Saturday, March 10, 2012

On sacrifices............................

"Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves:  they therefore remain bound.  The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set.  This is as true of earthly as of heavenly things.  Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life?"
-James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

the unshakable.............

Nothing in the realm of thoughts or
ideologies is absolute.
Lean on one for long, and it collapses.
Because of this, there is nothing more
futile and frustrating than
relying on the  mind.

To arrive at the unshakable, you must
befriend the Tao.
To do this, quiet your thinking.
Stop analyzing, dividing,
making distinctions between 
one thing and another.
Simply see that you are at the center of
the universe, and accept all things and
beings as parts of your infinite body.
When you perceive that an act done
to another is done to yourself,
you have understood
the great truth.

-Verse 42
Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Sayings of Lao Tzu
Brian Walker

I love you more..............

The Beatles...............................................In My Life



"In our own country freedom has given us the priceless privilege of thinking and speaking as we will.  How have we used it?  We have produced some work that will live.  We have also produced mountains of vacuous fiction, formless poetry, expensive but cheap drama, self-indulgence splashed on canvass, music that deafens and deadens us to silence as well as sound, violence in the streets, violence reaching out at us from boxes in our living rooms.  Our education levels have fallen.  Confronted by Arnold's choice between 'culture and anarchy,' we seem to have chosen anarchy.  The failure is perhaps temporary and it is in ourselves, for we have come to tolerate and even to like these things."
-Brand Blanshard, Four Reasonable Men

thanks again David

Opening paragraphs........or, it is what it isn't

"Zen Buddhism is a way and a view of life which does not belong to any of the formal categories of Western thought.  It is not religion or philosophy; it is not a psychology or a type of science.  It is an example of what is known in India and China as a 'way of liberation,' and is similar in this respect to Taoism, Vedanta, and Yoga.   As will soon be obvious, a way of liberation can have no positive definition.  It has to be suggested by saying what it is not, somewhat as a sculptor reveals an image by the act of removing pieces of stone from a block."
-Alan Watts,  The Way of Zen

It is not the size of the boat...........

thanks hugh

Hey, I liked that too...............

Friday, March 9, 2012

Heads up, kids...........

So slowly.........................

The Righteous Brothers.........................Unchained Melody

A profound knowledge.............

"We in America have everything we need except the most important thing of all - time to think and the habit of thought.  Thought is the basic energy in human history.  Civilization is put together not by machines but by thought.  Leadership today requires not so much a determination to outsmart the other fellow as an understanding of the lessons of human experience.  It requires a profound knowledge of the diseases of civilizations.  It requires ability to anticipate the effects of actions.  In short, it requires thought.  There is no point passing the buck or looking for guilty parties.  We got where we are because of the busy man in the mirror."
-Norman Cousins, Human Options

Democracy as an experiment......................Or, "You're as good as I am"

    "Few people take the trouble of trying to find out what democracy really is.  Yet this would be a great help, for it is our lawless and uncertain thoughts, it is the indefiniteness of our impressions, that fill darkness, whether mental or physical, with spectres and hobgoblins.  Democracy is nothing more than an experiment in government, more likely to succeed in a new soil, but likely to be tried in all soils, which must stand or fall on its own merits as others have done before it.  For there is no trick in perpetual motion in politics any more than in mechanics.  President Lincoln defined democracy to be 'the government of the people by the people for the people.'  This is a sufficiently compact statement of it as a political arrangement.  Theodore Parker said that 'Democracy meant not 'I'm as good as you are,' but 'You're as good as I am.' ' And this is the ethical composition of it, necessary as a complement of the other; a conception which, could it be made actual and practical, would easily solve all the riddles that the old sphinx of political and social economy who sits by the roadside has been proposing to mankind from the beginning, and which mankind have shown such a singular talent for answering wrongly.  In this sense Christ was the first true democrat that ever breathed..."

-James Russell Lowell, excerpted from his essay, Democracy

Either-or versus both-and.......

    "Transcend either-or thinking by introducing both-and phrases into your thought and speech.  Integrate the spectrum.  Look for sets of complementary opposites that fit together to form a single integrated whole.  Acknowledge the way a person can be both a friend and adversary, both smart and foolish, both compassionate and cruel, both rational and impulsive.  Weapons can both start and prevent war, the universe can be both friendly and unfriendly."
-Frank Rivers, The Way of the Owl

A bit more about both-and..........

"A both-and world is rich and dynamic, but it can also be frightening and difficult to comprehend.  To live in this multicolor zone, you must develop a high tolerance for ambiguity.  Resist the temptation to revert to the simplistic, unreal world of either-or when you feel anxious or insecure.  Develop a healthy relationship with the entire spectrum of your experience.  Embrace a life of partial knowledge, partial control, partial friendship, partial enmity.  What you give up in superficial order and security, you will more than make up for in creativity, improved performance, and rich experience."
-Frank Rivers, The Way of the Owl

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mostly legitimate, albeit imperfect...

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, wonders about the value of his 
economics degree and ponders  the question of  who should 
he trust.  Full post is here.  Excerpt here:

"All of this makes me wonder how one would go about analyzing 
the field of economics to find out if it's mostly legitimate, albeit 
imperfect - like weather forecasting, or mostly psychological, 
like horoscopes. Let's dig into that question."

Worth repeating..........

Louis Armstrong............................What a Wonderful World

50 Rules....................

Alvin posts his 50 Rules To Live Your Life By - here

A sampling here:

1.   Focus on what really counts.

5.   Understand that you can only control yourself.

37.  Never say,"that's not my job."

47.  Get your financial house in order.

49.  Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.


"We must welcome the future remembering that soon it will be the past.  And we must respect the past, remembering that once it was all that was humanly possible."
-George Santayana

On money in politics.............

Craig Newmark notes that in the old days it was not illegal to bribe 
politicians.  Pictures of Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, the Erie Railroad, and 
the New York State legislature come to mind.  While bribery is no 
longer preferred, the money spent influencing the game continues
to increase, despite all efforts to staunch the flow.  He offers this 
     ".....anybody who wants the money out of politics has only 
one reasonable way to proceed: make the government smaller 
and less powerful. Put differently: nobody spends a lot of time
and money trying to influence the local government's dog 
catcher. John notes beautifully in the abstract, 'The irony is 
that those who seem most concerned about the level of 
campaign expenditures are also frequently the ones who 
most strongly support increasing the size of government.'"

Might one suggest that a "flat tax" system is another way to reduce 
the money spent trying to influence Congress?  I suspect the 
number of lobbyists seeking preferential tax treatment for their 
"special interest" group is an overwhelming percentage of the total 
number of lobbyists.  From the hinterlands, it certainly appears 
that Congress has figured out that tinkering with the tax code is a 
great way to generate campaign contributions.  Wouldn't  it be 
interesting if the tax code was used solely to raise revenue for
the operation of government,  and not  used to reward, punish, 
or manipulate behavior?   Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Fears vs. Dreams..............

"The easiest way for a nation to destroy itself is to  make national security its highest value.  Indeed, people are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams, or when the ability to fight becomes more important that the things worth fighting for."
-Norman Cousins,  Human Options

Contraception contretemps..........

Avik S. A. Roy, hanging out at The Atlantic, is shocked, shocked that the Drug Companies might be the big winner in the recent tussle over the dictates of our friends in Washington.  Full post is here.   Excerpt here:

"If you were surprised that PhRMA, the pharmaceutical trade group, backed Obamacare, now you can see why: the HHS contraception mandate alone will be a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle for the pharma industry. If your health insurance plan allowed you to buy a television, of any price, without any cost-sharing on your part, would you buy a 13-inch CRT or a 60-inch flat screen?

"This gets us to a broader question: how the definition of insurance has lost any meaning in the context of American health care. Insurance, traditionally defined, is meant to protect us from the risk of unexpectedly incurring catastrophic costs. Car insurance, for example, protects us against collisions, but doesn't cover our purchase of wiper fluid or gasoline. Homeowner's insurance doesn't cover the cost of air conditioning. And yet, now, we have a federal law that forces health insurance to cover something that is even cheaper than gasoline or air conditioning."

"The contraception contretemps is a case study in how thoughtless laws and policies drive up the cost of health care, making it less accessible to those who are most in need. The path to truly affordable health care involves moving in exactly the opposite direction: restoring the notion that health insurance is meant as protection for catastrophic costs, and letting people buy birth-control pills for themselves."

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Couldn't have said it any better myself...

"The danger seems to come from misalignment, which is usually caused by the systematic risk associated with arcane revenue-driven production models and reward systems that obfuscate risk alignment. When reward is predicated strictly on production, qualitative metrics are compromised regardless of the ability to generate better analytics afforded by nifty new technologies. Anyone who has played golf is painfully aware that all the new innovations in club and ball technology cannot overcome operator error."
-Fred Cordova

The above quote was taken from Fred's recent New Nexus blog post about investing, cycles, technology, judgment, and a few other things.  Full post is here.  It is well worth the time.

On learning and risk........

"One of the most quoted aphorisms in literature is Alexander Pope's: 'A little learning is a dangerous thing.'  T. H. Huxley pondered its implications.  'Where is the person,' he asked. 'who has enough of it to be out of danger?'
     "Learning, in this sense, is not without risk; there is always more to be learned.  But it is a glorious risk.  The only time the risk becomes fierce and unacceptable is when one seeks to avert it."

-Norman Cousins,  Human Options

Pet Sounds................

The Beach Boys....................................God Only Knows

 Wouldn't It Be Nice if the embedding wasn't disabled
for this classic, but since it is, go here

The Beach Boys....................................Sloop John B

Step out of line.........

"It is difficult for people to come to the understanding that only a small minority of the people ever really get the word about life, about living abundantly and successfully.  Success in the important departments of life seldom comes naturally, no more naturally than success at anything - a musical instrument, sports, fly fishing, tennis, golf, business, marriage, parenthood, landscape gardening.

"But somehow people wait passively for success to come to them - like caterpillars going around in circles, waiting for sustenance, following nose to tail - living as other people are living in the unspoken, tacit assumption that other people know how to live successfully.

"It's a good idea to step out of the line every once in a while and look up ahead to see if the line is going where we want it to go.  If it is, it could be the first time."

-Earl Nightingale

About history..........

"The history of the world is the record of a man in quest of his daily bread and butter."
-Hendrik Willem van Loon

"The history of the great events of this world are scarcely more that the history of crimes."

"Human history is in essence a history of ideas."
-H.G. Wells

"History is a bath of blood."
-William James

"History is the crystallisation of popular beliefs."
-Donn Piatt

"History is an accumulation of errors."
-Norman Cousins

"A lot of history is just dirty politics cleaned up for the consumption of children and other innocents."
-Richard Reeves

"History is only a confused heap of facts."
-Lord Chesterfield

"History is a post-mortem examination.  It tells you what a country died of.  But I'd like to know what it lived of."
-Finley Peter Dunne

"History is principally the inaccurate narration of events which ought not to have happened."
-Earnest Albert Hooten

"History is a tangled skein that one may take up at any point, and break when one has unravelled enough."
-Henry Adams

"History, n.  An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools."
-Ambrose Bierce

"History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity."

On freedom...............

"Freedom is not merely the chance to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives.  Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them - and then the opportunity to choose.  That is why freedom cannot exist without an enlarged role of human reason in human affairs."
-C. Wright Mills

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's all about the way we see things....

Haven't the faintest idea what they are talking about, but apparently it's hot.....

Some books................

     "Crafty men condemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them:  for they teach not their own use: but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.  Read not to contradict and confute; not to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
     "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.  Some books also may be ready by deputy, and abstracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled water, flashy things.  Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.  And, therefore if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not."
-Sir Francis Bacon

Mulling it over.............

"Keep reading books, but remember that a book's only a
book, and you should learn to think for yourself."
-Maxim Gorky, nee Alexei Maximovich Peshkov

"At the heart of all his work was a belief in the inherent worth and potential of the human person (личность, 'lichnost'). In his writing, he counterposed individuals, aware of their natural dignity, and inspired by energy and will, with people who succumb to the degrading conditions of life around them. Both his writings and his letters reveal a "restless man" (a frequent self-description) struggling to resolve contradictory feelings of faith and skepticism, love of life and disgust at the vulgarity and pettiness of the human world."
-Wikipedia entry on Gorky

Not sure how to square that description with the fact
that "Gorky" translates "bitter."   Oh, well.

We are not so simple...........

"There are many who lust for the simple answers of doctrine or
decree.  They are on the left and right.  They are not confined
to a single part of society.  They are terrorists of the mind"
-A. Bartlett Giamatti


"You can always get the truth from an American statesman
after he has turned seventy, or given up all hope for the
-Wendell Phillips

About that repetition.....

"The chief value of history, if it is critically studied, is to break
down the illusion that peoples are very different."
-Leo Stein

The Mighty E. has inducted.................

............Dave Mathews into his Cool Hall of Fame.  A well
deserved honor.  Enjoy Dave and his amazing band as they
cover All Along the Watchtower better than most:

Monday, March 5, 2012

At a quick glance.............

I'd call this a portrait of failure for a generation.  Through our
prime earning years, it looks like us baby boomers skimped
on the savings side of the ledger.  Probably counting on that
real estate to always go up in value. Heads up, kids!

click to enlarge, or go here


A calamity.................

"A little learning, indeed may be a dangerous thing, but the
want of learning is a calamity for any people."
-Frederick Douglass

A poem for Monday..........

Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
whatever happens.

 -Wendell Berry

I'm thinking this is about right...............

"A little known law of physics postulates that the number of
books you have borrowed and failed to return equals the number
of  books you are owed. This law is known as The Conservation
of  Literature."
-Martin F. Kohn

Coolie to coolie in four generations?

WRM worries about the consumption versus production ethos of our current economy.   He suggest that a change in philosophy would be a good thing.  Full post is here.  Excerpt here:

Definitive statistics on savings rates of the very wealthy are hard to find.............. But as this New York Times article from 2006 calculates (citing a Moody’s economist), the ultra-wealthy don’t seem to save very much at all, and are at the vanguard of the consumption society that has transformed America. 

 On the one hand, this should give leftie economists pause. From a Keynesian point of view, if the rich really are spending every dime, then raising their taxes will slow economic growth by reducing consumption. Shifting income from wealthy fat cats to poorer folks is supposed to stimulate the economy because the poor (allegedly) are less likely to save their income. But if the rich are already spending it all, nothing economically is gained by redistributing it. 

 And there is some good news.  If the rich keep spending it as fast as they make it, then we don’t have to worry about the rise of a new plutocratic aristocracy.  They will waste all their money on shiny toys and their kids and grandkids will have to earn their own piles.

Well, sort of anyway...........

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday's verse.............

26.  And He was saying, "The kingdom God is like a man who
casts his seed upon the soil;

27.  and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed
sprouts up and grows - how, he himself does not know.

28.  "The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then
the head, then the mature grain in the head.

29.  "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in
the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Mark 5:26-29
The Holy Bible
New American Standard Open Bible

Always available............

The Tao doesn't come and go,
It is always present everywhere,
Just like the sky.
If your mind is clouded, you won't see it,
but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

All misery is created by the activity
of the mind.
Can you let go of words and ideas,
attitudes and expectations?
If so, the the Tao will loom into view.
Can you be still and look inside?
If so, then you will see that the truth is
always available, always responsive.

-Verse 31
Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Brian Walker

Early banking...............

P. W. Huntington

My grandfather was a young country bank president when the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression soon followed.  By the force of his personality, and some very prudent and prescient lending practices, he safely steered his Chester, Illinois bank through the crises. Because of this background, and because borrowing money plays a fairly significant role in our real estate investing model, the thoughts of bankers have long fascinated me.  The most recent Columbus Business First magazine has an interesting article about Pelatiah Huntington, the founder, in 1866, of what would become Huntington National Bank.   A few excerpts:

"Clair Fultz, himself a former CEO of the bank, wrote that Huntington refrained from "temporal enthusiasms."

    "McCullough warned a group of Columbus bankers that, among other things, 'the capital of a bank should be a reality and not a fiction,' and 'splendid financiering is not legitimate banking.  And splendid financiers in banking are generally either humbugs or rascals.'
     In his book Fultz writes Huntington took the words to heart and adopted as his creed: 'Credit is a subtle thing,' stressing that lending money should be scrutinized and approached very carefully."

"For the rest of his career, Huntington would ensure his bank's capital reserves were strong and the institution remained in a liquid position.  He once turned down a $500,000 deposit from the Hocking Valley Railroad to administer it payroll, a common practice at the time, commenting that the amount was 'more money than we should ever owe anybody.'"

On gratitude...............

"Gratitude focuses our attention on the good things in life.  
It takes our blessings and multiplies them.  When we joyfully 
express appreciation, it opens our hearts and allows us to 
experience more love."

"Throughout the day, say the works thank you either silently 
or aloud.  Led God know that you are happy to be alive and
 participating in this experience called Life.  Say thank you 
to yourself, others, and the world. Let the attitude of 
gratitude spread."

-Daniel T. Peralta

Four friends playing music......

The Highwaymen..............................The Last Cowboy Song


On surrender.............

"The right art," cried the Master, "is purposeless, aimless!  The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede.  What stands in your way is that you have a much too wilful will.  You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen."
-Eugen Herrigel,  Zen in the Art of Archery

Thanks Jeff

Tell us how you really feel.................

"Bernanke took over the Federal Reserve from Alan Greenspan, a 
bloviating mumbler who couldn't tell a financial bubble from a 
Quonset hut."
-Malcolm Berko, from his Business First column On Stocks