Saturday, November 5, 2016

I get that........................


"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

Dare to be eccentric................


“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

The headline does not read..................


“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

You see what I mean.................


Vintage Trouble.................................Doin' What You Were Doin'



thanks steve

Unfortunately.................................



The gray waves gnash
their teeth of foam.
Behind this verge,
the barren plain,
seamed, fissured. 
Ahead, limitless ocean.
The sky’s low ceiling
bears down upon it,
dark and darkening.
Here at the end of land
(not earth but cinders)
was to have been given
the ultimate direction.
The sea-voyage was to begin.
And indeed the book
is here, a huge volume,
open and upright–
it levitates, close to the hiss of spume,
immutable, desolate, cast
in lead. Wordless.
If with great force its pages
were made to turn,
they would knock, unresonant,
one on another,
void upon void.
You have come to the shore.
There are no instructions
.
The Book Without Words
(from a painting by Anselm Kiefer)

Looking for a "time out"................


Through it all, through every century so far as I can see, the apocalyptic sense has been active. We are always, and reasonably, thinking “things can’t get worse,” but things can and often do, and any apparent relief from the long disaster of human self-government is, at best, a quick and confusing “time out.”
The American Republic was (rather ostentatiously) founded in the image of the Roman, and to my mind had already mutated into something more like the Empire, by the time of Andrew Jackson. History is too grubby to form neat parallel lines, but we should not be surprised to find by now that leadership is in the hands of men (and women!) who are (on the analogy of alcoholics) “functioning insane.” And as all the more decadent emperors of the past, their power depends on their supporters, many of whom justify their loyalty because, well, the alternative is worse, and must be avoided at any cost. In the end, some Sardanapalus pulls them all down — spiritually, but also materially.
-David Warren, as extracted from here
Painting by Eugene Delacroix, The Death of Sardanapalus,  Oil c. 1826

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why not....................................?



Why smart people make bad decisions....


................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."

via

Opening paragraphs...................


     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

The wisdom of Hobbes......................




Just write it in.............................



From the 1968 Democratic National Convention


Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago)........Prologue/Someday

Let's just love each other.................


..............................................the stakes are too high.  Do watch.

LBJ's famous Daisy ad from the 1964 presidential campaign:

A sign of the times.......................




     via

Not sure much has improved since 1973......


     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

thanks Kurt

Healing................................


.............................is available via simple acts of humanity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Not tonight...............................



Favored by the Gods...................................



     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

Especially this election season................


“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” 
-Carl Gustav Jung

Might have something to do................


...................with a gratitude shortage.  That would be my best guess.

"I think we need to find out why the citizens of the world's wealthiest, most envied, most powerful country are so cynical, so distressed, so angry, so ticked of about so many things."

Instant karma..............................


If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past - but if you tell a lie, it becomes a part of your future."

-attributed to anonymous

Is this a great world, or what.................?




     via

A thoughtful post about "polls"............


.............................................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?
No.
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.

Happy Halloween..............................



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Believe me.................................


Lyle Lovett..................................................God Only Knows

Hootie channels Brian Wilson.............................


Music is bipartisan.................


     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

On the importance of recognizing false choices....


A Sebastian Mallaby or David Brooks will ask: who would you rather have in charge? An expert, or a random guy in a bar?
If that indeed is the choice, then give me the expert. But I want an option that says “None of the above.” Or, to put it another way, I want an expert with so much humility that the expert does not try to mess with orders that emerge naturally. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which “humble expert” has become an oxymoron.
P.S.:  The comments to the post are worth reading too.

Opening paragraphs..............


     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

Old-school..............................


     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

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



In praise of glorious messes..........


     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

Add a pinch of discernment too...