Saturday, August 27, 2016
The origin story typically goes something like this: On September 12, 1956, a rhythm-and-blues aspirant named Jalacy Hawkins, twenty-seven years old, native of Cleveland, entered a New York recording studio to cut a handful of sides for Okeh Records, a subsidiary of the Columbia label. One of the songs Hawkins brought to the session, an original he'd penned himself, followed a heartbroken protagonist who, in a fit of desperation, turns to black magic to beguile the strayed object of his affection.
He'd actually recorded another version of "I Put a Spell on You" months earlier. It's difficult to imagine, considering the sturdiness of Hawkins' baritone, but at that time he crooned the number entirely straight. His model was Johnny Ace, the Memphis preacher's son with the impossibly tender voice - specifically, the hit single "Pledging My Love," a favorite of Hawkins', with its syrupy arrangement, heavy on the tinkling vibes, Johnny purring the lyrics like a lullaby.
Forrrrever my darrrrling ....
"I Put a Spell on You" was a sweet ballad when I wrote it.
-Mark Binelli, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel
You may listen to Johnny Ace here
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
................that, while history may not repeat itself, it certainly has a circular pattern. The words quoted below were written in 1833.
Besides, there was the great temptation to do nothing and let the people suffer the consequences of their electoral folly. Let them now endure what the "madness of a lawless Military Chieftain" had brought. When it comes to conduction public affairs, Clay declared, there is a simple principle worth noting: "when we do not see a very plainly marked way, to do nothing." And considering how he had been treated by both pro- and antitariff parties, he thought he ought to "leave them to fight it out was well as they can." We have no future, he despaired in a moment of weakness. "After 44 years of existance under the present Constitution what single principle is fixed? The Bank? No. Internal Improvements? No. The Tariff? No. Who is to interpret the Constitution? No. We are as much afloat at sea as the day when the Constitution went into operation. There is nothing certain but that the will of Andw. Jackson is to govern; and that will fluctuates with the change of every pen which gives expression to it."
Thus, if Clay did nothing, a mad tyrant would set the nation's agenda and provoke havoc and bloody civil war. Jackson "has marked out two victims," Clay declared, "So. Carolina, and the Tariff and the only question with him is which shall be first immolated."
Ultimately Clay shook off this despair and self-pity. He could not allow his disappointments and bitterness to determine his behavior and actions. As he said, "lingering hopes of my country prevail over these feelings of a just resentment, and my judgment tells me that disregarding them I ought to the last endeavor to do what I can to preserve its molestations and reestablish confidence and discord. I shall act in conformity with this judgment."
-Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union
Clay's willingness to abandon protection caused some men to question his motives and his commitment to principle. But the Kentuckian was never rigid in his ideological thinking. Like any intelligent politician, he understood that politics is not about ideological purity or moral self-righteousness. It is about governing, and if a politician cannot compromise, he cannot govern effectively. And Henry Clay know that only a true compromise - one in which both sides sacrifice something to achieve a greater benefit - could will over the nullifiers and draw them back from a determined course of self-destruction.
In presenting his compromise, Clay no doubt recognized that if he spared the nation the agony of bloodshed, he would reclaim his shattered image as a party leader. He would be hailed as a great statesman, nimble-witted enough to find the solution to resolve the conflicting sectional interests that threatened the nation. As an additional benefit, the abandonment of protection would surely swell his support in the South, where he desperately needed it. No doubt Clay's motives in deciding to lend his hand to the resolution of this crisis grew partly out of his pride and political ambition as well as his commitment to the Union and its republican ideals.
-Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union
As the first president to have gone back to work after his tenure, Adams had given himself the opportunity, as none of his predecessors had, to benefit from a "sober second thought." He had changed the meanings Americans attached to him. No longer the dynastic New Englander who represented an archaic Federalist America, Adams had become the dauntless standard-bearer of the very modern cause of abolitionism. At the same time, his rootedness in the republican principles of the founders also placed him on a pedestal in the national pantheon. Indeed, the very fact that he had not changed, that he had stood for principles when they were despised and lived to see them vindicated, offered the most powerful evidence of his greatness of character.
Yet the report represented a remarkable evolution in Adams' own thinking - and this at the age of seventy-six. He had long worshiped the Constitution almost as holy writ, yet he now accepted that it had been warped by the compromise with slaveholders. In a letter to William Seward in May 1844, Adams wrote that all the injustices with which American society was beset had been caused by "that fatal drop of Prussic acid in the Constitution of the United States, the human chattel representation."
-both excerpts from James Traub's, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit
Like musicians, like mathematicians - like elite athletes - scientists peak early and dwindle fast. It isn't creativity that fades, but stamina. Science is an endurance sport. To produce that single illuminating experiment, a thousand nonilluminating experiments have to be sent into the trash; it is a battle between nature and nerve.
-Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
"One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid."
-James Watson, as quoted here
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
..................................................of an imperfect world:
But we don’t live in a perfect world where everyone makes reasoned and rational decisions. If we did all of the credit card companies would go out of business because no one would be paying 15% a month in interest charges on their debts.
Excerpted from an interesting Ben Carlson post about Millennials and credit (although no mention of school debt) - found here.
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
...............just stop and ponder sentences like this:
"The refusal of the British and Russian peoples to accept what appeared to be inevitable defeat was the great factor in the salvage of our civilization."
-General George C. Marshall, from his Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff, US Army (1 September 1945)
And those who urge entrepreneurs to never give up? Charlatans. Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop.
Luck plays a big role. Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome. Some people might not call it luck. They might call it Tao, or Logos, or Jñāna, or Dharma. Or Spirit. Or God.
Put it this way. The harder you work, the better your Tao. And since no one has ever adequately defined Tao, I now try to go regularly to mass. I would tell them: Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in faith. Not faith as others define it. Faith as you define it. Faith as faith defines itself in your heart.
-Phil Knight, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE
Monday, August 22, 2016
"I do not believe, however, that a clear distinction can be made between psychological and social aspects when dealing with a phenomenon such as boredom, and a reductive sociologism is just as untenable as a psychologism."
-Lars Svendsen, A Philosophy of Boredom
Nietzsche pointed out that the 'hereditary fault of all philosophers' is to base themselves on man at a particular period of time and then turn this into an eternal truth. So I will make do with stating that boredom is a very serious phenomenon that affects many people. Aristotle insisted that virtue is not natural, but it is not unnatural either. The same applies to boredom.
-Lars Svendsen, A Philosophy of Boredom
..................of the Intertunnel is that it provides an easy access to source material. For instance, the previous post quoted Nietzsche about the "hereditary fault" of philosophers. A few key strokes later, this was found:
INHERITED FAULTS OF PHILOSOPHERS. All philosophers have the common fault that they start from man in his present state and hope to attain their end by an analysis of him. Unconsciously they look upon "man" as an aeterna veritas, as a thing unchangeable in all commotion, as a sure standard of things. But everything that the philosopher asserts about man is basically no more than a statement about man within a very limited time span. A lack of historical sense is the congenital defect of all philosophers. Some unwittingly even take the most recent form of man, as it developed under the imprint of certain religions or even certain political events, as the fixed form from which one must proceed. They will not understand that man has evolved, that the faculty of knowledge has also evolved, while some of them even permit themselves to spin the whole world from out of this faculty of knowledge. Now, everything essential in human development occurred in primeval times, long before those four thousand years with which we are more or less familiar. Man probably hasn't changed much more in these years. But the philosopher sees "instincts" in present-day man, and assumes that they belong to the unchangeable facts of human nature, that they can, to that extent, provide a key to the understanding of the world in general. This entire teleology is predicated on the ability to speak about man of the last four thousand years as if he were eternal, the natural direction of all things in the world from the beginning. But everything has evolved; there are no eternal facts, nor are there any absolute truths. Thus historical philosophizing is necessary henceforth, and the virtue of modesty as well.
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).
First published in 1878.
Adams' other great preoccupation during this period was an astonishing windfall the United States had received in late 1835. A previously unknown British citizen named James Smithson had left $500,000 to the United States in his will to "found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men." Smithson was a gentleman scientist and sole heir to a large fortune. A reticent man with no family of his own and little social life, Smithson was never known to have uttered a word about the United States and gave no outward sign of democratic sympathies. His gift was, and remains, a mystery.
-James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit
A few snippets from another installment from the master:
~ Once we embrace the habit of seriously noticing things our mental "eyesight" enormously improves. ~ It is good that so many of our leaders and trend-setters are at a distance. That spares us the embarrassment of having taken them seriously. ~ The biggest challenge we face today is not climate change. It is mustering the will to combat evil. ~
......................................gets better looking everyday:
"Never have the American people been faced with such paternalist, protectionist and authoritarian pair of options. The United States, long a beacon of economic libertarianism, is now being offered a choice between two forms of growth-killing, deficit-boosting, zero-sum, big-government economic nationalism. Long gone are the days when both Republicans and Democrats subscribed to some form of free-market economic philosophy while differing mainly over how to fight the cold war and the culture wars."
-full post here
Alexander H. Everett, now publisher of the North American Review, described Quincy as "a man very wanting in discretion." Adams retorted that "discretion was a negative virtue, perhaps possessed in higher perfection by knaves than honest men." His plain meaning was that "discretion," in this context was no more that a euphemism for "pusillanimity." Quincy had acted as he himself would have acted.
