“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day."-Albert Einstein
Saturday, March 12, 2016
"What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking "clerks" and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think... and 5) who to vote for."
"people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons."
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, as taken from here
..............................that we should always keep in mind:
"Fuzzy-minded but big-hearted idealists often contribute to the world’s suffering as much as—and perhaps even more than—cold hearted ruthless power seekers."
-as culled from this blog post
Remember: the Law of Unintended Consequences always bats last.
.......................to live to be 100-years-old, is that the History major in me wants to see how all this mess in the Middle East turns out.
Obama would say privately that the first task of an American president in the post-Bush international arena was “Don’t do stupid shit.”
If you have a spare half hour this weekend, you might want to peruse Jeffrey Goldberg's essay in The Atlantic, "The Obama Doctrine."
Life is full of decisions and judgments and guesses, and it gets to the point where you're so accustomed to making them you keep right on making them even when you don't strictly need to. You get into a what if thing, and you start speculating about what you would do if some problem was yours instead of somebody else's. It gets to be a habit. It was a habit Jack Reacher had in spades. Which was why he was sitting alone at a restaurant table and gazing at the backs of two guys twenty feet away and wondering if it would be enough just to want them off or if he would have to go the extra mile and break their arms.
-Lee Child, Running Blind
Friday, March 11, 2016
Booker T & the MGs...................................................Green Onions
Dancers and Films include:
Marilyn Monroe, Eli, Wallach, Thelma Ritter, Clark Gable (The Misfits 1961)
Sophia Loren (It Started in Naples 1960)
Jayne Mansfield (Dog Eat Dog! 1964)
Natalie Wood (Gypsy 1962)
Kim Novak, William Holden (Picnic 1955)
Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita 1960)
Ann-Margret (The Swinger 1966)
Gina Lollobrigida, Rock Hudson (Come September 1961)
Romy Schneider, Jack Lemmon (Good Neighbor Sam 1964)
Brigitte Bardot (Come Dance With Me! 1959)
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966)
Jill St. John (The Oscar 1966)
Mamie Van Doren (Untamed Youth 1957)
Shirley MacLaine, Gene Kelly (What a Way to Go! 1964)
Cyd Charisse, Robert Taylor (Party Girl 1958)
Raquel Welch (Flareup 1969)
There are many other tiny things that give me joy and pleasure too. Writing with a really good pen. Walks with my little girl around my neighborhood. The first sip of coffee in the morning. A clean car (both inside and out). Being smartly dressed. The feeling of doing a random act of kindness for a loved one or a stranger.
I don't feel any of us take enough time to identify these simple, often free, acts that give us pleasure and joy. Even those of us who do, often do not take the time or give ourselves permission to indulge in them. Especially when it would benefit us the most.
Having a bad day? Feeling a little down? If you have some of these time pleasures already identified, see if acting on one can help turn things around. It may not solve the whole problem. But, at least for a moment, it may help you feel a bit better.
Even if things are just fine, it can never hurt to inject moments of peace and happiness into your day.
-Patrick Rhone, Enough
The great 19th century psychologist William James was referring to a baby's first experience with the world when he called it “one great blooming buzzing confusion.” But he might as well have been talking about the world in general and our continuing struggle to make sense of it.
Consider the following: there are approximately 7.4 billion people living in the world who communicate in over 6,500 languages, are spread out among 196 countries, and create $75 trillion dollars of economic value each year, either individually or in hundreds of millions of mostly tiny enterprises.
Worldwide there are more than 45,000 listed stocks and $82 trillion worth of bonds. For those who don't feel capable or willing to winnow those choices, there is an equally daunting number of third parties who will do it for you: approximately 3,500 ETFs, 7,500 mutual funds, 11,000 hedge funds, and 70,000 private investment managers, including myself.
-as excerpted from this Think Advisor post
"What does it all mean?" many wonder while chasing purposes they're told are worthwhile, but which feel empty. "What is the purpose of this life?" humans have wondered for millennia, contemplating how insignificant we are in the great cosmic symphony.
Well, as the preeminent mythologist Joseph Campbell said, deep down inside, we don't seek the meaning of life, but the experience of being alive. And that's what the nature of genius is ultimately about.
It's about how we can empower ourselves to bring true meaning to our lives and the lives of others in ways most people would consider impossible. It's about rising above a life of, as Thoreau said, "quiet desperation" that ends with our songs still in our hearts, and experience the rapture of true living. It's about saying yes to our adventures.
We rely on geniuses to entertain us, educate us, lead us, and show us all what our species is capable of. We rely on geniuses to give us smart phones, electric cars, cures for diseases, social networking sites, sublime art, world-class food, and, indeed, the very fabric of our culture.
If you've ever dreamed of playing a hand in the development of mankind, or if you just have a burning desire to improve one small aspect of it, then you have an adventure waiting.
Will you take it?
-Sean Patrick, Nikola Tesla: Imagination And The Man That Invented The 20th Century
...................regardless of what country you live in:
The drive for change comes from two sources, one foolish, the other discreditable. The foolish idea is that you should aim to create the appearance of progressivity, not just in the tax system as a whole, but in every part of it — an idea which has added much avoidable complexity to the tax system in the past two decades. And the discreditable idea is that if you fiddle with the rules to raise more revenue now, the consequences will be a matter not for you but for your successors.
-John Kay, as excerpted from here
Thursday, March 10, 2016
A few sayings attributed to the very quotable John Dewey:
“We only think when confronted with a problem.”
“Art is the most effective mode of communications that exists.”
“The only way to abolish war is to make peace seem heroic.”
Often, it is not enough to embrace limitations. Instead, consider creating limitations.
Why? Because it forces one to consider cost. Not just monetary, but also spatial, cognitive, and practical as well. It forces one to ask tough questions about real need versus desire.
-Patrick Rhone, Enough
Last-minute design changes were required, however, necessitating more money. Tesla had already obtained a second loan from Morgan, and when those funds ran out, he again approached the financier for additional capital. In an attempt to convince the powerful Morgan to invest another large sum, Tesla explained that the tower could be used for more than transmitting radio signals - it could be used to saturate the entire globe with electricity harmless to living things so that everyone could obtain usable power by simply sticking wires in the soil.
Morgan considered Tesla's words carefully and coldly replied, "If anyone can draw on the power, where do we put the meter?" He refused Tesla's pleadings for more money...
-Sean Patrick, Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century
Life happens. We can't possibly be prepared for it all. Decide to be adequately prepared for the things that matter to you, balanced with practicality and the realization that sometimes you are going to get a little wet no matter how many umbrellas you own.
Who knows? You might even have a little fun. Especially if instead of getting angry, you sing.
-Patrick Rhone, Enough
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The world of medieval thought was deeply centered upon itself and the traditional myths of Christianity. In spite of sectarian clashes, Christians of the prescientific era saw the earth essentially as the platform of a divine, but short-lived drama - a drama so brief that there was little reason to study the stage properties. The full interest centered upon man - his supernatural origins, the drama of his Fall from the deathless Garden, the coming of his Redeemer, and the day of his Judgment.
Outside space was the Empyrean realm beyond time and blemish. Inside were corruption and a falling away from grace which were the consequence of man's sin. The atmosphere was not one to encourage scientific exploration. Men were busied about their souls, not about far voyages either in space or in time. They were contented with the European scene; they were devout and centered inward. It was indeed a centripetally directed society on an earth which itself lay at the center of the universe. Sinful though man had proved to be, he was of enormous importance to himself. The eye of God was constantly and undividedly upon him. The Devil, passing to and from upon Earth, contended for his soul. If man was not in all ways comfortable, he was at least valuable to divinities, and good and evil strove for the possession of his immortal being.
Then someone found a shell embedded in rock on a mountaintop; someone saw the birth of a new star in the inviolable Empyrean heavens, someone watched a little patch of soil carried by a stream into the valley. Another saw a forest buried under ancient clays and wondered. Some heretical idler observed a fish in stone. All these things had doubtless been seen many times before, but human interests were changing. The great voyages that were to open up the physical world had begun. The first telescope had been trained upon a star. The first crude microscope was turned upon a drop of ditch water. Because of these small buried events, a world would eventually die, only to be replaced by another - the world in which we now exist.
-Loren Eiseley, as extracted from The Firmament Of Time
She (Jane Addams) found that the people she was trying to help had better ideas about how their lives might be improved than she and her colleagues did. She came to believe that any method of philanthropy or reform premised on top-down assumptions - the assumption, for instance, that the reformer's tastes or values are superior to the reformee's, or more simply, that philanthropy is a unilateral act of giving by the person who has to the person who has not - is ineffectual and inherently false.
-Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
...................................I majored in History. The professors never scheduled a class before 10:30. Times were simpler back then.
...so restless is man's intellect that were he to penetrate the secret of the universe tomorrow, the likelihood is that he would grow bored on the day after.
"This intelligence-testing business reminds me of the way they used to weigh hogs in Texas. They would get a long plank, put it over a cross-bar, and somehow tie the hog on one end of the plank. They'd search all around till they found a stone that would balance the weight of the hog and they'd put that on the other end of the plank. Then they'd guess the weight of the stone."
-attributed to John Dewey
“The economics of the cannabis industry show us that with
healthy competition in the market, prices drop, quality rises,
violence diminishes, and peaceful transactions increase.
Maybe we should just surrender in the "War on Drugs" and
declare victory. Back story here.
....................Maureen Dowd's columns, but sometimes I do. A wee excerpt from her March 5th piece in the NYT:
"It’s delightful to see the encrusted political king-making class utter a primal scream as Trump smashes their golden apple cart. He’s a real threat to the cozy, greedy, oleaginous cartel, their own Creature from the Black Lagoon."
