Monday, August 07, 2017

Evolution of Geckos and Trust: More Consolatory than Alarming

Almanac: A.E. Housman on vanity

“Most men are rather stupid, and most of those who are not stupid are, consequently, rather vain.” A.E. Housman, “The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism” ... read more

“Some people will be alarmed to discover that, underneath the surface, nothing much has changed in human conduct; but for my own part, I find it more consolatory than alarming. In the first place, I rather like the imperfections of human nature: I find the prospect of a world in which everyone is good, and holds his opinions with precisely the strength that the evidence for them justifies, supposing that justification could be calibrated with such precision, to be very intimidating. And a world in which everyone were beautiful would be a world in which no one were beautiful.”

Cindy Sherman takes a MEdia Dragon Selfie like No other ...

Airbnb dominated by professional landlords Deutsche Welle

Checking Facebook and liking a post critical of the Government could be enough to see public servants facing disciplinary action, under new guidelines that also say employees may be held accountable for comments other people make on their Facebook pages ABC on APS Rules...

New advice for public servants posting on social media, same old rules. The Australian Public Service Commission has published its most explicit guidelines yet about how freedom of speech is limited by the APS code of conduct. But there's no "new policy" as the government's favourite newspaper wrongly reported.

With a keen awareness of our human curse to metabolize everything, to habituate to even the most transcendent experiences, Shepard adds:

I know even this will change. There’ll be moments of deep regret maybe. But life is a gamble. I felt the weight of that the first time I left home for good. I walked out of that house into the unknown & it scared the shit out of me but the adventure of hitting life straight on was a thrill I’ll never forget. I feel that now — along with the fear. But I see the fear stems from being alone in the world & it has a new meaning for me now. You can be alone in the midst of people or you can be alone & join with the other one’s aloneness. There can be a real meeting between two people at the point where they always felt marooned. Right at the edge. And that’s how it is with me & her.

Dear veteran journalists, you deserve better

The biggest political story most journalists are missing

There is a newly published story on Economics of Brides  by  and , the abstract might wet your appetite for the full text:

Approximately seventy-five percent of the world’s population lives in countries where asset exchange upon marriage is obligatory. Rising brideprice—money or gifts provided to a woman’s family by the groom and his family as part of marriage arrangements—is a common if overlooked catalyst of violent conflict. In patrilineal (and some matrilineal) societies where brideprice is practiced, a man’s social status is directly connected to his marital status. Brideprice acts as a flat tax that is prone to sudden and swift increases. As a result, rising brideprice can create serious marriage market distortions that prevent young men, especially those who are poor or otherwise marginalized, from marrying. This phenomenon is especially evident in polygamous societies, where wealthy men can afford more than one bride. These distortions incentivize extra-legal asset accumulation, whether through ad hoc raiding or organized violence. In such situations, rebel and terror groups may offer to pay brideprice—or even provide brides—to recruit new members. Descriptive case studies of Boko Haram in Nigeria and various armed groups in South Sudan demonstrate these linkages, while an examination of Saudi Arabia’s cap on brideprice and its efforts to arrange low-cost mass weddings illustrates the ways in which governments can intervene in marriage markets to help prevent brideprice-related instability. The trajectory of brideprice is an important but neglected early indicator of societal instability and violent conflict, underscoring that the situation and security of women tangibly affect national security.

An Interview with Richard Rodriguez

From boyhood, particularly my lower-middle-class childhood in Sacramento, I was transported by religion into the realm of mystery. Consider this: The Irish nun excused me from arithmetic class so that I could serve as an altar boy at a funeral mass. Along with the priest and the other altar boy, I would welcome Death at the doors of the church. We escorted Death up the main aisle. I later went with the cortege to the cemetery. There was a fresh pile of soil piled high at the edge of the grave site, discreetly, if unsuccessfully, covered by an AstroTurf rug that was as unconvincing a denial of the hardness of time as a cheap toupee. I wondered at the mourners’ faces—the melting grief, the hard stoicism. Thirty minutes from the grave, I was back within the soft green walls of Sacred Heart Parish School. It was almost lunchtime. I resumed my impersonation of an American kid.
Last week the day I lost a wallet on the Mercedes bus Richard was 73rd birthday. May he have many years ahead of him.

