Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clint Eastwood, call your office..................

Ennio Morricone...............................The Ecstasy of Gold



the music stops at 3:21, the rest is applause and credits

the utmost stretch of human sagacity.........

"A moment's reflection must convince you of two things:  first, that lands are of permanent value;  that there is scarcely a possibility of their falling in price, but almost a moral certainty of their rising exceedingly in value.  And secondly, that our paper currency is fluctuating, that it has depreciated considerably, and that no human foresight can, with precision, tell how low it may get, as the rise or fall of it depends on contingencies which the utmost stretch of human sagacity  can neither foresee nor prevent."
- as excerpted from an October 12, 1778 letter George Washington wrote to his stepson.

Trying to remember my history................

The above quote from George Washington has been widely circulated, at least in the real estate world, as just another proof that it is always a good time to buy.  Somebody handed me a copy of the letter yesterday, and as I was reading it again, I wondered:   didn't some of our founding fathers lose their shirts in land speculation?

The short answer is yes;  most noticeably Robert Morris, Henry Knox, and James Wilson.  It turns out that George Washington was actually very successful in the land speculation business.  More on that story can be found in this longish and well-footnoted essay.   Wee excerpt here:

Speculation in land became particularly rampant in the early 1790s when the stability of the new republic seemed assured. Describing the process of speculation, historian Forrest McDonald wrote: “One worked or connived to obtain a stake, then worked or connived to obtain legal title to a tract of wilderness, then sold the wilderness by the acre to the hordes of immigrants, and thereby lived and died a wealthy man. Appropriately, the most successful practitioner of this craft was George Washington, who had acquired several hundred thousand acres and was reckoned by many as the wealthiest man in America.”

I believe the lesson to be learned from our  Founders' experience is that investing in land is a smart, profitable, and worthwhile endeavor; but, one should do it without also acquiring a significant amount of long-term debt.   A timeless lesson.

More of the story....................................

George Washington loved land.  Born into the landed gentry, he became a county surveyor at the age of 17.  He must have been a good saver,  because at age 20 he bought some 1,500 acres of wilderness in western Virginia.  It was the first of his many land acquisitions on the "frontier."  Among the problems of buying wilderness land were finding it, keeping track of it, and keeping other people from squatting on it.  Washington was diligent on all three counts.
     Here is a story that was left out of most of the history books:  George Washington and the Covenant Squatters.   Here is an excerpt:

On September 20, 1784, thirteen of the farmers who had been squatting on Washington's lands for the previous twelve years, met with the general at the home of Reed. After Washington again insisted he held title to the land, they announced that they would be willing to buy the land from him outright. They made clear to the general that they were not conceding that he owned the land, but had no desire to engage in a long and nasty dispute - a dispute they well knew Washington could win.

Washington said he would accept no less than twenty-five shillings an acre, paid in three annual installments, with interest. Otherwise, they could sign a 999-year lease. These were stiff terms. None of the thirteen squatters was interested in the lease. When they asked Washington if he would sell the land at his asking price over a much longer period of time and without any interest, he refused, at which point they formally declared that they did not recognize his ownership.

Self help.................................................


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

Herman's Hermits......................I'm Into Something Good



Another hit written by Goffin/King.  Amazing....

Every once in a while................................

..............I think I can actually understand one of the xkcd cartoons.


Uncomfortable.....................................

"As long as you feel good about yourself, you can do anything!"   That's a total lie.  You never made one positive change in your whole life when you felt good about yourself.  You make positive change when you get uncomfortable with yourself.
-Larry Winget

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

There was no taking it back now, no do-overs.  Never.  He had said yes, so he was going.  There were storm clouds over Paradise as Jesse Stone looked out at the Atlantic and remembered his last night in L. A., staring out into that other ocean.  What Jesse thought was that water color in sunlight was beside the point.  At night, all oceans were black.  He understood that a lot of people, maybe, most, believed the oceans symbolized endless possibility, better days, bright futures.  Jesse knew better.  He took a sip of his Black Label and soda.  He was alone, with only the ocean and his regrets for company.  You can gaze at the road ahead of you all you want, but your future is in your rear-view mirror.
-Reed Farrel Coleman,  Robert B, Parker's  Blind Spot:  A Jesse Stone Novel


You would have to be blind to miss the recent trend of pinch-hitting author's carrying on the characters and stories of deceased (or just tired) authors.  Robert B. Parker died in January of 2010.  This is the tenth book published since his death that headlines his name but was written by someone else.  I've read seven of them, and actually, if you liked Parker's style, which I do, those were pretty good.  Not so sure about this one.   Parker's typical sentence contained about eight words, and his typical paragraph about three sentences. With a leisurely day of reading, you could finish one of his books.  I don't remember anything like the above paragraph in the fifty some Parker books that I've read.   Stay tuned.  Maybe I'll report back after I finish reading it.

Wanna go ride bikes.............................


If you suffer from this dread disease,,,,,,,,,,,,























Kurt has the cure.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ah, the sweet sound of a muted trumpet.......

Ryan Tennis & the Clubhouse Band....Huddle Up and Hold On

If you are confused about the Middle East....

......and who isn't, you could do a lot worse than read Adam Garfinkle's essays.  Here is his latest, written after President Obama's speech Wednesday evening.   Here are a few of the many passages I found interesting:

"It was a pretty good speech. It was clear, brief, and it had the rousing patriotic and optimistic finish such speeches need, with not one but two invocations of the Deity. It also branched orthogonally in a delicate but unmistakable way to punch the Ukraine and other emotional buttons. The President neither stumbled nor lost his place, he made camera-eye contact, and looked more or less confident. All that makes for a good presentation, and, as a recovering speechwriter, I am sensitive to such framing issues."

"The second minor screw-up was the tossed off remark that ISIS (ISIL, IS, Daash) was not Islamist. And this screw-up was a double screw up. First, he should have said that ISIL is not Islamic, not Islamist, since, as he put it, no religion condones the killing of innocents. The former adjective is a just a modifier of the noun Islam, but the latter one denotes a political ideology that uses Islam as a legitimating device—that is the universal usage of the words as they have become integrated into our vocabulary over the past three or so decades. In that sense, ISIS, like al-Qaeda from which it originally sprang, is about as Islamist as it can be."

"No armed religious movement is peaceful by nature. Looking at the actual history of the matter, there are lots of examples of jihadis killing innocents in droves, very much including other Muslims. From the Almohads in Spain to the Hausa-Fulani in Africa, examples abound. Of course Christians have butchered innocents too, as any depiction of the 1099 Crusader massacres in Jerusalem will attest. Does that make Christianity not a religion of peace? Not necessarily: What it shows is that statements of such platitudinous generality are meaningless except as speechwriter offerings on the altar of political correctness."

"In a sense, then, the President announced only half a strategy last night. A half strategy is useful in the same way that half a brick is useful: It can be thrown about twice as far for purposes of partisan politics and propaganda, but otherwise it will not get the job done."

Hey, wait one minute.................................


Ebbed......................................................

"All our political disasters grow as logically out of our attempts in the past to do without justice, as the sinking of some part of your house comes of defect in the foundation.  One thing is plain;  a certain personal virtue is essential to freedom;  and it begins to be doubtful whether our corruption in this country has not gone a little over the mark of safety, so that when canvassed we shall be found to be made up of a majority of reckless self-seekers.  The divine knowledge has ebbed out of us and we do not know enough to be free."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now that the Buckeyes...............................

..............have been vanquished by the Hokies, it will be difficult to take the rest of the college football season seriously.  Speaking of not taking college football seriously, friend Bilbo offers a host of quotes disparaging the players from various "powerhouse" colleges.  His full list is here.  Since we are concerned only with Buckeyes around here, his Ohio State quotes are here:

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer recently said of one of his players: "He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades and he doesn't know the meaning of a lot of words."

How many Ohio State freshmen football players does it take to change a light bulb? None. That's a sophomore course.


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

The Supremes.......................................Come See About Me

This is what happens..................................

..........................when a country stops making babies.

In 2012, the land of the rising sun saw sales of adult diapers exceed those of baby diapers... and as the following chart from The Wall Street Journal shows, that trend is rapidly occurring in the land of the free...

Story, including interesting chart, here.

via maggie's farm

...the little system of his care.......................















Above us, stars.  Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water.  Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
-Ted Kooser
Flying at Night

satellite photo of New York/Philly/Baltimore/Washington via

A process.............................................

