Saturday, December 15, 2012

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

Mannheim Steamroller...................The Little Drummer Boy

Stairways to heaven........................

Chase Jarvis shares photographs of stairs worth climbing: here

Sample here:


Any guesses.........................

...............on the inflation rate two years from now?  This blog is offering a six-pack of your favorite micro-brewed beer to the closest guess.  I've already made mine.
















as always, the chart comes from Calculated Risk.

Amusement Central.................

Where does he find this stuff............................?

Work..............................

“Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.”

Maria Popova reviews How to Avoid Work, a 1949 book by William Reilly.  If you don't follow the Brain Pickings blog........well, you should.  

So-so............................

















via

Frosty the Snowman...................

Christmas trivia.........................Part 5

     Who first characterized Santa as a jolly old man in a red suit who rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and slides down chimneys to deliver gifts?


Yesterday's answer:  "I'll be back again someday!"

Self-service...........................


Friday, December 14, 2012

Hey, wait a minute....................

Elvis and Martina ??............................Blue Christmas

(click through to YouTube please)

Hate it when that happens.................Green Santa


But, it also causes stress..........






















via John Cox

Just because....................

Lynyrd Skynyrd........................Run Run Rudolph

Fun with statistics.............taxation department

More fun with numbers.  Just as an observation, numbers can be organized to support about any argument you want them to.  To wit:

"In 1958, the top 3% of taxpayers earned 14.7% of all adjusted gross income and paid 29.2% of all federal income taxes. In 2010, the top 3% earned 27.2% of adjusted gross income and their share of all federal taxes rose proportionally, to 51%."

"In contrast, the share of taxes paid by the bottom two-thirds of taxpayers has fallen dramatically over the same period. In 1958, these Americans accounted for 41.3% of adjusted gross income and paid 29% of all federal taxes. By 2010, their share of adjusted gross income had fallen to 22.5%. But their share of taxes paid fell far more dramatically—to 6.7%. The 77% decline represents the single biggest difference in the way the tax burden is shared in this country since the late 1950s."

Full essay is here.  For the record:  I paid no income taxes in 1958.

Seduction.................










"Being a language, mathematics may be used not only to inform but also, among other things, to seduce."
-Benoit Mandelbrot

God love Eric...................

Barking Up the Wrong Tree (another really fine blog) offers a primer on how to boost your creativity.  I better get back to work play, because I'm batting five for five.  Full post is here.  Five quick things here:

1) Want to be more creative? Get happy.

2) Don’t get a brainstorm group together

3) Your morning shower is good for more than washing.

4) Take a break and do something habitual, like going for a walk or taking a nap.

5) Your mind is more creative when it is more loose and disorganized.

Christmas trivia.........Part 4

What were Frosty the Snowman's famous last words?


Yesterday's answer:   Cranberry Sauce.  One definition of "marshwort" is here.  Source for answer is here.

Hate it when that happens.............






















via

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Threefer...............................

U2.................................Christmas, Baby Please Come Home




Bruce Springsteen.............Christmas, Baby Please Come Home




The Eagles........................... Please Come Home For Christmas





Questions...........................


The history major's history major..............

Victor Davis Hanson offers a fine essay on the misjudgments, misreadings, and mistakes of war in the mid-20th century.    Full essay is here.  Excerpt here:

"As historians we must remember not to evaluate what happened solely on the basis of what we now know in hindsight, but rather weigh the information available to the warring parties of the time — albeit with ample attention paid to their own shortcomings and prejudices."

Cohesion..................

"The true gravitation-hold of liberalism in the United States will be a more universal ownership of property, general homesteads, general comfort, a vast intertwining reticulation of wealth.  As the human frame, or, indeed any object in this manifold universe, is best kept together by the simple miracle of its own cohesion and the necessity, exercise, and profit thereof, so a great and varied nationality, occupying millions of square miles, were firmest held and knit by the principle of safety and endurance of the aggregate of its middling property owners."
-Walt Whitman

Ed note:  Confessing here to the need of looking up the meaning of "reticulation."  Mr. Webster believes it means "network."

The Mighty E..........................

..................................is working hard, getting us in the holiday spirit.  Do go visit him.










Maybe tomorrow...................


Indeed.......................

















via

Christmas trivia................Part 3

What Christmas food is made from "marsh-whorts"?

     a)   Plum pudding
     b)   Sweet potatoes
     c)   Cranberry sauce
     d)   Stuffing


Answer to yesterday's question:  Nothing is simple.  Benjamin Harrison or Franklin Pierce both have supportable claims to the title of first President to have a Christmas tree IN the White House.

Still in the red zone.................


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Volume up...........................

Mannheim Steamroller..............................Pat A Pan

All hail.................................


Christmas trivia...........Round 2

Name the first U. S. president to erect a Christmas tree in the White House.

Yesterday's answer = 364

Progress............................

















"There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect."
-Ronald Reagan 


image via

Not feeling so hot..................

















via

It's almost tree time.................


#5 is my favorite.............


It's Twelve......................

.....................Happy Twelve/Twelve/Twelve

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On this night........................

Trans-Siberian Orchestra.............Christmas Canon Rock

The Cone of Silence.............


















Do not tell secrets to those whose faith and silence you have not already tested. 
Elizabeth I 
 

Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own. 
George Bernard Shaw 


I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers. 
Khalil Gibran 

Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrusts himself. 
Francois de La Rochefoucauld 

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words. 
Elbert Hubbard 

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. 
Martin Luther King, Jr.


A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech.
Emile M. Cioran 

Silence is the virtue of fools. 
Francis Bacon 


Silence is foolish if we are wise, but wise if we are foolish. 
Charles Caleb Colton

I crave a cone of silence every once in while. 
Laura Linney 

Ed. Note:   The picture above is from the TV show Get Smart.  Max and the Chief used the "Cone of Silence" to talk secretly.   Once in the Cone, however, they couldn't hear each other so they would shout until everyone could hear them.  Great TV!

Health care.....................






















courtesy of mme scherzo

Free the Kringle 8...................



























via

Linky goodness.........................

Seth on the risks of too much simplicity:
     "Nuance and subtlety aren't the exception in changing human behavior. They're the norm."

John E. Smith on the sources of inspiration:
     "Brimming over with possibilities just because I am open to them in the Heartland"

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the looming cliff:
     “There’s something terribly bizarre and juvenile about that to think your party comes ahead of your country. I don’t go for that at all”

Nan on paying attention:
     "It is a good practice - focusing on this moment. Try it, why don't you?"

Jeff wants out of the box and off the screen:
     "But that act of sitting down at a table together, sharing stories and good conversation, opens up a more humane way of seeing each other. Real voices, real people, in real time."


To spice up your blog viewing/reading, try a little of Jetboy's best  playing in the background.  It should do the trick.  You just don't find this stuff listening to the radio.

Community re-building...............
















Contrary to popular belief,  Mom-and-Pop real estate, the bastion of small business,  is way more important to the health of neighborhoods, communities and our country than all your fancy trophy properties in your fancy gateway cities put together.  But, Mom and Pop have long felt unloved. They suffer from being too small, too distant, too difficult to invest in, and too difficult to finance.  All too often, for want of capital investment, this sort of real estate - the backbone of a neighborhood  - gets redeveloped by the blade of a bulldozer; and then we say goodbye to the small businesses.   Investment capital has been hard to come by for these really small investments primarily because of governmental securities rules.  In the name of protecting investors, they have made the task of raising capital for small projects nigh unto impossible.  The "law of unintended consequences" strikes again.  That may be changing.  Bringing change through the regulatory community requires either a huge check book, or a really good idea backed by unflagging persistence (and a decent sized checkbook).  This unfolding, and fairly long story, is told here.  If investing in either real estate or in community building is your thing, it is well worth the reading time and effort.   Excerpts here:

The Millers have invested the last two years and nearly a million dollars in trying to answer this question: Why can’t small-time investors put their money in their own communities? Then, finally, in August, they successfully took a single property on H Street public. Under a new company called Fundrise, the Millers invited anyone in the area – accredited or not – to invest online in this one building and its future business for shares as small as $100, in a public offering qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission. By the time the deal closed last week, 175 people had together invested $325,000, for just under a third of the whole project. If the rest of this experiment works like the Millers hope it will, the idea embedded in this one unassuming storefront could have an impact on communities everywhere.

Part of the idea is that proximity can stand in for financial sophistication. Maybe these small-time investors aren't comfortable parsing all of the relevant legal documents. But they know the business owner who's moving in. And they can actually see the building. "It’s much different," Dan says, "than the idea of someone sending you an email from Nigeria."

Keep trying......................


Christmas trivia.................

..................and math quiz all in one:

If you received all the gifts gifted in the song Twelve Days of Christmas, how many gifts would you receive?

(Hint:  Don't forget that you will be ending up with 12 partridges)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A holiday tradition.................

August Burns Red...............................Carol of the Bells

Imagine.............................

















“Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.” 
-Patricia A. McKillip


“Everything you can imagine is real.” 
-Pablo Picasso


“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” 
-Kurt Vonnegut

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” 
-Terry Pratchett


“You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
-Mark Twain

“Imagination is intelligence with an erection.” 
-Victor Hugo

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night."
-Edgar Allen Poe


"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
-Dr.Seuss


image via

Inquiring minds wondered...............

..........from whence came this red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph.  Guesses included the well-know Christmas song, an unknown book, and an ancient legend.  The all-knowing Oracle Google was consulted.  Turns out Rudolph was a slick 1939 American marketing ploy that exceeded all expectations and then some.  Full Wikipedia entry, aka the Gospel Truth, is here.  Excerpts here:

Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for Montgomery Ward. The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year and it was decided that creating their own book would save money. May considered naming the reindeer "Rollo" and "Reginald" before deciding upon using the name "Rudolph".   In its first year of publication, 2.5 million copies of Rudolph's story were distributed by Montgomery Ward.

May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted the story of Rudolph into a song. Gene Autry's recording of the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart the week of Christmas 1949. Autry's recording sold 2.5 million copies the first year, eventually selling a total of 25 million, and it remained the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.

Just for grins, here's The Singing Cowboy himself:

Afraid................................















"They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves."
-Ray Bradbury

image via

Cost...........................
















"The chess board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature.  The player on the other side is hidden from us.  We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient.  But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
-Thomas Henry Huxley, A Liberal Education

Short............................

"People often go wrong estimating America’s future prospects by comparing the state of the country to perfection; we fall short and depression ensues."
-Walter Russell Mead (full essay here)

Uh-oh..................................

















via

Cat.........................
























"A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there. A theologian is the man who finds it."
-attributed to H. L. Mencken

David Kanigan.................

..........is among other things a mighty fine blogger.  Checking in at his Lead.Learn.Live blog is part of my daily routine.  David recently nominated some folks for the Blog of the Year award.  He generously included Anderson Layman's Blog on his list.  Thank you David,  Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Faithful readers......................

.......may note that from time to time this blog likes to post quotes by H. L. Mencken (and others).  So, with great interest, I read Cultural Offering's recent post on Mencken's dictionary of quotes.  Seeking a copy for my own shelves, a quick visit was paid to Amazon.  Oops.   See below.  Kurt, if I post a bond, may I borrow your copy for a day or two?



What Child Is This................

Moody Blues..........................................



Charlotte Church...........................................



Andrea Bocelli and Mary J Blige..............................



Love................................























"At the center of religion is love. I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. Everything in our life should be based on love."
-Ray Bradbury

image via mme scherzo

Grace..................................

Pale sunlight,
pale the wall.

Love moves away.
The light changes.

I need more grace
than I thought.

-Rumi

Needs one...........................

The Kinks...............................Father Christmas

Look It Over....................

photo copyright by  Jeff Kopito


















I leave behind even
my walking stick.  My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot.  I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book.  I go
into the woods.  I sit on
a log provided at no cost.
It is the earth I've come to,
the earth itself, sadly
abused by the stupidity
only humans are capable of
but, as ever, itself.  Free.
A bargain!  Get it while it lasts.
-Wendell Berry

A verse for Sunday...........


Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

-The Holy Bible
King James Version
Philippians 4:4-8

A rant...........................

























"We need the games to stop. The election did not give Obama and the Democrats a big win that was any mandate to continue the country into a spending oblivion. The Republicans need to discard whoever Norquist is. Nobody elected him to set policy. The danger is that instead of solving a giant problem, Washington is still in the mode of children acting out instead of adults sitting in a room and solving massive problems. Both sides need to get off TV and start to act like adults behind closed doors. You can say whatever you wish about Reagan-O’Neill, or how Lyndon Johnson operated, of Clinton-Gingrich, but they all knew how to get done what needed to get done for the good of the country. The more there is posturing on TV the harder it is to back down and compromise. The Dems seem to think and say so, it is only all about raising taxes on the main payers of tax, and  the Republicans seem to say it is all about not raising rates even a little. If any of these people worked in any of our companies we would fire them for stupidity."
-Joel Ross, as excerpted 

Dieting.................................


















via

Inner..........................