Friday, October 21, 2016



This seems like a major failure...................

.....................of our society, until you stop to remember that this whole "retirement" concept is a fairly recent one. 

"U.S. is poised for a financial retirement crisis. The math is inescapable: We have failed individually and collectively to save enough money for our golden years. This will be a huge issue during the next few decades."

-Barry Ritholtz, as culled from here

Rooting for the skeptics........... our planet grows greener.

A balancing act...............

To blend, without coercion, the individual good and the common good is the essence of citizenship in a free country."
-Dwight David Eisenhower

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” 
-John F. Kennedy

Please tell me again.................. much you think we really should know.

enlargeable photo and back story here

Say it ain't so...................

"Just goes to show that so much of our county is trained to stay desperate and nearly indentured to our financial system. Having a modicum of savings and investment knowledge is an act of rebellion."
-Lori White


Thursday, October 20, 2016


“There are some principles that cannot be compromised. Either we shall have a society based upon ordered liberty and the initiative of the individual, or we shall have a planned society that means dictation no matter what you call it or who does it. There is no half-way ground. They cannot be mixed.” 
-Herbert Hoover


9. Silence is an awesome teacher. Journal your way to helpful insights and solutions. (Because there’s some questions even Google cannot answer!)

-From Not Salmon's list of 11 simple ways to add to daily happiness

As advice goes.................................

............................this is pretty good:

My best advice to you is this: learn, grow, be flexible, and be willing to work in ways that you never imagined.  The clock will not be turned back on technology, which is the main factor affecting employment.  You must be your own defender, because the factors affecting employment are bigger than that which governments can control.  Finally, as an aside, don’t trust the politicians (from any party) who say they will improve your economic prospects.  Aside from reducing what the government does, they haven’t succeeded in the past; they will not succeed in the present.

-David Merkel,  as excerpted from here

About windows.....................................

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world.  Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

-Isaac Asimov, as culled from here

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I find my town endlessly interesting...............

Let the sun shine...................................

“Practically all government attempts to redistribute wealth and income tend to smother productive incentives and lead toward general impoverishment. It is the proper sphere of government to create and enforce a framework of law that prohibits force and fraud. But it must refrain from specific economic interventions. Government's main economic function is to encourage and preserve a free market. When Alexander the Great visited the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.'  It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.”  

-Henry Hazlitt



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I know Columbus Day was......

............................................................last week, but:

     Thanks to the enormous expansion in world trade that had been booming for more than two centuries, Europeans of means had come to take for granted certain substances that did not originate in Europe, especially the spices, opiates, and silks of faraway Asia.  No one (who was anyone) could imagine doing without these things.  But the fall of Greek Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 has created a profound and permanent alteration in international affairs.  It was of course still possible to extract the expected goodies from the Far East, but getting them past the Turks required both more cunning and more gold - and sometimes more blood - than had been previously required, considerably raising the price of the beloved commodities by the time they came to market.  (Imagine if Americans could no longer afford chocolate, salt, or cocaine, or if most of the Wal-Marts closed down.)  If Europeans could not dislodge the Turks - which they could not - what where they to do?  At times, it seemed as if all the best practical minds of Europe were engaged in figuring out how to solve the problem.  But think as much as they might, no one could come up with a solution.  Except Columbus.
     What he suggested made little sense.  He proposed to sail around the world, heading west into the Ocean Sea (as it was then called) till he hit the Island of Cipangu (Japan, as identified in the writings of Marco Polo) or perhaps, if he was especially lucky, the fabulous coast of Cathay (China) itself.

-Thomas Cahill,  Heretics and Heroes:  How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World

Columbus finances a trip...........

     Before this, Columbus had conducted a long dalliance with King John II of Portugal, whom he nearly succeeded in convincing.  He sought out financial power brokers in both Genoa and Venice but came up short.  He sent his brother Bartolomeo to Henry VII of England with the astounding proposal.  Henry, father to Henry VIII and founder of the Tudor dynasty, whose claim to the throne was quite shaky, said he would think about it.  He thought and thought but had nothing more to say (at least not until it was too late).  Meanwhile, Columbus found himself at the Spanish court, spending nearly six seemingly sterile years in the attempt to lure the monarchs into financing.

