Saturday, March 22, 2014

The drugs must have helped........................

Vanilla Fudge.........................You Keep Me Hanging On

Opening paragraphs..............Part the First

      We've been beat up.  We've been struggling to come back.  We're finally breaking out to levels that were thought to be unthinkable given how poorly stocks have performed in the past decade and a half.  We need to stop getting knocked around and settling for incremental strides.  It's time to use the stock market to build wealth again.  It's time to get rich, but to do so carefully this go-round, not recklessly and not with blind disregard to this new world of investing.  We accept that this market has overpowered most small investors.  The big funds too seem to have lost their ability to beat the averages, perhaps permanently, because of their size and because of their collective bunker mentality that has them simply trying to mimic the Standard & Poor's 500.  I am confident you can beat the averages if you work with me to triumph over the obfuscating, infuriating and often broken process of trying to profit from short- and long-term stock price movements.
-James J. Cramer, from the Introduction to Get Rich Carefully

Opening paragraphs....................Part 2

If we are going to invest successfully in this new, more treacherous environment, we are going to have to recognize that bizarre stock movements have become a staple, if not the hallmark, of this era.  Before we even get to the buying and selling of individual stocks in order to create wealth, we have to understand how stocks are impacted by both understandable events and what seem to be random gyrations that baffle and frighten us.  We need to fathom these moves because when we become scared and confused investors we become emotional and reckless investors.  Ignorance is the opposite of bliss in the stock market.
-James J. Cramer,  Get Rich Carefully

Keys................................

     Once in Hawaii I was taken to see a Buddhist temple.   In the temple a man said, "I am going to tell you something you will never forget."  And then he said, "To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven.  The same key opens the gates of hell."
      And so it is with science.  In a way it is a key to the gates of heaven, and the same key opens the gates of hell, and we do not have any instructions as to which is which gate.  Shall we throw away the key and never have a way to enter the gates of heaven?   Or shall we struggle with the problem of which is the best way to use the key?  That is, of course, a very serious question, but I think that we cannot deny the value of the key to the gates of heaven.
-Richard Feynman,  The Meaning of It All:  Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

Clarke's Three Laws........................

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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

Arthur C. Clarke takes a stab at predicting the future:

I wonder if this is why I have so many......

......................................half read books on my shelves?

“To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will tax the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”

-Henry David Thoreau

God love us pesky humans.....................

Erdogan tries to ban Twitter in Turkey.  Wonder how that is working.....
Shortly after the Twitter ban came into effect around midnight, the micro-blogging company tweeted instructions to users in Turkey on how to circumvent it using text messaging services in Turkish and English. Turkish tweeters were quick to share other methods of tiptoeing around the ban, using “virtual private networks” (VPN) – which allow internet users to connect to the web undetected – or changing the domain name settings on computers and mobile devices to conceal their geographic whereabouts.
Some large Turkish news websites also published step-by-step instructions on how to change DNS settings.
On Friday morning, Turkey woke up to lively birdsong: according to the alternative online news site Zete.com, almost 2.5m tweets – or 17,000 tweets a minute – have been posted from Turkey since the Twitter ban went into effect, thus setting new records for Twitter use in the country.

Steady as she goes..........................

      My soul preached to me and said, "Do not be delighted because of praise, and do not be distressed because of blame."
      Ere my soul counselled me, I doubted the worth of my work.
      Now I realize that the trees blossom in Spring and bear fruit in Summer without seeking praise;  and they drop their leaves in Autumn and become naked in Winter without fearing blame.
-Kahlil Gibran,  Thoughts and Meditations

Learned a new word...................

"Since I did not make this assessment myself,  I guess I can tell you about it without feeling like it's simply rodomontade on my part. I had made a very bad mistake"
-Greg Sullivan





Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday night guitar magic........................

Dire Straits........................................Sultans of Swing

One last time......................................I promise

Glen Campbell................................................Wichita Lineman

 

My story ... and I'm sticking to it...........






















via

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

















"A civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage."
-Henry David Thoreau

One man's take (as well as the above photo) on civilized savages can be found here.

