Saturday, January 5, 2019

Counterintuitive....................


    Because here's the thing that's wrong with all of the "How to Be Happy" shit that's been shared eight million times on Facebook in the past few years—here's what nobody realizes about all of this crap:
          The desire for more positive experience is itself a 
          negative experience.  And, paradoxically, the 
          acceptance of one's negative experience is 
          itself a positive experience.

-Mark Manson,  The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck:  A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life

On leaving us alone...................


"Politics can oppress people, but it cannot make them wiser or more sensible, independent of mind, or just. Happiness in the older sense has never required “political action.” Instead, it takes joy in friendship and community."

-David Warren, from this blog post

Four Questions..............................


Every human being wants to be happy.  From the philosophical classics of Plato and Aristotle to the great texts of the world religions, to poetry and song-writing down to the present day, we find this permanent truth inscribed in the great works of men and women, because it's inscribed in our hearts.  America's Founding Father understood this.  A right to "the pursuit of happiness" was given by God, they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, and it can not be stripped away by any king or potentate who happens to wield the sword of state for a time.
     Happiness has never been easy to come by, let alone hold onto.  Even to say precisely what happiness is presents a challenge.  Nonetheless, when life brings us joy and contentment, we know it.  The question is whether we can play an active part in making it happen.
     Social scientists have identified four primary drivers of human happiness, which we can put in the form of four questions:

         1.  Do you have family you love, and who love you?
         2.  Do you have friends you trust and confide in?
         3.  Do you have work that matters—callings that 
              benefit your neighbors?
         4.  Do you have a worldview that can make sense
              of suffering and death?

Think of these four components as the legs of a chair.  When all four are in place, things are sturdy.  When one goes missing, your happiness begins to wobble.

-Ben Sasse,  Them:  Why We Hate Each Other—And How To Heal

Simple and binary...................


     As for the tariff, it was an ideal area of concentration for the young congressman, who possessed a highly absorbent mind but not a facile one.  His stolid intellect, without imagination but with a potent capacity for mastering masses of intricate detail.  Further, he tended to view public policy in simple, binary terms — the right way to do things and the wrong way.  For him, the right tariff policy was protectionism.  High tariffs, he once said on the House floor, helped shape America as a country "without a superior in industrial arts, without an equal in commercial prosperity, with a sound financial system, with an overflowing Treasury, blessed  at home and at peace with all mankind."
     By the late 1880s, McKinley had become a leading congressional expert on the country's multifarious tariff structure, which at one point encompassed some 1,524 separate tariffs on as many items, including iron and steel products, wool and woolens, various paint products, wallpaper, crockery, cutlery, glass and glassware, linens, soaps, starch, sugar, and many more,  McKinley knew them all, and so now, some twelve years after embracing Hayes's wise counsel, he was reaping the benefit of his years-long tariff preoccupation.

-Robert W. Merry,  President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

Sober genuineness...................


     Inevitably McKinley's unyielding high-tariff advocacy, coupled with his often elaborate earnestness, stirred some free-trade adherents to ridicule.  Journalist Ida Tarbell would write that McKinley had "an advantage . . . which few of his colleagues enjoyed, — that of believing with childlike faith that all he claimed for protection was true."  But among the Major's Republican colleagues in Congress, and increasingly among protectionist leaders and voters around the country, his sober genuineness on the issue generated respect and admiration.  Clearly protectionism represented his ticket to national attention.

-Robert W. Merry,  President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

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


Oliver..................................................Good Morning Starshine

Systems.................................


"Thinking in terms of systems, not goals; process, not outcomes; and philosophy, not tactics is how you can see lasting change in your habits, and hopefully your life."

-Ben Carlson, as he concludes this post

Friday, January 4, 2019

Brotherhood..............................




via

All you political junkies.....................


...................better find a comfortable chair, the coming years will be filled with excitement, if not much else.

The partial government shutdown is a prelude to an unpredictable two years of conflict, deadlock, breakdown, acrimony, dissatisfaction, and annoyance. At the end, Democrats will be reminded that, thanks to congressional delegation of authority, the House doesn't count for much. What matters is the presidency. Ask the GOP.
Even there, Republicans will tell you, be careful what you wish for.

Better and stronger..........................?


.........................................Help comes from the strangest places.

On the importance of dissent...........


