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  1. Last 7 days
    1. You can read more about Life Itself’s offerings on our website:

      Omit ...

  2. Jul 2020
    1. GitHub/ GitLab Permissions

      Why is this in running the org - this is instructions for onboarder

    2. please email the OPS team (office@datopian.com) with the following information:

      Why office@ rather than office requests?

      More generally, why not use a form for this vs email. I think in general we want forms vs email.

  3. Jun 2020
    1. Piketty’s account of the past 40 years is less a story of capital being unleashed (as most histories of neoliberalism have it) than of progressive ideologies running out of steam. The failure of communism played a crucial role in this, producing a new fatalism about the capacity of politics to deliver equality. Globalisation eroded national borders, while “hypercapitalism” delivered concentrations of wealth not witnessed since 1914. In the context of post-socialist ideological cynicism
    1. Free and Open

      But it's not free and open (as defined by e.g. open source definition or free software definition). It's restricted.

      Quite understand the basic motivation ... and ... misusing terms is misleading.

    1. Many years later, the iPad was good at the simple media consumption convenience part of the idea, but fell quite flat in many ways with regard to the two larger ideas of (a) user authoring of meta-media, and (b) an environment to help children learn powerful ideas by making and sharing them. The latter was not in Apple’s goals at all: users (even children) were forbidden to make actively programmable things on the iPad and share them on the Internetthere was no stylus for drawing with the machine, and years later when one finally was added they omitted a place to store it (!) — and even still they did not include proximity sensing (compare with the Wacom Cintiq).fluent typing was not addressed in the design (we knew in 1968 that even with a touch-screen, a physical keyboard would almost certainly be needed). It is somewhat bizarre (even in this bizarre world) that Microsoft took more into account in its physical designs for the Surface …most importantly, Apple made no effort to help children by funding curriculum development, how to help them learn, etc. Steve’s earlier “Wheels for the Mind” ideal was long gone: buried in simple consumerism.So: don’t confuse the Dynabook idea with the physical resemblance to the iPad. The latter has thousands of times the capacity of what I had in mind, but its conception is thousands of times more meager.

      most importantly, Apple made no effort to help children by funding curriculum development, how to help them learn, etc. Steve’s earlier “Wheels for the Mind” ideal was long gone: buried in simple consumerism.

      It's brutal and true.

    1. table_row_count_estimate.csv Quickly see the number of rows in each table. table_sizes.csv See table "size on disk" as reported by Postgres stats. (Actual size is smaller.) writes_tables.csv Show the number of writes for each table.

      I think getting one consolidated table (in csv then => google sheets) with per table stats in one piece is what i really want.

      I also want "owner" info if we can somehow get that.

      Also where are the "master" tables vs the data tables?

    2. fdptest

      fdp = fiscal data package?

      fdptest = something we can drop ... (?)

    3. Total number of tables

      Across all dbs or openspending?

    1. Table of contents

      Generally i would have ToC after intro / summary para.

      why? b/c it is usual and engaging to have some immediate text (think of a news article etc) ... and things like google or fb will pull first substantial text to make a summary etc so we want actual content. (also i suspect in the blog listing page).

    2. Art / Earth / Tech

      for me and [Life Itself]{link} is the concrete ...

    3. very skillfully illustrate the ideas with stories, walk through complex ideas and retain a balanced tone

      walk through complex ideas, skilfully illustrate the ideas with anecdotes and stories and retain the nuance of the underlying subject matter.

    4. but a very good academic, balanced tone from Gardner and Tetlock

      ... but overall a very good balance of academic and popular.

      Current text does not make sense ...

    5. Superforecasting

      I would add full title maybe both here and URL for SEO purposes ... (superforecasting is a bit vague).

  4. May 2020
    1. This is why we postulate to have a central declaration file (as in YAML or JSON) per data asset, capturing all these properties required to run a generalized task (carried out by a custom operator). In other words, operators are designed in a generic way and receive the name of a data asset, from which they can grab its declaration file and learn how to parameterize and carry out the specific task.


    1. What I Think Should Be Done  For the previously explained reasons, I believe that capitalism is a fundamentally sound system that is now not working well for the majority of people, so it must be reformed to provide many more equal opportunities and to be more productive. To make the changes, I believe something like the following is needed.  Leadership from the top. I have a principle that you will not effect change unless you affect the people who have their hands on the levers of power so that they move them to change things the way you want them to change. So there need to be powerful forces from the top of the country that proclaim the income/wealth/opportunity gap to be a national emergency and take on the responsibility for reengineering the system so that it works better. Bipartisan and skilled shapers of policy working together to redesign the system so it works better. I believe that we will do this in a bipartisan and skilled way or we will hurt each other. So I believe the leadership should create a bipartisan commission to bring together skilled people from different communities to come up with a plan to reengineer the system to simultaneously divide and increase the economic pie better. That plan will show how to raise money and spend/invest it well to produce good double bottom line returns. Clear metrics that can be used to judge success and hold the people in charge accountable for achieving it. In running the things I run, I like to have clear metrics that show how those who are responsible for things are doing and have rewards and punishments that are based on how these metrics change. Having these would produce the accountability and feedback loop that are required to achieve success. To the extent possible, I’d bring that sort of accountability down to the individual level to encourage an accountability culture in which individuals are aware of whether they are net contributors or net detractors to the society, and the individuals and the society make attempts to make them net contributors.   Redistribution of resources that will improve both the well-beings and the productivities of the vast majority of people. As an economic engineer, naturally I think about how money might be obtained from taxes, borrowing, businesses, and philanthropy, and how it would flow to affect prices and economies. For example, I think about how a change in personal tax rates might occur and how changes in them relative to corporate tax rates would affect how money would flow, and how changes in tax rates in one location relative to another location would drive flows and outcomes in them. I also think a lot about how the money raised will be spent—e.g., how much will be spent on programs that will improve both social and economic outcomes, and how much will be redistributive. Such decisions would of course be up to the people on the bipartisan commission and the leadership to decide and are way too complicated an engineering exercise for me to opine on here. I can, however, give my big picture inclinations. Above all else, I’d want to achieve good double bottom line results. To do that I’d:

      Not one mention of systematic change about information policy - nothing like open revolution.

      Core is some redistribution. Nothing substantive about how the basic mechanisms will change.

    2. Policy makers pay too much attention to budgets relative to returns on investments. For example, not spending money on educating our children well might be good from a budget perspective, but it’s really stupid from an investment perspective

      Policy makers?? The people who elect them. You have created systems that are extremely responsive to an oft ill-informed public.

    3. The pursuit of greater profits and greater company efficiencies has also led companies to produce in other countries and to replace American workers with cost-effective foreign workers, which was good for these companies’ profits and efficiencies but bad for the American workers’ incomes.

      I think this argument is relevant but much less important than point 1. And there's not much you can do about this ...

    4. The pursuit of profit and greater efficiencies has led to the invention of new technologies that replace people, which has made companies run more efficiently, rewarded those who invented these technologies, and hurt those who were replaced by them. This force will accelerate over the next several years, and there is no plan to deal with it well.

      This is huge - this is the essence of open revolution. Though he phrases it as a choice. The choice is in the rules we create.

  5. Apr 2020
    1. We are a strategic discovery, design and development lab working to transition society in response to technological revolution and climate breakdown.

      Seem interesting and progressive. Very elegant website etc 😉

    1. EIT Climate-KIC is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, we identify and support innovation that helps society mitigate and adapt to climate change. We believe that a decarbonised, sustainable economy is not only necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change, but presents a wealth of opportunities for business and society.

      would be interesting to understand more about their budget, philosophy and approach.

    1. About InfluenceMap InfluenceMap empowers investors, corporations, the media and campaigners with data-driven and clearly communicated analysis on critical issues associated with climate change and the energy transition. Our flagship platform is the world's leading analysis of how companies and trade associations impact climate-motivated policy globally.
    1. Our Deep Demonstrations are just that: Eight large-scale pan-European initiatives made up of a co-ordinated portfolio of projects designed to trigger systems change. These initiatives—from Just Transformations to Resilient Regions and Long-termism—follow our systems innovation methodology, in which we collaborate with design partners on ambitious systems-level challenges that are identified by “challenge owners” such as city mayors, regional leaders, government ministers, citizen leaders and CEOs of major companies. While most of the Deep Demonstrations are in the early stages, the work we have done with Slovenia shows what we can accomplish. The Slovenian government has embraced the radical, holistic approach that underpins our Deep Demonstrations, and their parliament has passed a motion adopting our proposal to become a fully circular economy. This collaboration is a part of our overall vision for the Deep Demonstration model—to trigger rapid decarbonisation and enhanced resilience across Europe.

      Amazing ... and is this all innovation based? If not, how are they doing this culturally and institutionally ...

    1. To understand the High Line’s effect on surrounding property prices, we analysed publicly available valuation data from NYC’s Department of Finance, and cross-referenced it with property sales data for blocks and individual plots (a detailed methodology is available 👉 here). This meant we could track how the values of surrounding properties have changed since the High Line’s arrival.What’s interesting is that if we group the properties in bands roughly one kilometre wide from the High Line you start to see that between 2007 (when construction started) and 2018 (when the data ends), properties closer to the High Line experienced a greater value increase on average than those further away. So the mean property value uplift for houses within 1km of the High Line was actually 92% more than the Manhattan mean. Or to put it another way — if you owned an apartment in that 1km, you earned on average about $67,000 a year from the uplift alone. 🤑

    1. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to redrawing the political map of the United States in this way is our bipartisan tradition of worshiping the founders. For many of the framers of the Constitution, nothing was more disturbing than the possibility that the Union would fracture into three or four smaller republics, or regional “sub-confederations.”

      I would hazard that US is far above optimal state size for wellbeing and wisdom.

    1. These videos are part of a new, free online course on income inequality in the United States available through Khan Academy.

      Look at the video it looks like it has the classic multi-factorial explanation. But there is a fundamental driver here ...

    1. Daniel Markovits, author of “The Meritocracy Trap,” estimates there are about one million of these workers in America today. They work really hard, are really productive and earn a lot more. In the mid-1960s, profits per partner at elite law firms were less than five times a secretary’s salary. Now, Markovits notes, they are over 40 times.

      That latter statistic is fascinating. Are top partners 8x more more productive (relatively) than secretaries? Maybe but probably not. There's more going on that the crude info economy argument of simply greater marginal productivity. I would also look at concentration of income across law firms - i bet there has been concentration towards the top firms.

    2. I chose to go to Compton and Watts for a specific reason, which offers a way forward. Harvard economist Raj Chetty recently led a study that showed that though these two neighborhoods are demographically similar and only 2.3 miles apart, 44 percent of the black men who grew up in Watts were incarcerated on April 1, 2010, compared with only 6.2 percent of the black men who grew up in families with similar incomes in Central Compton. Similarly, social mobility was much lower in Watts than in Compton.Why are some neighborhoods, including some in Compton, able to give their kids better chances in life despite so many disadvantages? Chetty points to several factors: better schools, more fathers present in the neighborhoods and more cohesive community organizations.I found all those things in my reporting in Compton — and something else. Watts is part of Los Angeles. Compton is its own city with its own mayor. I met a lot of great people in Watts, but Compton has more civic infrastructure — community groups and locally controlled government agencies. Compton has a lot of homegrown civic reformers, like Rafer Owens, who is a deputy Los Angeles County sheriff and pastor at a Baptist church. There’s also a mentality: We have faith in our ability to take care of ourselves; only people in the neighborhood really know what’s going on.

      Fascinating but be careful of descending into structural-solutionism vs the culture. cf Putnam and Italy. Structures arise from (and also, of course, create and sustain) culture.

    3. But here’s the situation: The information economy rains money on highly trained professionals — doctors, lawyers, corporate managers, engineers and so on.

      But why does it rain money on them? And who else does that?

    4. Did you marry before having kids and raise your kids in a two-parent home? The children of the well educated are now much more likely to grow up in stable families, and those differences in family structure explain 32 percent of the growth of family income inequality since 1979.

      Really? That's an amazing number? Where does that analysis come from? And how does it control for other (confounding) factors?

    1. We’re not talking about small numbers here. According to estimates by the Rockefeller Institute, from 2015 to 2018 Kentucky — which pays relatively little in federal taxes, because it’s fairly poor, but gets major benefits from programs like Medicare and Social Security — received net transfers from Washington averaging more than $33,000 per person. That was 18.6 percent of the state’s G.D.P.
    1. The big thing about the Web isn’t the technology, it’s that it’s the first-ever platform without a vendor (credit for first pointing this out goes to Dave Winer). From that follows almost everything that matters, and it matters a lot now, to a huge number of people. It’s the only kind of platform I want to help build.

      First, and nearly last atm.