Tax haven’ moves south of border Herald Scotland. A piece co-authored by our Richard Smith

Ten Ways to Organize Your Bookshelf The Millions

The government’s personnel office still isn’t adequately protecting its computer networks two years after a massive data breach that compromised highly sensitive security clearance information of over 20 million current and former federal employees and their families, a congressional watchdog reported Thursday. The Office of Personnel Management failed to encrypt data stored in one of its high-value systems that would be most attractive to hackers, for example, and failed to encrypt data as it transited in and out of another high-value system, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

New AUSTRAC CEO crucial to Commonwealth Bank money ...

We just need to put the right Hitler in charge.

Four years ago no one would know if we had an outage: ATO

SAN failure fast-tracks ATO's cloud shift

Amanda Lea Robinson has a new paper “Nationalism and Ethnic-Based Trust: Evidence from an African Border Region,” here is her main result:

In diverse societies, individuals tend to trust coethnics more than non-coethnics. I argue that identification with a territorially-defined nation, common to all ethnic groups, reduces the degree to which trust is ethnically bounded. I conduct a “lab-in-the-field” experiment at the intersection of national and ethnic boundaries in Malawi, which measures strength of national identification, experimentally manipulates national identity salience, and measures trust behaviorally. I find that shared nationality is a robust predictor of trust, equal in magnitude to the impact of shared ethnicity. Furthermore, national identification moderates the degree to which trust is limited to coethnics: while weak national identifiers trust coethnics more than non-coethnics, strong national identifiers are blind to ethnicity. Experimentally increasing national identity salience also eliminates the co-ethnic trust advantage among weak nationalists. These results offer micro-level evidence that a strong and salient national identity can diminish ethnic barriers to trust in diverse societies.

“Every day, billions of people around the world use the internet to share ideas, trade with one another and keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues. With worldwide internet penetration at nearly 50 percent, the global digital economy has become a space of immense opportunity. Similarly, it’s clear that both business and consumer transactions and interactions are becoming heavily reliant on us being connected. Digital flows are now responsible, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, for more GDP growth globally than trade in traditional goods. Digitalization is now driving globalization. As such, achieving a competitive advantage in the global digital arena has become a key priority for governments, businesses and citizens who strive for inclusion and relevance in this global marketplace. It is also clear that momentum, innovation and trust all have a critical role to play when countries look to improve their digital development. It is in this context that The Fletcher School at Tufts University, in partnership with Mastercard, presents the 2017 edition of the Digital Evolution Index (DEI 17).”

In 1985, when Americans were asked how many close friends they had, the most common answer was "three". In 2004, the most common answer was "zero". We now have fewer friends across class, racial, economic, and political lines, because we have fewer friends -- period. And as you just discovered for yourself, the fewer "repeat interactions" there are, the more distrust will spread.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", may be not just a moral truth, but also a mathematical truth.

During World War I, peace broke out. It was Christmas 1914 on the Western Front.
Despite strict orders
to chillax with the enemy, British
and German soldiers left their trenches, crossed No Man's Land,
and gathered to bury their dead, exchange gifts, and play games.

Meanwhile: it's 2017, the West has been at peace for decades, and
wow, we
at trust. Surveys show that, over the past forty years, fewer and fewer people say they trust each other. So here's our puzzle: Why, even in peacetime, do friends become enemies? And why, even in wartime, do enemies become friends? I think game theory can help explain our epidemic of distrust –and how we can fix it! So, to understand all this...

...Copycat inherits the earth.

So, in the long run, you were right - Copycat wins! Always Cheat may have won in the short run, but its exploitativeness was its downfall. This reminds me of a quote:

"We are punished by our sins, not for them."
~ Elbert Hubbard

What the game is, defines what the players do. Our problem today isn't just that people are losing trust,
it's that our environment acts against the evolution of trust.

That may seem cynical or naive -- that we're "merely" products of our environment -- but as game theory reminds us, we are each others' environment. In the short run, the game defines the players. But in the long run, it's us players who define the game.

So, do what you can do, to create the conditions necessary to evolve trust. Build relationships. Find win-wins. Communicate clearly. Maybe then, we can stop firing at each other, get out of our own trenches, cross No Man's Land to come together...

Game about Evolution of Trust...

Story of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution told in new animated film ...

Nick Bilton's 'American Kingpin': The first great Internet manhunt

Informal Inquiries: "An author's pen must write of the acts of God" 

LONGEVITY UPDATE: The Queen of England Enjoys Four Cocktails Every Day. “As the Independent noted, this puts the Queen at six units of alcohol per day, which would technically makes her a binge drinker by government standards, but she’s 91 years old, so who are we to judge?”
Or maybe the “binge drinker” standards are bilge.

Tom Stoppard’s heartfelt high jinks | Prospect Magazine
It is sometimes said of Stoppard’s work that it is all head and no heart; that his fascination with verbal high jinks and conceptual fireworks doesn’t mine the deepest truths about human existence. Yet few writers have engaged so passionately with the big issues of our time—faith, politics, revolution—or pushed the boundaries of theatre so far. And in a period of nervy global uncertainty, perhaps a few high jinks are what we need
 Daniel Silva's eerily prescient 'House of Spies': Quest for ISIS 

 How the riots of 50 years ago changed Detroit: The city’s decline began before 1967, but the violence then made it worse. “Sadly, by most measures black Detroiters are considerably worse off today than they were in 1967.” The rioters were presented as the vanguard of social justice, even though the consequences of their actions fell on the poorest and weakest.

Detroit’s last Republican mayor . . . well, you know the rest.

Related: Why First-World Countries Have Third-World Cities.

Study: Alcohol Can Boost Creativity

It reports that, while moderate inebriation doesn’t boost your ability to generate innovative ideas, it can help you avoid one major barrier to creative breakthroughs: getting stuck in a mental rut. 
Academic writing is obscure. More problematic, it's vague. Why? The vaguer you are, the less you can be held accountable for anything you say. See: Slavoj Zizek 

Hotel Blackfoot,BMC,text,font,sense,

7 mighty benefits of writing by hand Treehugger

How Data About Writing Is Changing Writing

"A few decades ago, the advent of the word processor made it easier than ever to revise on the fly; it also made it easy to dwell on one sentence ad infinitum, gilding the lily where once one would’ve advanced to the next thought. The glut of data is another mixed blessing—past a certain point, writers would do better in a state of blissful ignorance." … [Read More]

A book can change the world. Can a book review? In 1967, Norman Mailer reviewed a memoir by his friend Norman Podhoretz. American politics has never quite been the  same   There's always that one person trying to bring you down. Throughout being active in the fitness industry there has always been someone making up lies, talking shit and hating. But never directly to my face. I always have to hear it from someone else, and 99% of the time it's just made up gossip.

Remember people hate because of their own insecurities and inhibition. They're envious because you have something they want. Whether it be someone from the gym or a jealous ex girlfriend, "Learn to use the criticism as fuel and you will never run out of energy". -Orrin Woodward


Collaboration and Communities are the themes of the National Small Business Summit in Melbourne from August 23 to 25.

Hosted by the Council of Small Business of Australia, the summit will build and strengthen partnerships between business, policymakers and industry leaders, with a focus on supporting the future needs of more than two million small businesses nationally.

Sessions will cover cybersecurity, banking and financial management, regulation red tape, mental health and wellbeing, and workplace relations. Speakers will include Council of Small Business Australia chief executive Peter Strong, Menzies Research Centre chief executive Nick Cater, Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Jason Pellegrino and Taxation Commissioner Chris Jordan. Details: