Saturday, September 6, 2014

Today's history lessons..............................

Johnny Horton............................Battle of New Orleans



Johnny Horton........................Sink The Bismarck




I can remember my dad playing a Johnny Horton album on his old hi-fi.  His songs had a way of sticking with you.  Unfortunately, Horton (1925-1960) died young in a car accident.  His wiki is here.

Sun-Tzu..................................................

“There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” 

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .” 

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” 

“Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” 

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.” 

“Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.” 

“We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.” 

“No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.”

-Sun Tzu,   The Art of War

Always good advice.....................................


















“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 
-Sun Tzu,  The Art of War

image via

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

“Our irrationalities will necessarily overwhelm us unless we do everything we can personally so as consistently to check our work and have it challenged by smart and talented people we encourage to 'tear it apart.'  That’s because we don’t see things as they really are and are consistently and dangerously much less rational than we assume.” 
-Robert Seawright

thanks

Let it go.................................................

I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It's not the key to your house, your car, your boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It's the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is 'Delete.'

Fun with statistics.................................

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.  Need to prove a point, there is a statistic handy.  Some times it helps to peer behind the veil.   Like here:















This handy chart could be trotted out as absolute proof that corporations are not paying their fair share of the tax burden.  After all in 1953 corporations paid more than 30% of the collected federal taxes.  Today, corporations are paying only 10% of the collected revenue.  How dare those greedy and evil businesses complain about their tax bite!

Ah, but now, the rest of the story:
"Over the last half-century - particularly the last 30 years - far more businesses have chosen to be LLCs and S-Corps than corporations. S-Corps didn't even exist until the 1950s. Before that, most businesses were taxed as corporations. By the late 1970s, 83% of all businesses were LLCs and S-Corps that passed income to their individual owners. Today, 95% are.
"That shift in business structure explains a lot of why corporate taxes as a percentage of all taxes have plunged. It's not that businesses aren't paying their fair share, like they were in the past. It's that more business income is being taxed as individual income, which doesn't show up in this chart."

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

At the movies............Audie Murphy in Bullet For A Badman

Decision tree..............................................


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

It is cold at 6:40 in the morning of a March day in Paris, and seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad.  At that hour on March 11, 1963, in the main courtyard of the Fort d'Ivry a French Air Force colonel stood before a stake driven into the chilly gravel as his hands were bound behind the post, and stared with slowly diminishing disbelief at the squad of soldiers facing him twenty metres away.
-Frederick Forsyth,  The Day Of The Jackal

What walls are for....................................


















“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” 
Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

On getting up...................................

If I don't want to be a doormat, I have to get up off the floor.  In other words, although I can't control what other people say, do, or think, I am responsible for my choices.
-Courage to Change

One of the best things that could happen........

.................to us as people, would be if we could all replace the word "danger" with the word "opportunity."   Just saying.


Friday, September 5, 2014

The heat was hot.....................................

America.............................................Horse With No Name

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

In the small hours of a blustery October morning in a south Devon coastal town that seemed to have been deserted by its inhabitants, Magnus Pym got out of his elderly country taxi-cab and, having paid the driver and waited till he had left, struck out across the church square.  His destination was a terrace of ill-lit Victorian boarding houses with names like Bel-a-Vista, The Commodore and Eureka.  In build he was powerful but stately, a representative of something.  His stride was agile, his body forward-sloping in the best tradition of the Anglo-Saxon administrative class.  In the same attitude, whether static or in motion, Englishmen have hoisted flags over distant colonies, discovered the sources of great rivers, stood on the decks of sinking ships.  He had been travelling in one way or another for sixteen hours but he wore no overcoat or hat.  He carried a fat black briefcase of the official kind and in the other hand a green Harrods bag.  A strong sea wind lashed at his city suit, salt rain stung his eyes, balls of spume skimmed across his path.  Pym ignored them.  Reaching the porch of a house marked "No Vacancies"  he pressed the bell and waited, first for the outside light to go on, then for the chains to be unfastened from the inside.  While he waited a church clock began striking five.  As if in answer to its summons Pym turned on his heel and stared back at the square.  At the graceless tower of the Baptist church posturing against the racing clouds.  At the writhing monkey-puzzle trees, pride of the ornamental gardens.  At the empty bandstand.  At the bus shelter.  At the dark patches of the side streets.  At the doorways one by one.
-John Le Carre,  A Perfect Spy

A path..................................................

“To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.” 
-Bertrand Russell

Jeff re-surfaces........................................

..............after taking more than a week off from bloggery.   The world is just a better place when he posts (even though he doesn't always feel like it).  This time he made me look up "stationary" and "stationery."   The best thing about memory issues is you are always getting to learn something new.

Is a four pound robin fat............................?

The Execupundit offers a list of memorable expressions that make our language so much fun.  A few years ago, while driving with my kids, I said "there are more trucks on this road than you can shake a stick at."  The kids said, "What the hell does that mean?"  I was amazed they were not aware of such a fine expression.  They were sure it was just one more sign that the old man has lost it.

The summer of ice cream sandwiches...........












































A most important stop along the Intertunnel is here.

Thanks to Swiss Miss for the pointer.

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

At the movies.............................................Mary Poppins

A rant on Iraq....................................

David Stockman is not impressed:

Washington’s strategy in Iraq is in shambles, but not just because America’s spanker-in-chief is really a wimp at heart. The problem is far more generic. To wit, the geographic territory of Iraq is not a nation; it is an arbitrary series of lines on a map drawn 100 years ago by dandies in the foreign offices of two fading empires (the British and the French)—–which lines encircled numerous tribes, ethnicities and religious confessions that had no interest in sharing a common statehood.

Full rant post is here.

The world in flames..................................

Henry Kissinger weighs in on the Middle East:

Islam’s modern mission, in Qutb’s view, was to overthrow them all and replace them with what he took to be a literal, eventually global implementation of the Koran. As with all utopian projects, extreme measures would be required to implement it. While most of his contemporaries recoiled from the violent methods he advocated, a core of committed followers began to form.

Full post is here.

Learning to cope........................................

























via

Please forgive my judgmentalism............























I don't know Eric Cantor.  He may be a very nice fellow.  Watching the TV from time to time one might have gotten the impression that he was a sound bite machine and that niceness was not an integral part of his gig.  I do know that he was a Republican congressman from Virginia, that he had a leadership role in the House, and that he was defeated in the most recent Republican primary election.  His wiki is here if you care for more.

The news that he was recently hired by a small investment bank did not come as a surprise.  Neither does the news that his paychecks for the next 18 months are supposed to total $3.4 million.

I am all in favor of free enterprise and actually root for individuals to thrive financially.   But, this is a bit much.  There is something unseemly about "public servants" (who are nicely paid and get significant pensions) mining their fame, contacts, and insider knowledge of the system for a big payday.

So, when I become King one of the first decrees will be to institute a 90% marginal tax rate for ex-Congressman, ex-congressional staffers, and ex-high ranking government officials on the first three years of their earnings in the private sector that are in excess of their former governmental paycheck.

Well, I feel better.

A way more insightful look at the Cantor/Moelis & Co. deal can be enjoyed here.

A basic truth......................................


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Whisper softly.............................................

Firefall........................................................Strange Way

Purpose..............................................

















"We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens. The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment."
-attributed to Johannes Kepler

image, and its back story, via

On acceptance...................................

"Acceptance does not mean submission to a degrading situation.  It means accepting the facts of the situation, then deciding what to do about it."  Acceptance can be empowering because it makes choice possible.
-Courage to Change

The choices we make...............................




thanks Joe

Dinner.............................................

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interest.” 
-Adam Smith

Humility........................................

To a visitor who described
himself as a seeker after 
Truth the Master said, "If
what you seek is Truth,
there is one thing you must
have above all else."

"I know.  An overwhelming
passion for it."

"No.  An unremitting readiness
to admit you may be wrong."

-Anthony de Mello,  One Minute Wisdom

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

At the movies.....Elvis and Ann Margret........Viva Las Vegas

On Rand Paul.......................

From The Economist:

Mr Paul dreams big.  He wants to build  never-seen coalitions including Christian conservatives, civil libertarians, the war weary, and traditional Democrats sick of bad schools, harsh justice and economic stagnation.  It is already a stretch to think that such mutually antagonistic voter groups would not fight and repel on another.   More problematically, the centre post holding up his big tent is distrust of government.  In each policy area that he calls a failure, his diagnosis is state overreach.

Remember..................................................































thanks

A victory dance....................................?


Some change comes naturally.....................




















via

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


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dreamy.................................................

Shadowfax.........................................Dreams of Children

People can you feel it.................................?

The Allman Brothers Band.....................................Revival

How did it do that................................?

Somehow the universe has engineered, not just its own awareness, but also its own comprehension.  Mindless, blundering atoms have conspired to make not just life, but understanding.  The evolving cosmos has spawned beings, who are able not merely to watch the show, but to unravel the plot.
-Paul Davis, as excerpted from The Goldilocks Enigma

A few of my favorite things...................

Sipp on being a manly man

The "Stuff I Like" feature on the right hand side (below his blog lists) of the Cultural Offering tumblr.

John Cox and his Kirkwood cartoons just crack my head up.  Scroll his blog and see if you agree.

Airglow Ripples over Tibet, courtesy of the wondrous APOD site.

The wisdom lurking at Patrick Guanciale's blog.

Utterly different..........................

     I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis;  but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict.  Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts.  Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different realm of human purposes, meanings, and values - subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve.

To cite the old cliches, science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages;  science studies how the heavens go, religion how to go to heaven.

-Stephen Jay Gould, as excerpted from the Preamble to Rocks Of Ages;  Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life

Mark Tansey..............................

Artwork from Mark Tansey.  It is one of those things that makes me wish this blog was a tumblr that would allow vastly larger images.  Read more about Tansey here.  If you are intrigued by value art collectors place on his works, you might want to go here.  Stephen Jay Gould, whose writing led me to Tansey, called him "a contemporary artist who loves to represent the great moral and philosophical lessons of Western history with modern metaphors painted in hyperrealistic style ...".  Judge for yourself.

Doubting Thomas               1986

Forward Retreat                  1986

Innocent Eye Test       1981

Purity Test                       1991

Triumph Over Mastery II       1986


























































































Take One                            1982

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

At the movies.........................The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Ourselves.........................................

114.  - We are inconsolable at being deceived by our enemies and betrayed by our friends, yet still we are often content to be thus served by ourselves.

- La Rochefoucauld

On wine..........................................

    WINE, n.  Fermented grape-juice known to the Women's Christian Union as "liquor,"  sometimes as "rum."  Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man.
-Ambrose Bierce,  The Devil's Dictionary





















thanks pat








Hate it when that happens...................

















via

Alienated majesty...............................

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts;  they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.  Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this.  They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side.  Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Checking in with Aesop...........................

A man wished to purchase an Ass, and agreed with its owner that he should try out the animal before he bought him.  He took the Ass home and put him in the straw-yard with his other Asses, upon which the new animal left all the others and at once joined with the one that was the most idle and the greatest eater of them all.  Seeing this, the man put halter on him and led him back to his owner.  On being asked how, in so short a time, he could have made a trial of him, he answered, "I do not need a trial;  I know that he will be just the same as the one he chose for his companion."

Moral:  A man is known by the company he keeps.

Aesop's Fables as translated by George Fyler Townsend

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A little doo-wop for your listening pleasure..........

The Earls.................................................Remember Then

I should certainly hope so............................


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

In an era when nearly every college president bore a triple-barreled name, none carried as potent a charge as Nicholas Murray Butler.  To his intimates the president of Columbia University was "Murray";  to the associates who saw him found the school's Teachers College in 1887 at the age of twenty-five he was "Nicholas Miraculous."  His employees simply called him President (when they didn't refer to him as "Czar Nicholas"), his acquaintances, Doctor.  The editors of Life named him "one of the most erudite men of his time."  None of this necessarily contradicted Senator Robert M. La Follette, who said Butler was a "bootlicker of men of fortune."  Theodore Roosevelt was even blunter:  he considered him "an aggressive and violent ass."
-Daniel Okrent,  Great Fortune:  The Epic of Rockefeller Center

Nicholas Murray Butler............................























Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947) was an educator, college president, politician, anti-prohibitionist, diplomat, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1931:  for among other things his advocacy of the Briand-Kellogg pact, that piece of 1928 internationalist thinking that was supposed to outlaw war).  More surface stuff on Butler here, here, and here.  As you might suspect, some interesting quotes are attributed to him:

“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.” 

"There are many things that go to make up an education, but there are just two things without which no man can ever hope to have an education and these two things are character and good manners."

“One of the embarrassments of being a gentleman is that you are not permitted to be violent in asserting your rights.”

"The fifth freedom, the Freedom of Individual Enterprise, is the keystone of the arch on which the other Four Freedoms rest. This is what freedom means."

