Reader Catherine in New Hampshire writes

Dear Helytimes,

Have you abandoned your commitment to keeping us informed about public lands under Trump?  I’m baffled by the present situation and would like some help!

Frustrated,

Catherine

Reader,

I get it, I’m sorry.  The truth is I myself am baffled by what’s happening.  I’ve been slowly informing myself by reading:

High Country News.

They’re doing such good reporting on these issues.   Also their classifieds are great:

This roundup of their stories on the latest developments is great:

I found this post on Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Instagram to be a good summary, too:

Trying to make sense of the national monument review process is like trying to avoid stepping on a scorpion in the dark.
In other words, our government is making it really hard for the public to see what is going on.

Here’s what we know so far.

In April, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior (DOI) to review whether 27 national monuments deserved continued protection.

From May to July, the public was allowed to submit comments about this review. All of you spoke up to defend our Mojave monuments! Nearly three million Americans joined you in submitting public comments, 98% of which were in favor of keeping or expanding protections. 

August 24th, DOI Secretary Zinke submitted his recommendations to the White House…and refused to release them to the public.

Since then, the public has waited for any information. And our Desert Defenders have continued to raise our voices about why our monuments deserve continued protection!

This Sunday, The Washington Post published a leaked version of Secretary Zinke’s report. Although this was supposed to be the DOI’s finalized review, it was titled as a draft and only contained vague recommendations for ten monuments.

It would need further revision by Zinke to become a final report. There was no mention of the other 17 monuments officially under review, including Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow. Nor was there word on Castle Mountains, which Rep. Cook asked Secretary Zinke to cut, although it wasn’t part of the original review.

Ultimately, no monument was declared safe. And the report’s omission of 17 monuments leaves them open to untold threats down the line, like executive orders or management plan reviews.

What the leaked report does make clear is that the Trump administration is preparing for an unparalleled attack on protected public lands that could result in widespread loss of wildlife habitat and economic harm to local businesses.

This entire process is unprecedented — and tomorrow, we’ll let you know what’s next.
#DesertDefenders #StopCadiz#nationalmonuments #mojavetrails #desert#mojavedesert #antiquitiesact 

Seems like — and this may shock some of you – the Trump administration is hindered in executing wrongheaded and malicious policies by stupidity, clumsiness, disorganization and lack of any clear ideas, principles or goals short of being obnoxious and servicing the interests of GOP donors!

Welp, on the plus side, reading High Country News and learning about the Mojave Desert Land Trust has given me faith that lots of good people who care passionately are fighting to steward public land in effective and intelligent ways.


Fascinated by: Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds.

That’s a 30 minute video he made about how the economy works, nbd.

A brilliant person with an atypical mind who lays out their worldview in a kind of manifesto can pretty much always get my attention.

Three of his Dalio’s beliefs:

  • “algorithmic decision-making is coming at you fast”
  • evolution is good
  • to achieve success you must face and accept harsh realities

You can read his Principles online.  Soon they are coming out in book form, I’ve pre-ordered.   Here’s a sample, from the Principles website, which is www.principles.com:

A lot to think about in Ray Dalio’s Principles.

BUT: let’s limit our discussion today to one moment in his TED Talk above.  We’re going to talk about a joke and the audience reaction to it.

You’ll have to watch about one minute of the talk.  Start at 14:30.

Dalio is describing a complex system where everyone in his company rates each other and is radically transparent with each other.  Everyone can rate each other, in different areas.  Even a lowly employee can rate Ray, creating charts like this:

At 14:46 he says that because of this, at Bridgewater there is no politics.

Which: Ray Dalio is 100x smarter than me, but I’ll bet ten dollars there are indeed politics at Bridgewater Associates, probably insane, high-order, wildly weird politics.

Anyway.

At 15:13 Ray Dalio makes a joke.  This being his TED talk, no doubt a joke he had practiced.  Radical transparency, he says, doesn’t apply to everything.

You don’t have to tell somebody their bald spot is growing or their baby’s ugly.

People laugh a little bit.  Dalio continues.

I’m talking about the important things.

People laugh a LOT.

Dalio seems even thrown by how much the audience laughs at the second part, not the intended punchline.

Why?

The audience laughs because Dalio is missing the point.

Dalio inadvertently reveals he doesn’t know what the important things are to most people.

What are “the important things?” Making sound investment decisions? Tweaking the algorithm properly? Workplace communication?

Whatever, yes, in theory.

But really?  No. To most humans whether your bald spot is growing and whether your baby is ugly are the important things.  It would hurt way worse to be told either of those than that you’re ineffectively communicating in the meeting.  That pain is a measure of importance.

The audience is expressing laughter / disbelief at the fact Dalio assumes workplace discussion is more important than stuff like whether your baby is ugly.

Perhaps Ray Dalio doesn’t get it because he’s trained himself not to feel that kind of sensitivity.  That’s one of the points of Principles, to train your mind to get that nonsense out of the way.  It’s served him very well as an investor.

But it’s a little robotic, and a little detached, and a little inhuman.

If I worked for Dalio, I suspect I’d rate him low in the category of “empathy / compassion / understanding for what matters to people / sensitivity.”

