Saturday, April 20, 2013

If it's good enough for Jetboy...........

Wilson Pickett................In the Midnight Hour

bonus track............Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

Freeman Dyson..................Part the First

Freeman Dyson is a physicist who has been teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton since Albert Einstein was there. When Einstein died in 1955, there was an opening for the title of “most brilliant physicist on the planet.” Dyson has filled it.
So when the global-warming movement came along, a lot of people wondered why he didn’t come along with it. The reason he’s a skeptic is simple, the 89-year-old Dyson said when I phoned him.
“I think any good scientist ought to be a skeptic,” Dyson said.
Then in the late 1970s, he got involved with early research on climate change at the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
That research, which involved scientists from many disciplines, was based on experimentation. The scientists studied such questions as how atmospheric carbon dioxide interacts with plant life and the role of clouds in warming.
But that approach lost out to the computer-modeling approach favored by climate scientists. And that approach was flawed from the beginning, Dyson said.
“I just think they don’t understand the climate,” he said of climatologists. “Their computer models are full of fudge factors.”

Freeman Dyson...........Part the Second

Your faithful blogger stumbled across a quote by Freeman Dyson while knocking around the Intertunnel one rainy day.  Intrigued, the Oracle Google was consulted.  Read the almost 90 year old's wiki here.  Below are some of the more interesting (but not the most interesting) quotes attributed to Dyson. (Go here to see if you can discover his most interesting quote.) 

I am content to be one of the multitude of Christians who do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels. Both as a scientist and as a religious person, I am accustomed to living with uncertainty. Science is exciting because it is full of unsolved mysteries, and religion is exciting for the same reason

Sharing the food is to me more important than arguing about beliefs. Jesus, according to the gospels, thought so too.

Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute.

It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not to be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.

 Indeed, dogmatic philosophical beliefs of any kind have no place in science.

The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.

 It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. 

As we look out into the Universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the Universe must in some sense have known that we were coming.

image via

Freeman Dyson..................Part the Third

File this under: Something a history major should have known, but he probably cut class the day it was taught, so he didn't know it.

The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially important technologies, hay emerged anonymously during the so-called Dark Ages. According to the Hay Theory of History, the invention of hay was the decisive event which moved the center of gravity of urban civilization from the Mediterranean basin to Northern and Western Europe. The Roman Empire did not need hay because in a Mediterranean climate the grass grows well enough in winter for animals to graze. North of the Alps, great cities dependent on horses and oxen for motive power could not exist without hay. So it was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York.
-Freeman Dyson, as excerpted from Infinite In All Directions


By 1956, the conflict between the superpowers had become rather like Bertolt Brecht's depiction of the Thirty Years' war in his play Mother Courage:  It had taken on its own momentum.  On both sides, the arms industry, the politicians, and the intelligence services lived well from this flourishing business.
-as excerpted from Markus Wolf's Man Without A Face:  The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster

Fifty years ago...........................

Elvis Presley....................................Devil in Disguise

The importance of being important....

One day in 1998, I was invited to have an off-the-record chat with an important staff person on the Clinton administration's National Security Council.  We met, at the important person's suggestion, at the important person's important club, where the major domo was kind enough to lend me a tie.  We sat in important old chairs and drank important old whiskey and had a made-for-TV version of an important old Washington conversation - the personage from the White House setting me right, one important man to another, on the real and complex forces at work behind our government's seemingly mindless, but actually deep and subtle and clever, actions.  And me trying to nod in a way that suggested a fine blend of Kissingerian cunning and Lippmannesque wisdom, which is hard to do in a borrowed tie.
-Michael Kelly, as excerpted from his essay In a Borrowed Tie from his collected writings

Maybe if I spent less time on the computer....

Digging through the Intertunnel.............

.....and finding some stuff that amused me.........

......reminds us of a probably apocryphal tale about Adlai Stevenson. A woman is supposed to have said to him, "Governor, you have the support of every thinking American," to which he replied: "But madam, I need a majority."
- as excerpted from here

Other Harvards.   A list from McSweeney's that leaves out, among others,  Ohio University:  Harvard on the Hocking.

