Saturday, November 5, 2016
"Reading and sauntering and lounging and dosing, which I call thinking, is my supreme Happiness.”
"In our chearful discourses, better than in the formal reasonings of the schools, is true wisdom to be found. In our friendly endearments, better than in the hollow debates of statesmen and pretended patriots, does true virtue display itself. Forgetful of the past, secure of the future, let us here enjoy the present; and while we yet possess a being, let us fix some good, beyond the power of fate or fortune. To-morrow will bring its own pleasures along with it: Or should it disappoint our fond wishes, we shall at least enjoy the pleasure of reflecting on the pleasures of to-day."
-David Hume, as culled from Essay XVIII, The Epicurean, Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects
“In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.”
-John Stuart Mill, as excerpted from On Liberty
“We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.”
-Saint Thomas Aquinas
Friday, November 4, 2016
Thursday, November 3, 2016
................Morgan Housel offers explanations here (and its not even about politics). Two wee excerpts here:
"Average people can often learn faster than the superintelligent, because the superintelligent try to cram the real world into the theories they’ve been taught, while average folks are better at accepting the real world at face value."
"Try spending a quarter million dollars on a PhD program and then devoting your career to telling people that you can’t predict the economy, or that they should just buy index funds. It must be hard. You worked hard and spent a fortune learning something complex, and you want to use what you were taught."
If you had come up to me when I was in college, in the early 1970s, and told me that I would go to work as a geologist for an oil and gas company, I probably would have tucked my shoulder-length hair behind my ears and said something like, "No way, man, you are out of your mind." In the early 1980s, when I was in fact working as an oil and gas geologist, if you had told me that I would become an entrepreneur and open a string of successful brewpub restaurants across the West, I might have joked that you must have rocks in your head. In the 1990s, if you had walked into one of my brewpub restaurants and tried to get me to so much as consider the possibility that I would go into politics; that I would be twice elected mayor of Denver and then be twice elected governor of Colorado; and that one day the president of the United States would invite me to Washington, D.C. for a fancy gala, I definitely would have had the bartender cut you off.
-John Hickenlooper, The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
So what of his great domestic accomplishments? What great domestic accomplishments? He sought a Great Society. He ushered in bitterness and resentment. He sought to educate all the population of America, and he bred a swaggering illiteracy, and a cultural bias in favor of a college education so adamant and so preposterous that if John Milton applied for a job with Chock Full o' Nuts, they would demand first to see his college diploma. The rhetoric of LBJ was in the disastrous tradition of JFK - encouraging the popular superstition that the state could change the quality, no less, of American life. This led necessarily to disappointment, and the more presumptuous the rhetoric, the more bitter the disappointment.
The Great Society did not lead us into eudaemonia. It led us into frustration - and to the lowest recorded confidence-vote in the basic institutions of this country since the birth of George Gallup. But: He was a patriot, who cared for his country, who was unsparing of himself, and who acquired at least a certain public dignity which lifted him from buffoonery, into tragedy. And he was the object of probably the greatest sustained vituperation in American political history. He paid a very high price for the office he discharged. And his detractors, as it happened, are America's worst friends, if that was any consolation.
-William F. Buckley, Jr., as excerpted from his eulogy for Lyndon Baines Johnson in A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Another thing to cope with is that life is very likely to provide terrible blows, unfair blows. Some people recover, and others don't. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus helps guide the right reaction. He thought that every mischance in life, however bad, created an opportunity to behave well. He believed every mischance provided an opportunity to learn something useful. And one's duty was not to become immersed in self-pity, but to utilize each terrible blow in a constructive fashion. His ideas were very sound, influencing the best of the Roman emperors, Marcus Aurelius, and many others over the centuries. And you may remember the epitaph that Epictetus made for himself: "Here lies Epictetus, a slave, maimed in body, the ultimate in poverty, and favored by the Gods." Well, that's the way Epictetus is now remembered: "Favored by the Gods." He was favored because he became wise, became manly, and instructed others, both in his own time and over following centuries.
-Charlie Munger, Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
Monday, October 31, 2016
.............................................from Seth Godin:
A poll doesn't predict the future. The media has completely missed this point, again and again. If, on the day the iPhone was announced, you had done a well-designed poll of adults and asked, "Do you intend to ever buy a smartphone?" the yesses would have certainly been less than 5% of the result.
Of course, a decade later, that's turned out to be completely wrong. Was the poll in error?
An accurate poll is a snapshot of right now, based on what's happening today. That's all. If outcomes end up being different a week or a year later, that's not the poll's fault, it's our mistaken belief that the future can be predicted.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
The rest of the night was a blur, though I can pick out moments. Art Garfunkle gave a nice speech about me while a film was shown. The audience gave me a standing ovation. I was focusing all my energy on just keeping it together. It would have been so easy to be overwhelmed. Then people started performing. Lyle Lovett did a great take on "God Only Knows," and then Hootie and The Blowfish come out and sang "I Get Around." Then they segued into "California Girls" and I saw all these powerful Washington people act like any other crowd: they started dancing. First it was Senator Ted Kennedy. He stood up. Then the distinguished gentleman next to him stood up. Pretty soon the whole place was rocking. I took a peek over at President and Mrs. Bush, and at Secretary Rice. They were up, too, singing along with every word. Music is bipartisan.
-Brian Wilson, i am Brian Wilson: a memoir
Monday, 4:28 A.M., the narrow French Quarter room was smoky with cheap candles that smelled of honey. Daniel stared through broken shutters and shivering glass up the length of the alley, catching a thin slice of Jackson Square through curtains of gale-force rain that swirled though New Orleans like mad bats riding the storm. Daniel had never seen rain fall up before.
-Robert Crais, The Sentry
Pike studied Arturo Alvarez, and knew there was no more to say. Artie was old-school hard despite the college degrees. In his world, toughness wasn't judged by how well you could give a beating, but by how well you took a beating.
-Robert Crais, The Sentry
This, by now, should be a familiar story: the people who make the rules find themselves hypnotized by a tidy aesthetic that looks good on a map, graph, or screen - but which is a disaster for the people who have to live and work in a world defined by those tidy rules. Successful cities are a glorious mess of old and new, of houses and shops and workplaces, and where the richer residents and the poorer ones mingle together. Ad it is that diverse mess that makes them safe, innovative - and perhaps above all, resilient.
-Tim Harford, Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives