Saturday, April 21, 2012

OK, Coach..............

"I like relaxed players.  Players who want to be up to bat so they can get on base, steal second and score.  That is a healthy climate.  I want a pitcher who talks about striking kids out; a kid who walks up to the mound with a swagger.  I like the kid I have to hold on base because he is dead certain he can steal the next base on any pitch.  He wants to get in a pickle.  I like the outfielder who wants to catch every ball on the fly."
-Kurt Harden

photo credit (notice ball in glove) here

The unnecessary..................

"The greatest part of what we say or do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will have more leisure and less uneasiness.  Accordingly, on every occasion a man should ask himself: 'Is this one of the unnecessary things?'  Now a man should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after."
-Mathew Arnold, channeling Marcus Aurelius

Curt Flood...............................

A letter written in 1969...............
Dear Mr. Kuhn,
     After 12 years in the major leagues, I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.  I believe that any system that produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and the several states.
      It is my desire to play baseball in 1970 and I am capable of playing.  I have received a contract from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decisions.  I, therefore, request that you make known to all the major league clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season.
                                                        Curt Flood

      Ah, the joy of mixed emotions.  While I was a youngster growing up in Philly, the Phillies generally fielded terrible baseball teams.  Curt Flood was a star with the St. Louis Cardinals.  When the Cards traded him to the Phillies, Flood essentially said, "screw this, I'm not playing in Philadelphia."  Ouch, that hurt my fragile teenage psyche.  Having said that, I knew he was correct.  The notion that a person should be free to offer their labor to whomever they choose just seemed common sense fair play to me.  In 1970, Major League Baseball denied their players that right.  Players got told who they were going to play for, and for how much.  Their choice was to play under those terms, or not play at all.
      In 1970, Flood challenged the system.  The Supreme Court heard the case in 1972, ruling against Flood and in favor of Major League Baseball by a 5-3 margin.  Just because he lost, didn't make him wrong.  Four years later, Major League Baseball opened the door to free agency.  Free to bargain for the first time, major league players struck the vein of gold.  They owe Curt Flood big time.

William O. Douglas dissents......

William O. Douglas
Associate Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court  1939-1975

The longest-serving justice (36 years and 6+ months) ever, Douglas was a noted civil libertarian and a prolific writer of opinions and dissents.  His was one of the three votes in favor of Curt Flood in his law suit against Major League Baseball.  Here is an excerpt from his dissent:
"Baseball is today big business that is packaged with beer, with broadcasting, and with other industries. The beneficiaries of the Federal Baseball Club decision are not the Babe Ruths, Ty Cobbs, and Lou Gehrigs. The owners, whose records many say reveal a proclivity for predatory practices, do not come to us with equities. The equities are with the victims of the reserve clause. I use the word 'victims' in the Sherman Act sense, since a contract which forbids anyone to practice his calling is commonly called an unreasonable restraint of trade."

Just thought you should know.............

Nuclear power plants provide 19.2% of the generation of electrical power in the United States.  More data here

Friday, April 20, 2012

A week with the Execupundit....

I know that many of you already follow Michael Wade's blog.  On the off-chance that you don't, do.  Here is a small sample of excerpts from the past week:

I'm convinced that far too much effort is put into developing alibis instead of shaping solutions. If alibis were microbes, most workplaces would be crawling with them. 

Time, in particular, is an element that is underestimated. Limit that and you have much less ability to collect your thoughts, gather information, and seek other perspectives. That's why wartime adversaries strive to rob their enemies of time. It can be as important a resource as ammunition. Reduce it and you produce confusion and knee-jerk reactions. 

Finances aside, there is a reason why so many are reluctant to leave the workplace. It is often the grand stage of life. The plots can equal a Shakespearean comedy or tragedy and there is no admission charge. The acting is usually superb if only because so many of the players naturally take to their parts.

Those of us who are older (and I'm not that old, saith the geezer) live in a different world from the young. We have other points of reference, heroes, music, and interests, although the last item may be closer than we realize. The age gap needs more exploration.

Timidity was keeping him from crossing that line into the very good or even excellent territory. He seemed to want to bribe the audience into loving him and that's a tactic that works for, say, three seconds. 

Individuality and democracy......

"Freedom for all to act and think as their own powers enabled them, education to elicit and stimulate those powers, with the resultant diversity of minds - these were the real goals of the essay On Liberty.  Mill gave two cheers for democracy, for it alone could generate a responsible people.  He feared it because of the tyranny of the majority was able to flatten individuality as a steamroller does clods in a field.....Thus for Mill the great danger of democracy is self-defeat.  Public opinion demands conformity; conformity destroys individuality; and if individuality is destroyed, men of character and genius that democracy requires for its leadership are destroyed with it."
-Brand Blanshard,  Four Reasonable Men

thanks David


"Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize.  Your words are the greatest power you have.  The words you choose and use establish the life you experience."
-Sonia Choquette

A catastrophic tendency..............

"Thus, religion helped overcome man's catastrophic tendency towards neighborliness and smoothed the way for millennia of wars - allowing millions of people to discover, first-hand, whether or not their religion was right about the whole 'post-death non-oblivion' thing.
     "To sum up:  Religion provided great comfort to a world torn religion."
Jon Stewart,
Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

thanks Chris

More Frankfurter........................

The Constitution of the United States is not a very long document.  It only hints at solutions to many of the intractable and conflicting problems us Americans encounter in our experiment with liberty.  So, it is with great interest that we follow the meanderings of the Supreme Court as they try, usually, but not always, with wisdom and justice in mind, to sort out what is right and what is not right within our system of rules and regulations.

In Dennis v. United States (1951), the Supreme Court heard a case revolving around Eugene Dennis, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party USA. The Court ruled to uphold Dennis's lower court conviction, holding that that Dennis did not have the protected right under  the Constitution to exercise all free speech, if said exercise involved the "creation of a plot to overthrow the government."     In affirming the conviction by a 6-2 margin  the Court applied Judge Learned Hand's "clear and present danger test:"

In each case courts must ask whether the gravity of the 'evil,' discounted by it improbability, justifies such invasion of free speech as necessary to avoid the danger."

Felix Frankfurter voted with the majority, and offered a concurring opinion.  Full concurrence is here.  Excerpts here:

"We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights."

"Freedom of expression is the well spring of our civilization -- the civilization we seek to maintain and further by recognizing the right of Congress to put some limitation upon expression. Such are the paradoxes of life. For social development of trial and error, the fullest possible opportunity for the free play of the human mind is an indispensable prerequisite. The history of civilization is in considerable measure the displacement of error which once held sway as official truth by beliefs which in turn have yielded to other truths. Therefore, the liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge. Liberty of thought soon shrivels without freedom of expression. Nor can truth be pursued in an atmosphere hostile to the endeavor or under dangers which are hazarded only by heroes."

"Civil liberties draw, at best, only limited strength from legal guaranties. Preoccupation by our people with the constitutionality, instead of with the wisdom, of legislation or of executive action is preoccupation with a false value. Even those who would most freely use the judicial brake on the democratic process by invalidating legislation that goes deeply against their grain, acknowledge, at least by paying lip service, that constitutionality does not exact a sense of proportion or the sanity of humor or an absence of fear. Focusing attention on constitutionality tends to make constitutionality synonymous with wisdom. When legislation touches freedom of thought and freedom of speech, such a tendency is a formidable enemy of the free spirit. Much that should be rejected as illiberal, because repressive and envenoming, may well be not unconstitutional. The ultimate reliance for the deepest needs of civilization must be found outside their vindication in courts of law; apart from all else, judges, howsoever they may conscientiously seek to discipline themselves against it, unconsciously are too apt to be moved by the deep undercurrents of public feeling. A persistent, positive translation of the liberating faith into the feelings and thoughts and actions of men and women is the real protection against attempts to strait-jacket the human mind. Such temptations will have their way, if fear and hatred are not exorcized. The mark of a truly civilized man is confidence in the strength and security derived from the inquiring mind. We may be grateful for such honest comforts as it supports, but we must be unafraid of its incertitudes. Without open minds, there can be no open society. And if society be not open, the spirit of man is mutilated, and becomes enslaved."

Just thought you should know..........

The creation of the first federal "minimum wage" law occurred in 1938 when FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The initial minimum wage was $.25 per hour and such rates applied only to certain industries.  More info is here, or if you favor wikipedia's version of things, you might want to read this.

60's TV...........................

I'll take Science Fiction for $400, Alex................

Outer Limits was a 1963 TV show.  Embedding has been disabled,
but the highly entertaining intro is here

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The race is on.............All bets are off..................... Or, the ecstasy of agony..............

thanks Michael


Baby It's You.........................................Smith

Written in 1961 by Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon and David Mack, the song was recorded by The Shirelles in 1961 and covered by Smith in 1969.   Along the way, it has been covered a bunch of times, notably by The Beatles, The Carpenters, Cliff Richards, and Elvis Costello

Baby It's You........................................The Shirelles

A wish comes true.................

"Valentinian III, who remarked in 444 AD that new taxes on landowners and merchants would be catastrophic, still imposed an additional 4% sales tax... and further decreed that all transactions be conducted in the presence of a tax collector.
"Under such a debilitating regime, both rich and poor wished dearly that the barbarian hordes would deliver them from the burden of Roman taxation."
-as excerpted from here

A prayer...............

Teach us...........
To give, and not to count the cost 
To fight, and not to heed the wounds, 
To toil, and not to seek for rest, 
To labor, and not to ask for any reward, 
save that of knowing that we do thy will.

-Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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

He'd never know why he stopped.  Kelly pulled his Scout over to the shoulder without a conscious thought.  She hadn't had her hand out soliciting a ride.  She'd just been standing by the side of the road, watching the cars speed past in a spray of highway grit and a wake of fumes.  Her posture was that of a hitchhiker, one knee locked, the other bent.  Her clothes were clearly well used and a backpack was loosely slung over one shoulder.  Her tawny, shoulder-length hair moved about in the rush of air from the traffic.  Her face showed nothing, but Kelly didn't see that until he was already pressing his right foot on the break pedal and angling onto the loose rock of the shoulder.  He wondered if he should go back into the traffic, then decided that he was already committed, though to what he didn't know exactly.  The girl's eyes followed the car and, as he looked in his rearview mirror, she shrugged without any particular enthusiasm and walked towards him.  The passenger window was down already, and in a few seconds she was there.
-Tom Clancy, Without Remorse

Henry Clay..............

Henry Clay     1777-1852

Henry Clay held public office, more or less continuously, from 1806-1852.  The "Great Compromiser" was a candidate for the Presidency in 1832, 1840, 1844, and 1848.  Most of the quotes below are attributed to speeches he made on the floor of the Senate.

"I have no commiseration for princes.  My sympathies are reserved for the great mass of mankind."
December 25, 1810

"The great advantage of our system of government over all others, is, that we have a written constitution, defining its limits, and prescribing its authorities; and that, however, for a time, faction may convulse the nation, and passion and party prejudice sway its functionaries, the season of reflection will recur, when calmly retracing their deeds, all aberrations from fundamental principle will be corrected."
February 11, 1811

"Sir, if you wish to avoid foreign commerce; give up all your prosperity. It is the thing protected, not the instrument of protection, that involves you in war. Commerce engenders collision, collision war, and war, the argument supposes, leads to despotism. Would the councils of that statesman be deemed who would recommend that the nation should be unarmed - that in the art of war, the material spirit, and martial exercises, should be prohibited......and that the great body of the people should be taught that the national happiness was to be found in perpetual peace alone? No, sir."

"If you wish to avoid foreign collision, you had better abandon the ocean."
January 22, 1812

"An oppressed people are authorized, whenever they can, to rise and break their fetters."

"All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All, separated from government, are compatible with liberty."
March 24, 1818

"Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people."
May 16, 1829

"The arts of power and its minions are the same in all countries and in all ages. It marks its victim; denounces it; and excites the public odium and the public hatred, to conceal its own abuses and encroachments."
March 14, 1835

"Precedents deliberately established by wise men are entitled to great weight. They are evidence of truth, but only evidence...But a solitary precedent...which has never been reexamined, cannot be conclusive."
February 18, 1835

"Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character."

"We have had good and bad Presidents, and it is a consoling reflection that the American Nation possesses such elements of prosperity that the bad Presidents cannot destroy it, and have been able to do no more than slightly to retard the public's advancement."
October 12, 184

"The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity—unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity."
January 29, 1850

"I would rather be right than be President."


"No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first 
encounter with the enemy's main strength"
-Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow."
- George S. Patton Jr

"The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his 
temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a 
battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many 
calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: 
how much more no calculation at all!   It is by attention to this 
point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose."
-Sun Tzu, the Art of War

For those of us who tend to "wing it" when meeting with clients 
and prospects, Cultural Offering suggests there is a better way. 
Step One: take some time to think things through.  
Step Two:  make a plan. 
Step Three:  listen.  
Step Four: engage.  
Kurt's full post is here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Not this month, not next month.....

If one were to "right size"  the average annual number of single family residential housing starts, based on about sixty years of history, one would think that 1,000,000 new homes a year would do the trick.  Looks like 2012 will only deliver a bit more than half that number.  This blog has already predicted that we are at least a year away from seeing the long awaited significant uptick in construction.  A question:  will the materials and contractors be available when the inevitable uptick comes?  My guess is - nope.  It sure looks from here that the industry has hollowed out over the past six years.  So, if you are seriously considering building a new home in 2013 or 2014, you might want to consider getting a jump on the process.  Once the market hits the 1,000,000 new home per year mark, those homebuilders left standing are going to be fairly busy.  By the way, have we reminded you lately that we have some wondrous building lots available?
Housing Starts  2005-2011

Historic Housing Starts   1968-2011
thanks bill

"I know of no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."
-Ulysses S. Grant


Spengler's throttle is wide open as he pummels the hedge fund industry and the illusion that they are constantly beating the "market".  He also suggests that we the people are engaged in a "circle of deceit," i.e. we are lying to ourselves, and each other, about a most important topic: pension funding.  Full post is here.  Excerpts here:

"The putative geniuses with computer trading strategies or outsized market savvy produced returns that the rest of us could only dream of (and took enormous fees for so doing).   Except they didn't.  If you had put your money into hedge funds in 2005 and distributed it across the whole universe of hedge funds, you would have roughly the same amount of money today. By contrast, if you had simply bought the existing universe of publicly traded stocks and bonds and reinvested interest and dividends, your portfolio would have grown by half."

"If the hedge funds performed much worse than either stock or bond index funds, what were they doing there in the first place? There are a few authentic geniuses in the hedge fund business, to be sure, who throw off spectacular returns regularly; there are a larger number of clever fellows who have a great idea one year (like John Paulson, who foresaw the housing collapse) and then lose just as spectacularly the next year. And there are a very large number of Ivy-educated herd-followers in pink shirts and suspenders with no particularly notion of what they should do, some of whom take every opportunity to chisel out a speck of income by nefarious means." 

Unfortunately for the rest of us, the reason that hedge funds have become so important is that they promise, and occasionally deliver, out-sized returns.  Pension funds, which tend to be underfunded, have long pretended that their portfolios of investments would earn 8%-10%.  Such rates of return were supposed to have provide the necessary funds to pay the benefits promised.  A wee problem:  such returns have never materialized on a year-to-year basis.  Ergo, the promised money is not there, and will not be there.

"So here are one-and-a-half cheers for Goldman Sachs. The firm serves one of the most characteristically American of all functions: to help the public believe its own bunkum. Every kid is above average in Lake Woebegone, and every hedge fund will earn excess returns, and every pension fund will beat the market, so that every prospective retiree will avoid the squeeze that confronts all of us not very far down the road."


thanks Jessica

Part of the All-Name Team.....

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, II
Associate Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court    1888-1893
Newark native William Burnham Woods died in office as an associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  To replace him,  President Grover Cleveland appointed Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II.  Georgia native Lamar was the first post-Civil War southern born Justice of the Supreme Court.  During the early part of the Civil War Lamar served as an aide to (his cousin) Lt. General James Longstreet.  In 1862, Jefferson Davis later appointed him as the Confederate Minister to Russia and special envoy to England and France.

Good thing, this.................

thanks nicole

50's and 60's TV......................

I'll take Cops for $300, Alex....................

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


"Intentional living recognizes that, while accidents happen, life is not an accident.  Days are built choice by choice."
-Mary Anne Radmacher

photo courtesy of

The Supreme Newarkite................

William Burnham Woods
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court  1880-1887
Faithful readers will realize that we have been on a Supreme Court kick here of late.  They may also realize that Anderson Layman Company is a Newark, Ohio based commercial and investment real estate company.  They probably do not realize that Newark, Ohio was the home town of William Burnham Woods, an Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court.  Please visit this wiki for more information about our former mayor (1856-1858), turned war hero, turned Associate Justice.

Move over......................

thanks scott

Sing anyway..................

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent 
if no birds sang except those that sang best."
-Henry Van Dyke

photo courtesy of

How to not live in the moment......

image courtesy of

A good reason not to pay too close attention.....

Mo Cheeks..................