    2. The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it. I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.

      Simple, brutally and accurately put.

    1. There now is a loud call for more “ethics in design”.

      And it's a focus on supply not demand. Trying to get your friendly drug dealer to voluntary reduce supply never works that well.

    2. Focusing on the user is without any doubt a positive development for our industry. Design should serve humans. Measuring results and verifying assumptions may have been a painful process for the old masters. Life is change. Only, how much of what makes us human is truly measurable and verifiable? How do we measure friendship? By the number of replies per month? By the length of replies? With computer linguistics? How do we measure usefulness? Lots of page views? Few page views? Stickiness? Number of Subscriptions? How do we measure trust? By the number of likes? Retweets? Comments? How do we measure truth?

      👍 Great points and the critique of the measurement fallacy (aka drunkard and lamp-post) is spot-on.

      Design should serve humans

      That's the crux of the difficulty - and the critique. Because what does the user really want (and even if they know do they choose it)? Ans: often no and no. See https://rufuspollock.com/2019/04/18/false-consciousness-and-what-we-really-want/

      Good design serves users but it serves their deeper wants and needs -- not just their immediate ones. Furthermore it takes cultivation and skill to appreciate and serve these deeper wants and needs.

      The danger with measurement is that it is "biased": it is easier to measure some things than others, in particular it is easier to measure the effects on near-term (and trivial) behaviour (clicks etc) and much harder to assess effects on longer-term and/or deeper changes (are you well, more whole etc).

    1. The field of transition research has experienced exponential growth over the last fifteen years and has had a significant impact, socio-technical. It has produced a wide range of analytical concepts along with science based interventions. It has however also become to a certain extent locked-in into a focus on socio-technical regimes in the predevelopment phase.

      So what are the results of that research? What do we know about transitions? What patterns are there? What techniques do we have?

    2. Over the coming years, we will work with local and national governments in these processes seeking to radically alter their dominant way of thinking and working and to experimentally develop new distributed models of non-linear systemic governance

      👍on the practical engagement with policy.

      Still not really sure what some of the terms mean e.g. what would "distributed models of non-linear systemic governance" look like

      More generally, i need a clearer sense of what linear vs non-linear (systems) approaches involve. (e.g. don't command and control systems still involve feedback loops etc?)

      I also think i'd like his definition of systems (vs non-system) thinking. I see the term used a lot and i have a sense of this from e.g. Senge or (more precisely) in Commons' MHC "systematic" level.

    3. From my perspective this would at least require a deep change in how we measure value, define labor and organize the financial system.

      Yes, and maybe more importantly in what we value - not just how we measure it.

    4. My personal focus will be on further developing the understanding, idea and practice of governance panarchy in light of the New Transformation. How can we reconceptualize the role of government and the state, how to reinvent the democratic system and how to reorganize our societies within social, economic and ecological boundaries. The basic idea of the three governance mechanisms I presented (bottom-up, top-down and phase-out) I will take as starting points to develop further a theoretical conceptualization of governance panarchy in the context of societal transitions addressing the period of instability, chaos, conflict, disruption and, hopefully, emergence of new sustable regimes. I aim to do so by working in a transdisciplinary way with proactive and transformative actors within government, business, science and civil society.

      No small ambition then 😄- and a lot of buzzwords 🙁

      Also not quite about term "panarchy" (rule of everyone)? What exactly does that mean?

    5. The majority of scholars in the social science domains seem to have abandoned the idea that there are identifiable patterns of change and broader explanations and therefore prediction and ex ante analysis are impossible.

      ❗- good point (and he is disagreeing with this) - see previous highlight.

    6. As the transition we identified would predom-inantly require a shift in thinking and practices, the discussions were designed to help professionals and young people come to a new understanding and practice. To put it bluntly: the professionals needed to find out themselves that they were in part sustaining the problem. In the past couple of months there has been some progress on developing this shared understanding, formulating a corresponding vision and identifying some breakthrough projects. However, it is also becoming clear that the transitional problem is persistent and that the regime itself is very robust.

      No sh** "... also becoming clear that the transitional problem is persistent and that the regime itself is very robust." In short, transformation of culturo-institutional structures is hard: many of the existing stakeholders have incentives and -- more importantly -- views / self worth tied up in the existing equilibrium and moving to a new one is hard.

    7. Our conclusion was that the field of professionals themselves are in this way unable to deal with the problem, which is created earlier on (in their home situations, in the professional youth care, on the streets) and that the reflex to organize solutions has mainly led to an increasing field of professionals and increasing systemic costs with no apparent impact on the quality of life of the young people involved. Also there is a constant competition between professional organizations and interest groups for (small) subsidies to conduct ‘innovative projects’ in some sort of search for the holy (institutional) grail for fighting youth homelessness.

      [This is about dealing with youth homelessness] Wow - to the point and spot on especially point about the roots of these issues likely having occurred much earlier on.

    8. The original principles for transition governance (such as long-term thinking, a focus on experimentation and learning, selective participation and dealing with systemic uncertainties) are derived from the understanding of social change as systemic, non-linear and complex.

      These factors e.g. long-termism, experimentation and learning seem to have a lot in common with classic features of wisdom and being wise (in managing).

    9. Transition scenarios

      Various options for how transition can go: is it smooth, does old regime suddenly collapse etc ...

    10. Three governance mechanisms that need to come together to seize transition points.

      To summarize for myself:

      • Has some concept of a "paradigm" or "socio-technical" system (not super well-defined but some accumulation/grouping of individual socio-technical setups e.g. modernity he said was 1) central control 2) fossil fuels 3) linear thinking. New system is 1) distributed control 2) renewables 3) systems thinking).
      • Transition is moment when you cross-over (ie. more than 50%?) from one system to another

      From p.39

      Comment: (not just on this section) this seems overly simplified e.g. change in mentality is more than systems thinking (?) - cf teal in wilber stuff.

    11. ince the 1970s alternative currencies, renewable (energy) technologies, local democracies and sustainable community initiatives started to appear. For long these were small, expensive and often ridiculed as too alternative. But over time and with experience they grew, developed and matured. By now, many of these alternatives are starting to touch mainstream, from urban gardens and farms to energy producing buildings and from renewable energy cooperatives to credit unions and collective health care insur-ances. As I will argue such examples are part of a more fundamental underlying and structural process of transformation in which we shift from the drivers of modernity towards a new set of drivers.

      A little techno-solutionist for my tastes.

    12. Environmental policies much like the Sustainable Development discourse have become part of these established regimes and have primarily served to optimize these regimes making them a bit less unsustainable. I thus come to conclude that Sustainable Development itself has become part of the problem. The currently dominant regimes based on the foundations of modernity, are systemically unsustainable in a fundamental way.

      Yes! It is an elastoplast on the gaping wound. The painkiller that let's you get by your dislocated shoulder so you don't do anything about it.

    13. The two cases are to me clear examples of the ́sustainability lock-in’: we seem to be caught in a vicious cycle of optimizing and inherently unsustainable system which closes down the space for the development of inherently better alternatives
    14. business and markets were as free as possible.

      This was the lie though: they weren't real free markets and they didn't incorporate externalities. Really it was the wolf of "rent extraction" (often by big business) dressed up in the sheep's clothing of "marketism". Marketism is still mistaken and lends itself to this abuse but strictly it isn't just the markets fault we are screwing the planet.

    15. I argue that the development of the modernistic regimes part of the Great Transformation started to stabilize around the 1960s. At the same time we can see that the New Transformation started to develop in niches. Already from the early 1960s, people started to become aware of the inherent unsustainability of our systems of consumption and production, in terms of environmental impact, economic equity and social justice. Ulrich Beck has previously pointed at this process in which societies become increasingly aware of negative externalities and start to deal with these and called this ‘reflexive modernisation’ (Beck 1994). The established regimes however predominantly focused on optimization, improvement and efficiency to reduce negative impacts. Over time however these regimes, because of their focus on optimization, became increasingly locked-in, adding to the persistency as well as their systemic vulnerability. Simultaneously the understanding of the persistent nature of our problems along with the alternative technologies and practices slowly ripened and matured. We are now in a period where dominant regimes become fundamentally challenged by these alternatives, creating the contexts for tensions, conflicts, surprises and, ultimately, disruptive systemic changes.

      Very wilber / spiral dynamics esque. Emergence of "green" in the 60s culminating in semi-takeover by the 90s.

      Also a nice argument for the "time is now", or, rather "transition is coming" [ed: let's jump aboard.]

    16. Most of the progress achieved in the Great Transformation has been powered by central planning, fossil resources and linear thinking. As much as social struggles and economic innovations have contributed to progress and growth, I argue that it is the triplet of central control, fossil resources and linear thinking that is the driving engine of modernity.

      Ooh. Definite, interesting and certainly contentious.

      What about technological innovation and science? (or is that linear thinking?)

    17. Understanding the Great Transformation as a family of socio-technical transitions.

      This def seems like a misuse of Polanyi as his focus was strongly on the political dimensions of this change - little if anything to do with the socio-technical. But this may be a gripe ... (the greater concern is how deeply they are reading Polanyi - or maybe my reading is the erroneous one!)

    18. Only through continuous dialectic processes of choice and resistance does society change, not in an endless gradual but in a shock-wise and non-linear way.

      so it's saying that change is not of a constant rate? Is this punctuated equlibria, phase transition or ...

      What distinguishes the different hypotheses for these types of movements and how would we assess the empirics against them?

      The "is it evolution or revolution" debate is very old ...

    19. The transition perspective offers a coherent and descriptive explanation to such processes of seem-ingly coincidental change

      What is the transition perspective? And what alternative perspective does it contrast with?

    20. his process has been described as the industrial revolution, modernization or ́the great transformation ́(Polanyi 1944).

      That is a slightly unusual reading of Polanyi IMO. He focused on 3 aspects and was a very critical take.

    1. The .ORG Stewardship Council will haveauthority to provide independent advice on anda binding right tovetomodifications proposed by Registry Operator to Registry Operator’s policies in the .ORG domain name space regarding: (x) censorship and freedom of expression; and (y) use of .ORG registrant and user data (the “Designated Policies”), in each case in accordance with the .ORG Stewardship Council charter (the “Charter”). Notwithstanding the foregoing, Registry Operator reserves the right at all times to ensure compliance in its sole judgment with applicable laws, policies and regulations.

      Ok, but the key aspect of pricing is not covered.

    2. Affordability.As of the Effective Date (June 30, 2019), the price Registry Operator charges to ICANN-accredited registrars for .ORG initial domain name registrations or renewal(s) of domain name registrations is US$9.93 (the "Service Fee"). At all times during the period ending eight (8) years following the Effective Date, the maximum allowable Service Fee (the “Applicable Maximum Fee”) that Registry Operator may charge to registrars for .ORG initial domain name registrations or renewal(s)

      Only 8y

    1. An intellectual prodigy as a child, Wilber was a Doctoral student at Duke University in biology when he quit his program in order to, as he put it, “sit in a room by myself and stare at a wall for five years.” He then went on a binge of studying eastern spirituality, religion, and psychology.

      Any references for this? What evidence was there that he was a child prodigy?

    2. Ken Wilber is the smartest man you’ve never heard of.

      Brilliant opening hook (and title)! If you haven't heard of him you are intrigued and if you have you pat yourself on the back for being in the know.

    3. Wilber’s story is a cautionary tale. His intellectual understanding was immense, as much as I’ve ever come across in a single person. He also tapped into some of the farthest reaches of consciousness, spiritual or not, that humans have self-reported. I do believe that. But ultimately, he was done in by his pride, his need for control and, well, ironically his ego.The point is, if Wilber can succumb to it, any of us can. No one is immune. No matter how brilliant and how “enlightened” we are, we’re all animals.

      I just don't get the syllogism here. What did he fail in exactly? For his institute to be as successful as it should have been? I don't really get how he was "done in"?

    4. Following Wilber online, the conversation seemed to only become more and more insular. With an onslaught of problems in the world crying out for an integral perspective and solution — terrorism, the Iraq War, climate change, world hunger, financial crises — the silence coming from the Integral crowd was deafening. Major global and social issues were often only referred to in passing as descriptors for a certain level of consciousness development with the overarching implication being that “they” are not as highly developed as “we” are.We’re “second-tier” thinkers. We’re going to change the world… as soon as we’re done talking about how awesome and “second-tier” we are.Instead, most conversations involved esoteric spiritual topics, impulsive self-expressionism, and re-explaining the integral model in 4,102 different ways. For a philosophy based on including and integrating as much as possible, its followers sure expressed it by forming a nicely-sealed bubble around themselves.

      This is a really useful critique and extremely useful for Art Earth Tech. In summary Integral Institute / Community had issues with:

      • Engagement with wider social issues (and any kind of "political" (socioeconomic) program / position)
      • Being inward looking, onanistic and self-regarding
      • Tendency to woo-woo spirituality (?)

