Saturday, January 6, 2018

Smarts..............................




"It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value."

-Arthur C. Clark

cartoon via

Am I the only one.....................


.......................who thinks it ironic that Chris Matthews wrote this?

     Reporters assigned to the Democratic primary race were starting to look more closely at this Kennedy who'd spent years growing beyond being Joe Kennedy's son and John Kennedy's brother.  What many wound up up with was a deepening respect for the authenticity they now saw in him.  Richard Harwood, who'd asked his Washington Post editor to be assigned to a different candidate, told him, "I'm falling in love with this guy."  Explaining his request later, he said, "I think we were getting partisan.  We hadn't quite become cheerleaders, but we were in danger of it."

-Chris Matthews,   Bobby Kennedy:  A Raging Spirit

On my way.........................



Ouch...............................


     The Kennedy's joy in life would come, of course, to prove vulnerable.  It was the following year, 1941, that brought what Rose Kennedy would call "the first of the tragedies."  Her third child and oldest daughter, Rosemary - who'd suffered serious oxygen deprivation at birth - was then living at St. Gertrude's School of Arts and Crafts in Washington, D.C.  There, "educable or mildly emotionally disturbed, handicapped girls" were looked after by a small but devoted staff of Benedictine sisters.
     Rosemary, in her early twenties, was cause problems:  she'd get angry, even violent, striking at people.  Worse, especially for her protective father, was her tendency to disappear from the grounds and then be found wandering local streets.  Hearing of an experimental surgery - known as a prefrontal lobotomy, a procedure necessitating the cutting away of brain matter - Joe made the decision, entirely on his own, to have it performed on Rosemary at George Washington University Hospital.  His hope was, if not a cure, at least an improvement in her behavior.  But it was far from a success.
     Greatly more handicapped - that is to say, more infantilized than she'd previously been - Rosemary now was unable to speak or walk.  Even personality had been taken away from her.  From then on, only her father was allowed to see her.  For her brothers and sisters, it was as if she'd stepped off the face of the earth.  Joe Kennedy never told them the truth of what he'd done.

-Chris Matthews,  Bobby Kennedy:  A Raging Spirit

Yields................................


     Standing their before fifteen-thousand-strong crowd, Kennedy admitted to having once been a cheerleader for the country's commitment in Vietnam.  "But past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation.  All men make mistakes, but a good  man yields when he know his course is wrong and repairs the evil."

-Chris Matthews,  Bobby Kennedy:  A Raging Spirit

a hostile frontier.....................


A "Day of Affirmation of Academic and Human Freedom" was proclaimed at the University of Cape Town for June 6, 1966.  It had been organized to assert the student's commitment to human freedom and opposition to the oppression of black and mixed-race South Africans.  Invited by the National Union of South African Students - whose president at the eleventh hour was banned from attending - to deliver a speech for the occasion, Robert Kennedy found eighteen thousand people waiting outside to welcome him when he arrived at the majestic Jameson Hall.  It took him half an hour just to make his way through the enthusiastic welcomers.
     His procession into the building had been led by a student holding an unlit torch to represent the extinguishing of academic freedom.   According to those observing him, the American visitor had tears in his eyes as he climbed the stage.
    "I came here," he began, "because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century, then taken over by the British, and at last independent; a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day; a land which defined itself on a hostile frontier; a land which has tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology; a land which once imported slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that former bondage."
      Then he paused.  "I refer, of course, to the United States of America."
     
-Chris Matthews,  Bobby Kennedy:  A Raging Spirit

full RFK speech here

Fifty years ago....................


Manfred Mann.................................................The Mighty Quinn

 

 Bob Dylan wrote and released this song in 1967. Manfred Mann covered it and released it in January, 1968.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A twofer..................................


..........................................................from Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

"Academics are only useful when they try to be useless (say, as in mathematics and philosophy) and dangerous when they try to be useful."

"The only valid political system is one that can handle an imbecile in power without suffering from it."



Power learning.....................


     The learning curve in those early morning hours, as Bobby tried working the system as he saw it, unfortunately kept producing setbacks.  The good news was that every bit of education he absorbed he wouldn't need to learn again.  I once heard historian Arthur Schlesinger say, "Politics is essentially a learning profession."  These hours in the summer of 1956 were teaching him its basic dynamic.

-Chris Matthews,  Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit

The back drop is Jack Kennedy's attempt to be nominated as Adlai Stevenson's vice-president for Stevenson's second shot against Eisenhower.  Sometimes a "no" is the best of all possible answers.

First sign...................................



“It's an universal law-- intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”   


-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Yeah, but how do you really feel...........................



..................sometimes the comment sections are priceless.

Fifty years ago..............................


Classics IV..........................................................................Stormy

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Scott Adams.......................


....................................is pushing some buttons:

One folksy definition of “crazy” is that it involves trying over and over again a solution that has never worked while hoping it works next time. President Trump is doing something closer to the opposite of that. He’s doing something new, both strategically and verbally. To be fair, new things can be crazy too. But usually only if they don’t work. When a new and unexpected thing works out well, we call it genius. And that begs the question: Is President Trump’s approach to North Korea working?

Play....................................



“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

 -George Bernard Shaw

Is this true......................?


Some Iranian officials warn that tens of millions of Iranians will have to leave their homes for lack of water. The country has used up 70% of its groundwater and its literally drying up major rivers to maintain consumption. It's the worst ecological disaster in modern history.

-David P. Goldman, talking about Iran while not wearing his rose-colored glasses

Apparently, it is a thing.  See here or here.  Who knew?

Insisted.......................


     Neither Hume nor Smith was a free market absolutist, of course:  both recognized the need for government action for the sake of national defense, the administration of justice, the provision of certain public works, at the very least.  Indeed, both emphasized the need for government to be strong enough to enforce order and rules of fair play;  the absence of such a government was precisely what had made the feudal era such a sad spectacle.  Yet Hume and Smith insisted that when politicians intervene in the economy for the sake of promoting national prosperity their actions are usually either futile or positively counterproductive.

-Dennis C. Rasmussen,  The Infidel And The Professor:  David Hume, Adam Smith And The Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought

Fifty years ago........................


Classics IV........................................................................Spooky

 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

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


The immense wealth and security of the Kennedy family in twentieth-century America must be measured against the horrid poverty of their immediate ancestors.  For those who lived, worked, and died on the subsistence farms of mid-nineteenth-century Ireland, life itself hung on the annual harvest of a single crop - the potato, which was the basic food for much of the country.  A family had to survive an entire year on those pulled the previous fall.  If a new crop failed, as it did in what's known as the Great Famine, the people starved.

-Chris Matthews,  Bobby Kennedy:  A Raging Spirit

Experiment......................


“Upon the whole, Chymistry is as yet but an opening science, closely connected with the useful and ornamental arts, and worthy the attention of the liberal mind. And it must always become more and more so: for though it is only of late, that it has been looked upon in that light, the great progress already made in Chymical knowledge, gives us a pleasant prospect of rich additions to it. The Science is now studied on solid and rational grounds. While our knowledge is imperfect, it is apt to run into error: but Experiment is the thread that will lead us out of the labyrinth.” 

-Joseph Black, circa 1780

The more things change...................


Moreover, Smith suggests that our admiration for the wealthy is especially problematic because the wealthy do not in fact tend to be terribly admirable people.  On the contrary, he portrays the "superior stations" of society as suffused with "vice and folly," "presumption and vanity," "flattery and falsehood," "proud ambition and ostentatious avidity."  Hence Smith's striking claim, added in the sixth edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that the "disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition" is "the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments."

-Dennis C. Rasmussen,  The Infidel And The Professor:  David Hume, Adam Smith, And The Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought

Resolved....................................


"I went over to France, with a view of prosecuting my studies in a country retreat;  and I there laid that plan of life, which I have steadily and successfully pursued.  I resolved to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency,  and to regard every object as contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature."

-David Hume,  My Own Life, 1777

Fifty years ago.........................


Amboy Dukes........................Journey To The Center Of The Mind

 

 That's Ted Nugent on the guitar...............

Monday, January 1, 2018

Fifty years ago............................


Big Brother And The Holding Company............Piece Of My Heart

 

Just because.......................................


U2......................................................................New Year's Day

 

Adventures in real estate...............





     Upon his return to Scotland Hume found his house at Jame's Court still "very cheerful and even elegant, but too small to display my great talent for Cookery, the Science to which I intend to addict the remaining Years of my Life."  The development of Edinburgh's New Town had begun a few years earlier, and in the autumn of 1770 he purchased a plot on the southwest corner of St. Andrew Square and began overseeing the construction of a new house.  The eighteenth-century equivalent of a suburb, the New Town provided a clean, spacious residential haven from the cramped squalor of what became the Old Town. ...
     There are two delightful stories connected with Hume's move to the New Town.  As his house was being built the North Bridge connecting the New Town with the Old had not yet opened, so Hume was forced to make his way across a bog that then separated the two.  One day, so the story goes, he slipped from the narrow path, fell into the bog, and was unable to extract himself.  Eventually he was able to draw the attention of a group of fishwives.  The women, however, recognized him as the "wicked unbeliever David Hume" and refused to help him until he solemnly repeated the Lord's Prayer.  He quickly complied and, true to their word, the proceeded to rescue the philosopher.  According to the source for this story Hume "used to tell [it] himself with great glee, declaring that Edinburgh fishwives were the most acute theologians he had ever encountered."

-Dennis C. Rasmussen,  The Infidel And The Professor:  David Hume, Adam Smith, And The Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought

Speaking of housing options.........


















larger photo, and back story, here

NPS Mesa Verde info here

Happy New Year................

























via

Sunday, December 31, 2017

... tak' a cup o' kindness...............

From me to you........................



Speaking of Scottish Enlightenment........


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin' auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin' auld lang syne.
CHORUS
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.
      CHORUS


-Robert Burns, 1788

We cannot wait till the world is sane....


He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
-Madeleine L'Engle First Coming

On Time...................................

Time is 
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not. 


-Henry Van Dyke

Ed. Note:  There are many references to this poem in the Intertunnel that swap out the word "not" for the word "eternity."  Not sure it changes the meaning.

A year-end retrospective, of sorts.....


A year's worth of blog headers from our friend at Eclecticity (light):









































Mentorship...................


"Slowing down to gain time. Thinking more. Getting additional options. Not worrying so much about what others think of you. Scheduling times for intense focus. Savoring the smallest moments such as stirring or sipping a cup of coffee. Reading a type of fiction you've seldom or never read before. Asking yourself what one of your heroes would tell you about your current situation. Avoiding self-sabotage. Examining how a problem might be a solution and how a solution might be a problem. Looking for opportunities instead of excuses. Noticing all that others do for you. Stop keeping score. Start saying no when you know you should. Connecting when you want to withdraw. Being indifferent to what deserves indifference. Expanding and improving the circle of your associates. Realizing that perfection is very elusive. Asking for help when you need it. Recognizing what life has been telling you is your chief role. Being open to a higher meaning."

-Michael Wade, as cut and pasted from here.  His "self-sabotage" theme obviously has resonated with me over the years.

Three from my favorite optimist............

As for the concern that genomic selection for intelligence, if it comes, will be available to the rich but not the poor — well, the same is true for good education. Opportunities to buy the best genes for your children will be dwarfed for decades to come by the ability of the rich to buy the best education for their children. If you must do something, do something about that instead: and preferably do so by making all education as good as the best, rather than as bad as the worst.
----
I mean that human achievements are always and everywhere collective. Every object and service you use is the product of different minds working together to invent or manage something that is way beyond the capacity of any individual mind. This is why central planning does not work. Ten million people eat lunch in London most days; how the heck they get what they want and when and where, given that a lot of them decide at the last minute, is baffling. Were there a London lunch commissioner to organise it, he would fail badly. Individual decisions integrated by price signals work, and work very well indeed.
----
What changed was not some bright spark of a new gene being turned on, but that we began to exchange and specialise, to create collective intelligence, rather than rely on individual braininess. To put it another way, dozens of stupid people in a room who talk to each other will achieve far more than an equal number of clever people who don’t. The internet only underlines this point. Human intelligence is a distributed, collaborative phenomenon.

-Matt Ridley, as taken from this post