Saturday, April 5, 2014

Singing songs and carrying signs........................

Buffalo Springfield...............................For What It's Worth

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

     Gilbert Keith Chesterton, one of the twentieth century's most gifted men of letters, was born on 29 May, 1874, at Campden Hill, Kensington - a district of West London, England.  It would prove to be a year of portents.  For it welcomed not only Chesterton but also Sir Winston Churchill into the world:  both men of keen intellect, ample girth, and literary skill.
-Kevin Belmonte,  Defiant Joy:  The Remarkable Life and Impact of G. K. Chesterton

So I said to myself...................................



































via

The lost-er you get, the faster you go..........

A brief on life its ownself  in the modern world from the proprietor of Sippican Cottage:

I noticed something about my behavior, and the behavior of many other people, when I got lost. You speed up. The lost-er you get, the faster you go, and the more frantic you become. There is almost no better time to slow down and think things through than when you're lost, but people don't do it. People behave just the opposite, almost to a man. It's the same reason an inveterate gambler lays his last, borrowed dollar on the green baize. He's trying to win back everything he ever lost, all at once, all the time.

Full post is here

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

General Douglas MacArthur died on this day in 1964 at age 84.  The son of an army officer, MacArthur was a West Point graduate.  Here is the briefest of summaries of his military career:  World War 1 veteran, Superintendent of the U. S. Military Academy,  Chief of Staff of the U. S. Army, Commander of the U. S. Army Forces in the Far East during World War II, the Medal of Honor winner for his service (not for acts of valor) during the Japanese conquest of  the Philippines, and the Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command during the Korean War.  He was forced into retirement by President Truman in 1951, which is a story in and of itself.   His famous "Old soldiers never die" speech to Congress can be found in four parts: here, here, here and here.  The cliff notes on his life and career can be read here.


It happens every Spring................














The need arises to post my most favorite poem by my most favorite poet.  For thirty-five years I've been aiming at fulfilling the last eight lines.  Slowly but surely getting there.  Enjoy.

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.


Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.


The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.


A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.


The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.


The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You'd think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.


Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.


Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.


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


-Robert Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud Time"

How versus What.........................























"Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who know only what to think."
-Neil deGrasse Tyson

art work via

Be yourself.................................

     To be what you are and to become what you are capable of becoming is the secret of a happy life.
     Every living soul has different talents, different desires, different faculties.  Be yourself.  Try to by anything else but your genuine self, even if you deceive the entire world, and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing.
     Never waste any effort into elevating yourself into something you are not to please another.  Never put on false masks to gratify your vanity.  Never strain to be valued for your accomplishments or you will cease to be valued for thyself.
     Consider the plants and the animals of the field, how they live.  Does a cotton plant bear even one apple?    Does a pomegranate tree ever produce an orange?  Does a lion attempt to fly?
     Only man, of all living things, foolishly strives to be other than what he was intended to be until life marks him a misfit.  Misfits are the failures of the world, always chasing after a more fruitful career they will never find unless they look behind them.
     You cannot choose your calling.  Your calling chooses you.  You have been blessed with special skills that are yours alone.  Use them, whatever they may be, and forget about wearing another's hat.  A talented chariot driver can win gold and renown with his skills.  Let him pick figs and he would starve.
     No one can take your place.  Realize this and be yourself.  You have no obligation to succeed.  You have only the obligation to be true to yourself.
     Do the very best that you can, in the things you do best, and you will know, in thy soul, that you are the greatest success in the world.
-Og Mandino, as excerpted from The Greatest Success In The World

Friday, April 4, 2014

Twice as much tomorrow...............................

Leo Sayer......................................More Than I Can Say

Listen....................................








The secret to catching your mistakes quickly is simple:  treat outside information as if it were inside information.  When someone tells you you're off track, don't look for reasons why they may be wrong:  listen for reasons why they might be right.
-Megan McArdle,  The Upside of Down:  Why Failing Well Is The Key To Success

Rights.......................


















“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 
-Viktor Frankl

image via

The price of liberty......................

If there is one fact we can really prove, from the history that we really know, it is that despotism can be a development,  often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic.  A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy.  As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty;  and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton,  The Everlasting Man

Some good news industry-wise........

Commercial real estate investment sales topped $355 billion last year, a 19 percent hike over 2012 and the highest dollar volume since the financial crash in 2008, according to New York-based research Real Capital Analytics.  The firm expects 2014 volumes to approach $400 billion, rivaling the dollar volumes in 2004 and 2005.
-as excerpted from this article in the National Real Estate Investor

We clearly did not do our share of the business last year.  Will try to do better this year.

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























Thelonious Monk is on the cover of Time magazine.  The cover article (gated) is here.  Wiki on Monk is here.   Music from Monk from 1964 is here:




Leveraging your inner pirate............

Argh ... Mathew Ferrara offers a different path to success:

It’s not about disrupting other people’s lives or careers. It’s about disrupting yours. Start with things you’d like to do, but haven’t yet begun. Maybe you want to try a new business practice or new career entirely. Perhaps you want to throw some customers overboard, to make room for new ones. Are there rules or customs have find frustrating, yet haven’t broken because it would be too chaotic?

