Doing Artsy Stuff Isn’t “Creativity”

I’ve talked about creativity before, in the context of the OODA loop, purposeful practice (a form of metacognition that is the opposite of “flow”), and mental illness. Another part of creativity is being recognized as useful by the field of a domain. If you invent a new type of hot water heater, that is being creative. If you’re chess technique allows you to rise in international chess competitions, that’s creativity. If you cure cancer but don’t tell anyone, that’s just wasting your time.

So this article is somewhat off-base:

Why Do Men Share Their Creative Work Online More Than Women? | Scientific Blogging
A recent Northwestern University study has a surprising results – substantially more men are likely to share their creative work online than women even though both genders engage in creative activities at essentially equal rates.

As it confuses artsy-stuff (making music, taking photographs, etc.) with creativity. Certainly artsy-stuff can be a form of practice, therapy, or good old recreation. Perhaps it can lead to creativity one day when you share it with others. But if you sit on it, you’re enjoying yourself, not being creative.

The Audacity of Political Calculation, Part III

And also, free trade.

From CNN Fortune:

“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake,” despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Props to Eddie of Hidden Unities, who first warned me that I shouldn’t listen to Obama’s words, but rather expect him to do what he needed to do to win.

I get less worried about Barack “Bush III” Obama by the minute!

The Audacity of Political Calculation, Part II

For all those who support a strong executive when it comes to national defense, Obama’s flip-flop in support of Bush’s FISA bill is good news. As “Bush IIII” begins embracing the issues that made us support “Bush II,” many of our fears of an Obama presidency as anything more than a return of the left-of-center Clinton Establishment are being calmed:

The Weekly Standard
Over the weekend, bloggers were buzzing about yet another flip flop from Barack Obama: He now will support the House FISA compromise bill, even though he didn’t back in February.

Obama said he will support the FISA compromise, which Politico’s Ben Smith explains “offers retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who helped the government listen in on American citizens–which Obama says he’ll fight to remove from the legislation–and expands legal wiretapping powers. Obama praises it for restoring a legal framework and judicial oversight to the process.” He claims that he will “try” to strip telecom immunity from the bill.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane notes that “Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy–Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a ‘vital national security matter’–and alienating his base.” But bloggers on both sides of the aisle just think that Obama is a typical opportunist politician.

If this holds up, it makes FISA (essentially, allowing warrentless wiretaps) the second great betrayal by Obama of his liberal base in recent days, following up on his move to break the campaign finance system. What both FISA reform and abandoning his pledge to have a public-financed campaign have in common, of course, is that Obama faced a choice between his power and his vow, and chose his power.

If Obama is elected President, perhaps his “third Bush term” won’t be so bad after all!

The Rise and Decline of Great Powers

Tom Barnett and Jennifer Chou have a pair of great posts on the expanding influence of the great powers of the Core: the United States, the European Union, and China. While the posts and the articles they link to don’t address the reasons directly, an important one are the three factors of production: capital, land, and labor. While the US, the EU, and China are all well run economically, each has a special advantage: large-scale immigration increases the US pool of labor, the incorporation of new states increases the EU pool of land, and the continuing market reforms increases the Chinese pool of capital.

One formerly great power that doesn’t enjoy legitimate growth in these factors of production is Russia. While Russia has been trading land for cash for generations (losing influence in more and more countries in order to keep revenues up, most recently seen in Moscow’s squeezing of Belarus), she has been unable to create a productive economy. Even these days of high energy prices only further addict Russia to energy-export, a dead end for nearly every country that tries it.

The increase in land, in capital, and labor is vital for America to be not just a great power, but also a Super Power. Part of this is keeping a liberal economy. Part of this is comprehensive immigration reform which will increase the arrival of both high- and low- skilled labor. Part of this is adding new states.

An X-Prize for Battery Life?

This is a very cool idea from Senator John McCain:

My Way News – McCain offers $300 million for new auto battery
PHOENIX (AP) – Sen. John McCain hopes to solve the country’s energy crisis with cold hard cash.

The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting thinks the government should offer a $300 million prize to the person who can develop an automobile battery that leapfrogs existing technology.

The prize would equate to $1 for every man, woman and child in the country.

In a speech being delivered Monday at Fresno State University in California, McCain is also proposing stiffer fines for automakers who skirt existing fuel-efficiency standards and incentives to increase use of domestic and foreign ethanol.

The $300 million bounty on a new feat echoes the Ansari X-Prize, a financial award given to the first successful commercial spaceflight. Indeed, McCain’s plan is similar to the official Automotive X-Prize, which would give a far smaller amount to the creator of an environmentally-friendly car. I don’t know whether the Ansari X-Prize’s success would translate into better car battery life, but it seems that the downside is small and the upside is great.

Still, an “X-Prize for Electric Cars” should be only part of a broader push to get us better technologies. Other approaches include granting permanent residency to foreigners to graduate with PhDs at U.S. R-1 research institutions, as well as abolishing affirmative action. (So far neither candidate has pledged to do these things.)

A Clinton Kind of Strength

One of the things that attracted me to Hillary Clinton is that I was absolutely convinced she would tear down the world rather than lose. As I enjoy our current mediocre political class, I hardly care that this spooks the best and brightest away from politics. But better, I know that if Hillary ever became President, there was no possibility that the Oval Office would be occupied by someone who despised American power.

Considering Obama’s concerns about white folks’ green running a world in need, the Senator from Illinois hasn’t been so re-assuring. But David Books highlights Obama’s will to power, in a way that implies that Obama might just rise to that Clinton kind of standard…

Soob: David Brooks on the Two Obama’s
And Fast Eddie Obama didn’t just sell out the primary cause of his life. He did it with style. He did it with a video so risibly insincere that somewhere down in the shadow world, Lee Atwater is gaping and applauding. Obama blamed the (so far marginal) Republican 527s. He claimed that private donations are really public financing. He made a cut-throat political calculation seem like Mother Teresa’s final steps to sainthood.

I have to admit, I’m ambivalent watching all this. On the one hand, Obama did sell out the primary cause of his professional life, all for a tiny political advantage. If he’ll sell that out, what won’t he sell out? On the other hand, global affairs ain’t beanbag. If we’re going to have a president who is going to go toe to toe with the likes of Vladimir Putin, maybe it is better that he should have a ruthlessly opportunist Fast Eddie Obama lurking inside.

Hillary Clinton has long since proven she could be a Daniel Plainview kind of President. And by reassuring us that his power is more important than his vow, Obama is doing the same.


Two pairs of my shoes New Balance tennis shoes and a pair of sandals from Payless) were stolen from outside my apartment in near Chaco Hills in Omaha, Nebraska. This actually surprises me, as we previously resided in the college/urban ghetto of Lincoln, Nebraska, where a house once exploded as a meth lab and a panhandler knocked on our door, but where our shoes were unmolested.


This blog was not around during the last presidential election, so I do not know if the current (and rising) volume of troll comments is typical or not. Whichever it is, it harms this blog and it has to stop.

I started tdaxp in December ’04 in order to catch errors in my thinking. As part of this, comments have always been prominently featured on the blog’s right-hand column. I first hosted my blog on blogspirit because they had this feature. Ultimately, other blog service providers improved, blogspirit no longer became comment-friendly, and I moved over to a wordpress set-up.

Troll comments work against this philosophy. They lower the standard of communication by setting a bad example for others. They normalize behavior that is already too common at sites like Daily Kos and Michelle Malkin. They don’t help me catch contradictions in my thinking. They waste my time.

Two particularly annoying classes of troll comments are those that celebrate crime and those that engage in monologues. By far, the most common of the criminal trolls are members of the Black Gangster Disciple Network, whose comments are normally some variation of “Hoover is my King!!!” The monologues were rarer because the presidential election started, but seem to be taking the form of raising points and then refusing to answer questions on those points. So, to take a recent example, a troll commentator may assert that a particular form of polling is the best, and then when asked why, refuses to answer.

Obviously, a post explaining why one belongs to a criminal organization would be fascinating. And likewise, it would be rude of me to expect someone to answer a question or listen to a new point if they still have a question outstanding. But someone who wishes to gain credibility with his friends by flaunting his membership in a fraternal organization or belief in a candidate in a way that doesn’t advance dialog is useless to me and harmful to this blog.

So from now on, the following policy: crime-celebrating posts will simply be deleted in moderation. Comment trolls in which someone is engaging in monologue by refusing to support or withdraw some assertion will be notified of this, and if after 24 hours trolling behavior does not stop, and comments from the troll in that thread starting from the trolling behavior will be permanently removed.

As someone who enjoys receiving comments, I have long been puzzled why some bloggers don’t allow comments. Now I see why. Trolls so harm the community that if they are not removed swiftly, they can pervert the purpose of the blog away from intellectual discussion to something much less worthwhile.