     Hayek, on the other hand, argued in The Road to Serfdom that dissent from the consensus was necessary for the "life of thought."   So long as dissent is not suppressed, there will always be some who will query the ideas ruling their contemporaries and put new ideas to the test of argument and propaganda.   This interaction of individuals, possessing different knowledge and different views, is what constitutes the life of thought.  Hayek argued that the absence of  "different views" — that is, Myrdal's unanimity — in fact inhibits the progress of thought.  "The growth of reason is a social process based on the existence of such differences." 
     Hayek condemned those who wanted to suppress debate, what he called "the presumption of any group of people" — such as Myrdal's unanimous development experts — "to claim the right to determine what people out to think or believe."  The absence of dissent would "produce a stagnation of thought and a decline of reason."

-William Easterly,  The Tyranny Of Experts:  Economists, Dictators, And The Forgotten Rights Of The Poor

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


Mercy..............................................................................Fireball

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


................the more they stay the same.  The year was 1885:

     Ohio's political parity rendered it imperative that each party consolidate its base, meaning minority segments with splinter-issue passions had to be accommodated.  Republicans needed to assuage the temperance movement so it wouldn't split off into a one-issue party and undermine Republican prospects.  But that meant fewer Democrats could be lured to the GOP in close elections.  Democrats had to conciliate populist dissidents demanding soft-money policies to aid debtors and slam elites.  That means, likewise, that few Republicans would rally to the Democrats.  The result was a precarious political environment for politicians of both parties.  McKinley's mercurial Seventeenth District was a case in point.

-Robert W. Merry, President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

Now, go outside and play...............


     Taleb opens the book with a poetic image that should speak to all parents.  He notes that wind extinguishes a candle but energizes a fire.  He advises us not to be like candles and not to turn our children into candles:  "You want to be the fire and wish for the wind."
     The foolishness of overprotection is apparent as soon as you understand the concept of antifragility.  Given that risks and stressors are natural, unavoidable parts of life, parents and teachers should be helping kids develop their innate abilities to grow and learn from such experiences.  There's an old saying:  "Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child."  But these days, we seem to be doing precisely the opposite:  we're trying to clear away anything that might upset children, not realizing that in doing so we're repeating the peanut-allergy mistake.  If we protect children from various classes of potentially upsetting experiences, we make it far more likely that those children will be unable to cope with such events when they leave our protective umbrella.

-Lukianoff and Haidt,  The Coddling Of The American Mind:  How Good Intentions And Bad Ideas Are Setting Up A Generation For Failure

Let it be..........................


"Some of the most dangerous people are those who want to save the world."

-Michael Wade

Thursday, January 3, 2019

No...........................


     One of the hardest things to do in life is to say 'No."  To invitations, to requests, to obligations, to the stuff that everyone else is doing.  Even harder is saying no to certain time-consuming emotions: anger, excitement, distraction, obsession, lust.  None of these impulses feels like a big deal by itself, but run amok, they become a commitment like anything else.
     If you're not careful, these are precisely the impositions that will overwhelm and consume your life.  Do you ever wonder how you can get some of your time back, how you can feel less busy?  Start by learning the power of "No!" — as it "No, thank you." and "No, I'm not going to get caught up in that," and "No, I just can't right now."  It may hurt some feelings.  It may turn people off.  It may take some hard work.  But the more you say no to things that don't matter, the more you can say yes to the things that do.  This will let you live and enjoy your life — the life that you want.

-Ryan Holiday, from today's entry in The Daily Stoic

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


At the newsstands......Look Magazine examines race in America


I share your concern............................


But it turns out that fascination with surface glitter has obscured our view to what is transpiring in the depths.  There, human beings interact with platforms and information, and are changed by the interaction, and the accumulated changes have shaken and battered established institutions from companies and universities to governments and religions.  The view from the depths is of a colossal many-sided conflict, the outcome of which, for good or evil, remains uncertain.  In fact, the outcome will largely depend on us.  And because we still think in categories forged during the industrial age — liberal and conservative, for example, or professional and amateur — our minds are blind to many of the clashes and casualties of this underground struggle. . . . 

My thesis is a simple one.  We are caught between an old world which is decreasingly able to sustain us intellectually and spiritually, maybe even materially, and a new world that has not yet been born.  Given the character of the forces of change, we may be stuck for decades in this ungainly posture.  You who are young today many not live to see its resolution.

Famous landmarks of the old regime, like the daily newspaper and the political party, have begun to disintegrate under the pressure of this slow-motion collision.  Many features we prized about the old world are also threatened:  for example, liberal democracy and economic stability.  Some of them will emerge permanently distorted by the stress.  Others will just disappear.  Many attributes of the new dispensation, like a vastly larger sphere for public discussion, may also warp or break from the immoveable resistance of the established order. 

In this war of the worlds, my concern is that we not end up with the worst of all possible worlds.

