Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Well, not well

A specimen of language that is, well, not well.
"I think the way we've articulated our thinking about the future of our user growth efforts, [it's] very much in the context of bridging this gap between what seems to be the global awareness and almost ubiquitous presence in the culture about Twitter and migrating that awareness of Twitter into engagement on the platform," Costolo says. 
"I think about us at Twitter as being a public, real-time conversation and that has made us this companion experience to whatever else is happening in your world," he says. 
I think the @ sign is some of the scaffolding that I talk about within Twitter that sometimes makes it harder to navigate in specific cases.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Gibbon does have, in his usage, a felicitous style. Here's a passage which one can find happy or not, depending on how one receives such a style. (He's writing of the succession of the Gordiani).
His manners were less pure [than Gordian I], but his character was equally amiable with that of his father. Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested the variety of his inclinations; and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than for ostentation.
Of course this made me smile, but I don't suspect Gibbon of dry humor here, or of winking at the reader, as it were. But the reader can get something out of it that the writer didn't intend. That's happy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Life and leisure in ancient Rome

This post's title is verbatim from J.P.V.D. Balsdon's book on ancient Rome, which is proving to be a good companion to volume one of Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Whereas Gibbon's focus so far is the political history of the empire, Balsdon's interest is in the quotidian life of Romans: how they told time, how bathing was regarded and in what venues, how morning routines differed among classes, and so on. It's really quite fascinating, for example, to think about what the use of sundials and water clocks does to a view of time.

Here's a great sentence in the chapter The Shape of the Day: "Cicero, for instance, claims never to have taken a siesta as long as he was actively engaged in politics or at the bar." It's amusing and even more so when we note that Cicero was a lawyer.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The five


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cause and effect inequality

It is a basic tenet of science that one must observe in order to reason about cause and effect, but it seems that skill is lacking in most people -- at least, it is not employed by those beholden to an ideology. Find the exact name for it in this taxonomy if you please.

In my post on the appeal beyond numbers, I mentioned the movement in Seattle to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. This movement in my view confuses cause and effect. Activists do see the effect, but they attribute the cause to something that isn't. Corporations aren't the cause, nor the vague monster of capitalism, or savings-ism. (Capital is savings that can be applied to new ventures). If money were sound and not 'inflated down', wages wouldn't decline in purchasing power and those in the lower quintile wouldn't feel that downward pressure.

Mish has a better handle on it than I do. Inflation exists to benefit the wealthy. (There are great charts as well in that post by Doug Short). This is what the Fed's "mandate" is, though the unstated one of course. And with a focus on benefiting those with first access to money, who can use it to buy other things before the value of money falls for the rest of us... Mish in another post sums it up correctly in my view:
I propose that extreme income inequality is a result, not of excess savings, but as a direct result of the fraudulent nature of the system that benefits those with first access to money.
Low wages are a result but savings (capital) are not the cause, as savings are weakened anyway. Competition is also deflationary. But that's another post.

Addendum: Pater Tenebrarum at Acting Man notes that "in the end the purchasing power of the higher wages would not be greater than before."