Saturday, August 6, 2011


I can't help it.  This one just grabs a hold of me....

More copyright issues means you need to click through to
Youtube and...........................volume up!

The Doctor writes a prescription......

Thanks Nicholas

On changing............

"When you change the way you look at things, the things
you look at change.
-Wayne Dyer

Mark Knopfler paints a picture.....

Not sure if What It Is  makes the cut for the Top 25 lyrics, but
the boy can write as good as he plays - and that is real good.

The drinking dens are spilling out
There's staggering in the square
There's lads and lasses falling about
And a crackling in the air
Down around the dungeon doors
The shelters and the queues
Everybody's looking for
Somebody's arms to fall into

That's what it is
It's what it is now

There's frost on the graves and the monuments
But the taverns are warm in town
People curse the government
And shovel hot food down
Lights are out in the city hall
The castle and the keep
The moon shines down upon it all
The legless and asleep

And it's cold on the tollgate
With the wagons creeping through
Cold on the tollgate
God knows what I could do with you

That's what it is
It's what it is now

The garrison sleeps in the citadel
With the ghosts and the ancient stones
High on the parapet
A Scottish piper stands alone
And high on the wind
The highland drums begin to roll
And something from the past just comes
And stares into my soul

And it's cold on the tollgate
Cold on the tollgate
God knows what I could do with you

That's what it is
It's what it is now
What it is
It's what it is now

There's a chink of light, there's a burning wick
There's a lantern in the tower
Wee Willie Winkie with a candlestick
Still writing songs in the wee wee hours
On Charlotte Street I take
A WALKING stick for my hotel
The ghost of Dirty Dick
Is still in search of Little Nell

That's what it is
It's what it is now
It's what it is
What it is now…

More copyright issues. Click through to Youtube.

Thanks Nan

On crowns..................

My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen: my crown is called content:
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.

-William Shakespeare,  Henry VI, Part 3:  Act 3, Scene 1

Finding wisdom in the oddest places.....

"Remember, you pay more for money than for anything else."
-Fred Reed

Thanks Doug

classic tunes...the old fashioned way

A fundamental choice..........

thanks Jessica

Friday, August 5, 2011

And here I thought writing was difficult......

Opening paragraphs........

Following Michael Wade's lead, here is another opening
paragraph from a well-thumbed book:

   Since before sunup Old Jack had been standing at the edge of the hotel porch, gazing out into the empty street of the town of Port Williams, and now the sun has risen and covered him  from head to foot with light.  But not yet with warmth, and in spite of his heavy sheepskin coat he has grown cold.  He pays that no mind.  When he came out and stopped there at the top of the steps, mindful of the way the weight of his body is taking him, he propped it carefully with his cane and, in the way that has lately grown upon him, left it.

-Wendell Berry, The Memory of Old Jack


Prospero:  Our revels are now ended. These our actors,
                 As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
                 Are melted into the air, into thin air:
                 And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
                 The cloud-clapp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
                 The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
                 Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
                 And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
                 Leave not a rack behind,  We are such stuff
                 As dreams are made on; and our little life
                 Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare;  The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1, 148-158

Starting points............

"Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease."
-Deepak Chopra

Now that that is out of the way, let's go do great things.

...silly, but it's true.....

Sir Francis Bacon.......

Sir Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) said lots of cool stuff, some of
which is listed below. The Englishman, know was the "Father of
Empiricism" was above all a scientist.  As a lawyer and a jurist
he ran into some problems that caused a brief stay in the Tower
of London.  As an author, philosopher, statesman, and a pioneer
of the scientific method, his influence has lived on. 

Wiki bio here.  Some quotes here:

A wise man will make more opportunities than he will find.

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn,
old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

There is no comparison between that which is lost by not
succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.  

Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.

Who ever is out of patience is out of possession of their soul.

Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.

Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come
unsought for are commonly the most valuable.

God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the
purest of human pleasures.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words.

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts,
but if he will content to begin with doubts, he shall end in

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what
he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.

It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant,
perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.

Money is like manure, of very little use except it be spread.

Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men
pass for wise.

Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; adversity
not without many comforts and hopes.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and
some few to be chewed and digested.

The great end of life is not knowledge but action.

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.

I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15
years older than I am.

Thanks Sean

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On entrenchment.......................Or, To Dream the Impossible Dream

Editor's note:  While I found the Sultan's accompanying essay
interesting and worth the time of reading, this video blew me 
away.  If you  choose not to watch it, be advised you will be
missing some spine-tingling and goosebump-inducing singing. 

How to shrink the size and expense of government?  How to roll back government's intrusion into everyday life?  Do we really need government to mandate the light bulbs we buy?  Questions for the ages.  Answers are a little more difficult.  If you're curious why that is so, check out Daniel Greenfield, dba Sultan Knish, as he writes a long form essay titled  Government Amateurs vs Government Professionals.  Full essay here.  A few interesting excerpted paragraphs here.

"In the budget debate, government amateurs took on government professionals. And the professionals won. This is only to be expected. Professionals usually have the inside track in whatever field they're in. Not only do they hold the higher ground, but they know all the loopholes and how to shape the dialogue."

"The Tea Party proved that amateurs could undercut professional politicians, raise money and get elected. But the real challenge has never been winning elections. Anyone can win an election and often has. Morons, lunatics and idiots have sat in congress. And are still sitting there. The real challenge is what do you do once you've won."

"The United States government of professional politicians has set prices. Not just for their own salaries, but for how much money they can spend. They will agree to cut taxes or to borrow less money-- but they won't agree to do both at the same time, and cut actual spending."

"Congress' fundamental power is to spend money. Everything of substance that it does costs money. Politicians get elected by promising to spend less on the things their constituents don't want, and more on the things they do want. Especially their more influential constituents. What this actually means in a two party system, with a variety of viewpoints represented and every special interest on board, almost everything gets funded."

"The professional politician's basic interest is in the system. The system that lets him spend money. Taxpayer money is his bread and butter. It's his currency of power. If the taxpayers kick up too much of a fuss, he'll borrow it. If they kick up a fuss over that, he'll ask them if they want higher taxes instead. If they protest loudly enough, he will announce tax cuts and spending cuts, and use a loophole to raise taxes and spend more money anyway."

"The goal of a grass roots citizens' movement has to be to not only enter the system, but to change it from the inside. And that means an ugly showdown with the professional class that lives off the system. Not just with them, but their allies in the business world, in local communities and allied media outlets.'

"The professionals fight back, the way they do in all fields, lambasting the amateurs as untrained and unskilled. Dangerously ignorant and incompetent. A pack of troglodytes who will destroy everything as soon as they get their hands on it. They do their best to warn off and frighten away potential customers. And then they cheat."

Thanks to Maggie's Farm for showing the way.


From the Pursuit of Happyness

Frustration mounts..........

"It's impressive how soon the rule of law dies when the
wealthy elites of a nation find it to be in their interest."
-Mungowitz, aka Michael Munger

The Thin Man..............

Michael Wade's Opening Paragraph post on Tuesday featured
Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man.  William Powell and Myrna
Loy, in The Thin Man movie franchise, provided hours of
delightful "they-don't-make-'em-like-that-anymore"

Here is a brief sampling:

Ahhhh.............the mystery

courtesy of gapingvoid

I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink

The glory of charts.............

Not sure there is any direct, or meaningful, relationship between
these two borrowings.  Just thought the information interesting.

         Mortgage borrowing collapses while federal 
                 government borrowing surges

Thanks Spengler

Why I read...............

......Cultural Offering  everyday.  Some habits are good for you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Mighty E finds a gem......................

.............and rightly wants to bring the very young and very
talented Brendan MacFarlane to the masses.  E's post and
video is here.   A second video of Brendan here:

A few snippets from...............

.....Walter Russell Mead.  His blog is a favorite stopping point of mine. Well written long form essays have been his traditional stock in trade.  About two weeks ago he added a "fast track", short posts noting news that is worth pondering, but not worthy of a  three page essay.  Do stop by.  A few excerpts for your edification:

I’ve written about this President’s instinctive lunge for the ‘sour spot’: the compromise that satisfies nobody and doesn’t solve the problem. That has defined his Middle East policy; it defined the health care bill. He has now chosen it, twice, for his economic model.

We shall see.
I’ve written before that Walmart is doing more for the planet than Greenpeace; this is just more proof. A ruthless focus on price and efficiency is the best way to reduce humanity’s environmental footprint.
Corruption, low salaries and the general malaise of post-Soviet Russia make things worse. Russia has been running on duct tape for twenty years, and now the duct tape is starting to fray.
This could be trouble. America’s basic strategy for coping with Chavez is to roll our eyes, sigh, and ignore. That will be harder to maintain if his successor is a drug smuggling crime lord. Should Uncle Sam send Hugo a card and some flowers?

Looks like Europe is still winning the competition for world’s most financially irresponsible major player. As I told David Sanger yesterday the US is fighting with Europe and Japan in this competition, but the latest from Italy suggests that Europe is starting to pull ahead.

A balancing act............

Thanks Leah


ENOBARBUS:  I will tell you.
     The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
     Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
     Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
     The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
     Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
     The water which they beat to follow faster,
     As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
     It beggar'd all description: she did lie
     In her pavilion - cloth-of-gold of tissue -
     O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
     The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
     Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
     With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
     To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
     And what they undid did.

William Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra
Act 2, Scene 2, 190-205

painting courtesy of

The wonderful messiness of it all.........

From our friends at The Monkey Cage:


The natives are restless..........

Several proposals for Amending the Constitution have crossed
my computer screen here of late.  They all have one thing in
common: reining in Congress.  Amending the Constitution is not
to be taken lightly, but this one looks pretty attractive. 
Courtesy of friend Si, here is the latest proposal:

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. Term Limits. 12 years only, one of the possible options

    A. Two Six-year Senate terms
     B. Six Two-year House terms

    C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House

2. No Tenure / No Pension.

     A member of Congress collects a salary while in office
     and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in
    Social Security.

       All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to
       the Social Security system immediately. All future funds
       flow into the Social Security system, and Congress
       participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as
     all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
    Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and
     participates in the same health care system as the
     American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on
    the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present members of Congress
    are void effective 1/1/12.

        The American people did not make this contract with
        the Congress. Congress made all these contracts for

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding
Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve
their term(s), then go home and back to work.

Surely you jest.....................

Real estate sales the 10th most stressful job in 2011?   Why?

Partially a case of bad labeling.  Turns out they have a separate
list of the 10 most stressful "blue collar" jobs.  Police, firefighters,
taxi drivers, corrections officers, roofers, construction foremen
make that list.  But still................

The whole list, rationales, and comments are here.  The
whole thing is worth a laugh.

Thanks Jeff

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On copper thieves..........

There's this 30,000 square foot industrial building in town that
has been denied love and attention for way too many years. It's
roof was so bad that you could get wetter standing inside the
building than out.  Plus, over the years the building had been
enlarged, using the "this ought to be good enough" school of
architecture and design.  Well, no.  It wasn't good enough and
there was a partial roof collapse.

For better or worse, over the years, we have collected more
than a few of these unloved buildings and have done our best to
put them back into productive use.  So, it will come as no
surprise that we acquired the worst roof in Newark, and the
building that came with it.

The roof ended up being unsalvagable and has now been totally
removed.  We have spent more time, and money, with architects
and engineers designing a whole new roof system than was
budgeted.  It is the way of old buildings.

But, this is not the story I set out to tell..........

I'm really here to tell you about the copper thieves.  With
commodity prices up, an empty and lonely industrial building
makes a tempting target.  At one time there was an extensive
amount of electrical wiring running through the building.  Not so
much anymore. If one is willing to cut a hole in a security fence
and climb into a building after breaking windows, then one can
spend undisturbed hours stripping out the copper wires.  All of
which happened.  What amazes is the time, energy, and
knowledge that our thieves put into this exercise.  To do what
they did required hard work, with a bit of danger on the side. 
After all, the juice was still on to the electrical service.  We
found one metal tool that they used, and left behind, that showed
serious signs of being zapped by a significant electrical charge. 
Bet that one stung a bit.

It's all a bit sad really.  Somebody willing to work that hard,
(at the end of the day earning a decent wage for their effort)
choosing to destroy value rather than add value.  Bad karma,
me thinks.   Anyway, all this ran through my mind when I saw this:

cartoon courtesy of

About those other five............

Thanks Jeff

The Question.......

Hamlet:  To be, or not to be: that is the question:
     Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
     The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
     Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
     And by opposing end them? To die - to sleep;
     No more; and by a sleep to say we end
     The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
     That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
     Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
     To sleep, perchance to dream -  ay, there's the rub;
     For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
     When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
     Must give us pause -  there's the respect
     That makes calamity of so long life;
     For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
     The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
     The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
     The insolence of office and the spurns
     That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
     When he himself might his quietus make
     With a bare bodkin?  Who would fardels bear,
     To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
     But that the dread of something after death,
     The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
     No traveller returns, puzzles the will
     And makes us rather bear those ills we have
     Than fly to others that we know not of?
     Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
     And thus the native hue of resolution
     Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
     And enterprises of great pith and moment
     With this regard their currents turn awry,
     And lose the name of action.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, 55-87

(for a  younger version of the Moody Blues's Question go here)

Two plans...............

Speaking of the Kinks.............

On not weeding.............

Thanks Leah

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tired of waiting...........

February, 1967.  Sophomore year at Lower Merion High.  Going
out for the lacrosse team.  We're running wind sprints on the
basketball court getting in shape for the coming season. I was not
the fastest 15 year old you've ever seen.  Actually, I had foot
speed suitable for being a goalie.  At the time, I had no plans on
being a goalie, but as lacrosse is a game built on speed and since
I wanted to be on the team, goaliehood started looking more
attractive all the time.  But I digress.  We were running these up
and back wind sprints.  Every sprint I finished, my buddy Fergy
was already back, in position for the next whistle, and he was
singing this little ditty:
   "so tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you."
I didn't take it personally.  Actually, I found myself singing
the song for weeks afterword, and in later years, I would be
singing it to myself again and again while waiting for several
hoped-for-but-never-to-develop relationships to develop.

Regardless of the context, this 1965 Kinks hit is a timeless
favorite.  If it doesn't play because of some copyright issue,
just click through to Youtube.  Please.

How's this for educational reform........

Back in 1926, George S. Clason wrote a dandy little book on
wealth creation.  Titled The Richest Man in Babylon, the book
offers the rules for obtaining financial independence.  Nothing
fancy here.  Just the tried and true; easy to understand, but
harder to do.  To wit:  pay yourself first (save for investment the
first 10% of all your income), control your expenses (live on 90%,
or less, of your income), invest your savings wisely and prudently
(buying lottery tickets is gambling not investing and trying to
generate out sized returns is speculating not investing), own your
own home (free and clear sooner rather than later), reinvest the
proceeds from your investments (don't eat your seed corn), and
"cultivate thy own powers, to study and become wiser, to
become more skillful, to so act as to respect thyself."

