Sunday, April 30, 2017
In response to the Bizarro.com bagpipe/accordion cartoon (found about eight posts down), the Not-So-Simple Village Undertaker commented, "That would be an interesting instrument. I would compose a duet for it and the banjo." Oh, the humanity.
I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning. The wind, even at sixty miles an hour, is warm and humid. When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon.
In the wind are pungent odors from the marshes by the road. We are in an area of the Central Plains filled with thousands of duck hunting sloughs, heading northwest from Minneapolis towards the Dakotas. This highway is an old concrete two-laner that hasn't had much traffic since a four-laner went in parallel to it several years ago. When we pass a marsh the air suddenly becomes cooler. Then, when we are past, it suddenly warms again.
I'm happy to be riding back into this country. It is a kind of nowhere, famous for nothing at all and has an appeal because of just that. Tensions disappear along old roads like this. We bump along the beat-up concrete between the cattails and stretches of meadow and then more cattails and marsh grass. Here and there is a stretch of open water and if you look closely you can see wild ducks at the edge of the cattails. And turtles. ... There's a red-winged blackbird.
I whack Chris's knee and point to it.
-Robert M Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Pirsig died last week. I have owned my copy of this book since 1975. Not sure that I ever completely read the whole book. The attempt to correct that error in judgment is underway.
Chris and I are traveling to Montana with some friends, riding up ahead, and maybe farther than that. Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than arrive anywhere. We are just vacationing. Secondary roads are preferred. ...
I've wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it and yet we didn't see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned, perhaps, into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all this was just boring hinterland. It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. ...
In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply did deeper into old ones that have become stilted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated. "What's new?" is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question "What is best?," a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream. ...
But there are human forces stronger than logic. ...
I disagree with them about cycle maintenance, but not because I am out of sympathy with their feelings about technology. I just think their flight from and hatred of technology is self-defeating. The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself.
-Robert Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
.......................I never would have thought to ask:
Reading medieval literature, it’s hard not to be impressed with how much the characters get done—as when we read about King Harold doing battle in one of the Sagas of the Icelanders, written in about 1230. The first sentence bristles with purposeful action: “King Harold proclaimed a general levy, and gathered a fleet, summoning his forces far and wide through the land.” By the end of the third paragraph, the king has launched his fleet against a rebel army, fought numerous battles involving “much slaughter in either host,” bound up the wounds of his men, dispensed rewards to the loyal, and “was supreme over all Norway.” What the saga doesn’t tell us is how Harold felt about any of this, whether his drive to conquer was fueled by a tyrannical father’s barely concealed contempt, or whether his legacy ultimately surpassed or fell short of his deepest hopes. ... I’d often wondered, when reading older texts: Weren’t people back then in what characters thought and felt?
If such questions interest you, you may want to read this essay from Julie Sedivy
via Arts & Letters Daily
Saturday, April 29, 2017
He was perfectly astonished with the historical account I gave him of our affairs during the past century, protesting it was only heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy , lust, malice, or ambition could produce.
Jonathan Swift, channeling Gulliver, circa 1726
A confession: I’m much less afraid of Trump than I was a year ago. His rhetoric, his unfettered far-right agenda, his love of violence, and his loathing of constitutional limits during the campaign were indeed things to be terrified by. They still are. But those of us who were worried that the Constitution might not hold, and that liberal democracy was teetering on the edge of implosion, have so far, mercifully, been proven wrong.
-Andrew Sullivan, as he opens this essay
One of the rationales for voting for Trump was that his election would force Congress to do their job. It is possible for reasonable people to agree that, for the past 16 years or so of American history, Congress has showed an alarming trend of ceding its authority and power to the Executive branch. If I remember correctly, our system relies on the division of power - checks and balances if you will - between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government. During the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, it sure looked like the Executive was ever encroaching on the Legislative branch. Hillary's election would likely have continued that trend. Trump, the theory goes, because he never had the backing of a national political party, would cause Congress to finally awaken from their slumber and do their job. Governing is, and should be, difficult. We live in a fractious nation. Our representatives get pulled every which way. This is all as it should be. Government rarely solves problems without creating several new ones. Take your time people, do the hard work, try to get it right. Maybe if we get really lucky, a statesman (or stateswoman) or two will show up from both sides of the aisle. Regardless, the Founders created a messy system of government. Amazingly, almost two hundred and thirty years later, it still works pretty well.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Is the goal to go back and win the Super Bowl again?
"Well, that's too far away. The goal right now is to put a good competitive team together. Then the goal would be to have our team compete and work the way it needs to work. To have a good Spring, then to have a good training camp, then to be ready for the season. So, we can only control what we can control in the short term - this week, our next opportunity."
