Monday Highlights

Well, a busy weekend … working Sat & Sun. 5 more to go for a break.

  1. Food and community under stress.
  2. Arabian anarchy.
  3. Government overreach. But don’t worry, government is uniquely situated to more fairly apply justice … or not.
  4. Here’s one reason why, the big brained guys running things … aren’t (hint: aren’t as smart as they pretend).
  5. Turning down a lot of money … for what?
  6. Things break more often when subjected to more stress. Who knew?
  7. Art criticism … is based on something  called an aesthetic basically a criteria which you establish and then use to judge artistic merit.
  8. Speaking of art and beauty, the rarity of beauty in modern art gets remarks like this to be offered. This is a topic I’ve ranted (or mentioned) before. One reply is that much of the beauty that remains in our culture is encased in in things like the SR-71.
  9. Speaking of aesthetics … one might be suggested here, eh?
  10. I haven’t seen the movie … so did have that joke?
  11. Knowing God … what I was taught is that has a Trinitarian answer, you cannot know the Father (except through the Son), specifically the Father is unknowable.
  12. Thankful for my alma mater at which more often then not, we read the whole damn book (including for example “read War and Peace for next class, which fortunately was after the one week Spring break … and more fortunately for me I had two about 24 hour train rides in which to easily do that reading).
  13. Smoking may be illogical, but addiction is psychological and chemical.
  14. For your valentine.

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  1. Boonton says:

    3.Government overreach. But don’t worry, government is uniquely situated to more fairly apply justice … or not.

    Gov’ts have had customs offices monitoring goods that enter the country at borders and ports for centuries now. The blogger cited seems shocked because she cannot understand why ‘Homeland Security’ would be doing this because she thinks Homeland Security means terrorism stuff. It actually means what the name says, ‘Homeland Security’, which is law enforcement, monitoring borders (hence immigration and customs), coast guard, and so on.

  2. Boonton says:

    5.Turning down a lot of money … for what?

    So I heard the zoo directer interviewed last night. Kind of an interesting story. The goal of zoo is shared with a network of zoos that want to have a self-sustaining giraffe population (i.e. births equal deaths so giraffs don’t have to be replaced by capturing new ones from the wild) for at least another 50-100 years. Check. A self-sustaining population needs some degree of genetic diversity to prevent inbreeding problems. Check. This giraffe was ‘bad’ because while he was healthy he was inbreed and they didn’t want to let his ‘bad genes’ into the population. Ok.

    So the zoo’s problem. They don’t ‘sell’ giraffes off. They have no interest in letting a circus or ‘lower standard’ zoo have one. They couldn’t just sterilize the giraffe since he would still be ‘taking up a spot’ that could be used for a breedable giraffe for about 20 years. So they decided to off the giraffe and feed it to the lions. Hmmmm.

    Does it make sense that they turned down $760K? Possibly, for 20 years that works out to something like $3166 a month. Well doing some research it seems boarding a horse runs easily from $350-$950 a month. I have no idea what it would cost to board a giraffe but I suspect it’s much more. $3166 a month may just let the zoo break somewhat even by letting a non-breeding giraffe hold one of their ‘slots’ for it’s natural life.

    The only other solution I can think of would have been to release the giraffe into the wild, but I suppose there’s probably reasons why that wouldn’t be a viable solution either. So offing the giraffe and feeding it to the lion might be, I suppose, a not unreasonable solution.

  3. Mark says:

    So … do you keep your money in a mattress? Apparently you derived $3166 by dividing $760k by 240. I’m surprised that’s coming from person who touts economic fluency. Seems to me you can put in an interest bearing account, figure you interest and either leave it as an endowment (if the interest is sufficient or use a combination of drawing on the principle and interest with a plan to have $0 at the end). I didn’t find a calculator for that, but I’m guessing that gets you to a monthly figure that informs you that the zoo made a financial error.

  4. Boonton says:

    Interest rates at the moment range from 0%-2%. I suppose that may make it a bit more lucrative for the zoo to take the money and see their variable costs covered. But what about the space argument? If the zoo’s purpose is to participate in a program to create a sustainable breeding network of giraffes, then the sterile giraffe needs not only to cover his costs but also cover the raw space he takes up. How much space do you need to keep a giraffe properly? Beats me but figure an acre or two. Given what land prices are these days it’s easy to see how that can eat into $760K pretty fast.

    Anyway try for an annuity calculator. I put in a 50 yr old male from NJ to give myself something like the 20 yr lifespan a giraffe would need. It gives me $3347 a month in income. Not bad for $760K but also I could see why the zoo might be unimpressed with the offer.

  5. Mark says:

    Given the amount of bad press and that the $760k was from I think one donor, I don’t think that I’d be going out on a limb saying they could probably raise as much as they needed if they’d not jumped to the “kill it” so quickly.

  6. Mark says:

    And you also point out nicely the problems that the monetary practices have been horrible for the private investor saving for retirement. It’s like they planned it that way.

  7. Boonton says:

    It’s hard to say without knowing anything their cost structure, but I think at best with $1M or so raised they only break even with the operating expenses of raising it from cradle to grave. Getting a higher interest rate on invested funds would help, but I don’t think it would substantially make that much of a difference. $760K or $1M is not ‘ohh wow do whatever the guy wants’ type of money here. Remember you need land to keep the giraffe on so if you factor that cost in it’s likely to be much larger.

    A bigger fund raising operation might not have worked out as well. “Give us money or we kill the giraffe” isn’t all that much better as press. It also might conflict a bit with the ‘teaching moment’ the zoo was going for. Namely that the zoo is *managing* an animal population, not just keeping a bunch of critters for people to think are cute. Part of managing an animal population does involve letting animals die or even purposefully putting them down.

    Think about your ‘top ten problems’. Is it really fair that the zoo do a huge fundraiser to ‘save the giraffe’ while children are hungry? Or in terms of animal welfare wouldn’t more be helped by a campaign to donate to dog and cat shelters throughout Europe instead of on a single giraffe?

  8. buddyglass says:

    Re: #8:

    I was “sort of” with him until he wrote this:

    “Indeed, Ms. Fleming’s performance was probably the first time most Americans have ever heard good singing…”

    Opera is not the only thing that qualifies as “good singing”. I dare say most Americans who heard Ms. Fleming’s performance had in fact heard “good singing” prior to the Super Bowl anthem. He continues:

    “What is to be done? It is very simple. Take a friend or a young relative to a symphony concert. Buy a teenager a classical CD. Get a classic novel for your child.”

    I’ve been to some symphonies I enjoyed. I’ve read some classic novels and listened to some classical music that I enjoyed. You know what? That’s the exception rather than the norm. It seems naive to suppose that simply exposing people to “classics” will cause them to like the classics.

    “Don’t accept cultural relativism. There’s a reason high culture endures while popular culture has the life expectancy of a fruit fly: It’s superior.”

    Alternately, it endures because there’s en entire establishment devoted to curating classics from days gone by. Or because putting one’s self out as a connoisseur of “the classics” signals sophistication, intelligence, and membership in the cultural elite, and people will always want to be thought of as part of that crowd?

  9. Mark says:

    Mr Howard,
    I partially agree with you. Here’s the thing. Much of classical music was written in an age when art was primarily “seeking after beauty”, it was an artistic expression be it in architecture, painting, music (including opera) or theater which if it had a message never forgot it’s primary way to affect the audience was to strike a chord by translating a sense of what was beautiful to the viewer/listener. So in one sense it is perfectly true when you write,

    It seems naive to suppose that simply exposing people to “classics” will cause them to like the classics.

    Yes. But why? Why has the casual listener/reader forgotten about beauty?

    Let me put it this way. Rock, Jazz, Modern painting and sculpture. How much of it do you think strives to be transcendent? To strive first for beauty? That is what most American’s have rarely, if ever, learned either to appreciate or experience. I listen to and appreciate a lot of modern popular music. But for the most part, in my view, not art. Going back to the SuperBowl, do you think Bruno Mars and the Chile Peppers were striving for beauty? Ms Fleming was … and that is important. Most of Modern western art is first about shocking people breaking rules. Beauty never enters as a consideration. Which is why most of modern western art is crap that only signals sophistry and membership in an elite as you put it.

    Alternately, it endures because there’s en entire establishment devoted to curating classics from days gone by. Or because putting one’s self out as a connoisseur of “the classics” signals sophistication, intelligence, and membership in the cultural elite, and people will always want to be thought of as part of that crowd?

    My brother is the principle oboe for the Jacksonville Symphony and I played trumpet in college and high school in classical orchestras. I’m biased. For a while I was distracted with other things and so on, but for the last 5 years or so my wife and I have “subscribed” and gone to 10-12 CSO concerts per year. I don’t have much appreciation for modern (classical) music because I think it has forgotten it should before anything else, be beautiful. One of the excuses modern (classical) music tries to sell you is that it is “more complicated.” Bullcrap. Listen to the end of the 3rd movement of Brahms’s German Requiem, the chorus and the symphony are together doing independent 4 part fugues which put together are a transporting experience to listen to, and incredibly complicated. You can do “beautiful” and “complicated” at the same time. It’s damn hard. The modern excuse of complication and putting the burden of “understanding” on the listener is laziness on the part of the composer in my opinion.

  10. Mark says:

    Mr Howard,
    What I’m trying to say in that last bit, is that I don’t go to listen be in an “in crowd”. I go because the musicians are incredibly talented and most of the time you get a taste of music which does transport you by its beauty.