Saturday, July 10, 2010

Louis L'Amour and Plutarch and Pericles

Louis L'Amour wrote and wrote and wrote.  What he wrote
got published.  As Seth would say, "he shipped."  Most of
his stories were tales of the old west, places that civilization
had not yet caught up to.  In many of his books he told of how
the frontiersmen craved reading material and would memorize
labels on cans if that was all there was to read.  He also said
that, since pioneering was a serious business, those traveling
with books only took the best.  One of the books L'Amour
often mentioned was Plutarch's Lives.   He mentioned it enough
that I eventually bought a copy.  I'd like to tell you that I have
read it, but, of its 1,296 pages, I've read less than one hundred. 
Still, it makes me feel better knowing its on the shelf, waiting-
patiently waiting.  Plutarch (A.D. 46-100)  wrote on "the Lives
of the Noble Grecians and Romans".  He wrote fifty essays on
individuals and eighteen essays comparing and contrasting the
lives of corresponding Greeks and Romans

Speaking of Pericles, Plutarch said, "He was indeed a character
deserving our high admiration not only for his equitable and mild
temper, which all along in the many affairs of his life, and the great
animosities which he incurred, he constantly maintained; but also
for the high spirit and feeling which made him regard it the
noblest of all his honors that, in the exercise of such immense
power, he never had gratified his envy or his passion, nor ever
had treated any enemy as irreconcilably opposed to him."

"Than Pericles, meantime, no man had ever greater opportunities
to enrich himself, having presents offered him from so many kings
and princes and allies, yet no man was ever more free from
corruption. And the beauty and magnificence of temples and
public edifices with which he adorned his country, it must be
confessed, that all the ornaments and structures of Rome, to
the time of the Caesars, had nothing to compare, either in
greatness of design or of expense, with the lustre of those
which Pericles only erected at Athens."

"The course of public affairs after his death produced a quick and
speedy sense of the loss of Pericles.  Those who, while he lived,
resented his great authority, as that which eclipsed themselves,
presently after his quitting the stage, making trial of other orators
and demagogues readily acknowledged that there never had
been in nature such a disposition as his was, more moderate and
reasonable in the height of that state he took upon him, or more
grave and impressive in the mildness which he used.  And that
invidious arbitrary power, to which formerly they gave the name
of monarchy and tyranny, did then appear to have been the chief
bulwark of public safety; so great a corruption and such a flood
of mischief and vice followed which he, by keeping weak and low,
had withheld from notice, and had prevented from attaining
incurable height through a licentious impunity."

So ended Greece's "Golden Age of Pericles".

It is fascinating to find fascinating things.............

that I had no clue would fascinate me. Here

Sometimes the discovery trail is almost as interesting as the
discovery.  In this case it went from Kurt to Idea Anaconda to  Ten minutes ago I didn't even know
existed.  How fun!

God bless the broken road...............

My Sweetie and I stopped by Bake n Brew two weekends ago
and heard the fabulous Shawna Corder sing.  Brought back some
memories.  We were blessed to have Shawna sing this song at
our wedding.  It made my Mom cry.

My favorite, and formerly optimistic, economic futurist looks to be hedging his bets......

"The weak nature of the employment report combines with a
volatile stock market and other signs of slowing U.S. economic
performance in recent weeks. Such weakness has emboldened
more bearish prognosticators of the economy to more firmly
embrace the double-dip recession view.

We will maintain our view of a 2.2% to 3.0% real (after inflation)
annual growth pace of the U.S. economy for 2010. We didn’t
jump on the much more optimistic 'growth bandwagon' earlier
this year when employment gains and other economic data were
more impressive. We won’t jump on the 'woe is me bandwagon'
now, although many economic growth forecasts will move down
toward the 1.5% to 2.5% level, or less. And note: the chance of
a double-dip has risen."

Thredgold's full newsletter here

Friday, July 9, 2010

I like this guy's attitude............

“'I think there’s a collective judgment in the investment
marketplace that [retailers] are going to be ramping up their
earnings, and that the next 12 to 24 months are going to be
surprisingly good for them,' says Ralph Block, a REIT
historian and author based in Westlake Village, Calif.
Retailers are likely to open new stores, and they’ll have the
clout to bargain over lease rates, he says."

"As retailers strengthen, they likely will gravitate to stronger-
performing malls, says Block, the REIT historian. 'Everybody’s
been saying the consumer is dead. But the consumer is not dead.
Ninety percent of the people in this country are employed.'”

Excerpted from the National Real Estate Investor cover
story in May.  Full article here.

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

...................the entrepreneur. 

A previous post in March quoted the  following from Tom
Clancy's Debt of Honor:

"You look for activity, not inactivity, as an indication of
 a trend, but inactivity is the real danger here. If I decide
to sit still and no nothing, then my money doesn't circulate. I
don't buy things, and the people who make the things I would
have bought are out of work. That is a frightening thing to
them, and to their neighbors. The neighbors get so scared
that they hold on to their money- why spend it when they
might need it to eat when they lose their jobs, right? And so
on, and on, and on. We have a real problem here....."

Sue and Doug Mill, the heroes of this tale, decided that, at a
very interesting economic time, inactivity was not for them. 
Successful people, they decided not to hold their money, but to
use it to create something new and of value to the community.
Their newly constructed Jimmy John's restaurant opened a few
weeks ago off of Hebron Road in Heath.  I had lunch there the
other day.  The place is sparkling clean and has a positive
energy about it, with lots of teenage help.  The tuna sub was
tasty and filling.
The risk takers amongst us deserve notice.  Those providing
value deserve praise- and our business.  I'll be going back.