Not rocket science.  Just a discipline that could easily be
taught, but generally isn't.  As Clason says:

"Arkad," spoke the king, "is it true that thou are the richest
man in Babylon?"
"So it is reported, your majesty, and no man disputes it."
"How becamest thou so wealthy?"
"By taking advantage of the opportunities available to all
citizens of our good city."
"Thou hadst nothing to start with?"
"Only a great desire for wealth.  Besides this nothing."
"Arkad," continued the king, "our city is in a very unhappy
state because a few men know how to acquire wealth and
therefore monopolize it, while the mass of our citizens lack
the knowledge of how to keep any part of the gold they
"It is my desire that Babylon be the wealthiest city in the
world.  Therefore, it must be a city of many wealthy men. 
Therefore, we must teach all the people how to acquire
riches.  Tell me, Arkad, is there any secret to acquiring
wealth?  Can it be taught?"
"It is practical, your majesty.  That which one man knows
may be taught to others."

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

Michael Wade has been having fun posting noteworthy "opening
paragraphs."   Thought maybe I'd join in:

I first met him in Piraeus.  I wanted to take the boat for Crete and had gone down to the port.  It was almost daybreak and raining.  A strong sirocco was blowing the spray from the waves as far as the little cafe, whose glass doors were shut.  The cafe reeked of brewing sage and human beings whose breath steamed the windows because of the cold outside,  Five or six seamen, who had spent the night there, muffled in their brown goatskin reefer-jackets, were drinking coffee or sage and gazing out of the misty windows at the sea.  The fish, dazed by the blows of the raging waters, had taken refuge in the depths, where they were waiting till calm was restored above.  The fishermen crowding in the cafes were also waiting for the end of the storm, when the fish, reassured, would rise to the surface after the bait.  Soles, hog fish, and skate were returning from their nocturnal expeditions.  Day was now breaking.

-Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

A summer's day.............

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day!
   Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
   And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
   And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
   By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
   Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
   When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Every boy wants a girl...........

A poem for Monday

          In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

-Mary Oliver

picture courtesy of

On perspective....................

Sunday, July 31, 2011

On time...........

"Practically speaking, if timesaving devices really saved
time,there would be more time available to us now then ever
before in history.  but, strangely enough, we seem to have
less time than even a few years ago.  It's really great to go
someplace where there are no timesaving devices because,
when you do, you find that you have lots of time."

"The main problem with this great obsession for Saving Time
is very simple: you can't save time.  You can only spend it.
But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.  The Bisy Backson
has practically no time at all, because he's too busy wasting
it by trying to save it.  And by trying to save every bit of it,
he ends up wasting the whole thing.

The Tao of Pooh,  Benjamin Hoff

image courtesy of

Sunday's Verse

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not
any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness
comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light,
that all men through him might believe.

He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of
that Light.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world.

10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him,
and the world knew him not.

11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to
become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his

13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Holy Bible, King James Version
John 1:1-13

Being true..........

POLONIUS:     This above all: to thine own self be true,
                          and it must follow, as the night the day,
                          Thou canst not then be false to any man.
                          Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Hamlet   Act 1, Scene 3, 78-81

Data vs Knowledge..........

"The explosion of data that is now available on the internet
is not the same thing as an explosion of knowledge."
-Walter Russell Mead

Not even close to trying.......

Played a clip of the Standells playing Dirty Water on Friday.
Dennis made the following comment:

"That certainly demonstrates why Dick Clark always made
groups lip-synch their recordings. The only thing worse than
the out-of-tune singing was the fumbling drumming."  

Little did Dennis know that the Standells had another clip where
they completely blew off any attempt at lip-syncing.  It is actually
kind of funny in a farcical way.  That may account for this
description of the group from the folks at Wikipedia:

"The Standells are a 1960s garage rock band from Los
Angeles, California, often referred to as the "Godfathers
of Punk Rock."  

For your continued listening - and viewing - pleasure, here
is take number two of Dirty Water.

liberty or security?

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary
security, deserve neither liberty or security."
-Benjamin Franklin


"Shortly after I met my mentor he asked me, 'Mr. Rohn,
how much money have you saved and invested over
the past six years?'  And I said, 'None.'  He then asked,
'Who sold you on that plan?'"
-Jim Rohn