American Chinese

Chicago Cubs Logo
Chicago Cubs Logo
Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Bears logo
Chicago Bears logo

From a logo design perspective, the United States should adopt Chinese. For logos that are the first letter of the entity, the designer has to do something special to distinguish it from all the others using the same letter. This came to me watching a rapper in a video wearing a baseball cap with a “C” on it. At first, I thought Chicago Cubs, but then I recalled their logo is a very simple “C” and did not have the wishbone at the left. Running through baseball cities in my head, I realized it was a Cincinnati Reds logo as it was a red cap with a white letter. After some Googling, I see I might have been thrown off by another Chicago team, the Bears. Their logo is the same C I saw but in red rather than on red.

Atlanta Braves Logo
Atlanta Braves Logo
University of Alabama Athletic Logo
University of Alabama Athletic Logo

I have the same trouble with the Atlanta Braves and University of Alabama. As local people are often fans of either, I more frequently see them. And fail to correctly identify them. (Though probably I should have gone with Green Bay and UGA.)

Logo confusion is bad enough for a designer. Logo confusion for other sports teams seems like a budding trademark war. The whole point of a logo is to be distinctive and recognizable. There is only so much one can do with a letter. The English alphabet only has 26 letters. Too much modification takes away the form of the letter until it no longer represents an acronym of the name.

A solution to too few letters could be for the United States to adopt Chinese. With over 6,000 characters, there are plenty more from which to choose. I cannot see that really happening any time soon, especially for this reason.

The look on some people’s faces for suggesting it could be entertaining.

Schrödinger’s Politician

Here is good explanation for Schrödinger’s Cat. I’ll continue below the video.

If the embedded video does not work, then go to Schrödinger’s Cat on Youtube.

So the cat exists in two states both dead or alive until something forces the universe to choose one.

It seems like many political decisions follow something like this. Until all the votes are cast, any particular decision is both yes and no at the same time. Tracking the campaign monetary pledges can be a guess, but people could surprisingly have a conscience. Polls rarely use the same language as the actual vote and so framing in both can distort the results.

This is all to say, the American election for president is still over a year away. Yet the pundits are guessing at who will win the nomination over 6 months away and the presidential vote. They have no idea. They know the guesses will change over the next several months all the way up to hours before the election. Probably good for them no employer will fire them for making wrong predictions.

Then again, that the decision is both yes and no at the same time until all the votes are cast is why people should cast their votes.

For 9/11

This seemed appropropriate to re-post today, the tenth anniversary of the event which inspired its need. The problems we are to overcome seem more prevalent and prominent today.

This statement was issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in December 2001 as a response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It first appeared as a full-page statement in The New York Times on December 21, 2001 and was subsequently reprinted in dozens of other newspapers around the country.

At this time of world turmoil, the United States Baha’i community offers a perspective on the destiny of America as the promoter of world peace.

More than a hundred years ago, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, addressing heads of state, proclaimed that the age of maturity for the entire human race had come. The unity of humankind was now to be established as the foundation of the great peace that would mark the highest stage in humanity’s spiritual and social evolution. Revolutionary and world-shaking changes were therefore inevitable.

The Baha’i writings state:

“The world is moving on. Its events are unfolding ominously and with bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and alarmingly violent. The New World is insensibly drawn into its vortex….Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, threaten it both from within and from without. Its governments and peoples are being gradually enmeshed in the coils of the world’s recurrent crises and fierce controversies….The world is contracting into a neighborhood. America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of international association which the Hand of an inscrutable Providence is weaving.”

The American nation, Baha’is believe, will evolve through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace. This is the peace promised by God in the sacred texts of the world’s religions.

Establishing peace is not simply a matter of signing treaties and protocols; it is a complex task requiring a new level of commitment to resolving issues not customarily associated with the pursuit of peace.

Universal acceptance of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humankind is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace.

Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace.
The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality of the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged, prerequisites of peace.

The inordinate disparity between rich and poor keeps the world in a state of instability, preventing the achievement of peace.

Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole.

Religious strife, the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts throughout history, is a major obstacle to progress. The challenge facing the world’s religious leaders is to contemplate, with hearts filled with compassion and the desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their God, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.

Baha’is pray, “May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace.”

During this hour of crisis, we affirm our abiding faith in the destiny of America. We know that the road to its destiny is long, thorny and tortuous, but we are confident that America will emerge from her trials undivided and undefeatable.

The source of the above text of The Destiny of America and the Promise of World Peace.

Tea Party = Demosthenes?

Ender Wiggin’s sister, Valentine plays the role of fictional Demosthenes online in several of the books by Orson Scott Card. She would play the role of an extremist to whip up the gullible Americans, while her power hungry psychopath brother Peter played the role of Locke would be the moderate.