      These are all mistakes AET can and should avoid.

    5. Wilber bragged in an interview that he never planned anything at Integral Institute

      Reference please (i believe it and i would like to read the interview).

    6. brilliant mind does not necessarily make a brilliant leader.

      No kidding! Organizing and ideating are different things.

    7. What Wilber taught me is that no depth of spiritual experience can negate our physical and primal drives for power, lust, and validation. As primates, we’re wired to seek someone to look up to as well as to be looked up to by others. And that’s true whether we’re experiencing Godhead or bodhisattva or not. It’s inescapable.

      Is this absolutely true? How do you know? I think it def likely that as Wilber himself pointed out: waking up and growing up are quite different things!

    8. As humans, we have a tendency to cling to ideologies. Any positive set of beliefs can quickly turn malevolent once treated as ideology and not an honest intellectual or experiential pursuit of greater truth.

      Totally agree - but I'm not clear that this basic truism is actually illustrated by the Wilber case. Frankly i'm still left unclear what happened: Wilber might well have been poor at planning, had flaws in his some of his analysis and been a tad arrogant back in the 80s ... Nothing shows these problems arose once the integral institute was set up ...

    9. But what he seems to have missed is that worshipping consciousness development itself, Wilber’s so-called “second-tier” thinking, leads to the same disastrous repercussions Wallace warned of: vanity, power, guilt, obsession.No one is immune.

      This seems to me a big leap to conclusions here - or at least confusion of the argument. It's one thing to argue that Wilber is/was flawed as a human being and as an organizer and another to say that somehow this leads from "second-tier" thinking. The basic logic of the syllogistic argument does not hold because it's premise: X is bad, X is a man => all men are bad (wrong!).

    1. The second problem with Paxos is that it does not pro-vide a good foundation for building practical implemen-tations. One reason is that there is no widely agreed-upon algorithm for multi-Paxos. Lamport’s descriptionsare mostly about single-decree Paxos; he sketched possi-ble approaches to multi-Paxos, but many details are miss-ing.

      Lamport himself did not have an implementation.

    2. Unfortunately, Paxos has two significant drawbacks.The first drawback is that Paxos is exceptionally diffi-cult to understand. The full explanation [15] is notori-ously opaque; few people succeed in understanding it, andonly with great effort. As a result, there have been severalattempts to explain Paxos in simpler terms [16, 20, 21].These explanations focus on the single-decree subset, yetthey are still challenging. In an informal survey of atten-dees at NSDI 2012, we found few people who were com-fortable with Paxos, even among seasoned researchers.We struggled with Paxos ourselves; we were not able tounderstand the complete protocol until after reading sev-eral simplified explanations and designing our own alter-native protocol, a process that took almost a year.


    1. As you can see the CSV parser is 20x faster and performs 75% fewer allocations.

      csv vs json. CSV is way easier to process.

    1. Google Ad LibraryScroll down Google releases their political ads archive as a public dataset. We describe how we download political ads from Google Cloud Services on our methods page, or scroll down to see our data collection log. We did not experience any technical issue with the dataset or the download process.

      Google are at least technically competent. (And have less to hide - they make less money from this).

    2. This page documents our efforts to track political advertising and produce an ad transparency report for the 2019 European Parliament Election.We attempted to download a copy of the political ads on a daily basis using the Facebook Ad Library API and the Google Ad Library, starting on March 29 and May 11 respectively, when the two companies released their political ads archive. We provide this data collection log, so that external researchers, journalists, analysts, and readers may examine our methods and assess the data presented in our reports.Facebook Ad Library APIScroll down Facebook provides an Application Programmable Interface ("API") to authorized users who may search for ads in their archive. However, due to the inconsistent state of the Facebook Ad Library API, our methods to scan and discover ads must be adapted on a daily and sometimes hourly basis — to deal with design limitations, data issues, and numerous software bugs in the Facebook Ad Library API.Despite our best efforts to help Facebook debug their system, the majority of the issues were not resolved. The API delivered incomplete data on most days from its release through May 16, when Facebook fixed a critical bug. The API was broken again from May 18 through May 26, the last day of the elections.We regret we do not have reliable or predictable instructions on how to retrieve political ads from Facebook. Visit the methods page for our default crawler settings and a list of suggested workarounds for known bugs, or scroll down to see our log.In general, we encountered three categories of issues with the Facebook Ad Library API. First, software programming errors that cripple a user's ability to complete even a single search including the following bugs:

      Classic example of transparency hobbled by non-bulk access and poor coding. Contrast with Google who just provided straight up bulk access.

      Also reflects FB's lack of technical prowess: they are craigslist x 10. No technical quality: just the perfect monopoly platform able to hoover up cents on massive volume.

  6. Mar 2020
    1. We believe open collaboration is essential for progress

      But how open? Do you open all your research? Not patent your innovations? What exactly does "open collaboration" mean ...

    2. In recent years, computing has both expanded as a field and grown in its importance to society. Similarly, the research conducted at Google has broadened dramatically, becoming more important than ever to our mission. As such, our research philosophy has become more expansive than the hybrid approach to research we described in our CACM article six years ago and now incorporates a substantial amount of open-ended, long-term research driven more by scientific curiosity than current product needs.

      aka "our monopoly has gone so well we can afford to long-term open-ended research" (much like AT&T did when it was a nice solid government regulated monopoly - though at least there the research had to be released generally ...)

    1. In the meantime, I asked Fries, if Shell is serious about transition, then couldn’t it voluntarily speed it up by leaving some of its wells fallow, constraining oil output and thereby driving the price relative to renewables higher, faster? Sure, it would have to take some losses in the short term, but we’re talking about the future of the planet here. He dismissed the idea, telling me it’s important not to artificially withhold supply, which would introduce price shocks that could turn public opinion against environmentalist policy. Besides, it would only end up sending money to the Saudis anyway. “We’re going to get as much out of [oil and gas] for as long as we can,” he said. “That’s an extremely frightening thing for you to say,” I said. “It doesn’t mean every drop,” he said, failing to reassure me.


    2. In the corporate sector, there’s still faith at the top that economic incentives and profit-seeking behavior can manage the crisis that capitalism has wrought. In such thinking, climate change is like a redux of the hole in the ozone layer: potentially bad but solvable with the tools on hand and without real changes to our lifestyles. Fries estimates that we’ll be able to cost-effectively fill two-thirds of world energy demand with clean sources within 20 years. (That’s ten years more optimistic than the optimistic scenario of the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization mandated to propagate optimistic scenarios about renewable-energy transition.)


    1. The great Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt used to tell his students, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Every marketer we know agrees with Levitt’s insight. Yet these same people segment their markets by type of drill and by price point; they measure market share of drills, not holes; and they benchmark the features and functions of their drill, not their hole, against those of rivals. They then set to work offering more features and functions in the belief that these will translate into better pricing and market share. When marketers do this, they often solve the wrong problems, improving their products in ways that are irrelevant to their customers’ needs.
    1. Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes' students scored "proficient" or "advanced" in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading. Because of the remarkable turnaround, the U.S. Department of Education named the school in northeast Washington a National Blue Ribbon School. Noyes was one of 264 public schools nationwide given that award in 2009. Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes' staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000. A closer look at Noyes, however, raises questions about its test scores from 2006 to 2010. Its proficiency rates rose at a much faster rate than the average for D.C. schools. Then, in 2010, when scores dipped for most of the district's elementary schools, Noyes' proficiency rates fell further than average.
    1. Atlanta’s rampant test manipulation amplified calls for nationwide education reform. Seven years after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported on testing problems, policymakers have failed to make significant progress toward changing the way students take standardized tests and how teachers interpret those scores. In fact, the problem has worsened, resulting in documented cheating in at least 40 states, since the APS cheating scandal first came to light. “Atlanta is the tip of the iceberg,” says Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, a nonprofit opposed to current testing standards. “Cheating is a predictable outcome of what happens when public policy puts too much pressure on test scores.” Some experts, including Schaeffer, point to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as a source of today’s testing problems, though others say the woes predated the law. Then-president George W Bush, who signed the measure in January 2002, aimed to boost national academic performance and close the achievement gap between white and minority students. To make that happen, the law relied upon standardized tests designed to hold teachers accountable for classroom improvements. Federal funding hinged on school improvements, as did the future of the lowest-performing schools. But teachers in many urban school districts already faced enormous challenges that fell outside their control – including high poverty, insufficient food access, and unstable family situations. Though high-stakes testing increased student achievement in some schools, the federal mandate turned an already-difficult challenge into a feat some considered insurmountable. The pressure led to problems. Dr Beverly Hall, the former APS superintendent who was praised for turning around student performance, was later accused of orchestrating the cheating operation. During her tenure, Georgia investigators found 178 educators had inflated test scores at 44 elementary and middle schools.
    1. Atlanta public schools. The urban school district has already suffered one of the most devastating standardized-testing scandals of recent years. A state investigation in 2011 found that 178 principals and teachers in the city school district were involved in cheating on standardized tests. Dozens of former employees of the school district have either been fired or have resigned, and 21 educators have pleaded guilty to crimes like obstruction and making false statements.
    1. The differences between the report and Mr. Barr’s description of it “cause the court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller report to the contrary,” wrote Judge Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

      Serious indictment of Barr.

  7. Feb 2020
    1. Although he sat as a crossbencher, Neill’s stance on the EU was more in keeping with eurosceptic Conservatives. He argued forcefully that the 1972 European Communities Act, by which Britain joined the EEC, had overthrown constitutional law and tradition. Later, he was highly critical of the European Court, saying that its judgements were designed to advance the cause of greater European integration. “A court with a mission is a menace,” wrote Neill. “A supreme court with a mission is a tyranny.” In 1996 the home secretary Michael Howard adopted the phrase when he argued that British courts should be forbidden from enforcing European Community law.
    1. Data extraction is a piece of a larger puzzle called data integration (getting the data you want to a single place, from different systems, the way you want it), which people have been working on since the early 1980s.


  8. Jan 2020
    1. I also like that this architecture highlights the problem of reprocessing data. Reprocessing is one of the key challenges of stream processing but is very often ignored. By “reprocessing,” I mean processing input data over again to re-derive output. This is a completely obvious but often ignored requirement. Code will always change. So, if you have code that derives output data from an input stream, whenever the code changes, you will need to recompute your output to see the effect of the change.

      👍 again!

    2. I like that the Lambda Architecture emphasizes retaining the input data unchanged. I think the discipline of modeling data transformation as a series of materialized stages from an original input has a lot of merit. This is one of the things that makes large MapReduce workflows tractable, as it enables you to debug each stage independently. I think this lesson translates well to the stream processing domain. I’ve written some of my thoughts about capturing and transforming immutable data streams here.

      Great point 👍

      Something i've thought about and emphasized for doing FDF - ability to debug per step or re-run after a given step.

    1. ParDofor generic parallel processing. Each input ele-ment to be processed (which itself may be a finite col-lection) is provided to a user-defined function (calledaDoFnin Dataflow), which can yield zero or more out-put elements per input.

      A comparison with Frictionless DataFlows where we can do operations per row (key is row id?).

    2. When describing infinite/finitedata sets, we prefer theterms unbounded/bounded over streaming/batch, becausethe latter terms carry with them an implication of the useof a specific type of execution engine. In reality, unboundeddatasets have been processed using repeated runs of batchsystems since their conception, and well-designed streamingsystems are perfectly capable of processing bounded data.From the perspective of the model, the distinction of stream-ing or batch is largely irrelevant, and we thus reserve thoseterms exclusively for describing runtimeexecution engines.

      streaming / batch not such as useful distinction ...

    3. Unbounded, unordered, global-scale datasets are increas-ingly common in day-to-day business (e.g. Web logs, mobileusage statistics, and sensor networks).

      Very big-data-y ... but maybe same ideas are applicable for data processing in general regardless of scale. In any scale being able to handle stream and batch seems important whatever the scale.

    1. Visionary companies are guided by a mission, not just a sustainable business model, and seek out challenges that can help move humanity forward. We have the opportunity to do that at Stack Overflow, to realize our profound mission of helping write the script of the future by serving developers and technical workers. Let’s answer the most important questions in this great new era of technology, together.

      We're talking about a Q&A site for programmers right?

      "Move humanity forward"?

      "Write the script of the future"?

      "Let's answer the most important questions in this great new era of technology"?


      I think StackOverflow is useful and has done a (very) good job of not upsetting (by over-exploiting) the golden goose of a nice monopoly platform (built largely on the free contributions of others).

      But it ain't answering the "most important questions" nor is it "moving humanity forward" any more than the garbage collectors, lawyers of any other groups helping run a functioning capitalist economy.

    1. Delivering on such a 2°C emission pathway cannot be reconciled with the repeated and high-level claims that in transitioning to a low-carbon energy system “global economic growth would not be strongly affected”7.

      Business as usual is not going to cut it ...

    2. 3) The Report proposes a headline carbon budget of 1,000 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (1000 GtCO2) for the period 2011 to 2100 and for a 66% chance, or better, of remaining below a 2°C rise18.

      This is crucial info. 1Gt of C02 is our budget.

    3. The analysis within this Commentary makes no allowance for carbon budgets being increased through the adoption of ‘geo-engineering’ technologies, specifically those delivering so-called negative emissions. Such technologies are ubiquitous in 2°C scenarios9,10, despite their remaining at little more than the conceptual stage of development. However, whilst speculative negative emissions are de rigueur, similarly imprecise Earth system processes (but with the potential to reduce the available budgets) are seldom included in quantitative scenarios. The relative importance of negative emissions and Earth-system processes for the size of the available carbon budget varies across the spectrum of temperatures being considered. Yet until both can be adequately and robustly quantified their widespread inclusion within quantitative emissions pathways should be avoided. A small suite of 2°C scenarios may, of course, assume the successful uptake of negative emissions (or further positive feedbacks), but such scenarios should be in the minority and not dominate the outputs from across the IAM community.

      💥esp that line "Such technologies are ubiquitous in 2°C scenarios9,10, despite their remaining at little more than the conceptual stage of development."

  9. Dec 2019
    1. While our differences are often rooted in divergent views, that does not mean we cannot find common ground By acknowledging and respecting the values that animate our beliefs, we can begin to restore a sense of respect and unity

      Blab, blah, blah. Liberal good intentions ...

      This is the point it goes into opinion and, IMO, some degree of wishful thinking.

    2. At the root of those disagreements are differences in core beliefs―the underlying psychological architecture that governs what we value and how we see the world

      Big plus one and resolving disagreements in core beliefs is really hard esp when at 1st tier levels. This needs major transformation of being work.

    3. They want to return to the mutual good faith and collaborative spirit that characterize a healthy democracy

      The problem may be this is all they agree on -- they want the peace and quiet (like many people most of the time). We'd need to dig further down.

      Furthermore, is not this group that shift history.

      It is like the playground: there are a few bullies and a few resisters with a mass of bystanders who look on. The bystanders don't do much.

      Some like Macron have successfully appealed (briefly i suspect) to this middle ground but it is stable and it goes nowhere.

    4. oversimplified story of polarization would make us believe

      Which oversimplified story?

      Furthermore, this study does show a lot of polarization plus a quite apathetic middle.

      Also we don't know how this has changed over time? Are the wings e.g. bigger and further apart than before.

      It seems to me that something "big" is going of a tectonic nature. The culture wars (in current form) have been bubbling and growing since the 80s (and since the 60s). If we were thinking in waves the last major culture war of orange vs amber started in the mid 18th century with the enlightenment (or even earlier with the reformation / renaissance) and peaked in the late 19th / early 20th century with victory only really fully decided during WW2. At that point orange was clearly victorious and we had a lull.

      Crudely put: rising orange wave 1770 - 1900. Crisis 1900-1945. With stabilised transition from 1900s-1950 depending on location.

      Then we see the rise of green vs orange (and remaining amber).

    5. We asked subjects a series of questions designed to assess how concerned they were with each of the five moral foundations in their moral judgments. Our results showed strong distinctions according to the various tribes. Progressive Activists and Traditional and Passive Liberals tended to care more about Harm and Fairness than the other foundations, while right-leaning groups such as Traditional and Devoted Conservatives cared about all five foundations.

      Nice to have this confirmed and this confirms the previous research with 1000s of respondents.

    6. 84 percent of Devoted Conservatives believe Americans do not take terrorism seriously enough

      Are they worried about terrorism per se or about the general threat of this group / culture to their group / culture. Terrorism may just be the most extreme example of the culture clash.

    7. For instance, 69 percent of Americans believe that we have become too sensitive to issues of race, and a near-unanimous 85 percent think that "race should not be a factor" in college admissions.

      Evidence of a major reaction to "green extreme"

    8. Core Beliefs and Demographics Tribe membership (pictured here: Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives) predicts how people think about political issues better than standard categories (such as "Liberal" or "Republican")

      This is surely not news 😉

      We use standard demographics because they are easily observable and available -- and have some correlation with underlying traits that do predict opinions and actions.

      By contrast, information on values and views (on "sub-culture") is hard to come by usually. Even basic OCEAN info collection is non-trivial.

      Furthermore actually looking at this graphic indicates that ideology and party affiliation does a pretty good job of predicting on some of these (in fact, e.g. party affiliation is quite close to the extreme wings).

    9. Devoted Conservatives (6 percent of the population) are deeply engaged with politics and hold strident, uncompromising views. They feel that America is embattled, and they perceive themselves as the last defenders of traditional values that are under threat.

      Amber with maybe some red.

    10. Traditional Conservatives (19 percent of the population) tend to be religious, patriotic, and highly moralistic. They believe deeply in personal responsibility and self-reliance.

      Hard core amber with some orange.

    11. Moderates (15 percent of the population) are engaged in their communities, well informed, and civic-minded. Their faith is often an important part of their lives. They shy away from extremism of any sort.


    12. The Politically Disengaged (26 percent of the population) are untrusting, suspicious about external threats, conspiratorially minded, and pessimistic about progress. They tend to be patriotic yet detached from politics.

      Traumatized amber

    13. Passive Liberals (15 percent of the population) tend to feel isolated from their communities. They are insecure in their beliefs and try to avoid political conversations. They have a fatalistic view of politics and feel that the circumstances of their lives are beyond their control.

      Not really clear why these are called liberals. Just sound anxious and isolated.

    14. Traditional Liberals (11 percent of the population) tend to be cautious, rational, and idealistic. They value tolerance and compromise. They place great faith in institutions.

      Sound like moderate orange with some green

    15. Progressive Activists (8 percent of the population) are deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America's direction today. They tend to be more secular, cosmopolitan, and highly engaged with social media.

      Green extreme

    1. Traditional Liberals place more value in authority and loyalty, are less likely to rate their ideological identity above being American, and are more likely to see political correctness as a problem. “Progressive Activists

      OK now i get that progressive activists = into political correctness etc. i.e. green gone off the deep end. Now clear why they are only 8%!

    2. Dixon told me about one of the researchers who helped conduct follow-up interviews, a young woman with left-wing views. “She went in to an interview with a Traditional Conservative girded for battle, and after an hour she felt a transformational experience,” he said. In asking about matters like family values and threats to the community, he said, “she had an appreciation that their views made sense.”

      Nice anecdote but ... really. Of course, at at one-on-one emotional level people connect ... and there are genuine, large differences in values and beliefs that are not easy to bridge.

      [And to be fair they make this point 2 sentences on ... 😉]

    3. For example, eighty-one per cent of those interviewed believe that racism is a serious problem, but eighty-five per cent think that race should not be a factor in college admissions.

      Right ... but people have lots of inconsistent beliefs (this might just show these folks haven't thought through "racism" as a system vs "racism" as prejudice etc)

    4. The tribes in the report are different from the rigid and unchanging partisan monoliths of our national political debate. (For this reason, perhaps More in Common should have used a term other than “tribes.”)

      They are subcultures not tribes.

    5. More in Common found that “tribal membership predicts differences in Americans’ views on various political issues better than demographic, ideological, and partisan groupings.” In other words, whether or not you think creativity is more important than good behavior in children is a better indicator of your political views than is your gender, your race, your income, or your party affiliation. “Once we have the seven segments, their views on issues are highly correlated,” Tim Dixon, an Australian political activist and a founder of More in Common, told me. He added, “We have too much opinion research and not enough value research.”

      +1 on values and beliefs being at the core. Not sure this is big news (e.g. well known psychological fact for many years that scores on OCEAN esp around openness to experience predict left / right significantly). See also Haidt etc.

    1. The agenda of power at any price gave conservatism a cynical, even nihilistic strain—Goldwater and Reagan were honest zealots by comparison—but the essential ingredients had been there all along. Max Boot, in his book, makes the point unflinchingly: “Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that the whole history of modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, ignorance, isolationism, and know-nothingism. Even those who were not guilty of these sins too often ignored them in the name of unity on the right.” Trump is the movement’s darkest realization, not its betrayal.

      That's a wonderful phrase and much truth to it: “Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that the whole history of modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, ignorance, isolationism, and know-nothingism. Even those who were not guilty of these sins too often ignored them in the name of unity on the right.”

      However, it ignores that this comes from somewhere. It reflects the angry reaction of "amber" deeply threatened and cut adrift. Marched into modernity, nay post-modernity, with short-shrift -- little warning and no compassion. It is like taking a baby and plunging into ice-cold water: of course, it will scream!

      We need to listen to that anger and upset and heal it and that is only possible with compassion.

    2. As President, Reagan subdued his own extremism, but, no matter how Republicans governed, every four years they found new ways—from the Southern strategy to welfare queens to Willie Horton—to divide the right kind of Americans from the wrong kind. When Reagan left office and the Cold War ended, conservatism lost its best spokesman and its organizing principle. The movement’s subsequent leaders—Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz—pursued power, celebrity, and their enemies on the left without a trace of Reagan’s optimistic gloss or William F. Buckley’s intellectual dash. They pushed conspiracy theories into the mainstream. They kept raising the bar of viciousness.

      OK, OK, OK. But where was this coming from. This is blaming the leaders is somewhat like blaming newspapers. Yes, the politicians influence but they also reflect -- and probably more than they influence. These moves came from somewhere: the great rift and reaction in culture boiling up particularly since the 60s and with roots much earlier.

      Furthermore, what did the left do here -- if this is an extremist bunch it should have been easy to cut this off with a nice centrist strategy, esp on culture. But this is not what the democrats / progressives did. Instead they went down the whole of aperspectival green and got all righteous and tribal themselves. Where was the understanding of what was happening to ordinary people?

    3. Its extremism goes straight back to Flake’s hero, Senator Barry Goldwater, who saw mainstream liberals as subversive socialists and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on states’-rights grounds. In that year’s Presidential election, Goldwater received potent support from the best-selling writers Phyllis Schlafly, whose book “A Choice Not an Echo” imagined cabals of liberal Republicans plotting against the Party’s base, and John Stormer, who, in “None Dare Call It Treason,” warned that pro-Communist élites were infesting American institutions. Reagan’s famous half-hour commercial for Goldwater described the welfare state as the path to totalitarianism. Apocalyptic thinking, conspiracy theories, and bigotry haunted the movement from the start.

      And this goes deep into US history and culture. cf Hackett Fischer. The violent distrust and dislike of the state was baked into Appalachian (which is a large part of the extreme republican southern culture) from its transplant from the borderlands of England.

      The federalism and states rights was what kept the deeply intorelant and different initial 13 states together. The US never reached a reckoning on national culture and the accelerating centralization and homogenization of the 20th century was all but guaranteed to stir up a hornets nest.

      Remember New England (itself much less violent, equitable, intelligent etc than Appalachian) flogged quaker preachers who came to Boston in the 17th centuries. They even hung them. This was an intolerant land united only in their shared obsession with liberty born of oppression back home (in England).

    4. Flake’s book “Conscience of a Conservative” goes further. It traces the Party’s corruption back to Newt Gingrich and his lieutenants, and then chronicles the dark rise of Trump. Flake sees the collapse in terms of failures of character on the part of Republican leaders: in the nineties, Gingrich brought the politics of total war to Washington, while Tom DeLay, of Texas, infected the Party with partisan corruption. Flake wants to rescue conservatism from Trumpism and purify it. He can’t grasp that the modern conservative movement always carried the seeds of its own destruction.

      He can’t grasp that the modern conservative movement always carried the seeds of its own destruction.

    5. Tokay continued, “I expect you to defend the constitution as I did and you must sacrifice your career as a republican and go against your party if you want to be doing this job in 18 months.”

      +1 This is real principle! As becomes clear below, it seems that Costello is not deeply principled. When it comes to it he is amber-orange and more amber than orange -- it is about the tribe, the party, the group above the principle.

    6. In February, the non-stop hostility led him to abandon his Facebook page. Children in his neighborhood came up and asked him, incredulously, “You work for Trump?” He tried to teach them about the separation of powers. The political danger came from the right, but the vitriol was more personal on the left. One man from West Chester, a banker, left a series of obscene voice mails: “Mr. Costello, impeach the motherfucker, or, if you don’t have the vertebrae to do that, resign”; “You fucking asshole! Pay for the tax cuts to corporations and to the one-per-cent wealthy, and cut my benefits that I paid into the system for out of my wages? You are inhumane, other than being a fucking idiot. . . . And if I go bankrupt you’re going down with me, and your family will go down with me, too.”

      Where does this "wrong-making" end -- on both sides. This is angry green gone beserk. It would be beholden on the "liberals", the "democrats" to look deeply and try and heal this, to bring understanding and compassion. cf Wilber on this.

    7. If party discipline and political self-interest don’t fully explain the behavior of the congressional majority, something else must—tribal cohesion, fear of being shunned. Costello refused to quote Republican colleagues by name to me, or to say a bad word about any of them. Although he was appalled by right-wing attacks on the intelligence agencies and on the Mueller investigation, when I asked him about the chief conspiracy-monger—Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who has lobbed wild accusations about an F.B.I. plot to destroy Trump—Costello said that he didn’t know enough about Nunes’s claims to assess their validity. He simply said, “I know Devin, I like Devin.” Meanwhile, he sharply criticized such Democrats as Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand for “prejudging” the guilt of Brett Kavanaugh before Christine Blasey Ford had even testified.

      Loyalty is a major (moral) value of the "right".

    1. However, there are some great techniques available to do exactly that. If you’re highly constrained on time and budget, try a Minimum Viable Ethnography, pioneered by user research expert Erika Hall of Mule Design.

      I wasn't not very clear from the audio clip exactly what this was? Was it just asking people what they did yesterday? (Which she then inadvertently undermined as a technique by pointing out the unreliability of recall ...)

    2. The Extreme team used this insight to inform their decisions about the product’s direction. Instead of a cheaper incubator (the initial concept, but likely ineffective given the evidence) they decided to design something to help babies at home: a portable incubator, much like a tiny, heated sleeping bag, which they named Embrace.

      Embrace started in 2011 and shut down in 2016 after merging with thrive networks http://embraceglobal.org/update-embrace-thrive-networks/

      Last July, Embrace merged with Thrive Networks, an international NGO pioneering evidence-based programs and technologies in health, water and sanitation, and education for underserved populations since 1988. Together across Thrive Networks’ Newborn Health Programs, our goal has been to reduce the unacceptably high newborn mortality rates in countries around the world, and we are proud to announce the success of a number of our programs reaching completion in India, Benin, Uganda and the Philippines during the third quarter of 2016.

      Thrive Networks is currently working to re-imagine its health programs to best address mothers’ and babies’ needs in the changing health landscape, incorporating its innovative devices and educational programs, including Embrace programs. For example, Thrive Networks’ Newborn Health program is piloting a program in Vietnam for the Bilistick device, an innovative diagnostic tool for neonatal jaundice detection. While Thrive Networks’ current plans do not incorporate the Embrace warmer, which will continue to be manufactured by Phoenix Medical Systems in India and distributed by Phoenix and Embrace Innovations, they do see promise for the warmer as their programs evolve.

      Thank you so much for your support over the years of our efforts to improve healthcare in low-resource settings to help vulnerable newborns survive and thrive. We look forward to updating you on our programs as well as the next stages of our journey to improve health for babies and the world’s underserved.

      If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@thrivenetworks.org.

      With gratitude,

      The Embrace Team of Thrive Networks

    1. Given the overhang of long-established customs and institutions, ahypothesis may be offered concerning the comparison of China and Eu-rope in early modern times: In China, the economic and social develop-ments of the Late Imperial age were less innovations than continuations.Though comparable to Europe in bulk, activity, and sophistication, eigh-teenth-century China was at the end of a period of high civilization thathad begun in the Northern Song eight centuries before, while Europe ofthe Enlightenment was just embarking on a quite new phase of worldhistory. Or to put it another way, new things in China could arise onlywithin the inherited matrix of imperial autocracy and gentry society thatwould remain dominant throughout the nineteenth century. This is thefocus of our next section.

      Summary of China in the early modern period.

    2. The written records of popular culture included awide range, from almanacs to the scriptures of religious sects. Localoperas or other dramas were organized and enacted at market towns orat the village level or often by lineages. But throughout the popular cul-ture dissident voices were not permitted to be heard and were destroyedif possible.

      Dissidence not permitted.

    3. With this wide support of morality went the menace of the criminallaw and punishment of malefactors against morality, especially againstthe dynasty. This application of the law against evildoers or the merethreat of evildoing included the uninhibited investigation of people intheir households and personal lives and the use of judicial torture to en-courage confessions. The ankle squeezer used in court was stepped up soas to maximize pressure, and it could turn bones into jelly when skillfullyapplied. When in doubt as to what law had been violated, the magis-trate-judges could fall back on the statute against “doing what ought notto be done,” whatever it might have been.By these rewards and punishments it was hoped the common peoplecould be kept in the proper path. The punishment of relatives was a reg-ular part of the punishment of the criminal. The ancient device of groupresponsibility meant in effect guilt by association.In the theocratic Chinese state that extolled the emperor as Son ofHeaven, heterodoxy was perpetually guarded against. The strategic elitestratum was the local leadership that began with the roughly one millionlower gentry or holders of the first-level (shengyuanorjiansheng)de-grees, which did not qualify one for official appointment but conferred aprivileged status and opportunity to seek higher degrees. To these wereadded possibly five million male commoners, more or less, who hadachieved some amount of classical education. With their help, the indoc-trination of the common people was pursued by the elite as a Neo-Con-fucian duty.As an example let us cite the use of theSacred Edict (shengyu)of theKangxi Emperor issued in 1670 as 16 maxims for the guidance of dailyconduct. Each maxim seven characters long, they conveyed, as VictorMair (in Johnson et al., 1985) says, “the bare bones of Confucian ortho-doxy as it pertained to the average citizen.” After 1670 appeared com-mentaries, paraphrases, adaptations, and so on, in a considerable liter-ature. The idea of explicating classical texts in written colloquialversions seems to have begun in the Yuan dynasty.

      Punishment and indoctrination. Key aspects of approach

      • Detailed investigation
      • Arbitrary power for magistrates as representatives of the imperial authority
      • Group responsibility
      • Standard maxims circulated for enculturation (cf Mao's Little Red Book)
    4. In today’s media environment where citizens observe events directlywith less need but more supply of symbols, it is not easy to appreciate theimportance of ritual and ceremony in an earlier time. One basis of thegovernment of imperial China was the proper performance of ceremo-nies at all levels of society. The son kowtowed to his father as his fathermight do toward the emperor and his officials, for the essence of the civilorder was to differentiate the hierarchy of relationships. Proper conduct,it was hoped, externalized one’s inner values; but even in the absence ofinner feelings, one’s performance of ritual could provide a common for-mal bond with others. In this way the appearance of harmony could as-sure it. As Naquin and Rawski (1987) put it, “luanwas the disorder thatcould arise within the state, the community, the household or the indi-vidual when ethical norms and correct ritual were not followed. The de-sire to promote order and preventluanpermeated Chinese society fromtop to bottom.”

      Promoting order and avoiding luan

    5. After the Ming collapse, Qing critics would later decry Wang’s influ-ence as too abstract, passive, and individual-centered. This contributedto the view that Ming learning had fostered a righteous morality overpractical technology. Neo-Confucian classical training in the schools ofboth Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming taught Ming officials to assert thatethical conduct was the root of good government, while technology wasa matter for craftsmen and inferiors.

      Interesting connection with AET in that AET would value a lot of Wang's approach whilst also valuing technology (though not necessarily equally -- the primacy of being etc).

    6. In the domain of literati thinking, the ideas of the statesman-philosopherWang Yangming (Wang Shouren, 1472–1529) gained many adherentsand inspired scholars to follow a new bent in Neo-Confucianism. Wangwas a very competent scholar-official and general who suppressed rebel-lions over a number of years and also devoted himself to building up thelocal community through the use of the Community Compact(xiang-yue).This institution was one of Confucianism’s closest approaches torevivalism. As a philosopher, Wang pursued the idea of Zhu Xi’s contem-porary, Lu Xiangshan, in developing a less practice-centered and morecontemplative approach to moral training and self-cultivation. Wangtaught that the world of principle is a unity and lies within as well as out-side one. Therefore, one should learn to be guided by intuitive knowl-edge achieved through careful thought and meditation. This had Bud-dhist overtones. Wang’s famous insistence on the unity of theory andpractice really demanded, as Willard J. Peterson (1979) notes, “the unityofmoralknowledge andsocialaction.” Wang Yangming’s teaching hadwide influence in Japan as well as in China.

      Scholar-officials to the fore once again.

    7. In short, anticommercialism and xenophobia won out, and China re-tired from the world scene. The military declined and bureaucrats ranthe show except when the big eunuch establishment, handling surveil-lance and investigation for the emperor, produced from time to time, un-der weak rulers, eunuch dictatorships that terrorized the scholars. Thecontradiction between Ming China’s superior capacity for maritime ex-pansion and conservative Neo-Confucian throttling of it suggests thatMing China almost purposely missed the boat of modern technologicaland economic development.This disparaging judgment comes out of the context of the late twen-tieth century, when technology and growth have created innumerabledisorders in all aspects of life all over the world without disclosing asyet the principles of order that may postpone the destruction of humancivilization. In time the self-contained growth of Ming China with its

      This latter point is a very interesting one: that a failure to "rush ahead" may only be foolish in the context of greater fools. That is, the rapacious economic growth, including wholesale ecological exploitation may ultimately prove very unwise and the self-restraint of the Ming whilst not necessarily wise, at least wiser.

      Note the full quote is (it falls over a page so hypothesis can't get it):

      This disparaging judgment comes out of the context of the late twen-tieth century, when technology and growth have created innumerabledisorders in all aspects of life all over the world without disclosing asyet the principles of order that may postpone the destruction of humancivilization. In time the self-contained growth of Ming China with its<br> comparative peace and well-being may be admired by historians, who may see a sort of success where today we see failure.



    1. I think this has the added benefit of making data warehousing ETL much more organizationally scalable. The classic problem of the data warehouse team is that they are responsible for collecting and cleaning all the data generated by every other team in the organization. The incentives are not aligned: data producers are often not very aware of the use of the data in the data warehouse and end up creating data that is hard to extract or requires heavy, hard to scale transformation to get into usable form. Of course, the central team never quite manages to scale to match the pace of the rest of the organization, so data coverage is always spotty, data flow is fragile, and changes are slow.
    2. I'll give a little bit of the history to provide context. My own involvement in this started around 2008 after we had shipped our key-value store. My next project was to try to get a working Hadoop setup going, and move some of our recommendation processes there. Having little experience in this area, we naturally budgeted a few weeks for getting data in and out, and the rest of our time for implementing fancy prediction algorithms. So began a long slog. We originally planned to just scrape the data out of our existing Oracle data warehouse. The first discovery was that getting data out of Oracle quickly is something of a dark art. Worse, the data warehouse processing was not appropriate for the production batch processing we planned for Hadoop—much of the processing was non-reversable and specific to the reporting being done. We ended up avoiding the data warehouse and going directly to source databases and log files. Finally, we implemented another pipeline to load data into our key-value store for serving results. This mundane data copying ended up being one of the dominate items for the original development. Worse, any time there was a problem in any of the pipelines, the Hadoop system was largely useless—running fancy algorithms on bad data just produces more bad data. Although we had built things in a fairly generic way, each new data source required custom configuration to set up. It also proved to be the source of a huge number of errors and failures. The site features we had implemented on Hadoop became popular and we found ourselves with a long list of interested engineers. Each user had a list of systems they wanted integration with and a long list of new data feeds they wanted. ETL in Ancient Greece. Not much has changed.

      A great anecdote / story on the (pains) of data integration

    3. Effective use of data follows a kind of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The base of the pyramid involves capturing all the relevant data, being able to put it together in an applicable processing environment (be that a fancy real-time query system or just text files and python scripts). This data needs to be modeled in a uniform way to make it easy to read and process. Once these basic needs of capturing data in a uniform way are taken care of it is reasonable to work on infrastructure to process this data in various ways—MapReduce, real-time query systems, etc. It's worth noting the obvious: without a reliable and complete data flow, a Hadoop cluster is little more than a very expensive and difficult to assemble space heater. Once data and processing are available, one can move concern on to more refined problems of good data models and consistent well understood semantics. Finally, concentration can shift to more sophisticated processing—better visualization, reporting, and algorithmic processing and prediction. In my experience, most organizations have huge holes in the base of this pyramid—they lack reliable complete data flow—but want to jump directly to advanced data modeling techniques. This is completely backwards. So the question is, how can we build reliable data flow throughout all the data systems in an organization?
    4. You don't hear much about data integration in all the breathless interest and hype around the idea of big data, but nonetheless, I believe this mundane problem of "making the data available" is one of the more valuable things an organization can focus on.