-Bill Belichick, as transcribed from this fascinating interview with a fairly successful football coach
The flow experience, like everything else, is not "good" in an absolute sense. It is good only in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful; it is good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self. But whether the consequences of any particular instance of flow is good in a larger sense needs to be discussed and evaluated in terms of a more inclusive social criteria. The same is true, however, of all human activities, whether science, religion, or politics. A particular religious belief may benefit a person or a group, but repress many others. Christianity helped to integrate the decaying ethnic communities of the Roman Empire, but it was instrumental in dissolving many cultures with which it later came into contact. A given scientific advance may be good for science and a few scientists, but bad for humanity as a whole. It is an illusion to believe that any solution is beneficial for all people and all the times; no human achievement can be taken as the final word. Jefferson's uncomfortable dictum "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" applies outside the fields of politics as well; it means that we must constantly reevaluate what we do, lest habits and past wisdom blind us to new possibilities.
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience
|The Red Spider Planetary Nebula|
“The treasures hidden in the heavens are so rich that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”
enlargeable photo and more here
Spencer Davis Group........................................Gimme Some Lovin'
Purists out there undoubtedly are thinking: wait this was released in 1966. True that, but the song had enough staying power to land at #68 on Billboards Hot Singles for 1967
How a revolution erupts from a commonplace event - tidal wave from a ripple - is cause for endless astonishment. Neither Luther in 1517 nor the men who gathered at Versailles in 1789 intended at first what they produced at last. Even less did the Russian Liberals who made the revolution of 1917 foresee what followed. All were as ignorant as everybody else of how much was about to be destroyed. Nor could they guess what feverish feelings, what strange behavior ensue when revolution, great or short-lived, is in the air.
Jacques Barzun, as taken from From Dawn To Decadence: 1500 To The Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life
Thursday, April 27, 2017
...........................................Here are two wee excerpts from an essay on free speech found in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Barring speakers or preventing hate speech does not safeguard the oppressed. It empowers the oppressors...
Free speech is the greatest single ally of social justice and, even at its most noxious and repulsive, is often a catalyst for reflection and remediation. It is easy to mistake it for a tool of repression when, in fact, it is the antidote.
Full essay here
In some profound way, the election made clear, the national media just doesn’t get the nation it purportedly covers.
-as culled from this interesting, but ultimately, for me, unsatisfying essay about the media bubble. Their final sentence may be correct, but I suspect in a way the authors did not intend.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Voted (early) today to increase our property taxes. Only things on my ballot were a renewal of the Licking Park District levy and a new levy to provide funding for the Countywide 9-1-1 system. I will cheerfully pay for both (assuming the majority of voters concur) next time our property tax bills arrive.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
History, I like to think, is a larger way of looking at life. It is a source of strength, of inspiration. It is about who we are and what we stand for and is essential to our understanding of what our own role should be in our time. History, as can't be said too often, is human. It is about people, and they speak to us across the years.
-David McCullough, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For
"We must understand that terrorism does not arise from the radicalisation of Islam, but from the Islamisation of radicalism."
Olivier Roy has looked at all the data and suggests that assigning a religious motive to suicidal terrorism is a good way to misunderstand what is going on. If this subject holds any interest, please read this essay.
..............................................you might forgive the rest of us if we believe you have forgotten how to think.
Full story here
Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise. It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their “betters.”
-Thomas Sowell, as quoted here
"Learning does not have a comfort zone and requires hard, dedicated work."
-Tony Isola, as taken from this post - Learning To Learn: The Ultimate Survival Tool
Monday, April 24, 2017
On the benefits of stress.............................
The higher a nation’s stress index, the greater its GDP and life expectancy, the more satisfied people are with their lives, their work, their communities, their own health, the happier they are. Basically, the more people you have who thought yesterday was very stressful, that’s better for public health, it’s better for the economy, it’s better any way you look at it. It kind of blew the researchers minds. It was not what we were expecting.
-Kelly McGonigal, as quoted in this Morgan Housel post
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
“By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic "the self-transcendence of human existence." It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself--be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself--by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love--the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Our human need for beauty is not something that we could lack and still be fulfilled as people. It is a need arising from our moral nature. We can wander through this world, alienated, resentful, full of suspicion and distrust. Or we can find our home here, coming to rest in harmony with others and with ourselves. And the experience of beauty guides us along this second path: it tells us that we are at home in the world, that the world is already ordered in our perceptions as a place fit for the lives of beings like us. This is what we see in Corot's landscapes, Cezanne's apples, or Van Gogh's unlaced boots.
