Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sounds like some relationship issues.......

The Seeds.......................................................Pushin' Too Hard

Beware of the passionate idealist..........

Isaiah Berlin pens an essay for the 21st Century, essentially pointing out that  us humans are messy, and serious attempts to change that are fraught with danger.   Among any assemblage of people trade-offs become necessary and moderation becomes a virtue, except to the passionate idealist.  This essay is worthy of your attention.  A few wee excerpts:

"If you are truly convinced that there is some solution to all human problems, that one can conceive an ideal society which men can reach if only they do what is necessary to attain it, then you and your followers must believe that no price can be too high to pay in order to open the gates of such a paradise. Only the stupid and malevolent will resist once certain simple truths are put to them. Those who resist must be persuaded; if they cannot be persuaded, laws must be passed to restrain them; if that does not work, then coercion, if need be violence, will inevitably have to be used—if necessary, terror, slaughter. Lenin believed this after reading Das Kapital, and consistently taught that if a just, peaceful, happy, free, virtuous society could be created by the means he advocated, then the end justified any methods that needed to be used, literally any."

"Men have always craved for liberty, security, equality, happiness, justice, knowledge, and so on. But complete liberty is not compatible with complete equality—if men were wholly free, the wolves would be free to eat the sheep. Perfect equality means that human liberties must be restrained so that the ablest and the most gifted are not permitted to advance beyond those who would inevitably lose if there were competition. Security, and indeed freedoms, cannot be preserved if freedom to subvert them is permitted. Indeed, not everyone seeks security or peace, otherwise some would not have sought glory in battle or in dangerous sports."

"So we must weigh and measure, bargain, compromise, and prevent the crushing of one form of life by its rivals. I know only too well that this is not a flag under which idealistic and enthusiastic young men and women may wish to march—it seems too tame, too reasonable, too bourgeois, it does not engage the generous emotions. But you must believe me, one cannot have everything one wants—not only in practice, but even in theory. The denial of this, the search for a single, overarching ideal because it is the one and only true one for humanity, invariably leads to coercion. And then to destruction, blood—eggs are broken, but the omelette is not in sight, there is only an infinite number of eggs, human lives, ready for the breaking. And in the end the passionate idealists forget the omelette, and just go on breaking eggs."

thanks stuart

Lies investors tell themselves................................

Ben Carlson, at A Wealth of Common Sense, offers his list.  Here are a few of my cherry-picked favorites:

I’m not wrong, the market is. You’ll see.

Investing is easy.

I’ll be greedy when others are fearful.
I’ll invest when there’s more certainty in the economy.
I never make emotional decisions.
I’ll buy hand over fist the next time the market crashes.
If I just try harder, my performance will improve.
I know where interest rates are going.
I have a fool-proof system.
Don’t worry, I can ignore the noise.
I have a good handle on my tolerance for risk.
I’ll start saving more money for retirement in the future.

Can I get an Amen.......................................?

"The erosion of constitutional proprieties in favour of populist slogans is a danger to which all democracies are vulnerable. More vigilance than ever is needed to guard against it."

-John Kay, as excerpted from here

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

On the TV.......some song and dance on The Judy Garland Show

The Unofficial..................................

..............Goldman Sachs Guide To Being A Man can be found here.    A few from the list here:

You don’t have to like baseball, but you should understand the concept of what a pitcher’s ERA means.  Approach life similarly.


There’s always another level. Just be content knowing that you are still better off than most who have ever lived.


Remember, “rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.” 

On taking your eye off the ball......................

Megan McArdle weighs in on the public health infrastructure and the Center for Disease Control:  

"Public health experts were, in a way, too successful; they beat back our infectious disease load to the point where most of us have never had anything more serious than Human papillomavirus or a bad case of the flu. This left them without that much to do. So they reinvented themselves as the overseers of everything that might make us unhealthy, from French Fries to work stress."

"Don't get me wrong: Fighting infection is still one of the things that the public health infrastructure does, and though I hope it doesn’t come to that, I expect that our system will do a much better job next time. But the CDC did not botch the job because there’s something wrong with Barack Obama, or government, or the state of Texas, or private hospitals. They dropped the ball because the public health system no longer needs to work so many miracles, and consequently hasn’t had much practice."

Full essay here.

Never looked at it that way before........