Some things never change..................
















"When television is good, nothing - not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers  - nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials - many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it."

-Newton N. Minow, FCC Chairman, May 9, 1961, as excerpted from here

Fear is probably not the right word.........


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

Dateline 1964:  Isaac Asimov makes predictions about life in 2014

 

Learned a new word.........................


Celebrate Spring..................................

.........................the Sippican Cottage way.   Yay  Spring!

Exactly why did we think.........................

.............that Russia would help us in the Middle East?  Walter Russell Mead's blog is on the story.

"Russia doesn’t just want to win this crisis; it doesn’t want President Obama to escape from it without a crushing public humiliation."

How to have a "Seller's Market"...................

..........................Reduce the inventory of available homes.
















If you can't find a home you like, why not build one?  Did I mention that we have some wondrous wooded building lots available?

Enlargeable chart, and backstory, here.

Speaking of real estate availability...................

From the world of international real estate.......................


















enlargeable screen here

Thursday, March 20, 2014

One more opens..........................

Lee Ann Womack....................................I Hope You Dance

 

For all time..............................

James Taylor.......................................Wichita Lineman

 

Core documents........................

The history major in me cannot resist revisiting 1787.  In this episode, we highlight Brutus II.

Robert Yates states the problem:
When a building is to be erected which is intended to stand for ages, the foundation should be firmly laid. The constitution proposed to your acceptance, is designed not for yourselves alone, but for generations yet unborn. The principles, therefore, upon which the social compact is founded, ought to have been clearly and precisely stated, and the most express and full declaration of rights to have been made — But on this subject there is almost an entire silence.

His conclusion:
This will appear the more necessary, when it is considered, that not only the constitution and laws made in pursuance thereof, but all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, are the supreme law of the land, and supersede the constitutions of all the states. The power to make treaties, is vested in the president, by and with the advice and consent of two thirds of the senate. I do not find any limitation, or restriction, to the exercise of this power. The most important article in any constitution may therefore be repealed, even without a legislative act. Ought not a government, vested with such extensive and indefinite authority, to have been restricted by a declaration of rights? It certainly ought.
So clear a point is this, that I cannot help suspecting, that persons who attempt to persuade people, that such reservations were less necessary under this constitution than under those of the states, are wilfully endeavouring to deceive, and to lead you into an absolute state of vassalage.

Core documents........................II

James Madison, channeling his inner Publius, takes on "factions" in The Federalist No. 10.

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed, than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments, never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

Madison acknowledges that the causes of factionalism are deeply rooted in human nature, and are thus not open to removal.  He then turns his attention to controlling the effects of factionalism.  While not being a scholar on the subject, it would be my impression that he misjudged the problem.

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular states, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states: a religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national councils against any danger from that source: a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire state.

Ed. Note:  The Core Documents may be found here.

Thoreau on philanthropy............

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve."
-Henry David Thoreau, from the Economy chapter of Walden

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

Van Harder came aboard The Busted Flush on a hot bright May morning.  My houseboat was at her home mooring, Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar, Fort Lauderdale.  I was in the midst of one of my periodic spasms of energy born of guilt.  You go along thinking you are properly maintaining your houseboat and your runabout, going by the book, keeping a watchful eye on the lines, the bilge, the brightwork, and all.  But the book was written for more merciful climates than Florida, once described to the King of Spain by DeSoto as "an uninhabitable sandspit," even though at the time it was inhabited by quite a lot of Indians.
-John D. MacDonald,  The Empty Copper Sea

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

Roy Orbison.......................................................It's Over

 

I love these things.......................

The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.  40 great pictures here.  A few samples here (it's times like now that I wish Blogger handled photos like Tumblr):




Power......................

Tanmay Vora's first six traits of a collaborative leader:

3. They look at “power” differentlyFor a collaborative leader, definition of power is to empower others. A collaborative team is the one where power is decentralized and everyone owns the final outcome. This also requires a collaborative leader to give up on their ego and need to be “in control”. They understand that “power with people” > “power over people”

About that "settled science"............

