Saturday, December 29, 2018
“But so long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues. For the learning of every virtue there is an appropriate discipline, and for the learning of suspended judgment the best discipline is philosophy.
“But if philosophy is to serve a positive purpose, it must not teach mere skepticism, for, while the dogmatist is harmful, the skeptic is useless. Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or of ignorance.”
-Bertrand Russell, as culled from his essay, Philosophy For Laymen
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.
I will great this day with love in my heart.
-Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In The World
Charles Bukowski was an alcoholic, a womanizer, a chronic gambler, a lout, a cheapskate, a deadbeat, and on his worst days, a poet. He's probably the last person on earth you would ever look to for life advice or expect to see in any sort of self-help book.
Which is why he's the perfect place to start.
-Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*uck: A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life
listen, he said, you ever seen a bunch of crabs in a
no, I told him.
well, what happens is that now and then one crab
will climb up on top of the others
and begin to climb toward the top of the bucket,
then, just as he's about to escape
another crab grabs him and pulls him back
really? I asked.
really, he said, and this job is just like that, none
of the others want anybody to get out of
here. that's just the way it is
in the postal service!
I believe you, I said.
just then the supervisor walked up and said,
you fellows were talking.
there is no talking allowed on this
I had been there for eleven and one-half
I got up off my stool and climbed right up the
and then I reached up and pulled myself right
out of there.
it was so easy it was unbelievable.
but none of the others followed me.
and after that, whenever I had crab legs
I thought about that place.
I must have thought about that place
maybe 5 or 6 times
before I switched to lobster.
-Charles Bukowski, The Great Escape
Michelangelo was primarily a sculptor, though it is probably true to say that he was more interested in the human form as such than in any particular way or medium in which to represent it. Obviously he found carving the best way of doing it, and his paintings tend to be two-dimensional sculptures. His wet nurse was a stone-carver's wife from Settignano, and Michelangelo told Vasari that he "sucked in the chisels and mallet" with her milk. His father was an ambitious, social-climbing bourgeois of Florence and was most reluctant to allow him to sculpt for a living, believing it to be manual work and demeaning. This may explain why the boy was first apprenticed to a painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, in 1488. Only in the following year did he manage to get himself into the sculpture garden workshop in the Medici house at San Marco. He taught himself by copying the head of an antique faun, which attracted the attention of Lorenzo "the Magnificent."
Michelangelo was made when, at seventeen, he produced his first masterpiece, a marble relief, The Battle of the Centaurs.
-Paul Johnson, The Renaissance: A Short History
|Michelangelo The Battle of the Centaurs 1492|
Friday, December 28, 2018
"One of my proofs of a loving God, is in the provision of catastrophes, especially those man-made through lapses of prudence. We learn from experience. Or we don’t learn, in which case we have the benefit of catastrophe, again. One generation replaces another, and perhaps we never learn; but the potential is always there."
-Richard Warren, from this anti-bot post
"There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions."
"In this country all a man need to do is to attain a little eminence and immediately he begins to talk. Usually his eminence is financial, and the greater this eminence the more he talks and the further his voice reaches. I don't blame the rich people for talking; many of them don’t know what else to do with themselves. The fault is with these who listen. If no one would listen no harm would he done. But the American people are willing to listen to any one who has attained prominence. The main fact is that we've heard a man's name a great many times; that makes us ready to accept whatever he says. … We listen to the one who talks the most and loudest."
-Charles Proteus Steinmetz, 1865-1923
The quality of your "concerted action in the marketplace" is really dominated by the force, or lack thereof, of your intention. Most people think that intention just means saying, "I'll do my best." When people say that to me, I run a mile. "I'll do my best," is the mind's way of saying, "I'll trot out there and play around doing busy work for an hour or two, and when the project doesn't succeed or realize its full potential, I'll be okay because I have my excuse already pinned on the wall."
Your mind is your best friend, but it's also an enemy. Not only because it has a vested interest in limiting what you believe you can do, but also because it has a way of selling you short. Isn't it interesting that whenever a group of people set out to develop a project, that project usually falls short of everyone's expectations? In real life, things never quite pan out the way one thinks they ought to. Why is that? Because the ego-personality is happy to spend four hours in a meeting talking about building apartments on the beach, but it isn't at all happy spending eight hours actually hauling cement or delivering sales pitches to prospective buyers. Imagination and "concerted action" live in different neighborhoods.
-Stuart Wilde, The Trick to Money Is Having Some
Thursday, December 27, 2018
He was the son of a humble wood-carver and remained, all his life, a man who worked with his hands. Unlike many successful Renaissance artists, such as Ghiberti, to whom he was apprenticed between 1404 and 1407, Donatello had no social pretensions, no aesthetic pride, no swagger. He spoke and live in a rough way, like the craftsman he was. He never made much money, and in his old age, he live on a pension from Cosimo de'Medici, who worshiped him. He does not seem to have accepted the fact that artists could now move in the best society and were becoming highly prized individuals, famous men. He was not interested. To that extent, one of the central facts of the Renaissance, the emergence of the artist celebrity, left him unimpressed.
-Paul Johnson, The Renaissance: A Short History
17. Live not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours.
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4
Several years ago, after one of my talks, a man came up to me and said, "All this 'lean on God' stuff isn't me." I told him that, in my own life, whenever I haven't leaned on God, I've found myself leaning on something or someone I'd have been better off not leaning on!
-Marianne Williamson, The Law Of Divine Compensation
A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of World War II, was called "the Little Flower" by adoring New Yorkers because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and wherever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.
One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a bad neighborhood, Your Honor," the man told the mayor. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson."
LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions -- ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced the sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero, saying, "Here is the ten dollar fine, which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
I'm dying, Spenser," the man said.
I nodded, not knowing what else to say. An early-summer rain beaded down my office window, dark gray skies hovering over Berkeley and Boylston as afternoon commuters jockeyed for position out of the city. Their taillights cast a red glow on slick streets. Somewhere a prowl car hit a siren, heading off to another crime. The man sitting before me smiled and nodded, his hands withered and liver-spotted. His name was Locke.
"How long have we known each other?" Locke asked.
"A long time."
-Ace Atkins, channeling Robert B. Parker in the Spenser novel, Old Black Magic
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
1. Phillip Blond's "Shattered Society" essay argues against both authoritarian statism and self-serving capitalism. He is not a fan of rugged individualism either. Here is a wee sample:
This is the essence of the Western liberal tradition: the rise of association—a state that isn’t dictated by the oligopolies of the market and the central government. The task of a radical conservative politics is to recover this: the middle life of civil society. Villages should run villages, cities cities, and neighborhoods their own streets and parks. Additionally and most importantly, a transformative conservatism must take on the rampant individualism of the self-serving libertarian, not least because an individualism that undermines all social goods by denying a virtue-binding code and moral belief is not a conservative philosophy. On the contrary, extreme individualism is a leftist construct and should be recognized and abandoned as such.
2. A four and a half minute video from Jonathan Haidt on the really, really bad outcomes of over-parenting. My parents were fabulous. From about age 7, they gave us lots of breathing room. We played outside, without overt supervision. In fact, staying inside, except in the worse weather, was actively discouraged. It is amazing the life lessons you can learn arguing with friends and school-mates during pick-up ball games. Haidt suggests:
"Give childhood back to kids so that they do what they most need to do, which is develop the skills of being an independent adult. Remember that the job of a parent is to work him or herself out of a job."
3. The art of the Sermon. Kenneth Phifer offers his thoughts on preaching. If he was preaching in my neighborhood, I think I'd attend. Two shots:
"Albert Shanker once noted that people generally listen to the first ten minutes of any talk and doze through the next ten minutes. After that, he remarked, people begin to have sexual fantasies. This is the reason that I always talk for more than 20 minutes, so that every one can come away with at least something of interest."
"Hold fast to love, morality, life, to that which endures. We live best when we live consciously in history, when we live with humility, and when we live with permanent values not transient ones."
4. More than you ever wanted to know about aphorisms.
"A brief waste of time."
.........................................to avoid frustration, ponder, from time to time, the value to others of your output.
And at work, plenty of us, because we’re ambitious or frustrated or just because we live in a capitalist society where our worth is determined by our output, are hoping to get more done in 2019. Luckily, the Twitter feed for Inc. magazine is here for you, as earlier this week the magazine recirculated a 2017 story about getting a “fast start to your day,” gleaned from the wisdom of billionaire tech entrepreneurs. Their advice: Wake up before dawn and sacrifice your mornings to the gods of productivity.
-Rachelle Hampton, excerpted from here
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Monday, December 24, 2018
Sunday, December 23, 2018
"Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long run. Habits are a double-edged sword. They can work for you or against you . . . If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.
-James Clear, Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results
But teaching kids that failures, insults, and painful experiences will do lasting danger is harmful in and of itself. Human beings need physical and mental challenges and stressors or we deteriorate.
-Lukianoff and Haidt, The Coddling Of The American Mind: How Good Intentions And Bad Ideas Are Setting Up A Generation For Failure