Friday, August 28, 2015

May I have this dance, Sweetie...............?


Eric Clapton..........................................Wonderful Tonight

On level playing fields...........................


      My friend the Hawk and I were playing the first hole at Prestwick in Scotland;  the wind was howling out of the left.  I started an eight-iron thirty yards to windward, but the gale caught it;  I watched in dismay as the ball sailed hard right, hit the green going sideways, and bounded off into the cabbage.  "Sonofabitch!" I turned to our caddie.  "Did you see the wind take that shot?"
       He gave that look that only Scottish caddies can give, "Well, ye 've got t' play th' wind now, don't ye?"
      The professional conducts his business in the real world.  Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged.  The field is level, the professional understands, only in heaven.

-Steven Pressfield,  The War of Art:  Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Blocks
     

Trying...............................................

















via

Think his point is probably still valid.....


One summer morning in 1944, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, age ten, stood on a train platform in Budapest, Hungary, with his mother, two brothers, and about seventy relatives who'd come to see them off.  World War II was raging, and Hungary, an ambivalent member of the Axis, was being squeezed from every political and geographic corner.  Nazi soldiers were occupying the country in retaliation for Hungary's secret peace negotiations with the United States and Great Britain.  Meanwhile, Soviet troops were advancing on the capital city.
     It was time to leave.  So the foursome boarded a train for Venice, Italy, where Csikszentmihalyi's father, a diplomat, was working.  As the train rumbled southwest, bombs exploded in the distance.  Bullets ripped through the train's windows, while a rifle-toting soldier on board fired back at the attackers.  The ten-year-old crouched under his seat, terrified but also a little annoyed.
     "It struck me at that point that grown-ups had really no idea how to live,"  Csikszentmihalyi told me some sixty-five years later.

-Daniel H. Pink,  Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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


John Coltrane.....................A Love Supreme, Pt. 2 - Resolution

Please let this be true.........................


The human individual is equipped to learn and go on learning prodigiously from birth to death, and this is precisely what sets him or her apart from all other know forms of life.  Man has a various times been defined as a building animal, a working animal, and a fighting animal, ball all of these definitions are incomplete and finally false.  Man is a learning animal, and the essence of the species is encoded in that simple term.

-George Leonard,  Mastery:  The Keys To Success And Long-Term Fulfillment

Stumped the panel.................................................. or, yes we have no bananas...................................


A few weeks ago the Mighty E. posted this picture and offered a free cd (Volume 1 from E.'s Hall of Fame for Perfect Songs)  (Ed. Note:  I have a copy of Volume 2.  It is perfect as well) to the best caption submitted.



















To my knowledge the prize has yet to be claimed.  I will confess to not having thought of a worthy caption.  Perhaps you can do better.  His post has inspired me, however, to notice other banana related themes.  Like these:














































































and the topper:




banana sculpture photos from here

Checking in with Billy Penn..................




































184.  If we take issue with everything that is disputable, our dispute would be endless.

214.  If we would change the world, we should change ourselves;  and teach our children to be, not what we are, but what they should be.

237.  Do good with what you have, or it will do you no good.

238.  Seek not to be rich, but happy.  The one lies in bank accounts and portfolios, the other in content;  which wealth can never give.

239  We are apt to call things by wrong names.  We call prosperity, happiness;  and adversity, misery;  though adversity is the school of wisdom, and often the way to eternal happiness.

249.  Too few know when they have enough;  and fewer know how to spend it wisely.

307.  Humility and knowledge in poor clothes, excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.

308.  Neither despise, nor oppose, what you do not understand

-William Penn,  Some Fruits Of Solitude In Reflections and Maxims (1682)

back story on statue of Penn here

Thursday, August 27, 2015

But wait............................................


Roy Orbison................................................Oh, Pretty Woman

In defense of a liberal arts education................


 A little capacity for reflection might reveal that morality is not simply a matter of common sense or reading a sacred text, and that an understanding of other cultures — or simply an acknowledgment that there are other cultures — might have led to better outcomes in, for example, Iraq.

It is a mistake to focus basic education on job-specific skills that a changing world will render redundant in a few years. The objective should be to equip students to enjoy rewarding employment and fulfilling lives in a future environment whose demands we can neither anticipate nor predict. In 20 years, we will probably not be using the Black Scholes model, or referring to the case of Bloggs v Bloggs. But the capacities to think critically, judge numbers, compose prose and observe carefully — the capacities that education can and should develop — will be as useful then as they are today.

