Saturday, February 8, 2014

One for Jetboy.........................

Savoy Brown..............................Can't Get Next To You

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

"A mind that questions everything, unless strong enough to bear the weight of its ignorance, risks questioning itself and being engulfed in doubt."
-Emile Durkheim

















cartoon via

We all have cracks....................

.......Effective leadership is about handling them well.

This 100 word parable from Tanmay Vora explains.

Face it................................

"Face it:  We are either breaking out of our spirit-sucking routines and breaking through to new insights and experiences, or we are breaking down.  So when the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone arrives, and it will definitely come, take it.  Say no to the sure thing and say yes to a creative challenge.  Say no to short-term comfort producing activities, and say yes to fear, passion and leadership."
-Tom Asacker, as excerpted from The Business of Belief



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

Beach Boys...................................Little Deuce Coupe

Simple...................................

"Achieving wealth and greatness can be distilled down to helping others.  Find a way to serve many people.  Simply stated, this is what leads to great wealth, great power and great influence."
-Jim Rohn

Hard choices.................................

"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
-Henny Youngman

















cartoon via

Change......................................

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.   To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
-Buckminster Fuller






















cartoon via

Service..................................

A Miser sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he buried in a hole in the ground by the side of an old wall and went to look at daily.  One of his workmen observed his frequent visits to the spot and decided to watch his movements.  He soon discovered the secret of the buried treasure, and digging down, came to the lump of gold, and stole it.  The Miser, on his next visit, found the hole empty and began to tear his hair and make loud lamentations.  A neighbor, seeing him overcome with grief and learning the cause, said, "Pray do not grieve so; but go and take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that the gold is still lying there.  It will do you quite the same service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as you did not make the slightest use of it."
-Aesop's Fables

Rembrandt     The parable of the hidden treasure        c. 1630

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cool......................

The Execupundit pointed to the original list (and criteria for being so) of the 100 "coolest" Americans.  Any time a list is compiled, inevitably, folks will start to question it, including me.  While it is an impressive list, some of the includees could better be described as "hot" not cool.  (One should note that the list was prepared by the Telegraph in the UK.)  Our sensible, yet cool, friend Kurt has opted to create his own list.  Can't wait to see how he fills it in, although it seems he is asking for our help (there is a short-cut waiting by clicking on E.'s Cool Hall of Fame).  While my kids might think it ironic that I weigh in on anything "cool,"  here are a few suggestions:

Roy Orbison

Babe Ruth

Grace Kelly

George Carlin

Chuck Yeager

Buddy Holly

It's easy.....................................

The Beatles.........................................All You Need Is Love

All you need is.........................























thanks Todd

The Founders, properly considered.........

     Aaron Burr's life represents the antidote to lazy history.  His experiences, his mistakes, and his radical insights combine to give us a better picture of the political culture that defined his generation.  To conceive of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and their ilk as they were on their best day is to compress the life of any modern president into the most memorable line in an inaugural address that someone else wrote for him.  The founders were far more numerous than popular history suggests, and far less righteous and dignified.  The historic memory does not hold much history.  That is why Burr, the fallen founder, is more representative that one might otherwise suggest.
     The founders contributed wisdom and often exhibited courage.  But to remove them from political time as if they were ever, on a single day, holy men or paragons of virtue misses their true vocation and their true motivation.  They did not live inside an impossibly romantic political forum where great minds communed on a regular basis to remind each other of their noblest ideals.  They did not spend the bulk of their time sitting at their desks writing treatises, or standing before their congressional peers making sublime speeches.  The lawyers among them were more typically engrossed in the ugly details of a property case, or in a dogged debate inside a courtroom;  many speculators among them mulled over the looming threat of debtor's prison.  They spent their time engaged in the polite banter of the tea parlor, and indulged in secret sexual trysts with prostitutes, mistresses, and in the South, slaves.
     These were our founders:  imperfect men in a less than perfect nation, grasping at opportunities.  That they did good for their country is understood, and worth our celebration:  that they were also jealous, resentful, self-protective, and covetous politicians should be no less a part of their collective biography.  What separates history from myth is that history takes in the whole picture, whereas myth averts our eyes from the truth when it turns men into heroes and gods.
-Nancy Isenberg, as excerpted from her conclusion to Fallen Founder:  The Life of Aaron Burr

The not-so-Simple Village Undertaker..............

