Saturday, July 26, 2014

Take along my love with you..................

Billy Joel channeling Brian Wilson.............Don't Worry Baby

Interesting paragraphs....................

      In recording his musings, Marcus sometimes speaks of God, sometimes of the gods.  Is there inconsistency here?  Not necessarily.  For him, as we have seen, the world was governed by a cosmic consciousness which was a single immanent spirit.  But that world was also a congeries of differing areas and elements and activities, and it was natural enough that the Greeks, whom the Romans followed in such matters, should think of these separate components as governed by specialized deities.  Poseidon, the Roman's Neptune, was lord of the waters;  Apollo was god of the sun and the realm of light;  Demeter, or her Roman equivalent, Ceres, was goddess of the earth and harvests and fertility.  Of these gods there was no fixed number, and as the empire expanded it took in, with a curious religious democracy, the gods of its new subjects.  In this respect, Marcus was a singularly catholic theologian.  Did he believe that all these motley figures, often beautifully embodied in Greek and Roman statuary, were real existences?  Officially he did, for he was not only Emperor but Pontifex Maximus, the head of the Roman religion, who presided at celebrations of these deities and sacrifices to them.  But one can only suspect that he did so with tongue in cheek.  To a mind as sophisticated as his, these lesser deities were probably symbols of the one divine activity, which manifested itself throughout all these domains.  If he insisted, as he did, on retaining old forms of Roman worship, it was probably because he saw that myth, besides being a powerful preservative of people's unity, may carry a truth in metaphorical form that the more correct philosophic formulae may fail to convey.
-Brand Blanshard, as excerpted from his essay on Marcus Aurelius in Four Reasonable Men:  Marcus Aurelius, John Stuart Mill, Ernest Renan, Henry Sidgwick

Remember................................




















via

Notions................................

The tiny particles which form the vast
universe are not tiny at all.
Neither is the vast universe vast.
These are notions of the mind,
which is like a knife, always
chipping away at the Tao, trying
to render it graspable 
and manageable.

But that which is beyond form is
ungraspable, and that which is
beyond knowing is unmanageable.
There is, however, this consolation:
She who lets go of the knife will find
the Tao at her fingertips.

-Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Verse 13
Brian Browne Walker

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

The Kingsmen.....................................................Louie Louie



Faithful readers will remember that this song was also featured as one of 2013's Fifty Years Ago entries.  Released in May of 1963 by The Kingsmen, this Richard Berry written tune,  had enough staying power to close out 1964 at #99 on Billboards Hot 100 Singles.

On book reports...............................

     In junior high school, I  hated writing "book reports."  Now, I enjoy reading them.  Especially useful ones.  Among the reasons I follow David Merkel's The Aleph Blog is that he regularly offers useful reviews on books about investing and the "market."  His latest review, on Panic, Prosperity, and Progress:  Five Centuries of History and the Markets, is typical.  Two excerpts:

What Could Have Made the Book Better
"Financial crises don’t appear out of nowhere.  Leaving aside war on your home soil, plague, famine, communism, etc., there is usually a boom that gives way to a bust.  In some of his chapters, he could have spent more time describing the boom that led to the bust.  This is important, because readers need to learn intuitively that the boom-bust cycle is normal. NORMAL!
"Ignore the economists who think they can control the economy.  They can’t do it, and this book helps to say that.  Economists are always behind the curve.  Politicians are even further behind the curve.  Regulators are still further behind the curve, and usually do the wrong thing during crises as a result."
---------------
Quibbles
On pages 421-422, he shows that he doesn’t get securitization, and blames the rating agencies, who were forced to rate novel debt for which they did not have a good model because the regulators outsourced credit risk measurement to them.

Learned something new today.  Full book review is here.  

Oops......................................
















via

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

     By the summer of 2009 the line had a life of its own, and two thousand men were digging and boring the strange home it needed to survive.  Two hundred and five crews of eight men each, plus assorted advisors and inspectors, were now rising early to figure out how to blast a hole through some innocent mountain, or tunnel under some riverbed, or dig a trench beside a country road that lacked a roadside - all without ever answering the obvious question:  Why?  The line was just a one-and-a-half-inch-wide hard black plastic tube designed to shelter four hundred hair-thin strands of glass, but it already had the feeling of a living creature, a subterranean reptile, with its particular needs and wants.  It needed its burrow to be straight, maybe the most insistently straight path ever dug into the earth.  It needed to connect a data center on the South Side of Chicago to a stock exchange in northern New Jersey.  Above all, apparently, it needed to be a secret.
-Michael Lewis,  Flash Boys:  A Wall Street Revolt

Checking in with Aesop....................

   
                        The Oak and the Reeds

A very large oak was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a stream.  If fell among some Reeds, which were thus addressed:  "I wonder how you, who are so light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong winds."  They replied, "You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed;  while we on the contrary bend before the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape."

Moral:   Stoop to conquer.

Aesop's Fables as channeled by George Fyler Townsend

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mark Knopfler and friends...............................

The Notting Hillbillies........................Your Own Sweet Way

A lost art.....................................

EAT,  v.i.  To perform successively (and successfully) the functions of mastication, humectation, and deglutition.
     "I was in the drawing-room, enjoying my dinner," said Brillal-Savarin, beginning an anecdote.  "What!" interrupted Rochebriant;  "eating dinner in a drawing-room?"  "I must beg you to observe, monsieur," explained the great gastronome, "that I did not say I was eating my dinner, but enjoying it.  I had dined an hour before."

-Ambrose Bierce,  The Devil's Dictionary

Learned new words today.........................









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via

...differing opinions make a market......................

     Extreme price swings are the norm in financial markets - not aberrations that can be ignored.  Price movements do not follow the well-mannered bell curve assumed by modern finance;  they follow a more violent curve that makes an investor's ride much bumpier.  A sound trading strategy or portfolio metric would build this cold, hard fact into its foundations.  Exactly how depends on the resources, talents and stomach for risk of the individual;  as ever, differing opinions make a market.  But already, the mere knowledge that markets vary wildly is useful.
-Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard Hudson, excerpted from The (Mis)Behavior of Markets:  A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin & Reward

Shouldn't most of the responsibility for..........

.........................................climate change be assigned here?
















much larger photo and back story are here.

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

The Four Tops.................................................Call On Me



The "B" side of Baby I Need Your Loving

This disposition......................................

     "This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.  That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue;  and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists of all ages."
-Adam Smith,  as excerpted from The Theory of Moral Sentiments

On balance..................................

358.   Man is neither angel nor brute, and the unfortunate thing is that he who would act the angel acts the brute.

359.  We do not sustain ourselves in virtue by our own strength, but by the balancing of  two opposed vices, just as we remain upright amidst two contrary gales.  Remove one of the vices, and we fall into the other.

-Blaise Pascal,  Pensees

Uh-oh.........................................

"You can learn a great deal about people when you discover what they read for pleasure in high school."
-Michael Wade, as excerpted from his latest "Random Thoughts"

Mystery of the missing................

..........Courthouse clock hands has been solved.  Story here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chicago...............Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Does anybody really know what time it is...?

Suddenly, the hands on the Courthouse clock have gone missing.


To own......................................

“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

-Alexander Pope

Belief...................................


All the best people.......................

























“Mad Matter: "Have I gone mad?" 

Alice: "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” 


-Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

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

The Searchers...........................When You Walk In The Room

Simple..............................









“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ” 

"Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion."

-Henry David Thoreau

Rumi...................................

"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment;
Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition."

"Reason is like an officer when the King appears;
The officer then loses his power and hides himself.
Reason is the shadow cast by God;  God is the sun."

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. 
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.” 

-Rumi

On slack.............................................














"But if diverse people are to be bound together, the must be given plenty of slack."
-as excerpted from this The Economist essay on the looming independence vote in Scotland.

Between.......................................

"Between goals and achievement are discipline and consistency."
-Denzel Washington, as excerpted from here

thanks doug

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where the air is fine..............................

The Cowsills................................................Indian Lake

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

     When Congressman Charlie Wilson set off for a weekend in Las Vegas on June 27, 1980, there was no confusion in his mind about why he had chosen to stay at Caesars Palace.  He was a man in search of pure decadent pleasure, and the moment he walked into the hotel and say the way the receptionists were dressed, he knew he had come to the right place.  No doubt there were other members of the Ninety-sixth Congress who fantasized about orgies and altered states.  But had any of them chosen to take the kind of plunge that Charlie Wilson had in mind, you can be sure they would have gone to some trouble to maintain a low profile, if not don a disguise.
-George Crile,  Charlie Wilson's War:  The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times

A few quotes from Charlie Wilson...........

Charlie Wilson,  member of the House of  Representatives
from Texas's 2nd Congressional District, 1973-1996






















"You know you've reached rock bottom when you're told you have character flaws by a man who hanged his predecessor in a military coup."

"Soon God will be on both sides of this War."

Question:  Why is Congress saying one thing and doing nothing?
Charlie Wilson's answer: "Well, tradition mostly."

"These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world...and then we fucked up the end game." 

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

Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas.........................Bad To Me




If this sound vaguely Beatlesish, well, John Lennon wrote it for Kramer.  It was released in the U.K. in 1963 and in the USA shortly thereafter.  It ended 1964 as #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles for 1964.

Next stop: Lightheartedness........................

61.   Laughter doesn't just heal. It allows you to glimpse a version of you with no cares at all.

-Nicholas Bate, from his Pause & Consider 101

On the WHY of it all..........................

"He who had a strong enough why can bear any how."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

"When the why gets stronger, the how gets easier."
-Jim Rohn

"I think of this as home therapy.  There is nothing better for all ailments.  This is what it is all about.  It is why we do everything else."
-Kurt Harden, as excerpted from this blog post

On compromising....................................

"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."
-Barry Goldwater, circa 1994