Saturday, May 17, 2014

Will time make men more wise................?

The Yardbirds.............................................Shapes of Things

Inside Out..........................................























courtesy of

Divine Comedy...............................

"I will never recover from having a mental flash of Jimmy Durante the moment I learned that Dante's real name was Durante."
-Ron Padgett























Advice always seems more valuable....................

...............when it's obvious the advice-giver is already living it.

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

The Yardbirds......................................I Wish You Would

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

At 5 A.M. on in intensely hot summer day, President John Quincy Adams left the White House by stagecoach for Quincy, Massachusetts.  It was July 9, 1826, just two days short of his fifty-ninth birthday.  He had been up the night before "in anxiety and apprehension, until near midnight."  The heat made him miserable.  Candlelight attracted insects.  There were no screens.  The day before, he had gotten three letters from Quincy with the news that his ninety-one-year-old father, the second president of the United States, was on his deathbed.  John Quincy had "flattered" himself that his father "would survive this summer, and even other years."  A rider was on his way from Baltimore to tell him he was wrong.
-Fred Kaplan,  John Quincy Adams:  American Visionary

John Quincy Adams.....................

"Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air."
-1802 oration

"I can never join with my voice in the toast which I see in the papers attributed to one of our gallant naval heroes. I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong. Fiat justitia, pereat coelum. My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right."
-1816 letter to his father

"All the public business in Congress now connects itself with intrigues, and there is great danger that the whole government will degenerate into a struggle of cabals."
-1819 journal entry

"Slavery is the great and foul stain upon the North American Union... A dissolution, at least temporary, of the Union, as now constituted, would now be certainly necessary... The Union might then be reorganized on the fundamental principle of emancipation."
-1820 diary entry

"The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue. Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom. That the fall of slavery is predetermined in the counsels of Omnipotence I cannot doubt; it is a part of the great moral improvement in the condition of man, attested by all the records of history. But the conflict will be terrible, and the progress of improvement perhaps retrograde before its final progress to consummation"
-1838 journal entry

Wonder...................................

"Concepts create idols;  only wonder comprehends anything.  People kill one another over idols.  Wonder makes us fall to our knees."
-Saint Gregory of Nyssa

Friday, May 16, 2014

It has been a bit stormy lately..................

The Doors............................................Riders on the Storm

Stormy..........................................










One day at a time.......................


I’m not going to wait
for wars to stop, no
more hunger, or pollution
to cease. I’m not going to
wait to be happy, content,
finally at peace.
I’m letting of
of all I can not change
which is everything
but myself. Not waiting
any longer for others
to be how I want them to be.
Finally I see life in its
tiny moments of now,
each a special jewel
to be savored in its time.
When I do this
then peace–even joy
fills this precious life
lived one moment at a time.

poem courtesy of Source of Inspiration

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


Omnipresence.................

The world globes itself in a drop of dew.  The microscope cannot find the smallest animalcule which is less perfect for being little.  Eyes, ears, taste, smell, motion, resistance, appetite, and organs of reproduction that take hold on eternity, - all find room to consist in the small creature.  So do we put our life into every act.  The true doctrine of omnipresence is that God reappears with all his parts in every moss and cobweb.  The value of the universe contrives to throw itself into every point.  If the good is there, so is the evil;  if the affinity, so the repulsion;  if the force, so the limitation.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson,  from his essay Compensation

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

The Rivieras...............................................California Sun

Hugh on "Economic Inequality".......................













I suppose all that is cause for concern, but to me, it’s a pretty transient inequality. The BIG inequality, the REAL class divide, is something far more painful and pervasive at the everyday level. 

The greatest divide in the labor market is between those who love their jobs, and those who do not. One very enviable state of being and one very tragic; they’re two completely different planets that don’t understand the other at all, even if the two sit right next to each other in the office. 

-Hugh MacLeod, as excerpted from here

"No one individual can be a statistic".......

Megan McArdle looks at the "patriarchy"......

"Ironically, the women who are most likely to succeed are probably the women who are quickest to blame themselves, because blaming yourself at least gives you some belief that you can control the problem. "

Good Questions...............................

"No man who is in a hurry is quite civilized."  (Will Durant)

Is this one way that technology is taking us to new forms of savagery?
-Ron Padgett

On investing.......................

