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