-Roger Scruton, Confessions Of a Heretic
|Vincent Van Gogh Boots, 1886 Oil on canvas|
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
One is nailed in modern journalism by the staccato of fact, fact, fact. Many of these facts are untrue, of course, and others have the same effect as hollow dumdum bullets — expanding on contact with flesh. It is a war out there, between adversaries named Fact and Truth. I am reminded of this every time I look in the news, and see that “studies have shown,” when they have shown nothing more than a valiant attempt on the part of the devil to undermine the obvious.
-David Warren, leading off this post
The majority of what you hear from the economics profession these days borders on useless. Much of it is partisan, biased and not very useful in the real world.
-Ben Carlson, as borrowed from here
......or, maybe an evenly divided country isn't such a bad thing?
The Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher noted that it is worth considering the notion that Revolutionary France is a modern attempt at democracy. Drawing explicitly upon the writings of Aristotle, Burke asked what the real difference was between a monarchy and a democracy: “Of this I am certain, that in a democracy, the majority of its citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority, whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of policy, as they often must.” However constituted, few forms of government are more oppressive than a democracy armed with self-righteous fury at all who oppose the will of the majority.
-Bradley Birzer, as excerpted from this essay
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
As Jim Rohn used to say, pay with a smile for "it's the care and feeding of the goose that lays the golden eggs." He also said that in case you think the goose needs to go on a diet, "let one appetite not accuse another." My check is in the mail, and I'm still smiling.
While the trend line looks okay, the recovery of the single-family residential construction business has been painfully slow. Isn't it about time you built a new home for yourself, people? Please.
Have I told you lately that we have some fabulous, reasonably priced, wooded home sites available?
enlargeable image here
Monday, April 17, 2017
"Maybe, just maybe, thirty years of rising through the ranks of the world’s largest oil company and ten years running it taught Rex Tillerson a few skills."
-Walter Russell Mead, taken from here
.....................................................Or: On the weaponizing of ideas.
"He's just expressing annoyance that ideas that came from the left didn't restrict themselves to serving only the interests of the left. That's not how ideas work. They get out and about and wreak havoc."
-culled from this Althouse post
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Saturday, April 15, 2017
.......................rules from writers. Here is a simple sample!:
5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
Any scheme that attempts to predict the future based on the patterns of the past is but a grid laid over the messiness of reality. History is ambiguous, and every financial mania is unique, the product of the peculiar folly of its time.
Friday, April 14, 2017
We’re all focused on Trump, but one of the reasons Trump was elected was that many of the people who try to use government to do good just haven’t thought things through.
-David Brooks, as culled from here
................notes that failed populist revolts often bring the unexpected tyranny. History may not repeat itself, but its cycles sure seem similar (and not very pretty). Full post is here. Two wee excerpts here:
"There is a lesson here. Europe as a whole is heading down the same path: slow growth and far too many people living off redistribution rather than enterprise — in private, public and voluntary sectors. The goose that always lays the golden eggs of prosperity is the habit of exchange and specialisation: people doing what they are good at, and getting better at it with innovation, while swapping the results freely with others through commerce."
"Yet history shows that free exchange is constantly at risk of being infected and captured by parasites and predators who live off productive people through taxes, tithes, rents, slavery, subsidy, war and theft. This is what killed the goose in ancient Greece and Rome, in Renaissance Italy and Holland’s golden age. From time to time anti-oligarch insurgents are needed to purge the parasites, expel the predators and free the economy from their burden."
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
........................................................with Søren Kierkegaard:
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
“How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.”
“Nothing is as heady as the wine of possibility”
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it's a joke.”
“The daily press is the evil principle of the modern world, and time will only serve to disclose this fact with greater and greater clearness. The capacity of the newspaper for degeneration is sophistically without limit, since it can always sink lower and lower in its choice of readers. At last it will stir up all those dregs of humanity which no state or government can control.”
“What looks like politics, and imagines itself to be political, will one day unmask itself as a religious movement.”
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
-P. J. O'Rourke
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
"Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms ... but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot. This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health, but as proof of his/her strength.”
-Robert Heinlein, Friday
“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They're Caeser's praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, "Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal." Most of us can't rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven't time, money or that many friends. The things you're looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Monday, April 10, 2017
“Now times had changed, and the inherited wisdom of the past had become folly.”
-Arthur C. Clark, as culled from 2001: A Space Odyssey
Love the quote, but removing it from its context might change its meaning. Here it is in its full context:
Those instincts had served his ancestors well, in the days of warm rains and lush fertility, when food was to be had everywhere for the plucking. Now times had changed, and the inherited wisdom of the past had become folly. The man-apes must adapt, or they must die - like the greater beasts who had gone before them, and whose bones now lay sealed within the limestone hills.