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Tag: United States

Skin In The Game: High Stakes on High Temps

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When there is a big debate I love to hear “the facts” as we know them, but I also love hearing about the passion with which those in close proximity to the item in question conveys their perspective. Does the person speaking have anything to gain or lose in this debate? Like when I hear people talk about the gospel: the most compelling argument (to me anyway) that Jesus was who people say that he says he was is that his disciples, who lived among him, were almost all reportedly tortuously murdered still claiming what they had been sentenced to death for proclaiming. They had “skin in the game”, and it didn’t shake their resolve. This matter of course still requires faith, just as many consequential aspects of life can require faith in planning, but they had first-hand experience with something and they were willing to die horrifically for that thing (or so it is told, and believing in these events does require faith).

This video describes multiple groups with “skin in the game” (whether it be professional, financial, or actual physical skin) in regards to the climate of our planet possibly changing – and they believe that the climate is experiencing change. One thing about “free markets” is that they can indicate much about items unknowable, yet consequential, and how those with skin in the game estimate they should act. Can we guarantee that people in the United States will continue to gain weight, and keep paying for care which allows them to experience less indigestion but maintain too much weight? No, but if you were to bet on it how would you bet? Billions of dollars are bet every year, by people who don’t like losing money, on the idea that people are not going to lose weight, and those people make a lot of money. If you were an insurance company would you haphazardly put billions of dollars at stake for something that is “laughable”? Well, those companies which have the opportunity to bet on whether or not the climate is changing detrimentally to some degree are making the bets that would indicate that they think we have a problem with the health of our little planet’s climate. I guess if the free market can’t inform some conservatives then I’m not sure that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

This speech from Senator Whitehouse is from December of 2013, and it seems to have just recently picked up some more traction in the social media world. He is speaking against Oklahoma Senator (and apparently very nice guy) Senator Inhofe. I have had multiple friends work for Inhofe, and the reports seem to be that he’s sincere, but that doesn’t mean that he’s right.

Have Recent Geo-Political Issues Spiked Your Interest? How About A Quick Refresher? – WWII

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With all of the news going on in the Ukraine, and people seeming to have a spiked interest in geo-politics it seemed to me to be a good time for a short history lesson. So, let’s start with this one: World War II

The Untold History of the United States: Episode 3, The Bomb

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Do you like hearing truth? I mean, do you want to know what is and isn’t even if it’s going to be uncomfortable? Well, if you are like me and you just want to be leveled with I’ve got a video for you. The show “Oliver Stone’s: Untold History of the United States” is automatically uncomfortable/controversial for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that he is considered a pillar in liberal media. Whether that makes listening to him more or less appealing for you it is probably worth at least learning what he has to say. This episode of “Untold History of the United States” is tough for a few reasons, as it calls in to question the intentions of some of our nations leaders during WWII, and the humanity of some of our foreign policies. The greatest question for many that is addressed in this episode will be whether or not we had to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. I would imagine that this is a question that will be debated for a long time, or at least until the Atomic Bomb kills us all (kind of kidding), and feel that anything that is likely to divide us so needs to be stared in the face.

Many people admire President’s Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, especially people who were alive during their Presidencies. These 2 men however aren’t necessarily as publicly linked to the atomic bomb in the eye of the public as they maybe should be, as “the bomb” is not as popular as they were/are. FDR was the president when the Manhattan Project  was developed (which was lead by Robert Oppenheimer, and if you’ve read my favorite book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell you might remember that he tried to kill his professor as a young man…), and Truman made sure that it was not a wasted venture by the United States government. This story is one in particular that I think should be told, and discussed by the public as much as possible. I think that if there is anything that could kill us all, and we get to elect those with the fingers that will be placed on the always spring-loaded trigger we should at least have a conversation about it.

*WARNING: This film is graphic

If you’ve come this far you might as well watch this short clip of people in Honolulu celebrating after the dropping of the bomb.

“VJ Day 1945: The Bravest Generation Celebrates WWII’s End”

To follow up those videos I thought it might be worthwhile to look at some statistics about the bomb and what it actually did.

