Friday, December 20, 2013

Top Christmas Songs

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Favorite Christmas Songs

Every year I download different versions of Christmas songs from iTunes. Here are seven of my favorite Christmas Songs.  (Sorry about the commercials in the Youtube videos. Strange to hear a bank commercial before a Christmas song. ) I don't like novelty Christmas songs too much, with the exception of Must be Santa.

I am always looking for new versions.

Gaudete (Mediaeval Baebes)

Angels from the Realms of Glory (Annie Lennox)

Must be Santa (Bob Dylan)

Christmas Nights in Blue (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

Carol of the Bells (Harry Connick Jr)

Schedryk Carol of the Bells (Pink Martini)

We Need a Little Christmas (Kimberley Locke)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Will Power

Will power isn't a popular idea. In pop culture we go with the Flow, and if we practice will power, then -- no doubt -- we will become internally conflicted and lash out.

On the other hand, self-control is what makes the civilized world civil. What makes for self-control? In the abstract it is enlightened self-interest. In the short term, it can be your brain chemistry.

It turns out that weakness in your body can reduce your self-control, and cause you to over-eat, drink too much, lash out at someone, and so on. This can be caused by being hungry or tired, or intoxicated.

Another factor is mental tiredness or preoccupation with some pressing problem. Let's say you got a ticket on the way home from work, and then when you get home you kick the dog. One day I thought I lost my glasses, and I was rude to a guy at work. This is odd, since I usually am polite and politically correct. I was worried about getting my glasses back, and was unable to process the right response in this social situation.

Self-control has a limit too. People think of it as a muscle. If you skip a donut and go exercise, you may reward yourself with something later. I good antidote to that is routine. If you never eat donuts and always exercise, then practicing your routine takes little willpower. Being out of your routine, creates temptation and a little higher stress level, and that can lead to failure.

A good article on this is by Maia Szalavitz at Time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What we drink

Gallap tabulated the change in American's beverage tastes, and The Atlantic plotted the above.  

The results show a mixed bag of healthy drinks increases like water and tea, and a drop in juice. I'd like to think it is the low nutrition content of the juice, but it probably was the high price.  Soft drinks also dropped. 

Wine and liquor continue to displace beer. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kathryn Turco Obituary

Her high school picture, a hand colorized photo.
Kathryn C. Turco age 84, of Kenosha, passed away on Saturday June 1, 2013 at St. Catherine's Medical Center in Pleasant Prairie. 

She was born on October 21, 1928 in Oconto, WI, a daughter of the late Peter Angelich and Mary Pionkoske. She educated at U.W. Oshkosh and later earned her Master's Degree in Theology from St. Francis Seminary.

On July 7, 1956 she married Alfred J. Turco in October, WI and then moved to Kenosha and has resided here since. 

Kathryn taught in many high schools in Wisconsin including Kenosha's Bradford High and later taught at U.W. Parkside. 

She was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church. She was active in the senior luncheon program, Altar Society and religious education. She was past president of the Women's Auxiliary at St. Catherine's Hospital. She enjoyed playing golf, ice skating and swimming. 

Surviving Kathryn is her husband Alfred, four sons; Gregory (Jennifer) of Southgate, MI, Douglas (Wendy Wilson) of Bethlehem, PA, Glenn (Kathy) of Brookfield, WI and Timothy (Patricia) Turco of Hartland, WI, thirteen grandchildren; Michelle, Nicholas, Linnea, Gian, Paulo, Michael, Angelina, Laura, Anne, Teresa, Anna, John and Maria. She is also survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers; Louis, Peter and Leon (Pege) Angelich, her sisters; Agnes Angelich, Marion Lane, and Bonnie Aubry. 

Funeral services will begin at the Proko Funeral Home on Wednesday June 5, at 10:30 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church. Entombment will follow at All Saints Mausoleum. Visitation will be held at the Proko Funeral Home on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. until prayers at 10:30 a.m. 

Memorials may be sent to local hospices. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Stock Market is a Co-insident Indicator

Everyone knows that the Stock Market is included in the Conference Board's Leading Indicators, right?  -- it is included in the press release every month.

Looking at these figures, taken from Liz Ann Sonders at Schwab, it is clear that market dips and economic dips occur at the same time. It seems that the stock market is just another co-incident indicator.

On the other hand, the economic data shown below was constructed after-the-fact by the BLS -- the stock market is not predicting the economy, but it is a rapid indicator of where it is today.

It is interesting to think about whether it is predicting the US economy or the world economy or some weighted average. Clearly European financial problems rock the stock market, but is that because people believe it will affect the US?

Stock Market at Economic Inflection Points

Chart: Stock Market at Economic Inflection Points I
Chart: Stock Market at Economic Inflection Points II

Saturday, April 13, 2013

IQ, EQ, Billionaires, and Merit

In grad school, I used to say that the surest sign that wealth and intellect were unrelated was expensive cars.  We smart grad students, had no car at all, or a small old one, and those with over-built, shiny, expensive cars seemed like morons and crooks.

Now comes Duke Prof Jonathan Wai's, which is a full-throated endorsement of meritocracy not just in America and the world. It is in Psychology Today, which is certainly more weighty than USA Today, but not Science either.

When a physical scientist looks at social science research, all s/he sees is fuzziness -- I have said that many times. Wai's work is just like that. He took a statistic like 54% of the Forbes 500 richest computer billionaires graduated from selective colleges to infer that these people are in the top 1% of intelligence. It would have been so much better to have tested their intelligence, or even get access to their old test results.  What schools did Wai consider elite? This wasn't just MIT and Harvard -- he tossed in the Indian Institute of Technology, which isn't on the US  News list of top schools.

It looks like cherry picking the data to me. He took 500 people, whittled them down to 10%, and then used the assumption that college admissions were based test scores (kinda true) and that test scores are based on IQ (also kinda true) to get to his meritocracy based solution. It ignores the other 90% of the billionaires. It also ignores the other advantages students in elite schools have. Also ignored is that the ACT tests on educational attainment while the SAT tests on so-called intellectual ability (but they are correlated.)  Fuzziness.

Merit and wealth impact social policy in that if the rich deserved to be rich, then they deserve to keep more of it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Urethane Technology makes it to Adidas Shoes

There is a new show sole technology that Adidas is calling Boost. It is made up of these pre-gelled packets of foam, and it has more elasticity than other foams. That is, it returns more elastic energy for greater efficiency.

Here is the Adidas website on the new Boost shoe.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

White House's Reply to the Death Star Petition is Great Writing

Remember that internet petition that the Government build a Death Star? Read the surprisingly humorous and clever reply.

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TOSecure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

By Paul Shawcross
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully (here's how) and you'll notice something already floating in the sky -- that's no Moon, it's a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts -- American, Russian, and Canadian -- living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We've also got two robot science labs -- one wielding a laser -- roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo -- and soon, crew -- to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don't have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke's arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White Housescience fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country's future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Is It Healthier to be Fat?


Don't draw the wrong conclusions from the NPR report; it is still better to be thin.  This was about a thirty year underfeeding study where very thin monkeys were shown to have the same life expectancy the control group. This creates a conflict with other studies, but I don't advocate this diet for people.

In the population data, there is an effect that relatively thin people arn't healthier than very thin people.  This blog discusses this topic in some detail: .

It is not hard to understand. People with chronic diseases like alcoholism and Alzheimer's and long-term cancer often lose weight as their various systems fail. So for older people especially, the thinnest people are not the healthiest. Just as important, people who smoke tend to be thinner.

People want believe it is OK to add a pound a year: it actually is unhealthy as you end up fat.

I don't have the answer to weight control, but it is not to ignore it. 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Stock Market Increases Across the World

I have assembled the stock market increases for 2012, and I say increases because they are all increases. The collective stock market is higher today than it has been since the crash in 2008.

Leading the pack in 2012 is the German DAX with 29% increase and pulling up the rear is London at 5.9%. The American markets did poorer than others, but when judged over the 2011-2012 span they did better. Europe and China took big losses in 2011 that we did not see here. The Nikkei (Japan) and the Hang Seng (China) are up strongly, but are coming off weak 2011 performances.

What is best for next year?    It is a good bet for the laggards to bound ahead, so that bodes well for England.  Typically markets over-react and everyone tends to be average over time.