Saturday, March 5, 2016
You may have seen this chart used as in indictment on our current economic situation, and maybe it is. But before going overboard, consider this:
"Incomes have not improved for the bottom 80% of Americans
over the last decade. Before I go on, recognize that the income
distribution is not static. The same people are not in each
decile today, as were in 2006."
The chart comes from this David Merkel post, wherein he lists a host of causes for mobility between the "deciles." Read it yourself, but my take-away is that technology driven change has driven a significant amount of our "income inequality." Here is another wee excerpt:
..........our conversation with David Merkel:
"Debt, debt, debt… debt is kind of like a snowflakes. A single snowflake is a pretty star, but one quintillion of them is a horrendous mess."
His take on our current debt situation is here.
..............................but I don't remember junior high school as being anything like a "cozy emotional embryo."
"Are today’s students, then, brave reformers or fragile hothouse campus plants? Do they want to wade into freewheeling debate and battle all ideological comers, or do they insist on being protected by surrogate faculty parents, who must provide them the same cozy emotional embryos that they enjoyed in junior high school?"
A quote from Victor Davis Hanson does some research on a new breed: the cry-bully. Read about it here.
There are two ways to tell the story of the twentieth century. You can describe a series of wars, revolutions, crises, epidemics, financial calamities. Or you can point to the gentle but inexorable rise in the quality of life of almost everybody on the planet: the swelling of income, the conquest of disease, the disappearance of parasites, the retreat of want, the increasing persistence of peace, the lengthening of life, the advances in technology. I wrote a book about the latter story, and wondered why it seemed original and surprising to do so. It was surely gloriously obvious that the world was a much, much better place than it had ever been. Yet read the newspapers and you would think we had lurched from disaster to disaster, and faced a future of inevitable further disaster. Glance at school history curriculums and you find them utterly dominated by the disasters of the past - and the crises of the future. I could not quite reconcile in my mind this strange juxtaposition of optimism and pessimism. In a world that delivers an endless supply of bad news, people's lives get better and better.
-Matt Ridley, The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge
Friday, March 4, 2016
...............comes from both Kurt Harden and Nicholas Bate, then action usually follows. In this case, the downloading of Patrick Rhone's Enough. May I suggest you do the same? From James Shelly's Forward:
Patrick Rhone is one of the new voices prompting us to rethink this old juxtaposition of attitudes. He stakes out a place between the absolutisms of unbridled consumption on one side and monastic luddism on the other. In this new sacred middle ground he asks us to reconsider everything in light of one simple value: enough.
I've always been a fan of the sacred middle. Looking forward to finishing the book. More later, I'm sure.
Less is never Enough.
Less is not more any more that more is less, more or less. It is only when we reduce more or increase less so as to satisfy our needs and desires the Enough can be found.
Enough is a very personal metric. Like our center of gravity, each of us must find what is enough by swaying from less to more until a comfortable medium is found.
-Patrick Rhone, as extracted from his Introduction to Enough
Don't confuse creativity and imagination with "thinking" either. Ray Bradbury said that thinking is the enemy of creativity because it is self-conscious. When you think you sit calmly and try to reason through something in a structured, logical way. Creativity dances to a different tune. Once you flip that switch, things get a bit chaotic. Ideas start buzzing. Images start popping into your head. Fragments of all kinds of data find their way into orbit. We're pulled in one direction, then suddenly our instincts send us flying in another. Material collides and fuses, disappears and reappears. This chaos is essential to the creative process. A breakthrough comes when pieces happen to come together in unique and harmonic ways.
-Sean Patrick, Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century
....................................with heroes. John's got a pretty good list. Who would you hang with? My list would likely start with Ben Franklin, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Chuck Yeager, and Winston Churchill.
The tiny particles which form the vast
universe are not tiny at all.
Neither is the vast universe vast.
These are notions of the mind,
which is like a knife, always
chipping away at the Tao, trying
to render it graspable
But that which is beyond form is
ungraspable, and that which is
beyond knowing is unmanageable.
There is, however, this consolation:
She who lets go of the knife will find
the Tao at her fingertips.
-Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Brian Browne Walker
Thursday, March 3, 2016
"The most important fact about extreme weather is that the number of deaths caused by floods, droughts and storms has dropped by 93 per cent since the 1920s, despite a trebling of the world population; not because the weather has grown less wild, but because the world has grown rich enough to enable us to protect ourselves better."
-Matt Ridley, The Evolution of Everything
..............but yesterday was Theodor Seuss Geisel's 112th birthday.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.”
A great nation is not saved by wars, James said; it is saved "by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks." This is the behavior monuments should honor.
-Louis Menand, as excerpted from The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
(the above quote was spoken by William James in an 1897 oration at the unveiling of the monument in Boston Commons erected in the honor of Civil War hero Robert Gould Shaw).
.....................................the newest migration patterns will lead to the re-naming of some cities?
Below is a map showing the European places with the word "Saint" in them. Think it might be different fifty years from now?
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
“Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.”
"Asian observers try to understand American politics in rational terms."
-David P. Goldman
The quote comes from this post, wherein Spengler takes the gloves off.
(In related news: try this one out as a campaign slogan.)
The sun had just crested on the horizon like a misplaced planet, swollen and molten and red, lighting a landscape that seemed sculpted out of clay and soft stone and marked by the fossilized tracks of animals with no names, when a tall barefoot man wearing little more than rags dropped his horse's reins and eased himself off the horse's back and worked his way down an embankment into a riverbed chained with pools of water that glimmered as brightly as blood in the sunrise. The sand was the color of cinnamon and spiked with green grass and felt cool on his feet, even though they were bruised and threaded with lesions that were probably infected. He got to his knees and wiped the bugs off the water and cupped it to his mouth with both hands, then washed his face in it and pushed his long hair out of his eyes. His skin was striped with dirt, his trousers streaked with salt from the dried sweat of the horse. For an instant he thought he saw his reflection in the surface of the pond. No, that was not he, he told himself. The narrow face and the shoulder-length hair and the eyes that were like cups of darkness belonged on a tray or perhaps to a crusader knight left to the mercy of the Saracens.
"Venga!" he said to the horse. "You have to be instructed to drink? It is no compliment to me that the only horse I could steal is probably the dumbest in Pancho Villa'a army, a horse that didn't have the courtesy to wear a saddle."
-James Lee Burke, House Of The Rising Sun
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
..............one of the world's best at the fine art of bloggery reached a significant milestone. Congratulations Michael! Please allow me to echo this and this. Thank you for everything.
"...there is a long-standing human tradition to become so enthusiastic about a favoured scientific, religious or superstitious explanation for the world as to close your mind and come to hate those who disagree. We have seen it far too often to ignore it, and scientists have shown themselves no better than the rest of us at resisting the urge."
So, I started reading Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America. It didn't take me long to figure out that his vocabulary makes mine look a bit inchoate.
Here is a start to my list of words that needed to be looked up:
Have you used any of these words lately? Just wondering.
In the midst of this mutilation and mayhem, Holmes (Oliver Wendell Jr.) did an extraordinary thing: he road tested his beliefs. Lying in a hospital on Harrison's Island, watching his comrades dying around him and listening to rumors that the building was about to be shelled, he interrogated his philosophical convictions in order to discover whether there were any he now might want to revise. He was undergoing an experience of terror that nothing in his life had prepared him for, and he decided to solicit his own reactions to it...He found he did not require a religious faith. Uncertainty - "I am to take a leap in the dark" - turned out to be all the certainty he needed. The assurance that he had done his duty was a wholly adequate consolation.
-Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America