"Recovery is a process.  It takes time to regain, reclaim, and recoup all that was lost while we tried on our own to cope with active drinking.  Building trust takes time, change takes time, healing old wounds takes time, there are no immediate, ready-made solutions."
     "We all have dark times in our lives, but the journey to better times is often what makes us happier, stronger people.  When we stop expecting instant relief, we may come to realize that where we are today is exactly where our Higher Power would have us be...I will trust the process of recovery.  I'll let time take time."
-Courage to Change

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

Eight days ago my life was an up and down affair.  Some of it good.  Some of it not so good.  Most of it uneventful.   Long slow periods of nothing much, with occasional bursts of something.  Like the army itself.  Which is how they found me.  You can leave the army, but the army doesn't leave you.  Not completely.
-Lee Child,  Personal

Are you ready for more..............................

...............................................politicization of science?

thanks craig

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The music begins......................................

Michael Franks.......................................Nightmoves




# 1 one this list.  My favorite didn't make the cut

Gone, but not forgotten...............................



















Been true in my life...................................

.......................................and I suspect in yours as well.


The real work is getting to that total unflinching clarity place.

via

The problem with books................................


The only law that truly matters....................

.............................is the Law of Unintended Consequences.


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

Dave Berry....................................................Baby It's You

Wisdom from the Chipotle bag.....................























"Often in life, the most important question we can ask ourselves is:  do we really have the problem we think we have?"
-a Chipotle bag

I may stop in before lunch....................



































thank thee kindly

Well, you're not supposed to invest emotionally...

“Volatility can prey on investors’ emotions, reducing the probability they’ll do the right thing.”
 -Howard Marks

Quote taken from this blog post.

As the Scots get ready to vote.................
















.....on dis-union with England, the punditry industry is having a field day with the potential of Scotland's independence,  John Kay, a non-resident Scot who doesn't get a vote, offers this thought:

"The real questions concern the sort of country Scots and Scotland’s residents want. The nation’s political future will drive the economics. Would an independent Scotland emulate the economic dynamism of some (but not all) other small European states? Or would it be mired in a combination of crony capitalism and municipal socialism that would damage initiative and depress growth? The recent history of Scotland admits both possibilities."

Actually, those are questions us Americans should take some time to think about too.

Kay's full post is here.

Transcending the present in the Heartland.....

.................John E. Smith reclaims the best of his youth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jetboy opens another door.............................

The Mar-Keys........................................................Philly Dog




The Mar-Keys............you can read about them here.  From their start as the house band at Stax records, they morphed into Booker T & the MGs.  Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, the whole gang.  Jetboy posted this great tune, affectionately known as "from the night before to the morning after", or Last Night.

Moms know stuff........................................



















"I always say I am a realist, and my mom says, 'No, you just have anxiety.' " 
-Jessica Chastain

cartoon via

Learning how he feels....................................

A man takes out his hearing aid
and falls asleep, his good ear deep
in the pillow.  Thousands of bats
fly out of the other ear.
All night they flutter and dive
through laughter, catching the punch lines,
their ears all blood and velvet.
At dawn they return. The weary squeaks
make the old stone cavern ring
with gibberish. As the man awakens,
the last of the bats fold into sleep.
His ear is thick with fur and silence.

-Ted Kooser
The Man with the Hearing Aid

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

The sudden rearmament that followed Napoleon's escape from Elba had done little to thin the ranks of unemployed sea-officers by the early spring of 1815.  A man-of-war, stripped, dismantled and laid up cannot be manned, equipped and made ready for sea in a matter of weeks;  and the best vantage-points in Gibraltar were now crowded with gentlemen on half-pay who with others had gathered to watch the long-expected arrival of Commodore Aubrey's squadron from Madeira, a squadron that would do something to refurnish the great bare stretch of water inside the mole - an extraordinary nakedness emphasized by the presence of a few hulks, the Royal Sovereign wearing the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, and a couple of lonely seventy-fours:  no stream of liberty-boats plying to and fro, almost no appearance of true wartime life.
-Patrick O'Brian,  The Hundred Days

Perhaps the best advice............................

..............is not to give advice.  Share your story.  Share your victories.  Share your defeats.  Share your lessons.  Share your hopes.  Give advice, not so much.  Here is a classic response to those who advise "do what you love, and the money will follow."  Wee excerpt here:
Don’t do something you hate for a living.
There is no glory in suffering. Because you can grow to hate something you love if it puts you in a bad position, this advice gives you permission to move on to greener pastures if what you love is making you cry at night. Whatever you love should love you back. And if it’s not working out, it’s ok to find something else to love.

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

The Four Seasons.................................Goodnight My Love

Can this really be true................................?

























via maggie's farm

Great moments in cartooning......................













More on the wonderful world of M. C. Escher here and here

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


Because it's hard work................................?

























“All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so
few prepared to learn to draw?” 
-Banksy

Couldn't happen to a nicer government...

................................Venezuela set to import crude oil?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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

Ray, the not-so-Simple Village Undertaker, is a story teller.

Rob Firchau points to the "Crazy Ones"

Michael Wade had the most interesting homework.

Kurt Harden posts one of the all-time great photos.

David Kanigan's wondrous tumblr.

My strongest weapon..................................

R.E.M..............................................................Final Straw

On doors................................................

"When one door closes another door opens;  but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
-Alexander Graham Bell

Speaking of opening and closing of doors.......

Busy bees...........................................
















Are bees really all that busy?

Turns out bees are a lot like us humanoids.  There are the hard workers, the slackers, the parasites, the drones, and those who will step up to the challenge when that is what is required.    Full story here.  Two excerpts here:

“Drones, by contrast, are quite lazy,” Wickman says. “They don’t leave the hive until early afternoon, at which time they carouse around in packs, and when they get home just a few hours later, they rely on the worker bees to feed them.”

The bees that had been taking it easy before were picking up the slack of their missing co-workers, some of them boosting their activity levels by almost 500 percent. The results, the researchers say, suggest that a hive isn’t divided into hard workers and slackers, but that every worker keeps tabs on the net activity of the colony and adjusts their own activity accordingly to make sure that the colony’s needs are being met. 

LEGO art..............................................

Hmmm.  Pretty sure my kids never made anything like these:




















more here and here

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

The Beatles.................................................There's A Place

Can I get an Amen....................................


The relentlessness of change.....................


Choose..........................................

"Today I can take an active role in fulfilling my needs.  I can choose to become someone I would want to have in my life.  'Many of us find that as we practice treating others fairly, with love and respect, we ourselves become magnets for love and respect.' "
-Courage to Change

Yep.............................................


It is just the thinking that counts..................















via

Monday, September 8, 2014

throw all your cares away.......................

Barenaked Ladies..............................................Pinch Me

The terrorists...............................................

.............................................................lost this round.

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

Winded and coughing, I lay on one elbow and spat out a mouthful of grass and mud.  The horse I'd been riding raised its weight off my ankle, scrambled untidily to its feet and departed at an unfeeling gallop.  I waited for things to settle:  chest heaving, bones still rattling from the bang, sense of balance recovering from the thirty-mile-an-hour somersault and a few tumbling rolls.  No harm done.  Nothing broken.  Just another fall.
-Dick Francis,  Reflex

Why focus is difficult.................................

"One thing life has taught me:  If you are interested, you never have to look for new interests.  They come to you.  When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

On service...............................................

"All forms of service essentially empower a soul.  Remind yourself that you can provide this power in many ways:  encouragement, hope, kindness, and a nod of approval."
-Caroline Myss,  Invisible Acts Of Power:  Personal Choices That Create Miracles

Especially the ones on my shelves.............


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

On the TV........................................................The Munsters

Life just flows better with some rules.......

........not many, just some.   Here is a damn good start.

thanks Kurt

The beautiful thing about history..............

.........is that there is always another lesson to be learned.

Was the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor a superbly planned and brilliantly executed success (even if it was a big mistake)?  That is the way I have always understood it.  Alan Zimm, in this interesting essay, The Pearl Harbor Myth, suggests a re-think:

But examining the attack’s planning and execution blunders offers a key perspective on the Pacific War. Defeat forces change; victory entrenches the current system, with all its faults.

By celebrating its success at Pearl Harbor, Japan sheltered myriad problems. Victory obscured poor planning, to be seen again at Midway; poor staff procedures were evident later at Guadalcanal. Poor target selection, attack tactics, and accuracy appeared again in the carrier battles; poor aerial command and control manifested throughout the war. Victory perpetuated a samurai approach to aerial combat that led to horrendous losses.

thanks craig

On seeing.................................................

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
-Anais Nin

Quiz time...................................................


What should one do when..........................

