Saturday, February 23, 2019

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


................................at the book store:

The striking thing about love and will in our day is that, whereas in the past they were held up to us as the answer to life's predicaments, they have now themselves become the problem.  It is always true that love and will become more difficult in a transitional age; and ours is an era of radical transition.  The old myths and symbols by which we oriented ourselves are gone, anxiety is rampant;  we cling to each other and try to persuade ourselves that what we feel is love;  we do not will because we are afraid that if we choose one thing or one person we'll lose the other, and we are too insecure to take that chance.  The bottom then drops out of the conjunctive emotions and processes—of which love and will are two of the foremost examples.  The individual is forced to turn inward;  he becomes obsessed with the new form of the problem of identity, namely, Even-if-I-know-who-I-am, I-have-no-significance.  I am unable to influence others.  The next step is apathy.  And the following step is violence.  For no human being can stand the perpetually numbing experience of his own powerlessness.

-Rollo May, from the opening paragraph to the Introduction to his 1969 book, Love And Will

I am guessing (tell you later) that, despite the tone of this paragraph, the book will actually be optimistic about our chances.

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


Sly & The Family Stone.................................Everyday People



Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I'm in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah
There is a blue one who can't accept the green one
For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo
Oh sha sha we got to live together
I am no better and neither are you
We are the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me you know me and then
You can't figure out the bag I'm in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah
There is a long hair that doesn't like the short hair
For bein' such a rich one that will not help the poor one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo
Oh sha sha we got to live together
There is a yellow one that won't accept the black one
That won't accept the red one that won't accept the white one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo
I am everyday people


Friday, February 22, 2019

There goes the neighborhood................






















back story. and enlargeable image. here

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


On the day his destiny returned to claim him, Ted Mundy was sporting a bowler hat and balancing on a soapbox in one of Mad King Ludwig's castles in Bavaria.  It wasn't a classic bowler, more your Laurel and Hardy than Savile Row.  It wasn't an English hat, despite the Union Jack blazoned in Oriental silk on the handkerchief pocket of his elderly tweed jacket.  The maker's grease-stained label on the inside of the crown proclaimed it to be the work of Messrs. Steinmatzky & Sons, of Vienna.

-John Le Carré,  Absolute Friends

Listening................................


Hearing, generally speaking, is one of the five senses, the one that centers on our ears and our brain's processing of the sounds it receives.  It is involuntary and momentary.  Hearing is something that happens to us.  Sounds force our attention, and we "obey" them instinctually through our body's responses.
      Listening, on the other hand, is something we choose.  Listening is a practice of focused attention.  Hearing is an act of the senses, but listening is an act of the will.  In listening you center not only your ears but your mind, heart and posture on someone or something other than yourself.  It is a chosen obedience, like soldiers falling into line the moment their commanding officer calls them to attention.

-Adam S. McHugh,  The Listening Life:  Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction

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


The Beatles..............................................................Something

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Decisions......................


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,"  said Frodo.
"So do I,"  said Gandalf,  "and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 


― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Instruction..................



      Albrecht Durer (St. George killing the dragon) Art Poster Print

































Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist.   Children already know that dragons exist.   Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.

-attributed to G. K. Chesterton

Respect............................


“I pay respect to wisdom not to strength.” 

-C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy:  The Shape of  My Early Life


Pretty good advice................


 “And I always go like, ‘Do not become the thing that you disdain. Do not become the thing that you hate.’ Because then, what are you fighting for if you’ve become the thing that you’re trying to fight against?”

-Trevor Noah, as culled from here

via

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


The Fifth Dimension...................................Wedding Bell Blues

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On liberty...........................


“I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value.
I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave…
In any dispute between a citizen and the government, it is my instinct to side with the citizen… I am against all efforts to make men virtuous by law.”

Checking in with Althouse...........


.....................Everyone's such a drama queen these days.

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


The Cowsills...............................................................Hair

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It is good.....................................


............................................................to have goals:

My real goal would be to fall between the 1.8% Mike Huckabee got and the 4.5% Rand Paul got. That should be enough votes to earn at least a single delegate. Me and that lucky delegate would party our asses off at the National Convention.

Instincts...........................


     Unless, of course, one continued one's own education by watching the sometimes disorienting spectacle of youth in flight from the past.  Roosevelt's Energetik, his dirigible ability to change course at a moment's notice, his tendency to write exuberant Os in the air, made [Henry] Adams doubt his own trail across "the darkening prairie of education."  To a historian born in 1838, "always and everywhere the Complex has been true and the Contradiction certain."  Here was Roosevelt trumpeting either-or banalities, lecturing intellectuals as though they were children, and yet repeatedly prevailing in the most intricate political situations.  Might the President's simplicity be that of an idiot savant who instinctively understood how Complexity worked, even to the point of using Contradiction to generate extra energy?  If so, he was certainly not simplistic.  He was, on the contrary, formidable: twentieth-century in his eager embrace of Chaos, eighteenth-century in his utter self-certainty.  To Roosevelt, as to Kant, "Truth was the essence of the 'I'."

-Edmund Morris,  Theodore Rex

Just another reason.....................


..............why it makes sense to check in with Farnam Street:

Don’t get me wrong. Reasoned skepticism and disagreement are essential to progress and democracy. The problem is that most of what’s happening isn’t reasoned skepticism. It’s the adult equivalent of a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.

Surely they will wake up..................


.............................once they realize they are morphing into the "new Victorians."  Although with what passes for history teaching today, they might not understand that it's not a compliment.




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


The Archies.........................................................Sugar, Sugar

A cultural barroom brawl........................


Today we drown in data, yet thirst for meaning.  That world-transforming tidal wave of information has disproportionately worsened the noise-to-signal ratio.  According to Taleb, "The more data you get, the less you know what's going on."  And the more you know, the less you trust, as the gap between reality and the authorities' claims of competence becomes impossible to ignore. . . . the public has lost faith in the people on whom it relied to make  sense of the world—journalists, scientists, experts of every stripe.  By the same process, the elites have lost faith in themselves. . . .

Lack of certainty isn't ignorance:  it's a splinter of doubt festering in all we know, a radical disillusionment with the institutions of settled truth.  Once important effect has been a sort of cultural barroom brawl, as every question of significance becomes an irritant and source of strife between interested parties.

-Martin Gurri,  The Revolt of the Public

Easy does it.....................


Conventional wisdom holds that motivation is the key to habit change.  Maybe if you really wanted it, you'd actually do it.   But the truth is, our real motivation is to be lazy and do what is convenient.  And despite what the latest productivity best seller will tell you, this is a smart strategy, not a dumb one.
     Energy is precious, and the brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible.  It is human nature to follow the Law of Least Effort, which states that when deciding two similar options, people will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. . .

     The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible.

-James Clear,  Atomic Habits

About the ego.............................


"The ego is not our friend. . . . it wants to keep us enslaved by its programs."

-David R. Hawkins

Monday, February 18, 2019

this rolling massacre of the corporations..........


In Race Against the Machine, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee conjectured that this frenzy of innovation has been a major reason for the stagnant economic growth since 2008.  "The root of our problems is not that we're in a Great Recession or a Great Stagnation, but rather that we are in the early throes of a Great Restructuring," they argued.  "Our technologies are racing ahead but many of our skills and organizations are lagging behind." . . . Half the firms listed on the Fortune 500 in 1999 had dropped out by 2009.  According to Richard Foster, the average lifespan of a company on the S & P 500 has declined from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today. . . . The public has been perfectly indifferent to this rolling massacre of the corporations.  And it should be:  out of the carnage, it gets what it wants.  Some companies deliver the goods.  That others tried and failed—and died—is of little consequence.

-Martin Gurri,  The Revolt of the Public

The antifragility of capitalism..............


We come here to the great paradox and tentative explanation about why the networked public, so destructive of the status quo, has tolerated and to some extent embraced the standing economic system. . . .  In the current environment, as I understand it, businesses have proved no wiser, more far-seeing, or successful than other institutional actors.  But capitalism, as a whole, has made more productive use of the failure of its parts than most institutions under assault by the public.  To borrow Taleb's terminology, capitalism appears to be "antifragile": it "regenerates itself continuously by using, rather than suffering from, random events, unpredictable shocks, stressors, and volatility."  This has allowed the system to prosper despite the horrors of 2008, while, not unrelatedly, bestowing on the consumer a multitude of new technologies and products.

-Martin Gurri,  Revolt of the Public

Words matter............................


