Friday LENs

In the realm of the likeable, enlightening, or just delightfully nuts…

Helmut Walcha,  a blind German organist who lived from 1907 to 1991.   I wasn’t aware of Walcha until the BBC Radio Three breakfast show highlighted him recently for their daily Bach spot. Organ music can be a never-acquired taste, but Walcha might also be the guy to change your mind, if you don’t already have the bug. It takes just 6 minutes and 34 seconds to find out.

James Monroe and the Quest For National Identity.   Rather little is known of the Monroe’s private life, but Harry Ammon commendably takes readers through Monroe’s public doings.  The book reads like a time capsule into a very different era.  Monroe prized agreement with his cabinet and moved with deliberation. Information, particularly from Europe, moved from place-to-place in weeks, or sometimes not at all. The more measured pace of the early 1800’s, with its built-in cooling-off periods, had some definite advantages.  However Monroe was not a person to transcend his class or time, as evidenced by his role in the Missouri Compromise.  I’m afraid it will take more than 6 minutes and 34 seconds to make your way through it all, but if you enjoy early-American history this is a well-crafted tome.

Eduardo Porter may not get the buzz of other economics writers, but his Economic Scene columns are clear and devoid of histrionics.  Whether Porter is making a point that aligns with conventional thinking or the opposite, his writing is invariably well-considered.  A recent Porter theme has been the economic consequences of immigration, in which he argues that both administration policy (unsurprisingly) and some academic thinking (more surprisingly) are dubious.  Perhaps economics writing is another seldom-acquired taste, like organ music, but it’s just another 6 minutes and 34 seconds (or so) to check out these very good articles.

Rumor wins!  – we’ve owned German Shepherd Dogs since 1994, so morale jumped about five points when the beautiful GSD “Rumor” won the Westminster Dog Show this week.   Rumor hails from Wisconsin – and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was ready with a photo-album of Rumor’s fun trip to the Big Apple. Here she is: winning the show, showing off in Times Square, and enjoying treats at the top of the Empire State Building.

The Energy Information Administration simply does not get enough press (although I can understand why some government agencies might not want a lot of press right now).  I have had the opportunity to work with EIA information on US electricity generation. These data,  while rather complex – hundreds of wide data tables spanning 15+ years – still have quite low error rates – a really good job.   And, when I wrote to confirm a small data error they took the time to write me back, both with confirmation and a suitable correction. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Show me where it hurts. Is visualization always good?  Well it’s not always easy. In the cartoon below, I personally didn’t find the image of a gigantic, diseased baseball an aid to better symptom description. But perhaps the lady was telling her doc how it felt when the Cleveland Indians lost the World Series last year in seven games (again). Well, there’s no cure for that, except spring training of course, which is now underway.

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Trump-Free Zone.  A very un-Friday LENs-like entity, is our President.

Have a good weekend.

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