Saturday, July 28, 2012

Searching the archives...................

Ram Jam....................................Black Betty

Might as well hunt for unicorns...........



Walter Russell Mead joins the crowd in favor a "simpler tax code."  Post here.  Excerpts here:


In terms of inefficiency, the U.S. tax code stands as one of humanity’s most monumental accomplishments............................A simpler code without the fancy social engineering bells and whistles is what this country needs. But to get that, we need something else: an honest and competent Congress that puts the public interest first.

As a public service..........

Ambrose Bierce once wrote a handbook, Write It Right.  It was subtitled A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults, and its purpose was to "teach precision in writing."  A small sample:


Continually and Continuously.  It seems that these words should have the same meaning, but in their use by good writers there is a difference.  What is done continually is not done all the time, but continuous action is without interruption.  A loquacious fellow, who nevertheless finds time to eat and sleep, is continually talking; but a great river flows continuously.

Essential for Necessary.  This solecism is common among the best writers of this country and England.  "It is essential to go early"; "Irrigation is essential to cultivation of arid lands," and so forth. One thing is essential to another thing only if it is of the essence of it - an important and indispensable part of it, determining its nature; the soul of it.

Moneyed for Wealthy.  "The moneyed men of New York."  One might as sensibly say, "The cattled men of Texas," or, "The lobstered men of the fish market."

Anticipate Expect more of this.

Transitional.........................


"When an age is in throes of profound transition, the first thing to disintegrate is language."
-Rollo May

On rare occasions.............


Squander.........................


Inheritance.........................

"We are born animals; we become human.  We have humanity thrust upon us through hundreds of channels whereby the past pours down into the present that mental and cultural inheritance whose preservation, accumulation and transmission place mankind today, with all its defectives and illiterates, on a higher plane than any generation has reached before."
-Will Durant, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Thanks Mom




thanks craig

Friday, July 27, 2012

She moved better on wine......

Mountain.............................................Mississippi Queen

Albert Schweitzer's piano....................


     "I have no intention of dying." he once told his staff, "so long as I can do things. And if I do things, there is no need to die.  So I will live a long, long time."
     And he did - until he was ninety-five.
     Like his friend Pablo Casals, Albert Schweitzer would not allow a single day to pass without playing Bach.  His favorite piece was the Toccata and Fugue in D. Minor.  The piece was written for the organ,  But there were no organs in Lambarene.  There were two pianos, both uprights, both ancient.  The one in the staff dining room was the more battered of the two.  The equatorial climate, with its saturating humidity, had vanquished it almost beyond recognition.  Some of the keys had no ivories; others were yellowed and cracked.  The felt on the hammers had worn thin and produced harsh, twanging sounds.  The instrument had not been tuned in years; even if it had been, the improvement would have been short lived.  On my first visit to the hospital, I wandered into the dining room, sat down to play, then drew back abruptly at the caricatured tones.  Yet the amazing thing was that Schweitzer could play hymns on it at dinner each evening and the piano somehow lost its poverty in his hands.
-as excepted from Norman Cousin's Anatomy of an Illness

Back to work......................


Playfulness.......................
















"The ability to play is one of the principal criteria of mental health." 
-Ashley Montagu

Value...........................


"You don't get paid for the hour.  You get paid for the value you bring to the hour."
-Jim Rohn

The existential Hobbes...................


No harm...................

















    Lysimachia Nummularia


It is called moneywort
for its "coinlike" leaves
and perhaps its golden flowers.
I love it because it is
a naturalized exotic
that does no harm,
and for its lowly thriving,
and for its actual
unlikeness to money.

-Wendell Berry

Entrepreneurs...........................

"We have lived through the age of big industry and the age of the giant corporation, but I believe that this is the age of the entrepreneur, the age of the individual.  That's where American prosperity is coming from now, and that's where it's going to come from in the future."
-Ronald Reagan,  1985

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Haunting.....................

Renaissance............................................Ocean Gypsy

It's still a good question................


More fun with words..............

Whose Line Is It?...............................



Frack baby frack....................



So let’s review the facts:
1.  America is reducing greenhouse gas emissions faster than 
anywhere else because Bush/Cheney ignored environmentalists 
and went with the “drill baby drill” strategy.
2.  Europe is switching to coal because gas is too expensive.  But 
wait; doesn’t Europe also have lots of shale gas?  They do. But they 
listened to the environmentalists, and have all but banned fracking.

(a more readable drawing of Ohio's Utica Shale formation 
can be found at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
site:  here)

On energy...................

"The world belongs to those with the most energy."
-Alexis de Tocqueville

Risky business.....................


"We live in turbulent times.  Massive social and economic changes are underway, and those who opt for risk aversion are courting disaster."
-Thomas M. Loarie

Economics 101.......................


"Remind people that profit is the difference between revenue and expense.  This makes you look smart."
-Scott Adams

Two scoops, please..................


"You look at any giant corporation, and I mean the biggies, and they all started with a guy with an idea, doing it well."
-Irvine Robbins

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word................

The Trashmen.........................................Surfin Bird



lyrics here

On Work.....................



"There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination."
-Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


thanks Maria

Never to underestimate...........


"I have learned never to underestimate the capacity of the human mind and body to regenerate - even when the prospects seem most wretched.  The life-force may be the least understood force on earth.  William James said that human beings tend to live too far within self-imposed limits.  It is possible that these limits will recede when we respect more fully the natural drive of the human mind and body toward perfectibility and regeneration.  Protecting and cherishing that natural drive may well represent the finest exercise of human freedom."
-Norman Cousins,  Anatomy of an Illness


image courtesy of

On trivialities..................

Feast on two quotes taken from Stephen Jay Gould's essay, Dousing Diminutive Dennis's Debate (a learned discussion concerning the appropriate starting and ending dates of new millennia):

"First - o cursed spite - our disjointed times, and our burgeoning press, provide greatly enhanced opportunity for rehearsal of such narrishkeit ad nauseam; do we not feast upon trivialities to divert attention from the truly portentous issues that engulf us?"

"Neat, except that I think people want to argue passionately about trivial unresolvabilities - lest they be compelled to invest such rambunctious energy in real battle that might kill somebody."

Fun with words...................

The previous post contained the word narrishkeit.  A middling student, I don't claim to have the greatest vocabulary, and so, I often consult the desk-side Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary -which doesn't necessarily have the greatest vocabulary either.  Neither of us knew the word, although the context of the original quote gave hint to the meaning.  Still, the question lingered.  The Great Oracle Google was consulted -hmmm, appears to be Yiddish.  No definition available, although Wordlist.com provided this handy and wondrous list of synonyms:


absurdnessact of follyaimlessnessamphigoryanticness,
babblebabblementbalderdashbibble-babblebizarreness,
bizarrerieblabberblatherblunderbombastbootlessness
claptrapcrazinesscuriousnessdaftnessdeformity,
dottinessdouble-talkdriveldrollerydrollnessdrool
dumb trickeccentricityemptinesserrorfallacy
fantasticality,fantasticalnessfatuityfecklessnessfiddle-
faddlefiddledeedeeflummeryfolderolfollyfoolishness,
freakishness,fruitlessnessfudgefunninessfustianfutility
gabblegalimatiasgammongibbergibberishgibble-
gabble,gobbledygookgrotesquenessgrotesqueriehilarity
hocus-pocushollownesshopelessness,humbughumorous-
ness,illogicalityimpossibilityimpossibleimpossibleness
impotenceimprudenceinanityinconceivabilityincongruity,
indiscretionineffectivenessineffectualityinefficacy
insanityirrationalityjabberjargonlaughabilityludicrous-
ness,malformationmeaninglessnessmonstrosity
monstrousnessmumbo jumbonarrishkeitniaiserieno 
chancenonsense,nonsensicalitynugacitynuttiness
oddityotiosityoutlandishnessoutrageousnessoxymoron
pack of nonsense,palaverparadoxpeculiaritypointless-
nessprateprattlepreposterousnesspricelessness
profitlessnesspurposelessnessquaintnessqueerness
quizzicalnessrantrat racerichnessridiculousness
rigamarolerigmarole,rodomontaderubbishself-
contradictionsenselessnesssillinesssingularity
skimble-skamblesottisestrangeness,stuff and nonsense
stultiloquencestupid thingstupidityteratismthe absurd,
the funny sidethe impossibletrash,trivialitytrumpery
twaddletwattletwiddle-twaddleunimaginability
unproductivenessunprofitability,unprofitableness
unreasonablenessunthinkabilityunwise stepvalueless-
nessvanityvaporingvicious circlewaffling,weirdness
what cannot bewhat cannot happenwhimsicalness
wildnesswitlessnesswittinessworthlessness