............................. my enemy's enemy is still my enemy...?

So it needs to be said clearly: The Islamic State and the Islamic Republic are both enemies of the west and of the peoples of the Mideast. Backing one against the other would be a disaster.

-Full post is here

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Songs they were singing.........................

The Browns.................................................Three Bells

Be careful what you wish for..........................

























The Giant Impact hypothesis:  "..approximately 4.5 billion years ago.."




















cartoon via

Archbishop Ussher..................call your office

The age of rocks:

The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years  (4.54 × 109 years ± 1%).[1][2][3]
-Wikipedia,   more on the story here

As we first learned from Frederic March in Inherit the Wind, Archbishop James Ussher calculated, in the mid-1600's, that the earth was approximately 4,000 years old.  It is an interesting story.  Ussher's wiki is here.  A few excerpts here:
"Ussher now concentrated on his research and writing and returned to the study of chronology and the church fathers. After a 1647 work on the origin of the Creeds, Ussher published a treatise on the calendar in 1648. This was a warm-up for his most famous work, the Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti("Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world"), which appeared in 1650, and its continuation,  Annalium pars postierior, published in 1654. In this work, he calculated the date of the Creation to have been nightfall preceding 23 October 4004 BC." 
"Ussher's work is sometimes associated with Young Earth Creationism, which holds that the universe was created, not billions of years ago, but thousands. But while calculating the date of the Creation is today considered a controversial activity, in Ussher's time such a calculation was still regarded as an important task, one previously attempted by many Post-Reformation scholars, such as Joseph Justus Scaliger and physicist Isaac Newton."
"Ussher's chronology represented a considerable feat of scholarship: it demanded great depth of learning in what was then known of ancient history, including the rise of the Persians, Greeks and Romans, as well as expertise in the Bible, biblical languages, astronomy, ancient calendars and chronology. Ussher's account of historical events for which he had multiple sources other than the Bible is usually in close agreement with modern accounts – for example, he placed the death of Alexander in 323 BC and that of Julius Caesar in 44 BC."

Duty.....................................................

Do your duty, always;  but without attachment.   That is how a man reaches the ultimate Truth; by working without anxiety about results.
-Bhagavad-Gita

Story logic..............................................

"We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes."
-Gene Roddenberry

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

26   And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;

27   and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know.

-The Holy Bible
Mark 4:26-27
New American Standard Version

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

On the TV..............................................................Underdog

Desperate................................................

Each moment is fragile and fleeting.
The moment of the past cannot be
kept, however beautiful.
The moment of the present cannot be
held, however enjoyable.
The moment of the future cannot be
caught, however desirable.

But the mind is desperate to
fix the river in place:
Possessed by ideas of the past,
preoccupied with images of the future,
it overlooks the plain truth
of the moment.

The one who can dissolve her mind
will suddenly discover the Tao
at her feet, and clarity at hand.

-Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Verse 21
as channeled by Brian Browne Walker

Super massive land animals....................

The Dreadnoughtus schrani.....................




The National Geographic's coverage is here.

"Keep digging!"

thanks Joe

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

In those days, I was the one who came down from Nazareth to be baptized by John in the River Jordan.  And the Gospel of Mark would declare that on my immersion, the heavens opened and I saw "a spirit like a dove descending."  A mighty voice said:  "You are My beloved son in whom I am well pleased.   Then the Spirit drove me into the wilderness, and I was there for forty days and was tempted by Satan.
     While I would not say the Mark's gospel is false, it has much exaggeration.  And I would offer less for Matthew, and for Luke and John, who gave me words I never uttered and described me as gentle when I was pale with rage.  Their words were written many years after I was gone and only repeat what old men told them.  Very old men.  Such tales are to leaned upon no more than a bush that tears free from its roots and blows about in the wind.
     So I will give my own account.
-Norman Mailer,  The Gospel According To The Son

Most likely............................................

















via

There are some very large gaps in our knowledge...

...like, for instance, this discovery about life and faith in the Middle East 1,400 years ago.

“It’s doubly fascinating because the amulet maker clearly knew the Bible, but made lots of mistakes: some words are misspelled and others are in the wrong order. This suggests that he was writing by heart rather than copying it.
It’s quite exciting. Thanks to this discovery, we now think that the knowledge of the Bible was more embedded in sixth century AD Egypt than we previously realized.”