The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Total Casualties

There has been great difficulty in estimating the total casualties in the Japanese cities as a result of the atomic bombing. The extensive destruction of civil installations (hospitals, fire and police department, and government agencies) the state of utter confusion immediately following the explosion, as well as the uncertainty regarding the actual population before the bombing, contribute to the difficulty of making estimates of casualties. The Japanese periodic censuses are not complete. Finally, the great fires that raged in each city totally consumed many bodies.

The number of total casualties has been estimated at various times since the bombings with wide discrepancies. The Manhattan Engineer District’s best available figures are:

TABLE A: Estimates of Casualties
Hiroshima Nagasaki
Pre-raid population 255,000 195,000
Dead 66,000 39,000
Injured 69,000 25,000
Total Casualties 135,000 64,000

The relation of total casualties to distance from X, the center of damage and point directly under the air-burst explosion of the bomb, is of great importance in evaluating the casualty-producing effect of the bombs. This relationship for the total population of Nagasaki is shown in the table below, based on the first-obtained casualty figures of the District:

TABLE B: Relation of Total Casualties to Distance from X
Distance from X,
feet
Killed Injured Missing Total
Casualties
Killed
per square mile
0 – 1,640 7,505 960 1,127 9,592 24,7OO
1,640 – 3,300 3,688 1,478 1,799 6,965 4,040
3,300 – 4,900 8,678 17,137 3,597 29,412 5,710
4,900 – 6,550 221 11,958 28 12,207 125
6,550 – 9,850 112 9,460 17 9,589 20

No figure for total pre-raid population at these different distances were available. Such figures would be necessary in order to compute per cent mortality. A calculation made by the British Mission to Japan and based on a preliminary analysis of the study of the Joint Medical-Atomic Bomb Investigating Commission gives the following calculated values for per cent mortality at increasing distances from X:

TABLE C: Percent Mortality at Various Distances
Distance from X,
in feet
Percent Mortality
0 – 1000 93.0%
1000 – 2000 92.0
2000 – 3000 86.0
3000 – 4000 69.0
4000 – 5000 49.0
5000 – 6000 31.5
6000 – 7000 12.5
7000 – 8000 1.3
8000 – 9000 0.5
9000 – 10,000 0.0

It seems almost certain from the various reports that the greatest total number of deaths were those occurring immediately after the bombing. The causes of many of the deaths can only be surmised, and of course many persons near the center of explosion suffered fatal injuries from more than one of the bomb effects. The proper order of importance for possible causes of death is: burns, mechanical injury, and gamma radiation. Early estimates by the Japanese are shown in D below:

TABLE D: Cause of Immediate Deaths
Hiroshima
Cause of Death Percent of Total
Burns 60%
Falling debris 30
Other 10
Nagasaki
Cause of Death Percent of Total
Burns 95%
Falling debris 9
Flying glass 7
Other 7

Where In The World You Can Find The Best Schools — And The Happiest Kids

Where In The World You Can Find The Best Schools — And The Happiest Kids

This is a great little “picturized” article about education that was posted by the ever stimulating Buzzfeed. It compares happiness and test scores, and considering the idea that these 2 factors seem to be the main measures of a successful community it seems that we might want to consider what it means for our nation that we are neither competitively high performing, or relatively the happiest. What do these charts make you think we should do about reforming our education? Maybe think about it and tell somebody. As someone who isn’t simply the biggest advocate of standardized testing, and there seeming not to be a strong indicator/measure or alternative measures or learning/creativity, I don’t fully know what to think. So, feel free to tell me what you think.

-Grady

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s triennial international survey compared test scores from 65 countries. Happiness was ranked based on the percentage of students who agreed or disagreed with the statement “I feel happy at school.” Test scores were ranked based on the combined individual rankings of the students’ math, reading, and science scores.