How to handle, "That looks like a good idea!"..............

1) Quick decisions are rarely good ones.  Lots of people have slick pitches.  Far better to wait a while, and analyze the opportunity coldly, and compare it against other ideas.
2) If I buy this, what should I sell?  Not that you have to sell but it is a good exercise to make you improve the portfolio.  It might indeed be a good idea, but you may have better ideas still in your current portfolio.
3) I need to analyze all opportunities through the same prism, and I need to understand them myself, not just what someone else told me.  If I don’t understand why I am buying, I will not understand when to sell.
The truth is, the need for urgency in investing is overrated.  If an idea is good today, it will likely be good three months from now. 

Courtesy of this post from David Merkel's The Aleph Blog

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I suspect it will eventually stop raining....

The Cascades............................................Rhythm of the Rain

 

Guess who won..........................

Bobby Fuller Four.................................I Fought the Law

Essential.................................

"We keep, in science, getting a more and more sophisticated view of our essential ignorance."
-Warren Weaver

Opening paragraphs..................Part One

     His nickname is Plato, which means "broad."  He's an immensely confident if unsmiling Athenian, wide of forehead, broad of shoulders, bold of bearing, who casually exudes a breadth of comprehension few would dare to question.  As he lobs the serve over the net, he does so with a glowering power that the spectators find thrilling.  Throughout his game, his stance can only be labeled lofty; he seems to be reaching ever higher, stretching toward Heaven, while his raised shirt provides an occasional glimpse of his noble abs.
     His serve is answered by his graceless opponent, a rangy, stringy-muscled man who plays his game much closer to the ground, whose eyes dart everywhere, who looks, despite his relative youth, to stand no chance of mounting a consistent challenge to our broad and supremely focused champion.  And yet the challenger - his name is Aristotle, son of a provincial doctor - manages to persist, to meet his opponent with an ungainly mixture of styles.  From time to time it appears that he could be capable of victory.  Certainly he is dogged in his perseverance.  He begins to gain some fans in the crowd among those who prefer the improvisations of Aristotle to the unblinking gloom of great Plato.
-Thomas Cahill,  from the Prelude to Heretics and Heroes:  How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World

Opening paragraphs.....................Part Two

Winter completes an age
With its thorough levelling;
Heaven's tourbillions of rage
Abolish the watchman's tower
And delete the cedar grove.
As winter completes an age,
The eyes huddle like cattle, doubt
Seeps into the pores and power
Ebbs from the heavy signet ring;
The prophet's lantern is out
And gone the boundary stone,
Cold the heart and cold the stove,
Ice condenses on the bone;
Winter completes an age

Thus the perspicacious W. H. Auden in For the Time Being.  Like seasons, ages are seldom so precise as to end abruptly, while allowing another age to commence.  Few events of European history have been as final as the Black Death in bringing to an end one age (which we might call the Innocently Playful Medieval) and bringing into view another (which we might call the Colder Late Medieval-Early Renaissance).  But even at this interstice, old forms and old mental states hang on, while new forms and new mental states peek uncertainly into view.  Locality often determines how boldly or timidly the new will come to supplant the old;  and localities can find their integrity, even their ancient right to existence, open to question.  ("this village has always been crown territory."  "But which crown, England or France's?" "Which religion, Christian or Muslim?"  "Oh, and where, pray, is the boundary stone, the definitive separation between Us and Them?")
-Thomas Cahill,  Heretics and Heroes:  How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World

Word for the day............................tourbillion

Learned a new word today, courtesy of W. H. Auden and Thomas Cahill.  According to Dictionary.com:


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

Ronny and the Daytonas................................................G.T.O.

 

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












via

"...the wages of secrecy are corruption."

"We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to enquire. We know that the wages of secrecy are corruption. We know that in secrecy error, undetected, will flourish and subvert."
-J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1950

Shamans.............................

It is beyond belief that we know so little about how people get rich or poor, about how it is they come to dwell in comfort and health or die in penury and disease. Financial markets are the machines in which much of human welfare is decided; yet we know more about how our car engines work than about how our global financial system functions. We lurch from crisis to crisis. In a networked world, mayhem in one market spreads instantaneously to all others—and we have only the vaguest of notions how this happens, or how to regulate it. So limited is our knowledge that we resort, not to science, but to shamans. We place control of the world's largest economy in the hands of a few elderly men, the central bankers.
-Benoit B. Mandelbrot, as excerpted from The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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

Savoy Brown.......................................Life's One Act Play

On the power of words........................

"Never underestimate the effect of an off-hand remark"
-Michael Wade, as excerpted from this post

On frustration.................................

"We are in the position of the man who has only two ambitions in life. One is to invent the universal solvent which will dissolve any solid substance, and the second is to invent the universal container which will hold any liquid. Whatever this inventor does, he will be frustrated."
-Norbert Wiener, as excerpted from The Human Use of Human Beings

Problems..................................


















"Some problems are just too complicated for rational, logical solutions. They admit of insights, not answers."
-Jerome Wiesner

cartoon via

Glad we cleared that up................


















"Information:  the negative reciprocal value of probability."
-Claude Shannon

cartoon via

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

Beach Boys.................................................Wendy

On Puritans.......................

"At the bottom of Puritanism one finds envy of the fellow who is having a better time in the world, and hence hatred of him.  At the bottom of democracy one finds the same thing."

"The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think."

-Henry Louis Mencken, as excerpted from A Little Book in C Major

Bring 'em to Ohio...............

............................a natural cure for our deer overpopulation.

A philosophy............................














via

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Busted..........................................

Long John Baldry..............Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie
                                                         on The King of Rock and Roll



Faithful viewers may recognize this as a re-run.  It's a classic.  Well worth the investment of six and a half minutes.   Do enjoy.

One of the glories of.............................

............the Intertunnel is how quickly, and easily, one can find the original source, and context, of favorite things.  Last Friday's post, How To Be Perfect......, contained a list of thirty-three ways to make life a little better.    My source for the post indicated that the list was merely an excerpt from the original.  Curious, Amazon was consulted.   Today's mail brought me my very own copy of a book of poems by Ron Padgett, titled, aptly enough, How to Be Perfect.  The poem, How to Be Perfect, is actually a list of ninety-nine ways to make life a little better.   As a public service, here are another thirty-three:

Don't give advice.

Take care of your teeth and gums.

Know that the desire to be perfect is probably the veiled expression of another desire - to be loved, or not to die.

Make eye contact with a tree.

Be skeptical about all opinions, but try to see some value in each of them.

Dress in a way that pleases both you and those around you.

Do not speak quickly.

Learn something every day.

Be loyal.

Design your activities so that they show a pleasing balance and variety.

Be kind to old people, even when they are obnoxious.  When you become old, be kind to young people.  Do not throw your cane at them when they call you grandpa.  They are your grandchildren!

Live with an animal.

If you need help ask for it.

Cultivate good posture until it becomes natural.

Look at that bird over there.

Sing every once in a while.

Walk upstairs.

Do not wander through train stations muttering, "We're all going to die!"

Appreciate simple pleasures, such as the pleasure of chewing, the pleasure of warm water running down your back, the pleasure of a cool breeze, the pleasure of falling asleep.

Enjoy sex, but don't become obsessed with it.  Except for brief periods in your adolescence, youth, middle age, and old age.

Contemplate everything's opposite.

Keep your childish self alive.

Grow something.

Walk down different streets.

Backwards.

Dig a hole with a shovel.

Extirpate all traces of personal ambitiousness.

Don't use the word extirpate too often.

Be calm in a crisis.  The more critical the situation, the calmer you should be.

Do not exclaim, "Isn't technology wonderful!"

Learn how to stretch your muscles.  Stretch them every day.

Do not practice cannibalism.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do anything to make it impossible.

Perfect..............................

"How little it takes to make life perfect!  A good sauce, a cocktail after a hard day, a girl who kisses with her mouth half open!"
-Henry Louis Mencken, as excerpted from A Little Book in C Major

Uh-oh....................................


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

The Searchers..........................Don't Throw Your Love Away

Watch.................................................













via Wonder, silence, gratitude

Truth...............................

"...truth - which is much too complicated to allow anything but approximations..."
-John von Neumann, as taken from here

"The truth.  It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and must therefore be treated with great caution."
-J. K. Rowling, channeling Dumbledore

"Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it."
-Henry Louis Mencken, as taken from here

"The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear."
-attributed to Herbert Agar

The words of truth are always paradoxical."
-Lao Tzu

"It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."
-attributed to Mark Twain



Happy........................................

















