Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Wilds..................................

Not too long ago, my Sweetie and I took a day off and communed with the wild animals at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.  Occupying more than 10,000 acres of reclaimed coal strip mines, The Wilds is a jewel worth visiting.  Just as a head's up: go after mid-May.  They keep the giraffes indoors until the weather gets into the 60's.

View from our Yurt's porch

Inside of "our" Yurt

Bactrian Camel

Persian Onager

A hillside of Sichuan Takins

Can't tell my rhinos apart

Sichuan Takin


More rhinos

some variety of deer

Simitar-Horned Oryx


even more cheetahs

Grevy's Zebra


African Painted Dogs

When we arrived home, the rookie camera operator shot these guys in the back yard:

Ah, experts.......................

 But there are mistakes that only an expert can make. Errors – often catastrophic – that novices aren’t smart enough to make because they lack the information and experience needed to try to exploit an opportunity that doesn’t exist.

-Morgan Housel, from here

Ah, complexity..............

 Everywhere you look in the universe, you see systems attaining greater complexity as they evolve.  This is true in astrophysics.  It is true of a puddle.  Leave rainwater alone in a low spot and it will grow more complex.  Advanced systems of every variety are complex adaptive systems without an authority in charge.  Every complex system in nature, of which the market economy is the most evident social manifestation, depends upon dispersed capabilities.  Systems that work most effectively under the widest range of conditions depend for their resilience upon spontaneous order that accommodates novel possibilities.  Life itself is such a complex system.  Billions of potential combinations of genes produce a single human individual.  Sorting among them would confound any bureaucracy.

-Davidson and Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual:  Mastering the Transition to the Information Age

Truth telling.........................

 My theory is that money spent on books and music is never wasted.

Some words to live by...............

 He has sniffed out interesting data, but some of it does not smell right to me.

-Arnold Kling, as cut and pasted from here

In the background.......................

The soundtrack from American Graffiti


More fun with the language..........

 The good-intentions industry does seem especially busy these days, there being so much that is wrong with the world, a point on which everyone agrees while thinking to themselves of different wrongs.

-as taken from this essay on the New Language Police

From the always readable Chris Lynch.............

      The slogan for the year 2022 should be "If Ayn Rand and George Orwell had a baby".

      There's roughly 6 billion people in the world. You'd go crazy if you tried to make all their problems your own. Yet that's exactly what we often emotionally do when watching or reading "the news." Do yourself a favor - ignore the news and work on your own problems and issues. And when possible help out your friends, family and those around you. You'll be much happier for the change.

     Local Socrates would be a good name for a band or backhanded insult to the guy at the bar who has an opinion on every subject.

     Would be interesting to see a list of A-list celebrities and billionaires who attended the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and then the F1 race in Miami on Sunday traveling to both by private jet. Then to take that list to see what those people had to say publicly about climate change in the past.

     The word for the day is "Akrasia" - a Greek word translated as a "weakness of will" but in practice means to know what should be done but still not doing it. I like this word.

-more fun here

If I could have after-dinner cigars and drinks........

 .................with ten people I only know from the Intertunnel, Martin Gurri would be on the list.

And, when you think about it, the news media itself is something like an anxiety dream being dreamed by the articulate classes. Nobody should confuse the news with reality. Attention is fixed steadily on the predatory violence of the human animal, the record of war, crime and exploitation: with journalism, we are always a moment away from snapping awake, screaming. Sometime during the Trump years, that mood swallowed the internet. Once the gathering place of a peasant revolt, the web took on the rage, pettiness and mendacity of elite media and has since degenerated into the dictatorship of the rant.

-Martin Gurri, as culled from here

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Easy to miss............................

     The phrase "still, small voice" comes from the King James Version's rendering of the "sheer silence" in the Elijah story, an interpretation that isn't the best translation of the Hebrew but that does represent well the nature of God's communication with us.  The sovereign King of the universe, to our surprise, does not often trumpet his message to his subjects.  God's volume knob is rarely turned all the way to the right; his voice in our ears is subtle, restrained, even easy to miss.

-Adam S. McHugh, The Listening Life

A pilgrim on a journey.......................