“Those people who think only of themselves, are hopelessly uneducated. They are not educated, no matter how instructed they may be.”

"Every attempt, by whatever authority, to fix a maximum of productive labor by a given worker in a given time is an unjust restriction upon his freedom and a limitation of his right to make the most of himself in order that he may rise in the scale of the social and economic order in which he lives.  The notion that all human beings born into this world enter at birth into a definite social and economic classification, in which classification they must remain permanently through life, is wholly false and fatal to a progressive civilization."

“Many peoples' tombstones should read 'Died at 30, burried at 60.'”

“Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.”

""The United States is in sore need today of an aristocracy of intellect and service. Because such an aristocracy does not exist in the popular consciousness, we are bending the knee to the golden calf of money. The form of monarchy and its pomp offer a valuable foil to the worship of money for its own sake. A democracy must provide itself with a foil of its own and none is better or more effective than an aristocracy of intellect and service."

"The forty-four-hour week has no charm for me. I'm looking for a forty-hour day."

"All the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think. The trouble is that men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work."

Remember...........................................























thanks maggie

@patrickrhone.....................................








thanks andrew

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

Dusty Springfield...................................You Don't Own Me



Selecting a Reader............................

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of the afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it.  She should be wearing
a raincoat, and old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf.  She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned."  And she will.

-Ted Kooser

On passion....................................

Telling people that passion is the key to success does those folks a great disservice.  Somewhere down the road, they will discover that no one cares about or shares their passion.  The will find out that while they are passionate, they haven't done the work to be really good, and they know nothing about selling, marketing, leadership, management, finance, their competition, serving customers, or all the other facets of a successful life or business.  They are passionate, but they are passionately incompetent.  They don't have the skills to excel.  All they have is their passion.
     Try cashing that at the bank.

-Larry Winget

On Passion...........................................#2











via

Passion...............................................#3

On passion...........................................#4










Monday, September 1, 2014

Gee whiz............................................

The Everly Brothers....................All I Have To Do Is Dream



#19 on this list

Happy Labor Day................................


Source...............................................


















Science is not only compatible with spirituality;  it is a profound source of spirituality.  When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of the ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.
-Carl Sagan

Great philosophers...............................

Mathew Arnold   (1822-1888)

There was a lot that bothered Arnold about the modern world – as it was just beginning to reveal itself. But he summed it up in one embracing idea: Anarchy. By ‘anarchy’, he didn’t mean people in black balaclavas breaking shop windows. Rather he meant something much more familiar and closer to home: a toxic kind of freedom. He meant a society where market forces dominate the nation; where the commercial media sets the agenda and coarsens and simplifies everything it touches; where corporations are barely restrained from despoiling the environment, where human beings are treated as tools to be picked up and put down at will; where there is no more pastoral care and precious little sense of community, where hospitals treat the body but no one treats the soul, where no one knows their neighbours any more, where romantic love is seen as the only bond worth pursuing – and where there is nowhere to turn to at moments of acute distress and inner crisis. It’s a world we’ve come to know well.

Arnold believed that the forces of anarchy had become overwhelming in Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Religion was in terminal decline. Business reigned triumphant. A practical, unpsychological money-making mentality ruled. Newspaper circulation was growing exponentially. And politics was dominated by partisanship, conflict and misrepresentation.

Matthew Arnold......................................













"I am bound by my own definition of criticism: a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world.'

"The people who believe most that our greatness and welfare are proved by our being very rich, and who most give their lives and thoughts to becoming rich, are just the very people whom we call the Philistines. Culture says: 'Consider these people, then, their way of life, their habits, their manners, the very tones of their voice; look at them attentively; observe the literature they read, the things which give them pleasure, the words which come forth out of their mouths, the thoughts which make the furniture of their minds; would any amount of wealth be worth having with the condition that one was to become just like these people by having it?'"

"Our society distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace; and America is just ourselves, with the Barbarians quite left out, and the Populace nearly."

“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.” 

“The need of expansion is as genuine an instinct in man as the need in a plant for the light, or the need in man himself for going upright. The love of liberty is simply the instinct in man for expansion.”

“We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I do not know.” 

"Culture is then properly described not as having its origin in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of perfection; it is a study of perfection."

"The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light. He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail. He who works for machinery, he who works for hatred, works only for confusion. Culture looks beyond machinery, culture hates hatred; culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light."

"Everything in our political life tends to hide from us that there is anything wiser than our ordinary selves."