Curious.................................























"It's curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not."
-Neil deGrasse Tyson

art work via

Even more fun with signs..................

















Thursday, April 3, 2014

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, float away...

John Klemmer...........................................Free Fall Lover

 

More guitar magic............................

Eric Clapton/Allman Brothers ...Why Has Love Got To Be So Sad

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

Walter Russell Mead's blog notes how remarkable people are.  Full post is here.  Excerpt here:

Malthusianism is one of the most persistent delusions out there. It fails to grasp that people don’t just add cost—they add creativity and ingenuity. Population Bomb adherents think of people as bacteria on a petri dish that only eat their food supply, reproduce, and die. But people don’t just consume; they create. That creativity can never be predicted or measured in advance, which is why many projections into the future look like Malthusian doom scenarios. But thanks to adaptability and creativity, the human race always finds another way to thrive.

More fun with signs...........................


































































Investing........................

      Our whole life is startlingly moral.  There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice.  Goodness is the only investment that never fails.   In the music of the harp which trembles round the world it is the insisting on this which thrills us.   The harp is the travelling patterer for the Universe's Insurance Company, recommending its laws, and our little goodness is all the assessment that we pay.  Though the youth at last grows indifferent, the laws of the universe are not indifferent, but are forever on the side of the most sensitive.   Listen to every zephyr for some reproof, for it is surely there, and he is unfortunate who does not hear it.
-Henry David Thoreau, as excerpted from Walden

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

At the movies...........................................A Fistful of Dollars

Slackers of the World, Unite.........

Megan McArdle points out that the road to success often includes wrong turns, dead ends and rest stops.  Two wee excerpts:

After nearly flunking out of both high school and college, I realized it was much easier to go to class, and do my work, than to endure the inevitable denouement of slacking.
When the prodigal sons return to the fold, they often bring with them valuable information about the outside world.

Are the markets rigged................?

Michael Lewis (one of my favorite writers) has a new book out (that I haven't read yet) that apparently suggests the stock market is "rigged."  David Merkel (my favorite blogger on things stock market and investing) has a new post (that I have read) that all us folks who dabble in stocks and bonds should read and remember.   The whole (not very long) post is worth reading, but here are the cliff notes:

My summary is this: the markets are not rigged.  They not efficient; we don’t know what that means.  The markets are highly competitive, and that makes them tough.

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

Once upon a time I was very lucky and located a sixty-five-foot hijacked motor sailer in a matter of days, after the authorities had been looking for months.  When I heard through the grapevine that Billy Ingraham wanted to see me, it was easy to guess he hoped I could work the same miracle with his stolen Sundowner, a custom cruiser he'd had built in a Jacksonville yard.  It had been missing for three months.
-John D. MacDonald,   The Lonely Silver Rain

On beginnings and endings.........


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Put your feet up, take a sip, relax..............

David Sanborn....................................................Pearls

So much light....................................

Pure Prairie League....................................Early Morning Riser

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























"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!' "
-Robin Williams

art via

Illusions..........................

For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imaging how a world was created any more than he could create one.  But evolution is really mistaken for explanation.  It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else;  just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species.
     But this notion of something smooth and slow, like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion.  It is an illogicality as well as an illusion;  for slowness has really nothing to do with the question.  An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves.   For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one.
-G. K. Chesterton,  as excerpted from The Everlasting Man

Evolving................................


































cartoons via

Righting wrongs...........................

A story of how smart and determined people make things better.

Thanks Craig

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

Tommy Tucker................................Hi-Heeled Sneakers

Rebellion................................

“We should try to introduce our children to science today as a rebellion against poverty and ugliness and militarism and economic injustice.”
-Freeman Dyson, as excerpted from here

thanks glenn

Flat tax anyone.......................?

Tax havens exist to lower taxes and regulations on corporations and wealthy individuals.  But doing this involves significant complicated legal and accounting work.  The average person could not benefit because the fixed costs are high.  You need to have a lot of assets to benefit from tax havens.
So why do the wealthy governments of the world tolerate tax havens?  Why don’t they “use NATO to blockade these places, and tell them to end their tax-avoidance-facilitation policies, or else.”  Sadly, the wealthy have disproportionate power over politicians, and the majority of politicians are wealthy.  They like the system as it is.  You can make the tax code as progressive as you like; you will not end up taxing the intelligent wealthy much more.

It's a nice theory...............

In theory, the mortgage interest deduction is supposed to encourage home ownership, a questionable goal for government to begin with. The purpose of taxes is to raise money to finance government services, not to manipulate human behavior or economic activity.
-Philip Klein, as excerpted from this article

Unfortunately the tax code has been used to manipulate behavior as long as I can remember. Here of late, the subtle manipulation of the tax code has been used as a fund raising mechanism by the august members of Congress.  If you would truly like to get money out of politics, the best first step would be a constitutional amendment stating calling for a "flat tax."   Just saying.

















cartoon via