Saturday, August 31, 2013

Carlos....................................

Santana.........................................Europa

They don't build 'em like they used to..............

Union Station,  Indianapolis      circa 1906























via Shorpy

They don't write 'em the way they used to......

In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend's friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result.  I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that, if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me.  If that was the design, it succeeded.
-Mark Twain, as excerpted from The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

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

From high above, the river winding through the city looked like a shining snake sliding under three bridges.  The spring sun struck the tiles and slates of a hundred thousand damp rooftops and shimmered on the lead of spires, steeples, domes, and belfries.  Pigeons and seagulls circled in the hazy air, and a few spiralled down towards a large rectangular space among the buildings crowed on the north side of the river - a paved piazza where market stalls and barrows stood empty.  Because it was Sunday, the only clamor came from the bells pealing in the broad-roofed church that stood at the west side of the Piazza:  St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London.  On the path leading through the churchyard, a man and a woman carrying a well-swaddled baby walked towards the main door.
-Anthony Bailey,  Standing in the Sun:  A Life of J.M.W. Turner

Turner................................

Self Portrait              c 1799























Joseph Mallord William (J. M. W.) Turner (1775-1851) was a prolific English painter.  Water-colour and oil were his main mediums.  A casual observer will note his fascination with the sea and with light.  One might think that the soon-to-follow Impressionism movement had knowledge of Turner's work.  Legend has it that his last words were, "The Sun is God."   A wide selection of his paintings can be found here.  More personal history can be found here.  A wee sampling of his work is here:

Fishermen at Sea     1796


Willows beside a stream     1805

Calder Bridge, Cumberland                     1810

Snow Storm:  Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps  1812

Chichester Canal       1828


The Battle of Trafalgar            1824

Bell Rock Light House     1819

The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains in the Island of St. Vincent, at
Midnight, on the 30th April 1812, from a Sketch Taken at the Time by
Hugh P. Keane, Esqre    1815


Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway    1844

The Slave Ship       1840


Snowstorm                    1842

















Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory) - the Morning after
the Deluge - Moses Writing the Book of Genesis      1843

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

Ray Charles.....................................You Are My Sunshine

Aesop and his fables.....................

  The Little Boy and Fortune

  A little boy wearied with a long journey, lay down overcome with
fatigue on the very brink of a deep well. Being within an inch of
falling into the water, Dame Fortune, it is said, appeared to him, and
waking him from his slumber, thus addressed him: "Little boy, pray
wake up: for had you fallen into the well, the blame will be thrown on
me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I find that men are
sure to blame their calamities to me, however much by their own
folly they have really brought them on themselves."

 "Every one is more or less master of his own fate."

Ambrose Bierce and his Fantastic Fables....


  The Moral Principle and the Material Interest

  A MORAL Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough 
for but one.

  "Down, you base thing!" thundered the Moral Principle, "and let me 
pass over you!"

  The Material Interest merely looked in the other's eyes without 
saying anything.

  "Ah," said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, "let us draw lots to 
see which shall retire till the other has crossed."

  The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an 
unwavering stare.

  "In order to avoid a conflict," the Moral Principle resumed, 
somewhat uneasily, "I shall myself lie down and let you walk over 
me."

  Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange 
coincidence it was its own tongue.  "I don't think you are very 
good walking," it said.  "I am a little particular about what I 
have underfoot.  Suppose you get off into the water."

  It occurred that way.
via

Me too...............................

Gurney Norman recently gave me a copy of a most interesting book, Carcassone, by Clifton Caudill of Carcassone in Letcher County.  I liked very much Mr. Caudill's account of the way his father went about starting the school at Carcassone in 1920.  Money was scarce, but there was no thought of government help or expert advice.  Mr. Caudill's father contracted to build a mile of road for $5,000.  With the profit from the road job, he bought a sawmill to saw lumber from the trees cut on his own farm, and with the lumber he and his neighbors built the school.  Is this community spirit of self-help and free enterprise now dead among our people?  Maybe it is.  Maybe all we can do now is just sit and wait for help - but I hate to think so.  I would like us to see what we can do for ourselves.
-Wendell Berry, as excerpted from Citizenship Papers

Friday, August 30, 2013

Or even re-arrange ya........................

Bob Marley.............................Could You Be Loved

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

Most comedians are committable.  People say I'm the most normal of all comedians - and I'm still certifiable.
-Bob Newhart,  I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This!

Tell the passengers it was a giant eagle..................

Bob Newhart at air traffic control..................

Purpose............................................

"We are here on earth to fart around.  Don't let anybody tell you different."
-Kurt Vonnegut

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

Boots Randolph....................I Really Don't Want To Know

The eyes have it.....................................



























gifs from here

The question of the age..................

"I don't know if tyranny or terrorism is the greater threat."

I know my answer.   Matt Ridley writes a short essay on the topic - here.

Masquerade.........................................









"Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it."
-Stephen Colbert

cartoon via

The need for speed....................................






































this air time courtesy of Ka-Ching!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Four lads amusing themselves........................

The Beatles..........................................Can't Buy Me Love

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

He was born on August 1, 1819, into good circumstances.  But his parents lacked the money to stay there, and so they turned frequently, at no small cost to their dignity, to their elders for help.  On his mother's side, the benefactor had been Maria's late father, Peter Gansevoort, a towering man (six foot three in an age when six-footers were rare) famous for having commanded the defense of Fort Stanwix, and outpost guarding the trade route from the Great Lakes, during the British siege of 1777.  There is a tendency today to think of the Revolutionary War as a dispute among bewigged gentlemen who sent men into battle with inaccurate guns to the martial music of fife and drum; in fact, it was brutal war whose combatants literally tasted sweat and blood flung from the bodies of their enemies as they slashed at each other with bayonets.  It was not uncommon for wounded soldiers to be stabbed through and left to bleed to death, "like sieves," or to have their brains dashed out with "barbarity to the utmost" by the musket butts of the advancing enemy.  Melville was to write about this war in the novel Israel Potter, in which he described the Yankee defenders at Bunker Hill gripping their muskets by the barrel and beating back the British assault by "wielding the stock right and left, as seal-hunters on the beach, knock down with their clubs the Shetland seal."
-Andrew Delbanco,  Melville:  His World and Work

A few quotes from Melville...........................

"Silence is the general consecration of the universe. Silence is the invisible laying on of the Divine Pontiff's hands upon the world. Silence is at once the most harmless and the most awful thing in all nature. It speaks of the Reserved Forces of Fate. Silence is the only Voice of our God."

"Say what some poets will, Nature is not so much her own ever-sweet interpreter, as the mere supplier of that cunning alphabet, whereby selecting and combining as he pleases, each man reads his own peculiar lesson according to his own peculiar mind and mood.'

“There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.”

'Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.'

'A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities."

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.”

'It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great. Failure is the true test of greatness. And if it be said, that continual success is a proof that a man wisely knows his powers, — it is only to be added, that, in that case, he knows them to be small. Let us believe it, then, once for all, that there is no hope for us in these smooth pleasing writers that know their powers."

"You cannot hide the soul.”

“No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses.” 

Herman Melville     1819-1891

Moby......................................























via

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

Otis Redding...................................These Arms of Mine

The march is on............................

Only the brave know what the hunted are -
The battered - and the shattered - and the lost -
Who know the meaning of each deep, red scar,
For which they paid the heartache and the cost.
Who've left the depths against unmeasured odds
To ask no quarter from the ruling gods.

Born - live - and die - cradle along to the grave,
The march is on - by bugle and by drum -
Where only those who beat life are the brave -
Who laugh at fate and face what is to come,
Knowing how swiftly all the years go by,
Where dawn and sunset blend in one brief sky.

-Grantland Rice

Records.........................................





















More than a bit of truth from Linus.  As a younger salesman, I made many a pilgrimage to Threshold Records.  Thumbing through their bins of albums was a proven tonic to a disappointing day.  Nowadays, I just eat ice cream.

top cartoon via
bottom cartoon via

Now comes ethical smiling.........................?

From the mind of Scott Adams comes the question:  why are you smiling?

"Research backs common sense on this topic: Smiling influences how people feel about you, and that in turn influences how they act. So if you smile for strategic reasons, you're not a genial personality so much as you are a manipulative bastard."














Just being prudent................................

















via

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Emancipate yourself..................................

Bob Marley......................................Redemption Song

Checking in with Michael..................

..........at the always interesting Journal of a Nobody blog:



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

A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years.  One day a stranger walked by.  "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap.  "I have nothing to give you," said the stranger.  Then he asked:  "What's that you are sitting on?"  "Nothing," replied the beggar.  "Just an old box.  I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember."  "Ever look inside?" asked the stranger.  "No," said the beggar.  "What's the point?  There's nothing in there."  "Have a look inside," insisted the stranger.  The beggar managed to pry open the lid.  With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.
Eckhart Tolle,  The Power of Now:  A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment

On love and work and mastery.....................

Following your passion may not be such a good idea after all.  Turns out it is much better to love what you do, rather than do what you love.  A subtle yet important distinction.  Stuart Schneiderman opines on the subject here.  Excerpt here:

Worse yet, to be really, really good at something, to be good enough not only to make a living but to feel some real satisfaction, you will have to work at it. Malcolm Gladwell’s ten-thousand-hour-rule that I posted about last week is a good rule of thumb. No matter how natural your talent, if you do not put in the time and effort to master a skill at the highest level you will not attain the satisfaction that accompanies excellence.

Reminds me of my favorite Robert Frost poem, Two Tramps in Mud Time.  Full poem is here, ending is here:

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

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

Martin Luther King, Jr.    "I Have A Dream"    August 28, 1963

 

The Founders feared mob rule..........................

............which is why our Constitution established a representative republic of federated states.  That was a long time ago and much has changed.  Victor David Hanson offers his considerable insight on Democracy in the 21st Century:  full essay here.  Excerpt here:

"Most cannot decide whether the democracies are plagued with a particularly poor generation of demagogic leaders, or whether we are suffering the inevitable wages of rule by plebiscite that eats away at constitutional law and prefers executive fiat. What Jefferson and Tocqueville thought might save us from the mob-rule of ancient Athens — the independent agrarian and small autonomous businessperson anchoring checks and balances to 51% majority rule and demagogues — is no longer our ideal."

The problem with having $70 billion to invest...

The Trend Czar opens with this:

"There’s an estimated $70 billion in institutional capital wanting to find a home in real estate, but unable to get in the door. Meanwhile, hundreds of wannabe managers and partnerships try to raise more money when managers and operators with secured commitments have trouble finding sound investments… The top markets appear too pricey, everywhere else appears too risky, especially the further out in the suburbs you look."

..........and offers this analysis:

"Essentially, government monetary policy (low interest rates and bond buying) as well as stimulus spending averted a crash, stabilized the economy, and enabled a very modest recovery. Many investors and their lenders were spared Armageddon as a result, but propped-up property values are still just that—artificially propped up by all the rescue money pushed into the system. If any of these supports are removed too soon, investors should realize the fragile markets could collapse since the economy is not producing enough demand for space on its own. And what’s too soon—certainly not yet, and that’s five years after Bear Stearns and Lehman. As a result, property values really have no business appreciating much more—they need to find their true levels, which are probably lower—care to see what happens if interest rates were to normalize?"

Your faithful blogger has been investing in real estate for a long time, and plans on continuing to do so for the balance of his allotted time on our happy planet.   My advantage over the Trend Czar, and it is a big one, is that I don't have anywhere near $70 billion to invest.  Plus, I'm in the game for the actual investment, not for the fees generated by creating and/or selling said investment.

Recently, this blog offered a series of 33 Guidelines for investing in real estate.   The big Wall Street and institutional types would probably snicker if they read it, but there is a whole world of investing that doesn't include mega-bucks.  That world is doing just fine thank you.

Just about the smartest thing I've ever heard an economist say.........................

"I am skeptical of my own analysis here, as I just don’t see the faster growth that stock investors seem to see. But I’m also skeptical of alternative explanations. We need to let the dust settle to figure out what’s going on here."
-Scott Sumner, as excerpted from this blog post

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Resting my bones......................................

Otis Redding.............................Sitting on the dock of the bay

Technopessimism is Bunk.................

So says this essay from Joel Mokyr.  While us humans and our nature haven't advanced as much as our technology and, as history shows, we are quite capable of creating significant messes, the problem is not technology.  A few excerpts:

"He too foresees new technologies creating new jobs, the nature of which we cannot yet even imagine. After all, technology's double-edged sword -- that new inventions create new problems, such as labor force disruption -- is what constantly pushes us to further innovate."

"For thousands of years, people dreamed of having sex without worrying about pregnancy. The unintended consequence of widely-used contraception, however, is the relentless aging of societies. With fewer new births and higher life expectancies, there are now fewer people of working age to support a rising percentage of retirees. But technology is now responding to that consequence, developing to make mature persons more productive citizens (think knee replacements and bypass surgery). Aging is not what it used to be."

"So it is hard for someone alive today to imagine what future generations will make of our age. But to judge from progress in the past decades, it seems that the Digital Age may become to the Analog Age what the Iron Age was to the Stone Age. It will not last as long, and there is no way of knowing what will come after. But experience suggests that the metaphor of low-hanging fruit is misleading. Technology creates taller and taller ladders, and the higher-hanging fruits are within reach and may be just as juicy."

thanks craig

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

       Even now, so long after she died, even now it's still difficult to go through all the little objects of her life that she left behind.  There is not that much that a child leaves, and Alex lived such a short time:  small parts of 1971 and 1980, and all of 1972 through 1979, inclusive.  She was born, diagnosed, lived all she could, and died before there was time for her to be laden with all the formal artifacts - letters and numbers and citations and all that grown-up bric-a-brac that comes with adult convention and ceremony.  But there is not that much for a child.  Why, some stranger coming across Alex's stuff would think she must have spent most of her life drawing.
-Frank Deford,  Alex:  The Life of a Child

Coolest chart ever............................

Moving population chart.  Actual data 1900 through 2010, projected data 2015 through 2060.  I'm liking the growth at the far right hand bottom of the chart.  Looks like they are projecting no shortage of youngsters either.

















chart via the wonder that is Calculated Risk

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

Mary Wells.........................................Laughing Boy

The kids will be just fine..................................

Zoë Firchau, Oatmeal with Peaches and Blueberries, 2013


















connect

A layman's guide to hurricanes....................

Do you believe hurricanes are getting more numerous?  Do you believe they are getting more powerful?   Is climate change a big deal when it comes to hurricanes?   Do you care?  Just for edification, we offer you this handy "Hurricane Count By President" chart.   Grover Cleveland appears to be the approximate cause of most hurricanes.  FDR seems to have matched Cleveland, but he had thirteen years in office.  George W. Bush made a good effort, but only comes in third.  Our current president doesn't seem very effective at causing hurricanes.   If you can spot a pattern worth basing predictions on, well, then you a better pattern spotter than moi.
















The source for the chart (and a much larger one that you can actually read) and much more fun information is here.

The questions people ask..........................

I'm still hanging on to the notion that the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.  Some of these questions will make you think.  Some of these questions will make you wonder about the people asking.  Regardless, enjoy these questions from the wide, wide world of Google.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Call me up.....................................

The Marvelettes.........................Beechwood 4-5789

Paradox............................................






















“Ironicially, the more ways we have to communicate it seems the less we actually have to say.” 
-Todd Lohenry

cartoon via

Backwards.........................................






















"Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards."
-Aldous Huxley

cartoon via

Control.......................................






















"Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything, except over technology."
-John Tudor

cartoon via

Talismanic......................................






















"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
-Arthur C. Clarke   

cartoon via

Nothing..........................................

















"While modern technology has given people powerful new communication tools, it apparently can do nothing to alter the fact that many people have nothing useful to say."
-Leo Gomes

cartoon via

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

In 1963 the Bell System introduced the first "push-button" telephone.  The old style "rotary" dial phone would hang around for a long time, but touch tone was the "latest and greatest."

Out with the old

In with the new.  Notice that the 1963 "Push-button" model only
had 10 buttons.  The twelve button model was introduced in 1968

Potential...................................

















"The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential."
-Steve Ballmer

cartoon via

Stampede.......................................

"Stampeding off a metaphoric cliff—and you?"


















"Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road."
-Stewart Brand

cartoon via

Organizing....................................


















Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it."
-Max Frisch

cartoon via

Prudence.................................

















"If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner."
-Omar Bradley

cartoon via