-James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit
Some context: The Quincy mentioned above was Josiah Quincy III, President of Harvard from 1829-1845. In 1834, Quincy was faced with a student uprising over issues of discipline. Rather than back down, he suspended almost the entire Sophomore class. The students waved the white flag and order and discipline soon returned. My guess is most college presidents today have never read about Josiah Quincy III.
...........................................................we don't know?
One must hope that a Clinton administration will bring a focus and intensity to European policy that has been largely absent in the Obama years. When historians get around to cataloging the long list of American challenges that grew deeper on President Obama’s list, the decay of Europe will stand near the head of a long list.
-as culled from this blog post
Sunday, August 21, 2016
The drive to cut costs also forced Bezos to eliminate any emerging layer of middle management from his company. After the stock market crash in 2000, Amazon went through two rounds of layoffs. But Bezos didn't want to stop recruiting altogether; he just wanted to be more efficient. So he framed the kind of employees he wanted in simple terms. All new hires had to directly improve the outcome of the company. He wanted doers - engineers, developers, perhaps merchandise buyer, but not managers. "We didn't want to be a monolithic army of program managers, a la Microsoft. We wanted independent teams to be entrepreneurial," says Neil Roseman. Or, as Roseman also put it: "Autonomous working units are good. Things to manage working units are bad."
-Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
"If standard of living is your major objective, quality of life almost never improves; but if quality of life is your number on objective, your standard of living almost always improves."
"What!" exclaimed the Nashville woman when I told her about my new research project following the completion of my biography of Andrew Jackson. "You're writing a biography of Henry Clay?" she gasped. "Henry Clay? Oh, General Jackson won't like that." Then, with a laugh, she added: "He might shoot you."
Well, he hasn't so far, and I doubt that he will, given his present location and the all-embracing expressions of forgiveness with which he departed this world. Besides, I don't consider myself disloyal to the Old Hero by writing a biography of Clay. I'm a historian, not a partisan or a propagandist.
Still, I've noticed many raised eyebrows among my colleagues in the academy when I explained my current interest. It does seem strange that having spent so many years of my life researching and writing the story of Jackson's remarkable course through American history, I should turn to his greatest political enemy and rival for my next scholarly undertaking.
-Robert V. Remini, from the Preface to Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union
President Andrew Jackson called him a "profligate demagogue" - and that was among the more temperate of Old Hickory's pronouncements about Henry Clay. "The Judas of the West" came closer to expressing Jackson's real feelings about his rival. But the President's most vicious verbal assault by far characterized Clay as "the basest, meanest, scoundrel, that ever disgraced the image of his God - nothing too mean or low from him to condescend to, secretely to carry his cowardly and base purpose of slander into effect; even the aged and virtuous female, is not free from his secrete combination of base slander."
Friendlier voices had better opinions of this singular statesman, like "Star of the West," the "Great Compromiser," "Prince Hal," and "Harry of the West." Most agreed with John Quincy Adams, however, that in politics as well as his private life Henry Clay was "essentially a gamester," a western riverboat gamester, who frequently took wild chances in hopes of a spectacular "killing," just like riverboat gamblers. Sometimes he "won big," and sometimes he lost everything. As the Charleston Mercury wisely commented, "Mr. Clay is a gamester in politics, but not a cool one. His temper, unrestrained, exhibits frequent ebullitions from the excitement of the game ... and though he often wins a shrewd trick, and dips deeply into the bank, he loses in the long run."
-Robert V. Remini, from the first chapter of Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union
|The bottom sign marks the high water mark |
when Hurricane Ivan visited the Ohio River
Valley in the fall of 2004. Downtown Marietta
was thoroughly flooded. Yet, it is still a
thriving and active downtown today.
|My Sweetie and I dined at the Buckley House|
Restaurant. Their watermelon salad is made
of watermelon, grape tomatoes, kalamata
olives,feta cheese, toasted pita bread chips,
and is covered by a mango vinaigrette
dressing. It is good enough to be a main
course, although the lamb was superb too.
|Washington County Courthouse, Marietta, Ohio|
|Memorial to the "Start Westward of the United States." |
Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum (he of Mt. Rushmore fame),
it was dedicated by FDR in 1938, honoring Marietta as the
"first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory
under the landmark Ordinance of 1787."
|The last of the coal powered steam towboats|
|Downtown Marietta from the Ohio River. No wonder it floods.|
|The Quadranaou. Image is part of the 180' x 32' "platform |
mound." There are over 1,000 Hopewell mounds
remaining in Ohio. Marietta joins the fun.