Saturday, January 21, 2012

But it's not on the curriculum............

"The supreme end of education is expert discernment in all
things - the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine
from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine
to the bad and the counterfeit."
-Samuel Johnson

Construction industry treading water...............

thanks bill

A bit confused about money....?

"The moment that barter is replaced by indirect exchange mediated by money, ready intelligibility ceases and abstract interpersonal processes begin that far transcend even the most enlightened individual perception.
     "Money, the very 'coin' of ordinary interaction, is hence of all things the least understood and - perhaps with sex - the object of greatest unreasoning fantasy; and like sex if simultaneously fascinates, puzzles, and repels.  The literature treating it is probably greater than that devoted to any other single subject; and browsing through it inclines one to sympathise with the writer who long ago declared that no other subject, not even love, has driven more men to madness.  'The love of money,' the Bible declares, 'is the root of all evil' (1 Timothy, 6:10).  But ambivalence about it is perhaps more common; money appears as at once the most powerful instrument of freedom and the most sinister tool of oppression.  This most widely-accepted medium of exchange conjures up all the unease that people feel towards a process they cannot understand, that they both love and hate, and some of whose effects they desire passionately while detesting others that are inseparable from the first."

-F. A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


"...the disease of short-sightedness..."

     "But the motive of success is not enough.  It produces a short-sighted world which destroys the sources of its own prosperity. The cycles of trade depression which afflict the world warn us that business relations are infected through and through with the disease of short-sightedness.  The robber barons did not conduce to the prosperity of the Middle Ages, though some of them did die prosperously in their beds.  Their example is a warning to our civilization.  Also, we must not fall into the fallacy of thinking of the business world in abstraction from the rest of the community. The behavior of the community is largely dominated by the business mind.  A great society is a society in which its men of business think greatly of their function.  Low thoughts mean low behavior, and after a brief orgy of exploitation, low behavior means a descending standard of life."
-Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas  (1933)


This word for the day is brought to us by Mr. Webster and the
Third Edition of his New World College Dictionary:

conduce       v.        to tend or lead (to an effect); contribute

as in:

I wasn't sure what the word conduce meant in the Whitehead
quote above, so I looked it up.

Aging gracefully................

Opening paragraphs.........

    "When I was twelve I thought that when the New Orleans Times-Picayune ran a headline about the 'struggle for control of the West Bank' it meant the other side of the Mississippi River.  I thought that my shiny gold velour pants actually looked good.  I kept a giant sack of Nabisco Chocolate Chip cookies under my bed so that they might be available in an emergency - a flood, say, or a hurricane - that made it harder to get to the grocery store.  From the safe distance of forty-three, 'twelve' looks less an age than a disease, and, for the most part, I've been able to forget all about it - not the events and the people, but the feelings that gave them meaning.  But there are exceptions.  A few people, and a few experiences, simply refuse to be trivialized by time.  There are teachers with a rare ability to enter a child's mind; it's as if their ability to get there at all gives them the right to stay forever.  I'd once has such a teacher.  His name was Billy Fitzgerald, but everybody just called him Coach Fitz."

-Michael Lewis, Coach

Friday, January 20, 2012


"One of the great destroyers of societies is untamed passion.  The seven deadly sins all spring from errant passion: pride, lust, envy, anger, avarice, gluttony and sloth.  Any form of society that would be virtuous must quiet these passions.  It must, in short, displace them from the center of social dynamics."
-Michael Novak, This Hemisphere of Liberty

On bringing knowledge alive.........

    "Soc took an old dictionary from his drawer and held it in the air, 'Use whatever knowledge you have but see its limitations.  Knowledge alone does not suffice; it has no heart.  No amount of knowledge will nourish or sustain your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or peace.  Life requires more than knowledge; it requires intense feeling and constant energy.  Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.'"
-Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior

On dice...................

"The life of man is like a game with dice; if you don't get the
throw you want, you must show your skill in making the best
of the throw you get."

Opening paragraph.......

     "The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.
She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was
no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the
color of snow falling on a moonlit night.  But her eyes were
still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow
on the sea."

Peter S. Beagle,  The Last Unicorn

Well, I would certainly hope so...........

aging gracefully.................

On stimulating debate....

    "Sometime the best way to stimulate the debate you need
to make an informed decision is to take a step back.  During
the Cuban Missle Crisis, President Kennedy received some
unconventional advice from his brother:  leave the room.
Bobby Kennedy advised the President that his aides had been
telling him what they thought he wanted to hear.  Matters
became so tense that each member of Kennedy's staff was
afraid to back a decision for or against nuclear war in his
presence.  No one wanted to be accused of wrongly
advocating getting tough or making concessions, of being
too strong or too weak.  President Kennedy left the room."
-Rudolph W. Giuliani, Leadership

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The true value of adversity.............

     Learn to accept the perpetual existence of negativity, and learn also that negativity always yields to constant human effort coupled with the constantly growing human faith and attitude.  It is written that as you sow, so shall you reap, but only when you combine the efforts of sowing with the mental effort of believing, and the physical effort of constant attention to those things of value.  Smile at adversity, and act quickly to eliminate it.  Expect adversity, for it surely will appear.  Be grateful for adversity, for it forces the human spirit to grow - for surely, the human character is formed not in the absence of difficulty but in our response to difficulty.

-Jim Rohn,  The Seasons of Life

On interesting bargains................

    "When people pile up debts they will find difficult and perhaps even impossible to repay, they are saying several things at once.  They are obviously saying that they want more than they can immediately afford.  They are saying, less obviously, that their present needs are so important that, to satisfy them, it is worth some future difficulty.  But in making that bargain they are implying that when the future difficulty arrives, they'll figure it out.  They don't always do that.  But you can never rule out the possibility that they will.  As idiotic as optimism can sometimes seem, it has a weird habit of paying off."
-Michael Lewis, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

by suffering each other................

"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it.  Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily or mental and spiritual.  Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves than by compelling each to live as seems good the the rest."

-John Stuart Mill,  On Liberty

In proportion.........................

"Men are qualified for civil liberties, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their appetites:  in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity."
-Edmund Burke

Aging gracefully.................

If you don't read Walter Russell Mead.....

.....well, you should.   Here is an excerpt from his latest blog post:

"Progress is sometimes painful, but growing pains and death
throes are very different conditions.

"Granted, this is cold comfort for the global malcontents
camped out across the world, from Zuccotti Park to London
to Wukan. Coping with the social and political fallout of
global economic disruption, as well as searching for creative
and constructive ways forward, will remain the central
challenges for the powers-that-be for the rest of the decade.
Just as we warned two years ago, you should be skeptical of
anyone who tells you otherwise.

"Hold on. It is going to be a wild ride."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Because a thing is difficult for you, do not therefore suppose it to be beyond mortal power.  On the contrary, if anything is possible and proper for man to do, assume that it must fall within your own capacity.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Six:19

On writing and reading...............

Victor Davis Hanson writes on the importance of reading good
books - here.  He's a pretty fair hand at stringing words together
himself.   Enjoy a small sampling:

"The mind is a muscle. Without exercise, it reverts to mush. Watching most TV or using the normal electronic gadgetry does not tax us much - indeed that is by design the very purpose: to eliminate effort, worry, unease, and afterthought."

"In short, Hitchens was a voracious consumer of texts, and the result was that he achieved what the Roman student of rhetoric, Quintilian, once called variatio, the ability to mix up words and sentences and not bore. He could hold, even shock, the reader or listener from sentence to sentence, moment to moment."

"We don’t need more technocrats who fool us that their Ivy League law degrees are synonymous with wisdom. They can be, but now are more likely not much more than tickets that allow an Eric Holder or Timothy Geithner into the first-class seating. I am not calling for us to be academics or scholastics with our noses in books or our heads up our posteriors; but to match physicality and pragmatism with occasional abstraction and reflection from the voices of the past - just a little, now and then, to remind us that Twitter or Facebook speed up communication, but can slow down thought."

"Somehow we must convince this new wired generation that speaking and writing well are not just the DSL lines of modern civilization, but also the keys to self-mastery, a sort of code that one takes on - in addition to others, moral and legal - to uphold standards of culture itself, to keep the work and ideas alive of our long gone betters for one more generation - as if to say, 'I did my part according to my time and station.'  Nothing more, nothing less."

Thanks Michael

On reading.....................

The latest in management fads...............

Taking off the rose colored glasses........

Joel Ross predicts our economy will grow in the 2% - 2.5% range
in 2012, but paints a pretty bleak picture while he is at it. Full
essay is here.   This quote caught my eye:

"This is one of the generational recessions which impact behavior for generations to come. Just as my parents never really recouped mentally from the depression, it is very likely most people in the world will be badly enough shaken by these events for a long enough period that it will impact behavior."

Ross would seem to share our thought that there is a rather large
psychological component to the economy.  But it does seem
from here that there is a whole lot more treading water going on
than actual behavioral change.  Film at 11:00.

G. K. Chesterton....................

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, aka "the Prince of Paradox", said some
really cool stuff.  Chesterton (1874 - 1936) was a British writer,
poet, philosopher, lecturer, journalist, and critic.  As a writer he
was incredibly prolific, writing some 80 books, hundreds of poems
and short stories as well as a few plays.  He also wrote countless
essays.  It is no wonder that Chesterton is considered a quote
machine.  Enjoy a smattering:

He is only a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal
rebel in the heart of the Conservative.

Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to
become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.

Many clever men like you have trusted to civilization. Many
clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men
at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is
flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is
particularly immortal about yours?

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives
and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on
making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent
mistakes from being corrected.

The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions
of man.

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils;
they differ enormously about what evils they will call

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to
be right in doing it

All government is an ugly necessity

It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't
see the problem.

Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to
appear. It annoys them very much.

I've searched all the parks in all the cities — and found no
statues of Committees.

The poor object to being governed badly, while the rich
object to being governed at all.

There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go
through the intellect. Men do not quarrel about the meaning
of sunsets; they never dispute that the hawthorn says the
best and wittiest thing about the spring.

The most unfathomable schools and sages have never
attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby
of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at
the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not
mysticism, but a transcendent common-sense

There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But
the real great man is the man who makes every man feel

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.
It has been found difficult; and left untried.

Aging gracefully...............

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A day of protest.......................

As Congress wrestles with things they don't fully understand
(again) and attempts to pass legislation curbing "on-line piracy,"
some folks see the evil specter of the law of unintended
consequences headed their way.  Regardless of your position,
there will be a bunch of bummed out students (and bloggers who
like to link to a reference source) tomorrow as Wikipedia goes
dark.  Got my attention.

Full explanation is here

Teachers of the World, Unite!

"Economics is hard, but becoming a responsible member of a free society is very, very, very hard. I’m still learning to put aside childish things. I hope you will do the same. Start now. The effort is daunting, but the rewards are substantial."

Art Carden writes a "Dear Student" letter - here.

Thanks Greg


This is refreshing.......................

   Jorg Asmussen offers the first hint of an answer in his personal behaviour.  He was a type familiar in Germany but absolutely freakish in Greece or, for that matter, the United States: a keenly intelligent, highly ambitious civil servant who had no other ambition but to serve his country.  His sparkling curriculum vitae was missing a line that would be found on the resumes of men in his position almost anywhere else in the world - the line where he leaves government service for Goldman Sachs to cash out.  When I asked another prominent German civil servant why he hadn't taken time out of public service to make his fortune working for some bank, the way every American civil servant who is anywhere near finance seems to want to do, his expression changed to alarm.  "But I could never do this," he said.  "It would be illoyal!"

-Michael Lewis, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Watch out for those causations.............

Wired Magazine brings us an interesting essay on the
troublesome linkages between cause and effect - here. 
Excerpt here:

"........causes are a strange kind of knowledge. This was first pointed out by David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher. Hume realized that, although people talk about causes as if they are real facts—tangible things that can be discovered—they’re actually not at all factual. Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a “lively conception produced by habit.” When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity. Hume’s skeptical insight was that we don’t see gravity—we see only an object tugged toward the earth. We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between. We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact—it’s a fiction that helps us make sense of facts.

