Favorite Museum Exhibits

by WCE

This WSJ article discusses the visit of historic medieval manuscripts from Oxford College to the Folger museum in Washington, D.C. (starts Feb. 4) and then to New York’s Center for Jewish History in May.

Most of the works in “500 Years of Treasures From Oxford” will be making their U.S. debut. Among them are some historic best sellers. A 15th-century manuscript of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” includes an elaborate floral border around rows of exquisitely rendered Middle English text and penciled-in instructions, never erased, for the book’s decorations. A 15th-century manuscript of Homer’s “Iliad,” in Greek, features unusual red-orange designs that run alongside the text and are attributed to the scribe Ioannes Rhosos of Crete.

…. the collection contains 13 rare Hebrew manuscripts, an extraordinary number for one library. A 12th-century prayer book once owned by a Sephardic Jew who traveled to England contains notes that use Hebrew characters to write Arabic words on the fly-leaves—the only such example from medieval England. A 13th-century book of psalms includes side-by-side Latin and Hebrew versions. The college’s scholars likely would have used these works, which will be part of the tour, to learn Hebrew.

The rarity and scale of the exhibit reminds me of a King Tut exhibit I visited ~15 years ago in the Bay Area. If I were closer to Washington, D.C. or New York City, I would want to visit this display and I would take my children along, whether they claimed to be interested or not.

For those of you near one of those cities, do displays like this appeal to you? What museum exhibits do you find most memorable?

An Oxford College Sends Renaissance Rarities to the U.S.

Overemphasis on quarterly earnings?

by WCE

This article discusses emphasis on quarterly, rather than long-term, earnings. This is one of the biggest changes at my employer in my career. Managers used to be focused on technical aspects of projects and developing people, and now they spend a lot of time managing quarterly finances. (Cash flow is not an issue at the company.)

How to Stop Short-Term Thinking at America’s Companies

My favorite fact was one I’ve tried to find unsuccessfully in the past: 8% of stocks were held by institutional shareholders in 1950 compared to 70% of stocks today. I don’t know how 401(k) accounts are considered in that allocation, but pension funds will definitely have their returns affected by any increase in corporate taxes.

Despite the emphasis on profitability, the S&P including reinvested dividends has had historically moderate growth for the past couple decades. Since I opened a 401(k) in ~December 1998, the S&P (with dividends reinvested) has increased by 3.0% annually after inflation. Is there any agreement on the long-term expectation and whether this is expected to be typical? I’ve long been skeptical of the graphs by financial planners, but I’m 20 years into my career and I’m even more skeptical. Or am I missing something?

Calculator here:
S&P 500 Return Calculator, with Dividend Reinvestment

‘Opposition to Galileo was scientific, not just religious’

by WCE

This article detailing an alternative to Copernicus’ view that planets travel around the sun intrigued me, because correct hypotheses in science are usually the ones we learn and remember. It reminded me of the modern controversy over short term global cooling and warming trends and how to interpret the past 50 years of planetary temperature data, in light of limited historical data. Had you heard of Locher? Does he remind you of any other scientist? Does the controversy remind you of any other scientific controversy?

Opposition to Galileo was scientific, not just religious

‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’

by WCE

Only rarely do my interests in history, software modeling, Biblical interpretation and astronomy come together, so when I read a modern hypothesis of what the Magi (aka wise men) saw that brought them from “the East” to King Herod in Jerusalem, I was intrigued. Many of the events recorded in the Bible are so long ago, and recorded in such a way that it is difficult or impossible to understand what was written in its historical context. I had long considered “the Star” that brought the Magi from “the East” to be an example of such a mystery. However, use of astronomical modeling software makes trivial calculations that were excessively laborious for Kepler, who used his laws of planetary motion to attempt to understand the mystery of “the Star in the East” soon after discovering the laws.

Unfortunately, Kepler relied on a copy of the works of Josephus printed after 1544, which contained an error that caused Kepler to believe Herod had died in 4 BC, and so Kepler searched the skies for the two years prior to Herod’s death. Subsequent scholarship has identified an error in the 1544 printing of the works of Josephus and 1 BC is now believed to be the year Herod died, so the hypothesis of interest focuses on 2/3 BC. In September of 3 BC at the time of the Jewish New Year, the planet Jupiter came into conjunction with the star Regulus. The Babylonians called Regulus “Sharu” and the Romans called Regulus “Rex”, both of which mean king, so the Magi observed the King Planet come into conjunction with the King Star, which happens every 12 years. However, due to retrograde motion, a triple conjunction occurred due to a wobble in Jupiter’s orbit, which is much less common.This triple conjunction occurred within the constellation Leo. The expected Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), which was represented by a lion (Leo). Leo is followed by the constellation Virgo and the expected Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), so it seems possible that the Magi (some of whom may have been Jews whose ancestors were left behind in Babylon) would associate kingship, Leo and Virgo with the expected Messiah.

Regardless of whether this hypothesis regarding the astronomical event that brought the Magi from “the East” (probably Babylon or Persia) is correct, some event caused the Magi to travel an extraordinary distance, to inquire of King Herod and to set off a slaughter of male infants in Bethlehem, a slaughter that was recorded by the historian Josephus and the apostle Matthew. It seems apparent that the Magi were priest-astronomers and had no idea their inquiry would result in infant slaughter. Philo the Elder of Alexandria wrote about Magi from the East with great respect for their knowledge of the natural world. The response of Herod and the priests in Jerusalem suggests that they respected the Magi as well. It is possible that Magi gained awareness of Jewish culture during the Babylonian captivity, when the Jewish elite including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego became officials in the Babylonian Empire and Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel a Chief Magus. Even though we don’t know how the Magi gained knowledge of Jewish culture and writings, a few hundred years after the Babylonian captivity, the Magi had sufficient interest in the birth of a Jewish king to travel to Jerusalem and to inquire of Herod.

After being informed by Herod and the chief priests that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the Magi proceeded from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and did not return to Jerusalem in order to inform Herod about what they had found, a situation which made Jesus’ birth one of if not the best-documented birth in ancient history. His death is, if the hypothesis is correct, equally well-documented. Passover begins on the 14th day of the Jewish lunar month of Nisan. Jesus must have died in a year on which that 14th day was a Friday, and Pilate was Roman procurator from 26 to 36 AD, so inquiry should focus on that date range. In 30 AD, Passover began on the equivalent of Friday April 7 and in 33 AD, Passover began on the equivalent of Friday April 3. The latter date is likely correct for a couple of reasons. First, Pilate seems reluctant to crucify Jesus. Sejanus, a notorious anti-Semite and regent for Emperor Tiberius, was killed in 31 AD for being a traitor and official Roman policy became to let the Jews alone. In 33 AD, Pilate would have every desire not to upset the Jews. Second, there was a lunar eclipse from noon to three on April 3, 33 AD, and an earthquake centered in Bithynia. A lunar eclipse resulted in a “blood moon”, which had particularly dark significance to ancient people. The lunar eclipse and earthquake just before the beginning of Passover (which began at sundown) made that Passover particularly memorable.

I found this hypothesis so convincing that I believe Jesus died at age 35 and not age 33, as has long been thought. Can you think of any other situations where astronomical information allows us to re-interpret ancient literature? Does any information in this summary surprise, frustrate or intrigue you, or change your thoughts about Epiphany, the traditional Christian feast to celebrate the visit of the Magi, held on January 6? (That’s just after the 12 days of Christmas.)

Biblical Reference:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. [WCE comment: A reference to Micah 5:2]

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12, King James Version

Kepler Reference:De Stella Nova (1606); De vero anno (1614)

Educational Spending and Inequality

by WCE

I enjoyed this map detailing the difference in educational spending between typical and high poverty rate schools by state. Missouri has the biggest gap in spending. What I found more interesting than the within-state gap, however, was the gap between states. Wyoming, Alaska and some New England states have per capita spending in the high teens. Most southeastern states, Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho have below average spending, around $7000. I would guess the national population-weighted average (not the average of 50 states) is $10,000/student, without knowing how technicalities like the need for new buildings being greater in some states is handled.

The site notes that some states have determined that unequal funding between districts within a state is unjust, but this gap is negligible compared to the gap between states. Do you think the inequality between states is unjust? What, if anything, do you think should be done about it? Other than New York, it appears that many states with the poorest students and the most ESL students have the lowest funding.

Map: 41 States are Shortchanging their Neediest Students

Corporate Malfeasance

by WCE

I recently read two articles that made me ponder the role of whistleblowers in revealing corporate malfeasance.

The WSJ article (first) discusses how the medical testing company Theranos used its attorneys to intimidate a young Stanford grad who went to work at Theranos and observed irregularities in its medical testing methodology. I identified with Tyler’s youthful idealism and interest in data. I also thought about our legal system, compared to other “loser pays” systems and thought about its disadvantages. I suspect that pressure to conform to the vision of a startup is not uncommon. The NY Times article (second) describes how Princess Cruise Lines is being fined $40 million for improper waste dumping around the world on many ships from ~2004-2013. The illegal dumping was observed and reported by a new engineer who observed the illegal dumping and promptly reported it to the British authorities and quit his job at the port of Southampton.

Do you think government regulatory bureaucracy can/should do a better job of protecting potential whistleblowers? Do you think boards of directors should do a better job of overseeing internal company practices? Have you pondered the complexities of international environmental regulatory compliance, from both a legal and an engineering point of view? How can governments do a better job of seeking out likely cases of illegal behavior, both to avoid the behavior and to protect ethical competitors? (Volkswagen emissions and Wells Fargo also come to mind.)

Theranos Whistleblower Shook the Company—and His Family

Princess Cruise Lines to Pay $40 Million Fine for Illegal Dumping

The Electoral College over time

by WCE

After Trump’s strong showing in the Rust Belt, I thought about how the electoral college has changed over time. When my kids asked whether New York or Texas had more electoral votes, we had to look it up — it turns out Texas is way ahead, and New York is tied with Florida.

This link projects changes for 2020 that reflect ongoing Rust Belt emigration and population increases in Texas (3!), Colorado, Florida, California, North Carolina and maybe Virginia, Oregon and Arizona.

Updated 2020 Reapportionment Projections

This link shows the electoral college and how each state voted over time. I was surprised to learn that Kansas and California each had 10 electoral votes for the 1908 election and Florida had only 5. New York’s share of the U.S. population peaked in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when it had 47 electoral votes. I find the chart fascinating and I also admire the wisdom of the Founding Fathers for creating a system that added (later apportioned) electors based on a census every decade.

Historical Timeline

How common is your surname?

by WCE

This website tells you how common your surname is around the world. Both my maiden name and my married name are relatively uncommon, with a few hundred or a thousand people around the world who have each. Is your surname common or rare? If it’s common, where in the world is it common? Are there any surnames you input for fun where something about the results surprised you?

Search for Meanings & Distribution of 11 Million Surnames

On the fundamental inequality of the sexes

by WCE

I’ve never found a Fertility and Sterility medical journal article that seemed appropriate for The Totebag, but this article on the tradeoffs of healthy pregnancy/babies as a function of maternal age and career choices seems ripe for a Totebaggy discussion. I am somewhat vocal on the blog about my view that male/female career/social equality is difficult or impossible, and this article is a good summary of the statistical reasons.

Do you think people (men and women) should think about these facts when planning their lives? Do you think both sexes will?

If the link doesn’t work and you care, the article may be available from your library login.

Reproduction at an advanced maternal age and maternal health by Mark Sauer 

For those not interested in/unable to access the whole article, the summary paragraph is this.

It is difficult to publically challenge convention, and it seems that these days it is politically correct to portray women enjoying the best of both worlds when it comes to family and work. However, if this is achieved by delaying pregnancy then the risk of complicated pregnancy, infertility, and childlessness must also be understood and accepted. The goal should be to promote earlier efforts at procreation, while condemning myths suggesting “you can have it all” by delaying reproduction until a time that it is convenient. Starting a family is never convenient and it never has been. A social re-engineering back to a more conventional time may be difficult, if not impossible to do, but a failure to do so will result in increasing numbers of women left childless and without adequate medical interventions to reconcile their needs. To succeed in this endeavor doctors will need to enlist the support of partners in all aspects of life: educators, employers, lawyers, theologians, and legislators. Finally, accurately portraying the difficulties faced by both older patients attempting pregnancy and those who are experiencing it is long overdue. Realistic characterization should not scare patients away from trying to have children but rather serve as a warning of the perils of postponement and be sobering reminders that all stages of life are fleeting and pregnancy is still best accomplished while young.