The True Science of Parallel Universes.   Thanks Craig

The Mighty E. points to Henri the Cat, who has trust issues.  "Castration without representation" indeed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

All we've got and just cannot fail.......................

Moody Blues................................You and Me

Moral murder.........?

"You don't agree with my idea of historical judgment, do you?  Time and time again, you have come back with this answer that a statesman must do things that are immoral if his country is to survive.  It was necessary for Elizabeth to order the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.  But, I tell you, my old teacher, that that was murder and for a statesman to order murder and carry out covert operations and to lie to his country, these all ought to have the same punishment as if an ordinary person had done it.  But I tell you what, first comes the assassin with his dagger, then comes the historian with his sponge to  wipe it all out.  So we write biographies of figures, like Alexander the Great, who were nothing  but murderers on a huge scale and yet we try to justify it, that they brought better things to the world."
-Lord Acton, as channeled by Rufus Fears

The search goes on......................



Next time my kids get on me about my books and ask the question, "Why do you buy more books when you haven't read all the ones you've got?",  I'm going to sit them down and make them read this.
My two favoritist points:

  • A surprising number have sat unopened on the shelves for years before being read and loved. There is no guilt in buying a book and then not reading it until much later.
  • A serious reader always has plenty of unread books.
Thanks Michael.

Punditry of the day.......................

..............from Walter Russell Mead.

As is so often the case in American politics, those who produce MSM coverage and those who rely exclusively on it for news were the last to know what was happening. We’ve seen almost nothing but optimistic and encouraging coverage of gun control efforts, ending as usual in painful failure and disillusion. Many gun control advocates and their allies in the MSM are stupified and stunned by the votes.
This was stupidity at work; the MSM mistook its wishes and its dreams for events, and spun itself into a beautiful and comfortable cocoon.

Fifty years ago............................

Roy Orbison................................Mean Woman Blues

Here is the 1987 live version, with an All-Star back-up group

Not an investment....?

Gold is not an investment, but an insurance policy against the collapse of the dollar. The dollar isn’t going to collapse, despite America’s need to borrow nearly half a trillion dollars a year overseas. That’s because our trade deficit is shrinking, from 6% of GDP in 2006 to 3% today; it well may be a trade surplus by 2020 due to the energy boom. If you have a current account surplus, you can finance a big government deficit for a long time–just look at Japan. The bad news is that the economy is still very weak. The good news is that we can paper over the deficits resulting from a weak economy for the foreseeable future. The price of insurance against dollar doom has fallen. That’s good (don’t you want the cost of your life insurance to fall? The last thing you want is for your life insurance policy to pay out).
-David Goldman

Ed. Note:   For what it is worth, today you can buy ten 1898 Double Eagles for around $1,674.60 each.   $20 to $1,700 in 115 years.  Growing at, give or take, 4% per year; not the world's greatest investment, but not the worst either.

Bearing arms........................

These are interesting times for those who care, one way or the other, about the "right to bear arms."   The topic seems to generate lots of heat, but trust me when I say, I'm not here to add to it.  Having said that, I recommend a stroll through friend Bilbo's slide show of, and commentary on, "legal" weaponry.  There have been times in my life when one, or three, of these would have come in handy.  Full post with commentary is here. A few pictures here:

bear arms photo from here

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Moody Blues............................Have You Heard

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

Late in December 1628 or early in January 1629 Rene Descartes arrived in Franeker in Friesland.  He was thirty-two years old, and just a few weeks before, he had been summoned to a private interview with Cardinal Berulle, founder of the Society of Oratarians in France, rival of the Jesuits, who was deeply involved with the Catholic League and the Company of the Sacred Sacrament, a militant secret society of laymen pledged to fight for the Catholic cause by eliminating Protestantism in France,  The cardinal was a strange mixture of astute politician, courtier, and mystic.  He talked familiarly with God, angels, and the queen mother every day.  He had convinced First Minister Richelieu - also a cardinal - to crush the last stronghold of Protestantism in France, La Rochelle, which fell under siege and starvation in late October with Cardinal Berulle marching triumphantly among the victors.
-Richard Watson, from the Prologue to Cogito, Ergo Sum:  The Life of Rene Descartes

A few stray thoughts from Descartes...................