Good news on the cheeseburger front - perhaps saturated fats aren't so terrible after all.  Walter Russell Mead's blog notices that the human body is a complex system and that dietary science can't seem to make up its mind about what is good/bad for us.  Perhaps the wide world of "settled science" would benefit by taking on a bit of humility.  Full post here.  Excerpt here:

"Dogmatism is the enemy of science and the reality is almost always more complicated than the current consensus, especially as it is transmitted to us through the media."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Better than you might think.................

R.E.M...........................................................Wichita Lineman

 

Present...................................


















"It is true, I never assisted the sun materially in his rising, but, doubt not, it was of the last importance only to be present at it."
-Henry David Thoreau

Present..............................

      My soul spoke to me and said, "Do not measure Time by saying, 'There was yesterday, and there shall be tomorrow.'"
      And ere my soul spoke to me, I imagined the Past as an epoch that never returned, and the Future as one that could never be reached.
      Now I realize that the present moment contains all time and within it is all that can be hoped for, done and realized.
-Kahlil Gibran,  Thoughts and Meditations

Your mission, should you choose to accept it........















thanks Jess

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

Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) makes the cover of Time magazine.  Fuller was an architect, professor, inventor, author, designer, speaker of interesting things, thinker, an environmentalist before it was popular, and a "futurist".  He also had some experience with failure (flunking out of Harvard twice and being fired) and tragedy (death of his three year old daughter).  You can read more about him here, here, or if you are a Time subscriber you can read the January 10, 1964 cover story here.























As noted above, Fuller also said some interesting things.  A number of his quotes have appeared here before.  Feel free to search the site.  Here are a dandy few new ones:

"So long as mathematicians can impose up-and-down semantics upon students while trafficking personally in the non-up-and-down advantages of their concise statements, they can impose upon the ignorance of man a monopoly of access to accurate processing of information and can fool even themselves by thought habits governing the becoming behavior of professional specialists, by disclaiming the necessity of, or responsibility for, comprehensive adjustment of the a priori thought to total reality of universal principles."

"The opposite of nature is impossible"

"on first priority
in design consideration
is the full realization
of individual potential
in order to reach the second derivative - 

full realization for all individuals"

and my favorite:

"We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist.So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living."

I'm thinking................................

From Mark Perry's Carpe Diem blog:

"While businesses may do more for the public good than they’re given credit for, philanthropies may do less. Think about it for a moment: Can you point to a single charitable accomplishment that has been as transformative as, say, the cell phone or the birth-control pill?"

After thinking about it for about 15 seconds, I can point to two examples that might fit that bill.  First, Andrew Carnegie's public libraries.  Who knows what doors were opened, imaginations fired, opportunities created by the Carnegie libraries in communities across the country?  My guess is the impact made by this expansion of the availability of books was huge.  Second,  how about  Rotary's Polio Plus?  At its peak in the 1940's and 50's, polio was crippling and killing about 500,000 people world wide annually.  New vaccinations developed in the 1950's slowed the growth of the dread disease.  In 1985, The Rotary Foundation decided to try to eradicate the disease.  Since that time, Rotary, with some seriously large matching grants from the Gates Foundation, has raised in the vicinity of $200,000,000 and paid for the vaccination of more than two billion children.  Most of the world is polio free.  The eradication part hasn't been completed, but the team committed to the project is still working at it.   Wouldn't you agree that both of those charities qualify as "transformative"?

Are you talking to me............?


















courtesy of

First World tips for easy living................

"I like to chip away at the needless complexity of life with the hope of taming some of it in the long run."
-Scott Adams, as excerpted from this blog post

The only constant is change.......................

If you are interested in the goings-on in Eastern Europe, welcome to the crowd.  Some context might be useful, however.  It might help if you remember that our frames of reference - our lifetimes - are just blips in history.  If you doubt that, check out this video clip on the last 900 years of European history.  My favorite part is the 1500's, although the 1900's are fairly interesting too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's an R.E.M. kind of day......................