-John Kay, as excerpted from here

At the risk of repeating myself, allow me to share the teaching style of my favorite professor from Denison University, circa 1972, Dr. Robert Toplin.  Toplin taught, among others, a course he called "Latin America:  Evolution or Revolution."  With a great deal of 20-year-old sensitivity, we called it "Bullets or Bananas."  This semester long class was held for two hours, twice a week.  Actually, each class was comprised of two one-hour lectures.  During the first hour Toplin would take some topic, say the history of slavery in Brazil, and preach on it from the right-wing point of view.  His arguments would be thoughtful, powerful, coherent, and convincing.  At the end-of-the-hour break, we would all agree that the man was undoubtely right.  Then came the second hour.  He would then preach the same topic from the left-wing point of view.  His arguments would be thoughtful, powerful, coherent, and convincing.  By the end of the second hour, we would be thoroughly confused.  In the first weeks of the course, us students spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what Toplin believed, so we would know how to write our "blue-book" exams when they came.  Gradually it dawned on us.  It didn't matter what he believed.  What mattered was what we thought.  All Toplin wanted from us was that we would to be able to process a significant amount of conflicting information and ideas and then make, in writing, our own thoughtful and coherent judgments about said conflicting information and ideas.  In other words, he expected us to learn how to think.  It was quite the semester.

Thinking the latter is correct..................


One bias of mine is that most macroeconomic policy actions of the government or central bank either don’t help, or merely shift the problem to another place.
-David Merkel

It's that vision thing...................................


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 
-Winston Churchill

For more on the pessimist/optimist, visit here

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


Roy Orbison.............................................Big As I Can Dream

The headline reads................................


A self-made millionaire who studied 1,200 wealthy people found one thought pattern they all tend to avoid.

I could have made about thirty guesses before coming up with this answer:

He also noticed one thought pattern they tend to avoid: nostalgia.

Full post here.


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



















A statistical analysis, properly conducted, is a delicate dissection of uncertainties, a surgery of suppositions.  
-M.J. Moroney

Statistics can be made to prove anything - even the truth.  
-Author Unknown

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.  
-Rex Stout, 

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.  

-Author Unknown

Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything.  
-Gregg Easterbrook

I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest.  The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable.  
-Mrs. Robert A. Taft

cartoon via

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Oh why.............................................


Vance Joy.......................................................Wasted Time

The Art of Persuasion.................


In case you are wondering how Donald Trump is kicking Jeb Bush's ass,   why it is not even a contest, Scott "Dilbert"  Adams has the story.  Full explanation is here.  Longish excerpt to help you see his point is here:
Now review Trump’s empty sentence: We need to take America back.
From whom? Notice the intentional lack of detail? In this case, the lack of detail is the powerful part of the sentence.
The media’s political filter automatically goes to immigration, and that interpretation is probably somewhat right. The problem is that it is only 10% of the explanation. The other 90% is what is happening in voters’ heads when they get an open-ended suggestion that someone has somehow stolen the country. 

Who did this awful thing???

Is it the top one-percenters who stole all the country’s money?
Is it the liberals?
Is it the politically-correct people?
Is it the immigrants who are taking jobs?
Is it the wrong-headed people in general?
Is it the minorities? The women?
Is it just our reputation in the world that we lost?
Was it our former greatness we lost?
See how the open-ended suggestion works? Every voter is free to fill in the topic of their own greatest fear. Your brain is a movie that creates your personal history, and when the movie finds a gap, your imagination fills it in. It happens automatically and bypasses rational thought. As with the salesperson who has already made the sale, Trump says nothing you can dislike while giving you the freedom to fill in the blanks in the way that influences you the most.
In other words, Trump’s sentence “We need to take America back” invites you to hypnotize yourself to finish the thought. And you do.

Those who scoff at Trump's capacity for persuasion might benefit from reviewing this Amazon page.  Love him or hate him, the man has some skills.
thanks Dennis

If you like old photos...............................


.....................................do visit Shorpy from time to time.

Rooting through their archives, I came across this jewel.  My father worked in one place (if you don't count his three years in the U. S. Army) for his whole career.  My sister should feel free to correct me, but it strikes me that he worked for the Union League Club from 1933 to 1979.  Growing up, the League was an important part of the fabric of our lives.

Circa 1905.      "Union League Club, Philadelphia."    via Shorpy




















The Union League,  circa today via Google Earth



















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

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles...............My Girl Has Gone

And you thought your morning was rough.......




via

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


Woman Sees Trump’s Face In Her Tub Of Butter



















Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I can still feel your sunlight...........................


Vance Joy................................................All I Ever Wanted

True that...........................................


Beauty....................................



Worth remembering..............................


