Saturday, March 12, 2011

On why character matters...............

David Warren offers an interesting perspective on revolutions:
few end well.  Full essay here.  Reasons why our revolution
ended well here: 

"Yet here we come up against a hard fact of life, beyond individuals; one which we must try to understand when looking forward -- not only in Libya, but perhaps throughout the realm of Islam. Ruthlessness works. And in almost every revolution in history, the most ruthless faction eventually triumphed.

"Chance, or what looks like chance, can also come into this. In their several ways, Robespierre of France, Hitler of Germany, and Pol Pot of Cambodia, overplayed their hands. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao did not: each bequeathed a regime of monstrous tyranny to his successors.

"While it is impossible to predict the course of history in narrative detail, that is not what "learning from history" is about. History seldom repeats itself, in any melodic sense, but repeats itself constantly in rhythm and themes. We should grasp, for instance, that the American Revolution was almost unique in history, for ending so well. We should also grasp why. It was, from beginning to end, under the leadership of highly civilized men, governed by a conception of Liberty that was restrained and mature. George Washington commanded, in his monarchical person, the moral authority to stop the cycle of reprisals by which revolutions descend into "eating their own." Nelson Mandela achieved something similar in South Africa."

Thanks Ka-Ching

On honest doubt..........

"We need tough-minded thinkers, gadflies, doubters.  Doubt
is an angel, not a devil; it assumes an order of truth.  Only
through the agony of doubt can we have the courage to be;
to supplement the motto of Descartes' day (cognito, ergo
sum) with one suitable for our day - dubito, ergo credo."
- Marshall W. Fishwick

There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds."
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Doubt is a good servant but a poor master."
"When people of faith are not willing to sit quietly
sometimes and let doubt make its case, bad things can
"Religious fanatics always lack the humility of uncertainty."
-from John Ortberg's  Faith and Doubt
Thanks Bangkokpastor

Fun with quotes........

This may be the last post (maybe) based on Last Call: The Rise
and Fall of Prohibition.  In case you couldn't tell, I think the
history of the era is fascinating.  I also think that Daniel Okrent is
an engaging and entertaining writer.

"In September 1930 Morris Sheppard, author of the Eighteenth
Amendment, said, 'There is as much chance of repealing the
Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly
to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its
tail.'  Few argued.

The 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which repealed the 18th,
was ratified in 1933.

"In October 1928 Irving Fisher, the Yale economist who
remained Prohibition's leading intellectual defender, offered
a comment that would earn him a place in American memory
far more enduring than would his ground-breaking work on
interest rates or even his loopy statistical analyses of beer's
effect on the ability to memorize.  'Stock prices have reached
what looks like a permanently high plateau,' said Fisher on
October 15, nine days before the earth gave way on Black
Thursday.  At least he believed it: his considerable fortune,
invested in the market, followed the Dow Jones Industrial
Average into a death spiral.

Some history from Daniel Okrent.........

On Billy Sunday (1862-1935):
"Two years later, when he gave up baseball for the life of an evangelist, his verbal facility, italicized by his hyper physical platform style, put him on his way to becoming the most successful American preacher of his era, perhaps the most successful one ever.  The essay on Sunday in the authoritative American National Biography does not equivocate: 'Incredible as it may seem, reliable statistics indicate that Sunday preached to more than 100 million people' in his forty years in the pulpit.  By his own account, early in his career he had used 'sentences so long they'd make a Greek professor's jaw squeak.'  Only after he 'loaded my Gospel gun with rough-on-rats, ipecac, dynamite, and barbed wire' did he achieve his extraordinary success.  'What do I care if some puff-eyed little dibbly-dibbly preacher goes tibbly-tibbling around because I use plain Anglo-Saxon words?'  Sunday asked.  'I want people to know what I mean and that's why I try to get down where they live.'"

"No more tibbly-tibbling, said Billy Sunday: 'I have no interest in a God who does not smite."

On Alexander Hamilton
"He didn't drink it to excess, but Alexander Hamilton cared enough fro liquor that he considered it an all-but-essential component of a democracy.  'There appears to be no article.....which is an object of more equal consumption throughout the United States,' he wrote in 1792.  For a man trying to raise the money necessary to run a government, that made it the very model of  a taxable item.  If some people drank more than others, Hamilton argued, it was a matter of personal choice and had nothing to do with what part of the country they lived in -  or by extension, what social class they arose from, the number of people in their families, the phases of the moon, or anything, really, other then a taste for liquor.  Hamilton even found social value in taxing alcohol: it might discourage people from drinking the stuff."

"Hamilton's Excise Act (of 1791) instead triggered two different reactions, one temporary and one that would be embedded in the fabric of the Republic: the rye farmers of western Pennsylvania launched the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, and generations of federal officials became transfixed by the prospect of tax revenue corked inside every bottle of alcohol."

"By 1910 the federal government was drawing more that $200 million a year from the bottle and the keg - 71 percent of all internal revenue, and more than 30 percent of federal revenue overall.  Only external revenue - the tariff - provided a larger share of the federal budget, and by the end of the first decade of the twentieth century the tariff's continuation was the most intensely debated issue in American public life.  It would be hard to enough to fund the cost of government without the tariff and impossible without a liquor tax."

Editor's note:  Okrent is foreshadowing the coming of the 16th Amendment, passed in 1913, that states:
"The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States. and without regard to any census or enumeration."
Without the 16th Amendment, the 18th would never have occurred.

All quotes lifted from Daniel Okrent's Last Call

Friday, March 11, 2011

Here comes the sun................

Had Enough Therapy?

From Stuart Schneiderman's very interesting blog comes this beauty:

"Ferguson has written a new book, called Civilization, to be published next week, about what made the West great. I would humbly recommend that getting in touch with the sources of our greatness will serve us better than worrying about our decline.

Ferguson wrote: “For 500 years the West patented six killer applications that set it apart. The first to download them was Japan. Over the last century, one Asian country after another has downloaded these killer apps — competition, modern science, the rule of law and private property rights, modern medicine, the consumer society and the work ethic. Those six things are the secret sauce of Western civilization.”

I consider it metaphorically infelicitous to go from killer apps to secret sauce, but Ferguson is otherwise correct."
Full worth-reading essay is here.
I am interested in reading why Niall Ferguson thinks that modern medicine, a work ethic, and a consumer society belong only to the West as "killer apps."  I'm pretty sure that people all over the world work hard.  It has to be something other than hard work that sets us apart.  I do think he is dead on with the rule of law and private property rights. 

A number of years ago I stumbled upon two influential books written by Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital and The Other Path.   Much of de Soto's work has been to unscramble the confusion about capitalism and why it worked so well in North America and not so well elsewhere.  A quote, "The goal of formal property is to put capital in the hands of the whole nation."  A second quote, "This capacity of property to represent aspects of assets in forms that allow us to recombine them so as to make them even more useful is the mainspring of economic growth, since growth is all about obtaining high-valued outputs from low-valued inputs."   In de Soto's view, it is the lack of "formal property" that holds much of the "third world" back economically.

I suspect that much of the relative economic strength of the United States has its roots in the combination of our legal/contract law system and our tradition of the primacy of individual property rights (which encompasses far more than just real estate).   Looking forward to reading Ferguson's new book.

Our 30th President.............

"....neither man was particularly interested in enforcing
Prohibition.  In Coolidge's case this was consistent with his
general position on the role of government.  'If the federal
government should go out of existence,' he said, 'the common
run of people would not detect the difference in the affairs of
their daily life for a considerable length of time.'"

"The president's inclination toward inactivity, wrote Walter
Lippmann, 'is far from being indolent inactivity.  It is grim,
determined, alert inactivity.'"

Two excerpts on Calvin Coolidge as taken from Daniel Okrent's
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

I Wonder Why..............

"The good players are almost always the ones who ask me to
watch them on the putting green.  The high handicappers,
who need it the most, had rather do anything than have a
putting lesson."

The Game for a Lifetime: More Lessons and Teachings
by Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake


"........for they say, Anacharis, coming to Athens, knocked on Solon's door, and told him, that he, being a stranger, was come to be his guest, and contract a friendship with him; and Solon replying, 'It is better to make friends at home,' Anacharis replied, 'Then you that are home make friendship with me.'  Solon, somewhat surprised at the readiness of the repartee, received him kindly and kept him some time with him, being already engaged in public business and the compilation of his laws; which when Anacharis understood, he laughed at him for imagining the dishonesty and covetousness of his countrymen could be restrained by written laws, which were like spiders' webs, and would catch, it is true, the weak and the poor, but easily be broken by the mighty and rich.  To this Solon rejoined that men keep their promises when neither side can get anything by the breaking of them; and he would so fit his laws to the citizens, that all should understand it was more eligible to be just than to break the laws.   But the event rather agreed with the conjecture of Anacharis than Solon's hope.  Anacharis, being once in the Assembly, expressed his wonder at the fact that in Greece wise men spoke and fools decided."

Excerpted from Plutarch's Lives

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pat Guanciale has.............. of the most interesting minds around, and he shares it
with us blog aficionados regularly.  His latest post is hereNow,
if he would only explain how one sensibly folds a fitted sheet by
oneself after taking it out of the dryer, I would be both impressed
and grateful.

After nearly fifty years, you would think we would be better at this......

Automation is 'rapidly becoming a curse to this society,' AFL-
CIO president George Meany told the labor federations'
annual convention in 1963.  The substitution of machinery
for manpower was threatening to unions, blurring long-
established jurisdictional lines and raising bargaining costs
by reducing the number of workers in a plant, and displace-
ment could be devastating to workers.  Many workers in the
1960's lacked basic reading and mathematical skills, and
education levels were low enough to make retraining
problematic: half of U.S. factory production workers had no
more that a tenth-grade education.

Excerpted from Marc Levinson's book, The Box: How the
Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World
Economy Bigger

Wonder what he would think today................?

"The right to be let alone is the underlying principle of the
Constitution's Bill of Rights."
-Erwin N. Griswold
Dean, Harvard Law School 1946-1967
U. S. Solicitor General  1967-1973

Have I reminded you lately that we have some fabulous building lots available?

2010 Census results are in.     Rick Platt says so in a post- here.
A few local highlights are excerpted, here:

- The 14.4% population gain pushed Licking County to 17th,
up one from 2000, on the ranking of most populous Ohio

- The City of Newark's 2.8% gain in population pushed it to
20th on the ranking of most populous Ohio cities. Newark
was one of only four cities on the top 20 list that actually
grew in population.

- Heath's population jumped to over 10,000.

- The Village of Granville is no longer. It's 5,646 population
far exceeds the level at which Ohio law classifies a
municipality as a city.

- Fear population growth? Consider this. The County's
density is merely 243 persons per square mile. Compare that
to neighboring Franklin County at 2,186. We still have
room to grow.

It feels like a Four Tops kind of day, you know what I mean?


Justin Wehr, who operates a really good blog here, offers this
classic- Woody Guthrie's 1942 New Year's Resolutions, with
drawings included.

 For easier reading, here are Woody's  33 "Rulins"

1. Work more and better

2. Work by a schedule

3. Wash teeth if any

4. Shave

5. Take bath

6. Eat good - fruit - vegetables - milk

7. Drink very scant if any

8. Write a song a day

9. Wear clean clothes - look good

10. Shine shoes

11. Change socks

12. Change bed clothes often

13. Read lots good books

14. Listen to radio a lot

15. Learn people better

16. Keep rancho clean

17. Don’t get lonesome

18. Stay glad

19. Keep hoping machine running

20. Dream good

21. Bank all extra money

22. Save dough

23. Have company but don’t waste time

24. Send Mary and kids money

25. Play and sing good

26. Dance better

27. Help win war - beat fascism

28. Love Mama

29. Love Papa

30. Love Pete

31. Love everybody

32. Make up your mind

33. Wake up and fight

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Everybody needs a vacation once in a while............

This looks fun.  Let's get on this ship

I'm pretty sure we're not in Ohio anymore.  Part 1

My Sweetie is having fun with some parrots

Now I'm positive we're not in Ohio anymore.  Part 2

Monday, March 7, 2011

Talk with you later............

A Poem for Monday.........

             There's Nothing Ahead

Lovers think they're looking for each other,
but there's only one search: wandering
this world is wandering that, both inside one
transparent sky.  In here
there is no dogma and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did
about the future.  Forget the future.
I'd worship someone who could do that.

On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say There's nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms and take hold of the cloth of your clothes
with both hand.  The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed.  If you don't have both,
you don't belong with us.

When one of us gets lost, is not here, he must be inside us.
There's no place like that anywhere in the world.


Social Security explained........

Scott Adams' full post here.  Excerpt here:

"Some say Social Security is a social safety net. But old
people wouldn't die on the streets if the program suddenly
stopped sending out checks. You and I are compassionate.
We would open our homes and take in the oldsters. The
alternative would be feral gangs of senior citizens grazing
on our rosebushes. That's not good for property values."

As Rules of Thumb go, here is a pretty good one..........

"So, as a simple rule of thumb...

"Beware of that which improves
your trivia skills."

Full post here

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Mad Bluebird........

(Editor's note:   This is a re-play from last February.  Sorry, I just like it.)

You may already know this story, but if not read
about what happens when preparation meets
opportunity here.     Entrepreneurship 101.

Order your very own copy of the photo here

More than the sun...................

Thanks Nicole for pointing the way

Praying the Golden Rule............

"May I be an enemy to no one and the friend of what abides

May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and be reconciled
quickly if I should.

May I never plot evil against others, and if anyone plot evil
against me,

May I escape unharmed and without the need to hurt anyone

May I love, seek and attain only what is good.

May I desire happiness for all and harbor envy for none.

May I never find joy in the misfortune of one who has
wronged me.

May I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always
rebuke myself until I make reparation.

May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.

May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.

May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help to my friends
and to all who are in need.

May I never fail a friend in trouble.

May I be able to soften the pain of the grief stricken and
give them comforting words.

May I respect myself.

May I always maintain control of my emotions.

May I habituate myself to be gentle, and never angry
with others because of circumstances.

May I never discuss the wicked or what they have done,
but know good people and follow in their footsteps."

-Eusebius of Caesarea  (c. 260-341 AD)

Sunday's Verse...............

                The Serenity Prayer

"God grant me the serenity  to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did,  this sinful world as it is, not as I would
have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy
with Him Forever in the next.


-Reinhold Niebuhr