R.E.M.................................................Oddfellows Local 151

 

Attend..................................

      My soul preached to me and taught me to listen to the voices which the tongue and the larynx and the lips do not utter.
      Ere me soul preached to me, I heard naught but clamor and wailing.   But now I eagerly attend Silence and hear its choirs singing the hymns of the ages and the songs of the firmament announcing the secrets of the Unseen.
-Kahlil Gibran,  Thoughts and Meditations

Secular religion..........................

David P. Goldman reviews, and strongly recommends reading,  Joseph Bottum's An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America
Today’s American liberalism, it is often remarked, amounts to a secular religion: it has its own sacred texts and taboos, Crusades and Inquisitions. The political correctness that undergirds it, meanwhile, can be traced back to the past century’s liberal Protestantism. Conservatives, of course, routinely scoff that liberals’ ersatz religion is inferior to the genuine article.
Joseph Bottum, by contrast, examines post-Protestant secular religion with empathy, and contends that it gained force and staying power by recasting the old Mainline Protestantism in the form of catechistic worldly categories: anti-racism, anti-gender discrimination, anti-inequality, and so forth. What sustains the heirs of the now-defunct Protestant consensus, he concludes, is a sense of the sacred, but one that seeks the security of personal salvation through assuming the right stance on social and political issues.
"When how we vote is how our souls are saved."  Uh-oh.

Good to remember.......................

"All scientific knowledge is uncertain.  This experience with doubt and uncertainty is important.  I believe that it is of very great value, and one that extends beyond science.  I believe that to solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar.  You have to permit the possibility that you do not have it exactly right.  Otherwise, if you have made up your mind already, you might not solve it."
-Richard Feynman, as excerpted from The Uncertainty of Science chapter to The Meaning of It All:  Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

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

The Impressions...........................................I'm So Proud

Continuing a theme........................

Yesterday, we linked to a Mike Munger post about the importance being a person  "who will take risks, and learn new things that are too hard to master on the first go."  Today we link to The Onion and the man "Who Knows What He Wants And Goes After Something More Realistic."  Two wee excerpts:
I’m a man who’s always had lofty goals. And it’s my firm belief that you should constantly be envisioning a brighter future for yourself. But what separates me from the rest of the pack is that when I see something that I desire, I don’t hesitate for one second: I immediately lower my gaze and shoot for something much, much easier to achieve..................Take my career, for instance. I always pictured myself as a successful architect, designing gleaming modern buildings that bear my name. So when the opportunity came up to pursue the subject at college, study hard to get ahead in the notoriously tough field, and begin the long journey to prominence by interning at a local architecture firm, I didn’t think twice. Nope, I enrolled in communications instead because I heard it was easy and then coasted by with a 2.6 GPA.

Aiming for funny, The Onion settles for sadness.


















via

Searcher..............................



















     "As we turn from the galaxies to the swarming cells of our own being, which toil for something, some entity beyond their grasp, let us remember man, the self-fabricator who came across an ice age to look into the mirrors and magic of science.  Surely he did not come to see himself or his wild visage only.   He came because he is at heart a listener and a searcher for some transcendent realm beyond himself."
-Loren Eiseley, as excerpted from Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants

photo via

Thoreau............................

So, my sweetie and I are sitting in on a lecture series on Thoreau's Walden.  Our teacher is delightful and has forgotten more about Thoreau (and Emerson and Hawthorne and all that crowd) than we will ever know.  Just for starters, Thoreau's given name was David Henry not Henry David, and the last name was pronounced Tho Row.  Walden is one of those books that I sort of, but not really, read a long time ago.  It has been sitting on my shelves forever, but, until now, have had little inclination to pick it up.  Our first assignment was to read three chapters.  Turns out the Thoreau is an amazing thinker and wordsmith.  Here are a few nuggets, in no particular order, found in the first ten pages of the first chapter (Economy):

"Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion."

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."

"The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation."

"I trust none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits."

"I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools, for these are more easily acquired than got rid of.  Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in."

