Saturday, January 26, 2019
Although average life expectancy has doubled over the last hundred years, it is unwarranted to extrapolate and conclude that we can double it again to 150 in the coming century. In 1900 global life expectancy was no higher than forty because many people died young from malnutrition, infectious diseases and violence. Yet those who escaped famine, plague and war could life well into their seventies and eighties, which is the natural life span of Homo sapiens. Contrary to common notions, seventy-year-olds weren't considered rare freaks of nature in previous generations. Galileo Galilei died at seventy-seven, Issac Newton at eighty-four, and Michelangelo lived to the ripe age of eighty-eight, without any help from antibiotics, vaccinations or organ transplants. . . .
In truth, so far modern medicine hasn't extended our natural life span by a single year. Its great achievement has been to save us from premature death, and allow us to enjoy the full measure of our years.
-Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
......................................and the ability of one man to bring about a sea change in the fate of a country. Ah, history, the lessons you offer.
These men were not alone. In transforming America from a contained land power into a global empire, McKinley had stirred a robust opposition movement that included former presidents Harrison and Cleveland, current prominent politicians William Jennings Bryan and George Hoar, reform-minded thinkers such as Edwin Godkin and Samuel Francis Adams, college presidents and academics, labor leaders, prominent clergymen, and famous writers Twain, William Dean Howells, Edgar Lee Masters, and Ambrose Bierce. "It would be no mean task," writes historian Robert L, Beisner, "to think of another issue that has united such a collection of Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives, party stalwarts and independents, businessmen and labor-union leaders.
-Robert W. Merry, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century
"Every one who believes in the divine government of the world must believe that God will eventually take up the case of fellows who set unnecessary wars on foot, and I hope he won't forgive them."
Edwin Lawrence Godkin, as cut and pasted from his Life and Letters.
.................................all the best of luck in this venture:
Julia Rohrer wants to create a radical new culture for social scientists. A personality psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Rohrer is trying to get her peers to publicly, willingly admit it when they are wrong.
-Brian Resnick, as he opens this essay on "Intellectual Humility"
Friday, January 25, 2019
Ironically, churches today seem to be driving themselves mad to compete with television, movies, and the Internet: supercharged sound systems, better bands, more charismatic characters. However, there are some things that the Web has not even come close to duplicating: a comforting touch on a shoulder, a sympathetic squeeze of the hand, a reassuring hug.
The very act of touching is a miracle. Touch connect us to the other. Touch transmits and affirms humanity. Touch welcomes. Touch says, "You are not alone." Touch declares the other's equality with all God-image beings. Ultimately, the holy touch of godly people can erase a lifetime of isolation, rejection, and daily sentencing to society's margins. Touch validates. Touch is love.
-Tony Kriz, Neighbors and Wise Men: Sacred Encounters In A Portland Pub and Other Unexpected Places
We live in a culture in which the sense of being wronged is pervasive. If every misfortune can be blamed on someone else, we are relieved of the difficult task of examining our own contributory behavior or just accepting the reality that life is and always has been full of adversity. Most of all, by placing responsibility outside ourselves we miss out on the healing knowledge that what happens to us is not nearly as important as the attitude we adopt in response.
-Gordon Livingston, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now
Maybe all the broken
dreams and empty
promises the world offered
are just reflections
of what is within us.
Maybe one day
we will learn to accept
for all the faults
beneath the footprints
we leave behind.
Robert M. Drake, Walk Slowly
I blame Communism. I blame Fascism. I blame psychotherapy. They—and a boatload of other well-intentioned ideologies that evolved during the mass-culture, industrialized, dehumanizing epoch of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—all posited the same fantasy. They all preached that human nature was perfectible and that, thereby, evil could be overcome. It can't.
-Steven Pressfield, as excerpted from Do The Work!
Thursday, January 24, 2019
........................self-employed. Even if somebody else signs the paycheck, we can't shirk that responsibility.
Traditional employment offers an illusion. Maybe that’s part of the deal: the regular pay cheque implies continuity, that the future is someone else’s concern. But, if you work for yourself, the future comes into sharper focus. Self-employment requires a more active engagement with tomorrow.
-The Sovereign Professional
Everyone in my book accuses everyone else of being crazy. Frankly, I think the whole society is nuts — and the question is: What does a sane man do in an insane society?
-Joseph "When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch-22 I'm tempted to reply, 'Who has?'" Heller
“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
Oftentimes the First Noble Truth is misquoted as "All life is suffering," but that is an inaccurate and misleading reflection of the Buddha's insight. He did not teach that life is constant misery, nor that you should expect to feel pain and unhappiness at all times. Rather, he proclaimed that suffering is an unavoidable reality of ordinary human existence that is to be known and responded to wisely.
-Phillip Moffitt, Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights For Finding Meaning And Joy In The Face Of Suffering.
Deep down inside, I nurse a hot ember of anger, which requires the slightest of breezes to send me into paroxysm of furiously loud clacking on this old-style mechanical text entry device. “The keyboard of fury,” the missus calls it, and it is audible for miles around.
-Barry Ritholtz, borrowed from here
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
1. The New Yorker's Jill LePore essay, "Does Journalism Have A Future?" No definitive answer available. Here are a few excerpts
The daily newspaper is the taproot of modern journalism. Dailies mainly date to the eighteen-thirties, the decade in which the word “journalism” was coined, meaning daily reporting, the jour in journalism. Early dailies depended on subscribers to pay the bills. The press was partisan, readers were voters, and the news was meant to persuade (and voter turnout was high). But by 1900 advertising made up more than two-thirds of the revenue at most of the nation’s eighteen thousand newspapers, and readers were consumers (and voter turnout began its long fall). “The newspaper is not a missionary or a charitable institution, but a business that collects and publishes news which the people want and are willing to buy,” one Missouri editor said in 1892. Newspapers stopped rousing the rabble so much because businesses wanted readers, no matter their politics. “
“When you read your daily paper, are you reading facts or propaganda?” Upton Sinclair asked on the jacket of “The Brass Check,” in 1919.
“To keep a reporter’s prejudices out of a story is commendable,” Irving Kristol wrote in 1967. “To keep his judgment out of a story is to guarantee that the truth will be emasculated.”
2. Stratford Caldecott's essay, G. K. Chesterton and Modernity, wherein Chesterton points a finger of blame at Capitalism for destroying "family" in the modern world. That's not something you hear everyday. This Chesterton quote also included:
Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought… It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all…. There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped. That is the ultimate evil against which all religious authority was aimed. It only appears at the end of decadent ages like our own.
3. Christopher Hitchens pens an essay on the Freedom of Speech.
The unfettered tongue and pen do not always produce results that make our lives easier or more comfortable.
Mark Twain once observed sardonically that Americans were careful to make very sparing use of their precious and much-boasted liberty. But even he, the most popular figure in the country at the time, took care to conceal some of his more scornful views on religion and expansionist foreign policy.
My own opinion is a very simple one. The right of others to free expression is part of my own. If someone’s voice is silenced, then I am deprived of the right to hear. Moreover, I have never met nor heard of anybody I would trust with the job of deciding in advance what it might be permissible for me or anyone else to say or read. That freedom of expression consists of being able to tell people what they may not wish to hear, and that it must extend, above all, to those who think differently is, to me, self-evident.
At the book store..................................................................
Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.
-Mario Puzo, being the opening paragraph from The Godfather
“The wiser a man is, it seems to me, the more vividly he can see the future as part of the evolving present. He doesn’t break the flow of life, he directs it, hastens it, but preserves its continuity.”
Our age is characterized by a radical shift along this spectrum: from a public that was almost entirely reactive, to one that is hyper-active and ultra-intrusive. This was made possible by a proliferation of choices. The process resembled the radical strategic reversal described in my fable of Homo Informaticus. As more structural options became available to ordinary people, the latter began a migration back to their original interests, and the institutions which had once hemmed their behavior lost the power to do so.
. . . In business, design took priority over production, and personalization emerged as the grand ideal for design. In information, technological innovation released an astronomical number of capabilities for use and abuse by ordinary persons, reconstituting the new public and enabling its assault on the temples of authority.
this last development can help explain why Lippmann and Dewey got the future wrong: like every other person on the planet Earth, they failed to foresee the advent of personalized information technology.
-Martin Gurri, The Revolt of the Public
“To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man. The gesture characteristic of his tribe consists in looking at the world with eyes wide open in wonder. Everything in the world is strange and marvelous to well-open eyes.”
-José Ortega y Gasset
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self.
Each habit is like a suggestion: "Hey, maybe this is who I am." If your finish a book, maybe you are the type of person who likes to read. If you go to the gym, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes to exercise. If you practice playing the guitar, perhaps you are the type of person who likes music.
Each action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform you beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it actually is big. That's the paradox of making small improvements.
-James Clear, Atomic Habits
The way to facilitate satisfaction in relationships is lovingly to picture the best outcome. Make sure it is mutually beneficial: a win-win situation. Let go of all the negative feelings and merely hold the picture in mind. We can tell if we are really surrendered when we feel okay either way; it's okay with us if it happens, and it's okay with us if it doesn't. Therefore, to be surrendered does not mean to be passive. It is being active in a positive way.
When we are surrendered, there is no longer the pressure of time. Frustration comes from wanting a thing now instead of letting it happen naturally in its own time. Patience is an automatic side effect of letting go, and we know how easy it is to get along with patient people. Notice that patient people usually gt what they want in the end. . . .
We think that our happiness depends on controlling events, and that facts are what upset us. Actually, it is our feelings and thoughts about these facts that are the real cause of our upset. Facts in and of themselves are neutral things. The power we give them is due to our attitude of acceptance or non-acceptance and our overall feeling state. If we get stuck in a feeling, it is because we still secretly believe that it will accomplish something for us.
-David Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life. Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.
