Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday.................

to Rick Platt.

Not for the faint of heart.....................

No, this is not an episode of the twilight is an
explanation of the quantitative easing.

Thanks Michael

"Not exactly, Robin".................

Wholly without redeeming social value..................but fun anyway.

Thanks BSBFB

"The Servile Mind"...............

"Democracy is prone to corruption: the immense amount of
regulation and bureaucracy it requires to function opens
limitless opportunities for abuse. Further, democracy’s inner
workings compel it, paradoxically, to undemocratic results.
The push for equality and ever more rights—two of its basic
principles—requires a ruling class to govern competing claims;
thus the rise of the undemocratic judiciary as the arbiter of
many aspects of public life, and of bureaucracies that issue
rules far removed from the democratic process. Should this
trend continue, Minogue foresees widespread servility
replacing the tradition of free government.

"This new servility will be based not on oppression, but on
the conviction that experts have eliminated any need for
citizens to develop habits of self-control, self-government,
or what used to be called the virtues.

From a review of Kenneth Minogue's  The Servile Mind- here.


Demolition project goes slightly awry.  Yahoo story here.  The
comment section would be funny- if it wasn't so sad.

Thanks Ed

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Almost Perfect Tonic.............

The perfect tonic for what ails you has to include a daily
dose of  Eclecticity.   Vitamin E. is here.

Speaking of Sculpture and Philadelphia.............


Thanks to Ka-Ching! for pointing the way to this sculpture by
Zenos Frudakis. The art work is located at the GlaxoSmithKline
building, 16th and Vine in downtown Philadelphia.  I'll be seeking
it out next time I'm there. The artist's web site is here. A more
detailed look at this breathtaking artwork is here. Both sites are
worth the visit.

Chapter 4: Time Management

Dilbert gets schooled.

Thanks Sean

Auguste Rodin, born this day in 1840.........

Lots of information about one of the world's all-time great
sculptors can be found here.

Auguste Rodin

In the 1920's, Jules Mastbaum began collecting works by Rodin, 
assembling one of the largest collections of Rodin's works outside
of Paris.  His collection included bronze castings, plaster studies,
drawings, prints, letters, and books.  Mastbaum, a native
Philadelphian, was a successful real estate developer and one of
the largest movie theatre operators in the Country.  He used part
of his wealth to create, and gift to the City of Philadelphia, a
museum dedicated to the works of Rodin.  That Museum is still
in operation today.  It is part of the Pride of Philadelphia, as
well as one of my favorite spots to stop while visiting the City.

The Secret

The Hand of God

The Thinker

The Burghers of Calais

Close-up of part of The Burghers of Calais

More detailed look at part of The Burghers of Calais

First things first......................

Well, maybe 27 things come first.  Enjoy the mind of  Scott
Ginsberg, the "name tag guy"-  here.

Learn about Scott here:

Thanks again Sean

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Let's play Twister, let's play Risk.........."

R.E.M.............................Man on the Moon

How about some LEADERSHIP, people.........

President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal
Responsibility and Reform weighs in with their proposal. 
Included was a recommendation to begin scaling back the
mortgage interest deduction.  Typically, and predictably, the
leadership of the National Association of Realtors (NAR)
immediately attacked the idea. 

Full story here.  Excerpts here:

"Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association
of Realtors even told the Wall Street Journal that limiting the
mortgage interest deduction would bring on another recession.

"We share the widespread concern over the growing national
debt and want to help identify reasonable solutions,"
(Mortgage Bankers Association chair Michael ) Berman said,
"but we cannot support proposals that would chip away at the
foundations of the real estate market."

Our Country's current economic  path does not meet anybody's
definition of sustainable.

Wouldn't it be nice if, rather than knee-jerking a quick "NO", the
NAR would say, "let's put ALL of the sacred cows on the table.
If our Country can be healed by the the end of ALL sacred cows,
we are ready to talk." 

A guy can dream, can't he?

Our glorious, glorious mess............

Kevin Kelly sounds a note of optimism- I think- here.

"Network technology expands all sizes. It enables the biggest
to become bigger and the smallest to become smaller. In the
near future we can expect to see institutions larger than they
have ever been, and smaller than they have ever been."
"We are on the brink of entering a world where almost any
shape of business is possible."

Pointing the "technocrats"

Interfluidity On Robert Rubin:  "We just saw the smartest guy
in the room walk away, rich and smug, and then the room

And to think I bought his book.