"The portionless who struggle with no unnecessary inherited encumbrances find it labor enough to subdue and cultivate a few cubic feet of flesh."

"The finest qualities of our nature, like the blooms on fruits, can only be preserved by the most delicate handling.  Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly."

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"

"One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels."

"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indisposable, but positive hinderences to the elevation of mankind."

These were all from the first ten pages, and a different reader would most likely come up with a different list of equally memorable writings.

Requirements..........................

     Once you invent science - which allows you to quickly invent many things - you have a grand lever that can propel you forward very quickly.  That's what happened in the West starting approximately in the 17th century.  Science catapulted society into a rapid learning.  By the 18th century, science had launched the Industrial Revolution, and progress was noticeable in the growing spread of cities, increasing longevity and literacy, and the acceleration of future discoveries.
     But there is a puzzle.  The necessary ingredients of the scientific method are conceptual and fairly low tech:  a way to record, catalog, and communicate written evidence and the time to experiment.  Why didn't the Greeks invent it?  Or the Egyptians?  A time traveler from today could journey back to that era and set up the scientific method in ancient Alexandria or Athens without much trouble.  But would it catch on?
     Maybe not.  Science is costly for the individual.  Sharing results is of marginal benefit if you are chiefly seeking a better tool for today.  Therefore, the benefits of science are neither apparent nor immediate for individuals.  Science requires a certain density of leisured population willing to share and support failures to thrive.  That leisure is generated by pre-science inventions such as the plow, grain mills, domesticated power animals, and other techniques that permit a steady surplus of food for large numbers of people.  In other words, science needs prosperity and populations.
-Kevin Kelly,  as excerpted from What Technology Wants

Monday, March 17, 2014

With a drum solo tossed in..........................

Michael Stanley Band.................One Good Reason

 

I've been developing a list................

........of the most successful people I know who never managed (or cared) to get a college degree.  The requirements to get on the list are simple:  not being a college graduate; being fifty-sixtyish in age; being a contributing member of our community; working smart enough to have become financially independent;  being able to think for one's ownself;  knowing that learning is a lifetime project; and, realizing that life isn't fair and that it doesn't grade on the curve.   I like my list, mostly because I like hanging around with the people on it.  
     Anyway, what brought this story about my list to mind was this blog post from Mike Munger.  Wee excerpt here: 

For my big finish, I said "Nobody cares about your G.P.A.  You have wasted more than $150,000 here, avoiding an education." 

It can get a bit noisy.........................


The Anti-Federalist............

In between the drafting of the Constitution in 1787 and its ratification in 1789, there was a great debate - much of it fairly literate.  The pros and cons were well laid out in essays, now collected as The Anti-Federalist Papers and The Federalist.  This list of 50 "core documents"  includes the essay Brutus I.  Brutus was the pen name for Robert Yates:

He opens:
The first question that presents itself on the subject is, whether a confederated government be the best for the United States or not? Or in other words, whether the thirteen United States should be reduced to one great republic, governed by one legislature, and under the direction of one executive and judicial; or whether they should continue thirteen confederated republics, under the direction and controul of a supreme federal head for certain defined national purposes only?

He closes:
These are some of the reasons by which it appears, that a free republic cannot long subsist over a country of the great extent of these states. If then this new constitution is calculated to consolidate the thirteen states into one, as it evidently is, it ought not to be adopted.

You can read the whole essay here.

Ever wonder what Hamilton would think of the United States today................?

An excerpt from The Federalist No. 1:

An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government, will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretence and artifice . . . the stale bait for popularity at the expense of public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of violent love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is too apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten, that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well informed judgment, their interests can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people, than under the forbidding appearances of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us, that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism, than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career, by paying an obsequious court to the people . . . commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

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

The Who............the future is so bright I think I need shades

Chances..............................

     How can technology make a person better?   Only in this way:  by providing each person with chances.  A chance to excel at the unique mixture of talents he or she was born with, a chance to encounter new ideas and new minds, a chance to be different from his or her parents, a chance to create something his or her own.
-Kevin Kelly,  What Technology Wants

Ain't that the truth................

