the law of diminishing returns, pear wallpapers, why do conservatives hate capitalism

David Brooks probably misrepresented and/or over simplified Geoff Colvin’s “Talent is Overrated” and Daniel Coyle’s “The Talent Code”. Never the less, this is his now infamous take on their writings,

What Mozart had, we now believe, was the same thing Tiger Woods had — the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills. Mozart played a lot of piano at a very young age, so he got his 10,000 hours of practice in early and then he built from there.

The latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.

The practice makes genius hypothesis. This is not going to be the last word on a very complicated topic, but it does suggest a complexity lacking in the practice makes genius school of where nature and nurture starts and stops, How Beliefs Shape Effort and Learning

It has long been known that these theories have important effects on people’s motivation to learn. So-called “entity theorists” believe each person possesses a fixed level of intelligence, and no amount of effort can change it. “As a result, entity theorists tend to disengage when something is challenging. They decide that they’re not really capable of learning it,” says Miele. Meanwhile, “incremental theorists” believe that intelligence is malleable.  “They keep forging ahead when faced with a challenge, believing that more time and effort will yield better results.”

[  ]…The results of the experiment showed that, although all of the students did better at recalling the easy pairs compared to the difficult pairs, only entity theorists (who expressed more confidence the less time they spent studying) accurately predicted the magnitude of this effect.  Incremental theorists (who expressed more confidence the more time they spent studying) tended to be overconfident about how likely they were to remember the difficult pairs and under confident about how likely they were to remember the easy pairs. This finding was also supported by the results of the second experiment. Thus, simply holding different beliefs about the nature of intelligence can lead people to form very different impressions of their own learning.

And which theory of intelligence is correct? “The truth lies somewhere in between,” he says. “We have to be sensitive to personal limitations”—say, a learning disability—“and at the same time not feel those limitations are the end all–be all. Effort can always lead to some amount of improvement, but you also need to be aware of the law of diminishing returns.”

The general statement that many if not most people do not push themselves to their full potential, does  has a lot of truth in it. Though that last paragraph by the researchers sums up a difficulty in determining when the time and effort put into something – being a great musician, a professional novelist, a professional tennis player – has reached its optimum level of return. If you’ve practiced writing for years, took loads of creative writing courses and your submissions to publications keep coming back with a rejection slip, it might be time to make writing a hobby and set another career goal. If an individual has a difficult time figuring out their gifts and limits, it would logically make sense, that a second party, someone not living in your skin with your genes and your brain, will not be the best judge either – My Tiger Mom.

wet pears wallpaper

Million-dollar beds fuel Madagascar timber crisis

Soaring demand in China and political unrest in Madagascar are fuelling illegal logging for hardwoods in the African nation, a report concludes.

Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) talked to loggers, government agencies and traders to compile their report.

In China, they discovered beds on sale for $1m, made from Madagascan wood.

Has someone been sneaking Ayn Rand books into China. Sometimes the exploitation of the commons is complicated for poor nations. Illegal exports making the difference between grinding poverty and survival. So the problem has to be approached from an angle that helps with both problems at once. Madagascar’s native population is not even benefitting from destroying its own resources. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found less than 1% of the wood’s final value remains in Madagascar.

yellow pears wallpapers

Speaking of writing, Living in the Midwest – Does it make you complacent and likely to wear clogs? I did not have the same adjustment issues that M’s Daniel had. I felt literally lost in a way. I could never orient myself. It was the first time I had ever lived more than a couple hours drive to the ocean. How do you know where you are if there is no ocean near by.

Cons Spread Corporate Tax Disinformation, America Fights Back by Allison Kilkenny

During the 1950s, the decade in which more people joined the middle class than at any time in history – before or since – corporations paid 49 percent of their profits in taxes. Last year, it was about half that rate, a decidedly more modest 26 percent. In 2010, corporate tax collections totaled $191 billion – down 8 percent from $207 billion as recently as 2000.

Perhaps a more telling yardstick, corporate tax revenue in 2009 came to just 1 percent of gross domestic product – the lowest collection level since 1936, or three-quarters of a century ago. In 2010, it edged up to a puny 1.3 percent – the second-lowest since 1940. Even worse, the shriveled tax collections came at a time when corporations were registering an all-time high in profits. At the end of 2010, corporations posted an annualized profit of $1.65 trillion in the fourth quarter. In other words, the more they made, the less they paid.

As several states mount attacks on the middle-class and labor rights, one of the cudgels they whip out is the tear inducing dire straights of corporate America and their need for tax relief. It’s like Hugh Hefner crying about not getting enough Viagara. Imagine if corporations had to pay for all the real costs of doing business – they had to build their own roads, hire and train their own police and firefighters, had to build their own air ports and have their own air traffic controllers, they had to safely dispose of every piece/pound/container of waste in away that would not cause birth defects or breast cancer. What of corporate America had to build, staff  and maintain their own educational system. Corporations need all of those things and more, what we casually call infrastructure, in order to even have a business. Charging them for those services is not tyrannical taxation, its called capitalism. Why do conservatives and libertarians hate capitalism.