In the US, in the early nineteenth century, to be called a democrat was considered an insult (democracy being seen as the equivalent of mobocracy). The term was at that time an equivalent to the denomination of “populists” in contemporary Europe. The federalists thus called Jefferson’s supporters “democrats” in order to demean them. This insult would then be inverted and positively embraced, as a valorizing attribute, resulting in the founding of the “Democratic Party” in 1828. The Democrat was the “common man” who accused the federalist elites of being “Brahmins” or aristocrats. The opposing side valued what was known as the “nose-count democracy” or “coonskin democracy” (i.e., democracy of those who wore a trapper’s hat, with a raccoon’s tail), celebrating the authentic America of these nose-counts and coonskins. The Federalists, however, who founded the “Whig” party, which later become the “Republican” party, soon came, by the same token, to emphasize their “popular touch” in electoral competitions. And they ultimately said that they were as “democratic” as Jackson’s supporters, whose candidate was elected president in 1830. Thus it was also a sociological variable that explains the shift to the positive use of the term “democracy” in the United States – yet in the blurriest of ways, even more than in France. The American cult of democracy would ultimately be associated with a form of messianism, referring to a divine project. It was this will to appropriate “democracy” as a synonym for American exceptionalism that completed its acclimatization and placed the term at the heart of the American political vocabulary. Its consecration would come when it transformed America into a country that conceived itself as promoting a new universalism (an idea whose naïve arrogance produced, over the course of the twentieth century, effects with which we are all familiar). A famous writer from this period stated: “For us, democracy is now merely Christianity put into practice.” This meant that democracy had become a religion and that it was no longer simply a political regime. 

-Pierre Rosanvallon, as culled from this essay


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


Beach Boys.....................................................I Can Hear Music





The Same, many years later with the amazing Kathy Troccoli



Get to...................


Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings, and we can use this insight to our advantage rather than to our detriment.

You can make habits more attractive if you can learn to associate them with a positive experience.  Sometimes, all you need is a slight mind-set shift.  For instance, we often talk about everything we have to do in a given day.  You have to wake up early for work.  You have to make another sales call for your business.  You have to cook dinner for your family.
     Now, imagine changing just one word:  You don't "have" to.  You "get" to.
     You get to wake up early for work.  You get to make another sales call for your business.  You get to cook dinner for your family.  By simply changing one word, you shift the way you view each event.  You transition from seeing these behaviors as burdens and you turn them into opportunities.

-James Clear,  Atomic Habits

Yep...................................


"Do not all these things interest you?   Isn't it a fine thing to be alive when so many great things are happening?"

-Theodore Roosevelt

On true love.............................


"True love is free of fear and characterized by non-attachment."

-David R. Hawkins

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Cathedral.................................


"A Place of Worship"   Roosevelt at Glacier Point, Yosemite
May 1903























Two evenings later, Roosevelt lay high in Yosemite, on a bet of fragrant pine needles, looking up at the sky.  On all sides soared the cinnamon-colored shafts of sequoia trees.  He had the feeling that he was "lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hands of man." . . . Speaking in Sacramento, he begged Californians to preserve their "marvelous natural resources" unimpaired.  "We are not building this country of ours for a day.  It is to last through the ages."

-Edmund Morris,  Theodore Rex

Claims......................................


     His speech there on 7 September was so utopian that Jules Jusserand accused him of parroting Sir Thomas More.  Actually Roosevelt was identifying with Euripides—like himself, an upper-class celebrant of middle-class virtues— as he mused at length on the vulnerability of republics that failed to preserve their social equipoise.  Whichever class arose to dominate others—whether high, low, or bourgeois—always made disproportionate claims on the government:

          Again and again in the republics of ancient Greece, in
          those of medieval Italy, and medieval Flanders, this 
          tendency was shown, and wherever the tendency became
          habit it invariably and inevitably proved fatal to the
          state. . . . There resulted violent alternations between
          tyranny and disorder, and a final complete loss of liberty
          to all citizens—destruction in the end overtaking the
          class which had for the moment been victorious as
          well as that which had momentarily been defeated.
          The death-knell of the republic had rung as soon as
          active power became lodged in the hands of those
          who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and
          poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for
          its interests as opposed to the interests of others.


Edmund Morris,  Theodore Rex

Leadership......................


“'Why do you suppose they made you king in the first place?'  I ask him. 'Not for your benefit, but for theirs. They meant you to devote your energies to making their lives more comfortable, and protecting them from injustice. So your job is to see that they're all right, not that you are - just as a shepherd's job, strictly speaking, is to feed his sheep, not himself.'” 

-Sir Thomas More,  Utopia

Woe...................................


“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” 


-attributed to Euripides

We could argue for hours....................


............................about the meaning of "most qualified":


Temperamentally..................................


In Washington, the President lunched with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes—"one of the most interesting men I have ever met"—and Sir Frederick Pollock, Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University.  Roosevelt enjoyed their company, yet remained temperamentally unable to understand the workings of minds more concerned with reason than power.

-Edmund Morris,  Theodore Rex

Checking in.............................


.....................................with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:

“We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.” 

“The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future.”

“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.”

“The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.” 

“We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.”

“I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy.” 

“Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.” 

“Greatness is not in where we stand but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it—but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”

“Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered that I was not God.” 

A rudder.................................


“Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.” 

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

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


And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The Holy Bible,  Matthew 5:1-16

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


The Hollies.................................He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother