Saturday, October 24, 2015
The tests of character come to us silently, unaware, by slow and inaudible approaches. We hardly know they are there, till lo! the hour has struck, and the choice has been made, well or ill, but whether well or ill, a choice. The heroic hours of life do not announce their presence by drum and trumpet, challenging us to be ourselves by appeals to the martial spirit that keeps the blood at heat. Some little, unassuming, unobtrusive choice presents itself before us slyly and craftily, glib and insinuating, in the modest garb of innocence. To yield to its blandishments is so easy. The wrong, it seems, is venial. Only hyper-sensitiveness, we assure ourselves, would call it wrong at all. These are the moments you will need to remember the game you are playing. Then it is you will be summoned to show the courage of adventurous youth.
-Benjamin N. Cardozo
Friday, October 23, 2015
Toad the Wet Sprocket.........................................All I Want
"Not a moment should be lost in attacking the enemy....The only consideration in my mind is, how to get at them with the least risk to our ships....The measure may be thought bold, but I am of the opinion the boldest measures are the safest."
"Do you know what's shown on board of the Commander-in-Chief? Why [the signal] to leave off action! Now damn me if I do! You know, Foley, I have only one eye, - and I have I right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal!
-Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson
Admiral Lord Nelson in a great sea battle (the Battle of Copenhagen, 1801) ignored a signal commanding him to disengage with the enemy. (Admiral Byng's hanging, made famous by Voltaire's remark that "every once in a while you have to hang an admiral to encourage all the others," showed how perilous this decision was.) Informed of the order from the flagship, Nelson put his telescope to his blind eye (previously lost at the Siege of Calvi). His decision won the day for the British Navy. This is a favorite story. I tell it to kids whenever I can. Courage, daring, rule-breaking and vindication, all rolled into one. What could be better! Sometimes you must put the telescope to your blind eye.
-Sheldon Whitehouse, On Virtures: Quotations and Insight to Live a Full, Honorable, and Truly American Life
(Turns out, if you believe Wikipedia, that Byng was shot by firing squad, not hung, for failing "to do his utmost." Doesn't take away from the author's story though.)
"If you can, find that peace within yourself, that peace and quiet and confidence that you can pass on to others, so that they know you are honest and you are fair and you will help them, no matter what, when the chips are down."
-Dick Winters, from Band of Brothers fame
........................is not impressed with our old friend Henry.
Kissinger’s current recommendations for the Middle East, outlined in an Oct. 16 essay in the Wall Street Journal, treat the region’s players as if they were fixed entities that can be manipulated into a stable balance of power. It is obvious, though, that nothing is fixed about these entities, and this leads Kissinger to torture logic until it expires on the rack.
Spengler's full essay is here. Nevertheless, Niall Ferguson's new biography of Kissinger still sits in my Amazon shopping cart.
"My assertion is that all investment manias have the common characteristics of the perception of easy profits with little or no risk, loose lending standards, and outright fraud and deceit."
-Gary Carmell, The Philosophical Investor: Transforming Wisdom into Wealth
"It may just be human nature to attribute certain accomplishments to skill instead of luck."
-as extracted from this article debating the nature of gambling and fantasy sports
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you’re taking away from God; you don’t need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven’t figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don’t believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time — life and death — stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don’t think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out.
-Richard P. Feynman
"Either pull your own strings and enjoy being in charge of your brief life here on Earth, or let others do it and spend your life being upset and controlled by the victimizers of the world."
cartoon via warren miller
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
cartoon by William Stieg
That is to me the central mystery of climate science. It is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?
Indur Goklany has assembled a massive collection of evidence to demonstrate two facts. First, the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide are dominant over the climatic effects and are overwhelmingly beneficial. Second, the climatic effects observed in the real world are much less damaging than the effects predicted by the climate models, and have also been frequently beneficial. I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence. Goklany and I do not claim to be infallible. Like the climate-model experts, we have also evolved recently from the culture of the cave-children. Like them, we have inherited our own set of prejudices and blindnesses. Truth emerges when different groups of explorers listen to each other’s stories and correct each other’s mistakes.
-as excerpted from this Freeman Dyson post
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Van Morrison..............................I Forgot That Love Existed
I forgot that love existed troubled in my mind.
Heartache after heartache, worried all the time.
I forgot that love existed
Then I saw the light
Everyone around me make everything alright.
Oh, oh Socrates and Plato they
Praised it to the skies.
Anyone who's ever loved
Everyone who's ever tried.
If my heart could do my thinking
And my head begin to feel
I would look upon the world anew
And know what's truly real.
I often use the analogy of a chess game: one can learn all the rules of chess, but one doesn’t know how to play well. The present situation in physics is as if we know chess, but we don’t know one or two rules. But in this part of the board where things are operation, those one or two rules are not operating much and we can get along pretty well without understanding those rules. That’s the way it is, I would say, regarding the phenomena of life, consciousness and so forth.
-Richard P. Feynman
Monday, October 19, 2015
“One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as 'that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right.' If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide”
-Saul D. Alinsky
"We believe, and I think properly, that when the men who met in 1787 to make our Constitution they made the best political document ever made; but, remember, they did so very largely because they were great compromisers."
-Judge Learned Hand
I've found the ideology is an investor's biggest enemy, since it brings bias and inflexibility to the table when open-mindedness, flexibility, and creativity are needed to try and figure out what is going on.
-Gary Carmell, The Philosophical Investor: Transforming Wisdom into Wealth
Us history majors don't claim to be experts about plants and flowers and such, but I'm pretty sure this is some sort of climbing clematis and it blooms in the Spring. So why is this rebel, growing by our back door, choosing to bloom now, after two nights of sub-freezing temperatures? Just wondering.
Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature.
As excerpted from the Goose Chronicles:
He could have had a career in the military but the sheet metal business was in his blood. It’s what his father did and what Marty always knew he’d do one day. He didn’t get into the business to become a millionaire. He got into it because it was hard and honest work. She seemed to appreciate that. He told her that the metal he worked on was used for cars, airplanes and even repairs on the Statue of Liberty. His company had just signed a contract to do some of the metal work on the Twin Tower Buildings that were going up.
“You heard about them?” Marty asked. “Tallest skyscrapers in the world.”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “I heard about them.”
The next weekend he stood outside her apartment in Hempstead and nervously rang the bell. The beautiful blonde girl had a name, Theresa, and she had agreed to go on a date with him. A moment later a pretty brunette opened the door.
“Oh,” Marty said, not expecting someone else to answer the door. “Does Theresa live here?”
“What are you some kind of jokester?”
Theresa laughed all the way to the movies. “You mean to tell me you thought that was my realhair?”
Marty nodded sheepishly. He’d never heard of a woman wearing a blonde wig as a fashion accessory. It was hard keeping up with the trends of the 60’s…
It turns out Marty didn’t have a thing for blondes, he had a thing for Theresa. He married her because she made him happier than anyone he’d ever met. They moved to their dream home in Mineola and weaved a beautiful life together with their two daughters.
Marty continued working in the sheet metal industry. When the economy soared work was plentiful but when it tanked he cleaned banks at night to make ends meet. Theresa stuck with him through everything. And through all of Marty’s life, the good and the bad, he always smiled when he thought of the brunette girl with blonde hair who had given him a life better than his wildest dreams.
Thanks David. The back story about the Goose Chronicles is here. You really should read it.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
The final lecture in Pittsburgh, presented April 1, was "Worship." The title is misleading, since the piece is not at all about rites, rituals, or other aspects of formal worship. It is a lecture on the religious impulse in human nature, on the human need to believe. This is Emerson's last major essay on the religious spirit. "Worship" contains almost no consideration of church religion. Emerson stoutly asserts that "God builds his temple in the heart on the ruins of churches and religions." We do not need formal religions because "We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as tree bears apples."
-Robert D. Richardson, Emerson: The Mind on Fire
Emerson quotes excerpted from here
So, my Sweetie and I (and most of the gang) took a day trip to the Hocking Hills for a walk to Old Man's Cave. You could tell that the Buckeyes were playing a night game - the place was packed. Still, what a beautiful slice of Earth.