    5. Data integration is making all the data an organization has available in all its services and systems.
  10. Nov 2019
    1. Behind thislay the Confucian disdain for the military, which classed them evenlower than merchants. So deep-laid was this dislike that the militarywere excluded from the standard Confucian list of the four occupationalgroups or classes—scholar(shi),farmer(nong),artisan(gong),and mer-chant(shang).Derk Bodde (1991) tells us that this four-part division ofsociety was never put forward by Confucius or Mencius but first ap-peared probably among Legalist writers of late Zhou and early Han. Fortwenty-one centuries since that time, however, the four classes have beenstandard fare in the lore about China.

      confucian disdain for military

    2. For the scholar-elite, Zhu Xi promoted academies. He had contactwith about 24 such unofficial institutions and taught 20 students in hisown. The object of this teaching was the individual, who must learn howto achieve his own grasp of morality and bear responsibility for hismoral self-cultivation in his effort to become a sage. Zhu hoped thatproper government, finally, would rest upon “universal self-disciplinebeginning with the ruler’s self-rectification.” This could be aided byscholars’ lectures to him (as part of court ritual) as well as by the subse-quent judgments of the court historians. In discussing moral questions,minister and emperor should talk as equals.

      One can sense the Buddhist fusion here. An inspiring aspiration.

    3. Through discussion in these Community Compact meetings, gooddeeds could be praised, errors corrected, and rites and customs pre-served. Zhu saw this institution as fusing together private and public

      Community Compact meeting => cultural revolution

    4. To reach the populace, Zhu Xi used the vernacular and also advo-cated using the periodic local residents’ meeting known as the Commu-nity Compact(xiangyue).Although it came into general use only in theMing dynasty after 1368, this institution originated in a prototype estab-lished in 1077 by the Lü family. It consisted of a monthly assemblywhere food was eaten and a record of proceedings kept. One or twoheads were elected, and quite detailed regulations regarding behaviorwere adopted. Zhu Xi produced an amended version of the Lü family’sregulations that was even more detailed. It stressed hierarchy, for exam-ple by establishing five age-grades with rules for the conduct of all mem-bers of different categories. The aim was obviously to tell educated elitefamilies how to behave. Zhu assumed that the ordinary dress and majorrituals would be those of the elite. Seating by seniority would not applyto the non-elite, if they ventured to be present. Zhu Xi’s amendmentsalso contained detailed instructions on the way to greet a fellow compactmember, when to make calls on fellow compact members, how to invitethem to banquets, and how to conduct banquets—what to wear, whatname cards to use, and so on. What an organization man

      What an epitome of cultural-institutional structure. cf the kind of discussion we have in Albion's Seed of food, manners, dress, social organization.

      The community compact is also interesting in itself.

    5. In recent decades, after the collapse of the traditional society inwhich Neo-Confucianism was the principal faith among the elite, schol-ars of Chinese thought have again “repossessed the Way” through ap-preciation of Zhu Xi’s teachings.

      This would be one powerful access, building on tradition to expand and evolve away from authoritarianism.

    6. Zhu Xi’s cosmology asserted a dualism, that the great immutableprinciples of form(li)give shape to the material stuff(qi)that, whenshaped byli,creates existent reality. Behind this duality, however, is theDao,the Way, the vast energizing force that pervades the universe and allthings in it. Only through disciplined self-cultivation could a man getsome understanding of the Way and in pursuit of it form his character.Song Neo-Confucianists believed that the true Way for the moral im-provement of the individual and the world had been set forth by Confu-cius and Mencius but had not been transmitted thereafter. Their aim fif-teen hundred years later was therefore to “repossess the Way.”In effect Zhu Xi found a means of smuggling a needed element ofBuddhist transcendentalism into Confucianism. This new philosophy,both eminently rational and humane, was promoted by its adherents as achallenge to the court and the literati to be less selfish and live up to theirConfucian ideals. Through the writing and teaching of this critical-minded minority, Neo-Confucianism became the living faith of China’selite down to the twentieth century, one of the world’s most widespreadand influential systems of ethics.

      neo-confucianism and Zhu Xi

    7. In effect Zhu Xi found a means of smuggling a needed element ofBuddhist transcendentalism into Confucianism. This new philosophy,both eminently rational and humane,

      neo-confucianism = confucius + buddhism (daoism?)

    8. The established order should be repaired, to be sure, but not trans-formed by a blueprint. Landlords and tenants were a natural result ofthe difference in human abilities. The key function of the ruler was theselection of talent, which was to be found among the Confucian-trainedliterati.

      A classic Burkean conservative, paternalistic manifesto.

      Interesting to Contrast Wang with Sima Guang as it represents a classic political dichotomy. On the one hand, an (extreme) radical egalitarianism combined with authoritarianism (or, at least statism). On the other, a more democratic approach combined with (a justification of) inequality.

      Is it possible to have egalitarianism and democracy (or, rather autonomy)?

    9. The most famous and controversial Song reformer was Wang Anshi.Though his reforms have been variously regarded, the most recent anal-ysis sees him as a totalitarian-minded man ahead of his time. As a clas-sicist, he regarded China’s ancient sages down to Confucius as modelsof perfection whose intentions at least could still be followed. Wang’sNew Policies aimed to establish a “perfect, self-contained, and self-perpetuating system,” as Peter Bol (1992) phrases it. Backed by the em-peror from 1068, Wang bypassed the bureaucracy by getting his own

      A pre-modern Mao!

    10. As we look at this recurrent aspect of Confu-cianism, two features may be noted: reform-advocating officials nor-mally hoped that the emperor would grant them power to make theirreforms. They assumed that the imperial autocracy was the origin of allpolitical power. They might strengthen it or use it but never sought to gobehind it and consider any other forms of authority in state and society.Second, would-be reformers regarded the great mass of the commonpeople as passive recipients of the benevolent despotism they sought toguide. They assumed merchants were perniciously addicted to greed andmilitary men to violence. The reformer’s job was to keep them in theirplace and secure a wise application of the unified central power repre-sented by the emperor. Viewed this way, reform was a high calling, ameans of preserving the imperial order and benefiting (while controlling)the mass of the people.

      reform is always through the emperor. It is a deeply elitist philosophy.

    11. Holding office in the civil service had be-come only one factor—and not a necessary one—in establishing elite sta-tus. In other words, the elite had broadened out to include local mag-nates, family heads, and informal public servants as well as ex-officials.The prerequisite for all was a classical education that qualified one cul-turally as a member of the class ofshi—literati or “gentlemen.” Suchmen, by their Confucian training, felt a sense of responsibility to keepthe world materially and morally in order. They were guided by the creedof Neo-Confucianism, a philosophy of life that grew out of the debatesof scholar-officials in the Northern Song.

      In England to be a gentleman was to be nobleman and hold land. The origins were almost always military. By contrast in China to be a gentleman was to be educated (in the Confucian tradition). The origin was usually imperial service as a civil servant.

    12. The examination system became an enormous and intricate institu-tion central to upper-class life. During a thousand years from the Tang to1905 it played many roles connected with thought, society, administra-tion, and politics.

      And it is education in a particular form: highly ritualized (examinations are a ritual!), narrow, learned.

      It is a particular kind of education and learning. Deep and rich as well as narrow and limited.

    13. Printed books gave a great impetus to the education carried on inBuddhist monasteries as well as within families. The government had atfirst tried to control all printing, which was widespread. But by the1020s it was encouraging the establishment of schools by awarding landendowments as well as books. The aim was to have a government schoolin every prefecture. The schools enrolled candidates, conducted Confu-cian rituals, and offered lectures. John W. Chaffee (1985) tells us that bythe early 1100s the state school system had 1.5 million acres of land thatcould provide a living for some 200,000 students.

      More evidence for centrality of education in Chinese culture. Note the interweaving of social, culture and economic factors.

    14. By 1078 North China was producing an-nually more than 114,000 tons of pig iron (700 years later Englandwould produce only half that amount).

      The chinese industrial revolution during the Song (1078 AD!)

    15. Theexhaustion of forest cover by aboutad1000 obliged iron smelters to usecoal instead of charcoal in coke-burning blast furnaces.
    16. By the eighth century it appears that the holding of office had becomethe main criterion of family status, and the pedigrees of the great clanswere less important. Everything now depended upon the official rank ofthe person listed, not on his family origins. Legally, officials were nolonger regarded as a special elite. Though sons of officials were given aminor rank in the Tang legal code, there was no longer an upper-classstatus recognized in the code that gave special claims for appointment tooffice. The imperial institution had won out over the social interests ofthe great clans.

      Empire trumps aristocracy. cf Louis XIV.

    17. The lack of primogeniture in China meant that equal division ofproperty among males was the common practice when the head of afamily died. The imperial code of laws required partible inheritance andso prevented the rise of a landed nobility such as occurred in Europe. Ifa member of the family did not become an official for two or three gen-erations, the family would sooner or later disintegrate. Each generationwas potentially insecure and had to prove itself in official life.

      Lack of primogeniture i.e. partible inheritance => no security of social status for the elite => must constantly get back into imperial civil service (if status is to be maintained)

    18. As David Johnson (1977) says, “Unlike Englandor France, where a man could rise to a position of high social statusthrough a career in law, medicine, commerce, the church or the military,in China there was only one significant occupational hierarchy: the civilservice.”

      The civil service was all - because of its connection, and dependence, on the emperor.

    19. The Buddha, who lived probably during the sixth centurybcin Nepal,began life as an aristocrat. After renouncing his palace and its haremand luxuries, he achieved through meditation an illumination in whichhe realized the great principle of the wheel of the law or the wheel of theBuddha. This may be defined as a theory of the “dependent origination”of life: that everything is conditioned by something else in a closed se-quence, so that in effect the misery of life is dependent upon certainconditions, and by eliminating these conditions it is possible to eliminatethe misery itself. Thus desire—which ultimately leads to misery—origi-nates in dependence upon sensation, which in turn originates in depen-dence upon contact and the six senses, and so on. The Buddhist objec-tive therefore becomes to cut the chain of conditions that bind one into

      A rather poor and inaccurate summation of both Buddha's life (there was no harem according to what we know - he had a wife and child) and of his teachings. The actual teaching I think they are referring to is codependent arising which is very different.

    20. This line of thought raises a major question, the relationship be-tweenwenandwu. Wenmeans basically the written word and so byextension its influence in thought, morality, persuasion, and culture. Letus call it in the most general terms “the civil order.”Wuconnotes theuse of violence and so stands for the military order in general. TheConfucian-trained scholar class went to great lengths to exaltwenanddisparagewu.Yet I wonder ifwu(including the founding of dynasties,extermination of rebels and evildoers, and punishing of officials) shouldnot be considered the stronger andwenthe weaker element in thewen—wucombination. For example, was the virtue of loyalty (an aspect ofwen) as powerful as the practice of intimidation (an aspect ofwu)?Often it seemed that when he wanted to control a situation, the emper-or’s principal tactic was intimidation. Take for example the case of Chi-na’s greatest historian Sima Qian.

      Arbitrary, legitimate (indeed unquestionable) violence as intimidation (as used by the Emperor).

    21. rated in 124bcand continued into the Southern Song) the “NationalUniversity,” or to call theGuozijian(from Song to Qing) the “Director-ate of Education.” Focused on the classics, these institutions mightequally well be called indoctrination centers. The fact remains that impe-rial power, books, and scholars were all seen as integrally related aspectsof government

      education as indoctrination! indeed!

    22. Several assumptions seem implicit here. First is the emperor’s role asa source of spontaneous, irrational, or unpredictable acts, as opposed tothe routinized, predictable action (or inaction) of bureaucrats. The of-ficials sought order. The emperor could shake them up with disorder.Second, the emperor was considered to have an arbitrary and unbridledpower of life and death.

      cf the modern day with e.g. Mao.

    23. nized in gradations of inferiority and superiority. This hierarchic princi-ple in turn was the basis for a stress on duties rather than rights, on theevident assumption that if everyone did his duty everyone would getwhat he deserved. Thus, the filial son obedient to his parent would baskin the parent’s approval. With all duties performed, society would be inorder to everyone’s benefit.

      The hierarchic principle again

    24. Early China’s cosmology (her theory of the universe as an orderedwhole) shows striking points of difference with Western thought. Forexample, the early Chinese had no creation myth and no creator-lawgiver out of this world, no first cause, not even a Big Bang. As JosephNeedham says, they assumed “a philosophy of organism, an orderedharmony of wills without an ordainer.” This view contrasts with the in-veterate tendency elsewhere in the world to assume a supernatural deity.Westerners looking at China have continually imposed their own pre-conceptions on the Chinese scene, not least because the Chinese, thoughthey generally regarded Heaven as the supreme cosmic power, saw it asimmanent in nature, not as transcendent. Without wading further intothis deep water, let us note simply that Han thought as recorded in classi-cal writings built upon the concept of mankind as part of nature andupon the special relationship between the ruler and his ancestors, con-cepts that were already important in Shang thought over a millenniumearlier.