Dubium sapientiae initium.  (Doubt is the origin of wisdom.)

Cogito, ergo sum. (I think, therefore I am.)

Ex nihilo nihil fit.  (Nothing comes out of nothing.)

Me tenant comme je suis, un pied dans un pays et l’autre en un autre, je trouve ma condition très heureuse, en ce qu’elle est libre.  (Staying as I am, one foot in one country and the other in another, I find my condition very happy, in that it is free.)

Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.

The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellencies, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.

The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

Conquer yourself rather than the world.

Fun with Descartes........................

all cartoons found here

Fifty years ago.............................

The Singing Nun.............................Dominique

Lyrics here.  Back story here.  This song was released in 1963 and reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964.


"Leaders, whether in the family, in business, in government, or in education, must not allow themselves to mistake intentions for accomplishments."
-Jim Rohn



"Any history worthy of the name cannot be written only by the winners."
-Markus Wolf

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The National Anthem...?

Frank Sinatra.....................................My Way
(as always, please click on through to YouTube)

Kelly on the King of Cool..............

A quick consultation with the Oracle Google did not turn up this short essay from Michael Kelly.  Easily enough corrected, he thought. I love the way Kelly strings words and thoughts together.  I am also liking his propensity to think about things differently.  Devotees of Sinatra may want to skip this and go to the next post.  Well, that's probably not correct.  Devotees of Sinatra will probably sense the truth quicker.  Enjoy.

Do not blame it on the bossa nova.  Not on rock-and-roll nor soul nor jazz nor rhythm and blues.  It wasn't Elvis or the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.  It wasn't Washington or Hollywood or the Upper West Side.  It wasn't Ted Kennedy and it wasn't Richard Nixon.  It wasn't the Years of Rage or the Me Decade or the Decade of Greed.  It wasn't the Commies or the Beats, or the hippies or the yippies. or the Panthers or the druggies, or the yuppies or the buppies, or the NIMBYs or the DINKS, or even the ACLU.
    No, if you want to finger any one person, place, or thing for what went wrong with America, you need look no further than that accidental one-man validation of the great-man theory of history, Francis Albert Sinatra, 1915-1998.  Yes - The Voice, the Chairman of the Board, Old Blue Eyes, the leader of the (rat) pack, the swinger in chief - he's the culprit.  It's all Frankie's fault.
     American popular culture - which is more and more the only culture America has, which is more and more the only culture anyone else in the world has (we live, as the gormless Al Gore keeps chirpily  and horrifyingly reminding us, in a global village) - may be divided into two absolutely distinct ages:  Before Frank and After Frank.
     Sinatra, as every obit observed, was the first true modern pop idol, inspiring in the 1940's the sort of mass adulation that was to become a familiar phenomenon in the 50's and 60's.  One man, strolling  onto the set at precisely the right moment in the youth of the Entertainment Age, made himself the prototype of the age's essential figure:  the iconic celebrity.    The iconic celebrity is the result of the central confusion of the age, which is that people possessed of creative or artistic gifts are somehow teacher - role models - in matters of personal conduct.  The iconic celebrity is idolized - and obsessively studied and massively imitated - not merely for the creation of art but for the creation of public self, for the confection of affect and biography that the artist projects one the national scene.
     And what Frank Sinatra projected was:  cool.  And here is where the damage was done.  Frank invented cool, and everyone followed Frank, and everything has been going to hell ever since.
     In America, B.F. there was no cool.  There was smart (as in the smart set), and there was urbane, and sophisticated, and fast and hip; but these things were not the same as cool. The pre-Frank hip guy, the model of aesthetic and moral superiority to which men aspired, is the American male of the 1930's and 1940's.  He is Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep or Casablanca or Archie Goodwin in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels.  He possesses an outward cynicism, but this is understood to be merely clothing; at his core, he is square.  He fights a lot, generally on the side of the underdog.  He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned.  He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love.  He is on the side of the law, except when the law is crooked.  He is not taken in by jingoism, but he is himself a patriot; when there is a war, he goes to it.  He is, after his fashion, a gentleman and, in a quite modern manner, a sexual egalitarian.  He is forthright, contemptuous of dishonesty in all its forms, from posing to lying.  He confronts his enemies openly and fairly, even if he might lose.  He is honorable and virtuous.  He might be world-weary, but he is not ironic.
     The new cool man that Sinatra defined was a very different creature.  Cool said old values were for suckers.  Cool was looking out for number one always.  Cool didn't get mad; it got even.  Cool didn't go to war:  Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs it was willing to die for.  Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing.  Cool was a cad and boastful about it; in cool's philosophy, the lady was always a tramp, and to be treated accordingly.  Cool was not on the side of the law; cool made its own laws.  Cool was not knowing but still essentially idealistic; cool was nihilistic.  Cool was not virtuous; it reveled in vice.  Before cool, being good was still hip; after cool, only being bad was.
     Quite a legacy.  On the other hand, he sure could sing.

-Michael Kelly, King of Cool

Ed. Note:  Had to look up "gormless."  According to Websters New World College Dictionary, it means slow-witted.  


Fifty years ago..........................

The Caravelles...You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry

Good thing we moved...................

"Have a long commute? You’re more likely to gain weight and die early than your teleworking counterparts. A Swedish social geographer found that those who travel more than 31 miles to work are more likely to die young."
-Walter Russell Mead as excerpted from here.

My Sweetie and I just traded a twenty mile commute for a less-than-three mile commute.  Might make it a bike ride when the weather finishes warming up.  Just for the record, the average American commute is twenty-five miles each way.

Sharing my optimism.......................

all of the non-chicken cartoons came from here

I know I'm not alone when I say...................

.....the most amazing thing shown in all the videos from the Boston Marathon bombing was the number of people who chose to run toward the explosion instead of away.   Incredible.

thanks jonco

Public Service Announcement..................

via Ka-Ching!

Monday, April 15, 2013


image via

Mr. M. D......................................

The Rascals.....................................Good Lovin'

It's all in how you look at things.................

We then move on to federal  taxes. Here is a good way to explain federal taxes. I call it "The Care and Feeding  of the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs." It's so important to feed the goose-not  to abuse the goose or tear off its wings-but to feed and care for it.
What's that you say? The goose  eats too much? That's probably true. But then, don't we all eat too much? If so,  let not one appetite accuse another. If you step on the scales and you're ten pounds  too heavy, you've got to say, "Yes, the government and I are each about ten pounds  too heavy. Looks like we both eat too much." No question about it. Every appetite  must be disciplined-yours, mine, and the government's. Hey, we could all go on a  diet!
My mentor, Mr. Shoaff, urged  me early on to become a happy taxpayer. Now, I must admit it took a while, but I  finally did become a happy taxpayer. Part of this transformation occurred when I  began to understand the function of taxes and that it is right for everyone to pay  his or her fair share.
I finally decided I didn't  mind picking up my share of the tab for defense. It's so necessary for our safety  as a country to keep the bullies away. Some people say, "Why bother with all that  expensive equipment? They won't come over here." Obviously, those people haven't  been reading their history books.
Others say, "We're not about  to pick up the tab for defense." Well then, I suggest they go to a place which doesn't  offer defense as part of the package. If one is going to enjoy the benefits, one  should pay a share.
Now, let me add this: Don't  pay more than you should. By all means take advantage of the incentives. They were  given to you as a reward for channeling your money into areas the government thinks  helps the economy.
All I'm saying is that when  everything has been computed, all legitimate deductions have been taken, and you  reach that last line on your income tax form, whatever the amount, pay it. And pay  with happiness, knowing that you're feeding the goose that lays the golden eggs - the  golden eggs of freedom, safety, justice, and free enterprise. Some goose! Some eggs!

More difficult than it seems............................

Fifty years ago..........................

Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas...........Bad To Me

A Lennon/McCartney tune for those of you keeping track.


"Economists have long been perplexed by the resilience of the real estate agent. "   Business Week offers a fairly balanced essay on technology, the internet, and the residential real estate brokerage business.  Some folks believe that commissions charged by real estate brokers are too high.  Really smart, and aggrieved people, believed that technology could change all that, sort of like it did for the travel agent.  Your friendly blogger has more than a passing interest in this subject, although my industry doesn't really need my defense.  The fact that it is still intact, and actually little changed, despite varied assaults over the past 30 years, suggests that even though economists may not, the marketplace actually understands the value being provided.  Go team!

Goals and plans................................


Trending the right way.........................

Calculated Risk has the March report on housing starts.  At first glance it looks very positive.  A second glance reveals, unfortunately for us sellers of fabulous single-family building lots, that new multi-family construction is way more prevalent than new single-family construction.  Still, business for the construction industry appears to be on the upswing, which I hope we all agree is a good thing.  If the pace of construction picks up too rapidly expect to see some surprising inflationary pressure on new construction.  Simple supply and demand at work.  The past six years of economic unpleasantness has truly hollowed out the trades and the materials supply.  Gradual growth is probably a good thing.

Projections here of 700,000 single-family starts in 2013 and 1,000,000 in 2014.  Time will tell.

Good to know.........................


mudluscious and puddle-wonderful....

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan          whistles

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The Turtles...........................................Elenore

A verse.......................

12.  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father."

John 14:12
The Holy Bible
New American Standard

I suspect....................

.........that faithful readers should get used to reading excerpts from Michael Kelly's Things Worth Fighting For, at least until May 10th, when I have to send his collection of writings back to the Ashtabula County District Library.  Today's pick comes from Three Things I've Learned Since Kindergarten.

I am pretty sure Robert Fulghum and I went to different kindergartens.  As most of us know, Mr.Fulghum is the author of several immensely popular how-to-live books.  Kindergarten and a pair of sequels called It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It and Uh-Oh.  I did not actually read these books - that wouldn't be fair; they weren't built for that - but I did root through them, looking for the profound parts.  It turned out there were no profound parts, but many silly ones.
     Real books, at least the good ones, tell us what life is like.  Often they are complicated and difficult, and usually they offer no solutions more magical than an injunction to do the best you can.  The how-to-live books in vogue lately, by Fulghum, or John Bradshaw or M. Scott Peck, tell us what life should be like, or could be like, if we only tried harder, or paid more attention, or flew on gossamer wings in a buttermilk sky.  The solutions they offer are as honest as a call girl's love.  They are to real solutions as grilled cheese sandwiches and canned tomato soup are to real food.  They are comfort philosophy.

Ed. Note:  If Mr. Kelly were still alive, I might send him a note suggesting that M. Scott Peck does not belong an the same list as Robert Fulghum or John Bradshaw.  My experience with Peck is that you really have to read him, and any author that opens his best selling book with the sentence/paragraph, "Life is difficult.", knows a thing or two about realism.  I might also suggest that grilled cheese and tomato soup are among life's great combinations.  Just saying.

Sound about right........................

"Having lost sight of our goals, we've decided to redouble our efforts."

Fifty years ago...........................

The Four Seasons..........................Walk Like A Man
(While this song was released in 1962, it topped the charts in January, 1963)

A rationale for jargon............

The Pentagon isn't in any hurry to make its intelligence requirements explicable to the media.  The conventional wisdom is that intelligence testing is a racist hoax or it just applies to academia, not the real world, or whatever. The fact that the military is obsessive about cognitive testing is something that simply isn't in the reigning worldview, and the military is fine with that. It likes testing and it dislikes outside interference, so the more convoluted its jargon for talking about its intelligence requirements, the better.
-Steve Sailer, as excerpted from here

cartoon via

Savage jargon.......................

Income Tax circa 1913......................

     Faithful readers of this blog will remember that the income tax came into being via the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.  While many folks will tell you that the unpopularity of tariffs, a major source of federal funding, caused the amendment to be passed, I'm here to tell you that the Prohibitionists were the driving force behind its adoption.  In 1895, the Supreme Court declared a William Jennings Bryan sponsored bill, allowing for the tax on incomes, unconstitutional.  As liquor excise taxes were providing about 30% of all federal revenue in 1910, there could be no outlawing of liquor without replacing the income to the government.  Viola, the 16th Amendment, with the strong backing of the Anti-Saloon League and the Women's Christian Temperance Union, was successfully ratified in 1913.

     For your enjoyment, here is the initial 1040 form.  Four pages in total, including instructions.  Who says those weren't the good old days.

thanks Mark