     But after he had made his impressive presentation, his proposal would be turned over to the scholars of the court, the people who had read all the books Columbus cited and many more, which he had failed to mention.  Inevitably, the scholars would return to their monarch with the same conclusion:  Columbus was a crackpot, not an investment opportunity.  But, as we know only too well from recent dramas in our financial sector, sooner or later someone somewhere will make the investment.  In the event, that someone was Isabella la Catolica, reigning Queen of Spain.

-Thomas Cahill,  Heroes and Heretics

Columbus makes a few mistakes....

     The diameter of the spherical Earth had been calculated accurately by the Greek Eratosthenes in the second century BC, and his calculation was still widely known in the time of Columbus.  Though no European foresaw what lay in wait for Columbus, since all thought mistakenly that the  Ocean Sea, empty of land, was much larger than it was, almost all who could read and had looked into the subject understood that Columbus was seriously underestimating the overall size of the Earth.*
     Columbus, basing his calculations on inaccurate assumptions, theorized that the east coast of Asia could be reached by a European ship within a few weeks of its leaving port.  The actual circumference of the Earth is about 40,000 kilometers, whereas Columbus assumed it to be closer to 25,000 kilometers.  Compounding his mistake was his misreading - in a Latin translation - of a renowned ninth-century Persian astronomer, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathir al-Faghani, known in the West as Alfraganus.  The Persian's correct measurements were given in Arabic miles, which Columbus assumed to be the same as Roman miles.  In actuality, Roman miles are about 25 percent shorter than Arabic ones.  Had the Ocean not held the Americas and the vast sea been empty of land between Europe and Asia, Columbus and his crew, heading west, would have perished in the deep and never been heard from again.  This had indeed been the fate of several earlier (and well-known) attempts.

-Thomas Cahill,  Heretics and Heroes

*No one who knew anything thought the Earth was flat.  This was an anti-Catholic fable created by a nineteenth-century Frenchman named Jean Antoine Letronne and disseminated widely to English speakers by Washington Irving in his unreliable biography of Columbus.

Columbus knew a thing or two......

     Columbus's good luck lay not in his miserably wrongheaded calculations about distance but in his accurate knowledge of the North Atlantic trade winds, which flow in a great clockwise circle.  How he came by this information we can't be sure.  It may have been the result of his own observations on his previous voyages, only some of which we know about.  In any case, it was information not widely understood at the time, even if in our own day it is common knowledge to transatlantic airline passengers.  As a result of his awareness of the trade-winds pattern, he was able to keep them at his back, plotting a southerly outgoing course and a northerly homecoming one, both of which enabled him to travel much more quickly than others had been able to do.  In this way, Columbus and his crew were saved from contrary winds, becalmings, and death by dehydration on the high seas.

-Thomas Cahill,  Heroes and HereticsHow Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World

Good cooking and good writing...........................

.........(and its companion good reading) are each their own reward.

 "...but it is seldom done with the serenity I witnessed — that passed almost unnoticed, as effort is meant to pass unnoticed in all fine art."

-as excerpted from David Warren's blog, the source of some of the most interesting writing to be found in the Intertunnel.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Quote of the day..................................

"Anything we can do to cause people to think twice about giving more power to these knuckleheads, the better.  And thus, this election is great -- like Dorothy stumbling on the wizard behind the curtain, perhaps going forward people will be a little less willing to blindly accept politicians as their betters."

-Warren Meyer, as extracted from here

Don't Ask, Don't Tell............................

It is difficult penciling in those oval blanks on the ballot with one hand holding your nose, but...... the task is done.

Storm winds are rising...............