But then, are those categories even in the algorithm?

Oh btw James Comey used to work for Ray Dalio, and also Dalio recently recommended allocating 5-10% of assets to gold.

speaking of

algorithm

source: Wiki user Fulvio Spada

looked it up at Online Etymology, my new fave site.

algorithm (n.)Look up algorithm at Dictionary.com1690s, “Arabic system of computation,” from French algorithme, refashioned (under mistaken connection with Greek arithmos “number”) from Old French algorisme “the Arabic numeral system” (13c.), from Medieval Latin algorismus, a mangled transliteration of Arabic al-Khwarizmi “native of Khwarazm” (modern Khiva in Uzbekistan), surname of the mathematician whose works introduced sophisticated mathematics to the West (see algebra). The earlier form in Middle English was algorism (early 13c.), from Old French. Meaning broadened to any method of computation; from mid-20c. especially with reference to computing.

The man from Khwarizmi.

Wiki:

Few details of al-Khwārizmī’s life are known with certainty.

He worked in Baghdad as a scholar at the House of Wisdom established by Caliph al-Ma’mūn, where he studied the sciences and mathematics, which included the translation of Greek and Sanskrit scientific manuscripts.

 


Good picture

Found this picture on Thomas Ricks’ blog.  USA!  USA!

170831-N-KL846-150 VIDOR, Texas (Aug. 31, 2017) Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Jansen Schamp, a native of Denver, Colorado and assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, rescues two dogs at Pine Forrest Elementary School, a shelter that required evacuation after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey reached its grounds. The mission resulted in the rescue of seven adults, seven children and four dogs.  (U.S. Navy Video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl/Released)

Reminded of a claim that Goebbels was forever frustrated the Nazis couldn’t make propaganda as good as what the USA churned out.

Worth signing up or whatever you need to do to read Ricks’ blog.

Here’s a good post about the situation in Afghanistan.

Here’s a good one about “15 assumptions about the behavior of North Korea’s Kim family regime

And his reliefs and suspensions specials never fail to have one or two that would probably make a compelling movie.   At a secret Air Force base in Tunisia, a beloved commander lets his guys drink as much as they want and forms a dangerous relationship with a teenage subordinate.


John Ashberry

I’d rather read John Ashberry’s obituary than any of his poems.  This is because like most people I prefer story to poetry.

He once wrote poems in French and then translated them back into English in order to avoid customary word associations. (The poems are called, of course, “French Poems.”)

In an interview with The Times in 1999, Mr. Ashbery recalled that he and some childhood playmates “had a mythical kingdom in the woods.”

“Then my younger brother died just around the beginning of World War II,” he added. “The group dispersed for various reasons, and things were never as happy or romantic as they’d been, and my brother was no longer there.” He continued, “I think I’ve always been trying to get back to this mystical kingdom.”


McCain

Happened to be reading this this weekend.

Michener says:

 

The ugly old aviator:

Dropped dead four days after the Japanese surrender.


What can we learn from Lee?

source, wiki photo by Cville Dog

Lots of conversations about history, how we should remember our history, etc.  Amateur historians love arguing about Lee, how can you not, he is interesting.

Robert E. Lee had many noble personal qualities, as did many officers in Hitler’s army.

If there’s anything to learn from him, might it not be that a man of principle and dignity can end up on the outrageously wrong side of the most important moral issue of his time?

Nobody should judge John Kelly without reading this Washington Post profile of him by Greg Jaffe.

About 12 hours later, the elder Kelly e-mailed his extended family in Boston, preparing them for the possibility that Robert might be maimed or killed. Kelly knew that Robert went out on almost every patrol with his men through mine-filled fields. One of the Marines at Bethesda told him that Robert was “living on luck.”

“I write you all to just let you know he’s in the thick of it and to keep him in your thoughts,” Kelly typed. “We are doing a Novena a minute down here and there is no end in sight.”

On Oct. 31, Kelly sent a second e-mail to his eldest sister, the family matriarch. “I am sweating bullets,” he confided. “Pray. Pray. Pray. He’s such a good boy . . . and Marine.”

This is painful to watch:

What a dilemma: the American people have elected a mean angry fool, do I try and do what I can to contain him or resign knowing he might do more damage without me around?

What’s the point of a statue of Lee if not to learn from him?

From this take on Lee by Roy Blount Jr. in Smithsonian mag:

We may think we know Lee because we have a mental image: gray. Not only the uniform, the mythic horse, the hair and beard, but the resignation with which he accepted dreary burdens that offered “neither pleasure nor advantage”: in particular, the Confederacy, a cause of which he took a dim view until he went to war for it. He did not see right and wrong in tones of gray, and yet his moralizing could generate a fog, as in a letter from the front to his invalid wife: “You must endeavour to enjoy the pleasure of doing good. That is all that makes life valuable.” All right. But then he adds: “When I measure my own by that standard I am filled with confusion and despair.”


The ignoble and unhappy regime

 

Evocative phrase from Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “War” (34:05 above) keeps popping into my mind.

The lyrics are a near-exact repetition of a speech in the UN by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. However, the two simple guitar chords and the semi-improvised, spirited melody put to Selassie’s words is unmistakably Marley’s.