Thursday, February 21, 2019
“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
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
............................................................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.
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
..............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.
.............................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.
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
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
Monday, February 18, 2019
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
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
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
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
Sunday, February 17, 2019
|"A Place of Worship" Roosevelt at Glacier Point, Yosemite|
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
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
“'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
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
.....................................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.”