to solve the cube

To solve the Rubik’s Cube, just follow each step.

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3-D mechanical puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik. Originally called the “Magic Cube”, the puzzle was licensed by Rubik to be sold by Ideal Toys in 1980 and won the German Game of the Year special award for Best Puzzle that year. As of January 2009, 350 million cubes have sold worldwide making it the world’s top-selling puzzle game. It is widely considered to be the world’s best-selling toy.

brigands and pirates

Nicholas Shaxson’s flagship, Treasure Islands and the Men who Stole the World. The Guardian newspaper is running a serialization of the book, The Truth about Tax Havens.

How money is drained by a network of bankers, accountants, and lawyers into secret, off-shore bank accounts, undermining the lives of millions of people. How does this happen? Why is no one paying attention?

do deny the gattling spree

Secret Service Alert: 2008

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling “terrorist” and “kill him” until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks.

Michelle Obama, the future First Lady, was so upset that she turned to her friend and campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett and said: “Why would they try to make people hate us?”

She was not asked about her incendiary rhetoric against Mr Obama. She said:

“I consider it cowardly. It’s not true. That’s cruel, it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news that’s not fair and not right.”

infinity divided by infinity

You spoke of ‘infinity’ as if it were a number. It’s not. You may as well ask, ‘What is truth divided by beauty?’ I have no clue. —John Derbyshire, 2003

I have no clue myself, but these are snippets smartly writ:

Nonmathematical people sometimes ask me, You know math, huh? Tell me something I’ve always wondered, What is infinity divided by infinity?

I can only reply, The words you just uttered do not make sense. That was not a mathematical sentence. You spoke of infinity as if it were a number. It’s not. You may as well ask, What is truth divided by beauty? I have no clue.

I only know how to divide numbers. Infinity, truth, beauty those are not numbers.

What is a modern definition of analysis, then? I think the study of limits will do for my purposes here. The concept of a limit is at the heart of analysis. All of calculus, for example, which forms the largest part of analysis, rests on the idea of a limit.

Arithmetic: The study of whole numbers and fractions. Sample theorem: If you subtract an odd number from an even number you get an odd number.

Geometry: The study of figures in space points, lines, curves, and three-dimensional objects. Sample theorem: The angles of a triangle on a flat surface add up to 180 degrees.

Algebra: The use of abstract symbols to represent mathematical objects (numbers, lines, matrices, transformations), and the study of the rules for combining those symbols. Sample theorem: For any two numbers x and y, (x + y) (x y) = x2 y2.

Analysis: The study of limits. Sample theorem: The harmonic series is divergent (that is, it increases without limit).

Modern mathematics contains much more than that, of course. It includes set theory, for example, created by Georg Cantor in 1874, and foundations, which another George, the Englishman George Boole, split off from classical logic in 1854, and in which the logical underpinnings of all mathematical ideas are studied.

The traditional categories have also been enlarged to include big new topics geometry to include topology, algebra to take in game theory, and so on.

Even before the early nineteenth century there was considerable seepage from one area into another. Trigonometry, for example, (the word was first used in 1595) contains elements of both geometry and algebra. Descartes had in fact arithmetized and algebraized a large part of geometry in the seventeenth century, though pure-geometric demonstrations in the style of Euclid were still popular and still are for their clarity, elegance, and ingenuity.

Tidying up is a relative term… for some a Prime Obsession.

wonderful empowering

We’ve found, in our work with executives at dozens of organizations, that it’s possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest.

Tony Schwartz at Harvard

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we’ve found are most effective for our clients:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

spewing 8 billion tons of carbon

A wrap-up by Joseph Romm:

We’re now over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year (more than 8 billion tons of carbon) — and notwithstanding the global economic slowdown, probably poised to rise 2% per year.

The exact future growth rate is quite hard to project because it depends so much on what China does, how quickly peak oil kicks in, and the extent to which other countries around the world keep their substantial Copenhagen/Cancun commitments in the absence of a global agreement.

We have to average below 18 billion tons of CO2 a year for the entire century if we’re going to stabilize at 450 ppm…

And how to fix it, by Umair Haque:

I’d argue that capitalism’s got to do better — and to get there, capitalists have to aspire to matter. For too long, capitalists have taken people, communities, society, nature, and the future for granted — but today, they damn well shouldn’t.

Industrial-age capitalism is, we’re discovering the hard way, predicated on extracting wealth from people, communities, society, nature, and the future. That might just demand abandoning some — or even most — of yesterday’s tired, toxic assumptions about what prosperity is, where it comes from, how it’s ignited, and why it matters.

the hollowing-out

just deserts (plural only)

Computer-aided high-frequency trading now accounts for about 70 percent of total trade volume. Increasingly, the market’s ups and downs are determined not by traders competing to see who has the best information or sharpest business mind but by algorithms feverishly scanning for faint signals of potential profit.

Don’t misunderstand me, I value standard economics and I think it provides important and useful insights into human endeavors. But I also think that it is incomplete, and that accepting all economic principles on faith is ill-advised and even dangerous. —Dan Ariely

Testing reality vs Promoting belief.

“Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything yet now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever.” —Paul Krugman

The Rise of the New Global Elite: If you are looking for the date when America’s plutocracy had its coming-out party, you could do worse than choose June 21, 2007.

The good news—and the bad news—for America is that the nation’s own super-elite is rapidly adjusting to this more global perspective. The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy.

In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter.

“His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled. —Chrystia Freeland

outright messed up

Eight months after the earthquake, 280,000 buildings shook down, Haiti is out of the headlines, life for the victims is getting worse, a million live in tent cities “where rape gangs and disaster profiteers roam“.

But what about the government or the UN? What about Bill Clinton’s Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the billions pledged by governments and given to charities?

A snippet to accompany mismatch and brutishness these days:

The US used roughly six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005 —that’s 250,000 to 300,000 bullets per terrorist.

each aloft we all

I need color in life, not bleak, not thugs prospecting me, not blind aggrandizing, but goodness, clarity, stalwart things, the life of higher purpose, exquisite gains, footstep by footstep. Doesn’t matter so much that Napoleon story, I will wish bin Ladin froze to stone, less worry about babies per millisecond, ramped pricing, wicked banking, yet all in all, life is amazing, thrusted wonder, awe, tremendous everything. Golly.

Silly isn’t it, when we pause, go back ten minutes or an hour, review that wee bit, judge it raw and cruel, asking if minutes are worth it? There’s always one answer. Precious. Another flurry maybe, a strong effort maybe, a rare insight maybe, a good hug maybe, a conventional unfounded postulation hung in politics maybe, a wee prize in the department store, a skill around a corner, it’s all new to you I said. Precious. Yes we can say precious.

I wonder if stars know? Surge by untired surge, the mess of stunning they are, atoms on fire, no less nuts than us, busy infinite in packages of now, well, might as well be, we learn nothing else from them. When I arrived I was dancing, they said moaning a bit, yes dancing, a little star of my own, pushing atoms too, stung in my shockwave, year by year, thrust through ideas, making my remembering, crusted in this finger, plucking keystrokes, coloring life.

how bloody mall of you

~ Mustafa Demiri ~

Tears might have filled the vast Amazon from what fell from everyone’s eye when they heard with great trepidation the rainforest rivers were dry.

In the land of the great pyramids, there shall arise such a cry when the Nile will have reversed its course and no one on Earth will know why. The Great Wall of Qin could not contain the numbers that will suffer and die while the Yangtze and all of her sisters have been poisoned with sulphur and lye.

The once beautiful blue Danube, the sacred Ganges of golden hue, the broad and verdant Mississip’ —their loss the world will rue unless we, the stewards of this world, decide on what to do.

It’s been a little more than a century since the dawn of industry. Still some of us refuse to see our destiny. Perhaps we’ll not escape every cataclysm or event —there are, of course, the natural furies but there are things we can prevent.

Ellen Wohl:

Far from being the serene, natural streams of yore, modern rivers have been diverted, dammed, dumped in, and dried up…

…nutrient runoff,
…industrial pollution,
…beaver and fauna removal,
…convenience channelization,
…levees, dams, poor engineering,
…drugs, pesticides, garbage, sewage…

We’ve lost our view of what a river must be.


He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. ~Psalm 104:1

we r extraction

In 2010, the U.S. collected $1.3 trillion in individual income taxes,

but merely $160 billion in corporate taxes.

Treasury report here —> [pdf] <—
via The Rookie Cynic [twitter]

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer:

And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery. The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer.

And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer.

In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else’s income went down. This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom.

The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today. This is what the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call the “winner-take-all economy.”

It is not a picture of a healthy society.

Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class.

Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced industrial democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan.

It breeds political polarization, mistrust, and resentment between the haves and the have-nots and tends to distort the workings of a democratic political system in which money increasingly confers political voice and power.

The big joke of trickle down

literacy’s mysogyny

“Any culture that adopts an alphabet goes through a period of demonstrable madness where they denigrate women.” —Leonard Shlain

Read that twice. Read this twice:

1) Compare the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing.

2) Compare the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing.

Then ponder Leonard Shlain’s question,

“How did god go from being a woman to a man?”

The Alphabet vs The Goddess Lecture

the walking test

A new analysis of walking speed
an older person’s pace, along with their age and gender, can predict their life expectancy just as well as the complex battery of other health details.

So instead of a doctor assessing a patient’s blood pressure, body mass index, chronic conditions, hospitalization history, smoking history and use of mobility aids to estimate survival, a lab assistant could simply time the patient walking a few meters and come up with just as accurate of a prediction of their likelihood of living five or 10 more years—as well as a median life expectancy.

junk economy

When you, the king, rob an empire, you’re called a great king.

What does Wall Street really do?

When you say speculating in stocks, I mean, in theory that’s the way companies raise money to go, in theory, to do something productive, by selling stocks.

Michael Hudson:

Take any stock in the United States.

The average time in which you hold a stock is–it’s gone up from 20 seconds to 22 seconds in the last year.

Most trades are computerized. Most trades are short-term.

The average foreign currency investment lasts–it’s up now to 30 seconds, up from 28 seconds last month. So we’re talking about really short-term.

The financial sector is short-term.

A transactions tax on finance would fund our shortfall and barely dent wealth holdings, but oops, we don’t tax Wall Street or multinationals.  We’ll, listen up, balance the budget with cuts, by killing the beast, destroying our government. Isn’t that slowing one place that’s still moving? Live without it they say. Where’s the good in these beliefs?

well-considered

Can large complex systems create new kinds of future, or are the winds of fate far too strong? Can we predict decline, change it, improve things, create order out of chaos?

What do our scientists believe?

Wull, they’re not Republican.


eye2eye bird feeder

Eureka! The feeding tube is right between your eyes !

It’s true. The good stuff hasn’t been invented yet.

But a face shield with pepper red flowery graphics?

One never forgets the first time a hummingbird suddenly arrives at the feeder right in front of your eyes. It is truly an awesome experience! Definite adrenaline rush! There you are, just sitting there, when WHOOSH a hummingbird jumps into your vision as if by magic! Absolutely a treat.

The Eye 2 Eye Wearable Hummingbird Feeder by Doyle Doss. Fill the tube with sugar water, adjust the face shield and wait for the hummingbirds to swarm to you. Doss says hummingbirds will eagerly be drawn to your mask. News story here.