In reading Ender in Exile, a speculative train of thoughts hit me. Successful politicians at the highest levels in this country are those who can take the center. Gingrich’s playing chicken with the government budget felt too extremist and solidified Clinton’s re-election. Gore and Kerry played too closely to the liberal base on Social Security, environment, and foreign relations ceding the center to Bush. McCain left the center to whip up the conservative base to give Obama the moderate position.

What would happen if a political party created a pseudo party to attack it and the real opponents from an extreme position, like the fictional Demosthenes? If the real party were distracted by the pseudo party, then the real party members appear more moderate and could take the center.

The fragments from page 31 in EiE which sparked this:

Demothenes was eloquent, but he always pushed a little too hard. Enough to energize the opposition, both inside and outside America. Discrediting his own side with every argument…. True believers in a cause often behaved in self-defeating ways because they expected others to see the rightness of their cause if they just sated it clearly enough.

Again, this was a speculative train of thought not based on any reality what-so-ever. I doubt any real political party has the acumen to pull this off in reality.

STEM Celebs

This interesting article on the need of more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates in the United States to compete with other countries strikes me as the kind of thing said to Romans right before the fall. Maybe also to the English just before World War I. Of course, predictions of the future are fraught with misreading the most crucial factors.

In fact, scientists and engineers are celebrities in most countries. They’re not seen as geeks or misfits, as they too often are in the U.S., but rather as society’s leaders and innovators. In China, eight of the top nine political posts are held by engineers. In the U.S., almost no engineers or scientists are engaged in high-level politics, and there is a virtual absence of engineers in our public policy debates.

Why does this matter? Because if American students have a negative impression – or no impression at all – of science and engineering, then they’re hardly likely to choose them as professions. Already, 70% of engineers with PhD’s who graduate from U.S. universities are foreign-born. Increasingly, these talented individuals are not staying in the U.S – instead, they’re returning home, where they find greater opportunities.

Global leadership is not a birthright. Despite what many Americans believe, our nation does not possess an innate knack for greatness.  Greatness must be worked for and won by each new generation. Right now that is not happening. But we still have time. If we place the emphasis we should on education, research and innovation we can lead the world in the decades to come. But the only way to ensure we remain great tomorrow is to increase our investment in science and engineering today.

How would someone determine whether someone is a celebrity? This article did not define it other than as a leader or innovator. If one used by number of Twitter followers, then Lady Gaga is the current leader with the current president trailing at number four and with only 81% the number of followers. Well, even the President of the United States was a lawyer and not a STEM educated person.

I thought maybe the Secretary of Energy would be a good place to look for a leader with scientific credentials. It appears Chu (physcist) and Bodman (chemical engineer) were. The three prior to them were lawyers at best. The rest of the cabinet were mostly lawyers or political administrators. Chu is the only scientist on the list. The president’s science advisor is a physicist, so that is good.

Conservatives do after all say government is the worst of society not the best. They look to corporations to take the societal lead. So maybe top CEOs from the Forbes top 500 list would be a better metric? Three of the top five is pretty good.

  1. Walmart – Michael Duke – Industrial Engineering
  2. Royal Dutch Shell – Peter Voser – Business Administration
  3. Exxon Mobil – Rex Tillerson – Civil Engineering
  4. BP – Bob Dudley – Chemical Engineering
  5. Toyota – Akio Toyoda – Business Administration

Personally my favorite scientific celebrities are Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, Jamie Hynaman, and Adam Savage. We Americans like to see people fail. Each of these have: Neil and Pluto, Stephen lost the black hole bet, Jamie and Adam often misjudge what happens in a test. The spectacular blunders of science are reported as a discovery. Reports on the discoveries in the news usually sound as though it was the intent all along. We get the impression scientists and engineers spend every hour successfully making cool new things.

What scares me of having scientists are leaders is the over expectation of them to be better than anyone else. A smart person is only as good as the decisions they make. Even a good engineer can make mistakes. The ability to acknowledge and work towards correcting errors is not an exclusively scientific ability.

Plus Size Soccer Jerseys

Some things are easy to buy online. A few times in the past month I’ve gone looking for a soccer jersey for any of the many football (soccer to my fellow Americans) team I follow. Three futile hours later, I am considering changing which football I follow since stores can carry appropriately sized apparel for it. I’m someone who wears a fairly rare to find size of 3XLT. (Or 4XL when tall is not an option. Or sometimes 3XL for teeshirts, but that usually means exposed back when I sit.)

It annoys me to find a design I like for a reasonable price only to discover there is no size available to me. In bricks and mortar stores, it means never returning until I hear they have a “Big and Tall” section hidden somewhere not obvious.