"We will be hurt more by wrong actions we take than by right actions that we miss."
-David Merkel

The Aleph Blog post about investing "consensus" is the context for this quote.  I can attest that it applies to investing in real estate, and other aspects of life.

Where would we be.......................

...............................without Texas blues.  Thanks to Jetboy, we don't need to find out.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day...............






























Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nothing to do but wait for supper.....

Ah, its the 1950's and the Coronet Instructional Films are working overtime to mold a generation.  Full archive here.  Interesting sample here:



thanks Joe

No more pretty girl vocals for you.................

Janis Joplin/Big Brother & the Holding Company...Ball and Chain

Wishful thinkers bump up against reality........

Walter Russell Mead on Putin, Hitler, and the last 100 years of European history.  History is hard.  It is also not over.  Full essay here.  Excerpt here:

But cloud-cuckoo-land is exactly where many westerners live, in a resolutely post-historical world where foreign policy is about development, human rights, non-proliferation and trade. If Putin tells us he lives there too, we are hungry to believe him. We don’t want to live in a difficult world. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were having a fabulous time in cloud-cuckoo-land back in the 1930s and many of them clung to their illusions until the last possible moment. We want to live in a stable and secure world order but we don’t want to make the sacrifices world order requires—and so we will gaze deeply into the eyes of anybody who is willing to tell us what we most want to hear.

Core historical documents.....................

Kurt points to a pretty good list of 50.  To tell the whole story of this fair country, more than 50 are needed:  this letter for instance.

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

WHOSO dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, * shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.


2  I will say unto the LORD, Thou art my hope, and my stronghold; * my God, in him will I trust.


3  For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter, * and from the noisome pestilence.

4  He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers; * his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5  Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, * nor for the arrow that flieth by day;


6  For the pestilence that walketh in darkness, * nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.

7  A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand; * but it shall not come nigh thee.

8  Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold, * and see the reward of the ungodly.


9  For thou, LORD, art my hope; * thou hast set thine house of defence very high.


10  There shall no evil happen unto thee, * neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.


11  For he shall give his angels charge over thee, * to keep thee in all thy ways.


12  They shall bear thee in their hands, * that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.


13  Thou shalt go upon the lion and adder: * the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet.


14  Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; * I will set him up, because he hath known my Name.


15  He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; * yea, I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and bring him to honour.


16  With long life will I satisfy him, * and show him my salvation.

Psalm 91
The Book Of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church
1945

The Fool's Prayer................

The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say--
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

Follow the link for the full poem

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

Andy Williams......................................A Fool Never Learns

 

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

I was in a deep sleep, alone aboard my houseboat, alone in the half acre of bed, alone in a sweaty dream of chase, fear, and monstrous predators.  A shot rang off steel bars.  Another.   I came bursting up out of sleep to hear the secretive sound of the little bell which rings at my bedside when anyone steps aboard The Busted Flush.  It was almost four in the morning.
-John D. MacDonald,  The Dreadful Lemon Sky

The Will.........................

Our ancestors were bold and industrious. They built a significant portion of our energy and road infrastructure more than half a century ago. It would be almost impossible to build that system today. Could we build the Hoover Dam today? We have the technology. We seem to lack the will. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the infrastructure of our past to travel to our future.
-Alex Tabarrok, as excerpted from this blog post

Messy...................................

















“My whole life I wanted to be normal. Everybody knows there's no such thing as normal. There is no black-and-white definition of normal. Normal is subjective. There's only messy, inconsistant, silly, hopeful version of how we feel most at home in our own lives. But when I think about what I have, what I strived to reach my whole life, it's not the biggest or best or easiest or prettiest or most anything. It's not the Manor or the laundry closet. Not the multi-million dollar inheritance or the poorhouse. It's not superstardom or unemployment. It's family and love and safety. It's bravery and hope. It's work and laughter and imperfection. It's my normal.” 
-Tori Spelling

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