Sunday, May 1, 2016

Under the heading of good news..........



















Calculated Risk blog offers this chart showing energy costs at a historic low as a percentage of Personal Consumption Expenses.  Quite the boon!

Sacrifices..............................


      John Adams began writing directly to his son in the spring of 1776.  His first letter must have overawed the boy:  "I hope that you will remember how many Losses, dangers, and Inconveniences, that have been borne by your parents, and the inhabitants of Boston in general, for the sake of pursuing freedom for you and Yours."  Johnny probably needed very little reminding about sacrifice:  in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the British had blockaded the port of Boston and placed the city under martial law.  Even the most basic products were unavailable or impossibly expensive.  Abigail, always self-sufficient, laid in her own stores of flax and wool in order to make the family clothes and linen herself.  By the spring of 1775, the Adams family servants had either returned home or joined the militia, leaving Abigail to make the soap, nurse the sick, tend to the animals, and of course for her children virtually on her own.  The battle of Bunker Hill, that June, only offered the most vivid lesson in the sacrifices compelled by the pursuit of freedom.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

Pleasantly..........................


5.  It is impossible to live the pleasant life without also living sensibly, nobly, and justly, and conversely it is impossible to live sensibly, nobly and justly without living pleasantly.  A person who does not have a pleasant life is not living sensibly, nobly and justly, and conversely the person who does not have these virtues cannot live pleasantly.

-Epicurus, as excerpted from The Art of Happiness

Cheerleading.....................


"American GDP per capita is now about $56,000," he said. "As I mentioned last year that – in real terms – is a staggering six times the amount in 1930, the year I was born, a leap far beyond the wildest dreams of my parents or their contemporaries. U.S. citizens are not intrinsically more intelligent today, nor do they work harder than did Americans in 1930. Rather, they work far more efficiently and thereby produce far more. This all-powerful trend is certain to continue: America’s economic magic remains alive and well."

-Warren Buffett, as culled from here

Not unlike today.......................


       Nostalgic scribes would name it the Gay Nineties, the decade in which Napoleon Hill became aware of a world outside the mountains and valleys of Appalachia and Wise County.  But it was more a decade of growing pain than gaiety for America.  Like Napoleon, the country was lurching toward majority in uncoordinated spurts, different parts of her anatomy growing at different rates.  Like an adolescent, she was fueled with boundless energy and enthusiasm to compensate for a lack of experience.  Thus, through the 1890s and the early years of the twentieth century, America careened breathlessly forward from one unrecognized economic, social, and political barrier to the next dodging and leaping a few, crashing violently into many.

-Michael J. Ritt, Jr. and Kirk Landers,  A Lifetime of Riches:  The Biography of Napoleon Hill

Compelled.................................


“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.” 

-Napoleon Hill


Beauty..............................




Beauty............................................part 2






















Clear................................


     "In desperate times, much more than anything else, folks need perspective.  For perspective brings calm.  Calm leads to clear thinking.  Clear thinking yields new ideas.  And ideas produce the bloom...of an answer.  Keep your head and heart clear.  Perspective can just as easily be lost as it can be found."

-Jones, as channeled by Andy Andrews, as excerpted from The Noticer:  Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective.

Step forth.........................


7.   Never value the advantages from anything involving breach of faith, loss of self-respect, hatred, suspicion, or execration of others, insincerity, or the desire for something which has to be veiled or curtained.  One whose chief regard is for his own mind, and for the divinity within him and the service of its goodness, will strike no poses, utter no complaints and crave neither for solitude nor yet for a crowd.   Best of all, his life will be free from continual pursuings and avoidings.  He does not care whether his soul in its mortal frame shall be his to possess for a longer or shorter term of years;  this very moment, if it be the hour of his departure, he will step forth as readily as he performs any other act that can be done in self-respecting and orderly fashion.  No other care has he in life but to keep his mind from straying into paths incompatible with those of an intelligent and social being.

-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book III

On open minds and democracy...........


Mike Bloomberg delivers a commencement address to the school up north.  Here is his written version.  It is worth the few moments it will take you to read it.  Almost (but not quite) makes me wish he was running for president.   A few wee excerpts:

"The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations -- not run away from them. A microaggression is exactly that: micro. And one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space, because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views."

"Democracy in action can actually produce a lot of inaction, which we see every day in Washington and other levels of government, too. When governments fail to address the needs of the people, voters in both parties get angry and some politicians exploit that anger by offering scapegoats instead of solutions.
"If we want to stop demagogues, we have to start governing again, and that requires us to be more civil, to support politicians who have the courage to take risks, and to reward those who reach across the aisle in search of compromise."

"Today, when a populist candidate promises free college, free health care and a pony, or another candidate promises to make other countries pay for our needs, remember: Those who promise you a free lunch will invariably eat you for breakfast."

My plea..............................


The Yardbirds..............................................Heart Full of Soul

By all means.......................



Fifty years ago....................


The Yardbirds...............................Over Under Sideways Down




studio version here

Fifty years ago.......................


I was fourteen.  No clue then.  No clue now.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Back when............................


























via

fidelity................................


4.   Do not waste what remains of your life in speculating about your neighbors, unless with a view to some mutual benefit.  To wonder what so-and-so is doing and why, or what he is saying, or thinking, or scheming - in a word, anything that distracts you from fidelity to the Ruler within you - means a loss of opportunity for some other task.  See then that the flow of your thoughts is kept free from idle or random fancies, particularly those of an inquisitive or uncharitable nature.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, as excerpted from #4 in Book Three

Truly dangerous.............................


“What the hell time is it?" muttered the old man. He was always an aggressive sleeper. Sleep was one of the things he did best, and he loved it. Some look upon sleep as an unfortunate necessary interruption of life; but there are others who hold that sleep is life, or at least one of the more fulfilling aspects of it, like eating or sex. Any time my old man's sleep was interrupted, he became truly dangerous.” 
-Jean ShepherdWanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories: And Other Disasters


I've tried this at home....................
















via

Missing a straddle or two.........................



Getting at questions about the nature of reality, and disentangling the observer from the observed, is an endeavor that straddles the boundaries of neuroscience and fundamental physics. On one side you’ll find researchers scratching their chins raw trying to understand how a three-pound lump of gray matter obeying nothing more than the ordinary laws of physics can give rise to first-person conscious experience. This is the aptly named “hard problem.”


-Amanda Gefter, as excerpted from here

Blame..................................



     I surveyed over 20 great self-help books, starting with Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, and ending with T. Harv Eker's The Millionaire MindThey all say that the greatest way to fail is to blame others for your situation.


-Marshall Reddick

possible........................



















“Nothing [...] will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.” 

-Samuel Johnson, source and interesting back story here

self-inflicted...........................


16.  For a human soul, the greatest of self-inflicted wrongs is to make itself (so far as it is able to do so) a kind of tumour or abscess on the universe; for to quarrel with circumstance is always a rebellion against Nature - and Nature includes the nature of each individual part.  Another wrong, again, is to reject a fellow-creature or oppose him with malicious intent, as men do when they are angry.  A third, to surrender to pleasure or pain.  A fourth, to dissemble and show insincerity or falsity in word or deed.  A fifth, for the soul to direct its acts and endeavours to no particular object, and waste its energies purposelessly and without due thought; for even the least of our activities ought to have some end in view - and for creatures with reason, that end is conformity with the reason and law of the primordial City and Commonwealth.

-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book Two

The Pride of Cleveland......................


Joe Walsh & The James Gang..............................Walk Away

distracted by faction............................


In a nation distracted by faction, there are, no doubt, always a few, though commonly but a very few, who preserve their judgment untainted by the general contagion. They seldom amount to more than, here and there, a solitary individual, without any influence, excluded, by his own candour, from the confidence of either party, and who, though he may be one of the wisest, is necessarily, upon that very account, one of the most insignificant men in the society.  All such people are held in contempt and derision, and frequently in detestation, by the zealots of both parties.

-Adam Smith,  The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Fifty years ago......................


Blues Magoos................................Sometimes I Think About

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yes, it can............................





















via

A course to steer....................




















"Give a man health and a course to steer, and he'll never stop to trouble about whether he's happy or not." 
-George Bernard Shaw

It's complicated.........................






















“All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place.” 
-Douglas Adams


enlargeable photo and description here

Somedays..........................


........................................you just can't make anybody happy.

Ouch.......................................



Fred Reed's latest rant:


"I love it: Donald Trump’s campaign reveals the establishment for what it is, a swamp of corruption  as fetid as those of Latin America. It is better entertainment than Vaudeville. The frantic scramble to rig the primaries, change the rules, and thwart the voters–anything to defend their cozy entanglement of political tapeworms–makes absurd any pretense of democracy."


And if that is not enough for you, try this on for size:


"It’s wonderful. The GOP is looking for someone that Hillary can beat. She would squash Kasich or Cruz like stepping on bugs. Trump might actually win. This the Republicans strive to avoid. What could make more sense?


"But it does make sense. The Republicans try desperately to ditch the only Republican candidate who could win the Presidency because…Hillary is one of them. Because, as every sentient being has by now noticed, the Republicans and Democrats are members of the same corrupt club of blood-sucking parasites, the action arm of the corporations, Wall Street, the Israeli lobby, and those who want the US to control the world at any cost–except, of course, to them. They are panicked at the rise of someone who might put first the interests of America. Better Hillary, a fellow parasite, than Trump, who isn’t."


And this is just Fred getting started.


The "elites" have struggled to understand the Trump phenomenon.  One doesn't have to agree with Fred Reed to sense that there are an awful lot of people who relish the opportunity to poke a finger or two in the collective eyes of the Washington D.C./New York City axis.

Reverence...........................


13.  Nothing is more melancholy that to compass the whole creation, 'probing into the deeps of earth', as the poet says, and peering curiously into the secrets of others' souls, without once understanding that to hold fast to the divine spirit within, and serve it loyally, is all that is needful.  Such service involves keeping it pure from passion, and from aimlessness, and from discontent with the works of gods or men;  for the former of these works deserves our reverence, for their excellence;  the latter our goodwill, for fraternity's sake, and at times perhaps our pity too, because of men's ignorance of good and evil - and infirmity as crippling as the inability to distinguish black from white.

-Marcus Aurelius,   Meditations,  Book Two

Focus..........................


     "The situation in which you find yourself is fraught with difficulty, yes.  It is also piled high with benefits."  Jones paused to ponder a thought, narrowed his eyes, then said, "Here, for you, young man, is a law of the universe - one of many, to be sure, but one that is especially applicable to your life at present.  Remember, whatever you focus upon, increases."

-Andy Andrews,  The Noticer:  Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective

Models..............................


     For four decades, since my time as a graduate student, I have been preoccupied by these kinds of stories about the myriad ways in which people depart from the fictional people that populate economic models.  It has never been my point to say that there is something wrong with people;  we are all just human beings - homo sapiens.  Rather, the problem is with the model being used by economists, a model that replaces homo sapiens with a fictional creature called homo economicus, which I like to call an Econ for short.  Humans do a lot of misbehaving, and that means that economic models make a lot of bad predictions, predictions that can have much more serious consequences than upsetting a group of students.  Virtually no economists saw the financial crisis of 2007-2008 coming, and worse, many thought that both the crash and its aftermath were things that simply could not happen.

-Richard H. Thaler,  Misbehaving:  The Making of Behavioral Economics

The un-dismal science...................


     It is difficult to change people's minds about what they eat for breakfast, let alone problems that they have worked on all their lives.  For years, many economists strongly resisted the call to base their models on more accurate characterizations of human behavior.  But thanks to an influx of creative young economists who have been willing to take some risks and break with the traditional ways of doing economics, the dream of an enriched version of economic theory is being realized.  The field has become known as "behavioral economics."  It is not a different discipline:  it is still economics, but it is economics done with strong injections of good psychology and other social sciences.
      The primary reason for adding Humans to economic theories is to improve the accuracy of the predictions made with those theories.  But there is another benefit that comes with including real people in the mix.  Behavioral economics is more interesting and more fun than regular economics.  It is the un-dismal science.
     ...Not surprisingly, there have been numerous squabbles with traditionalists who defended the usual way of doing economics.  Those squabbles were not always fun at the time, but like a bad travel experience, they make for good stories after the fact, and the necessity of fighting those battles has made the field stronger.

-Richard H. Thaler,  Misbehaving:  The Making of Behavioral Economics

if they could..............................?


     Jones paused a moment to let the truth of my last realization sink in.  Then he offered a plan of action.  "So how does one become a person whom other people want to be around?   Let me make a suggestion.  Ask yourself this question every day:  'What is it about me that other people would change if they could?"'

-Andy Andrews,  The Noticer:  Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective

Three for Thursday

Soul Man........................................

the movie version.....................................



the TV knock-off............................



and the original, Issac Hayes written, tune..............

Let's make a deal....................................



      I got out of high school - notice I don't say "graduated" - on a plea deal.  I had reasonable SATs, and I  went to my principal in the beginning of my senior year and said that I wanted to pass, because it was important to my family that I actually finished high school.  But I wasn't going to come to school any more, because I was sick of that, and I said that if he did not graduate me at the end of my senior year, I would give an impassioned speech to the school board that they were not dealing well with their gifted students.  He said to me, "Are you threatening me?" and I said "Yes."   And we made a deal.


-Penn Jillette, as excerpted from this season's Cato's Letter

Fifty years ago...........................


Blues Magoos..................................................Tobacco Road


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wondering what PETA's position is on this....


Despite what you may have heard, organic foods are not pesticide-free. They just eschew synthetic pesticides for “organic” pesticides, whose ingredients occur naturally. Copper and sulfur, for instance. No matter the ingredients, though, all pesticides are used for the same thing: to commit pesticide. Which is to say, to kill small, hungry animals. Animals like aphids, caterpillars, moths, worms, flies, locusts - even birds, and some mice and rats who’ve escaped pharmaceutical labs. 

As a rule, if you can’t control pests, you can’t produce produce on a profitable scale. So next time you go to buy fruit and vegetables  -  or bread or beer or tofu or sugar - remember that many, many lives were lost bringing them to market.

-As excerpted from this post:  Vegans have no idea how much animal cruelty they’re responsible for.

Ouch..............................


.......................................................Seriously, this has to sting:

"Ted Cruz is Mathematically Eliminated from winning the GOP nomination outright and has fewer wins than Bernie Sanders."

via

Privilege and adventure...........


























      I cannot pretend I am without fear.  But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.  I have loved and been loved;  I have been given much and I have given something in return;  I have read and traveled and thought and written.  I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
      Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

-Oliver Sacks,  as excerpted from Gratitude

Like this blog.............................?


7.  Are you distracted by outward cares?  Then allow yourself a space of quiet, wherein you can add to your knowledge of the Good and learn to curb your restlessness.  Guard also against another kind of error:  the folly of those who weary their days in much business, but lack any aim on which their whole effort, nay, their whole thought, is focused.

-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book Two

Now or never........................


“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” 

-Henry David Thoreau

via

The kids are going to be just fine...........


...............check out this blog highlighting K-12 art lessons.




Just for today.........................


..........................................................I'm going to pretend that...

Worth remembering....................


“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

-Attributed to Harry S. Truman


Why not....................................?


M. C. Hammer..........................................U Can't Touch This



Over 223,349,030 views according to YouTube.  Not bad.

On straightening accounts................


      Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts.  This does not mean I am finished with life.  On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
      This will involve audacity, clarity, and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world.  But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).
      I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective.  There is no time for anything inessential.  I must focus on myself, my work, and my friends.  I shall no longer look at NewsHour every night.  I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

-Oliver Sacks,  as excerpted from Gratitude

Fifty years ago..................


On the television................................................The Rat Patrol