Monday, March 7, 2016
Peirce called himself an idealist, by which he meant that he believed that the universe is knowable because our minds are designed to know it. "In every form of material manifestation," he explained, "there is a corresponding form of human thought, so that the human mind is as wide in its range of thought as the physical universe which it thinks. The two are wonderfully matched." Thought and matter obey the same laws because both have common origin in the mind of a Creator. This is why the truths of mathematical reasoning (as Peirce often reminded his students) are God's truths. "The universe is a book written for man's reading," he said, echoing a metaphor of Galileo's. "The universal plan is apparent to every mind which yields itself to logical induction."
-Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
Trying, unsuccessfully to date, to yield my mind to logical induction. Reading is one thing, understanding is another.
photo (enlargeable with description) here
A TELLTALE THUMP OF THE HEART, THE FLUSH FEELING THAT STARTS IN YOUR CHEST AND SPREADS TO YOUR FINGERTIPS, THE TIGHTENING OF MUSCLES AND THE QUICKENING OF BREATH: THE EFFECTS OF ADRENALINE ARE POSITIVELY PULSE-POUNDING, BUT THE PHYSICAL WHOOSH WE FEEL IN OUR BODIES ACTUALLY STARTS IN OUR BRAINS.
The connection between what the mind perceives and how the body reacts is a curious relationship. Adrenaline flows into our autonomic nervous system when it anticipates that something bad is about to happen—not because something bad is already happening. This hormonal offensive was an essential survival tool for our earliest ancestors that came with our fight-or-flight response, which defends us against immediate threats.
If scientific laws are not absolutely precise, then scientific terminology has to be understood in a new way. Words like "cause" and "effect," "certainty" and "chance," even "hard" and soft" cannot be understood as naming fixed and discrete entities or properties; they have to be understood as naming points on a curve of possibilities, as guesses or predictions rather than conclusions. Otherwise, scientists are in danger of reifying their concepts - of imputing an unvarying essence to phenomena that are in a continual state of flux. Peirce was the first scientist to perceive all the implications of this problem...
Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
Chorus: [singing] He's Popeye the Sailor Man. He's Popeye the Sailor Man. He's strong to the finich cause he eats his spinach, he's Popeye the sailor man.
Popeye: [singing] I'm one tough gazookas that hates all palookas that ain't on the up and square. I biffs 'em and buffs 'em and always out-roughs 'em and none of 'em gets nowhere.
Chorus: [singing] If anyone dashes to risks his fists, it's buff, and it's wham, understand?
Popeye: [singing] So keep good behavior, it's your one lifesaver, with Popeye the Sailor Man.
Wright thought that metaphysical speculation - ideas about the origin, end, and meaning of life - came naturally to human beings. He didn't condemn such ideas out of hand, he just thought the should never be confused with science. For what science teaches is the the phenomenal world -the world we cans see and touch - is characterized, through and through, by change, and that our knowledge of it is characterized, through and through, by uncertainty.
His favorite illustration was the weather. Everyone believes that the weather is purely a product of physical cause and effect, but no one can predict it with certainty. "Unlike planetary perturbations, the weather makes the most reckless excursions from its averages, and obscures them by a most inconsequent and incalculable fickleness," he maintained in one of the first articles he ever published, "The Winds and the Weather," in 1858. We accept this state of affairs about the weather - that it is a perfectly lawful, rather mundane phenomenon whose complexity nevertheless vastly exceeds our ability to understand it - and yet we freely pontificate about the causes of human unhappiness and the future progress of society, things determined by factors presumably many times more complex than the weather...
It is not, Wright believed, that every event is not completely determined by physical causes. It is just that precise knowledge of those causes and how they operate is inaccessible to science in its present state - and considering the multitude of factors, each with its own probability of occurrence, involved in producing the outcome of even the simplest events, such as flipping a coin, that knowledge will probably remain inaccessible.
-Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
"Man finds himself everywhere mirrored in nature. Wayward, inconstant, always seeking rest, always impelled by new evils, the greatest of which he himself creates, – protecting and cherishing or blighting and destroying the fragmentary life of a fallen nature, incapable himself of creating new capacities, but nourishing in prosperity and quickening in adversity those that are left, – he sees the workings of his own life in the strife of the elements. His powers and activities are related to his spiritual capacities, as inorganic movements are related to an organizing life. The resurrection of his higher nature is like a new creation, secret, sudden, inconsequent. 'The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.' "
-Chauncey Wright, the concluding paragraph to his 1858 essay, The Winds and the Weather
Sunday, March 6, 2016
"For the past six months my Republican friends and I have watched Donald Trump’s ascendancy and asked ourselves whether the voters had gone crazy. The voters aren’t crazy. We in the Republican elite were crazy: we thought we could allow the American economy to remain a rigged game indefinitely. The voters think otherwise. That’s why Trump is winning. That’s also why Bernie Sanders, the least likely presidential candidate in living memory, gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money. If you don’t give people capitalism, the late Jude Wanniski used to say, they’ll take socialism."
-Spengler opines here on the staying power of Trump
..............that the pollsters have had a tough time predicting the future lately. Maybe it is because they are not asking the right questions. Sometimes nine-year-olds know best: