Saturday, December 12, 2015
Friday, December 11, 2015
Having learned my lesson, I've decided not to criticize the obscene amounts of money being spent by both sides to buy the presidency. Instead, I thought I might suggest a few alternative ways to improve the quality, if not the funding, of presidential campaigns. Here are four ideas ...
1. Instead of debates, require candidates to engage in UFC-style cage fights ... all proceeds would be used to cover campaign debts.
1a. Candidates incurring injuries in these fights would be required to obtain treatment via the healthcare.gov website, like Real People.
-As extracted from Bilbo's Random Thoughts. Hard to disagree with his other suggested improvements.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
All great victories, be they in politics, business, art, or seduction, involved resolving vexing problems with a potent cocktail of creativity, focus, and daring. When you have a goal, obstacles are actually teaching you how to get where you want to go - carving you a path. "The Things which hurt," Benjamin Franklin wrote, "instruct."
Today, most of our obstacles are internal, not external. Since World War II we have lived in some of the most prosperous times in history. There are fewer armies to face, fewer fatal diseases and far more safety nets. But the world still rarely does exactly what we want.
Instead of opposing armies, we have internal tension. We have professional frustration. We have unmet expectations. We have learned helplessness. And we still have the same overwhelming emotions humans have always had: grief, pain, and loss.
Many of our problems come from having too much: rapid technology disruption, junk food, traditions that tell us the way we're supposed to live our lives. We're soft, entitled, and scared of conflict. Great times are great softeners. Abundance can be its own obstacle....
-Ryan Holiday, as excerpted from The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph
The fact that so many past predictions missed the mark is a nice reminder that over-confident statements about the future are often a bad idea.
-as excerpted from this Vox post on the end of "peak car." This handy chart tells much of the story:
The passions of mankind have boiled over into all areas of political life, including its vocabulary. The words most common in politics have become stained with human hurts, hopes, and frustrations.
All of them are loaded with popular opprobrium, and their use results in a conditioned, negative, emotional response. Even the word politics itself, which Webster says is "the science and art of government," is generally viewed in a context of corruption. Ironically, the dictionary synonyms are "discreet, provident, diplomatic, wise."
-Saul Alinsky, as excerpted from Rules For Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
Being a fan of irony, your faithful blogger consulted his edition of Webster's New World College Dictionary (which was published twenty-four years after Alinsky's book). While the definition matches, no synonyms were listed for "politics." However, under the word "politic," the following definitions were provided: 2 having practical wisdom; prudent; shrewd; diplomatic 3 crafty; unscrupulous. So........being "crafty" and "unscrupulous" equates to "having practical wisdom"and being "prudent"? Is there any wonder why we sometimes have communication problems? Is there any wonder why our language confuses people? Just wondering.
|Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable |
than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations
meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and
the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same
religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts. There
thee Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the Churchman
depends on the Quaker’s word. At the breaking up of this pacific and
free assembly, some withdraw to the synagogue, and others to take a
glass. This man goes and is baptized in a great tub, in the name of
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: that man has his son’s foreskin cut
off, whilst a set of Hebrew words (quite unintelligible to him) are
mumbled over his child. Others retire to their churches, and there
wait for the inspiration of heaven with their hats on, and all are
| If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government |
would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the
people would cut one another’s throats; but as there are such a
multitude, they all live happy and in peace.
-Voltaire, from Letter VI, Letters on the English
Ed. Note: "The Royal Exchange in London was founded in the 16th
century by the merchant Thomas Gresham to act as a centre of
commerce for the City of London."
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
......................tells the tale of his family's "spiritual Christmas." If you are tired of the over-commercialization of the season, you might choose to read it. Wee excerpt:
The only stipulation for the one gift was that it must be primarily home-made. The essence of the gift could not be bought anywhere. ... My brother wrote an emotional letter to my father, comparing him to a high-end bottle of scotch. I know that sounds very WASPy, but believe me, it was awesome. He said all the things you’d typically hear in a eulogy, but my Dad was able to hear it. A distinct advantage, by the way.
.................give yourself one by taking the time (about three minutes) to read (re-read?) O Henry's The Gift of the Magi. He concludes:
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
"Like his French counterpart Francois Hollande, Obama thinks that a certain level of terrorism is tolerable, and far preferable to the bloody and difficult work of rooting out jihadist terrorism entirely. There is something to be said for the notion of a tolerable level of terrorism, but neither Obama nor Hollande are likely to achieve this as matters stand."
-Spengler, as excerpted from here.
I was going to make some comment about the strangeness of the current times, but then the history major in me reminded that people have always been strange, and times have usually been difficult and dangerous. Lest you doubt me, enjoy this photo of grade school children in the 1950s (of which I was one) doing the "duck and cover" drill, or seeking shelter from a nuclear blast by getting under our desks. (To be fair, the adults were probably trying to protect us from flying shards of glass, not the bomb itself).
Or, if you would prefer, watch this Lyndon Johnson attack ad against Barry Goldwater from the 1964 presidential campaign. Terror indeed.
Arnold Kling reviews Greg Ip's Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safer. An excerpt:
One, which I call the engineers, seeks to use the maximum of our knowledge and ability to solve problems and make the world safer and more stable; the other, which I call the ecologists, regards such efforts with suspicion, because given the complexity and adaptability of people and the environment, they will always have unintended consequences that may be worse than the problem we are trying to solve.
As your faithful blogger loves to point out, the Law of Unintended Consequences reigns supreme. It is unbreakable.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Greg Lake................................I Believe In Father Christmas
I wish you a hopeful christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there'll be snow at christmas
They said there'll be peace on earth
Hallelujah noel be it heaven or hell
The christmas you get you deserve
Structured Procrastination: Do Less, Deceive Yourself, And Succeed Long-Term.
"This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you."
-John Perry, as extracted from here.
Today’s Western elites, in the U.S. as much as in Europe, have never been so self-confident. Products of meritocratic selection who hold key positions in the social machine, the bien-pensant custodians of post-historical ideology—editorial writers at the NY Times, staffers in cultural and educational bureaucracies, Eurocratic functionaries, much of the professoriat, the human rights priesthood and so on—are utterly convinced that they see farther and deeper than the less credentialed, less educated, less tolerant and less sophisticated knuckle-dragging also-rans outside the magic circle of post historical groupthink.
-as culled from this The American Interest post
My father was the best bartender who ever lived. No one really questioned that in a town like Gros Ventre, glad of any honor, or out in the lonely sheep camps and bunkhouses and other parched locations of the Two Medicine country, where the Medicine Lodge saloon was viewed as a nearly holy oasis. What else was as reliable in life as sauntering into the oldest enterprise for a hundred miles around and being met with just the right drink whisking along the polished wood of the prodigious bar, along with a greeting as dependable as the time of day? Not even heaven promised such service. Growing up in back of the joint, as my father always called it, I could practically hear in my sleep the toasts that celebrated the Medicine Lodge as an unbeatable place and Tom Harry as perfection of a certain kind behind the bar.
-Ivan Doig, The Bartender's Tale
Sunday, December 6, 2015
"Whenever you think that some situation or some person is ruining your life, it is actually you who are ruining your life. It is such a simple idea. Feeling like a victim is a perfectly disastrous way to go through life. If you just take the attitude that however bad it is in any way, it's always your fault and you just fix it the best you can - the so-called "iron prescription" - I think that really works."
"I have as much difficulty as ever in expressing myself clearly and concisely; and this difficulty has caused me a very great loss of time; but it has had the compensating advantage of forcing me to think long and intently about every sentence, and thus I have been led to see errors in reasoning and in my own observations or those of others."
"Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum."
“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
"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 us 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 isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
-George Bernard Shaw
-George Bernard Shaw
"Life is a song - sing it. Life is a game - play it. Life is a challenge - meet it. Life is a dream - realize it. Life is a sacrifice - offer it. Life is love - enjoy it"