Saturday, May 14, 2016

The problem with lists...................


.....................is you have to leave so many things out.  Take this list of 22 famous and powerful photographs:




Here are but a few not included:

St. Paul's Cathedral,  London during the Blitz

September 11, 2001

Liston not wanting to get up to face Clay again   5/25/65

JFK, Jr.  salutes his dad   11/25/63

Vietnam   February 1, 1968

Buddhist monk's self immolation   Saigon    June 11, 1963

The final out.  Phillies win the 1980 World Series.  I was there.
















Mourning FDR     August 13, 1945

The Weeping Frenchman      France falls to the Nazis    1940


December 24, 1968     The earth rise as seen from Apollo 8's moon orbit



















Feel free to post your own favorites.



At age 64 (did I mention I'm 64),..........


...........I seem to have dispensed with this whole "need for speed" thing.  Friend John E. Smith wrestles with the speeding up of life - here.   A wee excerpt:

"I mentioned some reasons why speed might be important at the beginning of all this.  Those and other good examples of real reasons to move quickly aside, many of us have adopted a 'Speed Is Good' mentality, which we often apply without question or distinction to every part of our lives.

"When we accept that mentality, we tend to expect things to be faster, whether an objective reason for increased speed exists or not.  We now become very irritated and start pounding on inanimate objects simply because they do not deliver results as quickly as we expect them to do.
"We are an impatient species these days."

Unalienable...................


"The whole of that Bill of Rights is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals. . . . It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of."

-Albert Gallatin

Game laws...........................


      Adams was especially incensed by the British insistence on granting Indians permanent territorial rights.  "To condemn vast regions of territory to perpetual barrenness and solitude,"  Adams shot back, "that a few hundred savages might find wild beasts to hunt upon it, was a species of game law that a nation descended from Britons would never endure.  And was impossible.  It was opposing a feather to a torrent."  Adams was actually comparing the relationship between America's settlers and it indigenous population to that between British gentry and poachers on their land.  This was ingenious, preposterous, and grotesque - though Clay, Bayard, and Gallatin would have said no less.  In any case, Adams never doubted that Providence intended the European settlers of America to spread across, and dominate, the continent - a principle that would later be called Manifest Destiny.

-James Traub, John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit.   The context:  Adams, Clay, Bayard, and Gallatin are in Ghent, Belgium negotiating with the British for the cessation of what we call the War of 1812.

Let's go for a drive.....................


Joe Satriani......................................................If I Could Fly




If you think this sound familiar, check this out.

thanks craig

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


On Broadway...................................................Cabaret opens

Friday, May 13, 2016

Rites of passage..................


He gave me another great gift, and let me take my son across the street to plant our flag of friendship in his yard. My little son dug the post hole, and we put in a post left over from shoring up our house. We screwed the little bird house on top of it in the lee of a forsythia bush just donning its trashy golden mantle. My son had dug a post hole for a birdhouse in our yard, so I wasn't totally stunned at his alacrity and efficiency. I was grateful for a chance to let our child do any sort of chore that would push his walk towards being a man forward even one step. 

-Greg Sullivan

A thought for the day...............................



The same architect that designed these:




























also designed this:


















and one is likely not any more special than the other.


photo via APOD



escape....................................



3.  Look beneath the surface:  never let a thing's intrinsic quality or worth escape you.


6.  To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.


7.  Let your one delight and refreshment be to pass from one service to the community to another, with God ever in mind,


-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book VI

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


Cycles...............................



The classical world did not believe in linear progressions, but rather in cyclical ones, often using the metaphor of human birth, aging, and death as a natural referent. Cultures and nations start out in diapers like babies and often end in them too—as do aged humans. Civilization is certainly advancing along an arc of greater wealth and more sophisticated technology. But even that trajectory is not settled, as Hollywood’s apocalyptic Road Warrior and zombie films remind us. I do not think the arc of the moral universe of Mark Zuckerberg is any more likely to bend toward justice than was nineteenth-century J.P. Morgan’s, however postmodern the former’s social media products may be.


-Victor Davis Hanson, as excerpted from this essay

Tangled..........................



     I don't remember much of his response, except that when I said I didn't think God could love me, he said, "God has to love you.  That's God's job."  Some years later I asked him to tell me about this first meeting.  "I felt," he said, "that you had gotten yourself so tangled up in big God questions that it was suffocating you,  Here you were in a rather desperate situation, suicidal, clearly alcoholic, going down the tubes.  I thought the trick was to help you extricate yourself enough so you could breathe again.  You said your prayers weren't working anymore, and I could see that in your desperation you were trying to save yourself:  so I said you should stop praying for a while, and let me pray for you.  And right away, you seemed to settle down inside."


-Anne Lamott,  Traveling Mercies:  Some Thoughts On Faith

Won't you please........................


George Harrison................................................Give Me Love



Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

TGIF...................................




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


At the movies.....................................Hitchcock's Torn Curtain

Yes, it is..............................




Thursday, May 12, 2016

And now a word or two from Spinoza..........


"Laws which prescribe what everyone must believe, and forbid men to say or write anything against this or that opinion, are often passed to gratify, or rather to appease the anger of those who cannot abide independent minds."

"The most tyrannical of governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts."
-Baruch Spinoza

Sole...........................


Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups (or tribes or states or nations or churches) that he or she or they are in sole possession of the truth: especially about how to live, what to be and do - and that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad: and need restraining or suppressing.

-Isaiah Berlin

The mystery.......................




"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery."
-Francis Bacon (there is more than one Francis Bacon out there.  The Intertunnel is quick to credit the quote to this one.  I think it is more likely from this one.)


artwork (Relativity) via

The harvest.........................


Create all the happiness you are able to create: remove all the misery you are able to remove. Every day will allow you to add something to the pleasure of others, or to diminish something of their pains. And for every grain of enjoyment you sow in the bosom of another, you shall find a harvest in your own bosom; while every sorrow which you pluck out from the thoughts and feelings of a fellow creature shall be replaced by beautiful peace and joy in the sanctuary of your soul.

-Jeremy Bentham

About equality.........


“Jealousy is the foundation of equality, but not of liberty; putting man constantly on his guard against the encroachments of his neighbors. It prevents affability between different classes. There is no society without affection, without tradition, without respect, without mutual amenity.” 
-Ernest Renan

Wholly fulfilling..............................



27.  Live with the gods.  To live with the gods is to show them at all times a soul contented with their awards, and wholly fulfilling the will of that inward divinity, that particle of himself, which Zeus has given to every man for ruler and guide - the mind and the reason.


-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book V

A thought for today................................



Truly forgiving someone is a gift, mostly to yourself.

On science and technology...............


“We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it?”

-Carl Sagan, as culled from here

Just as a follow-up to his question:  and why does it feel like they have politicized it?

You're such a lovely audience......


Sir Paul and U2................................Sgt Pepper/Beautiful Day/Etc.

(the music starts around 2:27)

Shining like moon glow................


Johnny Rivers.................................................Summer Rain

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


The Seekers..................................................Someday One Day

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Breathe.........................




















“Tell me the story..
About how the sun loved the moon so much..
That she died every night..
Just to let him breathe...” 

-Hanako Ishii


photo via

Spontaneous.......................


















“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.” 

-C.S. Lewis


photo via

Not to mention, nigh unto impossible............


"Fine tuning and social engineering are hard work."
-Peter Gordon, as excerpted from here

Press on....................................



34.  Press on steadily, keep to the straight road in your thinking and doing, and your days will flow on smoothly.  The soul of man, like the souls of all rational creatures, has two things in common with the soul of God;  it can never be thwarted from without, and its good consists in righteousness of character and action, and in confining every wish thereto.
-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book V

A thought for the day.......


At age 64, a guaranteed way to change well-established behavior patterns (aka habits):  inherit a puppy from your recent college graduate.


Something happened.................


Homo sapiens has been around for about 200,000 years, and for the first 198,240 nothing happened. And then something did, and the material condition of the human race was changed radically in an almost inconceivably short period of time. Sixty-six years passed between the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk and our landing on the moon. Sixteen years passed between the publication of The Grapes of Wrath and the opening of Disneyland. Ten years ago, no one had ever seen an iPhone. These changes did not happen because there is a law of nature demanding that Americans in 2016 be happy, well-fed, and secure. They happened because of ideas, habits, practices, culture, and political institutions that came from particular men in a particular time and place. 

-Kevin Williamson, as extracted from here

thanks craig

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


The central message.................


     The ensuing letters, continuing through 1813, were equally learned, grave, thorough - and strikingly nondogmatic.  Adams regarded the Bible not as infallible text but as a human narrative inspired by revelation - the greatest of all works of literature.  He knew all the debates and did not wish to be distracted by them from the central message.  He told George that it was unknowable, and unnecessary to know, whether Jesus was "a manifestation of almighty God" or simply his only son.  He explained why the ethical system of Scripture was superior to that of the classical world Adams otherwise admired so deeply:  in the solicitude Jesus expresses toward the widow, the orphan, the deaf and blind, and his own enemies, "we see a tenderness to the infirmities of human nature, a purity, a sublimity of virtues which never entered I say not into the codes of the Ancient legislators but into the imaginations of their profoundest and most exalted Philosophers."  The great moral revelation of the gospel was: "You must love one another."  Adams did not say so here, but the doctrine of the brotherhood of man was the source of his conviction that the Declaration of Independence was a realization in political form of the the Gospels.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

Elevates..............................

