      Fascinating. Such a profound difference in thinking (and the Chinese is much more accurate in base intuiton, i think).

      Western thought got trapped in causation, in division, the law of the excluded middle, in agency.

      That quote: "a philosophy of organism, an ordered harmony of wills without an ordainer."

      No wonder Buddhism found such fertile soil in China.

    25. Confucius was neither out to become a ruler himself nor to educatethe masses directly. His priorities put proper ritual first, humaneness sec-ond, and learning only third.

      Note the order.

    26. The limitations of the Confucians’ status had been plain from thestart. Confucius had aimed to train an elite who would become superiormen, able both to secure the people’s respect and guide the ruler’s con-duct. Confucius was neither out to become a ruler himself nor to educatethe masses directly. His priorities put proper ritual first, humaneness sec-ond, and learning only third. By his example he showed the way for hisown kind, who would later be the scholar-officials of the imperial era.China’s social structure, in short, was already in place and the philoso-pher’s task in his Chinese form of prophecy was not to arouse the massesbut only to guide the rulers. As W. T. de Bary (1991) points out, the Con-fucians did not try to establish “any power base of their own...theyfaced the state, and whoever controlled it in the imperial court, as indi-vidual scholars...this institutional weakness, highly dependent condi-tion, and extreme insecurity . . . marked the Confucians asju[ru] (‘soft-ies’) in the politics of imperial China.” They had to find patrons whocould protect them. It was not easy to have an independent voice sepa-rate from the imperial establishment.

      The political weakness of the Confucians.

    27. The Han rulers’ daily regimen of ceremonies and rites required the guid-ance of learned men at court. Han Wudi in particular fostered learningas one channel (in addition to recommendation) for recruitment of of-ficials. He saw education as a way to strengthen his new upper classagainst the older aristocratic families, and he accepted Confucianism asthe ideology in which the state’s officials should be trained. To the des-potic statecraft of Qin Legalism the Han added a monumental structureof ideas of largely Confucian origin that provided an all-encompassingstate philosophy. This Legalist-Confucian amalgam we call ImperialConfucianism, to distinguish it both from the original teaching of Con-fucius, Mencius, et al. and from the secular and personal Confucian phi-losophy that arose during Song times and has since then guided so manylives in the East Asian countries of the old Chinese culture area—China,Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

      The imperial legalist-confucian amalgam at the heart of political culture.

    28. At the capital arose a similar problem for the Han ruler: how toavoid domination of the court by the family of an empress. When a Hanemperor died, power resided in his widow, the empress dowager, to ap-point her husband’s successor from the Liu clan (the clan of the Han em-perors). She might appoint a minor of the Liu clan as emperor, and astrong-man regent of her own clan to rule for him. Half a dozen familiesof empresses played this game. An emperor, however, could rely withinthe palace on the staff of eunuchs, whose castration fitted them to lookafter the women selected for the emperor’s harem. There, by having sev-eral sons, the emperor hoped to find one worth selecting as his successor.Eunuchs, being entirely dependent on a young emperor as his servantsand companions, might be his only reliable supporters against an em-press’s family. The palace was a center of intrigue.

      The empress family vs the eunuchs and the reasons for so much intrigue (apart from the standard facts of palace life).

    29. Along with this military—liturgical basis for state power and socialorder, the Warring States also fostered, rather paradoxically, an age ofphilosophers who sought theoretical bases for those same things. Dur-ing this time of rivalry and warfare, there was a widespread yearningfor peace and order. Many people idealized a golden age of earliertimes when according to legend all China had lived peacefully under oneruler. Violence inspired the late Zhou philosophers, who acted as whatwe now call consultants, advising rulers on how to get back to thegolden age.Confucius (551–479bc)and his major disciple, Mencius (372–289bc),were members of a considerable group of seminal thinkers in thisera.

      The social context of Confucius thought: the Warring States period and their disorder. Fear of disorder and a yearning for order have deep origins in Chinese culture. The fact that this was a formative period then embedded this long-term (formative not just in China cf Axial age with Socrates / Plato / Buddha etc)

    30. Yet among Euro-pean dynasties such as the Capetian kings of France (987–1328), theNorman and Plantagenet kings of England (1066–1485), the Hapsburgs(1273–1919), or the Romanovs (1613–1917), none ruled as large a stateas China or maintained such a monopoly of central power. As institu-tions of government, the major Chinese dynasties are in a class by them-selves. Neither Japan, India, nor Persia produced regimes comparable inscope and power. The Liu clan of Earlier Han provided 13 emperors andin Later Han 14 emperors, the Li clan of the Tang dynasty 23 emperors,the Zhu clan of the Ming dynasty 17 emperors, and the Aisin Gioro lin-eage of the Manchus 9 emperors (see Table 1).

      The imperial, dynastic nature of Chinese rule over 2500 years.

    31. A major Confucian principle was that man was perfectible. In the eraof Warring States, Chinese thinkers of the major schools had turnedagainst the principle of hereditary privilege, invoked by the rulers ofmany family-states, and stressed the natural equality of men at birth.Mencius’ claim that men are by nature good and have an innate moralsense won general acceptance. They can be led in the right path througheducation, especially through their own efforts at self-cultivation, butalso through the emulation of models. The individual, in his own effortto do the right thing, can be influenced by the example of the sages andsuperior men who have succeeded in putting right conduct ahead of allother considerations. This ancient Chinese stress on the moral educabil-ity of man has persisted down to the present and still inspires the gov-ernment to do the moral educating.The Confucian code also stressed the idea of “proper behavior ac-cording to status”(li).The Confucian gentleman (“the superior man,”“the noble man”) was guided byli,the precepts of which were written inthe ancient records that became the classics. Although this code did notoriginally apply to the common people, whose conduct was to be regu-lated by rewards and punishments (stressed by the Legalist school),rather than by moral principles, it was absolutely essential for govern-ment among the elite. This was the rationale of Confucius’ emphasis onright conduct on the part of the ruler—an emphasis so different fromanything in the West. The main point of this theory of government bygood example was the idea of the virtue that was attached to right con-duct. To conduct oneself according to the rules of propriety orliin itselfgave one a moral status or prestige. This moral prestige in turn gave oneinfluence over the people. “The people are like grass, the ruler like thewind”; as the wind blew, so the grass was inclined. Right conduct gavethe ruler power.

      Man was perfectible (cf Christianity or Buddhism) and this implies equality at some basic level though, like Calvinism, the circularity of moral rectitude and real-world success mitigates this (the ruler rules because of his "proper behaviour" and the worker labours on hands and knees in the copper mine because he lacks it).

    32. fined by authority guided the individual’s conduct along lines of properceremonial behavior. Confucius had said (rather succinctly), “jun junchen chen fu fu zi zi,” which in its context meant “Let the ruler rule as heshould and the minister be a minister as he should. Let the father act as afather should and the son act as a son should.” If everyone performed hisrole, the social order would be sustained. Being thus known to others bytheir observable conduct, the elite were dependent upon the opinion andmoral judgment of the collectivity around them. To be disesteemed bythe group meant a disastrous loss of face and self-esteem, for which oneremedy was suicide.


    33. Confucianism’s rationale for organizing society began with the cosmicorder and its hierarchy of superior-inferior relationships. Parents weresuperior to children, men to women, rulers to subjects. Each persontherefore had a role to perform, “a conventionally fixed set of social ex-pectations to which individual behavior should conform,” as ThomasMetzger (in Cohen and Goldman, 1990) puts it. These expectations de-

      Hierarchy is baked in to Confucianism and closed tied to order, peace and stability.

    34. Overstated though these considerations may be, they represent agreat fact emerging from Chinese archaeology—that by the beginning ofthe era of written history, the Chinese people had already achieved a de-gree of cultural homogeneity and isolated continuity hard to match else-where in the world. They had begun to create a society dominated bystate power. To it all other activities—agricultural, technological, com-mercial, military, literary, religious, artistic—would make their contribu-tions as subordinate parts of the whole. Yet it would be an error for ustoday, so long accustomed to the modern sentiment of nationalism, toimagine ancient China as an embryonic nation-state. We would do betterto apply the idea of culturalism and see ancient China as a completecivilization comparable to Western Christendom, within which nation-states like France and England became political subunits that sharedtheir common European culture. Again, because we are so aware of theall-encompassing power of the totalitarian states of the twentieth cen-tury, we would do well to avoid an anachronistic leap to judgment thatthe Shang and Zhou kings’ prerogatives led inevitably to a sort of totali-tarianism. We might better follow Etienne Balazs (1964), who called it agovernment by “officialism.” As summarized by Stuart Schram (1987),“The state was the central power in Chinese society from the start, andexemplary behavior, rites, morality and indoctrinations have alwaysbeen considered in China as means of government.” We need only addthat in addition to these liturgical functions the ruler monopolized theuse of military violence.

      cultural homogeneity

    35. China of coursewas not alone in idealizing this kind of unity, which was sought in manyof the ancient empires. But China’s geographic isolation made the ideal

      A key example of physical circumstance to political structure.

    36. We must not over-look the ancient Chinese assumption of a symbiosis between culture(wenhua)and temporal power. Subservience to the dynastic state re-quired acceptance of its rituals and cosmology that gave it Heaven’smandate to rule over mankind. Nonacceptance of this politicized cultureleft one outside of Zhongguo. Yet if one’s language was Chinese, accep-tance was already partway assured by the very terms imbedded in theclassics and in the spoken tongue itself. An identifiably similar way of lifewas widespread throughout late Neolithic China. The task of state-building during the Three Dynasties of the Bronze Age was to gain everwider submission to or acceptance of the central dynastic ruling house. Itfunctioned as the capstone of the social structure, the high priesthood ofthe ancestor cult, the arbiter of punishments, and the leader in publicworks, war, and literature. Among these omnicompetent functions K. C.Chang stresses the ruler’s “exclusive access to heaven and heavenly spir-its.” The result was that the ruler engineered a unity of culture that wasthe basis for political unity in a single universal state.

      A homogenized culture and (centralized) political power are directly and intimately interwoven from very early in Chinese history.

    37. Finally, the ruler’s primacy rested on his monopoly of leadership notonly in ritual and warfare but also in oracle-bone writing and the histor-ical learning it recorded.

      Early evidence of connection of learning and writing with status and politico-religious power.

    38. For example, take the character for east , which in the Beijingdialect has the sound “dong” (pronounced “doong,” as in Mao Ze-dong’s name). Since a Chinese character is read aloud as a single syllableand since spoken Chinese is also rather short of sounds (there are onlyabout four hundred different syllables in the whole language), it hasbeen plagued with homophones, words that sound like other words, like“soul” and “sole” or “all” and “awl” in English. It happened that thespoken word meaning “freeze” had the sound “dong.” So did a spokenword meaning a roof beam. When the Chinese went to write down thecharacter for freeze, they took the character for east and put beside itthe symbol of ice , which makes the character (“dong,” to freeze).To write down the word sounding “dong” which meant roof beam, theywrote the character east and put before it the symbol for wood mak-ing (“dong,” a roof beam).These are simple examples. Indeed, any part of the Chinese languageis simple in itself. It becomes difficult because there is so much of it to beremembered, so many meanings and allusions. When the lexicographersof later times wanted to arrange thousands of Chinese characters in adictionary, for instance, the best they could do in the absence of an al-phabet was to work out a list of 214 classifiers or “radicals,” one ofwhich was sure to be in each character in the language. These 214classifiers, for dictionary purposes, correspond to the 26 letters of our al-phabet, but are more ambiguous and less efficient. Shang writing was al-ready using “radicals” like wood, mouth, heart, hand, that indicatedcategories of meaning. From the start the governmental power of theChinese writing system was at the ruler’s disposal. Writing seems to haveemerged more in the service of lineage organization and governmentthan in the service of trade.
    39. Here lies one source of China’s “culturalism”—that is, the devotionof the Chinese people to their way of life, an across-the-board sentimentas strong as the political nationalism of recent centuries in Europe.Where European nationalism arose through the example of and contactwith other nation-states, Chinese culturalism arose from the differencein culture between China and the Inner Asian “barbarians.” Because theInner Asian invaders became more powerful as warriors, the Chinesefound their refuge in social institutions and feelings of cultural and aes-thetic superiority—something that alien conquest could not take away.

      Another aspect of Chinese culture is its culturalism: its totemization of "culture" (in the specific self-conscious sense).

