Saturday, December 19, 2015
I once saw a stonecutter remove great pieces from a huge rock on which he was working. In my imagination I thought, That rock must be hurting terribly. Why does this man wound the rock so much? But as I looked longer, I saw the figure of a graceful dancer emerge gradually from the stone.
I have spent a good deal of my life building a stone wall of protection around my heart. Now, when I actually hear the truth about my hardness of heart, it seems as though one of the stones is being taken out of my protective wall. This wounds me and makes me frightened and angry. It's a big struggle. But I'm trying to be more aware and less fearful in the process. "Don't be so afraid," I hear the inner voice of love say to me. "Recognize everything in your life as a gift, and consciously give thanks. Make more room for joy in your life. Let the stones be taken away, and be grateful. Go beyond your comfort zone, and trust. Have courage, open yourself to your heart's deeper desires, and let the wall fall down. Open yourself , and allow me to remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
-Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of The Spirit
.....................................................................us pesky humans.
Autonews reports that programmers working on driverless cars have found that having made them perfectly law-abiding, unable to commit traffic infractions, the result is that they have double the accident rate of driven cars, as they cannot cope with the anarchic driving of humans.
More of the story here
.....................the "placemat" when the thought occurred: It sure would be interesting to see a study ten years from now on the employment histories of the Harvard (et. al.) graduating classes of 2016 and 2017.
.........................I'm hoping some free-thinking economist type will complete a thorough examination of the impacts, both positive and negative, of the government providing 99 weeks of unemployment benefits back in the 2009-2011 era.
As a follow-up to that, a study on the employment history of those under thirty years of age who availed themselves upon the 99 weeks of benefits might be interesting as well.
Another idea, for our beloved southern neighbours. The winning candidate should choose a regnal name upon becoming President, such as “Abraham II” or “George IV” or “John V” or “James VII.”
Unexpectedly, this doesn't seem all that outlandish.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Spengler, an ex-neocon himself, disses the "neocons"................
Every ideology has a use-by date and you're long past yours. Henry Kissinger did great service to this country by opening relations to China, a necessary if not sufficient condition for winning the Cold War. But Kissinger couldn't see past the dull calculus of detente, while Reagan foresaw unconditional American victory over Communism--and without you neocons, he never could have done it. You made a Gargantuan error, though, when you assumed that the Reagan Revolution could be exported to the Middle East, Russia and China, and you misplayed the strongest hand that any world power ever held. America went from only-hyperpower status when George W. Bush took office to a playing second fiddle to Vladimir Putin today.
Full essay here.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Curiosity and irreverence go together. Curiosity cannot exist without the other. Curiosity asks, "Is this true?" "Just because this has always been the way, is this the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?" To the questioner, nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search for ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest. As with all life, this is a paradox, for his irreverence is rooted in a deep reverence for the enigma of life, and an incessant search for its meaning.
-Saul Alinsky, as extracted from here
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
A few quotes from George Santayana:
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily.
There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
Experience has repeatedly confirmed that well-known maxim of Bacon's that "a little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." At the same time, when Bacon penned that sage epigram... he forgot to add that the God to whom depth in philosophy brings back men's minds is far from being the same from whom a little philosophy estranges them.
..........................we have been concerned more with the prospects for deflation than inflation. An essay on the mystery of the "missing inflation" here. Be careful what you wish for.
Since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, inflation expectations have sunk. “I talk to a wide range of business contacts, and virtually none of them are mentioning rising inflationary or cost pressures,” Mr. Evans said. “No one is planning for higher inflation. My contacts just don’t expect it.”
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
All definitions of words, like everything else, are relative. Definition is to a major degree dependent upon your partisan position. Your leader is always flexible, he has pride in the dignity of his cause, he is unflinching, sincere, an ingenious tactician fighting the good fight. To the opposition he is unprincipled and will go whichever way the wind blows, his arrogance is masked by a fake humility, he is dogmatically stubborn, a hypocrite, unscrupulous and unethical, and he will do anything to win; he is leading the forces of evil. To one side he is a demigod, to the other a demagogue.
-Saul Alinsky, Rules For Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
The only answer on her website is to “close loopholes” to make up the lost revenue. This is an interesting example of closing loopholes to pay for other loopholes. But I suppose one person’s “loophole” is another person’s thoughtfully crafted tax benefit? Also, “closing loopholes” is what one always says when one needs a cop-out answer.
-The Banker, as excerpted from here
Monday, December 14, 2015
"Most people do not accumulate a body of experience. Most people go through life undergoing a series of happenings, which pass through their systems undigested. Happenings become experience when they are digested, when they are reflected on, related to general patterns, and synthesized."
When we experience time as chronos (chronology), the events of our life are nothing more than randomly connected series of incidents and accidents over which we have no control. Time has become opaque, dark, and impenetrable. We cannot see through to the underlying coherence of our story. Disappointments, unemployment, material loss, sickness, and death are experienced as meaningless disruptions to be denied and avoided if possible. When time is only chronos, we don't have time to do all the things we need to do, and our schedule is a burden. Time is running out, and time is exhausting. There is no time for friendship, for blessing, for celebration.
Time needs to be converted from chronos to kairos - an opportunity for a change of heart. The spiritual life is a formation process in which time slowly loses its opaqueness and becomes transparent. To start seeing that the many events of our day, week, or year are not obstacles to a full and meaningful life, but the way to it, is a real experience of conversion. Once we discover that writing letters, attending classes, visiting friends, cooking food, and even doing the dishes are not a series of random activities but contain within themselves the transforming power of re-creation, we move from time lived as chronos to time lived as kairos (right time, the real moment, the opportunity for change, the chance of a lifetime). When our time becomes kairos, endless new possibilities an opportunities open up to our vision.
-Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Formation
My name is Sebastian Rudd, and though I am a well-known street lawyer, you will not see my name on billboards, or bus benches, or screaming at you from the yellow pages. I don't pay to be seen on television, though I am often there. My name is not listed in any phone book. I do not maintain a traditional office. I carry a gun, legally, because my name and face tend to attract attention from the type of people who carry guns and don't mind using them. I live alone, usually sleep alone, and do not posses the patience and understanding necessary to maintain friendships. The law is my life, always consuming and occasionally fulfilling. I wouldn't call it a "jealous mistress" as some forgotten person once so famously did. It's more like an overbearing wife who controls the checkbook. There's no way out.
-John Grisham, Rogue Lawyer
"So let’s ditch the zero-sum mentality and remember that an entrepreneur who makes something that was once a preserve of the rich cheaply available to ordinary people has done an act of philanthropy through his business, even if he also makes a fortune in the process."
-Matt Ridley, as extracted from this post on Mark Zuckerberg and philanthropy
"They arrived at Buenos Ayres. Cunegonde, Captain Candide and the old woman went to call on the governor, Don Fernando d'Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza. This gentleman had the pride befitting a man who owned so many names. He talked to men with a most noble disdain, turning his nose up so far, raising his voice so pitilessly, assuming so imposing a tone, affecting so lofty a carriage, that all who addressed him were tempted to give him a thrashing."
Sunday, December 13, 2015
In the castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia there lived a youth, endowed by Nature with the most gentle character. His face was the expression of his soul. His judgment was quite honest and he was extremely simple-minded; and this was the reason, I think, that he was named Candide. Old servants in the house suspected that he was the son of the Baron's sister and a decent honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom this young lady would never marry because he could only prove seventy-one quarterings and the rest of his genealogical tree was lost, owning to the injuries of time. The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for his castle possessed a door and windows. His Great Hall was even decorated with a piece of tapestry. The dogs in his stable-yards formed a pack of hounds when necessary; his grooms were his huntsmen; the village curate was his Grand Almoner. They all called him "My Lord," and laughed heartily at his stories. The Baroness weighted about three hundred and fifty pounds, was therefore greatly respected, and did the honors of the house with a dignity which rendered her still more respectable. Her daughter Cunegonde, aged seventeen, was rosy-cheeked, fresh, plump and tempting. The Baron's son appeared in every respect worthy of his father. The tutor Pangloss was the oracle of the house, and little Candide followed his lessons with all the candor of his age and character. Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmonigology. He proved admirably that there is not effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds, My Lord the Baron's castle was the best of castles and his wife the best of all possible Baronesses. "'Tis demonstrated," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise; for, since everything is made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end. Observe that noses were made to wear spectacles; and so we have spectacles. Legs were visibly instituted to be breeched, and we have breeches. Stones were formed to be quarried and to build castles; and My Lord has a very noble castle; the greatest Baron in the province should have the best house; and as pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all the year round; consequently, those who have asserted that all is well talk nonsense; they ought to have said that all is for the best." Candide listened attentively and believe innocently; for he thought Mademoiselle Cunegonde extremely beautiful, although he was never bold enough to tell her so. He decided that after the happiness of being born Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, the second degree of happiness was to be Mademoiselle Cunegonde; the third, to see her every day; and the fourth to listen to Doctor Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the province and therefore of the whole world. One day when Cunegonde was walking near the castle, in a little wood which was called The Park, she observed Doctor Pangloss in the bushes, giving a lesson in experimental physics to her mother's waiting-maid, a very pretty and docile brunette. Mademoiselle Cunegonde had a great inclination for science and watched breathlessly the reiterated experiments she witnessed; she observed clearly the Doctor's sufficient reason, the effects and the causes, and returned home very much excited, pensive, filled with the desire of learning, reflecting that she might be the sufficient reason of young Candide and that he might be hers. On her way back to the castle she met Candide and blushed; Candide also blushed. She bade him good-morning in a hesitating voice; Candide replied without knowing what he was saying. Next day, when they left the table after dinner, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen; Cunegonde dropped her handkerchief, Candide picked it up; she innocently held his hand; the young man innocently kissed the young lady's hand with remarkable vivacity, tenderness and grace; their lips met, their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, their hands wandered. Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh passed near the screen, and observing this cause and effect, expelled Candide from the castle by kicking him in the backside frequently and hard. Cunegonde swooned; when she recovered her senses, the Baroness slapped her in the face; and all was in consternation in the noblest and most agreeable of all possible castles.
Once upon a time in Paris, in the courtyard of the Palais de Justice, there lived a young boy whom nature had endowed with the quickest of wits and the most wilful of dispositions. His soul - if he had one - was written upon his countenance. He was quite sound in his judgment, and he had the most straightforward of minds. His family nicknamed him Zozo: he later called himself Voltaire. While he believed in God Almighty, he none the less considered that there was still work to be done. 'God created man free,' he wrote at the age of seventy-three, 'and that is what I have become.' This is the story of his extraordinary life, the story of a search for freedom.
Zozo was probably a bastard. Like Candide, the hero of his most famous work. Officially little Francois-Marie was born in Paris on Sunday, 21 November 1694, the second surviving son of Francois Arouet, a lawyer, and his wife Marie-Marguerite )nee Daumard). Unofficially - but according to Voltaire himself, on several occasions - he entered the best of all possible worlds on Friday, 20 February 1694, the son of the chevalier Guerin de Rochebrune (or Roquebrune) a writer of popular songs. This was certainly his preferred paternal origin, and he defended his mother's honour by claiming that it lay in her preference for 'a man of wit and intelligence' - 'a musketeer, officer, and author' - over 'Monsieur his father who, in the matter of genius, was a very mediocre man.'
-the opening two paragraphs from Roger Pearson's, Voltaire Almighty: a life in pursuit of freedom
He correctly points out – as have others before him – that the complexity of an 80,000-page tax code leads to unfairness, cronyism, and the need for a virtual standing army of tax lawyers and accountants. Jeb! cites a study that found the cost of complying with the US tax code reached $168 billion per year in 2010 for individuals and corporations. Which is crazy, and infuriating.
-as culled from this Bankers Anonymous post, wherein he also predicts a Jeb! victory in 2016.