“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.”
 
-Michael PollanIn Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto


photo via

So I turned myself to face me...............


David Bowie................................................................Changes

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


Four Tops...........................Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

An antidote, if only we'd take it.......


"The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false."

-Paul Johnson

Thought for the day............


To age gracefully, age gratefully.

Outward things.................................



17.  To pursue the unattainable is insanity, yet the thoughtless can never refrain from doing so.

18.  Nothing can happen to any man that nature has not fitted him to endure.  Your neighbour's experiences are no different from your own;  yet he, being either less aware of what has happened or more eager to show his mettle, stands steady and undaunted.  For shame, that ignorance and vanity should prove stronger wisdom!

19.  Outward things can touch the soul not a whit;  they know no way into it, they have no power to sway or move it.  By itself if sways and moves itself; it has its own self-appointed standards of judgment, and to them it refers every experience.


-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations, Book V

It's all about the culture..........

















“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.” 
-Michael PollanIn Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto


Learning............................



A piccolo played, then a drum.
Feet began to come - a part
of the music.  Here came a horse,
clippety clop, away.


My mother said, "Don't run -
the army is after someone
other than us.  If you stay
you'll learn our enemy."


Then he came, the speaker.  He stood
in the square.  He told us who
to hate.  I watched my mother's face,
its quiet.  "That's him," she said.


-William Stafford, from Every War Has Two Losers


thanks david

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


 "It is also wrong to argue that, if only corrupt governments had more tax revenue, their people would be better served."

-as excerpted from here

Improbable.......................


    The United States in 1804 still felt improbable.  The states had been separate colonies for generations before they had bound themselves together in a federation a quarter of a century earlier.  The Constitution has been in force for fifteen years.  Travel between north and south was almost unheard of.  Thomas Jefferson never stirred more than a few miles north of Washington, nor did John Adams ever venture below it.  A citizen of Massachusetts might feel more at home in England than in Virginia or certainly than in Kentucky.  The forces that drove these men apart were strong, and the habit of accepting adverse political outcomes - even of believing in legitimate difference of opinion - was very new.  The power of Virginia would only grow over the ensuing years, and New England's leaders would seriously contemplate separation again in 1810, and yet again in 1814.  The doctrine of secession was born not in South Carolina, but in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  Adams would resist Northern threats to the union as fiercely as he later would the threat from the South.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

Iconoclast........................


     Within months of arriving in the US Senate, Adams had become its most iconoclastic member.  He would not barter votes or join coalitions or make small sacrifices of principle in order to win larger victories - that is, he would not legislate.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

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



An observation............................


     The political life the Pilgrims had established in Massachusetts was based on eternal truths.  And yet the form it took was adapted to real human nature.  Adams observed that the Plymouth Compact had envisioned the collective ownership of property but that the settlers had tried the experiment and then wisely abandoned it.  Forbidding the private ownership of property "discourages all energy, by destroying its rewards."  Adams rebuked Jean-Jacques Rousseau for his naivete:  "To form principles of government upon too advantageous an estimate of the human character is an error of inexperience."  The French Revolution had furnished abundant evidence of this mistake.  Adams was continuing the argument he had begun with his Publicola letters, defending the Burkean wisdom drawn from tradition and lived experience as against the a priori principles Rousseau and Thomas Paine had derived from an alleged state of nature.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

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


Four Tops...................................................Shake Me Wake Me

Monday, May 9, 2016

We can...............................


Claude Monet         Path at Giverny            1902-03           Oil on canvas





















“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ” 
-Michael PollanThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals


Alignment............................


     Spiritual commitment is energized by the alignment of the spiritual will with the attributes of the Divinity, which are truth, love, compassion, wisdom, and nonpartiality.  Devotion prioritizes one's life and attracts that which is of assistance.  To be a servant of God is a dedication whereby the goal takes precedence over all other positionalities, attractions or distractions.

-David Hawkins,  Discovery of the Presence of God:  Devotional Nonduality

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


"Tricky as it may be to acknowledge, the eternal verities care little for the zeitgeist. Fashions may change, and the shape of the mob may morph, but the truth does not. Markets, not governments, yield real and sustainable progress. Strength, not weakness, is the finest prophylactic against war. Laws, not benevolent men, serve as the guarantor of Liberty."


-Charles C. Cooke, as excerpted from here


thanks craig

Our spirit........................


"In proportion as our spirit of resistance has become manifest, theirs of oppression and extortion has shrunk back."

-John Quincy Adams, from a September 25, 1798 letter to his father (as culled from here).  John Q. was an American diplomat in France at the time.  His father was President of the United States.  What was true then, is still true today.

George Will must think polling data.....................



...................means something in 2016, as he spends a whole column on the cliff that Donald Trump is about to drive over.   George should get out more, or at least talk with Nate Silver.  Will's opinion piece, though, did contain one important paragraph:


Healy analyzes the delusion of “redemption through presidential politics.” The infantilization of America is apparent in the presidency becoming a semi-sacerdotal office, one that conflates spiritual yearnings and magical thinking about wonders performed by executive power. Trump, with his coarse character and fanciful promises, is an antidote to such superstitions.


That is really well said.

Free for all..........................



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



.........................................trying to "buy low and sell high."


In fact, much of the financial-infotainment-industrial-complex is built on this false premise that we should attempt to ‘buy low and sell high.’ The attempt to figure out highs and lows in a peripatetic market seemingly justifies tuning in to the trash fire that comprises most of television’s investment programming.


-Bankers Anonymous, the source of the above quote, wants to offer you a different mantra.   Read it here.

a straight course................................



3.   Reserve your right to any deed or utterance that accords with nature.  Do not be put off by the criticisms or comments that may follow;  if there is something good to be done or said, never renounce your right to it.  Those who criticize you have their own reason to guide them, and their own impulse to prompt them;  you must not let your eyes stray towards them, but keep a straight course and follow your own nature and the World-Nature (and the way of these two is one).


-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book V

The science is settled (until it isn't)........



The scientific evidence does not point to any cancer or other health risk from cell phone use (unless you text while driving).


-as extracted from this NeuroLogica Blog post on the subject

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


"The French Revolution was commenced in the name of the People, in their name all its horrors have been palliated and excused, in their name the Guillotine has mowed its thousands and the grapeshot have swept off their tens of thousands...For them, for their unlimited and inalienable sovereignty have these deeds without a name which make an humane mind ready to deny its own nature and shrink from the name of Man, been almost justified, always palliated, as the unpleasant be necessary means for the attainment of a glorious end."

-John Quincy Adams, from a letter home dated September 19, 1797, as culled from here

But some are more equal than others.......


...Collectively, us humans can be scary from time to time.  Like here.

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


Four Tops............................Standing In The Shadow of Love

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The problem with redistribution of wealth.....


 You can only confiscate the wealth that exists at a given moment. You cannot confiscate future wealth — and that future wealth is less likely to be produced when people see that it is going to be confiscated. Farmers in the Soviet Union cut back on how much time and effort they invested in growing their crops, when they realized that the government was going to take a big part of the harvest. They slaughtered and ate young farm animals that they would normally keep tending and feeding while raising them to maturity.
-Thomas Sowell, as excerpted from here

The history major in me is hard pressed to name one redistributionist society that has enjoyed long term peace, prosperity and a happy citizenry.  Any suggestions?


Is the thirty-year mortgage..................


...............on your personal residence a good thing or a bad thing?

Yep.  In an inflationary economy (remember those?) it is your friend.  In a non-inflationary economy it is not your friend.  If your thought is that your house is a long-term home to raise a family in, it is your friend.  If your thought is that this place is just shelter and you will be re-locating soon, it is not your friend.   As with most things, painting with too broad a brush will give you wrong answers.  The real answer is....it depends.  How about letting individual borrowers and lenders make their own informed decision?

Here is a quote from a guy painting with too broad a brush.

A truth that extends far beyond the stock market...


"The magic lies not so much in picking the best stocks as in avoiding the worst ones."
-Nir Kaissar, as culled from here

Guidelines............................


























                         INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE
1.   Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2.   When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3.   Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
4.   Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5.   Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6.   Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7.   When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8.   Spend some time alone every day.
9.   Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10.  Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11.  Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12.  A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13.  In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14.  Share your knowledge. You’ll die, but may achieve immortality.
15.  Be gentle with the earth.
16.  Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
17.  Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18.  Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19.  Approach love and compassion with reckless abandon.
-Anon

Seems fairly obvious now...............


The headline reads:


The Unintended Consequence of Elite GOPers Fleeing to Hillary Clinton


First sentence reads:

They are, without meaning to, ripping the mask off of our one-party state, run by the military-industrial-legal-financial complex (henceforth MILF).

Read it all here.

I prayed that she'd say yes.....



Brad Paisley...................................................He Didn't Have To Be




Happy Mother's Day.....................



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


The Isley Brothers.................................This Old Heart Of Mine