Our uncivilized public lands

by WCE

As Homeless Find Refuge in Forests, ‘Anger Is Palpable’ in Nearby Towns

In many western states (see Time magazine link for details by state), the federal government owns a majority of the land, either as national forest or as Bureau of Land Management land. This allows for great hiking and camping opportunities, as well as grazing, firewood cutting and mushroom hunting, but so much open land has disadvantages as well.

The NY Times article discusses the mess and risks associated with disadvantaged people who live on public lands. Two of my friends who are PhD wildlife biologists have confirmed that there are significant risks when hiking and camping on public lands. Unlike cities, which are usually well-policed, forest lands have very limited law enforcement. Growing marijuana and drug trafficking are probably the most common crimes. A single officer may be responsible for hundreds of square miles. Even with the cooperation of local law enforcement and fire departments, crime and wildfires are very problematic. The federal government has reduced/tried to eliminate “payment in lieu of property taxes” for forest lands, so the costs of busing kids to school in these areas is high and borne by counties with an artificially low tax base.

Do you have any thoughts (or maybe questions, since there are a few of us in states with lots of federal land) about how federal land should be managed? Do you agree or disagree that it is under-resourced in terms of fire/police protection? Any other thoughts about how federal land ownership affects western states?

What’s So Special About Finland?

by WCE

This Atlantic article discusses differences between the U.S. and Finland. I liked the emphasis that speaking English as a first language is a natural advantage that people in the United States have. I enjoyed the part about what citizens receive in return for high taxes, because in the U.S. model, upper middle class citizens pay taxes at marginal rates comparable to those in Scandinavia but must still pay significant amounts toward childcare, healthcare and college for their children. I think that the diversity of the U.S. compared to Finland in terms of the background and culture of its citizens is both a benefit and a disadvantage, depending on the situation. Discuss!

What’s So Special About Finland?

“In terms of immigration, if you have a situation like you have now in Europe—huge numbers of immigrants coming in all of a sudden—that’s a very difficult situation for any country. But if a lot of these immigrants also [have] education levels [that] do not help them in this society to find work, then this puts strain on the system. The system is built on the idea that everybody works, everybody pays taxes, and then they get these things in return. Whereas in the United States you don’t really have any [government-provided] benefits. That’s not so much of a problem in terms of immigration.

In higher education, the Nordic approach of offering everyone free tuition is a really good system for educating the whole population well. On the other hand, the U.S. has fantastic research institutes, leading Ivy League universities [that] are amazing, [and] their resources are very different from the resources that Nordic [universities] have.

Friedman: Many Americans might say, “This all sounds great, but you guys are paying sky-high taxes. We don’t want anything to do with that.” How would you respond?

Partanen: First of all, the taxes are not necessarily as high as many Americans think. One of the myths I encounter often is that Americans are like, “You pay 70 percent of your income in taxes.” No, we do not. For someone who lives in a city like San Francisco or New York City—where you have federal taxes, state taxes, city taxes, property taxes—the tax burden is not very different [than the tax burden in Finland]. I discuss my own taxes in the book and I discovered this to be true: that I did pay about the same or even more in New York than I would have paid on my income in Finland. I’ve talked to many Nordics in the U.S. who say the same thing.

The second thing is that there’s no point in discussing the levels of taxes in different countries unless you discuss what you get for your taxes. Americans in many states, certainly, or cities—they might pay less taxes [on] their income or [on] property than Nordics do. But then, on top of that, they pay for their day care, they pay for their health insurance, they pay for college tuition—all these things that Nordics get for their taxes.

A link between neurotic unhappiness and creativity

by WCE

Creative and neurotic: Is neuroticism fueled by overthinking?

This article positing a link between neuroticism and creativity discusses a correlation with no known mechanism, so we can speculate unencumbered by data. Mr WCE and I both have trouble turning off, and for him especially, that leads to sleep difficulties. I can’t tell how neurotic I am, but I know I spend a lot of time living inside my own head. When I spent a month in the hospital before my twins were born, it was hard to read books and so I mostly did Sudoku puzzles and thought, with some listening to music. Apparently not everyone is like that.

Is it crazy to believe in the devil?

by WCE

As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.

Dr. Gallagher writes about his efforts to distinguish mental illness from possible demon possession. He added this explanatory comment after the article was published.

Dr. GALLAGHER responds: Greetings to all. Since this essay garnered such enormous interest, I will add some context. I was asked to write this piece by the Post, not the reverse. As the superb editor made clear, it was NOT to be a scientific article about the evidence for or against possession, but rather my experience as a psychiatrist involved with suffering people. Yes, many of these individuals presented to me with paranormal and tormenting symptoms — and one is free to believe me or not, but I KNOW that to be unequivocally true. These cases are rare and they are not patients of mine. Further, despite the misleading title (which I did not assign the piece), I do not “diagnose” possession, as I stated, but just inform pro bono various clergy (not all Christian btw), as also stated, that as a very experienced physician these features may (or may not) go beyond medical pathology. I make no apology that I am expertly trained to do so (unlike some armchair experts). An article arguing for the reality of demonic possession, a complex and highly controversial subject, would require a much longer essay and a very different way of marshaling the evidence; I was not asked to do that. I thank the many readers who appreciated the piece and I predicted others would react with (many juvenile) ad hominem and sometimes ignorant and anti-Christian vitriol. What else is new?…

Terrorism is not hate

by WCE

As media elites have become, in my view, more narrow in their viewpoints, it becomes harder to find well-written essays that contradict what “everyone knows”. I liked this essay arguing that violent incidents with roots in a political decision are different from violent incidents with roots in hate. What do you think?

TERRORISM IS NOT HATE

… The violence he will commit is properly called terrorism. It is motivated by a political judgment, and committed by reactionary non-state actors in an asymmetric warfare with military powers. It is fundamentally different from incidents in which the perpetrator is deranged by some strong emotion—“hate”—as were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. We don’t call the Columbine massacre “terrorism.” Nor do we call the Sandy Hook massacre, with its mentally ill shooter, “terrorism.” In both cases, violence had psychological roots and no political meaning.

Terrorism has political roots. One could say that the Italian anarchists who (most historians assume) bombed Wall Street in 1920, killing thirty and injuring hundreds, “hated” capitalism. But their feelings about capitalism were incidental. Their judgment of capitalism—that it was unjust, and that in the interest of humanity it should be destroyed—was decisive. The same could be said for Alger Hiss. He was a communist spy not because he “hated” America, but because he thought history was on the side of communism. He made a political judgment and acted on it. The same could be said for Timothy McVeigh. He saw the United States government as an enemy of the people. Having formed this political judgment, he acted on it.

The same should be said for Muslim terrorists, including Omar Mateen. So why do our leaders, when speaking of the Orlando shooting, have recourse to “hate”?

Because our leaders cannot imagine a rational anti-Americanism. This is due in part to the narrowing effect of multiculturalism. Paradoxically, instead of broadening our capacity to entertain ways of thinking not our own, multiculturalism has made us parochial. We compliment ourselves endlessly for our tolerance, inclusiveness, and diversity. Since we are so tolerant of others, we assume, there is no reason others shouldn’t tolerate us. Since we are never offended, we must be inoffensive.

Overinvestment in College Lending

by WCE

College Loan Glut Worries Policy Makers

I was intrigued by this article, because both of my babysitters hoped to “go to college to improve themselves” but in my opinion, would have been more suited for a vocational program or apprenticeship.

I think that government continues to loan money to people who are poor risks (housing followed by education) because government is unwilling or unable to discern who is a worthy borrower without appearing racist or classist. Lending laws affecting banks and private lenders may or may not have similar effects, depending on how they are written and enforced. Lending money requires judging people and that’s hard for both social and policy reasons. Repayment depends in part on family/cultural background and not just on individual, statistical creditworthiness, which makes judgement even more complicated in a society where credit decisions are based solely on individual (or possibly married couple) attributes.

Agree or disagree? What do you think about a European-style approach to higher education, where slots are more subsidized but limited to applicants with higher demonstrated academic aptitude?

Excerpt:

The U.S. government over the last 15 years made a trillion-dollar investment to improve the nation’s workforce, productivity and economy. A big portion of that investment has now turned toxic, with echoes of the housing crisis.

The investment was in “human capital,” or, more specifically, higher education. The government helped finance tens of millions of tuitions as enrollment in U.S. colleges and graduate schools soared 24% from 2002 to 2012, rivaling the higher-education boom of the 1970s. Millions of others attended trade schools that award career certificates.

The government financed a large share of these educations through grants, low-interest loans and loan guarantees. Total outstanding student debt—almost all guaranteed or made directly by the federal government—has quadrupled since 2000 to $1.2 trillion today. The government also spent tens of billions of dollars in grants and tax credits for students.

New research shows a significant chunk of that investment backfired, with millions of students worse off for having gone to school. Many never learned new skills because they dropped out—and now carry debt they are unwilling or unable to repay. Policy makers worry that without a bigger intervention, those borrowers will become trapped for years and will ultimately hurt, rather than help, the nation’s economy.

Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin compares the 7 million student-loan borrowers in default—and millions of others who appear on the same path—to homeowners who found themselves underwater and headed toward foreclosure after the housing crash.

“We needed individual households to stabilize property values and help revive communities,” she said. “We want to stabilize this generation of student borrowers and revive their prospects for the future. I think students are essential to our future economic growth and contributions to productivity.”…

The Obama administration faced criticism that it was too slow to help ailing homeowners during the foreclosure crisis, which impeded the economy from recovering more quickly from the recession. The administration is determined to avoid similar criticism with student-loan borrowers.

It has already put forth an array of programs to help borrowers, including slashing monthly bills by tying payments to incomes, and forgiving some of their debt. But this time they face a different challenge: How to get borrowers to pay anything—even a penny—for an asset they never received.

Informational graphics (and some housing information)

by WCE

Why the Great Divide Is Growing Between Affordable and Expensive U.S. Cities

Given my abstract interest in demographics and my practical interest in moderate cost of living areas, I enjoyed this article on how housing prices have changed since 1980. I especially enjoyed the graphic below.

Did anything in the article surprise or trouble you, or is it all “old news”? What do you like or dislike about the graphic, which I’ve also pasted below?

20160422.TotebagWSJCitiesGreatDivide

 

Effects of increasing international student populations on college campuses

by WCE

I have friends who are STEM academic advisers at OSU and UIUC. My OSU friend confirmed the accuracy of this article. When I was in graduate school, my department was ~75% international students. I think people can learn the fundamentals of engineering in the U.S. with a limited grasp of English, but I’m not sure that other disciplines, especially language-intensive ones, are suitable for people with limited English proficiency. I was surprised to see how high the percentage of international students at Mt Holyoke and Bryn Mawr is (28%) and I wonder if the education there is affected. One of my acquaintances left his engineering professorship in part over how repeated cheating by international students was handled by the local university.

Do you think a US college education will continue to be valuable? Do you share my concern about students with limited English requiring slower instruction in language-intensive disciplines?

On a recent Monday, 22-year-old [Shao] woke up in the apartment he shares with three Chinese friends. He walked to an engineering class at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he sat with Chinese students. Then, he hit the gym with a Chinese pal before studying in the library until late into the night. He recalls uttering two fragments in English all day. The longest was at Chipotle, where he ordered a burrito: “Double chicken, black beans, lettuce and hot sauce.”

At first glance, a huge wave of Chinese students entering American higher education seems beneficial for both sides. International students, in particular from China, are clamoring for American credentials, while U.S. schools want their tuition dollars, which can run two to three times the rate paid by in-state students. On the ground, American campuses are struggling to absorb the rapid and growing influx—a dynamic confirmed by interviews with dozens of students, college professors and counselors.

Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Students Sows Discord on U.S. Campuses

The effect of stress on health

by WCE

This article on stress levels and cholesterol made me think. How much does avoiding stress affect your work/life choices? I’m curious about whether control affects the perception of stress. When I have a lot going on, but I have control over it, I am less stressed than when I am subject to someone else’s arbitrary schedule or needs. I think my Dad and MIL, who each cared for a terminally ill spouse, were affected as caregivers in ways that affected their long-term health.

Why do you think there is so much research on diet/exercise and so little research on stress?

Stress Raises Cholesterol More Than You Think

Russia’s ‘loneliest woman’

by WCE

Helicopter rescue for Russia’s ‘loneliest woman’ who shuns modern civilisation

When I read this article about a woman who was born in Siberia after her family fled Stalinist persecution in 1936 and who recently requested medical assistance, I thought about how lonely her life is and how much trade benefits humanity. I especially thought about language (when discovered, her language was stilted from not having talked to other people) and metals (their cooking pots had disintegrated, making cooking difficult). I was happy that the governor has given her a satellite phone and regular gifts of food and clothing to make her life less difficult in her old age.

This article appeared at about the same time that bklurker posted about how speech signifies class, and how speech changes over time. I’ve read that distinct accents have emerged in North and South Korea since 1953. What does this article make you think about?

I wish I lived in Theory… everything works in theory

by WCE

I read this article not long after LfB’s Nov 10 post “The Welfare Myth” and others where many Totebaggers expressed support for “adequate” levels of social support, with “adequate” not thoroughly defined. :)

This Washington Post article discusses the problems with both Democrat and Republican approaches to tax policy. You can’t cut taxes and maintain our current government, Republican candidates, and other than new defense spending (vs. VA benefits, what I consider “back end defense spending”), there is little government spending that the public supports eliminating. Democratic candidates don’t want to admit that raising taxes on the 1% is not going to generate much revenue.

What do you think?

The coming middle-class tax increase

Did I miss my calling as a government bureaucrat?

by WCE

Room for Debate:  Is VW Proof That Businesses Can’t Regulate Themselves?

I enjoyed this “Room for Debate” article on the necessity of regulation and strongly disagreed with Ian Adams. Companies are NOT going to regulate themselves well. The safety and environmental practices of oil companies in the late ’80’s and ’90’s, when oil prices were at an inflation-adjusted low, convinced me of that. No (Almost no?) company will lose money in order to comply with expensive regulations

However, compared to some countries, the US politicizes its regulation and forces particular geographic areas to bear the costs of federal regulation. (If we would allow removal of dead trees and/or limited logging on public lands, forest fires in the West might be less severe.) In China, the bureaucrats are all from one party, so they can focus on the technical, economic and social effects of their policies, rather than whether a particular policy will appeal to a party’s base.

In addition to understanding technical aspects of policies, regulators also need to be knowledgeable and to understand unintended consequences. In my opinion, they should be non-partisan. I can imagine an appropriate role for academics in drafting regulation, since they are less vulnerable to corporate volatility and profit demands than people employed by companies in competition with one another.

What skills would it take to become a good regulator? Would you have any interest in this type of career, or is regulatory policy so convoluted and partisan that real improvement is virtually hopeless?

Cancer

by WCE

I was fascinated by two aspects of this article on cancer — the lay description of how cancer cells work, and the frustration with how outdated laws inhibit cancer research.

Death of cancer

Here’s an excerpt of the biology part:

Humans derive their energy from two forms of metabolism: oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. Oxidative phosphorylation, the most efficient form of metabolism, takes place in the presence of oxygen carried by red blood cells in the bloodstream (that’s what ‘oxidative’ means). It results in the complete metabolism of nutrients to glucose; that glucose is then converted into water and carbon dioxide, which are easily excreted by the lungs and kidneys.

On the other hand, humans generally derive energy from less-efficient glycolysis only when oxygen is in short supply. Glycolysis is the metabolic system tapped by the muscles of long-distance runners, for example, after oxygen has been spent.

Very rarely, however, glycolysis can take place when oxygen is present. One of those rare instances includes the circumstance of the cancer cell, which prefers glycolysis, as inefficient as it is, because it burns glucose only incompletely, leaving parts of molecules behind that can be used to synthesise DNA and other large molecules that rapidly dividing cells need. The cancer cell, like the embryo, retains the ability to switch back and forth between the two forms of metabolism, depending on a cell’s needs at the time.

The political aspect of this article is how outdated laws — on overtime, the environment, and cancer research, among others — are very difficult to fix. What do you think of “sunset provisions” for laws, where a law either has to be re-approved after a period of time, re-approved with changes or lapse? Would this result in legal chaos? I know we have enough lawyers that I’ll get an informed opinion.

Recycling

The popular topic of recycling drew submissions from three totebaggers.

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by LauraFromBaltimore

Following up on our recent thread on recycling, this article suggests that it is significantly overrated:

The Reign of Recycling

In the interest of full disclosure, the article dove me nuts — it was like a clever legal brief that cherry-picks facts and makes apples-and-oranges comparisons to lead to a misleading premise. For example, why talk about all of the extra recycling trucks on the road and ignore all of the extra trucks and miles that would be necessary to ship regular waste out to this farmland that some unidentifiable states are apparently so eager to convert to landfills? Why measure bottle recycling to cross-country flights, instead of, say, the costs of manufacturing them from scratch? Why point out the composting facility that was forced to shut down while totally ignoring the huge citizen opposition to the new landfills and incinerators he advocates? (I have been tangentially involved in a couple of those, and I can tell you, it is about as ugly as you can imagine).

All of which frustrates me, because I do think he has a point — I just struggle to see it through the rhetoric and stacked comparisons. I would love to see an objective assessment of the relative costs and benefits of recycling vs. the various other disposal options.

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Proactive not Reactive

by Grocery Bags

In my town, you have to pay for curbside recycling pickup. It is a mixed bin with lots of restrictions – only 1 and 2 plastic and no glass. We are definitely not this!:

Here’s a Clip from Portlandia Season Two: Recycling!

In the neighboring town, there is no curbside recycling and my friend complains that hauling her recycling to a drop-off center makes her feel like it is still 1997. Then I read this article (similar to the NYT articles) and posted it to FB.

American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why

But in response to the economic arguments, one of my friends said, do we pay the price now (by paying to recycle or maybe subsidizing recycling companies maybe) or later (by having to clean up our land and water) and quoted William McDonough: “There is no away”

Honolulu Mother posted an article a while back about Costco that said the one near her was the world’s busiest. That reminded me of the last time I was in Hawaii for vacation. I saw a family hauling their Costco purchases, including a case of bottled water (the worst thing on Earth, IMHO), into their condo, and I thought, this is an island! Where do these people think the trash and recycling go? I know, they don’t think about it, but I do. (BTW, I learned there is at least one waste-to-energy facility on Oahu, but I don’t think it accepts trash from the other islands.)

So my personal, Totebaggy goal is simply to try to consume less upfront. Be proactive – fill up reusable bottles rather than buy bottled water – and not reactive – because it appears that recycling is not going to save us from ourselves.

What about you? Do you care what happens to your trash and recycling?

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And from WCE:

Let’s Modernize Our Environmental Laws

Please bring a main dish and salad or dessert . . .

by WCE

Between scouts, church and sports, potlucks are common in my life right now. I’m interested in potluck-friendly recipes that aren’t too fussy. A crockpot meal or casserole is a straightforward main dish and I have tons of great dessert recipes, but salads are harder. I don’t like them to require mayonnaise, be too time-consuming to prepare, require me to visit a specific grocery store, require ingredients that aren’t “adequate” year round, be too high in calories or anything my kids won’t eat, since we’ll be eating the leftovers. I also would like my salad to be visually appealing, so I typically choose a yellow bell pepper to contrast with the avocado, red onion, black beans and tomato in this salad. (You can also use mini peppers in a pinch.) This recipe is one of my favorites. What other suggestions do you have for potlucks? Feel free to expand this into a general recipes post — I partly just want to share this salad recipe, since it’s become a favorite. The lime juice, olive oil and salt in this particular quantity are ideal.

2 c shell macaroni, cooked according to package directions
1 c tomatoes, chopped (or use grape tomatoes, halved)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/3 c diced red onion
1 diced bell pepper
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained (I like low salt S&W)
4 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lime (I use ~3 T bottled lime juice)
1 t salt

Toss ingredients through cilantro with pasta. Mix olive oil, lime juice and salt into a dressing; toss salad with dressing mixture. Ideally, refrigerate for 1-4 hr before serving.

Are You a Super Recognizer?

by WCE

Do You Have a Face-Finding Superpower for Fighting Crime?

This National Geographic article on people who fight crime by recognizing faces exceptionally well intrigued me. I read the New Yorker article (linked within) on prosopagnosia by Oliver Sacks and did the University of Greenwich facial recognition test. I recognized 5 out of 14 faces, so I’m not good at it, even though the faces are Caucasian and I grew up around mostly other Caucasians.

I’m curious about whether women would be easier to recognize than men are and whether women have roughly the same range of facial recognition ability as men do. I’m also curious if this ability changes with age. The military is largely young and male, and it seems like this ability would be really useful when fighting terrorism. I’m also curious if Mooshi thinks computers will ever be as good at recognizing people as super-recognizers are. Of course, I accept at face value the claim that the distribution of this talent in the population is largely Gaussian, like virtually every other human characteristic.

On a personal level, I read the article because I feel like I’m bad at remembering people and wondered just how bad I am. In the lab where I work, we wear bunny suits that cover your face. People have observed that colleagues notice women’s pregnancies earlier when they wear bunny suits, because of how their gait changes. In the lab, we recognize people by their gait rather than their face.

The article on Oliver Sacks made me think of my Dad and Mr. WCE, who can both remember how to get somewhere after a single visit. My Dad sometimes remembered which way to turn in a village in Germany nearly twenty years after his only visit. Mr. WCE carries a GPS now, but he hunted with topographic maps for his first couple decades in remote areas of Washington and Montana. To my knowledge, he’s never been lost. One of my friends has an uncanny ability to remember what people wear. She remembers my clothing, including shoes, and has occasionally made comments like, “You were wearing that shirt last time I saw you.” This talent amazes me, since in my world, the purpose of clothing is to keep other people from having to look at me naked. On an emotional level, I’ve enjoyed watching the development of Baby WCE’s face over the past months as I nurse her, from squished newborn to a face so like her father’s that my colleagues who saw her commented that she looks JUST like her Dad.

Are you a super-recognizer? Do any of my reactions trigger similar thoughts of your own?

The Really Big One

by WCE

The Problem:
The Cascadia subduction zone will likely experience a magnitude 8-9 earthquake off the Oregon/Washington Coast. Based on historic periods between major quakes and knowing that the last major quake was in 1700, the chance of a major quake by 2060 is estimated at 1 in 3. Coastal regions will be inundated by the resulting tsunami. Utility infrastructure, roads and bridges are expected to be severely affected.

WCE’s Commentary:
This article is kind of long, so I’ll summarize it and paste a quote for the less interested. I will also note that if your child wants to become a paleoseismologist, (s)he should consider Oregon State. I was motivated to read it in part by paying the bill for our Earthquake insurance, which is 50% of our regular homeowner’s insurance premium and has a high deductible. Another article noted that 80% of Oregonians don’t carry earthquake insurance. One author helpfully noted that the federal government will pick up the tab in the event of a disaster. A bridge/seismology expert for the State of Oregon (met her once) is concerned by the lack of interest/concern regarding the likely destruction of much of our infrastructure. A tsunami would affect the Oregon/Washington/BC Coast- I’ve included a map of the likely Oregon effect from a related article.. So this post could go in all kinds of directions. :)

From the article:

… In Oregon, it has been illegal since 1995 to build hospitals, schools, firehouses, and police stations in the inundation zone, but those which are already in it can stay, and any other new construction is permissible: energy facilities, hotels, retirement homes. In those cases, builders are required only to consult with DOGAMI about evacuation plans. “So you come in and sit down,” Ian Madin says. “And I say, ‘That’s a stupid idea.’ And you say, ‘Thanks. Now we’ve consulted.’”

These lax safety policies guarantee that many people inside the inundation zone will not get out. Twenty-two per cent of Oregon’s coastal population is sixty-five or older. Twenty-nine per cent of the state’s population is disabled, and that figure rises in many coastal counties. “We can’t save them,” Kevin Cupples says. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll go around and check on the elderly.’ No. We won’t.” Nor will anyone save the tourists. Washington State Park properties within the inundation zone see an average of seventeen thousand and twenty-nine guests a day. Madin estimates that up to a hundred and fifty thousand people visit Oregon’s beaches on summer weekends. “Most of them won’t have a clue as to how to evacuate,” he says. “And the beaches are the hardest place to evacuate from.”

Those who cannot get out of the inundation zone under their own power will quickly be overtaken by a greater one. A grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water moving at 6.7 miles an hour. The tsunami will be moving more than twice that fast when it arrives. Its height will vary with the contours of the coast, from twenty feet to more than a hundred feet. It will not look like a Hokusai-style wave, rising up from the surface of the sea and breaking from above. It will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land. Nor will it be made only of water—not once it reaches the shore. It will be a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and doorframes and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.”

The Really Big One

Schulz-The-Big-One-Map-11

Why Organic Agriculture is a Colossal Hoax

by WCE

The Colossal Hoax Of Organic Agriculture

I’ve mentioned before my concerns about organic agriculture and how it’s implemented. This article discusses some of the issues that affect consumers but it doesn’t discuss the production issues, such as lower yields, associated with organic agriculture. Organic produce is popular among my set in the Pacific Northwest but its proponents don’t seem particularly knowledgeable about its pros and cons, so I’ve learned to smile and nod. Is anything in this article (it’s short) new information for you? Do you share my skepticism about organic food from China or Mexico?

 

Managing Screen Time

by WCE

Screen time v play time: what tech leaders won’t let their own kids do

This article on how different technology leaders manage their kids’ use of technology made me consider what limits are appropriate. My boys love TV, Netflix, Minecraft, etc. and their daily time is subject to completion of chores and homework. It can also be revoked for misbehavior. We have a Waldorf school nearby and I know people who like it, but avoiding screen time/electronics until you’re 12 seems unnecessary and a lot of work for the parent… and I’m all about avoiding lots of work for the parent. On the other hand, I worry about excessive gaming by my future-young-adult sons. Lack of self control in this area has affected college achievement and marriages of people I know.

When I spent a couple hours in the hospital lab for gestational diabetes testing, I took along a Disney Classics book from the library book sale and read my children the long stories I never read them at bedtime, due to lack of anything else to do. I try to make choices to interact in nontechnological ways. I sometimes waste too much time on the computer, especially when I’m tired or stressed or know I’ll be constantly interrupted if I try to read a real book. However, I also do lots of work on the computer (paid work as well as paying bills, researching travel, e-mailing with family, reading up on taxes or home repairs, managing finances). Sometimes the distinction between doing work and wasting time isn’t always clear. When our carpet cleaner seemed to be misbehaving, I read a lot about what was wrong and watched some videos on how to disassemble it, but read far more Amazon comments on different machines than strictly necessary since we didn’t end up replacing it. I do a lot of shopping online. Knowing where to find a replacement for the electric teapot and ordering a long-sleeved white shirt for Twin 1’s Storm Trooper costume are cases that come to mind.

What are your views of screen time and kids? Am I the only one who admits to wasting time this way as an adult?

Out-of-print Children’s Books

by WCE

I looked for Scott Corbett’s book The Lemonade Trick at the library and was disappointed to find it was no longer available. Fortunately, Amazon has used copies. A couple other favorite children’s authors — Sally Watson and Sydney Taylor (All of a Kind Family) — now have their books back in print. We have a collection of Childhood of Famous Americans books (including lots of out of print ones) and other history books, including the Badger books. What books did you enjoy as a child? Are they still available? Have they been removed from libraries for a reason? (I doubt that drinking unknown concoctions made with your Feats o’ Magic chemistry set is still an acceptable plot line for children’s literature.)

Your Big Backyard

by WCE

I attended land grant universities. In a college discussion, Finn asked me if the local land grant university is a good school. “It depends, ” I thought. If you want to study volcanoes, oceanography, veterinary medicine, rangeland management, wildlife biology or forestry, it’s a very good school. We have excellent researchers in the cultivation of pears and berries. But it probably doesn’t rank very high with US News. (It’s #138.)

Recently, I saw Facebook posts from a friend who studied forestry and then moved to Montana and Wyoming. She posted a picture of a young moose stripping leaves that she took on their family hike (below) and a video of a grizzly bear across a stream from them. I also saw a NY Times article about what researchers at University of Montana (#194 according to US News) are learning about songbird communication in the presence of predators. (It’s linked below).

20150611.TMoose

I’d like to know more about birds, and the sounds I hear when I meet the bus or go for a walk are mostly those of various birds and squirrels, so the article interested me. My kids recently watched a video about pythons in southern Florida, and they were impressed by a huge python that had crawled through the sewage system into someone’s toilet. What’s interesting about nature where you live? Do you know what is under study about nature in your local area?

Here’s the NY Times article on bird warnings that I enjoyed.

When Birds Squawk, Other Species Seem to Listen

Will The Future Judge Us Moral?

by WCE

Once and future sins

I read this article on how values and norms may change in the next 100 years and Grace’s request for posts prompted me to submit it. My parents have commented on how rapidly norms and values change compared to what they remember. In all likelihood, some of these changes are good and some aren’t, and only through the lens of history will anyone be able to judge what’s what.

I am particularly intrigued by the idea of considering future people (zoning to maintain historic neighborhoods and fossil fuel consumption, for example) more in moral decision-making. I also thought about moral problems that bother me (prison rape and general mistreatment of prisoners, for example) that don’t receive much attention in society at large. How do you think norms and values will change? How do you think they should change? How do we weigh unknown and unknowable future risks (earthquakes, fracking, global warming, etc.) against known current harms? What, if any, religious norms will influence social moral change? (I’m thinking of previous movements like abolition and temperance here.) Will norms and values continue to vary across social classes?

Here’s a quote, since the article is a bit long.

The tricky question is who exactly counts as the ‘other’ whose interests we should set above our own? Every society has had its own answers, as does each one of us: we expect you would go to much greater lengths to do good for your child than for your neighbour, and it would be easier to lie to your boss than to your spouse. And some beings, whether animal, vegetable or microbial, are outside the realm of consideration altogether. In moral terms, some always matter more than others. This understanding offers us a fairly straightforward idea of moral progress: it means including ever more people (or beings) in the group of those whose interests are to be respected. This too is an ancient insight: Hierocles, a Stoic philosopher of the second century, describes us as being surrounded by a series of concentric circles. The innermost circle of concern surrounds our own self; the next comprises the immediate family; then follow more remote family; then, in turn, neighbours, fellow city-dwellers, countrymen and, finally, the human race as a whole. Hierocles described moral progress as ‘drawing the circles somehow toward the centre’, or moving members of outer circles to the inner ones.

Sources Of Inequality

by WCE

This article argues that parental IQ, not parental income, is the primary cause of inequality. I always appreciate analyses that look at trends in countries other than the U.S., whether that’s stock market performance or educational inequality. I also appreciate the point that society needs to value nonacademic character traits, those currently referred to as “grit”.

“All high-quality academic tests look as if they’re affluence tests. It’s inevitable. Parental IQ is correlated with children’s IQ everywhere. In all advanced societies, income is correlated with IQ. Scores on academic achievement tests are always correlated with the test-takers’ IQ. Those three correlations guarantee that every standardized academic-achievement test shows higher average test scores as parental income increases…

The more strictly that elite colleges admit students purely on the basis of academic accomplishment, the more their student bodies will be populated with the offspring of the upper-middle class and wealthy—not because their parents are rich, but because they are smart. No improvement in the SAT can do away with this underlying reality.

I haven’t used the word “meritocracy” to describe this because it doesn’t apply. Merit has nothing to do with possessing a high IQ. It is pure luck. And that leads to my reason for writing this.

As long as we insist on blaming inequality of academic outcomes on economic inequality, we will pursue policies that end up punishing children whose strengths do not lie in academics. We will continue to tell them that they will be second-class citizens if they don’t get a college degree; to encourage them to accumulate student debt only to drop out or obtain a worthless degree. Worse, we will prevent them from capitalizing on their other gifts of character, grit and the many skills that the SAT doesn’t test.”

The reason I’m sending the article, of course, is that I think Charles Murray is mostly right. But I know many people think inequality is a problem that government can or should solve. Is the role of government in reducing inequality limited to income transfers from the poor to the rich, or can the factors underlying inequality be changed more than Murray argues?

Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test’

(Google the title if the link doesn’t work)

Best Cleaning Products of 2015

by WCE

My favorite spray stain remover, Tide Boost, has been discontinued so I’m looking for a replacement. Thankfully, my wonderful mother-in-law found and bought me 8 bottles on close-out so I have a little time to experiment. When I read this article on cleaning supplies, I decided to try Shout Triple Action. (I’m underwhelmed by the old Shout gel and Resolve/Spray ‘n’ Wash is just OK.) I already use Cascade dishwasher detergent. I may try the Great Value disinfectant wipes for cleaning the camper kitchen on our next trip but I’ll probably stick with my favorite dish soap, Palmolive, instead of seeking a particular variety of Method. Bar Keeper’s Friend is already under my sink. Weiman carpet cleaner doesn’t seem to be available locally and last year my current carpet cleaner, Resolve, won the contest so I may wait for potty training before my next round of carpet cleaner experimentation. I use the original Murphy’s Oil soap occasionally and use a rag and a bucket, rather than a mop, for heavy cleaning. I use Clorox toilet bowl cleaner and Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner already. Fels Naptha soap and Kids n Pets (good on mattresses) are missing from the list, but otherwise I thought it was thorough.

I became interested in cleaning supply performance when some friends took jobs with Procter and Gamble. On the rare occasions I care about germs, my biologist friend convinced me that Lysol, Pine-Sol and bleach are the most effective, and which is most effective depends on the germ. I will study this more if anyone in my house ever has a weak immune system.

Where I live, lots of people limit their cleaning supplies to water and vinegar, in order to avoid toxic household chemicals, so I can’t have this discussion with local friends. The regulars know I don’t worry much about chemicals.

Do you think about cleaning or cleaning supplies? What recommendations do you have? Or are you thankful you don’t have to deal with cleaning because someone else does it for you?

A Look At Luck On St. Patrick’s Day

by WCE

How luck works

I liked this article on luck better than the comments, because the article focuses on a range of views about luck (is luck stable or fleeting?) as well as casual references (medical school admission, hot hands in basketball) that describe the ambiguity with which people refer to luck. In my own life, I’ve felt comfortable taking more risks in the academic realm than in the obstetrics realm, based on my relative success over time in each of those areas. This article also made me think about how a single event (massive layoffs announced during my twin pregnancy vs. uneventful pregnancy with current baby) can shape my emotional outlook for a period of years.

A quote from the article:

For example, a gambler who had just won three times in a row, won 67 per cent of the time on his fourth bet. If he won on his fourth bet, then he cleaned up 72 per cent of the time on the fifth bet. Those who lost their first bets were just 47 per cent likely to win on the second and, if they lost again, only 45 per cent likely to win on the third. Could good luck beget good luck and bad luck really beget bad luck, just as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

The team then dug deeper to reveal why these streaks were in fact real: it was the bettors’ own doing. As soon as they realised they were winning, they made safer bets, figuring their streaks could not last forever. In other words, they did not believe themselves to have hot hands that would stay hot. A different impulse drove gamblers who lost. Sure that lady luck was due for a visit, they fell for the gambler’s fallacy and made riskier bets. As a result, the winners kept winning (even if the amounts they won were small) and the losers kept losing. Risky bets are less likely to pay off than safe ones. The gamblers changed their behaviours because of their feelings about streaks, which in turn perpetuated those streaks.

What do you think about luck? How do recent successes or failures influence your willingness to take risks in a particular realm?