........was an All-Star point guard for the Philadelphia 76'ers.  Over his eleven seasons (1978-1989) in Philly, Cheeks was the consumate team player, playing strong defense and feeding the ball to the likes of Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Charles Barkley.  He was a key part of the 76'ers winning the 1983 NBA Championship.  While coaching the Portland Trailblazers in 2003, Cheeks showed his true colors:

and a special thanks to the Mighty E. for reminding us about
what grace and compassion look like.

60's and 70's TV......................

I'll take War for $200, Alex.................

Monday, April 16, 2012


John Marshall Harlan
Associate Justice United States Supreme Court   1887-1911

The year is 1896.  In Plessy v Ferguson, the United States Supreme Court votes 7-1 to uphold a Louisiana law allowing for "separate but equal" railroad passenger cars.  This decision allows forced segregation to be legal under the law until it is overturned in Brown v Board of Education in 1954.

John Marshall Harlan, the one vote against the decision in Plessy, tendered a strong dissent to that ruling.  Full dissent is here.  Excerpt here:

 "But in the view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens.  There is no caste here.  Our Constitution in color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.  In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.   The humblest is the peer of the most powerful.  The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved....

"The arbitrary separation of citizens, on the basis of race, while they are on a public highway, is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution.  It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds."

Money making opinions................

From the keyboard of WRM:

"Indeed, one useful thing to remember about all economic talking heads and pundits:  these are people who think they can make more money by giving their opinions rather than acting on them. If you knew what markets were going to do, you would have no incentive to share that knowledge."

Just in case you were curious............

The median lethal dose of caffeine in humans is dependent on individual sensitivity, but is estimated to be about 150 to 200 milligrams per kilogram of body mass or roughly 80 to 100 cups of coffee for an average adult.   Good thing I'm a tea drinker.

image courtesy of

Hate it when that happens...........

Charlie Chaplin entered into a Charlie Chaplin look-alike 
contest in San Francisco.  He failed to make the finals.

An extraordinary day..............

The comfort of the routine at the View From the Ledge.......

50's and 60's TV.............................

I'll take Westerns for $100, Alex.......................

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

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

-William Wordsworth

thanks Rob

Sunday, April 15, 2012


The Mindbenders.............................A Groovy Kind of Love

Written by a 17 year old Toni Wine and an 18 year old Carole Bayer 
Sager,  A Groovy Kind of Love was first released by Diane & Annita 
in 1965, and then covered that same year by the Mindbenders.

Diane & Annita...................................A Groovy Kind of Love

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

       Heaven and earth are impartial;
they see the 10,000 things as straw dogs.
          The sage is not sentimental;
  he treats all his people as straw dogs.

    The sage is like heaven and earth;
      To him non are especially dear,
      nor is there anyone he disfavors.
  He gives and gives, without condition,
     offering his treasures to everyone.

         Between heaven and earth
           is a space like a bellows;
           empty and inexhaustible,
the more it is used, the more it produces.

            Hold on to the center.
   Man was made to sit quietly and find
                the truth within.

5th Verse
Tao Te Ching
as translated by Wayne Dyer
Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life

About those unnatural adherences....

Unless the mind, body, and spirit are
equally developed and fully
integrated, no spiritual peak
or state of enlightenment
can be sustained.
This is why extremist religions
and ideologies do not bear fruit.

When the mind and spirit are forced into
unnatural austerities or adherence
to external dogmas, the body
grows sick and weak and
becomes a traitor to
the whole being.
When the body is emphasized to the
exclusion of the mind and spirit,
they become like trapped snakes:
frantic, explosive, poisonous
to one's person.
All such imbalances inevitably lead to
exhaustion and expiration
of the life force.

True self-cultivation involves the
holistic integration of
mind, body, and spirit.
Balancing yin and yang through the
various practices of the Integral Way,
one achieves complete unity
within and without.
This manifest in the world as
perfect equilibrium,
and perfect grace.

Verse 58
Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Brian Walker

Can one blog standing up?

From Omnivoracious comes a fun post by author A. J. Jacobs
(The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person 
in the World ; The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to 
Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible; My Life as an Experiment: One 
Man's Humble Quest to Improve Himself by Living as a Woman, Becoming 
George Washington, Telling No Lies, and Other Radical Tests) as he 
discusses his latest book, Drop Dead Healthy:  One Man's 
Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

"Finally, there’s reading’s effect on our waistline. First, the 
unfortunate news. More and more research shows that sitting 
is bad for you. Really bad. Like a Paula Deen bacon doughnut
 bad. It significantly increases your chances of heart disease 
and slows your metabolism."


thanks hugh