Monday, November 18, 2019

Moses and the Lost Tablet?

The Bishop of Rome seems to have discovered the lost tablet that Moses had forgotten to recover. As he notes:

Instead, an elementary sense of justice would require that certain conduct, for which corporations are usually responsible, does not go unpunished. In particular, all those that can be considered as “ecocide”: the massive contamination of air, land and water resources, the large-scale destruction of flora and fauna, and any action capable of producing an ecological disaster or destroying an ecosystem. We must introduce – we are thinking about it – in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, the ecological sin against the common home, because it is a duty.

I can recall my early days of Catechism, and learning the ins and outs of the Ten Commandments. The one that always intrigued me was "Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's wife." Now the lady next door was not a nice person and no matter how I tried to twist the interpretation I could never envision that happening. 

Now along come the Bishop of Rome with "ecocide". I looked through the Bible as best I could and as best I can see there was no such sin. But that does not seem to stop the folks back there in Rome. Did Moses forget this one, had he broken it? Had he just thought that since he had all these folks in a desert for such a long time that worrying about tree and flowers would be a bit too much.

I thought that God handed down the laws and that we were to follow. I wonder when this snuck in and also if there may be other tablets yet to be found.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What's in a Name

The first Ukrainian I met was in 1960. It was then that I learned that he was from Ukraine. I was from The United States. He was NOT from The Ukraine. In fact there is no The Ukraine despite what politicians and TV personalities insist. It is akin to calling Argentina The Argentine. Now The United States of America is really a place, we are in it right now.

When in Prague in 1997 I met a Ukrainian General, looking to do business with us. That is when I learned that they called is U-kraine, stress the u.

Western Ukrainian is like Polish and Eastern Ukrainian is like Russia, the words and pronunciation that is. This not akin to New York dialects versus Alabama dialects, really different stuff. Ukraine is an amalgam of territory that has shifted hands for centuries. As Americans we must remember that what we see today was not always the case. But alas education fails us.

Now I will not touch this current discussion with the proverbial ten foot pole. Just to note perhaps we can tell some folks the name of the country. Yet the grinding misuse of the name tells more than any of the testimony.

Also, the State Department, well that is for a discussion over a good single malt in a bar in Warsaw!

Government Health Care?

Like Medicare for All and Government management. The BBC reports:

Key targets for cancer, hospital care and A&E have been missed for over three years - with delays for hospital care and in A&E hitting their highest levels since both targets were introduced. The monthly figures - the last before the election - prompted Labour and the Liberal Democrats to attack the Tories' record on the NHS. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "huge demand" was to blame. He said only the Tories could be trusted to have a "strong, dynamic economy" to ensure the rises in the NHS budget being planned could be made....he figures show: 4.42 million patients on the waiting list at the end of September, the highest number ever; 84.8% of them waiting under 18 weeks - below the 92% target and the worst performance since the target was introduced, in 2012; 76.9% of cancer patients starting treatment within 62 days - below the 85% target;83.6% of A&E patients admitted or transferred within four hours in October - below the 95% target and the worst performance since the target started was introduced, in 2004

Namely if one has an aggressive cancer you might just as well go to Amazon and get next day delivery of your Urn.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

From the NY Times and their Citations:

Michael McGarty (WW I)

Michael J. McGarty, formerly 1st sergeant. Company B. 306th Machine Gun Battalion. Seventy-seventh Division, American Expeditionary Force. For extraordinary heroism in action at Chevieres, near Grand Pre France, Oct. 14, 1918. With utter disregard for his own personal safety Sergeant McGarty went forward under heavy enemy machine gun fire to rescue a severely wounded officer and displayed extraordinary heroism in action by helping to  carry him to a place of safety.  

Harold McGarty (WW II)

“For extraordinary heroism in action at Kochi, Okinawa Shima, Ryukyas Islands, on 4 May 1945. Sgt. McGarty, light machine gun section leader of Company I, ..... Infantry, with two gunners and two riflemen, was occupying a position on the right flank of the company”

"The nearest friendly troops on either flank were 20 yards away. At about 0330, four Japs crawled to within ten yards of his position and attempted to reduce it with grenades: Two of the enemy were killed and the others withdrew.

''Subsequently, heavy mortar concentration was placed on me company. Before the concentration had lifted the enemy assaulted Sgt. McGarty’s machine gun position from the flank.

 “Seeing that time did not permit him to reset the light machine gun which was laid on the final protective line, he met the enemy by heroically throwing hand grenades and firing his rifle into, the fanatical rush of 40 screaming" Japanese soldiers.”

“When the man next to him Was bayoneted in the shoulder, Sgt McGarty shot his assailant through the head at point blank range. Two of his men who had been wounded loaded their rifles for him as fast as he emptied them at the enemy. Being unable to withstand the deadly fire and outstanding determination of Sgt. McGarty, the enemy withdrew, leaving 19 dead.”

“Sgt. McGarty sent his wounded back to the company command post, redistributed ammunition and prepared his remaining men for another attack. At about 0400 the enemy again swept up the front of the hill, this time attacking along the entire company front. Sgt. McGarty saw a group attempting to set up a machine gun to the left of his position and observed others moving up to attack the first platoon.

“Directing the fire of his light machine gun at both groups, he inflicted heavy casualties and destroyed the enemy gun. Sgt. McGarty, by his determined stand and inspiring example, held a vitally important position and prevented a breakthrough which would have endangered his entire unit. His extraordinary heroism in the face of overwhelming odds reflects the greatest credit on himself and exemplifies the highest traditions of the- military service.”

Sgt. McGarty was wounded at about the same time, and flown out of the Pacific, across the country to Newark Airport, arriving at Haloran General Hospital last June 6. Since being discharged, he and his wife, Mrs. Dorothy McGarty, have been living in Glendale, L. I.

He served in the Army for three and one-half years, and was overseas for about one and one- half years. Before going to Okinawa, he participated in the Leyte campaign with the 77th Division. A former St. Peter's High School student, he has returned to his job with the Automatic Fire Alarm Company, Brooklyn.

His brothers are Terrence Patrick McGarty, FC2/c, of 108 New Street, Port Richmond, with the Navy in Ominato, Honshu, Japan and Sgt. John McGarty, with the Air Forces ground crew in France.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Academics can say anything?

In a recent Science article the authors contend:

A growing body of research suggests that populations around the globe vary substantially along several important psychological dimensions and that people from societies characterized as Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) are particularly unusual. Often occupying the extremes of global distributions, Western Europeans and their cultural descendants in North America and Australia tend to be more individualistic, independent, analytically minded, and impersonally prosocial (e.g., trusting of strangers) while revealing less conformity, obedience, in-group loyalty, and nepotism. Although these patterns are now well documented, efforts to explain this variation from a cultural-evolutionary and historical perspective have just begun. In this study, we develop and test a cultural evolutionary theory that aims to explain a substantial portion of this psychological variation, both within and across nations.

Thus out the gate we Europeans associated with the Catholic Church, at least the Medieval version are Weird.  Furthermore they contend:

Recent research not only confirms the existence of substantial psychological variation around the globe but also highlights the peculiarity of many Western populations. We propose that part of this variation can be traced back to the action and diffusion of the Western Church, the branch of Christianity that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church. Specifically, we propose that the Western Church’s transformation of European kinship, by promoting small, nuclear households, weak family ties, and residential mobility, fostered greater individualism, less conformity, and more impersonal prosociality. By combining data on 24 psychological outcomes with historical measures of both Church exposure and kinship, we find support for these ideas in a comprehensive array of analyses across countries, among European regions, and among individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

 Now upon examination of the long but in my opinion confusing work we never get a definition of individualism or its related interpretations. I have written extensively on the topic and its emergence from Ockham and Marsilius of Padua in the 14th century. It arose as a societal opposition to the papacy not because of limitations of inter marriage,

They conclude:

This research suggests that contemporary psychological patterns, ranging from individualism and trust to conformity and analytical thinking, have been influenced by deep cultural evolutionary processes, including the Churchs peculiar incest taboos, family policies, and enduring kin-based institutions.

Now if one examines the approach  they seem in my opinion to posit the conclusion and then try to assert its validity with terms which are undefined and even undefinable and assertions which may or may not make any historical sense.

There is a long list of conditions which have led to many of the issues they assert. But individualism was in my opinion and based upon a wealth of historical studies a result not of the Church's mandates on intermarriage but on the development of political and Church conflict. 

This seems in my opinion to be just another academic contortion and unfortunately it takes up pages in Science which has in my opinion turned into a politically correct set of assertions lacking in fundamental scientific understanding. Another example of the Academy going wild.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Times are Changing

Some sixty years ago when many "first generation" college students entered schools like MIT the often met the old adage; look to the left, look to the right, one of you will not be here next year. Abject terror? Hardly. At least at MIT these students often came from New York where survival came from such admonitions. You made Bronx High School of Science because you had worked yourself hard from 5th grade upwards, you got into MIT because you were in the top 10% and had 1400+ SATs, the scores from the old days, and no one cared if you worked after school and did not do socially correct activities, your family needed you to.

Then at college most of your competition, yes competition, were from the same type of background. You were in the Silent Generation and often fathers were not home because they were at War for most of your childhood. Coddling was not what college was for, It was for getting a job and that meant competing again.

Now comes the new generation, supported by a multiplicity of Deans and other overhead players. MIT describes its "first generation" program. They note:

On a sweltering August day, a group of 16 incoming MIT undergraduate students gathered in West Lounge for “Identifying the Identity,” a workshop designed to help them explore their backgrounds and experiences as first-generation students. Presenter and MIT senior ... neatly encapsulated a shared strength on an overhead slide: “First Generation/Low Income students possess especially strong determination, persistence, and resilience. It is the ability to overcome significant hardship that makes us uniquely driven. Remember that.”

 Overcoming hardships were pandemic in the 50s, for "role models" were parents who had just gotten through WWII and Korea, fathers often so traumatized that their children never knew what had happened, and often the main driver was just to get a job, for there was always the fear of another Depression. Harvard was where the rich kids went, and MIT was the first generations chance of getting somewhere. Your only support was the fear of failure, or for many a fear of not being number one.

They continue:

First-generation students comprise roughly one-fifth of the undergraduate population at MIT. And yet, it can feel like an invisible identity, because some students believe that there’s a stigma attached to being first generation. “It’s hard to speak up about the fact that you are first gen,” says... Students that are also low-income may feel even more stigmatized. “Those issues overlap greatly,” ...

 Stigma is a rather strange phrase. Sixty years ago the stigma was that you had not learned differential equations on your own from a book you could not take out of a NY city library. Recall Feynman and his counterparts. Feynman was classic New York, first generation, outspoken, aggressive, smart, and the prototypical New York student even in the late 50s. Coddled would not apply to him.

Fundamentally everyone is a first generation "something". Get over it, After all, being first in something counts. But why must we spend more money and add to tuition costs making something of this, a non-issue in my experience. Why tell someone that they have been stigmatized and need help to overcome. It is just an extension of a victim culture to MIT.