-James Allen, As A Man Thinketh
1. At day's first light have in readiness, against disinclination to leave your bed, the thought that 'I am rising for the work of man'. Must I grumble at setting out to do what I was born for, and for the sake of which I have been brought into the world? Is this the purpose of my creation, to lie here under the blankets and keep myself warm? 'Ah, but it is a great deal more pleasant!' Was it for pleasure, then, that you were born, and not for work, not for effort? Look at the plants, the sparrows, the ants, spiders, bees, all busy at their own tasks, each doing his part towards a coherent world-order; and will you refuse man's share of the work, instead of being prompt to carry out Nature's bidding? 'Yes, but one must have some repose as well.' Granted; but repose has its limits set by nature, the same way as food and drink have; and you overstep these limits, you go beyond the point of sufficiency; while on the other hand, when action is in question, you stop short of what you could well achieve.
-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, being the first paragraph of Book 5
Monday, January 21, 2019
Why did Sloan dislike Drucker’s book so much? It was certainly not because it was hostile to GM: the overall tone is one of admiration for the company and respect for the men who had built it. However, Drucker raised questions that Sloan and his colleagues did not wish to discuss, and attempting to bury the book was their response to this challenge. Professional managers did not derive their power from the ownership of the means of production. So what gave legitimacy to the power that Sloan and his colleagues exercised? What was the proper scope, and necessary limits, of that authority? What defined the social role of the modern, professionally managed corporation? These were the issues which Drucker sought to open in ; Sloan’s response was to close the book.
-John Kay, as extracted from this essay
Few episodes in McKinley's career reflected more distinctly the man's political and managerial style that his leadership of the war effort. Never inclined toward bombast or over take-charge exhibitions, he displayed his normal indirect methods of management—listening more than talking, soliciting opinions and advice from many sources while keeping his own counsel until it came time for decision making. Nor did he allow himself to get waylaid by the minutiae of the war enterprise.
Yet no one in Washington maintained a more detailed understanding of the big issues emanating from the war, and on one deflected him from his chosen path. . . . Perceiving clearly the political and military dangers in a protracted war, he moved aggressively to pummel the enemy and thus end the conflict as quickly and decisively as possible.
. . . A British commentator named Henry Norman, writing in the London Chronicle, foresaw a new fate for George Washington's famous admonition to his nation, "Avoid foreign entanglements." This warning, said Norman, now "ceases to be the compass of the statesman and becomes the curio of the historian.
-Robert W. Merry, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century, as Merry writes about the end to the Spanish-American War.
2. The film describes the hardship that the Beatles endured in Hamburg, where they lived in slum conditions and played exhausting marathon sets. A fellow musician said that with the long sets and tough audiences, “Either you got good or you gave up.” Taking that to heart, I often worked late into the night, even though the traffic to my site was on the order of 100 visitors a week when I got started.
-Arnold Kling, as copied and pasted from here
". . . people have a way of making the decisions they want to make regardless of nudging from politicians."
-as culled from here
Demsetz constantly stressed the dangers of falling prey to the “nirvana fallacy,” or the view of public policy that “implicitly presents the relevant choice as between an ideal norm and an existing ‘imperfect’ institutional arrangement. This approach differs considerably from a approach in which the relevant choice is between alternative real institutional arrangements.”
-Richard Epstein, from his article, The Greatness of Harold Demsetz
Sunday, January 20, 2019
In the aftermath of the destruction of the U. S. S. Maine:
"My duty is plain," he told his friend from Indiana, Senator Fairbanks, "We must learn the truth and endeavor, if possible, to fix the responsibility. This country can afford to withhold its judgment . . . until the truth is know."
-Robert W. Merry, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century
If I am reading my history correctly, we still do not truly know what caused the Maine to blow up in Havana's harbor. It is pretty clear, however, that Wikipedia favors the internal, rather than external, conclusion of cause. The major newspapers of McKinley's day certainly favored the external, rather than internal, cause.
Discipline has been defined as a system of techniques of dealing constructively with the pain of problem-solving—instead of avoiding that pain—in such a way that all of life's problems can be solved. Four basic techniques have been distinguished and elaborated: delaying gratification, assumption of responsibility, dedication to the truth or reality, and balancing. Discipline is a system of techniques, because these techniques are very much interrelated. In a single act one may utilize two, three or even all of the techniques at the same time and in such a way that they be distinguishable from each other. The strength, energy and willingness to use these techniques are provided by love . . .
-M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
Most of us postpone a decision hoping that Jesus will get weary of waiting and the inner voice of Truth will get laryngitis. Thus, the summons of the crisis parables remains suspended in a state of anxiety, so long as we opt neither for nor against the new dimension of living open to us. Our indecision creates more problems than it solves. Indecision means we stop growing for an indeterminate length of time; we get stuck. With the paralysis of analysis, the human spirit begins to shrivel. The conscious awareness of our resistance to grace and the refusal to allow God's love to make us who we really are brings a sense of oppression. Our lives become fragmented, inconsistent, lacking in harmony and out of sync. The worm turns. The felt security of staying in a familiar place vanishes. We are caught between a rock and hard place. How do we resolve this conundrum?
-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Clearly the president wanted to bury the "bloody shirt" that had enflamed sectional passions for decades. But he knew that unity and social harmony also required good times and a sense that American prosperity was widely shared. He devoted elements of his Annual Message to these themes.
-Robert W. Merry, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century. The year was 1897.