Here is a place where the Long Tail falls down. According to it, online stores, with their enormous warehouses can better afford to carry a more broad selection of less frequently selling items. They give us more choice. Therefore, it means I ought to find more choice online. For things not in my size, this is true. There is tons of choice. The same stores in a mall who carry clothing in the right sizes seem perfectly capable of offering a wider selection. Yet, an online store like Amazon can’t make it easy for me to find clothing that fits?

My main beef with is the lack of product in a size I can wear. (The one jersey would make me a Chelsea supporter.) They do get a couple things right.

  1. Quality search: I can put 4xl in the search and get back items with a size of 4xl. All these sites have a search. However, for many sites, size doesn’t appear to be a relevant word. The term “4XL” lands items with “XL” in the name. Useless!
  2. Narrow results by size: Brand, price, and seller are options Amazon offers for narrowing the search to more useful options. How is size not important enough to include? Useless!

Ultimately, I guess not enough people my size have enough interest in soccer jerseys. They end up American football or basketball or baseball fans which have clothes large enough for me. Maybe I should switch sports allegiances? It would help my political allegiances.


I wonder how many Americans became soccer fans after the upset tie with England? It seemed like the furor over the Slovenia tie became more conversational than I expected. After the amazing win over Algeria, even more people wanted to talk about the World Cup. Well, the loss to Ghana didn’t sustain the conversation. May Instant Soccer Fan? Why? can explain it.

CORFing stands for Cutting Off of Reflective Failure, and it basically means that people, like my friends, attach to a team when they are winning and dissociate from teams when they are losing. Visek says if you ask a soccer fan how the U.S. soccer team did after a win, you’re likely to hear a “we won” response. But, if the U.S. team loses their next match, most people will subconsciously dissociate from the team with a “they lost” response.

Well, we did lose the game. I hope we won more interest in the game.

Deciding the Fate of North America

The French and Indian: War Deciding the Fate of North America

In high school and college the French and Indian War was this long amorphous event in between settling the colonies and the American Revolution. It took a movie, The Patriot (not even in my top 500 movies), to give some color to the story in colonists fought in that war, found it brutal, and took tactics learned there into the fight against the British. In [book:His Excellency: George Washington|6462] this was confirmed as many of Washington’s officers earned their British commissions by fighting in this war.

The American Revolution owes much to this war. These points are all my own combining information from several books I’ve recently read.

  1. The colonists agreed to fight in this war in order to secure lands on which to settle west of the Appalachian mountains. So to set the lands aside as Indian territory (the same tribes who killed so many colonists) angered the colonists. Then to reset the lands aside for British lords was even worse.
  2. Allowing the colonists to fight trained thousands of soldiers who went unpaid for months (the regular soldiers were paid) and fractions of what was promised. The worst people to anger are the ones you have armed.
  3. England increased taxes to improve the coffers after nearly bankrupting the country to fight the French and Indian War. The taxes which the Boston Tea Party was to protest.
  4. The French lost most of their navy in fighting the French and Indian War. By the time of the American Revolution, the French navy was somewhat recovered. To throw it at an internal British conflict would have been reckless. So the French delayed supporting us until they had an idea we might actually be able to win.

Not too dry. Brings up too much rumor and legend. I got what I wanted, clearer idea of the missing decades prior to the American Revolution.

P.S. I liked the British strategy of choking the supply lines and seizing production. This is my usual approach to war games. Maybe I would be speaking British today if William Pitt had remained in power through the American Revolution?

Cognitive Load

My parents taught me as a child lying is harder than telling the truth. I am way too lazy to bother with anything other than using a tangent to change the subject. Simplicity also helps keep track of my life. I like understanding what is happening and why.

Skills involved in deception also teach problem-solving, project management, and social context management. My favorite friends were the brilliant liars. They always had a new entertaining story.

For a host of reasons, their theory goes, lying is more mentally taxing than telling the truth. Performing an extra task while lying or telling the truth should therefore affect the liars more. The Load of Lying: Testing for Truth

As evidenced by Dunbar’s Number, our brains are wired for both determining honesty in others and being the cheat.

Americans Are Hindus?

Perhaps I don’t understand a Newsweek article advocating Americans have more in common with Hinduism than Christianity?

First, the numbers of Americans who agree with the sentiments are 65%, 30%, and 24% respectively for each argument. We’d use numbers as strong as 30% and 24% to illustrate people are opposed to something. Of course, we’d use “only” to precede the terribly small number.

Second, the one decent argument, that Americans are accepting there are many paths to God can be found in many of the world’s religions. The Baha’i Faith takes it a step further. God started each of the major religions to bring all of humanity together in moral maturity. Yes, there are differences. However, distilling the teachings down to what they teach about morality, there is far more in common than distinct.

Hinduism is more than respect for people choosing their own path to God, being spiritual, or cremation. Americans are much more complex than these ideas as well.