Thursday, December 31, 2015
......................................and immediately thought of Kurt:
Robert glanced into his kitchen. The dirty dishes were cleaned and stacked on the counter. The sink was spotless, the tile floor shined, and the table was set for four.
"When did you do all this?" Robert asked the Professor.
"Couldn't sleep," Brown Shoes said.
"I usually can't sleep much either," Robert said realizing that this was the first night in years that he hadn't heard any voices. "But that's way too...."
"Since you are putting me up, it's the least I could do."
As the men sat down at the table, Brown Shoes looked at Robert. "Well, they called this morning from the garage. They say it's going to take a week or so to get the parts, then probably take another two or three weeks to put her back together. So I'm looking at almost a month."
Robert tasted his orange juice. Freshly squeezed, he thought. He unfolded his omelet, the aroma of fresh green and red peppers, cheese and onions wafted to his face, and then the fragrance of lilacs hit him. Brown Shoes had cleaned out a Dr. Hopps' beer bottle and used it as a vase for lilacs from his front yard.
"This is a taste of heaven," James said, letting is omelet slowly dissolve in his mouth.
"Well, thank you, "Brown Shoes responded. "Lin Yutang used to say, 'Our lives are not in the laps of the gods, but in the laps of our cooks.'"
-David Mutti Clark, Professor Brown Shoes Teaches the Blues
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
................................................you just have to listen to this.
Jim Gomer Pyle Nabors...........................The Impossible Dream
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Not only is play a human cultural universal, but most animals are top-notch players too. Whether it a a pair of bear cubs splashing one another in a stream (where, judging by their mother's impatient reaction, they are supposed to be learning how to fish) or my dog, Snookers, running ever-expanding circles around the spruce tree in our yard back home - the animal instinct for aimless fun is clearly built in. Ditto for us wingless bipeds, especially when we are still at that stage of life when notions of accomplishment and making something of ourselves have yet to put the damper on just plain fooling around.
The transformation of pure play into competitive play - the ancient Greeks were Olympic champs at this - constituted one of the first such dampers. We went from pointless play to keeping one eye on the scoreboard. And our current dedication to sports as self-improvement, complete with personal trainers and strange garments made out of spandex, has virtually wiped out any lightheartedness remaining in play. Even when taking a walk, distance and elapsed time are now often recorded, then measured against previous records as we compete with ourselves for our personal best. Play is no longer something we do with our idle time, it is another ambitious activity crammed into our schedules.
-Daniel Klein, Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life
People who are recognizably human have walked the earth for roughly two hundred thousand years. During those millennia, we survived by continuously adapting to our fickle environment. We braved harsh winters and punishing landscapes, and feared animals much fiercer than we were, bowing to nature, whose spell overwhelmed us, whose magnificence humbled us, and around which we anxiously rigged our lives. After a passage of time too long to fully imagine, and too many impression-mad lives to tally, we began rebelling against the forces of nature. We grew handy, resourceful, flexible, clever, cooperative. We captured fire, chipped tools, hewed spears and needles, coined language and spent it everywhere we roamed. And then we began multiplying at breathtaking speed.
-Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
Monday, December 28, 2015
The Marcels........................................................Blue Moon
Gene Chandler.................................................The Duke of Earl
The Monotones................................................Book of Love
"If you win every time, you don't learn anything. You don't learn anything about yourself. You don't learn anything about the other person. You don't learn anything about the game. You don't learn anything about life."
-Jack Nicklaus, as excerpted from Michael Bamberger's essay in the latest Sports Illustrated
.................................................folks would take this to heart:
Your learned friends are wrong.
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
-Francis Church, as excerpted from his 1897 New York Sun "Yes, Virginia" editorial
"A century ago, most scientists believed the entire universe was deterministic, and that if you could only specify all the details at one instant of time, you could calculate what was going to happen, forever. As for God, many scientists believed that he just wound up the clock of the universe and set it in motion, and didn’t do anything after that. Time was considered an absolute quantity that nothing could affect… not even God.
"And then along came Albert Einstein, who realized that space and time are not absolute quantities, but are related to each other, forming a space-time continuum. The absolute-ness of time was abandoned, determinism was discarded, and scientists realized they hadn’t dug very deep after all."
"As editor Francis Church wrote in 1897, “Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.” That point has gradually sunk in with scientists. By accepting with humility that we don’t know it all, and that our scientific instruments only investigate a small slice of the universe, we realize that reality extends far beyond the boundaries of science. “Love and generosity and devotion exist, and we know that they give to life its highest beauty and joy.”
-last three quotes excerpted from this American Thinker post
Sunday, December 27, 2015
"Our shimmering cities tell all (including us) that Earth's inhabitants are thinkers, builders and rearrangers who like to bunch together into hivelike settlements, and for some reason - bad night vision, primal fear, sheer vanity, to scare predators, or as a form of group adornment - we bedeck them all with garlands of light."
-Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
image of Baltimore, and a bunch more cool earthy photos, via
Epicurus grew up on another Aegean island, Samos, two hundred miles east of here, nearer to Anatolia, or Asia Minor. He was born in 341 BCE, only eighty years after Plato, but was little influenced by him. What Epicurus mainly had on his mind was the question of how to live the best possible life, especially considering that we only have one of them - Epicurus did not believe in an afterlife. This seems like the most fundamental philosophical question, the question of all questions. But students of the history of Western Philosophy are often disheartened to find that as the centuries went on that question began to take a backseat to philosophical questions that were considered more pressing, like Martin Heidegger's mindblower that used to make me laugh out loud with incomprehension. "Why are there things that are rather than nothing?" and the epistemological problem, "How do we know what is real?" Epicurus certainly speculated about the nature of reality, but he dis so fundamentally in service of his ultimate question, "How does one make the most of one's life?" Not a bad question.
Epicurus's answer, after many years of deep thought, was that the best possible like one could life is a happy one, a life filled with pleasure. At first look, this conclusion seems like a no-brainer, the sort of wisdom found on the side of a box of Celestial Seasonings tea. But Epicurus knew this was only a starting point because it raised the more troublesome and perplexing questions of what constitutes a happy life, which pleasures are truly gratifying and enduring, and which are fleeting and lead to pain, plus the monumental questions of why and how we often thwart ourselves from attaining happiness.
-Daniel Klein, Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Friday, December 25, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
..................................tax code on Christmas Eve? Yep.
John Cochrane talks common-sense governing. Wishing the attempt all the luck in the world. Post here. Excerpt here:
We need to move from the equilibrium of, I have my subsidy/deduction/credit/special deal, so I won't complain about yours, to the equilibrium of, I gave up my subsidy/deduction/credit special deal, so I'll make darn sure you give up yours too.
this post was really just an excuse to post my favorite hugh macleod cartoon.
..........................would probably approve. John Kay suggests "the characteristics of organisational failure are timeless" and then he sets out the field manual. A wee excerpt:
"The wide exercise of power without responsibility, often in the name of democracy or participation, is at best a recipe for organisational paralysis and at worst a mechanism for actual sabotage, as is the substitution of procedural rules for individual judgment."
...............Michael Wade posts 21 Things I Wish I Knew In My Twenties. Some of us sixty-somethings still have a lot of work to do. Thanks Michael.
................here are 14 events that have dramatically altered the way us humans live. You might notice that the pace of these events is quickening. Apparently these 14 were culled from this broader picture. Pondering using The Wonder That Is Amazon to acquire it, if only to see if Amazon made the cut. Surely it must have.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Martina McBride.................................O Come All Ye Faithful
...................or, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
Fun with Federal Omnibus bills: Part One. Story here.
...........................................................or, fuddling with the data.
I, like any clever scienticist, could fuddle with the data till my eyes crossed, then shrug and postulate various “events within the event” — weaves, turns, sprints, wrinkles, leaps, bobbles — plus an unknown number of additional “whatevers.” But I wouldn’t go on television until I’d found hard evidence of my purely speculative play-by-play. Smoking guns are all very well, but a coroner requires a one-to-one pairing between bullets and wounds.
-David Warren, as excerpted from this post
.......................or, painting pictures with words:
She was cool, superior, and slightly snotty. A male friend, if she had time for one, would have a hard body, a great tan, a gold chain, a two-seater Mercedes-Benz, and no sense of humor. A commoner had little chance of peeling off her shorts. Should it happen, she'd do it purely for the experience, like shopping at Kmart or sniffing glue.
She knew what I was thinking, of course. And she knew she was reaching me, with her information, money, and long athletic legs. All management tools, properly deployed, well under control. It was mildly irritating.
Letting it percolate for a moment, I looked down at the battered, grass-green fiberglass hull of my boat, the brilliant white D'Arches paper, the black handles of the watercolor brushes. It was all I really wanted to do; I didn't want to fool with some rich guy's computers. But a bigger boat would be nice, and money would buy more time to paint. And New Orleans is a pleasurable place.
"It sounds illegal," I said after a while.
-John Sandford, as excerpted from The Fool's Run
I was one of those people who made fun of the “people of Walmart”. And I’m an idiot. I don’t know anyone’s story, their background, their pain or their journey in this world. I judge the badly dressed, the overweight, the sloppy, the ignorant, the ill-mannered. The same ones, yesterday, who cried when someone offered them a small kindness. The ones who, when they figured out what my husband and I were doing hiding in the jewelry section across from the check-out lanes, came running over, looked us right in the eye, thanked us and complimented on our wonderful girls. There’s MY gift, right there. I haven’t gotten anything as precious as that.
-Walmart as a Holy Land. The full tale is told here
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
.............that we have posted more than several excerpts from Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals here of late. Noticing the curious nature of our readers, you are undoubtedly wondering when we are going to post said rules. Wonder no longer:
Always remember the first rule of power tactics:
Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
The second rule is: Never go outside of the experience of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat. It also means a collapse of communication, as we have noted.
The third rule is: Whenever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat. (Alinsky now includes a very long paragraph - too long for the allotted typing time - on Sherman's march through The South).
The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.
The fourth rule carries within it the fifth rule: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.
The sixth rule is: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.
The seventh rule is: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time, after which it becomes a ritualistic commitment, like going to church on Sunday mornings. New issues and crises are always developing, and one's reaction becomes, "Well, my heart bleeds for those people and I'm all for the boycott, but after all there are other important things in life" - and there it goes.
The eighth rule: Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
The ninth rule: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
The tenth rule: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign. It should be remembered not only that the action is in the reaction but that action is itself the consequence of reaction and of reaction to the reaction, ad infinitum. The pressure produces the reaction, and constant pressure sustains action.
The eleventh rule: If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through to its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative. We have already seen the conversion of the negative into the positive, in Mahatma Gandhi's development of the tactic of passive resistance.
(Alinsky now offers several long paragraphs, also too long for inclusion, supporting the eleventh rule.)
The twelfth rule: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying "You're right - we don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us."
The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
I've played in a monthly poker game with the same group of guys for more than thirty years now. Over the past few winters it has gotten progressively more difficult to get a quorum. Over half the group now winters in Florida - but not me. So, it was with great interest that I viewed this weather prediction chart:
Monday, December 21, 2015
......................my Emerson, and came across this passage:
The most attractive class of people are those who are powerful obliquely, and not by the direct stroke: men of genius, but not yet accredited: one gets the cheer of their light, without paying too great a tax. Theirs is the beauty of the bird, or the morning light, and not of art. In the thought of genius there is always a surprise; and the moral sentiment is well called "the newness," for it is never other; as new to the oldest intelligence as to the young child, — "the kingdom that cometh without observation."
I think he is describing the bloggers that I have the good fortune to follow. Thank you all!
“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that.”
-George Carlin (added bonus: Carlin's rant on "The American Dream" here)
“I used to think as I looked out on the Hollywood night — there must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I'm not going to worry about them. I'm dreaming the hardest.”
“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
-Hamlet, as channeled by William Shakespeare
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
-T. E. Lawrence
“I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws will be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden, from the chapter Conclusion
Ed. Note: Page for page, Walden has to be one of the all-time most quotable books. And to think, you can own it for free by following the link to Amazon (and having Kindle). We live in a most bounteous universe.