving the environment as favorable make you a conservative?  On the face, it would seem yes.  If one likes the existing order and presumably one wants to conserve it.

Here's the thing though.   The Type I and Type S have people and relationship orientation in common.  That's where FLG started thinking some more.   He always asks the following question to try to downplay the importance of objective fact -- In what way would my life be negatively impacted if I believed the Sun revolves around the Earth?   Liberals have the most trouble with that question.  They know there's no negative impact, but they reject the falsehood purely for non-consequential reasons.  So, are people who are focused on objective fact, entirely separate from a facts meaning, more liberal?   FLG would argue yes from the individuals he knows personally and his time horizons theory, but that's just a collection of anecdotes and his crazy theory.   But let's say it's true.

If that is true and relationship-oriented people are conservative and task-oriented people are liberal, then conservatives would fall into Type I and Type S and liberals into Type D and Type C.  FLG no no way thinks that's 100% the case, but he's going to keep an eye out while trying to keep himself from confirmation biasing the whole damn experiment.

Just so you know, FLG feels like he just walked around in a mental circle.
 
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