Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Tchaikovsky.......

They're worried............

Thanks Don

On true happiness........

     "True happiness comes not from a limited concern for one's own well-being, or that of those one feels close to, but from developing love and compassion for all sentient beings. Here, love means wishing that all sentient beings should find happiness, and compassion means wishing that they should all be free of suffering. The development of this attitude gives rise to a sense of openness and trust that provides the basis for peace.
    "When we demand the rights and freedoms we so cherish, we should also be aware of our human responsibilities.  If we accept that others have an equal right to peace and happiness as ourselves, have we not a responsibility to do what we can to help those in need and at least avoid harming them?  Closing our eyes to our neighbors suffering in order to better enjoy our own freedom and good fortune is a rejection of such responsibilities."

-The Dalai Lama:  as excerpted from A Policy of Kindness

A treasure trove............................

Tyler Cowen's always interesting blog follows a side track
to music that never quite got the attention that maybe it
deserved.  He asks his readers to help compile the list.
The post is here, but the comment section is the "must read."

Here is a random video of a group I never heard of (that list
is very long) before reading the post.  Not my first choice in
music, but the video made me smile.  If you watch it, don't
leave before the 3:20 mark.

Ka-Ching asks another question for the ages.........

thanks Ka-Ching!

a little piece of paradise.......

Friday, May 6, 2011

On why one should not bet against us humans..........

Roger Bannister breaks the four minute "barrier."

We are capable of so much more than we think.  There was a
time not that long ago (57 years if you are counting), when smart
people believed that man could not run a mile in less than four
minutes.  Then, on this date in 1954, Roger Bannister broke that
psychological barrier by running a mile in 3:59.4.  Today a sub-
four minute mile is considered a "very good run", but is not
particularly note-worthy.  The world record is currently 3:43.13.

An attitude of doubt, worry, fear-mongering and pessimism
seems to be all the rage.  As John Stuart Mill was quoted as
saying, "I have observed that not the man who hopes when
others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope,
is admired by a large class of persons as a sage."

While pessimists may have their groupies, and sell lots of books
by predicting terrible things that never come true, the last five
hundred years of human progress should instruct us that
optimism is a much smarter bet.

Never underestimate the ingenuity, creativity, determination,
drive, spirit and will of us humans.  We are capable of so
much more than we believe.

Jamie Dimon on Regulators and Unintended Consequences.....

Yet another excerpt from Jamie Dimon's 2011 letter to the
JPMorgan shareholders......

"What we don't know (and we have a healthy fear or
unintended consequences)"

"Around the world and all at once, policy makers and
regulators are making countless changes, from guidelines
around market-making, derivatives rules, capital and
liquidity standards, and more.......The combined impact
of so much change - so much unknown about the interplay
amoung all these factors... - potentially is large.  These
unpredictable and unintended consequences could affect
far more than products and pricing.........."

"Although we tend to focus on the downside of unintended
consequences, we should recognize that there may be
some positive consequences.  For example, large changes
in business regulations and dynamics often lead to new
businesses, innovations and new products.  Also, our
ability to compete may be hampered in some instances
but actually helped in others.  For example, the cost
and complexity of all the recent regulations, ironically,
could create greater barriers for new entrants and
new competitors."

A question for the ages.................

 Now what do I do?

But seriously now,.............

"Too much thinking is a terrible disease.  It brings on awfully
chronic symptoms such as seriousness.  I don't mind
arrogance and self-indulgence, as I'm arrogant and self-
indulgent sometimes, and I don't mind stupidity, as I've done
loads of stupid things in this life, but seriousness bothers me.
I flee from serious people as fast as my chubby little legs will
carry me.  I find seriousness close to revolting.

This life isn't serious.  It's a comedy.  It's an awesomely
beautiful journey, but it certainly isn't serious,  Serious is an
egotistical concept; it comes from several factors.  One is
insecurity, another is self-importance, whereby insignificant
people use seriousness to make themselves seem more than
they actually are.  Sometimes seriousness is uses as a
manipulation, or as a way of imposing from above on people
that one considers inferior.  With seriousness comes a lot of
judgement and a lack of light and laughter and God Force.
It's a very stony path to take.

Sometimes seriousness reflects a temperament that is less
than gracious and magnanimous to others.  It can be a
form of intellectual snobbery.  You can always tell serious
people a mile off - they walk funny.  The cheeks of their bum
are puckered like they're holding a carrot.  I think they feel
selected by God to hold a carrot up their rear until death.
That's why you always see carrots growing near the graves
of serious people.  If you're too serious, start to laugh a lot;
play, hang out with children, put on silly clothes, do light-
hearted things and cut people a lot of slack, including
yourself.  Become big in your feelings, and seriousness
melts in the light of your heart's new found goodness."

-Stuart Wilde, as excerpted from Infinite Self

All of the time.................

Feynman on short cuts................

Faithful readers will remember that, for no particular reason,
Richard P. Feynman is a hero of mine and occasionally it seems
appropriate to post something he wrote.  It feels appropriate

The following is a letter Feynman wrote on April 27, 1967
in response to a student who "said he would like to take over
Feynman's work when Feynman was 'too old'" but was
"concerned about losing half his productive years to learning
instead of creation..."

Dear Mr. DeGaris:

     If you want to be "in it" it doesn't make any difference
where you are.  You must learn to develop and evaluate
your own ideas.  To start with, why not choose your ideas of
fractional dimensions, as a purely mathematical idea, and
develop it. You are bound to learn something.  If it is no
good or gets wound up in uninteresting things (which is
nearly impossible) you must find another of your own ideas
and work that out.

     At the same time study physics in the conventional way
in schools or through books or encyclopedias.  That may
give you other ideas - but you need to know something
aboutthe problems in physics you are trying to solve (so
that you can judge how likely it is that "perhaps he ties up
with this idea somehow" etc.)

There is no quick shortcut that I know.

Sincerely yours,
Richard P. Feynman

as excerpted from Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the
Beaten Track:  The Letters of Richard P. Feynman

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On keeping boundaries straight.....

"Malthusianism is a religious conviction that desperately needs to think of itself as a science. From Thomas Malthus and his mathematical certainties to Paul Ehrlich with his famine timetables and the Club of Rome with its ‘scientific’ predictions of resource exhaustion, Malthusians have made confident predictions about the future and claimed scientific authority for statements that turned out to be contemptibly silly. That is the brutal fate that often awaits people who can’t keep the boundaries between science and religion straight."

Walter Russell Mead posts an essay pointing to the difficulties
of being a true Green believer.

He suggests we read the recent essay by George Monbiot,
a true green believer if there ever was one, suggesting that
the Green movement has clearly lost its way.

School is never out...................

Thanks Jessica

Jamie Dimon on the American Economy......

"The U.S. economy was, is and will remain for the foreseeable future the mightiest economic machine on this planet.  America is home to many of the best universities and companies in the world.  It is still one of the greatest innovators.  The volume and variation of our inventions created in America are extraordinary - from bold new technologies, like the Internet, to thousands of small incremental improvements in processes and products that, in aggregate, dramatically improve productivity.  Americaalso has an exceptional legal system (notwithstanding my many reservations about the class-action and tort system) and the best and deepest capital markets.  The American people have a great work ethic, from farmers to factory workers to engineers and businessmen (even bankers and CEOs).  And it still has the most entrepreneurial population on earth.  American ingenuity is alive and well.

I mention all this because we need to put our current problems - and they are real - into proper context.  Our problems may be daunting, but they are also resolvable.  As a nation, we have overcome far worse challenges, from the Civil War to the Great Depression to World War II.  Even amid our current challenges, we have begun to see clear signs of stability and growth returning to the capital markets and the U.S. economy.  Almost everything is better than it was a year or two ago."

-still another excerpt from Jamie Dimon's 2011
letter to JPMorgan Chase shareholders

Consciously or Unconsciously......

"It is better for you to take responsibility for your live as it is,
instead of blaming others, or circumstances, for your
predicament.  As your eyes open, you'll see that your state
of health, happiness, and every circumstance of your life has
been, in large part, arranged by you - consciously or
-Socrates to Dan as excerpted from
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

A grand simplification...

Eric Burdon and friends........It's my life

If I wasn't old and set in my ways, this would make me feel like a slacker........

...or want to take a nap.  Talk about a man who never sleeps...

"This evening: I've sent off two training/coaching proposals. Answered a slew of e-mails. Have written some blog posts. Completed a draft of a customized EEO briefing for a client. Talked to my son. Organized materials and packed a briefcase for this week's Avoiding Common Management Mistakes class. Graded a business law final. Checked on some marketing ideas for my e-books on Kindle. Got a blank check from my wife so I can pay a small bookseller in Benson who, when I asked if they took credit cards, handed me a book and said, "Here's my address. Just send me a check later." Retrieved a new draft for a class on the role of associates that will be reviewed again tomorrow. Read Nicholas Bate's blog and the notice of his new book. (The man never sleeps.) Am now listening to Anonymous 4's 11,000 Virgins CD. Will read a chapter of a book on bureaucracy and then go to bed. Still thinking. Hmm. Where's that NyQuil?"

From the wonderful world of Michael Wade.

An economist speaks the truth...........

"Always keep in mind, economists make forecasts of the
future not because we know what is going to happen. We
make forecasts because we are asked to…a big difference!"

Thredgold's full post on growth, gas, snow, and the Fed here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"........would you have paid $3,598 to have learned that information?"

Mathew Ferrara takes on the "sales meeting" syndrome in real
estate offices.  He strongly recommends abolishing them:

"These four areas are the core activities that matter in real
estate. Capturing listings, attracting buyers, showing homes
and closing offers. Don’t do these things, and you’re out of
business. Simple.

So why hold meetings, where none of these things occur,
and agents are diverted from doing them during that time?

Consider the classic rationales for weekly meetings:

It’s nice to get everyone together and share.

The agents can update each other on their listings.

We can recognize last week’s sales and achievements.

We can talk about upcoming meetings.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry; I fell asleep writing
those lines."

Mathew does offer some alternatives.  Read the essay here.


Pictured quote taken from  Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
by Richard Carlson

Thanks Kurt for pointing the way to some whimsy.

There is an enemy..............

"The first principle of Resistance is that there is an enemy.

In our feel-good, social-safety-net, high-self-esteem world,
you and I have been brainwashed to believe that there is no
such thing as evil, that human nature is perfectible, that
everyone and everything can be made nice.

We have been conditioned to imagine that the darkness that
we see in the world and feel in our own hearts is only an
illusion, which can be dispelled by the proper care, the
propert love, the proper education, the proper funding.

It can't.

There is an enemy.  There is an intelligent, active, malign
force working against us.

Step one is to recognize this.

This recognition alone is enormously powerful.  It saved
my live, and it will save yours."

-as excerpted from Steven Pressfield's Do The Work

I wish we had a big loan with them, just to see if this is true.............

"Our position was clear and consistent: to be there for
our clients, not just in the good times, but in the bad times
as well."

"But we are in the business of taking risks in support of
our clients and believe that this is a risk worth bearing
since we hope to be growing our business in these
countries for decades to come."

-more excerpts from Jamie Dimon's 2011 letter to the
JPMorgan Chase shareholders

All day and all of the night........

Bingsop's fables................................

Faithful readers will remember that this blog occassionally posts
a fable by Aesop.  Truth be told, my interest in these types of
stories was developed in the early 1960's by watching
Aesop and Son on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  One
finds inspiration in the oddest places.

Stanley Bing has decided to update Aesop.  This looks to be
fun.   A tease is provided below as a public service.  Enjoy!

Just for grins, here is an Aesop and Son segment from an old
Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

Sometimes ten minutes is all it takes............

"I gave this about ten minutes. I didn't want to worry
it to death."

From Robert French here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jamie Dimon on real estate...........

"Approximately 30% of the homes in America do not have
mortgages - and of those that do, approximately 90% of the
mortgage holding homeowners are paying their loans on time. 
Housing affordability is at an all-time high.  The U. S.
population is growing at over 3 million a year, and  those
people eventually will need housing.  Additionally, the fact
that fewer homes are being built means that supply and
demand will come into balance sooner than it would have.
That said, housing prices likely will continue to go down
modestly because of the continuous high levels of homes
for sale.  The ultimate recovery of the housing market and
housing prices likely will follow job growth and a general
recovery in the economy."

-Jamie Dimon, as excerpted from his 2011 letter to the
JPMorgan Chase shareholders

Jim Rohn on Investments..........

My father taught me to always do more than you get paid
for as an investment in your future.

The book you don't read won't help.

If you make a sale, you can make a living.  If you make an
investment of time and good service in a customer, you
can make a fortune.

Real persuasion comes from putting more of you into
everything you say.  Words have an effect.  Words loaded
with emotion have a powerful effect.

We get paid for bringing value to the marketplace.  It
takes time to bring value to the marketplace, but we
get paid for the value, not the time.

Pay attention.  Don't just stagger through the day.

Take time to gather up the past so that you will be
able to draw from your experiences and invest them in
the future.

The philosophy of the rich versus the poor is this: 
The rich invest their money and spend what is left;
the poor spend their money and invest what is left.

-all quotes lifted from The Treasury of Quotes by Jim Rohn

On sight..............

"Had we never seen the stars, and the sun, and the heaven,"
Timaeus says, "none of the words which we have spoken
about the universe would ever have been uttered............
God invented and gave us sight to the end that we might
behold the courses of intelligence in the heaven, and apply
them to the courses of our own intelligence which are akin
to them, the unperturbed to the perturbed; and that we,
learning them and partaking of the natural truth of reason,
might imitate the absolutely unerring courses of God
and regulate our own vagaries."
-Plato, an excerpt from Timaeus, as excerpted from
Mortimer J. Adler's The Great Ideas

photo from APOD

Taking the afternoon off..................

Jeff Beck or Jimmy Page...........we were all a lot younger then

Beyond all doubting.............

"Do not pretend that you love others as yourself. Unless you
have realized them as one with yourself, you cannot love
them. Don't pretend to be what you are not, don't refuse to
be what you are. Your love of others is the result of self-
knowledge, not its cause. Without self-realization, no virtue is
genuine. When you know beyond all doubting that the same
life flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love
all naturally and spontaneously.  When you realize the depth
and fullness of your love of yourself, you know that every
living being and the entire universe are included in your
affection.  But when you look at anything as separate from
you, you cannot love it for you are afraid of it. Alienation
causes fear and fear deepens alienation."
-Nisargadatta Maharaj I Am That

A smile maker...........

Thanks Yves

Monday, May 2, 2011

On Powerfulness........

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-Marianne Williamson
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of
"A Course in Miracles".

Thanks Steven

" anarchic legal space......"

Hernando de Soto has been one of my favorite economists since I read The Other Path twenty years ago.  His  main area of study was the "informal" or "underground" economies in developing nations, particularly in South America.  His contention was that the North American legal system, clearly dedicated to the rights and identification of private property ownership, was the source of much of our prosperity.  South America lacked such a written and recorded legal structure, depriving it of a major source of individual access to organized credit, therefore driving much of their economies "underground."

De Soto has taken note of our recent Great Recession and thinks he sees a problem few have talked about....."the destruction of economic facts." Full essay here. Key excerpts here:

"We are now staring at a legal and political challenge. A legal challenge because American and European governments allowed economic activity to cross the line from the rule-bound system of property rights, where facts can be established, into an anarchic legal space, where arbitrary interests can trump facts and paper swirls out of control."

"It has always been government's role to police standards, weights and measures, and records, and not condone legalized sleight of hand in the shadows of the informal economy."

Thanks Tyler

New home construction and sales................The Great Sadness continues..........

from Calculated Risk

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

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, - I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnet XLIII:  Sonnets From the Portuguese

...Come along if you dare........

....the journey to the center of the mind.......the Amboy Dukes

Why I was a history major.............

My young (college sophomore) son was doing some chemistry
homework while visiting home this weekend.  The question
asked of him was:

      What is the molar solubility (in M) of silver (I)
      phosphate in water?

Working towards the solution, he asked me (with a sort of silly
look on his face) if this algebraic equation looked correct:

         27x4  = 8.9 x 10-17

Right.  Last time I took any math was the first semester of
my junior year in high school.  I liked algebra, but when you
start talking about ten to the minus seventeenth, my eyes
sort of glaze over.  I wished him good luck and went back to
reading Walter Russell Mead's latest essay.  Much more
interesting to me.

Happy Birthday to the Mighty E.

Eclecticity turned five yesterday.  A milestone worth celebrating!
A day without E. is like a day without sunshine.  Keep on posting!

From the Ragamuffin.........

Each of the Gospels reveals a Christ who ate with people,
attended parties, drank with people, prayed with people,
traveled with people, and worked with people. I can’t
imagine He would do this unless He actually liked people and
cared about them. Jesus built our faith system entirely on
relationships, forgoing marketing efforts and spin.
-Donald Miller

Thanks Nicole

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thanks Jeff

Sunday's Verse

Sri Krishna to Arjuna:

     If you cannot become absorbed in me, then try to reach me by repeated concentration.  If you lack the strength to concentrate, then devote yourself to works which will please me. For, by working for my sake only, you will achieve perfection.  If you cannot even do this, then surrender yourself to me
altogether.  Control the lusts of your heart, and renounce the fruits of every action.

     Concentration which is practiced with discernment is certainly better than the mechanical repetition of a ritual or a prayer.  Absorption in God - to live with Him and be one with Him always - is even better than concentration.  But renunciation brings instant peace to the spirit.

     A man should not hate any living creature.  Let him be friendly and compassionate to all.  He must free himself from the delusion of "I" and "mine."  He must accept pleasure and pain with equal tranquility.  He must be forgiving, ever-contented, self-controlled, united constantly with me in his meditation.  His resolve must be unshakable.  He must be dedicated to me in intellect and in mind.  Such a devotee is dear to me.

Chapter XII:  The Yoga of Devotion
The Song of God: Bhagavad-Gita

Doing Newark proud...............

The fabulous Midland Theatre is on a hot streak....

April 27: David Crosby and Graham Nash

April 29: Boney James

May 5: Darius Rucker

Not Made in China...............

Vince Morris, a very funny stand-up comedian, was the warm
up act before last evening's performance by Boney James.  If
you get a chance to see Vince, take it.  He is the real deal.

Vince is recently returned from a jaunt to Iraq where he was
entertaining the troops.  As he ended his half hour, he paused to
sell some tee shirts and went on a "Buy American" riff.  Here
is his web site store (click on Store). Here is the tee shirt:

The world according to gapingvoid.........

Thanks Hugh

Blue men having a good time...........