"The truth is, our stories about causation are shadowed by all sorts of mental shortcuts. Most of the time, these shortcuts work well enough. They allow us to hit fastballs, discover the law of gravity, and design wondrous technologies. However, when it comes to reasoning about complex systems—say, the human body—these shortcuts go from being slickly efficient to outright misleading."

Having read all that, my Sweetie still wants me to take my Lipitor.

Thanks A & L

Re-visiting Hume, causation, history, and the future..........and all before breakfast

From The Walrus comes an interesting essay on us humans and
our seemingly never-ending need for an apocalyptic vision of our
future - here.  So far we've dodged the bullets.  Excerpt here:

Human beings are remarkably bad at predicting even relatively short-term, simple occurrences, such as the weather on Monday or the price of gold on Friday, much less something as vast and complex as the future of humanity. Many important events of the recent past came as a surprise to most people: World War I, the stock market crash of 1929, the Cold War, the computer age, the economic meltdown of 2008, the Arab Awakening, even the Occupy Wall Street movement. Part of the problem, as Scottish philosopher David Hume pointed out in the eighteenth century, is that we are equipped with a concept of “cause” that constitutes little more than an association of things or events in the past — and projecting the patterns of the past onto the future is perilous. We read books of narrative history and biography and get the impression that what made things happen, what shaped the story, was always sharply defined and clear, when in fact it wasn’t and more likely still isn’t. The real problem with the future is that it doesn’t yet exist, and the forces that bring it into existence are too complicated, too subtle and volatile and fractal, for us to know in advance — or ever.

Thanks A & L

Aging gracefully...............................

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

"Michael Curley came to America at age fourteen: he married at twenty-one; he died at thirty-four.  "No obituary marked his death," one historian writes, "and not even a death notice appeared in the Boston newspapers.  Michael Curley had arrived in Boston unnoticed, worked in Boston unnoticed, died in Boston unnoticed."  He bequeathed to his son a wedding ring, and in his unseasonal death, the shared privation of the leading Irish-American politicians of his era.  For Martin Lomasney, the longtime boss of Boston's West End; John F. Fitzgerald, Boston's mayor and John F. Kennedy's grandfather; David I. Walsh, Massachusetts' first Catholic governor and senator; Al Smith, the New York governor and Democratic presidential candidate; and the slightly younger John W. McCormack, the Boston congressman and Speaker of the House - all these men, each of whom would figure centrally in the different chapters of Curley's life, lost their fathers when they were between the ages of ten (Curley) and fourteen (Fitzgerald).  Their fathers worked themselves to death; they died from the way they were obliged to live.
-Jack Beatty, The Rascal King: The Life and Times
of James Michael Curley

Monday, January 16, 2012

On the need for extremists..............

"I must admit that I was initially disappointed at being so categorized.  But as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.'  Was not Amos an extremist for justice: 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.' Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.' Was not Martin Luther an extremist: 'Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.'  And John Bunyan: 'I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.'  And Abraham Lincoln: 'This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.'  Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist: 'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .'   So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

-Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
excerpted from here and here


     "What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence?  Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?
    "I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant.  Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living.  Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.  There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for spring.  there is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter."
-Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

photo by Jeff Kopito

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

Have you ever had blackjack tea, Michael?  The real stuff, I mean.  One of my patients gave me these, cured sassafras root from Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana.  Something mysterious and potent about it.  Clears the head.  You can stay up all night with your brain so lucid it almost feels transparent.  Smell the earth in it?  Something about tea from roots, as opposed to leaves.  Something deeper, more connected to the source.  I remember that rooty, woodsy smell from winter mornings as a boy.  My mothers said only a Yankee or a fool sweetened blackjack tea with sugar.  It had to be molasses.  And no milk.  The farthest afield she'd stray was to serve it au citron, like the Creoles.  But I'm wandering already, and you've barely sat down.

-Steven Pressfield, The Legend of Bagger Vance

Margeret Thatcher on "income inequality".....

Her question would seem to be:  do we want to close the gap
between the richest and the poorest by making the rich less rich
or the poor less poor?   Good question.  I vote for spending more
time, energy, and education in getting the poor to be less poor.

thanks ann

Why does there have to be a conflict between science and faith..........?

The problem with waiting until tomorrow....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I have a dream.....................

Martin Luther King, Jr., born this day in 1929, gave one of the
all time great speeches in the summer of 1963 from the steps of
the Lincoln Monument in Washington D.C.  Here it is.................

A verse for Sunday...............

In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,

I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.

And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

10  And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

11  And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.

12  And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

13  And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

Mark 8:1-13
The Holy Bible, King James Version

give my heart..................

Annie Lennox..................................In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

-Christina Rossetti, circa 1872

Thanks Nan

Some things to consider...............

"One answer to changing unwholesome behaviors, it appears, is to disrupt the environment in some way. Even small change can help — like eating the ice cream with your non-dominant hand. What this does is alter the action sequence and disrupts the learned body sequence that’s driving the behavior. It allows our conscious mind to come back online and reassert control: 'Is this really what I want to do?'"
-Peter Renner @ heartmind

"So - it has been a week of extremes. Nothing like high highs and low lows to make a person feel human. Reflecting on days like this brings it home that we would be wise to try very hard to pay attention to each moment, and to try to see the divine in life. With gratitude, life is fuller. The days ahead will have some challenge . . . whether it be going to a funeral, supporting a friend through cancer treatment, or dealing with any number of unexpected things that can happen. However, if we are mindful of the beauty and the good and the laughter, we can understand that life is unfolding as it should."
-Nan P @ Jade Page Press

"I’ve studied enough theology to know I don’t understand it. I’ve studied enough politics to know I don’t understand it. I’ve seen enough of the world and human life to know any explanation I concoct to make sense of it will eventually be thrown into doubt. But I’ve seen enough of Jesus to know this is the one thing I can know for sure.

"When I look back on all the moments where I was closest to God, I realize the focus was not on me, but on him. I got ambushed by how beautiful he was, how good he was, the incomprehensible intensity of his love for me, and I sang and laughed like a little child, looking at his face. Then I would draw back and start to protest, 'But my sins, my scars, my weaknesses…' trying to justify my unworthiness to him.

"And however sacrilegious this may seem, he distinctly told me at one point, 'DON’T BOTHER ME WITH THAT STUFF ANY MORE. COME OVER AND PLAY.'"
-Nicole the Ragamuffin

Free Life Lessons from an Old Timer

Lose an argument on purpose just because it’s not that serious.

The expression “same thing, different day” pray you never live these words.

Return borrowed items in the same or better condition it was received.

A good idea is only a good idea. Stop talking about it and turn it into a reality.

Look for insight in unknown places learn from interesting and random people.

Conserve your energy jealousy will ruin your life if you let it.

Good Food & Great Service. Always go back if the food is good but leave a BIG tip if you get both.

Share information with everyone because secrets influence no one.

Be Careful spreading yourself too thin know when to say NO and when to let go.

Approach life differently than your neighbors and be okay with it. Now that’s something to celebrate!

When people show you who they are never expect more than they are able to give.

Life is a continuous effort never stop, never give up.

Find your purpose in life early on in life.

How you feel about the person you’re opening the door for is important and not that you’re holding the door.

Realize early that you don’t know everything.
-Alvin @ All-Swagga

More profoundly, it’s not at all clear, either from scripture or theology that God rewards those he loves with successful careers and public victories on earth. That certainly isn’t how things worked out for Jesus, and a great many of God’s favorites seem to have gone through some rough times. The Bible tells us repeatedly that God has a special love for the poor and many of us know from personal experience that it is through our defeats and our failures that we have come closest to God.

A truly advanced Christian would be as thankful for the interceptions and failed plays as well as he was for the touchdowns. All presumably are manifestations of the divine will, and the faithful should strive to be grateful in and out of season.

But Mr. Tebow is a young athlete not an old monk, and Via Meadia is inclined to be indulgent. A man who bears witness that true manhood consists in acknowledging your dependence on a higher power and that even rich and famous athletes need to regulate their conduct by something other than their own wishes and whims is someone to respect.

And for those who twist themselves into knots of chagrin over Mr. Tebow’s habit of public prayer, we advise some deep breathing and calm reflection. Mr. Tebow is not forcing anyone to join him in these moments of devotion; supporters of his opponents remain free to invoke divine assistance for their own cause. And as a role model for youth, an athlete who neither beats women nor takes drugs seems, well, not too bad.
-Walter Russell Mead

I know, I know............................

.......... a time and place for everything, a time for every season,
enjoy the moment, live in the present, etc. etc. etc.  But still.....

Groucho writes a letter.............

Editor's note:  Warner Brothers, worried about potential
similarities between "Casablanca" and "A Night in Casablanca",
threatened the Marx Brothers with legal action in 1946. 
Goucho responds as only Grouch could:

Dear Warner Brothers:
     Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own.  For example, up to the time that we contemplated making this picture, I had no idea that the city of Casablanca belonged exclusively to Warner Brothers.  However, it was only a few days after our announcement appeared that we received your long, ominous legal document warning us not to use the name Casablanca.
    It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, your great-great-grandfather, while looking for a shortcut to the city of Burbank, had stumble on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock (which he later turned in for a hundred shares of the common), named it Casablanca.
    I just don't understand your attitude.  Even if you plan on re-releasing your picture, I am sure the average movie fan could learn in time to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo.  I don't know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try.
    You claim you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without your permission.  What about "Warner Brothers"?  Do you own that, too?  You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about Brothers?  Professionally, we were brothers long before you were.  We were touring the sticks as the Marx Brothers when Vitaphone was still a gleam in the inventor's eye, and even before us there had been other brothers - the Smith Brothers; the Brothers Karamazov; Dan Brothers, an outfielder with Detroit; and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"  (This was originally "Brothers, Can You Spare a Dime?" but this was spreading a dime pretty thin, so they threw out one brother, gave all the money to the other one and whittled it down to, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?")
    Now Jack, how about your?  Do you maintain that yours is an original name?  Well, it's not.  It was used long before you were born.  Offhand, I can think of two Jacks - there was Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk," and Jack the Ripper, who cut quite a figure in his day.
     As for you Harry, your probably sign your checks, sure in the belief that you are the first Harry of all time and that all other Harrys are imposters.  I can think of two Harrys that preceded you.  There was Lighthouse Harry of Revolutionary fame and a Harry Appelbaum who lived on the corner of 93rd Street and Lexington Avenue.  Unfortunately, Appelbaum wasn't too well known.  The last I heard of him, he was selling neckties at Weber and Heilbroner.
    Now about the Burbank studio.  I believe this is what you brothers call your place.  Old man Burbank is now gone.  Perhaps you remember him.  He was a great man in a garden.  His wife often said Luther had ten green thumbs.  What a witty woman she must have been!  Burbank was the wizard who crossed all those fruits and vegetables until he had the poor plants in such a confused and jittery condition that they could never decide whether to enter the dining room on the meat platter or the dessert dish.
    This is all conjecture, of course, but who knows - perhaps Burbank's survivors aren't too happy with the fact that a plant that grinds out pictures on a quota settled in their town, appropriated the Burbank's name and uses it as a front for their films.  It is even possible that the Burbank family is prouder of the potato produced by the old man than they are of the fact the from your studio emerged "Casablanca" or even "Gold Diggers of 1931."
    This all seems to add up to a pretty bitter tirade, but I assure you it's not meant to.  I love Warners.  Some of my best friends are Warner Brothers.  It is even possible that I am doing you an injustice and that you, yourselves, know nothing about this dog-in-the-Wanger attitude.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that the heads of your legal department are unaware of this absurd dispute, for I am acquainted with many of them and they are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits and a love of their fellow man that out Saroyans Saroyan.
    I have a hunch that this attempt to prevent us from using the title is the brainchild of some ferret-faced shyster, serving a brief apprenticeship in your legal department.  I know the type well - hot out of law school, hungry for success and too ambitious to follow the natural laws of promotion.  This bar sinister probably needled your attorneys, most of whom are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits, etc., into attempting to enjoin us.  Well, he won't get away with it!  We'll fight him to the highest court!  No pasty-faced legal adventurer is going to cause bad blood between the Warners and the Marxes.  We are all brothers under the skin and we'll remain friends till the last reel of "A Night in Casablanca" goes tumbling over the spool.
                                                                   Groucho Marx

-as excerpted from Letters of the Century
Edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler

On being a History major................