      A loud, overcrowded, hyperactive life is the antithesis of the listening life. The hyperactive life is so often trying to prove its worth, make its mark, and justify its existence. The listening life waits, quietly and humbly, for God to make his mark on us. 
       John Coltrane, legendary jazz saxophonist, made his mark on the jazz world by improvising at breakneck speed. No one had ever seen a musician who could play and move his fingers so feverishly. Soon he was playing gigs with the superstars of his day and changing the way people understood the genre. Unfortunately, much of the frenzy that marked Coltrane's style was the result of the substances in his system. In 1957, his system ravaged by drugs and alcohol, and his career and life on the brink of collapse, Coltrane went to his mother's house and sought God in the quiet of his room. According to pastor and jazz aficionado Robert Gelinas, "Four days later, he emerged a changed man, for—according to him—God had met him in a most unusual way. It was a sound, a droning resonance, a reverberation, unlike anything he had ever heard." God's presence came to John Coltrane as a sound. 
      Not only did this divine groove change his life, it changed the way he played. The frantic improvisation was replaced by a slow, soulful style, in which Coltrane listened for the God sound to come again and tried to replicate it on his sax. Gelinas explains that "he came to believe that if he could play that sound for others, the they, too, could experience what he had experienced during those four days in his bedroom. For the rest of his life, Coltrane sought to find that music that had healed him, and while he was never able to rediscover it, he recorded one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, A Love Supreme,  during this musical pilgrimage.  The four parts of A Love Supreme follow a pilgrim on his journey toward God.

-Adam S. McHugh, The Listening Life

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Opening paragraphs....................

      They came to learn his secrets.  Well before the appointed hour of two o'clock in the afternoon of November 12, 1877, hundreds of spectators pushed into a courtroom in lower Manhattan.  They included friends and relatives of the contestants, of course, as well as leading lawyers who wished to observe the forensic skills of the famous attorneys who would try the case.  But most of the teeming mass of men and women—many fashionably dressed, crowded in until they were packed against the back wall—wanted to hear the details of the life of the richest man the United States had ever seen.  The trial over the will of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famous, notorious Commodore, was about to begin.

-T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

New Amsterdam.............................


  On May 27, 1794, Phebe gave birth to her fourth child.  She underscored the sense of continuity by naming him Cornelius, too, though they called the boy Cornele.  She cooed over him in English.  Phebe had first met her husband in Port Richmond, a heavily Dutch village, where she had been working as a servant in the home of a minister, but she herself came from an old English family in New Jersey.

     In the town of New York this sort of intermarriage surprised no one.  There the Dutch has fallen to less than half the population as early as 1720; now they were less a minority than an interbred strand among its 33,000 residents.  As early as the rule of Petrus Stuyvesant in 1647, the village then named New Amsterdam had grown into a rather cosmopolitan place.  Stuyvesant governed under the authority of the Dutch West India Company, created to mobilize merchant capital to advance Dutch interests in the New World.  Under his administration, the little seaport came to reflect the commercial orientation of the Netherlands, the most industrious nation of seventeenth-century Europe.  As in the mother country, the primacy of trade, foreign trade in particular, had fostered a tolerance of strangers and disparate creeds (at a time when being a Quaker was a hanging offence in Massachusetts), and that tradition persisted.

-T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon:  The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt



The Artist’s Father, Reading “L’Événement”, 1866

 France in Cézanne's time was in a state of turmoil that extended into every sphere of life.  Politically the nation shifted dramatically from republic to dictatorship and back to republic.  In 1851, the elected President of the Second Republic, Louis Napoleon, assumed the title of Emperor.  In many ways he was an enlightened ruler, and his reign was prosperous.  He built up an extensive railroad system, he had Paris redesigned with broad boulevards and spacious plazas, and he arranged international expositions to display the remarkable achievements in science and engineering.  The artistic world flourished, too, under the leadership of such creative personalities as the composers  Offerback and Gounod, the novelists Flaubert, Merimee and George Sand, and painters Delacroix, Ingres, Daumier, Courbet and the revolutionary Manet.

     But Louis Napoleon's reign came to a disastrous end in 1870 when he declared war on Prussia and was humiliated by a swift defeat.  A period of near anarchy followed.  When peace was restored, the new Republican government was forced to contend with political instability and shattering scandals abroad and at home. 

     Though Cézanne lived in this work, he was never a part of it.

-The Time-Life Library, The World of Cezanne: 1839-1906

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


 The record shows that, for society, the richer we become, the harder it is to live within our means. Abundance is harder for us to handle than scarcity.

-Nassim Taleb


. . .  I think independence is one of the only ways money can make you happier. The trick is realizing that the only way to maintain independence is if your appetite for stuff – including status – can be satiated. The goalpost has to stop moving; the expectations have to remain in check. Otherwise money has a tendency to be a liability masquerading as an asset, controlling you more than you use it to live a better life.

-Morgan Housel, from this post on the quick disappearance of the once unfathomable wealth of Cornelius Vanderbilt 

The hopeful birth........................

