Saturday, April 14, 2012

Finding a truth in an odd place...........

a bank lobby..........................Pay yourself first = save

The more things change, the more.......

     Penn and his colleagues all agreed that Pennsylvania must be a Christian community that would not become a theocracy nor recognize any one sect, not ever Quakerism, as its state religion.  All avowed their faith in liberty, toleration, and the rights of man, but they differed in their interpretations.  They were less in accord with his idea that government was a social service agency concerned with promoting health, welfare, and education as well, of course, as the furtherance of religion, morality, and peace.  They upheld the principle that the people should rebel against an unjust monarch, though in view of what some of them had seen in England's recent history, they voiced their opinions guardedly.  All of them, including Penn, realized that much more was needed to assure a perfect state than a resolve to live by God's eternal laws.  It was, they learned, far easier to crusade for freedom and justice than to write laws to guarantee those privileges.  Each advisor, convinced that he and he alone possessed the magic key, became impatient with his colleagues.
-Harry Emerson Wildes, William Penn:  A Biography

On understanding.........

"O God, help us not to despise or oppose what we do not understand."
-attributed to William Penn

At age 92...................

.....After breakfast the Judge announced he was going to loaf all day.  "Ninety-two has outlived duty," he said with what seemed a vast satisfaction.  Half an hour later he was calling for his secretary to read to him.  "let's have a little self-improvement, Sonny,"
     Beyond all other traits, this perpetual thirst to learn surprised both young and old.  Franklin D. Roosevelt, a few days after his inauguration in 1933, came round to call.  He found Holmes in his library, reading Plato.  The question rose irresistibly, "Why do you read Plato, Mr. Justice?"
     "To improve my mind, Mr. President," Holmes replied.
-Catherine Drinker Bowen,  as excerpted from
Yankee From Olympus: Justice Holmes and His Family

......mean and nasty.....

"I'm tired of hearing myself called 'saintly.'  Such a way of disregarding what we all have to do in our own ways - follow God's lead!   To call me 'saintly' is to rob and cheat me - of my very humanity!  I am as mean and nasty in my head and heart as all the rest of us here.  Every day we fail spiritually.  Who is an exception to that - who gets an A plus in the eyes of God?  Not me!  Just this morning, I was thinking of someone I know with a terrible anger and scorn in my heart!  I tried to forget the person; I worked on the soup line, serving others in order to help myself a little!"
-Dorothy Day, as quoted by Robert Coles
in an essay from his Harvard Diary

photo courtesy of

"...a fine bogey tale...."

     "In the small hours one morning," Robert Louis Stevenson's wife wrote, "I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis.  Thinking he had a nightmare I awakened him.  He said angrily:  'Why did you awaken me?  I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.'"  The bogey tale turned out to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
-Robert Hendrickson, as excerpted from his book,
The Literary Life and Other Curiosities

O' Connor.........

"The task of the novelist is to deepen mystery, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind."

" will does not mean one will, but many wills conflicting in one man.  Freedom cannot be conceived simply."

-Flannery O'Connor

About that standing "O"....

thanks nobody

Friday, April 13, 2012

Take all their money......................

and it still won't be enough.   Rick Santelli enjoys his emotions as he discusses what would not happen if you took $1,000,000 in taxes from the wealthiest Americans:


Joe Cocker..........................................Feelin' Alright

Written by Dave Mason and recorded by Traffic (Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi, and Mason)  in 1968, Feelin' Alright has been covered at least twenty times.  None more noteworthy than Joe Cocker's effort.  One shouldn't go too long between doses of Joe.

Traffic.....................................................Feelin' Alright


Scrolling with Kevin Kelly.............

From his blog:

"Technology creates our needs faster than it satisfies them."
It takes 56 hours of wasting time on the web...

--clicking aimlessly through dumb web sites, trying stuff, and making tons of mistakes and silly requests--before you master its search process. The web encourages inefficiency. It is all about creating opportunities and ignoring problems. Therefore it has hatched more originality in a few weeks than the efficiency-oriented Dialog system has in its lifetime, that is, if Dialog has ever hatched anything novel at all.
The Web is being run by 20-year-olds because they can afford to waste the 56 hours it takes to become proficient explorers. While 45-year-old boomers can't take a vacation without thinking how they'll justify the trip as being productive in some sense, the young canfollow hunches and create seemingly mindless novelties on the web without worrying about whether they are being efficient. Out of these inefficient tinkerings will come the future.

Opportunities and productivity work hand in hand...

...much like the two-step process of variation and death in natural selection. The primary role that productivity plays in the network economy is to disperse technologies. A technical advance cannot leverage future opportunities if it is hoarded by a few. Increased productivity lowers the cost of acquisition of knowledge, techniques, or artifacts, allowing more people to have them. When transistors were expensive they were rare, and thus the opportunities built upon them were rare. As the productivity curve kicked in, transistors eventually became so cheap and omnipresent that anyone could explore their opportunities. When ball bearings were dear, opportunities sired by them were dear. As communication becomes everywhere dirt cheap and ubiquitous, the opportunities it kindles will likewise become unlimited.

Who's the greatest now.............

The Mighty E. is having a best caption contest, with fabulous
prizes, here.

Here is a photo taken later that same day.  Five people who were
famously hot in 1964.  They have withstood the tests of time
and celebrity pretty well.  This shot was taken February 18,
1964 (before the Clay v Liston title bout).

Your guess is as good as mine...........


Faithful readers will understand that this blog has lately been indulging in an appreciation for some of our more noteworthy Judges and Justices.  For better or worse, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. has long been a favorite.  At some point there will be more posts about his great dissents.  For today, enjoy a few Holmes quotes that did not actually come from judicial proceedings:

Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so.

Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man.

I happen to prefer champagne to ditchwater, but there is no reason to suppose that the cosmos does.

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy — I don't disparage envy but I don't accept it as legitimately my master.

With all humility, I think, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Infinitely more important than the vain attempt to love one's neighbor as one's self. If you want to hit a bird on the wing, you must have all your will in focus, you must not be thinking about yourself, and equally, you must not be thinking about your neighbor: you must be living in your eye on that bird. Every achievement is a bird on the wing.

One of the eternal conflicts out of which life is made up is that between the effort of every man to get the most he can for his services, and that of society, disguised under the name of capital, to get his services for the least possible return.

Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum.

Life is a roar of bargain and battle, but in the very heart of it there rises a mystic spiritual tone that gives meaning to the whole. It transmutes the dull details into romance. It reminds is that our only but wholly adequate significance is as parts of the unimaginable whole. It suggests that even while living we are living to ends outside ourselves.

Life is action, the use of one's powers. As to use them to their height is our joy and duty, so it is the one end that justifies itself.

Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered that I was not God.

If I were dying, my last words would be, Have faith and pursue the unknown end.

On freedom and equality............

     "Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias.  For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.  Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire.  To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917.  Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way.  Utopias of equality are biologically doomed, and the best that the amiable philosopher can hope for is an approximate equality of legal justice and educational opportunity."
-Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History
Chapter III,  Biology and History


Thursday, April 12, 2012

This looks about right..........

thanks Jessica

Top 100 First World problems......

Is it filed under the heading of  "oh, woe is us"  or "man, do we have it great!"?

What balance might look like............

When one cannot improve on something, cutting and pasting is certainly an option.  Ergo, the following was cut and pasted from Tom Asacker's blog.  Enjoy:

Daily wisdom for troubled times

Tom Peters and I had a fun exchange a while back that I think 
is worth sharing again during these challenging and stressful times.  
He wrote:

Daily Wisdom for Troubled Times
Get up earlier.
Go to bed later.
Work harder.
Finish what you start.
Learn one new thing.
Renew one contact.
Ask, "How can I help you?" at least once.
Make yourself visible.
Be of good cheer.
Catch a break.
Or not.
Repeat tomorrow.

I commented:

Sleep in tomorrow.
Take a walk in the woods.
Don't try to figure out a damn thing.
Make a whistle from an acorn top.
Say, "You are very lucky. Be at peace." At least a dozen times.
Be invisible.
Be of open heart.
Catch a fish.
Or not.
Repeat weekly.

He responded:
"Brilliant! Combine both = Dynamite?  Presumably the two lists could 
be used together. I think so."

I think so, too.

Not a moment too soon........................

There are many reasons why the United States has succeeded economically and politically over the past several hundred years.  At the risk of riling my history professors, here are a few:  abundant land, abundant natural resources, a growing and diverse population with a sturdy work ethic, a bias towards educating all, a Constitution that historically and generally caused the government to leave people alone, friendly neighbors, big oceans separating us from our enemies, a system of enforceable contracts and property rights, the rule of law, the anticipation of, and desire for, growth, and finally, cheap and plentiful sources of fuel.  Things and people change over time and advantages wane.  After decades and decades of less than $20 per barrel oil, OPEC and the 1973 oil embargo took away cheap fuel.  We are still coming to grips with expensive energy. But............

Lawrence Solomon has an essay up at the Financial Post that suggests some changes are brewing.  The world may soon be awash in that cheap fuel again.  Heads up OPEC...........

Some excerpts:

Thanks to fracking, the U.S. has suddenly become the world’s largest producer of natural gas, creating a massive glut that has more than halved the price of natural gas. Those liquefied natural gas ports that the U.S. was building to import gas will now be used to export gas.
A glut will soon also materialize in Europe, another major natural gas importer, where massive finds of shale gas in the U.K., in France, in Poland, in Ukraine and elsewhere will be slashing the cost of energy. So too with China and other major energy importers — the world is now awash in shale gas and will remain so for many decades, if not centuries.....
Although shale oil technology is still in its infancy, much of the U.S. shale oil can be developed inexpensively, at a cost comparable to the US$50 to US$60 per barrel cost of tar sands, which has itself been dropping. The trend down in shale oil costs is likely to continue over the coming years. Israel, which has some 250-billion barrels in one basin near Jerusalem alone, an amount comparable to Saudi Arabia’s reserves, expects to develop its oil at a cost of US$35 to US$40 per barrel. Should the world price of oil drop to this level — which happens to be the average price over the last two decades — the halving in oil prices will have mirrored that of natural gas. In the process, today’s Middle East energy exporters will have been bankrupted and their autocrats ousted.


"I'm a full-time believer in writing habits, pedestrian as it all may sound.  You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simple something that has to be assisted all the time by mental and physical habits or it dries up and blows away.  I see it happen all the time,  Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do.  I write only about two hours every day because that's all the energy I have, but I don't let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.  This doesn't mean I produce much out of the two hours.  Sometimes I work for months and have to throw everything away, but I don't think any of that was wasted time.  Something goes on that makes it easier when it does come well.  And the fact is if you don't sit there every day, the day it would come well, you won;t be sitting there."
-Flanery O'Conner, excerpted from a letter written to
Cecil Hawkins, 9/22/1957, as excerpted from
The Oxford Book of Letters

A management hierarchy......

"....the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all."
-Will Durant, The Age of Louis XIV

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Good question...........

"Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?"
-Saint Augustine
City of God, Book 4, Chapter 4
as translated by Marcus Dods

Checking in with Steve Felix..............

Saying one is "in the real estate business" is painting with a rather broad brush.  Steve Felix has spent his career in the global institutional real estate marketplace.  I've spent my career in small town Central Ohio commercial and investment real estate. Both fields deal with buildings and cash flows, but at a vastly different scale and with vastly different travel schedules.  Felix writes a weekly blog post.  I read it every week.  From his latest:

For quite a while, when anyone asked me what I see going on in the commercial real estate industry the answer was easy, "Uncertainty."  If you ask me today, I'd suggest adding another word, "Change."  While commercial real estate remains basically and old-fashioned business the world around it is continually changing.  Retail shopping habits and channels change.  Where people want to live changes.  Where companies choose to locate their offices, warehouses and factories change.  What hotels people stay in change.  How people like to get around (i.e. mobility and transportation) is changing (with regular gas now at $4.39/gal and likely to continue going up, we're thinking about where we want to or on a self-sustaining farm (with excellent wireless service, of course!). 

Less evil.............

In Olmstead v United States the Supreme Court took up the question of whether the government had the right to use evidence secured via wiretapping without judicial approval.  The year was 1928.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the defendents' constitutional rights were not violated by the government's wiretap.  Justice Holmes dissented:

"There is no body of precedents by which we are bound, and which confines us to logical deduction from established rules.  Therefore we must consider the two objects of desire, both of which we cannot have, and make up our mind which to choose.  It is desirable that criminals should be detected, and to that end that all available evidence should be used.  It is also desirable that the government should not itself foster and pay for other crimes, when they are the means by which the evidence is to be obtained.  We have to choose, and for my part I think it is a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Just trying to be helpful...........

"Every South African cannot go out and buy every new book and read it to decide if he will like it.  Now we have a body that can do it for him.  We study the book and tell him if he will like it or not."
-Judge J. H. Synman, South Africa's chief censor, 1978


Bruce Springsteen.........................................................War


Written in 1969 by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for 
Motown and the Temptations. "Whitfield re-recorded the song 
with Edwin Starr as the vocalist, deciding to withhold the 
Temptations' version so as not to alienate their more 
conservative fans. Starr's version of "War" was a number-one 
hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1970."  Springsteen
covered it in 1985.

 Edwin Starr...............................................................War


Great Moments.............. American Capitalism.   Entrepreneurialism at its finest.
From the Coyote Blog:

About George Orwell........

     "It was in Orwell's nature to be an ethically alert and active person; but he was also a skeptical rationalist, quick to spot the fake, the dishonest, the pretentious.  He had no patience with those who romanticize the poor.  He saw that poverty can debase people, turn them into monstrous exploiters of one another.  He had even less patience, naturally, with the wealthy and powerful, or the high falutin' academic world, or the self-important literary one, because he knew their sins of omission and commission were plentiful, and bore the additional responsibility that goes with privilege: not only a responsibility avoided but a capability shunned to extend help to others far less comfortable.  He ended up a loner, disgusted with Tory Britain, yet thoroughly troubled by England's postwar socialist crowd, among whom, he knew, could be found any number of self-centered, condescending, willfully manipulative, and tricky characters.  He had no great love for America's conquering materialism, but Lord, he saw Stalinist Russia to be Hell itself.  A cranky eccentric with respect to 'principalities and powers,' he had, nevertheless, become an increasingly celebrated writer, hailed at the end of his life, he himself knew, by the wrong crowd for the wrong reasons, for his anti-Stalinism was never meant to give courage to those who cared not a whit about the fate of working-class people in contemporary industrial societies."
-Robert Coles, Harvard Diary
as excerpted from the essay Orwell's Decency

thanks doug

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

As good a reason for the separation of church and state as any.....

A letter written in 1682 by Cotton Mather to John Higginson:

There now be at sea a ship called Welcome, which has on board 100 or more of the heretics and malignants called Quakers, with W Penn, who is the chief scamp, at the head of them.  The General Court has accordingly given sacred orders to Master Malachi Huscott, of the brig Porpoise, to waylay the same Welcome slyly as near the Cape of Cod as may be, and make captive the said Penn and his ungodly crew, so that the Lord may be glorified and not mocked on the soil of this new country with the heathen worship of these people.  Much spoil can be made of selling the whole lot to Barbados, where slaves fetch good prices in rum and sugar, and we shall not only do the Lord great good by punishing the wicked, but we shall make great good for His Minister and people.
                           Yours in the bowels of Christ,
                                         Cotton Mather


William Shatner.......................Bohemian Rhapsody


Freddie Mercury wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, and Queen recorded it, in 1975.  Lots of information, probably more than you are interested in, about the song can be found here.  Shatner covered it, with the above highly unusual video, in 2011. 

Queen..................................Bohemian Rhapsody


Fun with numbers..............

Morgan Housel posted "50 things about our economy that blow my mind."  I was just going to highlight a few, but had a difficult time choosing.  Ergo, the cutting and pasting of the whole list:
50. The S&P 500 is down 3% from 2000. But a version of the index that holds all 500 companies in equal amounts (rather than skewed by market cap) is up nearly 90%.
49. According to economist Tyler Cowen, "Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent."
48. Of all non-farm jobs created since June 2009, 88% have gone to men. "The share of men saying the economy was improving jumped to 41 percent in March, compared with 26 percent of women," reports Bloomberg.
47. A record $6 billion will be spent on the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Adjusted for inflation, that's 60% more than the 2000 elections.
46. In 2010, nearly half of Americans lived in a household that received direct government benefits. That's up from 37.7% in 1998.
45. Adjusted for inflation, federal tax revenue was the same in 2009 as it was 1997, even though the U.S. population grew by 37 million during that period.
44. In November 2009, the nationwide unemployment was around 10%. But dig into demographics, and the rates are incredibly skewed. The unemployment rate for young, uneducated African-American males was 48.5%. For Caucasian females over age 45 with a college degree, it was 3.7%.
43. About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).
42. According to The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. refineries are producing more gasoline and diesel than ever. And Americans' gasoline consumption is at an 11-year-low."
41. Americans spend an average of 1.8% of their income on alcohol and tobacco. In the U.K., it's 4.8%.
40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs.
39. As the market was "flat" from 2000 to 2010, S&P 500 companies paid out more than $2 trillion in dividends.
38. The Census Bureau now classifies nearly 1 in 6 Americans as living in poverty.
37. The number of Americans who don't have health insurance: 49.9 million.
36. The share of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare going to the bottom fifth of households (based on income) has fallen from 54% in 1979 to 36% in 2007, according to Binyamin Appelbaum of The New York Times.
35. According to Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, China's growth creates the equivalent of a new Greece every 90 days.
34. With a drop in jobs came a surge in grad-school aspirations. The number of people taking the LSAT (law school entrance) exam surged 20% from 2008 to 2009.
33. From 2007 to 2009, Sheldon Adelson's personal net worth fell by $24 billion. That's about equal to what the federal government spends on agriculture every year. (He's since made most of it back.)
32. The entire town of Pray, Mont., was listed for sale last month. The asking price is $1.4 million (or what Sheldon Adelson lost every 30 minutes in 2008).
31. A full 17 years after college graduation, Yale economist Lisa Kahn found those who began their careers in tough economic times earned less than those who started their careers when the economy was strong.
30. Americans age 60 and older owe $36 billion in student loans.
29. The average vehicle on the road today is 10.8 years old -- an all-time high, and two years older than in 2000.
28. Just five companies, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Cisco,Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) , now hold nearly one-quarter of all corporate cash, equal to more than a quarter-trillion dollars.
27. In 2011, the federal government took in $2.3 trillion in tax revenue, and spent the exact same amount on military, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone.
26. Auto sales in regions where debt accumulation was highest during the bubble years are down some 40% since 2005. In regions where debt accumulation was the lowest, sales are actually up 30%.
25. According to Pew, for every dollar newspapers make in new digital advertising, they've lost $7 from traditional print media.
24. In the S&P 500, 334 companies earned more profit in 2011 than in 2007, when the economy peaked. The median gain is 38%.
23. According to economist Michael Spence, sectors of the economy that have no direct foreign competition added more than 27 million jobs from 1990 to 2008. Those that do added almost none.
22. Capital expenditures among S&P 500 companies set a record in the fourth quarter of 2011.
21. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) is now responsible for about one-third of all Internet bandwidth.
20. The average salary for a Silicon Valley tech worker surpassed $100,000 in 2011.
19. In 2009 and 2010, 93% of the nation's income growth went to 1% of wage earners, according to economist Emmanuel Saez; 15,600 households captured 37% of all national growth.
18. Growth in health care spending in 2010 was the lowest in half a century.
17. In 2010, President Barack Obama set what looked like an unrealistic goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. After growing an average of 16% a year since, the goal is on track to be met ahead of schedule.
16. Good news: 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since 2009. Bad news: Manufacturing employment is still down almost 6 million since 2000.
15. Total government employment has shrunk by almost 700,000 since 2009.
14. According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, the number of prescription drugs issued fell by 1.1% last year, and doctor visits fell 4.7%.
13. We imported 60.3% of our oil in 2005. In 2010, that figure was 49.2%, and will likely drop further as domestic production rises.
12. For the first time since 1949, the U.S. is now a net exporter of fuel products like gasoline and diesel.
11. The period from March 2009 to March 2012 was one of the strongest three-year market rallies in history -- stronger, in fact, than the 1996-1999 bull market.
10. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 30% of companies in 2011 had job openings for six months or longer, but couldn't find the right person to hire.
9. Adjusted for inflation, the bursting of the housing bubble destroyed wealth equal to half a 1950s America.
8. At 66.9%, the homeownership rate in America is down considerably from the 2004 peak, but is still above the long-term average of 66%.
7. U.S. apartment vacancies are now at a decade low.
6. A 2008 Swedish study found that unemployed people gradually lose the ability to read.
5. Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, ran the numbers and found that as unemployment goes up, the divorce rate goes down.
4. According to the Airline Quality Rating, 2011 was the best year ever for airline industry performance (lost baggage, on-time departures, etc.).
3. The combined assets of Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT  ) Walton family is equal to that of the bottom 150 million Americans.
2. As the economy tanked in 2009, the top 25 hedge fund managers collectively earned $25.3 billion. On average, that works out to about $2,000 a minute for each manager.
1. Household debt payments as a percent of income are now the lowest since 1994.