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We had an opportunity to see Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs & Steel and Collapse) speak today. He is very clearly a professor (40 years at UCLA), in his manner of speaking as well as his manner of avoiding answering questions. The speech was interesting and thought provoking. I'll try to do a decent write-up later. For now, the two notes he left us with are: (1) the biggest benefit to globalization is that we can learn what works by observing other cultures that fail(ed) or succeed(ed), regardless of their remoteness in space and/or time; and (2) one of the biggest differentiators between governments that make good decisions and bad is the remoteness or distance between the decision makers & the people affected by those decisions.
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The NYTimes writes an interesting article against overorganizing your house, and feeling guilty about the mess. You've got to appreciate any article that includes a sentence like "messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts," especially if you've seen my closet.
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This article deconstructs the myth that the reason Americans are declaring bankruptcy, and the reason our savings rate is so abysmal, is because we like to buy too much stuff. Very interesting.
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This morning at 9:15 there was an explosion in San Francisco. The explosion buckled the sidewalk, and apparently shot a gout of flame into the street.

At first I was relieved to hear that the cause was actually an explosion in an underground PG&E vault housing transformers. But then I realized that my odds of being hurt by a badly maintained transformer are significantly higher than my odds of being hurt in a terrorist attack. While I'm still glad it wasn't terrorists, I'm rather worried by the idea that, as PG&E spokescritters said "there have been vault explosions in the past." That's reassuring, I'm sure. Shouldn't they be scrambling to explain how their transformers could explode and buckle the sidewalk, shooting manhole covers through the streets?
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I didn't grow up with Mother Goose. But the little guy is starting to demand the stories, so I've been learning them. But of course, we've been modifying them on the fly, because I'm sorry but I'm not telling my child these originals:

There was an old woman,
Who lived in a shoe;
She had so many children,
She didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth,
Without any bread;
She whipped them all soundly,
And sent them to bed.


Our modified version:

There was an old woman,
Who lived in a shoe;
She had so many children,
She didn't know what to do.
She gave them some soup,
And a piece of bread;
She kissed them all softly,
And sent them to bed.

Of course, when my kid asked why the old woman had so many children (why is still the favorite question) I had to say that it's because she didn't know how to use proper contraception. Yes, my little guy sure has an interesting vocabulary.
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A fascinating article in the NYTimes about an Orthodox Rabbi who gets money from the evangelicals to support Jewish causes. Some choice quotes:

Discussing the WHY of supporting Israel:

"What about the Armageddon scenario?" As Bauer knows, a great many
Jews believe that evangelicals want to gather Jews in Israel to bring
on the "End of Days," a Book of Revelation big bang that includes
the return of Jesus and a Jewish mass conversion.

Bauer dismissed this as the "odd belief" of an insignificant
minority. "Most evangelicals support Israel for national-security
reasons," he said. "After 9/11 there is a strong interest in foreign
affairs, and we have a tendency to identify Israel as good guys."

Eckstein nodded. He says he is certain that evangelical Christians
want nothing more than to bless Israel."


I'm sorry, but this is the biggest load of BS in the world. I don't know why evangelicals support Israel, but stating that it's "after 9/11" and "national-security" is obviously bogus.

Towards the end, at a group meeting at the organization Eckstein runs:

Throughout this conversation, Rios [a new employee] was clearly eager to join in. And
as soon as there was a pause in the discussion, she did. "You know,"
she said, "the truth is, Christians do want to convert Jews."

Eckstein and Mamo exchanged glances. "Not by some bait-and-switch
trick," she said. "But we believe it's part of God's plan."
Eckstein winced the way he had when Pastor Munsey called him a
born-again Christian.

"Anyway," Rios said, "we love Jews, notwithstanding their rudeness
and hatred for us."

Three days later, Eckstein called me in New York. Rios had been fired,
but her gaffe, and the impression it made, was still on his mind.
"It's really my fault," he said. "Hiring staff is a problem.
Truthfully, it's extremely hard to find people who understand exactly
what we're doing here."


Gosh yes. Sometimes his staff doesn't know how to echo his statements properly, and maybe has opinions of their own that undermine Eckstein's basic premise. We can't have that, now can we.

Somehow I have a hard time having any respect for this man, despite the fact that he has literally raised millions and millions of dollars for worthy causes. Apparently, this is a fairly usual problem for him in Jewish circles.
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We're going to a wedding this weekend. It's after all summer and wedding season. We're talking to a number of people getting divorced too. Maybe it's divorce season.

It seems that by age category we're entering divorce season. I'm 35, and many of my friends got married in the past four years. As all those stats point out, many marriages end within the first four. Alas, it appears to be very true in my circle. Someone pointed out that my friends are either getting divorced or breeding. I guess on the upside those that are breeding are doing OK so far.
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Someone is charting the Mood of the world according to LiveJournal using LJ mood tags. I'm now amused. I wonder how many people have to be amused & post this with an amused tag to make a difference in the chart.

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