"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy."
-Robert Louis Stevenson, from An Apology for Idlers

photo via

Monday, May 12, 2014

The pipes are calling.............................

Switchback........................................................Danny Boy




Switchback played the fabulous Midland Theatre last Saturday night.  A fabulous performance.  If you get a chance to see them, do.

Ask....................................



















“We ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the universe. The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the skies so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.” 
-Johannes Kepler

Hobgoblins.............................

"Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary."

-Henry Louis Mencken, as excerpted from his 1918 booklet, In Defense of Women

thanks mark

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

Every time I read a management or self-help book,  I find myself saying, "That's fine, but that wasn't really the hard thing about the situation."   The hard thing isn't setting a big, hairy, audacious goal.  The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal.  The hard thing isn't hiring great people.  The hard thing is when those "great people" develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things.  The hard thing isn't setting up an organizational chart.  The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization you just designed.  The hard thing isn't dreaming big.   The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.
-Ben Horowitz,  from the Introduction to The Hard Thing About Hard Things:  Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

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

The Beatles.............................................I Feel Fine

The dice of God are always loaded....

     Thus is the universe alive.  All things are moral.  That soul, which within us is a sentiment, outside of us is a law.  We feel its inspiration;  out there in history we can see its fatal strength.  "It is in the world, and the world was made by it."  Justice is not postponed.  A perfect equity adjusts its balance in all parts of life.  {Hoi kyboi Dios aei eupiptousi}, - The dice of God are always loaded.  The world looks like a multiplication-table, or a mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself.  Take what figure you will, its exact value, nor more nor less, still returns to you.  Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty.  What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears.  If you see smoke, there must be fire.  If you see a hand or a limb, you know that the trunk to which it belongs is there behind.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, as excerpted from his essay, Compensation

The great balancing act........................

As painful job losses wiped out a huge swath of America's "middle class," life in much of the "third world" has improved:  
"The same machine that has increased inequality in rich countries has leveled the playing field globally for billions. Looking from afar, and giving, say, an Indian the same weight as an American or a Frenchman, the last 30 years have been among the greatest in human history for improving the lot of the poor."
-Kenneth Rogoff, as excerpted from here
thanks Greg

Pray for the advent of sceptics...............

“The man who no longer expects miraculous changes either from a revolution or from an economic plan is not obliged to resign himself to the unjustifiable. It is because he likes individual human beings, participates in communities, and respects the truth, that he refuses to surrender his soul to an abstract ideal of humanity, a tyrannical party, and an absurd scholasticism. . . . If tolerance is born of doubt, let us teach everyone to doubt all the models and utopias, to challenge all the prophets of redemption and the heralds of catastrophe. 

If they alone can abolish fanaticism, let us pray for the advent of the sceptics.” 


-Raymond Aron, two excerpts from The Opium of the Intellectuals

Easier...................................

"There probably is a God. Many things are easier to explain if there is than if there isn't."
-John von Neumann





















photo via APOD

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A little slice of Americana..............

The Surfaris................................................Wipe Out

the pattern of its healing.................

For the apparent disorder
of the broken woods there are
reasons enough, although
we do not know them all
or their pattern, but by reasons
is disorder ordered, and so
we trust and live and love
this place whose belongings we are.
The woodland has no creed
except for the presumptive fact
that the pattern of its breaking
involves also, given time,
the pattern of its healing.

-Wendell Berry
Sabbaths   2009  VII

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

A basic truth.  But, shouldn't we add, "but, it's not impossible."?

Becoming............................

"To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Unimaginable wonder......................























APOD explanation and larger photo here.  Cartoon via

Producing......................................

"We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it."
-George Bernard Shaw

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

The Kingsmen.............................................Money

On Mothers' Day..............................































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

6.  With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

7.  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8


8.  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:6-8
The Holy Bible
New International Version

Costs......................................

     The farmer imagines power and place are fine things.  But the President has paid dear for his White House.  It has commonly cost him all his peace, and the best of his manly attributes."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, as excerpted from his 1841 essay,  Compensation