 ..............of a sub-division:  Episode 21

Having sold all 49 of the lots in Phase 1 of Conor's Pass sub-division, we responded by beginning the 64 lot Phase 2.  The weather has been iffy and wet, but it's April in Ohio, expecting anything different would be silly.  Still progress is being made:

Topsoil stripped and building pads being created

Different soil types needed in different places

A borrow pit, source of compactible soil

this non-compactible topsoil will fill the borrow pit

Next step is to connect to the main sanitary sewer trunk line

The sewer trunk line is near the Licking River.  Need to lose
the water before we can connect.

Getting there

No supply chain issues for the sewer structures this year

Color me confused........................

 Pundits will tell you there is a 40% chance of just about anything occurring at any moment.

The one true bright spot with our current economy is that it's a level playing field—nobody has a clue what is going on.  Ben Carlson offers his take, leading with this quote from the fairly smart and fairly well-read Charlie Munger: "If you’re not a little confused by what’s going on you don’t understand it. We’re in unchartered territory.”

A forever question.............................


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Never saw it coming.....................

 The Economist – a magazine I admire – publishes a forecast of the year ahead each January. Its January 2020 issue does not mention a single word about Covid. Its January 2022 issue does not mention a single word about Russia invading Ukraine. That’s not a criticism – both events were impossible to know when the magazines were likely planned in November and written in December each year. But that’s the point: The biggest news, the biggest risks, the most consequential events, are always what you don’t see coming.

-Morgan Housel, as culled from here

A question like this.....................

 ......is just one of many reasons to follow Martin Gurri.  In this instance, he is discussing sex and pronouns:

 I mean, can anyone conjure up a romantic vision of Greta Thunberg?

The hopeful birth.................

 ...............of a sub-division:  Episode 20

Our production builder, D. R. Horton, continues to make great progress in increasing housing availability in Newark and Licking County.  These houses hit the market last week.  Sources say that three are already sold.

A veneer really......................

 Everywhere in the West there are subversive minorities who, sheltered by our humanitarianism and our sense of justice, hold the incendiary torches ready, with nothing to stop the spread of their ideas except the critical reason of a single, fairly intelligent, mentally stable stratum of the population.  One should not overestimate the thickness of this stratum.

-C. G. Jung, from his 1957 work, The Undiscovered Self

Opening paragraphs...................

      Brunetti had tossed Il Gazzettino into the waste-paper bin before leaving the Questura, but still he took the subject of one of the lead articles home with him.  As he settled on the sofa with Cicero's Against Verres and its denunciation of a corrupt official, Brunetti's thoughts were frequently diverted to the cascade of money opened by the pandemia that had, until recently, so ravaged the country.

     Not even the deaths of more than 125,000 people had put an end to greed - not that Brunetti has thought for a moment that it would - nor had it dulled the ability of organized crime to get its snout in the virtually unguarded trough.  Money had rained down and countless companies had requested compensation from agencies whose task it was to bestow the largesse of a frightened Europe.  He'd cringed at the sight of some of the names he'd read, both in the governmental agencies, as well as among the directors of some of the companies receiving them.  No doubt he and his colleagues in the Guardia di Finanza would become more familiar with those names as time passed.

-Donna Leon, Give Unto Others: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

In the background...................

Ryan Tennis...........Pack Light But Bring Everything

unduly optimistic..............................

Braddock marching to Fort Duquesne

Franklin developed a mixed view of Braddock.  "This general was, I think, a brave man, and might probably have made a figure as a good officer in some European war," he said afterward.  "But he had too much self-confidence, too high an opinion of the validity of regular troops, and too mean a one of both Americans and Indians."  Braddock had boasted of the victories he would swiftly win. . . . 
French and Indians not cooperating

     Franklin thought Braddock unduly optimistic.  He tried to point this out.  "To be sure, sir, if you arrive well before Duquesne, with these fine troops, so well provided with artillery, that place, not yet completely fortified, and as we hear with no very strong garrison, can probably make but a short resistance.  The only danger I apprehend of obstruction to your march is from ambuscades of Indians, who, by constant practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them; and the slender line, near four miles long, which your army must make, may expose it to be attacked by surprise in its flanks, and to be cut like a thread into several pieces, which, from their distance, cannot come up in time to support each other."

     Braddock would have none of it.  "He smiled at my ignorance," Franklin recalled, "and replied, 'These savages may, indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any impression.'"

     Franklin fell silent.  "I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man in matters of his profession, and said no more."

-H. W. Brands, Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in The American Revolution

Braddock mortally wounded

their special skill....................

 Looking back over the centuries, or even if looking only at the present, we can clearly observe that many men have made their living, often a very good living, from their special skill in applying weapons of violence, and that these activities have had a very large part in determining what uses were made of scarce resources.

-Frederic C. Lane