From my favorite optimist:

The oil price peaked at almost $150 a barrel in 2008, just before the financial crisis. That is probably no coincidence. Although the crisis was fuelled by a credit bubble, rocketing oil prices helped  trigger the bust. All over the world, but especially in America, people were saddling themselves with longer and longer commutes to find houses they could almost afford, a phenomenon known among American mortgage brokers as “drive till you qualify”. The doubling of fuel prices in the US between 2005 and 2008 killed that strategy and began the collapse of the housing market.

The full post on the absolutely good news of falling oil prices is here.

Ah, the good old days................................

San Francisco in 1920. "Oldsmobile touring car." Its dapper driver signaling
 either "hello" or a right turn. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin.





















via Shorpy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A few of my favorite things........................

From The Strategic Learner:   An ode to Autumn.

From The Astronomy Picture of the Day:  Take your pick, but this one is pretty cool.

From Greg Mankiw:   Pointing to Charles Murray on Ayn Rand.

From Seth Godin:  The virtue of wading.

From Nicholas Bate:  Jagged Thoughts, 1 through 119.

A way with words: Carving deep blue ripples......

Cream....................................................Tales of Brave Ulysses




You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever,
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.

And the colours of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids,
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses,
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips.

And you see a girl's brown body dancing through the turquoise,
And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea.
And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body,
Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind.

The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter.

Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell,
And you know you cannot leave her for you touched the distant sands
With tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing.


The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter.


thanks kurt

Like bloggers..............................................

"The great men of culture are those who have had a passion for diffusing, for making prevail, for carrying from one end of society to the other, the best knowledge, the best ideas of their time;  who have laboured to divest knowledge of all that was harsh, uncouth, difficult, abstract, professional, exclusive;  to humanize it, to make it efficient outside the clique of the civilized and the learned, yet still remaining the best knowledge and thought of the time, and a true source, therefore, of sweetness and light."
-Matthew Arnold,  Culture and Anarchy

And you were thinking.......tall, dark, handsome

















via

Mr. Market has his say............................

Yesterday's posts included a chart of falling oil and gas prices (Yippee!).  It appears that those rocket scientists who trade in the futures of such things were expecting prices to move upward, due to all the turmoil you may have read about in the Middle East and Russia, and they recently got creamed.  Good news compounded?  Beyond my ken, but this makes for an interesting story.  Somehow it feels comforting to realize that nobody really KNOWS much of anything.  As the man said, "we pays our money and takes our chances."

thanks

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

The Larks..................................................................The Jerk

Astonishing............................................



















384. - We should only be astonished at still being able to be astonished.

-Francois duc de La Rochefoucauld,  Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims

photo via APOD

A good start......................................



































courtesy of

On the need for baking a bigger pie................

"Abundance is an all-inclusive idea.  It means everyone.  It means the individual must matter, and matter like never before."
-Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler,  Abundance:  The Future Is Better Than You Think

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One of the truly fine things from 1962..............

Dee Dee Sharp................................................Mashed Potato Time

On wise men..........................................

The Epicurean Dealmaker is re-running some of his favorite essays.  You should read all of this one.  Knowing however, that you won't, here are some excerpts:

"For one thing, age is no guarantee of wisdom. If there is one thing we should have learned from witnessing the maturation of an entire generation of Baby Boomers into full-fledged, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, materialistic emotional and intellectual teenagers with age spots and dentures, it is that.2 For another, the common association of age and experience with wisdom and good judgment is and always has been weak at best, if not downright misleading. I know plenty of old people whose judgment I would not trust to order an ice cream cone. (And I’m not talking about dementia.)"

"The size of a man’s bank account, and the number of hits of his name on Google, are no measure of his intelligence, much less an indication of the quality of his wisdom."

"It is an old saying, but true nonetheless, that the wise person is certain of little but his or her ignorance. A wise man is wise enough to know what he does not know. He believes the world is too multifarious, changeable, and miraculous a place to put much trust in feeble humanity’s ability to comprehend and control it as we would wish. Therefore, a wise man counsels caution, and encourages us to pay attention to our ignorance—what we do not and cannot know—as we make our way through life."

"Never forget: every wise man started out a simple fool like you or me. He learned wisdom by questioning, by learning, and by doing. There is no secret stash of wise men waiting at Wal-Mart for us to purchase."