For the statesman, versed in some history (though never enough), and supposing him to have some goodwill, there must be the equivalent of weather warnings. He will know there are limits to what he can achieve, and he will know that these limits are externally imposed. Therefore he will focus on what is attainable. If the hurricane is coming, then the hurricane is coming. He cannot divert it, for no man can once it is swirling; his task is instead to predict, to the best of his knowledge and experience, where and how it may land, and look out for the safety of his people. And after it has struck — always in ways not quite anticipated — he must be ready to pick up the pieces.
All of this should be obvious, and yet it is lost on any democratic polity, once politicians begin to hold each other accountable for the weather itself. The people must choose between gangsters, as they are now preparing to do in the large republic over the Lake to my south. It is a sordid and demeaning spectacle, this contest between two candidates, neither of whom should ever have been let near any public office. Such is the disorder in the world around us, that a hard wind is going to blow, and neither has the resources of character, the chaste prudential judgement, the intelligence, the knowledge, the “temperament” or stability of mind, to be useful in a crisis. Both are shameless liars, whose lives have been devoted to self-promotion alone. Neither can be relied upon, except to increase the impact of the storm; to become, in effect, part of its fury.
-David Warren, as excerpted from here.  As they say, read the whole thing.

Can I get an Amen...................?

"There are certain relationships that don’t quite translate so well from the textbook theory into the real world."

-Ben Carlson, as culled from here

Sunday, October 16, 2016

fully ourselves...................

     As against the doctrine of original sin, I fully share the opinion of Matthieu Ricard and Buddhism:  human nature is fundamentally good, and our hearts are designed to blossom in loving and giving.  When we commit negative acts inspired by hatred, anger, and fear, we often have the impression of being, as it were, outside of ourselves:  after all, when someone is furiously angry, we say they are "beside themselves."  On the other hand, when we perform positive actions motivated by goodness, altruism and empathy, we feel that we are fully ourselves.  This is because we are by nature fundamentally inclined to altruism.  It is reactions to the vicissitudes of life that lead us to develop fear, anger, and even hatred.  To escape these, it is often good to work on ourselves, our thoughts and our emotions.  But nothing can replace the experience of being loved.  Loving cures us of many of life's wounds:  not only when we are loved, but also when we discover the treasures of goodness buried within our own hearts.  We can then enter the extraordinary virtuous circle of life:  the more we help others, the happier we are;  the happier we are, the more we feel like helping others.

-Frederic Lenoir,  Happiness:  A Philosopher's Guide

Opening paragraphs

     Disciples came in flocks that sun-baked May afternoon in 1957, packing the pews at St. Mary's and spilling onto the streets outside the Irish parish in Appleton, Wisconsin, where Joseph Raymond McCarthy had been baptized and now, just forty-eight years later, he was being eulogized.  It was the last of the three memorials to the fallen senator, and the first in the state that had elected him in landslides.  Twenty-five thousand admirers from Green Bay, Neenah, and his native Grand Chute had paid their respects at his open casket.  Others were keeping vigil outside the church alongside honor guards of military police and Boy Scouts.  Flying in to join them were nineteen senators, seven congressmen, and other luminaries, most of whom had supported Joe McCarthy in his relentless assault on Communism.  The dignitaries were whisked in a motorcade from the airport in Green Bay to the funeral in Appleton.
     But one man faltered on the runway.  Robert Francis Kennedy had worked as an aide to McCarthy for seven months before political and personal calculations made him step aside.  Now he sat anxiously by himself on the military jet, reluctant to be seen with the conservative lawmakers and conflicted even about being in Wisconsin.  His own brother, Jack, had sternly warned him to stay away.  When the crowd was gone, Kennedy slipped down the exit ramp unnoticed.  Nobody was waiting because no one knew he was coming.  He rode into town not with the pack of senators and congressmen but in the front seat of a Cadillac convertible driven by the reporter Edwin Bayley, who was covering McCarthy's funeral for the Milwaukee Journal.  At the church, Bobby sat in the choir loft, distracted and alone, and at the graveside he stood apart from the rest of the officials from Washington.  When the service was over, Kennedy asked Bayley and other journalists not to write about his being there.  The reporters, already in the Kennedy thrall, did as he asked.
     The relationship between Robert Kennedy and Joseph McCarthy is one of the most implausible in U. S. political history.

-Larry Tye,  Bobby Kennedy:  The Making of a Liberal Icon