...celebrated a fourth anniversary yesterday!  Long may he blog!






Fishing...................................









via

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

Ricky Nelson.....................................................For You

Been my experience too.................................

"Complexity is the enemy of the average investor. "
-David Merkel

The most interesting family in the Intertunnel...

If you are not familiar with the Sullivan family at Sippican Cottage, well, shame on you.  You're missing the moxie that made America great.  Knock on the door, walk right in:

My wife and I have no credentials that allow us to teach. We simply have an approach. It's very simple: Every day, we just make sure our children know something they didn't know the day before. We require measurable results -- from them, and from us. That's it. That's all. That approach is not attempted -- that approach is not allowed -- at the public school.

Matt Ridley......................

"Few people know that global inequality is falling and so is poverty"

"Remarkably, university-educated Britons did worse, not better, than non-graduates. It is not so much what you don’t know as what you know that isn’t so."

"None of this is meant to imply that people are wrong to resent inequality in income or wealth, or be bothered about the winner-take-all features of executive pay in recent decades. Indeed, my point is rather the reverse: to try to understand why it is that people mind so much today, when in many ways inequality is so much less acute, and absolute poverty so much less prevalent, than it was in, say, 1900 or 1950. Now that starvation and squalor are mostly avoidable, so what if somebody else has a yacht?"

Full blog post from whence these quotes came is here.

Sounds like my favorite law at work...................

 The Law of Unintended Consequences that is................
"It is no more feasible to turn the clock back on globalization or automation than on contraception or female labor-force participation. All of these developments represent progress, in that they were solutions to the problems of the past. All of them contribute to the problems of the present.
A fixation on past problems may be making present problems worse"

Speaking of consistency.........................

The Epicurean Dealmaker weighs in on the subject.  Full post (and he writes so well) is here.  Conclusion here:

This perspective - that we need to and should use different mental tools and practices to address disjoint spheres of human experience - should worry no one but those little minds burdened with the hobgoblin of foolish consistency. Human minds are protean instruments, and we should celebrate the fact we can plumb the depths of the sky with science in one minute, struggle with the meaning of our lives another, and wonder at the beauty of a painting or concerto the next. One might say this capacity is what makes us human in the first place.

Science is a wonderful hammer, but only someone with a desperately limited imagination could believe that everything we must grapple with is a nail.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anything you want me to..................

Little Joe Hinton..................................I Won't Be Your Fool

Within.......................................














“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”


art via Terry Redlin

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

     In 1793-94, Gilbert Stuart, best known today for his unfinished likeness of George Washington, painted a portrait of a promising politician.  There is something unconventional about this particular canvass:  age and authority do not quite coincide.  The perfectly proportioned face, its flawless skin rose-tinted and glowing, suggests a man in his early twenties.  Only the receding hairline hints that he might be older.  One other pronounced feature stands out:  the large hazel eyes, with coal black pupils, that gaze intently from the canvas.
     The man in the portrait is thirty-seven-year-old Senator Aaron Burr of New York.  Two years earlier, he had come into office by defeating Philip Schuyler, a powerful, wealthy landholder twenty-three years his senior.  Schuyler was deeply resentful about the unexpected turn of events.  These two men could not have been more unalike:  the elder was hulking and unapproachable, his victorious opponent not just younger but elegant and engaging.
     Appearances mattered in the politically tumultuous 1790's, and Burr's decision to commission the portrait marked more than the entry of a newcomer into the republican ruling class.  Stuart's carefully compose image of Burr announced a new democratic ethos:  none of the outward emblems of social status appears in the portrait.  The youthful Burr is without a wig.  His dress is remarkably plain:  no lacy frills, no gold buttons, no richly dyed satin cloth.  Stuart tellingly observed that his American clients demanded accurate and realistic representations of themselves - none of the costumes, insignia of office, and "Grand Manner" setting associated with British portraiture.
-Nancy Isenberg,  Fallen Founder:  The Life of Aaron Burr

Stuart...................................

Gilbert Charles Stuart (1755-1828) was a prolific Rhode Island painter. He reportedly painted over 1,000 portraits during his long career, including some significantly important historical personages.  The Cliff Notes on Stuart can be found here.  For more in depth fun, try this site.

Aaron Burr           c. 1794


John Adams       1824

George Washington        1795

Catherine Brass Yates      1793

The Skater        1782

James Monroe     1817







































The "unfinished"  George Washington























































































The Hunter Dogs          1769

Dr. William Smith                 1800

Burr............................

A complicated man, living in a more complicated time than our history books suggest, Burr has long been considered an enigma.  Still, he was an officer during the Revolutionary War, Attorney General and Senator from New York, and Thomas Jefferson's first vice president.  Burr may be best known for his history-changing fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton and his trial for treason in 1807 (he was acquitted with Chief Justice John Marshall presiding over the trial).  Here are a few quotes attributed to Burr:

"The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure and pleasure my business."

“Slander has slain more than the sword.”

"There is a maxim, 'Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.' It is a maxim for sluggards. A better reading of it is, 'Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow,' because something may occur to make you regret your premature action.'

“Every man likes his own opinion best.”

"Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained."

“I learned in the Revolution, in the society of gentlemen, and I have since observed for myself, that a man who is guilty of intentional bad manners, is capable of crime.”

“When a man takes time to consider whether he will do a good or civil action, be assured he will never do it. The baser feelings, the calculations of interest and timidity, always prevail…”

"America stood with open arms and presented an asylum to the oppressed of every nation;  we invited them with the promise of enjoying equal rights with ourselves, and presented them with the flattering prospect of presiding in our councils and arriving at honour and trust;  shall we deprive these persons of an important right derived from so sacred a source as our constitution?"

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

The Four Tops...................................Baby I Need Your Loving

About consistency.................................

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Consistency..................................

The majority of us are probably not capable of building, in our head, a truly consistent and accurate model, or even a set of rules. Instead, we use abstractions and heuristics to help us associate different ideas. Using these heuristics, for example, we can decide whether some policy fits our worldview (e.g. whether a libertarian should support countercyclical monetary policy). But, these stories that we come up with to justify our decisions are necessarily based on limited information, so there is some probability that part of the story is wrong. 

 Is consistency important:  sure.   Should it be a standard by which to judge independent ideas:  I don’t think so.

  via

On your own.............................






















via

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To be free....................................

The Byrds........................................Ballad of Easy Rider

On the benefits of lazy but intelligent leadership....

"These people can be challenging to work with. They delegate and trust people to do their jobs. They don't micromanage; they question. They avoid unproductive things (think meetings, paper shuffling, busy work). They don't seek consensus because often that means more work, not less. They focus on a few key priorities. They don't run around with solutions looking for problems."

As excerpted from this interesting post on various combinations of characteristics and their potential impact on a workplace.

thanks tyler

Spengler cops an attitude................................

Not only has Spengler been worn out by the economy, he thinks we all have been worn out by  the economy.   Full essay, with impressive and scholarly looking charts, is here.  A longish excerpt is here (below the artwork):














Republicans have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to roar back to power given the miserable performance of the economy on Obama’s watch. But they still could fall on their faces.
The problem is NOT government spending, contrary to the well-meaning obsession of the Tea Party. That will BECOME the problem a decade or two from now. The problem now is obstacles to investment: the highest corporate tax rate in the world, onerous regulation, the crazyquilt uncertainty of Obamacare. America needs aggressive tax cuts and regulatory rollback. It also needs to spend more on infrastructure, which is becoming a major obstacle to growth. It needs to spend more on R&D, particularly on cutting-edge military R&D. The way to do this, I’ve argued for years, is to emulate Roosevelt’s alphabet-soup federal agencies and put unemployed Americans to work repairing infrastructure at $20 an hour, rather than paying $50 an hour to the construction unions. That’s heresy from a free-marketeer like me, but it makes economic sense and will drive the Democrats crazy.
If Republicans stage more cliffhangers around the budget, they may yet snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. They should talk about nothing but growth and jobs. 

Today...................................

     Today is a really good time to take an action, to start working on some changes you desire, to create your definitive personal development plan, to... Yesterday is learning and reflection.  Tomorrow is planning.  Today is action:  today is where You, Only Better is created.
-Nicolas Bate,  You, Only Better:  Find Your Strength, Be the Best and Change Your Life

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

The slim, erect officer in the Union blue, looking taller than he was, peered down the rocky slopes of Little Round Top.  Clouds of smoke and dust obscured his view, but what he saw forced his face into lines of decision.  His vivid blue eyes narrowed, and the lips, almost covered by a sweeping brown mustache, drew into a thin line as he calculated the effects of a move which he could scarcely hope to carry off but which he must make to save his command from defeat or capture and prevent the entire left flank of the Union line at Gettysburg from being rolled up.   Once the Confederates seized Little Round Top, the battle was lost for the Union and Lee's invasion of the North would be a political threat, encouraging the peace party elements in the North and perhaps influencing the European powers to reconsider the question of recognizing the Confederacy.
-Willard M. Wallace,  Soul of the Lion:  A Biography of General Joshua L. Chamberlain

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

The Jelly Beans......................I Wanna Love Him So Bad

Certain lessons....................

     That knowledge will expand we can be certain, and at an accelerating pace and in directions we cannot possible predict.  This book is written from the viewpoint of a historian, and while all theories of history are vainglorious absurdities, doomed to eventual oblivion, history does teach certain lessons, one of which is that science, like everything else, becomes out of date.  And another is that nature is full of surprises.
-Paul Johnson,  Darwin:  Portrait of a Genius

We are a strange breed......................

Abortion A-Okay, But Don’t You Dare Drink While Pregnant
So reads the heading to this Walter Russell Mead & Staff blog post.

Hook.............................................

Perhaps it's why I'm so amused by comedian Mitch Hedberg's absurd declaration:  "I'm sick of following my dreams, man.  I'm just going to ask where they're going and hook up with them later."  But why follow them?  Why hook up with them?  Why not be the leader of your life and let your dreams hook up with you.
-Tom Asacker,  The Business of Belief:  How the World's Best Marketers, Designers, Salespeople, Coaches, Fundraisers, Educators, Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Get Us To Believe

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The long version.................................

Moody Blues......................................Tuesday Afternoon

Lost In Heaven.......................

















The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy night
Offered an opening to the source of dew;
Which I accepted with impatient sight,
Looking for my old sky-marks in the blue.

But stars were scarce in that part of the sky,
And no two were of the same constellation -
No one was bright enough to identify;
So 'twas with not ungrateful consternation,

Seeing myself well lost once more, I sighed,
"Where, where in heaven am I? But don't tell me!
O opening clouds, by opening on me wide
Let's let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me."


-Robert Frost

image via

Needing a brand-aid........................
















"In Western societies particularly, respect for traditional voices of authority - from priests to political leaders - has eroded.  So has their faith in brands.  Havas Media, a big marketing agency, says trust in them has been declining for three decades.  Last August it published the latest in a series of worldwide surveys, in which 134,000 consumers in 23 countries were asked what they thought of 700 brands.  A majority of those taking part would not care if 73% of them vanished.  In Europe and America 92% would not be missed."
-Schumpeter, as excerpted from this article in The Economist

Ah, a "shortcut"...........................

"I think it's fascinating to note that some of the most successful organizations of our time got there by focusing obsessively on service, viewing compensation as an afterthought or a side effect.  As marketing gets more and more expensive, it turns out that caring for people is a useful shortcut to trust, which leads to all the other things that a growing organization seeks."
-Seth Godin, as excerpted from this blog post

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

On the TV.............................................Gilligan's Island

Less and less............................................























"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less."
-Vaclav Havel

via

Dissing "common sense".................................

"The idea of 'common sense' feels like magical thinking to me, similar to the notion that we have a 'mind' that is more than the sum of our brain's chemistry and architecture."
-Scott Adams, as excerpted from this blog post

So far...................................

