Excellent take-down of one of my least favorite historical figures by Bruce Levine:
Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
For Rand, all altruists were manipulators. What could be more seductive to kids who discerned the motives of martyr parents, Christian missionaries and U.S. foreign aiders? Her champions, Nathaniel Branden still among them, feel that Rand’s view of “self-interest” has been horribly misrepresented. For them, self-interest is her hero architect Howard Roark turning down a commission because he couldn’t do it exactly his way. Some of Rand’s novel heroes did have integrity, however, for Rand there is no struggle to discover the distinction between true integrity and childish vanity. Rand’s integrity was her vanity, and it consisted of getting as much money and control as possible, copulating with whomever she wanted regardless of who would get hurt, and her always being right. To equate one’s selfishness, vanity, and egotism with one’s integrity liberates young people from the struggle to distinguish integrity from selfishness, vanity, and egotism.
The whole thing is a good Sunday afternoon read.
Retail genetic-research company 23 And Me analyzed the genetics of the blue dress phenomenon:
For one, there was no clear genetic association with seeing either a blue and black dress versus seeing white and gold one, according to Fah Sathirapongsasuti, PhD, a computational biologist here at 23andMe.
That doesn’t mean there is no association, it just means that we didn’t find one that met our threshold for a strong association. We did see a small effect size for a genetic variant in the gene ANO6. While this may or may not be significant, it’s interesting because ANO6 is in the anoctamins gene family, which includes the gene ANO2. The gene ANO2 is involved in light perception, so this might be something that warrants further study. But as we said, the association we saw did not show a big effect. Others who’ve looked at the possible genetic influence of how people perceive the color of the dress also did not find a strong genetic association, finding, for instance, that identical twins also reported seeing different colors.
According to 23andMe’s data at around 20 years of age, customers were split evenly between those who saw a white and gold dress versus those who saw blue and black. But as customers get older the proportion of those who see white and gold increased up until the age of 60 when more than three quarters of those surveyed said they see a white and gold striped dress instead of blue and black one. This effect is more dramatic in men where the proportion of men seeing white and gold increases by almost 15% around the age of 40.
Their more detailed conclusions—or lack of conclusions—are pretty interesting.
Also, for those keeping score at home, the dress is really blue no matter what you perceive.
The French abbey Mont-Saint-Michel was completely cut off from land yesterday as once-in-a-century tides flowed into the English Channel:
Tens of thousands of curious visitors have crowded historic Mont Saint-Michel and other beauty spots along the French coastline with the promise of a ‘tide of the century’, but it may not have lived up to everyone's expectations.
Anticipating a wall of water that could equal the height of a four-storey building, tourists and locals staked out positions around the picturesque landmark last night and again today, including the partially-washed out causeway as the tide retreated.
They travelled to France’s northern coast for the first giant tide of the millennium, with experts predicting that it could reach as high as 14 m - 5½ m above normal - thanks to the effects from yesterday’s spectacular solar eclipse.
And once the tide flowed out, people had the rare opportunity to walk across the salt flat to the Mont. The tides were so high that UK authorities closed the Thames barrier for the 175th time in its 30-year history.
According to the Daily Mail, "the last 'tide of the century' occurred on March 10, 1997 and the next will take place in March 2033."
In the past week I've gotten almost 100,000 steps (and 73 km ) of walking, including a few relatively long ones today. This also takes into account the 10% hit to my counts from moving my Fitbit to my left hand.
The best part of all this is that I can eat more. Like last night, when I consumed Lao's Sze Chuan in mass quantities.
As this may, in fact, be the most interesting thing I can report this weekend, maybe I need to get out more. Or stay in and read more. But I've got at least another 3,000 steps to walk before I get home.
And I'm really hungry.
Things I will read or explore more this weekend:
The National Aeronautical and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported today that the climatalogical winter of December 2014 through February 2015 was the warmest on record, despite what happened in the eastern United States and Canada:
During December–February, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.42°F (0.79°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.05°F (0.03°C).
During December–February, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.63°F (1.46°C) above the 20th century average. This tied with 2007 as the highest for December–February in the 1880–2015 record.
Even with record cold from Maine to Alabama, it was the 19th warmest winter in the Lower 48—in part because five states in the west experienced record heat and six more got into the 90th percentile.
Just hours after a jury handed down a $26-million verdict against the company, Yellow Cab filed for bankruptcy protection overnight:
The verdict was reached around 7 p.m. Tuesday. At 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, Yellow Cab Affiliation Inc. of Chicago filed for Chapter 11 reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago, according to the court documents.
In its filing, company officials said Yellow Cab is "experiencing financial difficulty due to, among other things, a judgment entered against the company in the Circuit Court of Cook County."
Robert Clifford, the lead attorney for the couple, said the bankruptcy filing means "they may never see a dime."
Given that the verdict was announced around 7 p.m. and the court hearing ended at 8 p.m., the bankruptcy filing must have been a "long planned strategy to avoid accountability and responsibility," Clifford said.
Not that taxi companies have a history of shady dealings, despite my ongoing efforts to retrieve an insurance deductible from an incident a few months ago. And not that private-ride companies are grinding down taxi profits even more. But still, this is egregious.
Under the status update "...it's as though millions of llamas suddenly cried out and were suddenly silenced," one of my Facebook friends posted this sad news:
Maxis—the developer of SimCity, and a studio I’m comfortable calling one of the most influential of all time—is closing shop. The news was confirmed by designer Guillaume Pierre over Twitter.
“Well it was a fun 12 years,” wrote Pierre, “but it's time to turn off the lights and put the key under the door.”
Founded by Will Wright and Jeff Braun in 1987 to work on SimCity, Maxis’s Emeryville, Calif.-based studio took the simulation genre in every possible direction and every imaginable scale,from the whole SimEarth to tiny SimAnts. There were flubs—SimCopter and The Streets of SimCity come to mind—but in 2000, Wright and Maxis would create the best-selling PC game of all time: The Sims.
This doesn't mean the end of SimCity, but it may not be the best thing that ever happened to one of my favorite computer games. Of course, I haven't really played it in a while...
Yesterday evening when I walked to rehearsal the temperature in Chicago was 22°C. Four hours later it was 8°C, and it fell to 2°C by sunrise.
This is what we call a "pneumonia front," especially when this sort of thing happens mid-day. People go to work or school dressed for warm weather and catch pneumonia on the way home.
Add to that the 46 km/h wind gusts out of the north and it's a banner spring morning here in Chicago.