“Law grinds the poor, rich men rule the law."
-Oliver Goldsmith  (1728-1774)

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


At the movies..........................................What's New Pussycat

Damn...............................................



"Trying to create a plan on the fly when markets are falling by mashing together a bunch of different tactics and sources of advice is a great way to make things even worse. And praying that stocks will rise in an uninterrupted fashion forever does not constitute a plan."

-Ben Carlson, as excerpted from here

On obedience and initiative....................


Flexibility was also important. Contrary to the stereotype the German army did not want blind obedience. Not only did it allow subordinate commanders to figure out how to achieve their objectives but if opportunities arose which were unforeseen they were not only allowed to take advantage of them but expected to do so. “His majesty made you a major because he believed that you would know when not to obey his orders.” as Prince Frederick Charles put it.
-as excerpted from here

Wondering about ramifications, if that is really true.

Checking in with Ben.....................................


























"Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.  Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates."

“Without Freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom;  and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.”


"If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."

-Ben Franklin

When are you going to pay attention to me...?



Monday, August 24, 2015

Can you dig it......................................?


Friends of Distinction..................................Grazing In The Grass

Planning on it........................................



Follow the money...........................



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


Del Shannon.....................................................I Go To Pieces



It was made popular by Peter & Gordon, but Shannon wrote this song in 1964 and recorded it in 1965.

Skipping and climbing in the Heartland.....


The proverb rightly points out that, generally, things are just things.  A thing may be positive or negative in its impact and the way we perceive that thing is what makes the difference.  A rock is just a rock … until we make it into something else.  As one of my favorite Beatles (George) says, in one of my favorite films “It’s all in the mind, you know! “.

-John E. Smith. as excerpted from here

Well, who wouldn't.........................................?



Maureen Dowd.............................


on the appeal of Trump:

"He’s tapped into a hunger among those who want to believe that America is not a shrinking, stumbling power passed like a pepper mill between two entitled families."

Got that right.  Balance of her column is here.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just listen....................................


The Marshall Tucker Band.................................Desert Skies




Well I'm ridin' along
Singin' the same ol' cowboy song
That's been sung a hundred times before
Ain't got nothin' but my name
And I'm the only man I know to blame
But I'm livin', I'm happy and I'm free

Just listen to the wind blow
Let it blow, let it blow
Sand over my trail
I got my saddle on the ground
And that ol' moon, he can still be found
Hidin' in the desert sky

The beginning of wisdom.............................



Like math and physics, religion is a human activity, a heart-felt response to the mystery of the cosmos.  However inspired or lofty, religious expressions of truth are limited by their own finitude.  Like math and physics, they resemble reality without being equivalent to it.  Our notions of the absolute, the eternal, the all, the nothing, or God do not exhaust that which we attempt to describe.  They are our notions of God, however inspired or verified by centuries of experience and the testimony of the faithful.  The are perceptions, perhaps incredibly helpful ones, but perceptions none the less.  Every kind of human knowing is shaped by the knower, individually and culturally.  And among the body of transcendent knowledge that comes through the spiritual insights of the millennia, and there is much, the most important virtue among them is most surely humility, which is the beginning of wisdom.

-Timothy Carson,  The Square Root Of God

image via

Cloudy................................



The Tao doesn't come and go.
It is always present everywhere,
just like the sky.
If your mind is clouded, you won't see it,
but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

All misery is created by the activity
of the mind.
Can you let go of words and ideas,
attitudes and expectations?
If so, then the Tao will loom into view.
Can you be still and look inside?
If so, then you will see that the truth is
always available, always responsive.

-Brian Browne Walker
Verse 31
 Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu

image via

Forty-eight years ago..............................


The Rolling Stones..................................Get Off Of My Cloud

Time.......................................




















"We expect time to be infinitely accommodating,  we refuse to admit that it cannot be."
-Dorothea Brande,  Wake Up And Live!

the beautiful madness..............................













The simplest truth about man is that he is a very strange being; almost in the sense of being a stranger on the earth.  In all sobriety, he has much more of the external appearance of one bringing alien habits from another land than of a mere growth of this one.  He has an unfair advantage and an unfair disadvantage.  He cannot sleep in his own skin;  he cannot trust his own instincts.  He is at once a creator moving miraculous hands and fingers and a kind of a cripple.  He is wrapped in artificial bandages called clothes;  he is propped on artificial crutches called furniture.  His mind has the same doubtful liberties and the same wild limitations.  Alone among the animal, he is shaken with the beautiful madness called laughter; as if he had caught sight of some secret in the very shape of the universe hidden from the universe itself.

G. K. Chesterton,  The Everlasting Man

image via