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The Not So American Dream: Inequality Associated with Immobility – Steve Rattner

If you are reading this you are to some degree or another and consumer. As we live in a capitalistic society, that is fueled by consumers, measuring citizens ability to consume can largely inspire conversation about the true freedom of the citizenry. For decades, particularly the ones in the mid-20th century, consumption (i.e.: driving the car you want, or even just using the cleaning products you might prefer) could be, and has been tied to our nation (and increasingly our world’s) own personal measuring stick of success. Buying power can be conflated with democracy, and people get what it is that they want, regardless of it’s effects on the overall well-being of society – which can be evidenced by things like Cinnabon, and reality television.

Regardless of the consequences of that our wallet shaped ballots can cause us our nation specifically seems to value it’s ability to participate in a “free-market” oriented economy. We refer to this financially stable citizen paradigm as the “American Dream”, which I believe has shifted measurably. I believe that the values of the American public have shifted, which could be measured by observing how our purchasing trends change, but also I believe that the ability to purchase has shifted enormously, which I don’t find to be a simple conspiracy (it’s complicated). Sure, a lot of people in the United States have less money because they don’t work as hard as the maybe used to, but that is an over-simplification. People in the country in general have less money because they also have jobs that have been made more efficient, while the pay rates are not equally increased – but again this is just a part of the picture. Maybe the most impactful factor in regards to a growing wealth gap has been technology, and the replacement of workers by machines and computers. This last one can very clearly be seen in this chart looking at a splitting in correlation of growth from productivity to wages.

Connecting a shift in wages, and productivity is a very important thing to do, but not necessarily just to blame or point fingers at anyone. We just have to be honest with ourselves. Steve Rattner always has wonderful economic charts to help explain what’s going on in this crazy world. These charts below tell a story of how it seems the American dream doesn’t seem quite as American as it used to.

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20 places that don’t look real (20 pictures)

I am about to head to the hospital for a double hernia surgery, but I thought I’d post something really fun first. I’m probably going to re-look at all of these when I get home on all of those whacky drugs. Hopefully I don’t get the urge to blog… And if I do may the force be with us all.

20 places that don’t look real (20 pictures) |.

This is a post from CavNews.WordPress.Com, and I couldn’t help but repost it. I am surprised how much of this is in China, I didn’t really get to see any of this while I was there. As pictures are worth a thousand words you’ve got a lot ahead of you, so I hope you enjoy it.

1. Bamboo Forest (China)

 Bamboo-Forest-China

Image credits: Yuya Horikawa | Tomoaki Kabe

2. Black Forest (Germany)

Black-Forest-Germany

Image credits: andy linden

3. Fields of Tea (China)

Fields-of-Tea-China

Image credits: unknown

4. Hang Son Doong (Vietnam)

Hang-Son-Doong-Vietnam

Image credits: Carsten Peter

5. Hitachi Seaside Park (Japan)

Hitachi-Seaside-Park-Japan

Image credits: nipomen2 | sename777

6. Lake Hillier (Australia)

Lake-Hillier-Australia

Image credits: Ockert Le Roux

7. Lake Retba (Sengal)

Lake-Retba-Sengal

Image credits: buzzfeed

8. Antelope Canyon (USA)

Antelope-Canyon-USA

Image credits: CSMphotography

9. Lavender Fields (France)

Lavender-Fields-France

Image credits: Antony Spencer | Erasmus T

10. Mendenhall Ice Caves (Alaska)

Mendenhall-Ice-Caves-Alaska

Image credits: Kent Mearig

11. Mount Roraima (South America)

Mount-Roraima-South-America

Image credits: imgur.com | Uwe George

12. Naico Mine (Mexico)

Naico-Mine-Mexico-2

Via: daytraveling | tumblr

13. Red Beach (China)

Red-Beach-China

Image credits: MJiA

14. Solar du Uyuni (Bolivia)

Solar-du-Uyuni-Bolivia

Image credits: dadi360

15. Tianzi Mountains (China)

Tianzi-Mountains-China

Image credits: Richard Janecki

16. Tulip Fields (Netherlands)

Tulip-Fields-Netherlands

Image credits: nicole_denise

17. Tunnel of Love (Ukraine)

Tunnel-of-Love-Ukraine

Image credits: Oleg Gordienko

18. Wisteria Flower Tunnel (Japan)

Wisteria-Flower-Tunnel-Japan2

Image credits: imgur.com | mindphoto.blog.fc2.com

19. Zhangye Danxia Landform (China)

Zhangye-Danxia-Landform-China

Image credits: unbelievableinfo.blogspot.it

20. Zhangye Danxia Landform (China)

Zhangye-Danxia-Landform-China

“Hubris: Selling the Iraq War” (Special Report)

Hubris

So lately I’ve decided to post a few Rachel Maddow segments, and I’m sure that has a lot of my loved ones in Oklahoma very worried about me. I would first like to clarify a couple of things. I don’t always agree with her, but when I do I find it worthwhile to share because I would imagine that many around me would otherwise never hear anything that she says, and I hear her often mischaracterized as just the opposite of the guys of Fox News (I don’t think that’s true, I appreciate that her shows are designed with enough information that you can refute what she says, and that doesn’t mean that I always think she’s right). Also, there are very few shows that are free on itunes as a podcast, but her show is, and while I didn’t have cable for 2 years I was very grateful for that.

Next I’d like to clarify my purpose of posting this video. I am not trying to pick a fight, or tease anyone. As a matter of policy and governance I simply disagree with the way that the Iraq War was instigated and executed. I say this with a limited knowledge of the military, so feel free to educate me if you know something that I don’t know. You are allowed to disagree and I can deal with that, although I might have questions for you. I try very hard to be reasonable, and part of that for me means that it’s important to reflect on our successes and failures. I don’t consider our troops to have failed, I am incredibly humbled that people risk their lives for me and live in the conditions in which our soldiers do, but I do consider our leadership in regards to this war to have been a failure on multiple levels.

If you find this video to be interesting, or even if you don’t, I recommend watching the documentary “No End In Sight” (which as of this post you can find on Netflix). If you are someone who has served in the United States Military I want to be clear that I am posting this with an honest concern for American lives, as well as for lives around the world, and I mean no disrespect.

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I think that it’s a complete failure on part of our media that most people I’ve talked to about the War in Iraq have no clue as to the unbelievable devastation that Iraq has experienced… This short documentary is definitely being produced by people who are unapologetically liberal, and I wouldn’t dispute that. However, I think that being partisan doesn’t disqualify an argument, poor logic and a lack of information disqualifies arguments, but unsympathetic partisanship really can kill a great conversation. I supported the war as a 16 year old boy, but I no longer think it was wise. This video explains part of my change of heart/mind:

For anyone interested in watching “No End in Sight” I will post the trailer below. Again, I’m sorry if I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings, this is in no way meant to taunt anyone on my behalf. I know that this is challenging and per usual on challenging topics I expect a lot of views, but very little interaction, and that’s ok. However you feel about this post I hope that you can accept my sentiment when I say God Bless America, and God Bless all of our brothers and sisters of the world.

Ohio Is A Test Case For The U.S. Economy – Steve Rattner

Ohio is a test case for US economy.

If you read my blog with any regularity you by know are aware that I love Steve Rattner… He is a very smart, and also thoughtful person. I think that he nailed with pinpoint accuracy what citizens of this country should have an understand of, so that we can learn how to face common obstacles together.

At the end of this post I am post a video that is a few years old that I think pertains to what he is talking about… The apparent leakage of our nations power is attributed to so much, and identifying the importance of education is but one way that we can maintain growth and influence in the world (which is obviously of great importance to anyone who considers our nation to be founded on outstanding ideals).

Ohio is a test case for US economy

Are You Better Off? – Bloomberg News

Are You Better Off? Take a Look at the Stock Market – Bloomberg.

This Bloomberg study about whether or not we are better off than we were 4 years ago was pretty interesting, so we’ll start of with the picture book version, as I do love charts/numbers, and then you can read the article. I think it’s worthwhile. I would imagine that a lot of people would be glad to dissect the article on their terms and explain why we are or aren’t better off, but I would like to present the article. If anyone would like to add their analysis I’d love to read it, and I’ll definitely consider posting it if it’s really compelling. I think that the article speaks to a level of our speculation as voters/consumers.

Are You Better Off?

Do you remember the news four years ago? Banks collapsed, markets cratered, companies struggled to make payroll and millions of people lost their jobs. Your retirement savings were decimated, the value of your house plunged, credit was unobtainable. Politicians dithered and economists argued. Only confusion prospered.

Against this background, it’s surprising to hear Republicans returning to Ronald Reagan’s classic debate question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” To anyone whose memory extends a full electoral cycle, the answer is clearly yes.

When assessing our politicians, what matters isn’t just the here and now. It’s at least as important to consider how well we are set up for tomorrow, next year and the decades that follow.

This distinction is particularly important in assessing the aftermath of the last recession. The anxiety that gripped us in late 2008 wasn’t born out of a typical cyclical decline that hurts for a year or two before the economy returns to growth. Rather, it was a fear that something more fundamental had changed, altering our whole economic trajectory.

Only a forward-looking indicator can pick up both this fear and its ultimate resolution. Unfortunately, most economic statistics tell us only what happened last month, last quarter or last year.

Stock Market

The stock market, by contrast, is obsessively focused on the future. When investors decide whether to buy a company’s stock, they aren’t just thinking about its current earnings (if they were, a company like Twitter Inc. would be worthless). They are trying to figure out what its future earnings will be, and what that stream of income should be worth today. Their collective judgment, while far from perfect, tells a compelling story about how America’s prospects have changed over the past four years.

On the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX)closed at 805, just over half its pre-recession level. In other words, investors thought the recession had done so much damage that the future earnings of corporate America were worth only about half what they were before. And because corporate earnings are a roughly constant share of the broader economy, the stock prices suggested a decline of historic magnitude in investors’ assessment of the long-run prospects for the entire U.S. economy.

As of Sept. 10, the S&P 500 index stood at 1429, about 78 percent higher than it was on inauguration day. Probable translation: Investors believe the long-run outlook for the American economy has improved enormously.

True, the stock market can rise for various reasons. Investors might expect corporate profits to grow faster than the economy, or corporate taxes to fall. They might have become more patient, causing them to place a higher value on earnings way out in the future. Given the current political climate, and the way the crisis shattered peoples’ complacency, none of these stories seems particularly plausible.

The stock market is also an imperfect proxy for the outcomes we truly care about. If there were futures markets more directly tied to economic output, unemployment or perhaps even well-being, they would provide an even better picture.

Surveys asking people to evaluate their well-being can also provide a useful insight given that people’s responses are influenced by their outlook. One index run by research company Gallup Inc., for example, shows people’s perceived well-being at a four-year high. (Disclosure: Justin Wolfers is a senior scientist at Gallup.)

Of course, the stock ticker can’t answer the most important political questions. It can’t say we are better off because of Obama’s policies, or for other reasons. It can’t say whether we are better off than we would have been under President Mitt Romney. It does, however, capture well the narrative of disaster, survival and recovery that has marked the past four years. It helps us to remember how bad we felt back then, and to appreciate where we are today.

(Betsey Stevenson is an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. Justin Wolfers is an associate professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. Both are Bloomberg View columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.)

Read more opinion online from Bloomberg View. Subscribe to receive a daily e-mail highlighting new View editorials, columns and op-ed articles.

Today’s highlights: the editors on what to do about Libor’s overseer and on King Abdullah and Jordan’s subsidy addictionJeffrey Goldberg on power failures and Mormon food hoarding; William Pesek on China’s education policies in Hong KongRamesh Ponnuru on how muchRomney could actually accomplish as president; Barry Nalebuff on why New York should ban calories in beverages.

To contact the writers of this article: Justin Wolfers at jwolfers@wharton.upenn.edu Betsey Stevenson at betseys@wharton.upenn.edu

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Mark Whitehouse atmwhitehouse1@bloomberg.net

Median Household Income and Benefits By State (2010)

While I do believe in having some collectivist programs to keep this country as one nation, I understand that these gaps will really make some of those collectivist ideas on a national scale hard to pull off…

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