-Martin Gurri,  The Revolt Of The Public

Gerrymandering in the year 1882..........


     In the end he captured the nomination without difficulty, but the general election proved more troublesome.  The initial vote count gave him a victory of just eight votes, and he headed to Washington as an incumbent.   But well into his new term, a review panel dominated by Democrats awarded the seat to his opponent.  So he returned to Canton a defeated politician.  On top of that, the Democratic legislature once again reconstituted his district, giving Democrats an estimated registration advantage of some 900 votes.

-Robert W. Merry,  President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

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


Elvis Presley......................................................Suspicious Mind

Systems............................


     Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment.  That's the counterintuitive thing about improvement.  We think we need to change our results, but results are not the problem.  What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results.  When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily.  In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level.  Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.

-James Clear,  Atomic Habits:  An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

eternal spiritual currency...........


     As the world careens through a yang expansion it cannot sustain, you will see sorrow and sadness grip the global mind like never before — people's psyches will be rattled, and it will become more difficult to sustain your own balance if you are out of control, overextended, or if you have lost yourself in the sea of sludge that makes for the global marketplace.  Markets will whip around, so opportunities will abound — you could become very rich quickly.  But in that accumulation, develop a strategy that includes you and your nearest and dearest and the real things of life, and don't eat people as you go along, for love is the only eternal spiritual currency.  If you don't love and you are not loved, you are bankrupt.

-Stuart Wilde,  The Trick to Money Is Having Some

Not me, not yet..................

























via

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

As the new year dawns.................


.......it wouldn't hurt to remind ourselves that the veneer of civilization is very thin:

     The large societies found in some other species, such as ants and bees, are stable and resilient because most of the information needed to sustain them is encoded in the genome. A female honeybee larva can, for example, grow up to be either a queen or a worker, depending on what food it is fed.  Its DNA programmes the necessary behaviours for whatever role it will fulfil in life.  Hives can be very complex social structures, containing many different kids of workers, such as harvesters, nurses and cleaners.  But so far researchers have failed to locate lawyer bees.  Bees don't need lawyers, because there is no danger that they might forget or violate the hive constitution.  The queen does not cheat the cleaner bees of their food, and they never go on strike demanding higher wages.
     But humans do such things all the time.  Because the Sapiens social order is imagined, humans cannot preserve the critical information for running it simply by making copies of their DNA and passing these on to their progeny.  A conscious effort has to be made to sustain laws, customs, procedures and manners, otherwise the social order would quickly collapse.

-Yuval Noah Harari,  Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind

On management...................


"Forget time management, get great at choice management instead."

-Nicholas Bate

By-products..........................


     A mind that is concentrated on a positive thought has the power to increase the likelihood that the positive thought will materialize in the world of events.  The most successful people in the world are those who hold in mind the highest good of all concerned, including themselves.  They know that there is a win-win solution to every problem.  They are at peace with themselves, which allows them to be supportive of the potential and success of others.  They do work which they love, and so they feel continually inspired and creative.  They do not seek happiness; they have discovered that happiness is a by-product of doing what they love.  A feeling of personal fulfillment comes naturally from their positive contributions to the lives of others, including family, friends, groups, and the world at large.

-David Hawkins, Letting Go:  The Pathway of Surrender

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


At the book store..............................................................



























     All this happened, more or less.  The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true.  One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his.  Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war.  And so on.  I've changed all the names.

-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., this being the opening paragraph from Slaughterhouse-Five

A few of my favorite things.........................


1.   Morgan Housel's short story, "How This All Happened," ends with this line, "History is just one damn thing after another."   The history major in me couldn't agree more.  This excerpted paragraph sets the stage:
If you fell asleep in 1945 and woke up in 2018 you would not recognize the world around you. The amount of growth that took place during that period is virtually unprecedented. If you learned that there have been no nuclear attacks since 1945, you’d be shocked. If you saw the level of wealth in New York and San Francisco, you’d be shocked. If you compared it to the poverty of Detroit, you’d be shocked. If you saw the price of homes, college tuition, and health care, you’d be shocked. Our politics would blow your mind. And if you tried to think of a reasonable narrative of how it all happened, my guess is you’d be totally wrong. Because it isn’t intuitive, and it wasn’t foreseeable 73 years ago.


2.   Bob Seawright offers a link-filled, quote-filled essay titled "Fear Not."  Essentially the message is fear is not the investor's friend.  He also offers the sentiment that computer modeling is a path often leading to frustration and wrong answers.  To wit:
"People can't be accurately modeled.  And it's people who work and vote and invest and trade and make deals and stick things into themselves that require a trip to the emergency room."

3.   Eric Barker points to the habit of "writing it down" as an evening ritual that will improve life its ownself.  Many, many years ago, during what could charitably be called an emotional low point, I took the advice of Julia Cameron and wrote three morning-pages everyday for two years.  From all reports, it certainly helped me.  Accordingly, Barker's post caught my eye.  I recommend it.

4.  Sometimes I think I live in a bubble.  Did you know this, "It’s well known that to boost their sales, sellers sometimes post fake 5-star reviews on Amazon. Amazon tries to police such actions by searching out and banning sites with fake reviews. An unintended consequence is that some sellers now post fake 5-star reviews on their competitor’s site."?  How about this, "Amazon is a marketplace that is now having to create a legal system to govern issues of fraud, trademark, and sabotage . . ."
The source for all this is here.

5.  Hoping this is true and correct:   the reinvigoration of an "old-fashioned artifact".

Rather...................


     I will greet this day with love in my heart.
     And most of all I will love myself.  For when I do I will zealously inspect all things which enter my body, my mind, my soul, and my heart.  Never will I overindulge the requests of my flesh, rather I will cherish my body with cleanliness and moderation.  Never will I allow my mind to be attracted to evil and despair, rather I will uplift it with the knowledge and wisdom of the ages.  Never will I allow my soul to become complacent and satisfied, rather I will feed it with meditation and prayer.  Never will I allow my heart to become small and bitter, rather I will share it and it will grow and warm the earth.
     I will greet this day with love in my heart.

-Og Mandino,  The Greatest Salesman In The World

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


     The prominent Massachusetts minister and physician Manasseh Cutler captured the optimism of Americans at the dawn of their republic when he described the territory between Lake Erie and the Ohio River as "the garden of the world, the seat of wealth, and the centre of a great Empire."  In these lands, he mused, "the arts and sciences will be planted;  the seeds of virtue, happiness, and glory be firmly rooted and grow up to full maturity."  It's worth noting that, when he wasn't ministering to his New England flock or tending to his patients, Cutler speculated in Western lands and dreamed of wealth, and no doubt there was some marketing hyperbole in his lyrical description of territory so far from American civilization.  Indeed, that expanse struck most Easterners at the time as hopelessly inaccessible — on the far side of the merciless Appalachian Mountains, bordered on the north by British Canada and the south by Spanish Louisiana, peopled with hostile natives bent on protecting their homeland through whatever savage methods they could devise.
     But Cutler understood the new republic's expansionist impulse.  When he died in Massachusetts in 1923, those lands of his vision, now roughly the state of Ohio, boasted the country's fifth-largest population, with 581,434 residents.  These were young and hearty folk — 64 percent of them under the age of twenty-five — and by 1830 they had subdued nearly all the state's land suitable for cultivation.  By midcentury Ohio led the nation in production of corn, much of it transformed into whiskey and hogs for easy transport, and a decade later the state's population of 2,339,502 trailed only those of New York and Pennsylvania.  As a later historian put it, "Ohio recapitulated the history of colonial encounter, conquest, and postcolonial development with breathtaking speed."

-Robert W. Merry,  President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

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


The Rolling Stones.........You Can't Always Get What You Want

Likely true.......................


Normative sociology, which looks at what some people want to be the causes of social problems, is quite harmful.

-Arnold Kling, as he concludes this post

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

thy lover true........................


Mannheim Steamroller......................................Greensleeves

Echo.................................


     I will greet this day with love in my heart.
     And how will I confront each whom I meet?  In only one way.  In silence and to myself I will address him and say I Love You.  Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes, unwrinkle my brow, bring a smile to my lips, and echo in my voice;  and his heart will be opened. . . .
     I will greet this day with love in my heart.

-Og Mandino,  The Greatest Salesmen In The World

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


     President William McKinley arrived in Buffalo, New York, on the evening of September 4, 1901, intent on deflection history with a speech.  The Ohio politician's shiny and luxurious presidential train crawled into the city's Terrace Station at six-thirty that evening, and the presidential party moved quickly toward waiting carriages near the north gate of the Pan-American Exposition, and attention-grabbing extravaganza that opened its doors on May 20.  It featured exhibits, spectacles, musical performances, athletic events, and more — most notably, displays of the latest technological wonders, including an X-ray machine and the startling advent of alternating current, allowing the efficient transmission of electricity through lone-distance power lines.   This promising advance brought enough power to Buffalo from Niagara Falls turbines, twenty-five miles away, to illuminate the entire exposition grounds in a a nighttime display of electrical wizardry.
     This was just the kind of  marvel to capture the imagination of a nation on the move, pushing into the twentieth century as it had pushed westward across North America during the previous hundred years — with resolve, confidence, and disregard for accompanying hazards.  Now, under McKinley, America was developing and harnessing technology like no other nation, generating unparalleled industrial expansion and wealth, moving beyond its continental confines and into the world.  It wasn't surprising that Americans would flock to the Buffalo exposition — an estimated eight million or mover over six months — to bask in their country's promise, or the Exposition leaders would designate a special day to honor the president.  Neither was it surprising that McKinley would choose that day to summon support for a major policy departure for American — and for himself.  The Pan-American Exposition represented a fitting convergence of the man, the event, and the era.

-Robert W. Merry, from the Introduction to President McKinley:  Architect of the American Century

The obligatory...........................


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

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


The Beatles...........................................................Come Together

It would be nice if we........................


15.  Frequently paused to appreciate the mind-boggling miracle of life.

The rest of The Execupundit's wish list is here.   I'm working on #12 today.

May 2019 be a truly wondrous year.......

















From our house to yours.....................











more new year's cartoons may be found here

Monday, December 31, 2018

As years go.............


.....................it could have been better and it could have been worse, but it's hard to see how it could have been more interesting.
















Be generous with change...................


........................and brave with your business.

Generosity in terms of free work,  constant discounts, and plenty of uncompensated overtime isn't really generous.   Because you can't sustain it.  Because soon you'll be breaking the promises you made.
     On the other hand, showing generosity with your bravery, your empathy, and your respect is generous indeed.
     What you customers want from you is for you to care enough to change them.
     To create tension that leads to forward motion.
     To exert emotional labor that will open them up to what's possible.
     And if you need to charge a lot to pull that off, it's still a bargain.

-Seth Godin,  This Is Marketing:  You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn To See

M.I.A..........................................?


In the right relationship between elites and the public, the former acts as exemplars to the latter.  They embody and live out the master narratives.  We can think of George Washington returning to his farm after the Revolution as a striking example.  Abe Lincoln in his childhood log cabin and Tom Edison chasing the perfect filament also fit the type.  It almost didn't matter what these historic figures were like in person:  whether they were lovable or jerks.  The outline of their lives had displayed magnificently admirable traits, and previous generations of Americans agreed with Ortega on the power of exemplarity to raise human life to a higher plane.

The quality that sets the true elites apart -- that bestow authority on their actions and expressions -- isn't power, or wealth, or education, or even persuasiveness.  It's integrity in life and work.  A healthy society is on in which such exemplary types draw the public toward them purely by the force of their example.  Without compulsion, ordinary persons aspire to resemble the extraordinary, not superficially but fundamentally, because they will to partake of superior models of being or doing.  The good society, Ortega concluded, was an "engine of perfection."

-Martin Gurri, The Revolt of the Public

Dig...................................


     I will great this day with love in my heart.
     And how will I speak?  I will laud mine enemies and they will become friends;  I will encourage my friends and they will become brothers.  Always will I dig for reasons to applaud;  never will I scratch for excuses to gossip.  When I am tempted to criticize I will bite my tongue;  when I am moved to praise I will should from the roofs.
     Is it not so that birds, the wind, the sea, and all nature speaks with the music of praise for their creator?  Cannot I speak the same music to his children?  Henceforth will I remember this secret and it will change my life.
     I will great this day with love in my heart.

-Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In the World

A retrospective of sorts.............


One can't property say goodbye to the old year without first reviewing the 2018 collection of (mostly) blog headers from the wide, wide world of Eclecticity





































From the 2018 archives.  Sorry if I missed your favorite.

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


Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green............. New Year's Eve 1968

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Most likely.......................



An appropriate theme for 2019....................?




If you don't check in with John Cox and his lovely blog from time to time, well, you're missing out.

Biggitude...............................

























"M100 is appropriately known as a grand design spiral galaxy. It is a large galaxy of over 100 billion stars."

All the information you want (and a larger photo) is here 

If you are interested in the "are there more stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach" question, you can pursue answers here.

Verse............................


27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
-The Holy Bible, Luke 6:27-38

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


John Coltrane.................................................................Equinox

Charitable..................


When your tribal mindset takes over, you demonize the other side and never question your own beliefs. I think we need to do the opposite. We need to take the most charitable view of those with whom we disagree. And we need to examine our own views critically, as if we were trying to knock them down.

-Arnold Kling, as culled from here


-

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


Gladys Knight & The Pips................The End Of Our Road