Us follicly-challenged 60 year olds love this description of the weatherman..........

From Sippican Cottage:

"I never paid much attention to the weather.

Why should you? People rarely go where the weather can get at you. A weather report on television always seemed like it was by, and for, lunatics. Watching a hair farmer in an off-the-rack suit wave his little stick-arms at a green screen depiction of the alleged weather happening somewhere else is for people with onions on their belt. Only people that have nothing to do with the outdoors watch the weather on TV."

Upgrade.....................

     "Emerson was not just a contemplative theologian, however.  He was also a man of action.  A passionate abolitionist, he spoke out forcefully against slavery, calling it not just an institution but a 'destitution.'
     "How does this nineteenth century philosopher speak to us today?  Like William James, the great psychologist who followed in his footsteps, Emerson recognized that most of our difficulties start right between our ears.  The first key to resolving your problems is to upgrade your thinking.  'This time, like all times, is a very good one,' said Emerson, 'if we but know what to do with it.'
     "We also fail to recognize how our problems benefit us by strengthening us, advancing our interests.  When a man is 'pushed, tormented, defeated,' he wrote, 'he has a chance to learn something; he has been put on his wits; on his manhood; he has gained facts; learns his ignorance; is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got moderation and real skill.' "
-Alexander Green, beyond Wealth

The ordinary brushstrokes of our soul.................


     "'You use the arts to see your soul,' said the playwright George Bernard Shaw.  But we also use the arts to see something else - the soul of the artist.
     "If we stand before a van Gogh, for example, and see only the brilliance of his colors, we have not seen van Gogh, only the palette from which he worked.  If we see only sunflowers and starry nights and the sad people in his pictures, we have seen more than colors, but we haven't seen van Gogh.  If, on the other hand, we sense in those pictures a passionate search for God and a compassionate reach for people, we have seen the artist.  We have seen through the paint and the picture to glimpse something of his soul.
     "The soul, though at all times hidden, is at all times revealed, expressing itself through everything we say and do.  Through the ordinary brushstrokes of our everyday life, a portrait of our soul is being painted."
-Ken Gire,  Windows of the Soul

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's a twist and shout kind of day...............

The Beatles...........................................Twist and Shout
(slow starting video.  First 13 seconds are void)

Us Midwesterners admire plain speaking folk........

For some simple, no frills, straightforward advice on life/starting a career, please read this short interview with Bill Poorvu.  Excerpt here:

"Don’t take yourself too seriously. There’s a lot to learn.  You will make  mistakes. Be willing to work hard, network, try to keep learning, and don’t ever accept it when somebody says do it because that’s the way it’s always been done."

Us simple minded folk would just say, "let them fail".....

"......... financial-industry scandals will continue to arrive on a semi-regular basis. When they do, they will always be accompanied by calls for stronger regulation: rules-based, or principles-based, or some combination of the two. But the real problem here isn’t regulatory, and as a result there isn’t a regulatory solution. The real problem is deeply baked into the architecture of too-big-to-fail banks. And frankly I don’t see any realistic way of unbaking that particular loaf."


So concludes Felix Salmon in this essay.    Sometime around the year 2000, the too-big-to-fail banks  became the playground of choice for whiz kids and rocket-scientists trying to get rich quickly.  They did so by arbitraging confusion and completely ignoring the well-being of their customers.  The results have not been pretty.  So...........to unbake that particular loaf, why not either break them up, or let them fail?   Community banks, on the other hand,  seem closer to, and more vested in the success of, their customers.  Customers must like that as small, and nimble, community banks seem to be popping up all over the place.  Here's to wishing those not-to-big-to-fail banks longevity and prosperity.

What's a cubit.......................?

Bill Cosby........................................................Noah

ad astra......................



"non est ad astra mollis e terris via"
"there is no easy way from the earth to the stars"
-Seneca


information about photo here

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

"It wasn’t free enterprise that was at fault; it was the lack of free enterprise. Statism and its co-dependent spouse - corporate cronyism - melted down our economy."


So says Arthur Brooks in his essay, Five Myths About Free Enterprise.  Do go read it.


Thanks Craig

Math made easy for us history majors.................


Contributing to the conversation............
















thanks jonco

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jeff reminds us there are many versions of "the lion sleeps tonight." Here are a few..................

Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds from 1939.  The original?



The Weavers..............................circa 1951



Ladysmith Black Mambazo...................circa 1988


Straight No Chaser..............................circa 1998


Lebo M/Jimmy Cliff...............................circa 1999

More optical fun.............

Two faced............................................?





















thanks mark

Baffling expedients.................

"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."
-Winston Churchill


While it is tempting to think Churchill is talking to us today about the state of our finances, this quote was excerpted from a speech he made in the House of Commons in November of 1936.  You can read the whole thing here.  The context is Churchill expressing dismay that Germany is rapidly militarizing and that Britain and France have lagged dangerously behind.  Churchill is encouraging his nation to play catch up to the end that  "we may be the architects who build the peace of the world on sure foundations."  They listened too little, too late, and the consequences were appalling.  History does seem to approximate itself.


thanks tom

Let's eat....................................


Mission accomplished?


                     Being Boring

"May you live in interesting times."  Chinese curse.

If you ask me, "What's new?," I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it's better today.
I'm content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is.
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work.  He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears and passion - I've used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last,
If nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you're after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don't go to parties.  Well, what are they for,
If you don't need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
I've just one ambition in life:  I aspire
To go on and on being boring.

-Wendy Cope

image courtesy of

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


Why scientists often garner disrespect......

     "As far as biological cause and effect are concerned," Pinker wrote in The Language Instinct, "music is useless.  It shows no sign of design for attaining a goal such as long life, or grandchildren, or accurate perception and prediction of the world.  Compared with language, vision, social reasoning, and physical know-how, music could vanish from our species and the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually unchanged."
-an excerpt from This Is Your Brain on Music

I beg to disagree.

Why music matters.....................

A Russian flash mob votes for peace, love, fun, and..................... "puttin on the Ritz"

thanks finer minds

Picking on the really smart people, again......

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."
-Yogi Berra



Richard Alford mocks the "undue confidence, false precision" of economists and model makers.  Full post is here.  Excerpt is here:


"Well into 2007, economists, pundits and policymakers were confidently predicting a continuation of the Great Moderation, and many were issuing assurances that there was no housing price bubble. Does this failure reflect problems with economists, policymakers and their models? Or is the problem inherent in the nature of the economy? If the failure of mainstream models to foresee the crisis and recession is the result of economists having too much faith in a faulty model, then changing the economists or the model could rectify the problem. If, on the other hand, the nature of the macroeconomic problem is such that models that allow for forecasts and policy design with the required accuracy are impossible, than how should policy be designed, implemented, and communicated?"


It's a complex world we live in.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

15 minutes in the garden of eden...........

Iron Butterfly....................................In A Gadda Da Vida

Stringing.........................

From the Journal of a Nobody, a very excellent tumblr:

For treasure seekers everywhere...............

















thanks bill

Occupy.....................


Universality...........................


Just checking.........................

Six weeks ago, Cultural Offering suggested a summer to-do list -here.  Looks like I've got a bit of catching up to do, how about you?

Gloom of night................



From the keyboard of WRM comes an essay on the Post Office woes - here.  Excerpt here:


"Congress’ pathetic inability to manage the Postal Service won’t sink the republic, but the ineptitude and selfishness on display in the process just might. If Congress approaches the “fiscal cliff” it has set up for the end of this year with no more statesmanship and wisdom than it has exhibited in the USPS matter, the United States will be headed for the biggest man-made financial disaster in its history."