"Don't let the best you have done so far be the standard for the rest of your life."
-Gustavus F. Swift

Fortunately................................

"There is a lot of work life left, after all, when the nest empties and the college tuition bills roll in."
-Liza Mundy, as excerpted from this blog post about the career trajectory of Janet Yellen, the 67 year-old chair of the Federal Reserve.

thanks

Monday, February 3, 2014

Because, every so often, only a harmonica will do

J. Geils Band.......................................Whammer Jammer

Happening.............................






















via

Not quite the opening paragraphs...........

     Wearing a bearskin coat, the President, with his wife, joined Captain Edward McCauley, Jr., on the bridge.  Wilson waved his hands and raised his hat to the crowds again and again in appreciation of the most spectacular send-off in New York history.  It was difficult to imagine in that moment of purely joyful noise, with thousands of flags and handkerchiefs waving in his honor, that he was one of the most polarizing Presidents in the nation's history.  As one of his earliest supporters, Oklahoma Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, once said:  "Wilson had no friends, only slaves and enemies."
     British Parliamentarian Cecil Harmsworth would later observe that he did not know of "any historic personage...who so strangely attracts and repels" as Woodrow Wilson.  This was possible because - as another Wilson acquaintance observed - "probably in the history of the whole world there has been no great man, of whom so much has been written, but of whom personally so little has been correctly known."  Yet another, who, as a college student, had first encountered him, never lost sight of the personal paradox that was the man:  "Stern and impassive, yet emotional;  calm and patient, yet quick-tempered and impulsive;  forgetful of those who served him, yet devoted to many who had rendered but minor service...precise and business-like, and yet, upon occasion, illogical without more reason than intuition itself."
-A. Scott Berg, Wilson

Wilson.............................

















Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was President of the United States (the 28th) between 1913 and 1921.   With a Ph. D. in history and political science, Wilson began his career as an educator - a college professor, football coach, and debate team leader.  In 1902 he was named President of Princeton University.  In 1911 he was elected as Governor of New Jersey.  You can read more about him here and here. As might be expected, there are a bunch of Wilsonian quotes.  Here are a few just to scratch the surface:

Nothing is easier than to falsify the past. Lifeless instruction will do it. If you rob it of vitality, stiffen it with pedantry, sophisticate it with argument, chill it with unsympathetic comment, you render it as dead as any academic exercise.

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to do is to supply light and not heat.

I have long enjoyed the friendship and companionship of Republicans, because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something.

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

No country can afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class. The treasury of America lies in those ambitions, those energies, that cannot be restricted to a special favored class. It depends upon the inventions of unknown men, upon the originations of unknown men, upon the ambitions of unknown men. Every country is renewed out of the ranks of the unknown, not out of the ranks of those already famous and powerful and in control.

The sum of the whole matter is this, that our civilization cannot survive materially unless it be redeemed spiritually.

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.

If you want to make enemies, try to change something.

Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord's Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.

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

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

There is power in being FOR something....................

"I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations.  I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
-Mother Teresa

Lessons of humility.................or, The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes back....

Those of you who share my belief in the inevitability of above stated law as it concerns human affairs may enjoy reading an academic study on the subject.  Said academic study is here.  A few excerpts here:

"...the best advice for political actors is very often to simply stop trying to solve social problems, since interventions not based on precise understanding are likely to do more harm than good."

"When one lacks a precise and detailed understanding of a complex system, any attempt to radically improve that system is more likely to disrupt the things that are working well than it is to repair the system’s imperfections. Marx’s failure to improve society should have been about as surprising as the failure of George Washington’s doctors to cure his infection by draining his blood."

"Political leaders, voters, and activists are well-advised to follow the dictum, often applied to medicine, to “first, do no harm.” A plausible rule of thumb, to guard us against doing harm as a result of overconfident ideological beliefs, is that one should not forcibly impose requirements or restrictions on others unless the value of those requirements or restrictions is essentially uncontroversial among the community of experts in conditions of free and open debate."

thanks greg

To be fully human..............................

"The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility."
-Vaclav Havel

Shouldn't take long...................








thanks