Friday, June 8, 2018

War of 1812

In the news this week.

The War of 1812. 

What do you remember?

Rationale for the war?  “[T]he war was fought over maritime issues, particularly the Orders in Council, which restricted American trade with the European Continent, and impressment, which was the Royal Navy’s practice of removing seamen from American merchant vessels.”*

Burning Washington, DC. The White House, the Capitol (which housed the Library of Congress) and other public buildings in Washington, D.C. were burned by the British.  “Before leaving the city, First Lady Dolley Madison ordered that White House possessions be packed and removed from the city — silverware, books, clocks, curtains, and most importantly, Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington.”**

Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner, originally called “Defence of Fort M’Henry.”***

Battle of New Orleans.  On January 8, 1815, the American victory in the Battle of New Orleans came after the peace treaty had been signed in Ghent (Belgium, United Netherlands) on December 24, 1814. In the Battle of New Orleans, the British lost nearly 300, 1200 were wounded, and hundreds more taken prisoner or missing.  The American forces lost 13 and 39 were wounded.****

Status quo ante bellum.  The conclusion of the War of 1812 is often described as status quo ante bellum.

****Meacham, Jon, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, NY, 2008, p. 32.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Worthy Cause

Support Girl Scout Troop 6000, NYC’s first troop for homeless girls

Link to buy cookies:

Help them reach their goal of 12000 boxes!!

Thanks to Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. retweet & Stephanie Ruhle, tweet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Democrats and Republicans: We Need RCV

Ranked choice voting means that voters can indicate their first, second, third and more choices in order, basically engaging in multiple run-off ballots in which the candidate with the least-support is dropped in rounds of counting.

Ranked choice voting should be adopted in all partisan primary elections.  The two established parties should offer incentives to states that adopt RCV.  One idea would be to increase the number of delegates sent to the national presidential nominating conventions from states that enact RCV in time for the 2020 cycle. 

Consider the idea from the viewpoint that almost any of the other candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination would have been a better choice for the Republican Party and for the country than Donald Trump.

In its primaries this summer Maine will use RCV.

Kevin Johnson and Rob Richie write in the Daily Beast that recent RCV elections in Minneapolis, Santa Fe and St. Paul resulted in the highest mayoral turnouts in more than a decade.”  In the Santa Fe election, with five candidates running for mayor, 99.9 percent of voters cast a valid ballot. 

Johnson and Richie estimate that in 2018 Congressional primaries where often less than 15 percent of eligible voters turn out, there will be at least four or more candidates in 212 districts and five or more candidates in another 146 districts. They note that “crowded fields cause vote splitting among mainstream candidates, clearing the way for candidates backed by only a fraction of the electorate to move forward to the general election.” And thus the candidates and elected officials will be beholden to a minority partisan base.

So Republicans need RCV if they are going to continue to be a national party.  Democrats need RCV because they now have so much primary enthusiasm, that they could lose their general elections including the presidential election in 2020.

If in 2020, bearing in mind the role of the electoral college, Trump runs again as a Republican or as an independent or a third-party candidate, there may well be an anti-Trump “Republican” party also on the ballot, and with three or more presidential candidates, the winner could easily represent a minority partisan base.

The two major political parties should jump at the opportunity to re-establish themselves among all the voters.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Is Trump a Lemon Juice Bank Robber?

Some criminals are just dumb or have really bad luck.  And if we are not personally effected by the crimes, the deeds sometimes appear hilarious. 

Dunning–Kruger effect
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Footnotes omitted.]

The psychological phenomenon of illusory superiority was derived from the cognitive bias evident in the criminal case of McArthur Wheeler, who robbed banks with his face covered with lemon juice, which he believed would make it invisible to the surveillance cameras. This belief was based on his misunderstanding of the chemical properties of lemon juice as an invisible ink.

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

As described by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the cognitive bias of illusory superiority results from an internal illusion in people of low ability and from an external misperception in people of high ability; that is, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

Conversely, highly competent individuals may erroneously presume that tasks easy for them to perform are also easy for other people to perform, or that other people will have a similar understanding of subjects that they themselves are well-versed in.

Original study

The psychological phenomenon of illusory superiority was identified as a form of cognitive bias in Kruger and Dunning's 1999 study "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.". . . 

Other investigations of the phenomenon, such as "Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence" (2003), indicate that much incorrect self-assessment of competence derives from the person's ignorance of a given activity's standards of performance. The pattern of overestimation of competence appeared in studies of reading comprehension, of the practice of medicine, of motor-vehicle operation, and of the playing of games such as chess and tennis. Dunning and Kruger's research also indicates that training in a task, such as solving a logic puzzle, increases people's ability to accurately evaluate how good they are at it.