Full essay here.   Fun excerpt here:

"We are in a period of Reformation now, with all the turmoil
that suggests, and the outcome is not predetermined. Simply
assuming the parishioners will remain faithful, or lamenting
that they ought to remain faithful, is no way to win the
argument. There is something poignant, but also a little blind,
in the fact that DeLong’s agitation was aroused by Robert
Rubin, who, when elevated to speak ex cathedra from the
pages of the Financial Times, had nothing worthwhile to say.
To DeLong, Robert Rubin remains a pontiff of the “bipartisan
technocrats”. To the rest of us, Rubin has become an icon of
self-delusion, corruption, and arrogance. Rubin was arguably
the most influential member of a technocracy whose conduct
now seems deeply unwise. He accepted handsome compen-
sation to cheerlead risktaking at a bank that then held tax-
payers for ransom when those risks went sour. Despite all this,
he retains his wealth and influence, and has never much
apologized. Heretics of all stripes chafe that his protégés are
overepresented in the halls of power. Rubin is undoubtedly a
compelling figure in person. People who have worked with him
are bedazzled; they enthuse about his brilliance and public-
spiritedness. The rest of us never met him. We just saw the
smartest guy in the room walk away, rich and smug, and
then the room exploded."

Interesting take on the elections....Part 1

Joel Ross, who does not seem to be a fan of the Democrats,
opines about the consequences of the recent elections here.

Fairly strongly worded excerpts here:

While the election results would have seemed to send a clear
message to the Democrats, it is very clear they are tone deaf.
Obama now claims it was not his policy that was wrong, it
was that the voters are stupid and he did not do a good job of
explaining his policies of over regulation, huge deficits, and
higher taxes. Nancy seems to think she needs to man the
ramparts and defend the economy killing laws she shoved
down our throats. Harry, who stole the election by forcing the
casinos to bus over 40,000 unionized casino worker to the
polls and paying them with food and k Mart gift cards, is
already saying he will give no ground. The Tea Party electees
say they will fight. Bottom line is partisanship will be even
worse. None of the fixes needed will happen.

Bottom line, uncertainty reigns and is not going to get better.
Gridlock will likely prevail and regulatory fascism will be
ramped up. Bank lending is not going to suddenly get better,
especially for troubled real estate owners in places other than
the major cities.
History of bank crises tells us we have a very long way to go
on value enhancement, and all in returns will need to be
realistic at mid teens levels, or lower, and extend and
pretend will need to continue just like it is on residential.

Interesting take on the elections.......Part 2

The Trend Czar seems to be showing his true colors- blue- here.

"In the wake of last week’s determinative elections, it’s
interesting to take note of how progressive/conservative
voting patterns match up against the investment prospects of
various real estate markets and regions. Election junkies will
note that a sea of conservative red covers most of the U.S.,
especially in the South and Midwest with blue bastions concen-
trating along the Northeast and West Coasts as well as interior
urban centers like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Denver.

Take the analysis a step further, and you’ll note that the
entrenched top five Emerging Trends investment markets—
Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and
Boston—are solid blue. And among the top ten markets, only
Dallas and  Houston edge into the red zone."
"So it’s no wonder that real estate investors increasingly steer
clear of red areas where voters expressed their frustration
loud and clear over what appears to be more compromised
futures. It’s almost axiomatic, the redder the place, the more
capital wants to avoid it. Places that can attract intellectual
capital to innovate and spur new industry will perform better.
We’ve seen that over time for the nation’s 24-hour cities.
And that’s one trend that shows no signs of abating just like
the nation’s political divide."

I think the Trend Czar needs to get out and about more.

Vonnegut, re-visited..............

Kurt Vonnegut Jr was born this
day in 1922.

 Back in March I posted about my
first, and favorite, encounters with
Vonnegut, here.

In honor of his birthday, here is a re-post of the opening
paragraph to his classic short story, Harrison Bergeron:

"THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal.
They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were
equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody
else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody
was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality
was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the
Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of the agents of
the United States Handicapper General."

What a mind!   What a writer!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Jefferson Starship at their finest......Enjoy

Fun quotes...................

Many authors use epigraphs and side quotes to help frame their
subject and, truth be told, probably also just for fun.

Chris Guillebeau made extensive use of such quotes in his book,
The Art of Non-Conformity.   Here is a sampling:

"I don't understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I'm frightened of the old ones."
-John Gage

"The tragedy of life is not so much what we suffer, but rather
what we miss."
-Thomas Carlyle

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get
up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't
find them, make them."
-George Bernard Shaw

"The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."
-Walter Bagehot

"Sometimes the smallest decisions can change your life forever."
-Keri Russell

"The absence of fear is not courage; the absence of fear is
mental illness."
-Po Bronson

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually
fearing you will make one."
-Elbert Hubbard

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence
and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home
and think about it.  Go out and get busy."
-Dale Carnegie

"Memorize and follow this never-fail recipe: get started.  Don't quit."
-Barbara Winter

I'm shocked, shocked...........