"It is time we manned up and learned to become our own wise men."

Life its ownself........................................
















thanks jess

Acceptance...........................................

























"Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy."
-Albert Einstein

The optimist in me...................................

..................thinks this chart showing recent oil and gas prices is not only the best news  in years,  but also that its cause is the massive expansion of supply due to newly developed horizontal drilling techniques.  The cynic in me worries that this is an important election year and market manipulation is occurring.  In the meantime, all of me is enjoying the lower gas prices.












source and back story here

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

Bobby Sherman.......................................................I'm Crying

Yep...................................................























via

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



































The Lord Justice-Clerk was a stranger in that part of the country; but his lady wife was known there from a child, as her race had been before her.  The old 'riding Rutherfords of Hermiston,' of whom she was the last descendant, had been famous men of yore, ill neighbours, ill subjects, and ill husbands to their wives though not their properties.  Tales of them were rife for twenty miles about; and their name was even printed in the page of our Scots histories, not always to their credit.  One bit the dust at Flodden, one was hanged at his peel door by James the Fifth; another fell dead in a carouse with Tom Dalyell;  while a fourth (and that was Jean's own father) died presiding at a Hell-Fire Club, of which he was the founder.  There were many heads shaken in Crossmichael at that judgment;  the more so as the man had a villainous reputation among the high and low, and both with the godly and the worldly.  At that very hour of his demise, he had ten going pleas before the Session, eight of them oppressive.  And the same doom extended ever to his agents; his grieve, that had been his right hand in many a left-handed business, being cast from his horse one night and drowned in a peat-hag on the Kye-skairs; and his very doer (although lawyers have long spoons) surviving him not long, and dying on a sudden in a bloody flux.
-Robert Louis Stevenson,  Weir of Hermiston

art via

About Mr. Market......................................

While Paul Krugman has his loyalists, I am not among them.  However, as someone who is more concerned about deflation than inflation,  I'm liking this essay.   Three excerpts for your reading pleasure:

"All in all, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that people like Mr. Greenspan knew as much about what the market wanted as medieval crusaders knew about God’s plan — that is, nothing."

"I’m not mainly talking about plunging stock prices, although that’s surely telling us something (but as the late Paul Samuelson famously pointed out, stocks are not a reliable indicator of economic prospects: “Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions!”) Instead, I’m talking about interest rates, which are flashing warnings, not of fiscal crisis and inflation, but of depression and deflation."

"In any case, the next time you hear some talking head opining on what we must do to satisfy the markets, ask yourself, “How does he know?” For the truth is that when people talk about what markets demand, what they’re really doing is trying to bully us into doing what they themselves want."

thanks

Let me count the ways you're wrong...........

A novel idea.  Massive debt default.  I like how the author, while targeting student debt, includes mortgage debt.  I also love how the author equates the willing borrowing of money with oppression.  Who forced anybody to borrow?  Perhaps part of the future core curriculum for high school seniors will include the intelligent use of borrowed money, and the consequence to borrower, lender, and community when the money is not repaid.  How about, while we are at it,  we also teach accepting responsibility for the consequences of our own actions?

A few excerpts:
"Nothing could send a stronger message than 40 million indebted graduates standing together in a boycott of student loan payments."

"America has the resources to instate healthcare, education and a home as inalienable human rights. It’s a paradisiacal potential we run the risk of squandering every day we voluntarily admit our bondage to debt. There is no realistic way for Americans to climb out of this hole other than by standing together and refusing to allow the oppression to continue."

thanks

Monday, October 20, 2014

The '70's were just different....................

Paper Lace...............................................Billy Don't Be A Hero

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




























Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take my pen in the year of grace, 17__, and go back to the time when my father kept the 'Admiral Benbow' inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.
-Robert Louis Stevenson,  Treasure Island

artwork via

Reading truths.........................................























Thirty-three thoughts on reading from Austin Kleon.  It is a pretty good list.  A few excerpts here:

2.  I will make an effort to carry a book with me at all times

4.  I will read whatever the hell I feel like. No guilty pleasures

11.  I will read with a pencil pen or highlighter. I will underline. I will dog ear. I will write in the margins.

14.  I will re-read favorite books the way I watch favorite movies and play favorite records over and over.

16.  I will take a deep breath and understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to read everything.

24.  I will keep stacks of unread books at the ready.

26.  I will go to the library. I will go to the bookstore. I will get lost in the stacks.

33.  If I don’t feel like reading, I’ll go do something else. Maybe even — gasp! — watch TV.

Ain't that the truth.............................

71.   Don't spend too much money on a haircut.  They never last.
-from 1001 Rules for My Unborn Son

The inscrutability of Chinese fortune cookies.....

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

Wrestling with Mad Dog Vachon.......................














In the ring, Mad Dog was known for his unorthodox tactics and blatant disregard for the rules and his devastating finishing move, the pile-driver.  He would often bite his opponents, hit them with chairs, claw their backs and throw them out of the ring onto the cement floor. 
On May 2, 1964, Mad Dog used those tactics to defeat AWA champion Vern Gagne to become the world heavyweight champion.  He held that title five times in his career.  Mad Dog later teamed with his brother Paul “The Butcher” Vachon and together, they earned the tag team championship.
Truth be told, I had never heard of Mad Dog Vachon until reading his name on HistoryOrb.com. Growing up in Philly, my favorite pro wrestlers were Bruno Sammartino and Haystacks Calhoun.  Those were the days.
Bruno Sammartino   circa early 1960's

Haystacks Calhoun    "billed weight  640 pounds"

Sammartino lifts Calhoun

Do the math.......................................


On the advantage of "the melting pot"............

One of the amazing historical benefits that have accrued to the United States of America is the high degree to which immigrants of all different ethnic origin have chosen to surrender their ethnicity and become, simply, Americans.  While this is not uniformly true, and while many have sought to make a career out of hyphenated politics, it is true enough to make America different, and stronger, than much of the world.  Perhaps this occurred because people have flocked to these shores by choice, rather than being made part of a "country" designed by foreign powers.  Better historians than me can, and probably already have, sort this out.  Regardless, it certainly can be messy when ethnicity remains a priority and ethnicity does not align with national borders.  For the latest case in point, consider the Kurdish question.




















wiki here

A short-cut.......................................






















via

Having fun while digging in the ground......

A team of archaeologists have unearthed a Sphinx - in California no less.  If they used carbon-dating, they would find it came from circa 1923.  Part of the story is here.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

One of these mornings.............................

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong...............Summertime

Magic...............................................



















“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 
-William Butler Yeats


photo via

The Second Coming........................................

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.


The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 


-William Butler Yeats

Concerning Spiritus Mundi: 

Definition

Spiritus Mundi is a Latin term that literally means 'world spirit.' In Spiritus Mundi, there is, according to William Butler Yeats, a universal memory and a 'muse' of sorts that provides inspiration to the poet or writer. To Yeats,Spiritus Mundi is the source of all 'images' and 'symbols,' a 'collective unconscious.' Spiritus Mundi is difficult to understand, but we will unpack it as best as we can.

Verse.........................................

27.   The Master said,  Imperturbable, resolute, tree-like, slow to speak - such a one is near to Goodness.

-Book XIII
The Analects of Confucius

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

Ella Fitzgerald (with Nelson Riddle's Orchestra)...Trav'lin' Light

Civilization: the thinnest of veneers..........

This morning my wife and I took a solemn pledge that no bag of Halloween candy shall be opened until the evening of Halloween because an early opening, however slight, invites barbarism and the fall of civilization. 
-Michael Wade

Mood swings............................................

"While it’s never fun to lose money, the past couple of weeks reminded me once again why I love the stock market. Mr. Market is basicallly a crazy person that takes pride in frustrating people on a consistent basis. Every investor feels the market’s wrath at some point.".
"The stock market is always somewhere on the continuum of panic, fear, complacency, greed or euphoria, but it’s tough to guess where and when the mood will shift from one to the other. This week it happened on a day-to-day basis."

Swing...................................................


"I'm not afraid to take a swing and miss."
-Frederick W. Smith































In the early days of FedEx, Smith had to go to great lengths to keep the company afloat. In one instance, he took the company's last $5,000 to Las Vegas and won $27,000 gambling on blackjack to cover the company's $24,000 fuel bill.[12]
-Smith wiki is here


image via

The here and now.....................................

"It's is easy to solve problems for the future but it's the present that needs the most help."
-Michael Mulvey

Choose wisely......................................

"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
-Carl Jung