    40. The contrast between Inner Asia and China proper is a striking onein nearly every respect. On the steppe, population is thinly scattered; to-day there are only a few million Mongols and hardly more than thatnumber of Tibetans in the arid plateau regions that more than equal thearea occupied by over a billion Chinese who trace their ancestry to theHan dynasty (see Table 1). The thinness of population in Inner Asia initself makes the life of the steppe nomads vastly different from thecrowded life of the Han Chinese.

      Nice example of environment => culture

    41. Contrary to a common myth, a large family with several children hasnot been the norm among Chinese peasants. The scarcity of land, as wellas disease and famine, set a limit to the number of people likely to sur-vive in each family unit. The large joint family of several married sonswith many children all within one compound, which has often been re-garded as typical of China, appears to have been the ideal exception, aluxury that only the well-to-do could afford. The average peasant familywas limited to four, five, or six persons in total. Division of the landamong the sons constantly checked the accumulation of property andsavings, and the typical family had little opportunity to rise on the socialscale. Peasants were bound to the soil not by law and custom so much asby their own numbers.

      Chinese did not have large families - population was already dense!

    42. While the family headship passes intact from father to eldest son, thefamily property does not. Early in their history the Chinese abandonedprimogeniture, by which the eldest son inherits all the father’s propertywhile the younger sons seek their fortunes elsewhere. The enormous sig-nificance of this institutional change can be seen by comparing Chinawith a country like England or Japan, where younger sons who have notshared their father’s estate have provided the personnel for government,business, and overseas empire and where a local nobility might grow upto challenge the central power. In China, the equal division of landamong the sons of the family allowed the eldest son to retain only certainceremonial duties, to acknowledge his position, and sometimes an extrashare of property. The consequent parcelization of the land tended toweaken the continuity of family land-holding, forestall the growth oflanded power among officials, and keep peasant families on the marginof subsistence. The prime duty of each married couple was to produce ason to maintain the family line, yet the birth of more than one son mightmean impoverishment.

      Abandoned primogeniture which has major implications. land is subdivided reducing concentration of power beneath the emperor, peasant families on margin of subsistence etc. Nice example of institutions => social structure, inequality, political dynamics etc.

      NTS: are there cross-society/cultural studies of e.g. primogeniture rules vs social outcomes etc.

    43. The traditional family system was highly successful at preparing theChinese to accept similar patterns of status in other institutions, includ-ing the official hierarchy of the government. The German sociologistMax Weber characterized China as a “familistic state.” One advantageof a system of status is that a man knows automatically where he standsin his family or society. He can have security in the knowledge that if hedoes his prescribed part, he may expect reciprocal action from others inthe system.Within the extended family, every child from birth was involved in ahighly ordered system of kinship relations with elder brothers, sisters,maternal elder brothers’ wives, and other kinds of aunts, uncles, cousins,grandparents, and in-laws too numerous for a Westerner to keep trackof. These relationships were not only more clearly named and differenti-ated than in the West but also carried with them more compelling rightsand duties dependent upon status. Family members expected to be calledby the correct term indicating their relationship to the person addressingthem.In South China the pioneer anthropologist Maurice Freedman(1971) found family lineages to be the major social institutions—eachone a community of families claiming descent from a founding ancestor,holding ancestral estates, and joining in periodic rituals at graves and inancestral halls. Buttressed by genealogies, lineage members might sharecommon interests both economic and political in the local society. InNorth China, however, anthropologists have found lineages organizedon different bases. Chinese kinship organization varies by region. Familypractices of property-holding, marriage dowries, burial or cremation,and the like also have had a complex history that is just beginning to bemapped out.

      cf Schwartz values systems. This is the epitome of a hierarchic culture (with some degree of embededness e.g. "One advantage of a system of status is that a man knows automatically where he stands in his family or society."

    44. In addition to this common bond of loyalty to family, the old Chinawas knit together by the common experience of a highly educated localelite, who were committed from childhood to studying and following theclassical texts and teachings. Motherly nurture and fatherly disciplinecombined to concentrate the young scholar’s effort on self-control andon the suppression of sexual and frivolous impulses. Instead, as JonSaari’s (1990) study of upper-class childhood in the late nineteenth cen-tury reiterates, the training of youth was in obedience above all. Once aboy entered his adolescent years, open affection from parents gave wayto intensive training aimed at proper character formation.

      Note the "obedience above all". Chinese emphasis on scholarship and education was not about independence of thought or individualism.

    45. The inferior social status of women was merely one manifestation ofthe hierarchic nature of China’s entire social code and cosmology. An-cient China had viewed the world as the product of two interacting com-plementary elements,yinandyang. Yinwas the attribute of all things fe-male, dark, weak, and passive.Yangwas the attribute of all things male,bright, strong, and active. While male and female were both necessaryand complementary, one was by nature passive toward the other. Build-ing on such ideological foundations, an endless succession of Chinesemale moralists worked out the behavior pattern of obedience and passiv-ity that was expected of women. These patterns subordinated girls toboys from infancy and kept the wife subordinate to her husband and themother to her grown son. Forceful women, whom China has neverlacked, usually controlled their families by indirection, not by fiat.Status within the family was codified in the famous “three bonds”emphasized by the Confucian philosophers: the bond of loyalty on thepart of subject to ruler (minister to prince), of filial obedience on the partof son to father (children to parents), and of chastity on the part of wivesbut not of husbands. To an egalitarian Westerner the most striking thingabout this doctrine is that two of the three relationships were within thefamily, and all were between superior and subordinate. The relationshipof mother and son, which in Western life often allows matriarchal domi-nation, was not stressed in theory, though it was naturally important infact.When a father saw the beginning of individuality and independencein his son, he might fear that selfish personal indulgence would disruptthe family. Strong bonds of intimacy between mother and son or son andwife threatened the vertical lines of loyalty and respect that maintainedthe family and the father’s authority. In Jonathan Ocko’s summary (inKwang-Ching Liu, 1990), wives were “ineluctably destabilizing ele-ments,” promising descendants, yet always threatening the bond of obe-dience between parents and sons.

      Continuing evidence of the same.

    46. The trembling bride left herown family behind and became at once a daughter-in-law under the con-trol of her husband’s mother. She might see secondary wives or concu-bines brought into the household, particularly if she did not bear a maleheir. She could be repudiated by her husband for various reasons. If hedied, she could not easily remarry. All this reflected the fact that awoman had no economic independence. Her labor was absorbed inhousehold tasks and brought her no income. Farm women were almostuniversally illiterate. They had few or no property rights.

      Hierachical and gender aspect. Men dominate women, husbands their wives.

    47. To Americans and Europeans with their higher material standard ofliving, the amazing thing about the Chinese farming people has beentheir ability to maintain a highly civilized life under these poor condi-tions. The answer lies in their social institutions, which have carried theindividuals of each family through the phases and vicissitudes of humanexistence according to deeply ingrained patterns of behavior. These insti-tutions and behavior patterns are among the oldest and most persistentsocial phenomena in the world. China has been a stronghold of the fam-ily system and has derived both strength and inertia from it.Until very recently the Chinese family has been a microcosm, thestate in miniature. The family, not the individual, was the social unit andthe responsible element in the political life of its locality. The filial pietyand obedience inculcated in family life were the training ground for loy-alty to the ruler and obedience to the constituted authority in the state.This function of the family to raise filial sons who would becomeloyal subjects can be seen by a glance at the pattern of authority withinthe traditional family group. The father was a supreme autocrat, withcontrol over the use of all family property and income and a decisivevoice in arranging the marriages of the children. The mixed love, fear,and awe of children for their father was strengthened by the great respectpaid to age. An old man’s loss of vigor was more than offset by hisgrowth in wisdom. As long as he lived in possession of his faculties, thepatriarch had every sanction to enable him to dominate the family scene.According to the law, he could sell his children into slavery or even exe-cute them for improper conduct. In fact, Chinese parents were by customas well as by nature particularly loving toward small children, and theywere also bound by a reciprocal code of responsibility for their childrenas family members. But law and custom provided little check on paternaltyranny if a father chose to exercise it.The domination of age over youth within the old-style family wasmatched by the domination of male over female. Even today, Chinesebaby girls seem more likely than baby boys to suffer infanticide.

      Highly hierarchical nature of Chinese culture / society.

    48. This different relation of human beings to nature in the West andEast has been one of the salient contrasts between the two civilizations.Man has been at the center of the Western stage. The rest of nature hasserved as either neutral background or as an adversary. Thus Western re-ligion is anthropomorphic, and early Western painting anthropocentric.To see how great this gulf is, we have only to compare Christianity withthe relative impersonality of Buddhism, or compare a Song landscape, itstiny human figures dwarfed by crags and rivers, with an Italian primi-tive, in which nature is an afterthought.Living so closely involved with family members and neighbors hasaccustomed the Chinese people to a collective life in which the groupnormally dominates the individual. In this respect the Chinese experi-ence until recently hardly differed from that of other farming peopleslong settled on the land. It is the modern individualist, be he seafarer, pi-oneer, or city entrepreneur, who is the exception. A room of one’s own,more readily available in the New World than in the crowded East, hassymbolized a higher standard of living. Thus, one generalization in thelore about China is the absorption of the individual not only in the worldof nature but also in the social collectivity.
    1. Relatedly, Castenada et al (2003) develop a very rich overlapping-generation modelwith life-cycle features, borrowing constraints as in Aiyagari-Bewley models, constant re-tirement and death probabilities independent of age, perpetual youth demographics withaccidental inheritances, pensions, income and estate taxes, and persistent stochastic la-bor endowments. They carefully calibrate their model to the US economy to generatean excellent match to wealth distributions. Their 4-state labor endowment stochasticprocess is however highly skewed, so that at the stationary distribution for labor en-dowments, the top 0.039% earners have 1000 times the average labor endowment of thebottom 61%. Thus to attain a ratio of a 1000, if the bottom 61% earn $32,000 a year onaverage37, the top 0.0389% would have to have earnings of $32,000,000, quite excessiveaccording to the WWID. For top incomes from all sources the WWID gives, excludingcapital gains, an average income for the top 0.01% in 2014 of $17,180,000 and earnings(wages, pensions and salaries) of about $6,000,000, which of course would be lower forthe top 0.0389%. Life cycle/consumption-smoothing considerations arise naturally, soagents at the rare and somewhat persistent highest labor endowment state, sometimescalled the "awesome" state, save at higher rates and accumulate wealth faster. Theseagents decumulate during retirement, but invariably some fraction die early into theirretirement, leaving large accidental bequests. A similar mechanism is at work in Diazet al (2003) who use a standard Aiyagari model with inÖnitely lived agents and threeearnings states. At the top "awesome" state, the top 6% of the population earn 46 timesthe labor earnings of the median, a highly excessive skew relative to the earnings data.According again to the WWID, the 5% of top incomes average $367,100 in 2013, of whichonly 69.44% or $255,000 are labor earnings (wages, salaries plus pensions). The medianincomes however are about $50,000, a factor of 5.1, not 46.

      More empirics.

    2. For example Krueger and Kindermann (2014) show that a version of the Aiyagari-Bewley model with su¢ ciently skewed earnings can be made to match the empiricalwealth distribution. But this requires excessive and empirically unrealistic tails for thedistribution of earnings. Krueger and Kindermann (2014) use a seven state Markov chainmodel for earnings that implies, in the stationary distribution, that the average top 0.25%earn somewhere between 400 to 600 times the median income, implying earnings for thetop 0.25% of at least $20,000,000

      Now several examples of empirical efforts where fitting the wealth distribution => an unrealistic earnings distribution. e.g. here the top 0.25% should earn $20m a year and earnings are in fact "just" $1.7m

    3. All this implies that realistic distributions of earnings by themselves, without othercomplimentary mechanisms, have di¢ culty in generating the skewed wealth distributionswe observe

      This is crucial in the debate i think. If i understand the logic here:

      If wealth "skew" and the fat tails were purely related to earnings one could make a plausible argument (though still dubious IMO) that this related to distributions of talent (and/or how talent interacts with production i.e. entrepreneurs skills are multiplied by all the people who work for them etc).

      However, if wealth skew is > earnings skew that implies some other institutional process is at work that isn't really to do with individual talent or effort.

      At a moral level this has big implications.

      Put crudely, imagine the simple random returns to capital each period and there are no difference in talent, effort etc. This generates a simple lognormal distribution or (as they explain above) the fat ones when there is a reflecting barrier (i.e. birth / death).

      In this model there is no "justification" for resulting differences in wealth -- they are purely "random".

      This is basically the policy / moral background to this whole technical paper: are wealth distributions a result (largely) of random chance (and accumulation) or talent.

      Because if the former then the resulting inequality has no moral legitimacy and no practical value. If the latter, there is, at the very least, an argument for practical value (in terms of rewarding talent / effort etc).