Actor Claude Rains was born this day in 1889.  Over his 47 year
career, he starred in many a classic movie (see full listing here).

His role as Captain Renault in the 1942 classic Casablanca is a
favorite of mine.  Enjoy.

Life's Little Instruction Book........................

313.  Never undersestimate the power of love.

314.  Never underestimate the power of forgiveness.

315.  Don't bore people with your problems.  When someone
          asks how you feel- say "Terrific, never better."  When they
          ask, "How's business?" reply, "Excellent, and getting better
          every day."

316.  Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.

317.  Be tactful.  Never alienage anyone on purpose.

318.  Hear both sides before judging.

319.  Refrain from envy.  It's a source of much unhappiness.

320.  Be courteous to everyone.

321.  Wave to crosswalk patrol mothers.

A few of the 511 little instructions in H. Jackson Brown's
 Life's Little Instruction Book.

Pointing fingers....................

"Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream
of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise
becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the
capital development of a country becomes a by-product of
the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done."

-John Maynard Keynes as quoted by Naked Capitalism.

Continuation of quote found here:

The measure of success attained by Wall Street, regarded as
an institution of which the proper social purpose is to direct
new investment into the most profitable channels in terms of
future yield, cannot be claimed as one of the outstanding
triumphs of laissez-faire capitalism – which is not surprising,
if I am right in thinking that the best brains of Wall Street
have been in fact directed towards a different object.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two for Tuesday..................

Tim Buckley from  Goodbye and Hello

"he will sing you his ten tales and then wander till spring"

Follow the money..................

Faithful readers will know that I am a big fan of Community
Banks.  I am not much of a fan of the big city banks that, in pursuit
of mega-sized bonuses, thought it would be a good thing to trade
in collateralized mortgage obligations of undetermined value.  The
word fraud has appeared on these pages more than once in
relation to these activities on Wall Street.

Our friends at the liberally oriented New Deal 2.0 are now
opining that President Obama's main problem is with the
Big Banks.  Probably accurate essay here.

Interesting excerpts here:

But one cannot defend the actions of Team Obama on taking
office. Law, policy and politics all pointed in one direction:
turn the systemically dangerous banks over to Sheila Bair and
the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Insure the
depositors, replace the management, fire the lobbyists, audit
the books, prosecute the frauds, and restructure and downsize
the institutions. The financial system would have been cleaned
up. And the big bankers would have been beaten as a political

Team Obama did none of these things............ The President
justified all this by repeating, many times, that the goal of
policy was “to get credit flowing again.”

The banks threw a party. Reported profits soared, as did
bonuses. With free funds, the banks could make money with no
risk, by lending back to the Treasury.

But new loans? The big banks had given up on that. .

These facts were obvious to everybody, fueling rage at

Thanks to HousingWire for pointing the way.

A few quotes from Matt Ridley......

"The lesson of the last two centuries is that liberty and
welfare march hand in hand with prosperity and trade."

"A country's economic freedom predicts its prosperity
better than its mineral wealth, educational system or
infrastructure do."

"This is what prosperity is:  the increase in the amount of
goods or services you can earn with the same amount of

"People can value highly what they do not have access to. 
And the more they rely on exchange, the more they specialize,
which makes exchange still more attractive.  Exchange is
therefore a thing of explosive possibility, a thing that breeds,
explodes, grows, auto-catalyses."

"Trade emerged from the interactions of individuals.  It
evolved.  Nobody was in charge."

"This is history's greatest theme:  the metastasis of exchange,
specialization, and the invention it has called forth...."

"As a broad generalization, the more people trust each other
in a society, the more prosperous that society is, and trust
growth seems to precede income growth."

"With frequent setbacks, trust has gradually and
progressively grown, spread and deepened during human
history, because of exchange.  Exchange breeds trust as much
as vice versa.   You may think you are living in a suspicious
and dishonest world, but you are actually the beneficiary of
immense draughts of trust."

all quotes lifted from The Rational Optimist

Weren't we just talking about "trust"...?

When Matt Ridley referred to "frequent setbacks"  maybe he had
this in mind:

"Even Alan Greenspan is confirming what William Black,
James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof and many
other economists and financial experts have been saying for
a long time: the economy cannot recover if fraud is not
prosecuted and if the big banks know that government will
bail them out every time they get in trouble."
"The underlying problem isn’t a liquidity problem. As I’ve
noted elsewhere, the problem is that lenders and investors
don’t trust they’ll get their money back because no one
trusts that the numbers that purport to value securities are
anything but wishful thinking. The trouble, in a nutshell, is
that the financial entrepreneurship of recent years — the
derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt
instruments, and so on — has undermined all notion of true

Full essay from whence these quotes come is  here

You are awesome.............

Thanks FinerMinds

Monday, November 8, 2010

"I dug up a diamond.........."

Nan at WJPP served up this wonderful duet with Mark Knopfler
and Emmylou Harris.  Her post is here.  Video here:

The slow death of the golden goose.......

"Empires, indeed governments generally, tend to be good things
at first and bad things the longer they last.  First they improve
society's ability to flourish by providing central services and
removing impediments to trade and specialization; thus even
Genghis Khan's Pax Mongolica lubricated Asia's overland
trade by exterminating brigands along the Silk Road, thus
lowering the cost of oriental goods in European parlours.
But then, as Peter Turchin argues following the lead of the
medieval geographer Ibn Khaldun, governments gradually
employ more and more ambitious elites who capture a
greater and greater share of the society's income by inter-
fering more and more in people's lives as they give them-
selves more and more rules to enforce, until they kill the
goose that lays the golden eggs.  There is a lesson for today.
Economists are quick to speak of  'market failure', and
rightly so, but a greater threat comes from 'government
failure'.  Because it is a monopoly, government brings
inefficiency and stagnation to most things it runs; govern-
ment agencies pursue the inflation of their budgets rather
than the service of their customers; pressure groups form
an unholy alliance with agencies to extract more money
from taxpayers for their members.  Yet despite all this,
most clever people still call for government to run more
things and assume if it did so, it would somehow be more
perfect, more selfless, next time."

-The Rational Optimist,  Matt Ridley

I, Pencil............

Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) wrote an essay titled I, Pencil
You can find it here, along with an Afterword by Milton

I almost cut and pasted the whole essay.  It is worth the time to
read- if you will take the time to think about it after you read it.

This blogger has been posting stuff from Matt Ridley's The
Rational Optimist lately.  Ridley's contention is that trade and
exchange and specialization is what has set man apart from all of
creation, and is what has allowed our species to flourish.

Read's essay, on the creation of a simple pencil, demonstrates
 the usually overlooked, yet critical importance of trade and
specialization for man's well-being.  Read clearly makes the
case that it is "the invisible hand" and not the "guiding hand" of
government that has generated our growth and prosperity.

A few excerpts here:

"But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as
if I were a mere incident and without background. This
supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the common-
place. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind
cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K.
Chesterton observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder,
not for want of wonders.”
"Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth
knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?
Especially when it is realized that there are about one and
one half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.
"There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a
master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these
countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of
such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible
Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.
"The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative
energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in
harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus
remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative
know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and
women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be
confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer
the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a
practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar
tree, the good earth."

A Poem for Monday..........

       You See I Want a Lot

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where live calmly gives out its own secret.

-Ranier Maria Rilke
as translated by Robert Bly

"I've got a good feeling about this".......


Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Everyday is a revolution........ welcome to the future......."

"I remember thinking how cool it would be.............."

Thanks TigerHawk

Sunday's Verses..........


He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
14: 29

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly

Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.
He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit;
And he who cares for his master will be honored.
As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.

-The Open Bible


New word for the day:  apocaholic -n.  a person with a
catastrophic sense of pessimism, a true believer in any coming
apocalypse of their choice.  First known usage- here.

Best use in a paragraph, here:

"Apocaholics exploit and profit from the natural pessimism
of human nature, the innate reactionary in every person.
For 200 years pessimists have had all the headlines, even
though optimists have far more often been right.  Arch-
pessimists are feted, showered with honours and rarely
challenged, let alone confronted with their past mistakes."
-Matt Ridley

Optimism 101

"On what principle is it, that when we see nothing but
improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but
deterioration before us?"
-Thomas Babbington Macauley (1800-1859)

Adult "Truths"...............

These were forwarded via e-mail yesterday.  On the off
chance you missed them, enjoy some "adult truths."

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately
    clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument
    when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when
    I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm
    pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you
    how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a
      moment at work when you know that you just aren't going
      to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after
      Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and
      it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page
      technical report that I swear I did not make any changes

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so
      I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given
      Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller
      Lite than Kay.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between
      boredom and hunger.

18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before
      you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or
     understand a word they said?

19.   I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from
        cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never
      get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

21. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times
      and still not know what time it is.

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating
      their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and
      Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can
      find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in
      about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey
      in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means
      it only took 100 years for men to   realize that their brain
      is also important.

Heal the past, live the present, dream the future. enjoy life

Thanks David