Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Passing of the Year..........................

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
     My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
     And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
     Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
     With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
     You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter’s chime
     Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
     You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
     And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
     Let us all read, whate’er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
     Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?


-Robert Service

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

Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians.....Auld Lang Syne

From wee Robbie Burns...............................

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin' auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin' auld lang syne.
CHORUS
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.
      CHORUS

-Robert Burns, 1788

A tip of the cap............................

..........................................to whoever dreamed this one up.


Us pesky humans...............................

Free economies teach us that predictions are confounded by human ingenuity.  Go to the stacks of a library and read the articles from forty or fifty years ago in Colliers or Popular Mechanics predicting what the United States would be like in the year 2000.  All they could imagine was extensions of the existing technology.  Nobody could imagine the microprocessor.  Go back and read the learned economists from the 1960s and 1970s who argued that IBM had to be broken up because of its monopolistic power over the computer market.  There was no place in their world view for a couple of kids who would get together in a garage and revolutionize the industry.  Freedom regularly makes ridiculous anyone who thinks he has figured out the limits of what is possible.
-Charles Murray,  What It Means To Be A Libertarian:  A Personal Interpretation

Who knew...........................................

..................there was such a thing as "interruption science"?

Researchers in the new field of interruption science have found that it takes an average of twenty-five minutes to recover from a phone call.  Yet such interruptions come every eleven minutes - which means we're never caught up with our lives.
-Pico Iyer, as excerpted from The Art of Stillness:  Adventures in Going Nowhere

thanks david

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

"Don't ask a man to drink and drive."

Slow down to go fast..................................

"In other words:  you want big results?  Good -- then do the little things.  Just do them consistently and persistently."
-Jeff Olson,  The Slight Edge:  Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success & Happiness

Teach our children well...........................

      Life is difficult.
      This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
      Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.  They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others.  I know about this moaning because I have done my share.
     Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?
     Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life's problems.  Without discipline we can solve nothing.
-M. Scott Peck,  The Road Less Traveled:  A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

Resolutions.............................






























all cartoons via

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Well, that was certainly a surprise...................

Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.....................................Stay

Choices...........................................


Response ability.......................................

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."
-William James

Send it our way, we'll use it.......................














thanks kurt

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

A classic "Let Hertz Put You In The Driver's Seat" TV ad

Flinging..................................................

........................How Austin Kleon read +70 books in 2014.  I especially like #4.

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

Althouse talks "hit and run,"   and we are not talking baseball.  The Amen part is the prayer at the end of the post.

Choices................................................

As Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius reminded us more than two millennia ago, it's not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them;  a hurricane sweeps through town, reducing everything to rubble, and one man sees it as a liberation, a chance to start anew, while another, perhaps even his brother, is traumatized for life.  "There is nothing either good or bad," as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "but thinking makes it so."
-Pico Iyer,  The Art of Stillness:  Adventures in Going Nowhere

thanks for the introduction David

Helpful advice........................................
























 "Gottman's research showed that it wasn't only how couples fought that mattered, but how they made up. Marriages became stable over time if couples learned to reconcile successfully after a fight."[3]  --  Gottman's wiki is here

image via

About that yellow brick road..................



































"If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard."
-L. Frank Baum, channeling  Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where have you been..................................

The Capris.................................There's A Moon Out Tonight

On judging............................................

      Nor does one have the option of saying that differences exist but that one will not judge them.  To notice a difference is to have an opinion about it - unless one refuses to think.  And that is my ultimate objection to the nonjudgmental frame of mind.  We can refuse to voice our opinion, our judgments, but we cannot keep from having them unless we refuse to think about what is before our eyes.  To refuse to think is to reject that which makes a human life human.  In saying that excellence in the arts is defined in terms of high aesthetic quality, I do not mean to trivialize the complications of determining high aesthetic quality.  I do insist that to deny the existence of such a thing as high aesthetic quality is to take the lazy way out.
-Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment:  The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Things are looking up........................


Have I told you lately that we still have.........

.................some wondrous single family building lots available?

According to Bill McBride at Calculated Risk (and confirmed by the pace of recent lot sales), investment in new single family residential houses is lagging historic norms.  Come on, People!  It's a fine time to consider building anew in the Spring.


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

James Brown........................................Please Please Please

Sweating the small stuff..............................

      "The right choices and wrong choices you make at the moment will have little or no noticeable impact on how your day goes for you.  Nor tomorrow, nor the next day.  No applause, no cheers, no screams, no life-or-death results played out on the big screen.  But it is exactly those same undramatic, seemingly insignificant actions that, when compounded over time, will dramatically affect how your life turns out."
-Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge:  Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success & Happiness

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


Good questions....................................





















“How did it get so late so soon?” 
-Dr.Seuss

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sipp calls the tune..................................

.....with an elegant thirty-seven-and-a-half'minutes' worth of music.

Slowing the fourth dimension..............

"But in saner moments I’m able to approach the fourth dimension not as a thing to be ruthlessly managed, but whose basic nature might be altered to enrich my experience of life. I even have tricks for slowing time—or at least my perception of it."
"Recording the quotidian details of my day seems to add hours a day to my life: I’m not sure why. Another trick is to focus on some ordinary thing—the faintly geological strata of the insides of a burrito, for instance—and try to describe what I see. Another: pick a task I’d normally do quickly and thoughtlessly–writing words for the side of a cup, say–and do it as slowly as possible. Forcing my life into slow-motion, I notice a lot that I miss at game speed. The one thing I don’t notice is the passage of time."

First performed in 1808..................................

Ludwig van Beethoven (Bernstein).................Symphony No. 5

Leaps...........................................

     The second blind spot is the tendency to confuse that which has been achieved with that which must inevitably have been achieved.  It is easy to assume that someone like Aristotle was not so much brilliant as fortunate in being born when he was.  A number of basic truths were going to be figured out early in mankind's intellectual history, and Aristotle gave voice to some of them first.  If he hadn't, someone else soon would have.  But is that really true?  Take as an example the discovery of formal logic in which Aristotle played such a crucial role.  Nobody had discovered logic (that we know of) in the civilizations of the preceding five millennia.  Thinkers in the non-Western world had another two millennia after Aristotle to discover formal logic independently, but they didn't.  Were we in the West "bound" to discover logic because of some underlying aspect of Western culture?  Maybe, but what we know for certain is that the invention of logic occurred in only one time and place, that it was done by a handful of individuals, and that it changed the history of the world.  Saying a few ancient Greeks merely got there first isn't adequate acknowledgment of their leap of imagination and intellect.
      The same complacency about the legacy we have inherited applies to works of art.  Because A Winter's Tale, The Night Watch, and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony exist, it is easy to take their existence for granted.  It is more accurate to think of each as a priceless gift.  If Beethoven had died at 35, as Mozart did, we would have no Fifth Symphony - or Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, or Ninth symphonies, for that matter.  If Michelangelo had died at 35, we would have no Moses, no Last Judgment, none of Michelangelo's architecture, and would be stranded with just a few tantalizing portions of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Or we can go the other direction, and try to imagine what treasures we would have been given if Mozart had not died at 35, Schubert at 31, Keats and Pergolesi at 26, Masaccio at 27.  It is nowhere written that works of genius have to be created, that something in the air will bring forth another Mozart if the first one falls.  One may acknowledge the undoubted role of the cultural context in fostering or inhibiting great art, but still recall that it is not enough that the environment be favorable.  Somebody must actually do the deed.

-Charles Murray,  Human Accomplishment:  The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Priceless gifts..........................................

Rembrandt van Rijn     1642     The Night Watch

Michelangelo    1513-1515    Moses

Michelangelo   1536-41     The Last Judgment






The Best Damn Band In The Land.............


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

The Nashville Teens............................................Tobacco Road

blinded into sight...............................

It takes all time to show eternity,
The longest shine of every perishing spark,
And every word and cry of every tongue
Must for the Word that calls the darkest dark

Of his world to its lasting dawn.  Toward
That rising hour we beat our single hearts
Estranged as islands parted in the sea,
Our broken knowledge and our scattered arts.

As separate as fireflies or night windows,
We piece a foredream of the gathered light
Infinitely small and great to shelter all,
Silenced into song, blinded into sight.

-Wendell Berry
Sabbaths,  2004 VIII

The more things change, the more they......

"This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation."
-Will Rogers (1932)

Long live the printed word........................






















thanks jeff

Fun with numbers...............................

34.   In a poll of 1,000 American adults, asked, "How many millions are in a trillion?"    79% gave an incorrect answer or didn't know. Keep this in mind when debating large financial problems.

I'm sort of impressed that 21% could answer the question.  I will confess that this history major reached for a pad and pencil.  You can figure it for yourself, but here are the basics:

One million =  1,000,000
One billion  =  1,000,000,000
One trillion  =  1,000,000,000,000

From this list of 122 Things ...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The stars were bright above....................

Fred Parris and the Satins...............In The Still Of The Night

Wishful thinking..................................

      By the 1750's the Enlightenment had become the continent's child as well, but it had been Britain's baby.  Issac Newton's revelation in Principia Mathematica (1687) that the universe is rational, obeying fixed and predictable laws, had changed the way that people perceived the universe.  God was no longer the interfering, jealous God of the Old Testament nor the loving God of the New, but God the Clockmaker, setting the universe of a course governed forever after by mathematically perfect immutable laws.  If only mortals had enough data, they could predict everything that happened, and the tool whereby they could do this in a clocklike universe was reason.  Reason, sweet and infallible, should be brought to bear on hoary traditions that governed the pursuit of knowledge, relationships between the sexes and the social classes, standards of art and music, and the exercise of political power.
-Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment:  The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Stuff you almost never think of................

"Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface."
-thanks David

On leadership..................................

3.  The Master said, Govern the people by regulations, keep order among them by chastisements, and they will flee from you, and lose all self-respect.  Govern them by moral force, keep order among them by ritual and they will keep their self-respect and come to you of their own accord.
-Book II, The Analects of Confucius


6.  The Master said, If the ruler himself is upright, all will go well even though he does not give orders.  But if he himself is not upright, even though he gives orders, they will not be obeyed.
-Book XIII, The Analects of Confucius

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

A long time between drinks......................................

Playing with matches........................
















“There are men running governments who shouldn't be allowed to play with matches.”
-attributed to Will Rogers

Worth remembering................................

      Famines subsided along with the plague.  It is hard to realize today, but famine was a common European phenomenon through 18C.  France, for example, among the richest of the European countries, experienced 13 general famines in 16C, 11 in 17C, and 16 in 18C, plus hundreds of local famines that affected a single town or region.  The explanation for the famines was simple.  The yields from cereal grains were low and the capacity to store reserves primitive.  Two bad harvests in a row, and people starved.  It was during 18C that technological progress in agriculture began to break the grip of that brutal arithmetic.
-Charles Murray,  Human Accomplishments:  The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

If you like photography..........................

....................................................this post from Business Insider may interest you.  A few samples:





The bile of Seneca...........................

From then onwards no mansion would be complete without its library of shelves or cupboards for collection of many-coloured rolls.  Then, as now, rich men with not real literary interests bought libraries for show, only to incur the scorn of philosophers like Seneca, who, himself a millionaire, preached modesty and restraint to others, denouncing those who 'lacking the most elementary culture, possess books not for study but as decorations for their dining-rooms'.  No house of any pretentions, he said, lacked 'its library with shelves of rare cedar wood and ivory from floor to ceiling as well as its hot and cold bathing rooms'.  It stirred his bile to see 'the works of divine genius bought merely for show to decorate a wall'.  Despite such lashing, the newly rich continued the practice and thereby kept many an honest bookseller active from whose industry real scholars were also able to benefit.
-F. R. Cowell, Life in Ancient Rome

About role models................................

12.   The Financial Times wrote, "In 2008 the three most admired personalities in sport were probably Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius." The same falls from grace happen in investing. Chose your role models carefully. 
-from this list of 122 Things Everyone Should Know About Investing and The Economy

Friday, December 26, 2014

Love the technology...................................

The Diamonds...................................................Little Darlin'

Thanks......................................

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'Thank you,'  that would suffice."
-attributed to Meister Eckhart

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

All he could see, in every direction, was water.
      It was late June 1943.  Somewhere on the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Army Air Forces bombardier and Olympic runner Louie Zamperini lay across a small raft, drifting westward.  Slumped alongside him was a sergeant, one of his plane's gunners.  On a separate raft, tethered to the first, lay another crewman, a gash zigzagging across his forehead.  Their bodies, burned by the sun and stained yellow from the raft dye, had withered down to skeletons.  Sharks glided in lazy loops around them, dragging their backs along the rafts, waiting.
-Laura Hillenbrand, from the Preface to Unbroken

My sweetie and I took the family to see the movie Unbroken last evening.  We suggest you see it.  After you do, if you are curious what post-traumatic stress can look like, read the book.  Powerful stuff.  A trailer for the movie is here.

Hmmm..............................................























via

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

Bobby Vee............................The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

Home is.............................................

...............................................................where the hearth is.


Let me paint.............................................

...........................................you a picture of true leadership.

I wonder if...............................................

..................I can use this as an excuse to get out of jury duty.

Fun stuff to remember...............................

     The most striking difference for a modern observer visiting -8000 would have been the scarcity of humans.  People lived just about everywhere, from the farthest southern reaches of today's Chile to the Norse tundra, but they would have been hard to find, living in small and isolated bands.  They had to be scattered, because the human animal is a carnivore by preference, and large carnivores surviving off the land require a large range - about 5,000 acres per person, in the case of carnivore Homo sapiens.  Depending on local conditions, a band of just 25 hunter-gatherers could require more than a thousand square miles.  The world of -8000 probably supported fewer than 4 million human beings, roughly the population of contemporary Kentucky.
-Charles Murray,  Human Accomplishments, The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Extreme playing.....................................



via

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas


















11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord

-The Holy Bible, Luke 2:11
King James Version

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Loves pure light................................

Sarah McLachlan................................................Silent Night

Verse............................................

18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22  Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24  Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25   And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
-The Holy Bible, King James Version,  Matthew 1:18-25

It is the direction that's most important.....

"We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naive to work toward a better one."
-Steven Pinker, as quoted off the back of a Chipotle bag

Well, maybe not..............................


Probably should start using it................


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

Christmas with Andy Williams and The Young Americans

Christmas spirit........................................

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” 
-Calvin Coolidge


“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.” 
-Eric Sevareid


“What kind of Christmas present would Jesus ask Santa for?” 
-Salman Rushdie

'Tis the season.......................................


What if.................................................?

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
-Dr. Seuss

A brief warm-up....................................


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

About to find out.....................................


Let's dance............................................

Vince Guaraldi Trio.................Charlie Brown Christmas Dance

Althouse.....................................

....notices (in a good way) the passing of the legendary Joe Cocker.

Risk-aversion.............................................



“Risk-aversion is one of those behaviours that may not seem all that rational in terms of building wealth, or increasing the number of offspring,” he says. “But  . . . if you engage in more conservative behaviour, it’s much less likely that nature will eliminate you.”
-Andrew Lo, as excerpted from here. (via)
video via the Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys

This is a pretty neat Christmas present.....


Just for grins................................

......................check out what you could buy today for the (inflation adjusted) price of a Sear's Silvertone Entertainment Center (a color TV) in 1964.  Pictures, prices and details here.  Wee excerpt here:

As much as we might complain about a slow economic recovery, the decline of the middle class, stagnant median household income, rising income inequality and a dysfunctional Congress, we have a lot to be thankful for, and we’ve made a lot of economic progress in the last 50 years as the example above illustrates, thanks to the “magic and miracle of the marketplace.”

Optimism from a Chipotle bag............

























Full Steven Pinker section here.  Excerpt here:

"As it happens, the numbers tell a surprisingly happy story.  Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages.  Over the past 60 years the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted.  Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick, and more live to old age."

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

Bing Crosby...............................It's Christmas Time Again

Only as a public service......................

....................would we point you to this Vox  post on flatulence.

This feels about right.................................

6. If you think that the media likes bad news, then they are bound to like either stagnation story (or both simultaneously, even though they contradict one another). The media deck is stacked against optimists. I would say that it is even stacked against realists.
-As excerpted from this Arnold Kling post

Traffic concerns.....................................
















via

Our loss..............................................

 “Today’s Democrats have no more in common with Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson,” notes author Michael Lind, “than today’s Republicans have in common with Abraham Lincoln or Dwight Eisenhower. “
-As excerpted from this post by Joel Kotkin

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pour yourself a smooth one......................

David Sanborn.........................................Rain on Christmas

Christmas fun.......................................

Straight No Chaser...........................12 Days and a bit more

...standing in belief he scarcely can believe...

Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.


-Wendell Berry
Sabbaths, 1987  VI

Listen more and talk less..........................

Rearrange the letters in the word "listen," and you get "silent," Branson points out. The only way to listen to the other person is to be silent, without interrupting them or planning what you want to say before they're done.
Branson never goes anywhere without a physical notebook so that he can write down things that other people say and remember them. It's his secret business weapon, he says, as it also leads to new business ideas as he goes.
-One of 23 bits of business wisdom from Richard Branson

I don't always agree with........................

.............our President.  But when I do, it's because he has done something like this.

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

Jose Gonzales-Gonzales................................Pancho Claus

Commonalities................................


A few random signs found in the Intertunnel...