As emotions go, I'm not sure this is an improvement.......

Fear Gives Way to Greed.  Full essay here.

Interesting quotes here:

"Commercial real estate values have edged up 6% in the last
four months, according to Real Capital Analytics, after falling
a whopping 45% from 2007 to 2009. With asset managers,
including special servicers, working overtime to work out
troubled loans, the window may be closing for investors
hoping to find steep discounted deals."

"So greed now officially rules, and the pressure is on for
investors who fear missing the commercial real estate recovery
boat to act soon. Lenders are resurfacing with a vengeance for
high yield. To be sure, once the estimated $150 billion of
uninvested capital reaches the market, prices will likely increase
more swiftly and less orderly than the relatively controlled
two-year price consolidation the industry has experienced."

It is a comfort to know that what we have experienced lately was
a 'relatively controlled two-year price consolidation'.  It would
have taken me a long time to come up with a descriptive phrase
like that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gapingvoid again..........

A few thoughts from Gandhi............

'As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able
to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as
in being able to remake ourselves.'

'My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God
as my successes and talent, and I lay them both at His feet.'

'There is more to life than increasing its speed.'

'Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were
to live forever.'

'Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant
nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into
nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.'

'Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by
his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.'

'When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the
moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.'

'When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter
becomes irresistible.'

'Where love is, there God is also.'

'You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy
this body, but you will never imprison my mind.'

'You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get
people to stop reading them.'

'A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.'

'Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital
in some form or other will always be needed.'

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Now, let me see if I understand this correctly..........

"Private transfer fees" on residential home sales............ 

Full report here.

My synopsis here:

Big financial institution lends money to big production home
builder.  Big production home builder develops a sub-division,
 builds many homes and sells them to easily confused people. 
When, some years later, easily confused people sell their homes,
they then owe a 1% of the sales price fee to  the big production
builder (or their assigns).  Better yet, when the second buyers,
some years later, sell the houses again, the second buyer then
owe another 1% of the sales price fee to the big production
builder (or their assigns).  This daisy chain of 1% fee  upon sale
goes on for 99 years. 

You have to be kidding me.

My grandfather, the old country banker, would have marveled
at the nerve of whoever thought this was a good idea.

I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that they would actually
get home buyers to agree to this scheme.

The production development industry must not not learned the
lessons available to be learned from the sub-prime, no-document
loan days of 2003-2006.   When there is not a market for your
product at a fair and reasonable price, relying on gimmicks and
schemes to keep the market churning doesn't end well.   There
comes a time when you just have to stop building. 

Good sense has prevailed in Ohio.  "Private transfer fees"
have been prohibited by the Legislature.

Practical advice from our friends at.................

........Keeping Current Matters.

"#5. Gain knowledge and then get to work
Two quotes from the late business guru Peter Drucker:

'Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and
increased constantly, or it vanishes.'

We have to become better at our craft every day. We must
continuously improve our skills. We must become expert at
showing our customers what is taking place in the current
housing market. They can then make the right choices for
Themselves and their families.

'Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately
degenerate into hard work.'

It is not good enough to be a student of real estate. We must
act on our knowledge. We must plan where we wish to be and
then get busy making our way there. If I could have only one of
all the attributes successful people are known to have, I would
chose the ability to work hard. It is the most important and will
get you closer to success than any other attribute."

More good stuff from.............

......Mark Frauenfelder's Made by Hand: Searching for
Meaning in a Throwaway World:

"Most people loathe failing so much they avoid trying things that
require pushing past their current abilities......Because we've been
trained to believe that mistakes must be avoided, many of us
don't want to attempt to make or fix things, or we quite soon
after we start, because our initial attempts end in failure."

Quoting Mr Jalopy, "People are afraid that they're going to
screw something up, that they're going to ruin something. And
unfortunately, it's valid- they will.  You will screw stuff up. 
Things will be broken.  But that's the one step to overcome to
get on the path of living this richer life of engagement, or having
meaningful connections to the objects around you.  It's that
necessary step you have to take- the courage to screw things
up- so you're able to fix things, or to make stuff from scratch,
or to refurbish stuff to live according to your standards."

Quoting Tom Jennings, "No one talks of failure as anything but
shameful; this is wrongheaded and foolish. Mistakes are
synonymous with learning.  Failing is unavoidable.  Making is a
process, not an end."

"The growing interest in DIY is charging a virtuous circle-
individuals who make things enjoy documenting their projects
online, which inspires others to try making them, too"

"They understand that when you do something yourself, the
thing that changes most profoundly is you."

Monday, July 5, 2010


"It was a classic case of resistentialism, a word coined by Paul
Jennings in a 1949 essay for The Spectator about his theory
that things have a secret agenda to make us miserable by
fighting back against our efforts to use them.  Resistentialism,
he wrote, is encapsulated in the old French saying, "Les
choses sont contre nous" ("Things are against us".)

"While Jenning's essay is a humor piece, there's some truth
in it.  Inanimate objects don't have intentions, of course, but
people often react as though they do.  Have you ever cursed
at a snagged garden hose or smacked a cabinet door that
pinched you?  If you have, you are a resistentialist.  I wonder
how many people have sworn off DIY because they have the
feeling that things are against them."

Excerpted from Mark Frauenfelder's Made by Hand:
Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World

A poem for the Monday after the 4th of July.........

A Nation's Strength

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson