Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things that don't last............

Al Stewart..................................................Time Passages

About that history lesson........

     "The historians are aware of the difficulty of combining truth telling with storytelling.  Most men, Thucydides remarks, are unwilling to take enough pains 'in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand.'  The difficulty according to Tacitus, is the obscurity of the greatest events, 'so that some take for granted any hearsay, whatever its source, others turn truth into falsehood, and both errors find encouragement with posterity.' "
-Mortimer J. Adler, The Great Ideas


"History, according to Karl Marx, is economics in action - the contest, among individuals, groups, classes, and states, for food, fuel, materials, and economic power.  Political forms, religious institutions, cultural creations, are all rooted in economic realities.  So the Industrial Revolution brought with it democracy, feminism, birth control, socialism, the decline of religion, the loosening of morals, the liberation of literature from dependence upon aristocratic patronage, the replacement of romanticism by realism in fiction - and the economic interpretation of history.  The outstanding personalities in these movements were effects, not causes; Agamemnon, Achilles, and Hector would never have been heard of had not the Greeks sought commercial control of the Dardanelles; economic ambition, not the face of Helen 'fairer that the evening air clad in the beauty of a thousand stars,' launched a thousand ships on Ilium; those subtle Greeks knew how to cover naked economic truth with the fig leaf of a phrase."
-Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History

On Liberty........

    "Liberty, next to religion, has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime, from the sowing of the seed at Athens, two thousand four hundred and sixty years ago, until the ripened harvest was gathered by men of our race.
    "In every age liberty's progress has been beset by its natural enemies, by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and by love of ease, by the strong man's craving for power, and the poor man's craving for food.
     "The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by its minorities."
-Lord Acton, The History of Freedom and Other Essays

About customers..............

"There are only three ways a company can grow.  First, earn more business from your current customers.  Second, attract customers from your competitors.  Or third, buy another company.  If you can't do the first, what makes you think you can earn more business from your competitor's customers or from customers you buy through acquisition?"
-John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo

What ever happened to........"They Earn It"..?

 Some history about Smith Barney is here

 Some history about John Houseman is here

Mistakes, we've made a few.............

I mentioned to a business partner last week that I hoped we would live long enough to put to good use all the hard lessons we've learned over the past four years.  Lesson triggered by all the mistakes we made four years before then.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Come on people now............

The Youngbloods.....................................Get Together
(along with lots of Woodstock videos for your viewing pleasure)


Can we get an Amen...............

While waiting yesterday at the doctor's office, I had the opportunity to thumb through the February 12th issue of Forbes, wherein Paul Johnson penned an essay on the virtues of capitalism.  Full read worthy essay is here.  Excerpt here:

"This is not to say that the job of the U.S. government is to shape and run the nation’s economy. Far from it. Government’s job is to make it possible for the economy to run itself, in the interests of all its components and to the benefit of the American people, whether they be producers, suppliers or consumers."

So, what's the problem?

"A problem is only a problem if we say it is, and a problem is not the problem, how we react to the problem is the problem."
-Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len

It's a question of viewpoint..........

From Carpe Diem comes a timely post.  An excerpt:

This is good time to invoke the spirit of French economist Bastiat, who wrote these words in a letter four days before his death in 1850:

"Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race."

Given a choice between siding with the disorganized, dispersed consumers/human race and  the concentrated, well-organized special-interest of the producers, the politicians will crush economic liberty to protect the incumbent producers almost every time, and the city officials in Nashville are no exception.  Sadly, the human race suffers. 

The Master said..................

From The Sayings of Confucius:

    "When good government prevails in a State, language may be lofty and bold, and actions the same.  When bad government prevails, the actions may be lofty and bold, but the language should be with some reserve.  When a country is well governed, poverty and mean condition are something to be ashamed of.  When a country is ill governed, riches and honors are something to be ashamed of."

Take a looksee at............

....the pretty excellent tumblr from the Journal of a Nobody

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the 
freedom of thought which they seldom use.”   
-Søren Kierkegaard

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A night on the town...............

My sweetie and I took in a hockey game last night.  Growing up in Philadelphia during the Flyers' glory years, I've long been a hockey fan.  The Columbus Blue Jackets have a tradition of playing less than stellar hockey, but they were on their game last night, vanquishing Rob's favorite Red Wings, 4-2.  The Blue Jackets, over the years, have specialized in turning the puck over in their defensive side of the rink.  Turn overs in your own end almost always lead to quality chances by your opponent.   I think I counted only one such turn over last night.  It makes a huge difference.  Detroit's two goals came off power plays.  The Blue Jackets have a right to be proud of their hard working effort last night.  Thanks for the show, boys.

Our seats were almost too good, right behind the scorer's table

This mean person gets to spend two minutes thinking about that
nasty elbow he threw at that nice Blue Jacket .

Life is like.....................

"Life is like an unassembled abacus.  It's what you make of it that counts."
-Roger von Oech

photo courtesy of


Jefferson Starship...........................................Miracles


"I'd rather know some of the questions than all of the answers."
-James Thurber

One problem with security.............

"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity; 
they seem more afraid of life than of death."
-James F. Byrnes

Editors note:  Mid-twentieth century American history was not my 
forte in school.  At that point in time, you could hardly call it 
"history." So, it was with great interest that I read the 
Wikipedia entry on Byrnes.  Loved this quote: "In part as a reward 
for his crucial support on many issues, Roosevelt appointed 
Byrnes an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in July 1941. 
This position did not suit him; he became bored and resigned 
from the Court after only 15 months."


"A western anthropologist is told by a Voohooni that 2 + 2 = 5.
The anthropologist asks him how he knows this.  The tribesman
says, 'By counting, of course.  First I tie two knots in a cord.
Then I tie two knots in another cord.  When I join the two
cords together, I have five knots.'"
-Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar.........

As a chronicler of "Generation Y"......

...Justin Wehr writes an always interesting blog.  A sample:

Speaking of betting.............

While we believe you should always bet on the optimist, we also
suggest that you don't bet against this guy in a game of H-O-R-S-E:

thanks justin

My favorite economic futurist.............

...........has on his rose colored glasses.  Jeff Thredgold's latest Tea Leaf has nothing but good news, stuff we don't normally hear.  Optimism being contagious, here is his full post, or for your reading pleasure, here is a sampling:
  • U.S. economic growth has now been positive for eleven consecutive quarters
  • Electricity produced by solar panels and wind power in the U.S. rose by 109% and 31%, respectively, last year
  • Conventional thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.92% in recent weeks, the lowest level in 60 years
  • The country’s net petroleum imports peaked at 60.3% in 2005 and dropped to 49.3% in 2010. North Dakota this year is expected to supply more oil for domestic use than Saudi Arabia
  • U.S. exports to China have risen roughly 24% per year since 2001, making China the fastest growing market for U.S. goods
  • Average U.S. life expectancy has reached 78.2 years (men 75, women 80), the highest ever.  This compares to 76 years in 1995, 68 years in 1950, and 47 years in 1900
  • Even as U.S. economic output (GDP) has climbed by more than 210% since 1970, aggregate emission of six principal air pollutants has plunged by 60%
  • America produces more steel today than 30 years ago, despite the shuttered plants and slimmed-down work force
  • Roughly 30% of trash was recycled or composted in the latest year, versus 16% in 1990
  • The U.S.accounted for 34% of the funds spent globally on research & development (R&D) during 2010
  • The upward “mobility” of the typical American remains the greatest in the world.  Why?  The U.S. economy “rewards” the combination of hard work and educational achievement more than ever before…and more than any other country in the world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The moment just before......

"What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best ------" and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to do it which was better than when you were, and he didn't know what to call it."

-Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Keep trying.................

No one hears....................

The Allman Brothers........................................Melissa


Life is like.........................

"Life is like a bagel.  It's delicious when it's fresh and warm, but often it's just hard.  The hole in the middle is its great mystery, and yet it wouldn't be a bagel without it."
-Roger von Oech

On Trust......................

"Modern market economies, those steadily growing organisms that have generated stunning wealth over the past two centuries, showed their soft underbelly:  trust.  What is a dollar bill  but a piece of paper that one trusts will be honored as legal tender?  What is an investment bank but a legal entity that acts as a custodian and intermediary in the handling of money, or stands between parties in a trade?  As buyers and sellers collide and couple in the vast global marketplace - with little to bind them beyond the self-interest of one party having money and the other needing it - the institution makes certain that everyone honors his obligations, or legal remedies are triggered.  That is their essential function.  When the financial institution itself can't honor its obligations, panic is uncorked."
-Ron Suskind, Confidence Men:  Wall Street, Washington 
and the Education of a President

Look forward..................

Alfred Hitchcock offers his definition of happiness:


thanks maria

Keep betting on the optimist.....

WRM reminds us:
"At a moment when miasmic doubt about long-term American prospects is common, it’s easy to forget that America has rich resource endowments, a strong institutional framework to manage them, and a dynamic private sector to exploit those resources and export them to a thirsty world."

Full post is here.

Wal-Marts and us............

A handy visual aid showing the unbelievable growth of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, 1962-2010. The real estate developer in me absolutely loves this video. The embedding of it eludes me.  Sorry, you have to go here.

thanks Mark

Still blogging.....................

thanks hugh

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Always bet on the optimist........

“Humanity is now entering a period of radical transformation in which technology has the potential to significantly raise the basic standards of living for every man, woman and child on the planet,”

An excerpt from's A More Better Future, a review of Abundance:  Why the Future Will Be Much Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

thanks craig you...........

Bad Company...........................................Feel Like Making Love


Then study.................

If you wish to become a person of Tao,
then study that which serves the
nature of life, and offer it
to the world.
Allow your devotion to learning the
Taoist ways be complete.
Partial practice and partial discipline
won't do.
You can't know the body by studying
the finger, and you can't understand 
the universe by learning one science.
If you study the whole of the Tao
wholeheartedly, then everything
in your life will reflect it.

-Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Verse 56
Brian Walker


"They do not understand how that which differs with itself is in agreement:  harmony consists of opposing tension, like that of the lyre and the bow."

image courtesy of

Life is like..................

"Life is like playing a violin solo and learning the instrument as one goes on."
-Al Juodikis

Opening paragraphs......

In Westwood Brown Dog recognized a cloud as one he had seen several years before over two thousand miles to the east out near Fayette on Big Bay de Noc.  The cloud was sure enough the same one, no question about it.  The question was what route did it take to California, to Westwood in particular?  This cloud sighting was not remarkable in itself.  In a lifetime in the woods he had witnessed three different birds (a raven, a red-tailed hawk, and a lowly robin) drop dead off their separate perches, and once while illegally pillaging a shipwreck in Lake Superior at a depth of a hundred feet or so, a very large passing lake trout had picked that moment to drop, wobbling slow and lifeless to the lake's floor.  There was a moment's temptation to pluck it up and stow It in his diving bag with some brass fittings from the sunken ship, but then it occurred to him that the fish had achieved a peaceful death and it wouldn't be quite right to fry it up, douse it with hot sauce, and eventually turn it into a turd.  As a child his grandfather was wont to say when B.D. was sullen or depressed, "Keep your chin up, Bucko. We all end up as worm turds.
-Jim Harrison, Westward Ho

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sooner rather than later.................

.........single housing starts will start to pick up.  Let's go out on a limb here and say that by the end of 2013 housing starts will be at the 1,000,000 per year pace.  That's double of where we are now in 18 months.  Hope the trades and suppliers are ready.  We have some dandy lots for sale....just in case you want to get a head start.

as always, the chart is courtesy of calculated risk

How long....................?

U2............................................Sunday Bloody Sunday


Home schooling................

"That truck is on a mission...."

From the Waiting for the Karma Truck blog comes management lessons gleaned from the Wizard of Oz:

4 – The best teams are comprised of people with markedly different talents.  It’s best not to duplicate areas of expertise, rather seek those who’s abilities will be complementary.  Chances of effective project completion are highly increased, everyone emerges stronger and more well-versed than when they began and you can maintain a shared vision of the goal without introducing individual competitiveness. 

Full fun post is here.

Thanks David

"...leased themselves some senators...."

     "It's very simple, Fran," he said in the long blue early evening gentling the cocktail hour in mid-springtime in the sunporch of the house on Pilot Hill.  "It's what I've tried to tell you about so many times before.  The long and the short of it is that this guy's out to get me and also take down along with me all the businessmen and homeowners we've got that he can lay his hands on.  And his boss wants to help him do it.  And his boss's boss's egging him on - they've all got their tails in the same crack.  After what happened in the Southwest when Charlie Keating, then the Texans, went to Washington and leased themselves some senators to scuttle auditors for them.  Treasury got blown out, may be a hundred forty billion.  And they got blamed for it.  They're a posse now.  They've got blood in their eyes.  So as a result they're taking it out on people like us, poor bastards we are.  We're trophy-heads for them, to prove to the whole world that the FDIC is on the job.  Hurrah, hurrah; we can all sleep better tonight.  Unless yours's one of the fresh scalps they plan to take, show around and demonstrate they've finally shaped up."
-George V. Higgins, Swan Boats at Four, 1995

A poem for Monday

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul.
unless your soul raise them up before you.
Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean. 

Life is like....................

"Life is like riding an elevator.  It has a lot of ups and downs and someone is always pushing your buttons.  Sometimes you get the shaft, but what really bothers you are the jerks."
-Roger von Oech


"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play."

photo courtesy of

A dangerous idea...............

Sunday, March 25, 2012


"I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it."
-Harry Emerson Fosdick

photo courtesy of APOD
Blind Faith.....................................In the Presence of the Lord
Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Ric Grech

On protecting the ego.................

10.  The calm being of God's Kingdom, which in your sane mind is perfectly conscious, is ruthlessly banished from the part of the mind the ego rules.  The ego is desperate because it opposes literally invincible odds, whether you are asleep or awake.  Consider how much vigilance you have been willing to exert to protect your ego, and how little to protect your right mind.  Who but the insane would undertake to believe what is not true, and then protect this belief at the cost of the truth?

1.  If you cannot hear the Voice for God, it is because you do not choose to listen.  That you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings and your behavior.  Yet this is what you want.  This is what you are fighting to keep, and what you are vigilant to save.  Your mind is filled with schemes to save the face of your ego, and you do not seek the face of Christ.  The glass in which the ego seeks to see its face is dark indeed.  How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors?  But where you look to find yourself is up to you.

-The Course in Miracles
Chapter 4  III:10 and IV:1


 ".....‘Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion.’ Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.” 

thanks nicole

On Faith......................

"Some things need to be believed to be seen,"
-Ralph Hodgson

"All the scholastic scaffolding falls, as a ruined edifice, before a single word:  faith."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

"A god has his abode within our breast; when he rouses us, the glow of inspiration warms us; this holy rapture springs from the seeds of the divine mind sown in man."

"Listen to the voices."
-William Faulkner

"The great act of faith is when man decides that he is not God."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
-Thomas Jefferson

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Faith is a sounder guide than reason.  Reason can only go so far, but faith has no limits."
-Blaise Pascal

"I believe in the sun even if it isn't shining.  I believe in love even when I am alone.  I believe in God even when He is silent."

Sunday's Verse

42.  But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

 43.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

44.  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

45.  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The Holy Bible
Mark 10:42-45
King James Version