Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

While out walking.....................

.........with Dog...................


..........in the 100 aker wood............

.........we came to (and took) the path less traveled by..................

..........for which we now know the reason.

This one's for Jetboy...................

Muddy Waters............................Got My Mojo Workin'

Why living through change is so difficult..........

If a really smart person, like Victor Davis Hanson, as quoted below, can't figure it all out................

"In other words, the world gone by of my youth and early middle age — small 40-acre and 80-acre orchards and vineyards, farmhouses with real owners living in them, three or four children working with a dad in the fields, a mother overseeing the books and taking her turn on the tractor in the hectic season — is dead. That agrarian culture is gone, vanished, kaput."
"Yet with agrarian demise, food production soared with economies of scale and decisions that were entirely market-based and not culturally predicated on tradition and morality. Is this good or bad news, both or neither — you decide; I cannot any longer. I know a nice guy who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars speculating and merchandising land to pension funds, EU expatriates, and celebrity investors. He does not know a spring-tooth from a flat furrower, and is richer for the ignorance. And I know a cranky, obnoxious old-timer holdout who still farms his small acreage and snaps at his workers. I want to believe that the latter is superior to the former, but I have seen too much in the last thirty years to be able to tell any more. Does someone in Africa who eats cheap U.S. wheat or rice say, 'Thank God for mass food production?'"
Full, read-worthy, essay is here.

Oh, and one more thing............................

Another memory surfaced from our recent trek to Washington D.C.:  As the bus approached the city, I was struck by the number of construction cranes visible on the horizon and remember thinking, "Wow, business must be good in the Capitol."














2012 photo of a downtown Washington construction project from here

Forget............................


















"Learn more.  Forget a little."
-Nicholas Bate, as excerpted from here


cartoon via

Fifty years ago......................

Billy J. Kramer...............Do You Want To Know A Secret




Personally, the Beatles version is way better.   Just saying.

Fifty years ago.................

Sports:  On March 23, 1963, Loyola (Chicago) beats the University of Cincinnati to win the NCAA men's basketball championship.  The final score was 60-58.  Story revisited by Sports Illustrated, here.  Video (without audio?) is here:

Could be...........................

















with appreciation

Stringing words together in an interesting fashion...

........nobody does it better than Greg Sullivan.  Full essay here.  Favorite excerpt is here:

"I put my children on the Intertunnel. A thing fraught with peril. But they are the product of the best of my self, and my wife's best efforts. They are a very long prayer released into the ether. One does not pray as if God is a vending machine; put a wish in the slot, and out comes the candy. You offer it up for its own sake."

His children on the Intertunnel here:




Help them buy a saxophone here

The world explained......................





















John Cox channels his inner Casey Stengel

Friday, March 22, 2013

Transforming health care....................?

From the desk of Walter Russell Mead comes a technology
story with this punchline:  "could give us newer, cheaper, and 
better ways of delivering care faster than anyone expects."  
Not a moment too soon.

Could have predicted this................

...............actually, I think I did, but I'm not willing to root through the old posts to prove it to you.   Lumber prices are up big-time.  Not because of tremendous demand, mind you, but because a slight increase in demand met lowered supply and capacity.  Whole swathes of the construction industry will have trouble meeting any sizable increase in demand.  The past five years seemed to have hollowed the industry out.  It will be fun watching it come back to life.

















back story and enlargeable chart here

Fifty years ago....................

Gene Pitney............................24 Hours From Tulsa

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

     The White House Social Calendar, a regular column in the newspapers of the national capital, reported in small print that on October 16, 1901, Booker T. Washington had been President Theodore Roosevelt's guest at dinner.  Overnight, the dinner became a sensation.  The southern newspapers, ever since Washington's famous Atlanta Compromise address in 1895, had held him up as an example of "the good negro," the very model of discretion, the man who had promised that black and white people could remain "as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress."  Now they felt betrayed, and vied with each other in frothing denunciation of both Washington and Roosevelt.  The level of white supremacy rhetoric in the South had risen steadily over the preceding decade of lynching and disfranchisement, but the southern press and political leaders abandoned all restraint now, and the cry from Dixie resembled the howl of the mob.  Men who had never supported Roosevelt swore that they would never vote for him again.  As for Washington, they would never trust him again.
-Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington:  The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915

Booker T. Washington..........................
























Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) was born a slave, with a never-named white planter for a father.  Gaining his freedom after the Civil War, Washington worked as a manual laborer.  Sensing the importance of learning, he "left home and walked 500 miles to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Along the way he took odd jobs to support himself. He convinced administrators to let him attend the school and took a job as a janitor to help pay his tuition."  Once finding school, he never really left.  In 1881 he was named the head of the newly created Tuskegee Institute. The intent at the time of Tuskegee's creation was  "not to produce farmers and tradesmen, but teachers of farming and trades."  Washington built well,  staying at Tuskegee until his death, leaving behind a highly successful place of learning. An educator, writer, fund-raiser, politician, and powerful speaker, Washington sought to advance the cause of African-Americans without antagonizing whites.  Difficult task to say the least.   More information about Washington is here and here.

The previous post Opening Paragraphs speaks to the vitriol that was heaped upon Washington for his having the nerve to dine with President Roosevelt.  If  you want to read real racism, go here.

A few quotes attributed to Booker T. Washington:

I learned the lesson that great men cultivate love, and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred. I learned that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top.


I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.


I would permit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.


I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.


There are two ways of exerting one's strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.

From some things that I have said one may get the idea that some of the slaves did not want freedom. This is not true. I have never seen one who did not want to be free, or one who would return to slavery.


Character is power.

Opportunity is like a bald-headed man with only a patch of hair right in front. You have to grab that hair, grasp the opportunity while it's confronting you, else you'll be grasping a slick bald head.


The thing to do when one feels sure that he has said or done the right thing and is condemned, is to stand still and keep quiet. If he is right, time will show it.

I think I have learned that the best way to lift one's self up is to help someone else.


Of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color. One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.


It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.

In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.

Good point..........................























thanks hugh

Going.................................














"Place at eye-line in work cubicle: 'I don't know where I am going from here but I promise it won't be boring.' - David Bowie"
-Nicholas Bate, as excerpted from here

How I spent my Wednesday.......


















3:00 A. M. Wednesday morning, a bus-load of Licking Countians, including your faithful blogger, left from the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority and made the seven hour drive to Washington D. C.  The contingent included a variety of elected officials and business/industry/Chamber of Commerce folks. We were there to meet with Congressmen, and/or their staffs, about an issue of extreme importance to our community.  After four hours of meetings, we piled back onto the bus for the seven hour return trip.  A long, and hopefully successful, day.   Here are a few take-aways:

-I was impressed by the competence, intelligence and grace of all the elected officials, and their staffs, that we met.
-Their schedules are a nightmare and the demands on their time and attention are beyond considerable.
-Visitors to the busy Capitol seemed to be equally divided between high school bus tours and other folks like us coming to plead a case.
-The "dysfunction" in Washington may stem more from the often contradictory requests/demands us citizens place before the government than from any lack of talent.  Just saying.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A little slice of history...............

Rolling Stones...............14+ minutes from 1964

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

     When George Marshall was a boy in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, his biggest ambition was to own a dog.  His parents always refused him.  One of his father's uncles had been bitten in the leg by a hunting dog and had died in agony from rabies, and the description of his death throes had become a family horror story.
-Leonard Mosley, Marshall:  Hero For Our Times

Marshall............................
























General George C. Marshall was one of  my father's heroes, and since Dad spent 1942-1945 overseas as a sergeant in the Army, I figure he should know.  Among Dad's books now in my possession are two biographies of Marshall.  As a short-cut, read about him here.  Winston Churchill called Marshall "the organizer of victory."   Harry Truman said "he was the greatest of the great."  It is the rare General who wins the Nobel Peace Prize (1953 for the "Marshall Plan") and gets credited for re-building a continent.  Here are a handful of quotes attributed to Marshall:

We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, Our Flag will be recognized throughout the World as a symbol of Freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.

If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known.

The refusal of the British and Russian peoples to accept what appeared to be inevitable defeat was the great factor in the salvage of our civilization.

It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory.

The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.

I was very careful to send Mr. Roosevelt every few days a statement of our casualties. I tried to keep before him all the time the casualty results because you get hardened to these things and you have to be very careful to keep them always in the forefront of your mind.

Passive inactivity, because you have not been given specific instructions to do this or to do that, is a serious deficiency.

Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.

Don't fight the problem, decide it.

Charles Barsotti and justice............






























all toons from here

Fifty years ago..........................

Mary Wells...............................Two Lovers

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

The Naked Capitalism blog notices human nature:

"One of the big lessons of the fraught negotiations over bailing out (or more accurately, in) Cyprus’s banks is that deregulating institutions with an implicit or explicit state guarantee is a bad idea. You’ve just given them a license to gamble with the public’s money, and you can rest assured that they will eventually avail themselves of it."

I suspect the intent of this post is to suggest that Wall Street likes said license, and is smart, clever, and determined enough to figure out ways to keep it.

Hug...............................























 "Try a longer hug."
-Nicholas Bate, as excerpted from here


photo via Mme Scherzo

Virtual differences..................


Victor David Hanson notices, among other things, that libraries are not always about books.  Essay here.  Excerpt here:
"Better yet, the fact that it says “library” and not “student union” or “arcade” or “playhouse” makes it even more desirable. Today’s virtual student goes to a virtual library and does virtual research. That way you can be successful in that you are in “college” and you say you are “at the library” as you entertain yourself. Who cares whether someone knows the difference between the Parthenon and Pantheon or that e.g. is not quite i.e.? Get over it.
"The popular culture changed the library; the library did not change the popular culture."
Since this blog is public service oriented....................
The Parthenon, the pride of ancient Athens








Atop the Acropolis, the Parthenon dates to 438 B.C.






Pantheon, Rome.  Built in 126 AD.  Still in use today

The Pantheon's exposure to the outside was purposeful.































-------------------------------------------


e.g.

The abbreviation e.g. is used to provide an example:

Examples:

The buffet provided excellent variety, e.g., vegetarian and non-vegetarian soups, Italian and French breads and numerous sweets.
(e.g. = for example)

i.e.

The abbreviation i.e. is used to restate an idea more clearly or offer more information.
Examples:
It happened in August; i.e. two months ago.
(i.e. = in other words)


Cured....................................


















via

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not a happy little tune........

Mason Profitt.........................Voice of Change

Kurt Harden...................

.................spoke to the Newark Rotary club yesterday.  The topic: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Kurt is president and COO of MedBen, so to say this topic is near and dear to his heart would be an understatement.  As we might expect, Kurt has posted his presentation on-line.  You can find, and download, it here.  Your faithful correspondent failed to take notes, but here is how I would summarize Kurt's excellent talk:

-PPACA was sold on the premise of reducing costs and increasing access.  It will accomplish neither.
-While the law runs some 2,300 pages, the rules and regulations spawned by the law already consume exponentially more paper (see Slide #7), and they are nowhere near finished.
-It will take longer than planned for full implementation.
-The system emerging from the regulations will need tweaked.
-What you think you know about the system today, may be incorrect a year from now.
-Actuarially and demographically, us baby boomers will be gumming up the works.  We will become known as "the most expensive generation."
-The best (only?)  hope for reducing health care costs lies in technological advances (See Slide #20).
-Keep your sense of humor.



Not sure how I missed this.....


A public opinion poll from January gauging the popularity of Congress:

When asked if they have a higher opinion of either Congress or 
a series of unpleasant or disliked things, voters said they had a 
higher opinion of:

root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure) 
NFL replacement refs (29-56) 
head lice (19-67)
the rock band Nickelback (32-39)
colonoscopies (31-58) 
Washington DC political pundits (34-37) 
carnies (31-39) 
traffic jams (34-56) 
cockroaches (43-45)
Donald Trump (42-44) 
France (37-46) 
Genghis Khan (37-41) 
used-car salesmen (32-57)
and Brussels sprouts (23-69) than Congress. 

Congress did manage to beat out:

telemarketers (45-35)
John Edwards (45-29) 
the Kardashians (49-36)
lobbyists (48-30) 
North Korea (61-26)
the ebola virus (53-25) 
Lindsay Lohan (45-41) 
Fidel Castro (54-32) 
playground bullies (43-38)
meth labs (60-21) 
communism (57-23)
and gonorrhea (53-28). 

Well, if you look at it that way..........

Daniel Greenfield looks at the concentration of wealth:

"The top 10 wealthiest men and women in America barely have 250 billion dollars between them. That sounds like a lot of money, until you look at annual Federal budgets which run into the trillions of dollars, and the country's national debt which approaches 15 trillion dollars. And that's not taking into account state budgets. Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population of barely a million, has a multi-billion dollar budget.

"As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposes of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars. In a single year, he disposes of three times his own net worth. A sum that would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America. That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House."


If I understand his point, what he is really talking about is power and control, not wealth.  If he wants to make the case that taxing the uber-wealthy into oblivion will not solve the fiscal problems of government, fair enough.  But comparing private net worths with governmental budgets is real stretch. Governments have taken upon themselves some interesting expenses, usually at our request.  Which is why no amount of money seems to be enough.  The net worth of Bloomberg et. al. is tangible.  The net worth of the government is comprised of intangibles.  What is the real value of a functioning highway system, an effective water or sewer treatment plant, or the system of recording, and enforcing, deeds and mortgages?  Just asking.

Just as a side note:  the 63 billion number caught my eye, so the Oracle Google was consulted:

The New York City government's budget is the largest municipal budget in the United States. The city government spends about $61 billion a year, employs 250,000 people, spends $21 billion to educate more than 1.1 million children, levies $27 billion in taxes, and receives $14 billion from federal and state governments

Careful what you wish for..............

"Throughout history, soaking the rich has proven a quick fix to temporary emergencies and crises, like the one we are facing today.  But it is inevitably a fix that comes with a high cost.  By undermining the taboo against expropriating wealth, it makes all private property less secure, including the property of the middle class."

- Lee Harris, as excerpted from his essay, Why Not Soak the Rich?

I'd like to credit the sender of the link, but........I forget.  Sorry

Fifty years ago............................

Kai Winding.....................................More

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

Robert Edward Lee was the less-than-longed-for fifth child of a mother in uncertain health and reduced financial straits struggling essentially alone to maintain the facade of family in a hold that was never hers.  The infant's father was a war hero in a war that had been over for a quarter century.  He was desperately in debt, in flight from his creditors, and apparently oblivious to the realities of his fading fame and absent integrity.  Robert had an inauspicious advent, and during his early childhood his family circumstances got worse.
-Emory M. Thomas,  Robert E. Lee:  A Biography

Robert E. Lee..........................
























A few quotes attributed to a great general and greater American:

I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving.

It is easier to make our wishes conform to our means than to make our means conform to our wishes.

It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.

Duty is the most sublime word in our language.  Do your duty in all things.  You cannot do more.  You should never wish to do less.

So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained.

I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.

We must forgive our enemies. I can truly say that not a day has passed since the war began that I have not prayed for them.

I like whiskey. I always did, and that is why I never drink it.

The education of a man is never completed until he dies.

The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.

Madam, don't bring up your sons to detest the United States Government. Recollect that we form one country now. Abandon all these local animosities, and make your sons Americans.

Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.

Process..................................























"At school, the process for discovering an unknown was called algebra.  In organizations it is called asking good questions and listening to the reply."
-Nicholas Bate, as excerpted from here


worksheet courtesy of

For those of you who love a good conspiracy......

The death of the Death Star an inside job?  See if you aren't convinced in seven short minutes.   Hmmmm........




thanks mungo

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not a moment too soon.......................


Homeschooling.................

Unorganized Hancock...................It Don't Come Easy




Back story here, here, and here (among other places)

It stuff like this that gives me confidence that the coming generations will do just fine, thank you.

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

In January 1644 a Devonshire lady, Eleanor (or Ellen), widow of Sir John Drake, alarmed by the Royalist activities in the West Country, had asked for a Roundhead garrison to protect her home at Ashe, near Axminster.  She was "of good affection" to the Parliament, had aided them with money and provisions, and had "animated her tenants in seven adjoining parishes" to adhere to their cause. The troops were sent; but before they could fortify the place Lord Poulett, a neighbour who commanded for the King, marched upon it with his Irish soldiers, drove out the Parliamentarians, burned the house, and "stripped the good lady, who, almost naked and without shoe to her foot but what she afterwards begged, fled to Lyme for safety."
-Winston S. Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times

Writer................................
















Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a busy man.    He was a world traveler, polo player, soldier, war correspondent, politician,  member of Parliament, government official (President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary,  First Lord of the Admiralty  Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Air, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and lest we forget, Prime Minister), statesman, historian, writer, speaker, author, painter, and noted aficionado of cigars.  He was Adolf Hitler's foremost opponent, a symbol of determination and defiance, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and pretty much a walking contradiction.  While politics, public service and leadership in time of war may be what Churchill is best known for, the man never stopped writing (or giving dictation, if you prefer).  His output was considerable.  While this list may not be complete, it will give an idea as to his fascination with the written word.



The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898)
The River War (1899)
Savrola (1900, serialised 1899 and published USA 1899)
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900)
Ian Hamilton's March (1900)
Mr. Brodrick’s Army (1903)
Lord Randolph Churchill (1906)
For Free Trade (1906)
My African Journey (1908)
Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909)
The People’s Rights (1910)
The World Crisis (1923-1931)
My Early Life: A Roving Commission (1930)
India (1931)
Thoughts and Adventures (Amid These Storms) (1932)
Marlborough: His Life and Times (1933-1938)
Great Contemporaries (1937)
While England Slept: A Survey of World Affairs, 1932-1938 (1938)
Step by Step 1936-1939 (1939)
Addresses Delivered in the Year 1940 (1940)
Broadcast Addresses (1941)
Into Battle (Blood Sweat and Tears) (1941)
The Unrelenting Struggle (1942)
The End of the Beginning (1943)
Onwards to Victory (1944)
The Dawn of Liberation (1945)
Victory (1946)
Secret Sessions Speeches (1946)
War Speeches 1940-1945 (1946)
The Second World War (1948-1954)    
       The Gathering Storm (1948)
      Their Finest Hour (1949)
      The Grand Alliance (1950)
      The Hinge of Fate (1950)
      Closing the Ring (1951)
      Triumph and Tragedy (1953)
      The Sinews of Peace (1948)
Painting as a Pastime (1948)
Europe Unite (1950)
In the Balance (1951)
The War Speeches 1939-1945 (1952)
Stemming the Tide (1953)
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958)
      The Birth of Britain
      The New World
      The Age of Revolution
      The Great Democracies
The Unwritten Alliance (1961)

Fifty years ago

Bill Pursell............................Our Winter Love

From your lips to God's ears..............

I'd rather not be cynical, but...................

The CRE Finance Council supports many aspects of Dodd-Frank, but is concerned that proposed rules pose a threat to the continued recovery of CMBS.  The fact that rules have been slow to materialize may be a positive sign that regulators are giving them thoughtful consideration.  "Regulators are listening.  They are asking good questions and they don't want their rules to have unintended consequences," Keybank's Burke says.
-As excerpted from Beth Mattson-Teig's post at the March 2013 National Real Estate Investor

Why would that happen..................?

Now you can call me cynical.....................................

The biggest drawback to investing in government assets is the government itself.  To describe the GSA (General Services Administration) as a needy tenant would be an understatement, according to nearly every expert in the space.
     "They're a pain in the ass," said one source who wanted to speak anonymously for fear of ending up on the IRS's radar."
-as excerpted from Jennifer Duell Popovec's essay in the March 2013 National Real Estate Investor

Too big to prosecute......................?

Gretchen Morgenson, at the NYT,  writes:

"We already know that banks of JPMorgan’s size are also too big to be allowed to fail and too big to prosecute. Such banks are too big to regulate and apparently too big to manage. So how much more evidence do we need that banks like JPMorgan are simply too big a risk for taxpayers to bear?"
















cartoons here, herehere, and here