Monday, August 19, 2019

Fifty years ago.........................at Woodstock


Creedence Clearwater Revival.......................Born On The Bayou

Well, fifty years ago anyway...................


“Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”

-Will Durant


Eternally............................


Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again; eternally runs the year of being. Everything breaks, everything is joined anew; eternally the same House of Being is built. Everything parts, everything greets every other thing again; eternally the ring of being remains faithful to itself. In every Now, being begins; round every Here rolls the sphere There. The center is everywhere. Bent is the path of eternity.

-Friedrich Nietzsche,  Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Nice..........................


“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” 

-Henri Bergson

Paying attention.......................


     . . .in Egyptian monasticism, enormous stress is laid on the virtue of humility.  As Evagrius says, 'asceticism with humility is valuable, but asceticism without humility is extremely dangerous'.  And another Father said, 'It is better to fail with humility that to succeed with pride.'
     Above all else the Egyptian monks emphasised  self-knowledge.  The one practice which they harp on over and over again is 'paying attention to yourself', and going with this, they highlight the virtue of 'discernment', but which they mean an ability to diagnose exactly what is going on at any given moment.
     This explains why sometimes the Desert Fathers seem to be rather casual about morality.  Their concern is not that people should behave correctly according to the rules, but rather that people should be able to see their situation clearly for what it is. and so become free of the distorting perspective which underlies all our sins.
     Thus we hear of a fornicating monk, who kept a woman in his cell so indiscreetly that word got around about it.  The neighboring monks resolved to drive the monk away, and abba Ammonas, who happened to be visiting there was asked to go with them.  The offending monk heard them coming and hid his woman in a large jar.  Ammonas saw her at once, but 'hid the affair for the sake of God'.  He sat down on the jar, and then told the other monks to search the cell.  They, of course, found nothing and went away again abashed and apologetic.  Ammonas then took the culprit's hand and simply said to him, 'Brother, pay attention to yourself,' and went out.

-Simon Tugwell, Ways of Imperfection:  An Exploration of Christian Spirituality

Ryan Holiday on....................


........................................................................doing your job:

"Everything we do matters  whether it’s making smoothies to save up money or studying for the bar — even after we’ve already achieved the success we sought. Everything is a chance to do and be our best. Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires."

--------------------------------------------------------------
"The great psychologist Viktor Frankl, survivor of three concentration camps, found presumptuousness in the age-old question: What is the meaning of life?” As though it is someone else’s responsibility to tell us. Instead, he said, the world is asking you that question. And it’s our job to answer with our actions.
"In every situation, life is asking us a question, and our actions are the answerOur job is simply to answer well."

Entrench.........................





     via

Today...........................



Fifty years ago..................at Woodstock


Creedence Clearwater Revival.....................I Put A Spell On You

Getting a head start on 2020.......



...............I started thumbing through the newest Almanac (for farmers & city folk).  Among the tidbits of interesting things, this was found:

     Lemmings are not suicidal!  Filmmakers in Disney's 1958 nature film, "White Wilderness" pushed dozens of lemmings off a cliff while cameras rolled, for dramatic effect—thereby staging a lemming death plunge.  This deliberate fraud started the myth.

Finding it difficult to fathom that Disney would ever release a film that wasn't the gospel truth, the Oracle Google was consulted.  Google clearly backs up the Farmer's Almanac on outing this fraudulent film.  Amazing.  How come I never knew this?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Making a case for.................


...........................................paying down the mortgage.   While it is an interesting discussion, our tendency has always been to invest in more real estate and take out another mortgage.  Different strokes.........

Beyond Meat........................


......................Color me doubtful, but this is still pretty interesting.

Astronomy..................


.................................The old-fashioned way:


Rx: A wee bit of healthy self-doubt.....


Why do we demonize those with whom we disagree? The basic reason is that it helps to protect us from having to question or doubt our own beliefs. 

-Arnold S. Kling, as taken from this "How We Polarize Ourselves" essay

Cartoon Saturday.........................


.....................................at Bilbo's aims at gunsA single sample:

















That one reminded me of this one:


Virtually impossible.................


Myles Udland put it perfectly when he said, “The more accurate formulation of ‘No one knows anything’ is ‘Everyone knows everything.'”Everybody knows everything is the new nobody knows nothing.
In ten minutes you can learn most of what took a lifetime for Darwin to discover. You have to be careful trying to infer something from everything, because in today’s world, it is virtually impossible to separate the signal from the noise.

Bring back the Wooly Mammoth!.........


..................................................................No, seriously.


I wonder if young Wooly Mammoths............


...............................................believed in the Tooth Fairy?

Fifty years ago.....................At Woodstock


Janis Joplin............................................................Ball & Chain

Friday, August 16, 2019

The view from my desk...........................



Ah, science..............................





     via

In case you were not aware.............


The very long U.S. election season is here.  What to keep on mind? Two things strike me as fundamental.

1. Knowledge is complex and dispersed. This means that innovation (and progress) depend on trial-and-error innovation in a competitive environment – one not encumbered by the heavy hand of you-know-who. This is especially important in a season when the candidates have policies, plans and programs for everything.

2. In fact, there will always be a political class (includes their many private sector cronies) working hard on cronyist plans and policies.

Millions of voters have sat through some version of an economic principles class. How many of them have encountered these two fundamental principles? Too few, I worry.

These two fundamental observations are facts of life and in conflict. That’s what makes it interesting. The economist Peter Boettke has elaborated and even imagined a derby involving “Three S’s”.  Smithian gains from trade, Schumpeterian competition, and, third S for stupid.

All three are always in play. And it’s election season.


Fifty years ago.......................at Woodstock


Joe Cocker...........................................Something's Coming On

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


.........................Woodstock:  Three Days of Peace & Music.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Aging like a fine wine..................


He's still pretty young, but still...............

Garbage time....................


Jerry Seinfeld on Father's Day and parenting:

I don’t need any special days. I mean they’re all special. We spend a lot of time together and I enjoy every second of it. Again, I’m a believer in the ordinary and the mundane. These guys that talk about “quality time” – I always find that a little sad when they say, “We have quality time.” I don’t want quality time. I want the garbage time. That’s what I like. You just see them in their room reading a comic book and you get to kind of watch that for a minute, or [having] a bowl of Cheerios at 11 o’clock at night when they’re not even supposed to be up. The garbage, that’s what I love.

The bigger picture....................


"It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, and a race; it is its past, and cannot be understood without it. 

"Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts — between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love.  History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks."

-Will Durant

On self-fulfilling prophesies........













         via

Expectations...............


“There is nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so don’t expect yourself to do so either.” 

-Unknown, from this of five things to stop doing

Fifty years ago...........................at Woodstock


Joe Cocker.................................................Let's Go Get Stoned

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In praise of..........................


...............................................................................sandstorms?

What was previously thought to be dangerous and destructive turns out to have been clarifying and constructive. The desert needs the sandstorm to stay vibrant and vital. The overturning of the status quo is chaotic and dark, but what is revealed is bright and beautiful. For the desert to bloom, it needs to be cleansed from time to time; sandstorms make space for new growth.

This is asking a lot...............


These articles about the election must be cranked out, and I'm only blogging this one because it is so absurd. Kamala Harris was "briefly sent... into the stratosphere"?! She briefly polled in the teens, and then slipped back into the single digits. Instead of an article asking why she's not more popular, ask yourselves how you ever got caught up into assuming that she was supposed to be so popular. You assume something should be true, then you proceed to inquire why it isn't. How about speaking honestly about your own assumption?

-from this Althouse post

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


It was Beatrice Kenton who first questioned the identity of the new girl.  She did so in the staff room, at a quarter past three, on a Friday in late November.  The mood was festive and faintly rebellious, as was the case most Friday afternoons.  It is a truism that no profession welcomes the end of the workweek with more anticipation that teachers—even teachers at elite institutions such as the International School of Geneva.  The chatter was of plans for the weekend.  Beatrice abstained, for she had none, a fact she did not wish to share with her colleagues.  She was fifty-two, unmarried, and with no family to speak of other than a rich aunt who granted her refuge each summer at her estate in Norfolk.  Her weekend routing consisted of a trip to the Migros and a walk along the lakeshore for the sake of her waistline, which, like the universe, was ever expanding.  First period Monday was an oasis in an otherwise Empty Quarter of solitude.

-Daniel Silva,  The New Girl

Fifty years ago......................at Woodstock


Joe Cocker.............................With A Little Help From My Friends

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

I would vote........................


...........................................for some sustained incremental tinkering, before embarking on some grand plan:

Such problems are easier to diagnose than to cure. Reforming American healthcare will require an almighty effort. With politics gridlocked and soaking in lobbyist money, it’s not obvious that the US government is capable of running the kind of healthcare system that works elsewhere — even if Congress decides to try. But try it must, because the status quo is a tragedy.

Praying..........................


................................................................for another success story.

thanks

With apologies.....................


.....................................................to Mark Knopfler.














cartoon via

Doesn't matter the stimulus............


................I have a hard time subscribing to this reaction:

Yet now I find myself thinking: I don’t care. Do it incompetently, but do something.”

Fifty years ago...................at Woodstock


Arlo Guthrie........................................Coming Into Los Angeles
(music starts around 2:26)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

As diets go...........................



via        via

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


     Three tellers were working the morning Isabel Roland was kidnapped.  Clark Davos, a sweet guy whose third baby had just been born; Dana Chin, who was funny and wore fabulous shoes; and Isabelle, the youngest teller on duty.  Isabel began working at the bank a little over a year ago, three months before her mother died.  Five customers were in line, but more customers entered the bank every few seconds.

-Robert Crais,  A Dangerous Man

Seth Godin..................


............................................Sometimes excerpting from one of his blog posts is just not enough:


Plato believes....................


      Plato believes that a nation cannot be strong unless it believes in God.  A mere cosmic force, or first cause, or elan vital, that was not a person, could hardly inspire hope, or devotion, or sacrifice;  it could not offer comfort to the hearts of the distressed, nor courage to embattled souls.  But a living God can do all this, and can stir or frighten the self-seeking individualist into some moderation of his greed, some control of his passion.  All the more so if if to belief in God is added belief in personal immortality:  the hope of another life gives us courage to meet our own death, and to bear with the death of our loved ones;  we are twice armed if we fight with faith.  Granted that none of the beliefs can be demonstrated; that God may be after all only the personified ideal of our love and our hope, and that the soul is like the music of the lyre, and dies with the instrument that gave it form:  yet surely (so runs the argument, Pascal-like,of the Phaedo) it will do us not harm to believe, and it may do us and our children immeasurable good.

-Will Durant,  The Story of Philosophy

Fifty years ago...................At Woodstock


Tim Hardin....................................Simple Song of Freedom

Disappointment........................


     Christianity has to be disappointing, precisely because it is not a mechanism for accomplishing all our human ambitions and aspirations, it is a mechanism for subjecting all things to the will of God.  The first disciples were disappointed because Jesus turned out not to be the kind of Messiah they wanted.

-Simon Tugwell O. P., Ways of Imperfection:  An Exploration of Christian Spirituality

Saturday, August 10, 2019

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


'You know I don't like to meddle in things,' Conte Falier told Brunetti.  'But since, in this case, he's so close to me, I feel I don't have a choice, not really.'  Brunetti, seated opposite his father-in-law in one of the over-ripe armchairs that filled Palazzo Falier, had been listening to the older man for some time, aware of how difficult il Conte was finding it to begin telling the story he obviously wanted Brunetti to hear.

-Donna Leon, Unto Us a Son Is Given:  A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

(If you haven't started reading Leon's Brunetti stories, well, start now.  Much enjoyment awaits you.)

The autodidact..................


I had never heard of John Bernard Flannagan,
American sculptor,
until I found him on page 961
of the single-volume encyclopedia I have been reading
at the rate of one page each day.

He was so poor, according to the entry
he could not afford the good, quarried marble
and instead had to carve animals
out of the fieldstones he gathered
until he committed suicide in 1942,
the year, I can’t help thinking, I turned one.

Of course, I know what flannel is,
but that French flannel is napped on only one side
is new to me and a reminder that
no matter what size the aquarium of one’s learning,
another colored pebble can always be dropped in.

Tonight a fog blows by the windows,
and a mist falls through the porch lights
as my index finger descends from flat-coated retriever
to flatfish, those sideways creatures—
turbot, plaice, flounder, sole—
all swimming through the dark with close-set eyes,
toothless, twisted mouths,
and a preference for warm, shallow water.

But this is nothing new to me.
No dots are connected in the vast grid 
of my autodidacticism.
No branch is pruned in the forest of my ignorance,
which is why I am stepping over the Flathead River
of Canada and Montana's Flathead Lake
and coming to rest on the Flathead Indians
who never actually practiced heat-flattening
I am disappointed to learn,
but got their name from neighboring tribes
who shaped the fronts of their own heads
to achieve a pointed appearance,
which is how I hope to look
when the entire contents of this book
press against the inside of my high forehead.

What a relief to emerge
from all this flatheadedness and land on
Flaubert, son of a surgeon, victim of a nervous
disorder, and pursuer of le mot juste.
Yet the entry for the supreme master of the realistic novel
is no taller than a filtered cigarette
and hardly half the size of the piscatory word-puff
then envelops the subject of flatfish.

Posterity is, indeed, a cruel and savagely attired mistress,
but my own slow, sentimental education
must continue with the revelation
that while there were three emperors and
a Catholic patriarch named Flavian,
there is only one Dan Flavin, another sculptor,
who works, the bottom of the narrow column tells me,
in the medium of fluorescent lights,
luminous tubes, strangely configured.

The hour is late as I mark my place
with a playing card and close the book in my lap.
A cool vapor flows over the windowsills.
Appalachia is behind me, Napoleon lies ahead,
and I will save for tomorrow the subject of flax
(the chief source of fiber and seed oil
from prehistoric times to the development of cotton).
It is time to float on the waters of the night.
Time to wrap my arms around this book
and press it to my chest, life preserver
in a sea of unremarkable men and women,
anonymous faces on the street,
a hundred thousand unalphabetized things
a million forgotten hours.

-Billy Collins,  "What I Learned Today"


A direct carver......................


............................some art from John Bernard Flannagan:






An American minimalist..............


................................some art work by Dan Flavin:








Fifty years ago...................At Woodstock


Tim Hardin..............................................If I Were A Carpenter

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Be not conformed....................


     For years King had felt an affinity with Saint Paul.  He likened his own "kitchen conversion" in January 1956 to Paul's blinding vision on the road to Damascus in the first century C. E.  The Greek Jew, like King, heard Jesus speaking to him.  The heavenly light was so bright that Paul could not see in an earthly way for three days.  King identified with the ex-persecutor's relentless persecution—"tried for heresy at Jerusalem, jailed at Philippi, beaten at Thessalonica, mobbed at Ephesus, depressed at Athens," and imprisoned and executed in Rome.
     Not long after King's own vision he preached a sermon at Dexter in the persona of Paul, a letter to American Christians.   Martin as Paul urged his audience to  "be not conformed to this world," but to transform themselves into the divine image, a colony of heaven, to being by refusing to conform to banal evil.  At least since his Albany jailing King had thought about writing a letter from jail as Paul had done.  Now he transmuted the despair he felt reading the clergymen's letter into a furious burst of intellectual energy, to craft a Pauling epistle that sharpened themes he had previewed in his 1956 sermon.
     Like Paul of Tarsus, the Birmingham inmate penned an urgent letter for a particular place and time that took on universal meaning for all times and places.

-Stewart Burns,  To The Mountaintop:  Martin Luther King Jr.'s Sacred Mission To Save America 1955-1968

King's amazing letter is here

Intentionally.................................


     We become masters of our calendar because we need to regain control of the time that is given to us.  We start simple:  just planing our coming week, setting aside a few hours towards our goal somewhere in those seven days.  Then we move on to a day, carving out those twenty-four hours. . . . 
      To live reactively is a terrible thing.  Reactive living is thoughtless living.  It's a matter of responding to stimuli.  Time is running out.  Gotta do this!  Gotta do that! . . .
      We master our calendar so that we can manipulate time;  we manipulate time so that we can start living intentionally, knowing where we want to go.

-Akbar Gbajabiamila,  Everyone Can Be A Ninja:  Find Your Inner Warrior And Achieve Your Dreams

Instead....................


"Instead, I’m beginning to understand the importance of living in the questions"

-Julian Summerhayes, as culled from here

via

An attitude of gratitude..............


..........did not make the cut, but otherwise, this is a pretty good list.

An investment..........................


..........................................................for the common good.

Fifty years ago...............at Woodstock


The Band.............................................................The Weight

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Relax.............................



Is it a stretch to say that he is trying...


.................to do what Ronald Reagan did to the U.S.S.R?  Just wondering.

"When would you ever expect the leadership of a democracy to be able to outlast an authoritarian government in terms of living with unhappiness from its citizens?"

-Warren Meyer, as extracted from here

Broadening horizons......................


................................Allen Toussaint.  Who knew?  #14 on this list.   I'd easily trade a cigar and a single malt for that CD.

The view from my office...................


It was a great day to play two.  The sun was shining over Cleveland as the Tribe swept the Texas Rangers, 2-0 and 5-1.   Hard work, but somebody has to do it.   Thanks Mark.



Fifty years ago.........................at Woodstock


Stills and Young........................................................Mr. Soul

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Mimetic desire..........................


     One of the most profound intellectual influences on Peter Thiel is a French thinker named René Girard, whom he met while at Stanford and whose funeral he would eventually speak at in 2015.  Girard's theory of mimetic desire holds that people have no idea what they want, or what they value, so they are drawn to what other people want.  They want what other people have.  They covet.  It's this, Girard says, that is the source of almost all the conflict in the world.  

-Ryan Holiday, Conspiracy:  A True Story of Power, Sex, and a Billionaire's Secret Plot To Destroy a Media Empire

Super unclear.........................


"It's super unclear how to negotiate with sociopaths."

-Peter Thiel 

The Second Amendment and "gun control".......


"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

On December 15, 1791 the Bill of Rights (the given name for the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was ratified.  Many a debate has been had over the interesting way the Second Amendment was worded.  We are in the midst of another one.

Seems from here that the Framers of the Constitution built into their system the solution to gun control.  Don't like what the Second Amendment offers you?  Get Congress to approve the wording of a new amendment and have 75% of the state legislatures ratify it.  

Difficult to craft an amendment that a vast majority of the citizens and states of the U. S. of A. will support?   Absolutely.  So do the hard work anyway.  It is the only way.

On seeds..........................


36.  Observe how all things are continually being born of change;  teach yourself to see that Nature's highest happiness lies in changing the things that are, and forming new thinks after their kind.  Whatever is, is in some sense the seed of  what is to emerge from it.  Nothing can become a philosopher less that to imagine that the seed can only be something that is planted in the earth or the womb.

-Marcus Aurelius,   Meditations,  Book Four

On leading......................


"leadership is a mindset, not a grade, a permission nor a title."

-Nicholas Bate

Fifty years ago.................at Woodstock


Crosby, Stills & Nash................................Helplessly Hoping

Monday, August 5, 2019

The possibilities........................


..........................................................................begin here.

Do you have a "to do" list?


     Do you also have a "stop doing" list?
     Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives.  We have ever-expanding "to do" lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing—and doing more.  It rarely works.  Those who  built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of "stop doing" lists as "to do" lists.  They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.

-Jim Collins, as excerpted from Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don't