Sunday, December 31, 2017

... tak' a cup o' kindness...............

From me to you........................

Speaking of Scottish Enlightenment........

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin' auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin' auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

-Robert Burns, 1788

We cannot wait till the world is sane....

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
-Madeleine L'Engle First Coming

On Time...................................

Time is 
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not. 

-Henry Van Dyke

Ed. Note:  There are many references to this poem in the Intertunnel that swap out the word "not" for the word "eternity."  Not sure it changes the meaning.

A year-end retrospective, of sorts.....

A year's worth of blog headers from our friend at Eclecticity (light):


"Slowing down to gain time. Thinking more. Getting additional options. Not worrying so much about what others think of you. Scheduling times for intense focus. Savoring the smallest moments such as stirring or sipping a cup of coffee. Reading a type of fiction you've seldom or never read before. Asking yourself what one of your heroes would tell you about your current situation. Avoiding self-sabotage. Examining how a problem might be a solution and how a solution might be a problem. Looking for opportunities instead of excuses. Noticing all that others do for you. Stop keeping score. Start saying no when you know you should. Connecting when you want to withdraw. Being indifferent to what deserves indifference. Expanding and improving the circle of your associates. Realizing that perfection is very elusive. Asking for help when you need it. Recognizing what life has been telling you is your chief role. Being open to a higher meaning."

-Michael Wade, as cut and pasted from here.  His "self-sabotage" theme obviously has resonated with me over the years.

Three from my favorite optimist............

As for the concern that genomic selection for intelligence, if it comes, will be available to the rich but not the poor — well, the same is true for good education. Opportunities to buy the best genes for your children will be dwarfed for decades to come by the ability of the rich to buy the best education for their children. If you must do something, do something about that instead: and preferably do so by making all education as good as the best, rather than as bad as the worst.
I mean that human achievements are always and everywhere collective. Every object and service you use is the product of different minds working together to invent or manage something that is way beyond the capacity of any individual mind. This is why central planning does not work. Ten million people eat lunch in London most days; how the heck they get what they want and when and where, given that a lot of them decide at the last minute, is baffling. Were there a London lunch commissioner to organise it, he would fail badly. Individual decisions integrated by price signals work, and work very well indeed.
What changed was not some bright spark of a new gene being turned on, but that we began to exchange and specialise, to create collective intelligence, rather than rely on individual braininess. To put it another way, dozens of stupid people in a room who talk to each other will achieve far more than an equal number of clever people who don’t. The internet only underlines this point. Human intelligence is a distributed, collaborative phenomenon.

-Matt Ridley, as taken from this post

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Trans-Siberian Orchestra


     Word-thinking is a term I invented to describe a situation in which people are trying to win an argument by adjusting the definition of words.  In these situations there is no appeal to reason.  But that's okay, because facts and logic are not persuasive anyway.  Word-thinking happens when people are bad at logic but don't realize it.  And that's most of us, most of the time.  So you see this form of nonthinking more than any other. ... 
     We saw a lot of word-thinking in the presidential race of 2016.  At the beginning of the election cycle we saw an ongoing debate about whether Donald Trump was "conservative" enough to be the Republican nominee.  The people who said he was not a true conservative were trying to use work-thinking to eliminate Trump from consideration as the Republican candidate.  Their problem was that people did not agree on what it meant to be conservative, nor did the public think it was especially important for Trump's talents and policies to map some undefined political label.  This was the blind spot in the Republican Party that allowed Trump to become their leader without being especially conservative.  The entrenched interests in the GOP were doing word-thinking - literally the worst form of persuasion - to protect themselves from a Master Persuader with an enormous stockpile of persuasion weaponry.  It was never a fair fight.  As a trained persuader, I could see this developing from the start.  As long as the Republican establishment clung to word-thinking for their defense, they had no defense at all.

-Scott Adams,  as excerpted from Win Bigly:  Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter

The more things change...........

     After three years at Glasgow Smith went on to spend another six, from 1740 to 1746, as a student at Oxford University's Balliol College.   In stark contrast to his experience at Glasgow, Smith found his classes at Oxford exceedingly uninspiring.  He later remarked that the professors there has "given up altogether even the pretence of teaching," and he was also clearly thinking of Oxford when he wrote that the best endowed universities often serve as "sanctuaries in which exploded systems and obsolete prejudices found shelter and protection, after they had been hunted out of every other corner of the world."

-Dennis C. Rasmussen,  The Infidel And The Professor:  David Hume, Adam Smith, And The Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought

The Covenant is not collectivist....

To love God and to love thy neighbour: that is the whole teaching. Everything follows from that.   This is a politics in opposition to politics; a politics that produces martyrs, for the principle at its heart cannot be explained to the Princes of this World.
-David Warren, as culled from this post

The Demolition Man..........................

.......................................................had a very busy year.

Shall we dance...............................?

How much.......................................... "smarter" worth?


Jerry Seinfeld kept photos from the Hubble Space Telescope up on the wall in the Seinfeld writing room. “It would calm me when I would start to think that what I was doing was important,” he told Judd Apatow, in Sick in the Head. “You look at some pictures from the Hubble Telescope and you snap out of it.” When Apatow said that sounded depressing, Seinfeld replied, “People always say it makes them feel insignificant, but I don’t find being insignificant depressing. I find it uplifting.”

-as copy and pasted from Austin Kleon

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Scottish Enlightenment..............

     The Scottish Enlightenment is now widely regarded as an intellectual golden age, the rival of Periclean Athens, Augustan Rome, and Renaissance Italy.  There is even a best-selling book recounting How the Scots Invented the Modern World.  Some of the leading men of letter of the period, in addtion to Hume and Smith, included Hugh Blair, Adam Ferguson, Henry Home (Lord Kames), Francis Hutcheson, John Millar, Thomas Reid, William Robertson, and Dugald Stewart.

-Dennis C. Rasmussen,  The Infidel And The Professor:  David Hume, Adam Smith, And The Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought


"The spirit of true religion breathes gentleness and affability; it gives a native, unaffected ease to the behavior; it is social, kind, cheerful; far removed from the cloudy and illiberal disposition which clouds the brow, sharpens the temper, and dejects the spirit."

-Hugh Blair, as quoted in the Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Baby, it's cold outside...........

"Man, in his animal capacity, is qualified to subsist in every climate."

-Adam Ferguson,  An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

Yours and mine.........................

“A relation is formed betwixt every man and the fruits of his own labour, the very thing we call property, which he himself is sensible of, and of which every other is equally sensible. Yours and mine are terms in all languages, familiar among savages, and understood even by children. This is a fact, which every human creature can testify.” 
-Henry Home, Lord Kames, sketches of the history of man.  considerably improved in a third edition.


"Men have been Laughed out of Faults which a Sermon could not reform."

-Francis HutchesonSelected Philosophical Writings

Infallible tendency........................

It may in general be observed, that according as men have made greater progress in commerce and the arts, the establishment of domestic freedom is of greater importance; and that, in opulent and polished nations, its influence extends to the great body of the people, who form the principal part of a community, and whose comfortable situation ought never to be overlooked in the provisions that are made for national happiness and prosperity.

In whatever light we regard the institution of slavery, it appears equally inconvenient and pernicious. No conclusion seems more certain than this, that men will commonly exert more activity when they work for their own benefit, than when they are compelled to labour for the benefit merely of another. The introduction of personal liberty has therefore an infallible tendency to render the inhabitants of a country more industrious; and, by producing greater plenty of provisions, must necessarily increase the populousness, as well as the strength and security of a nation.

-John MillarThe Origin of the Distinction of Rank


“Let scholastic sophisters entangle themselves in their own cobwebs; I am resolved to take my own existence, and the existence of other things, upon trust; and to believe that snow is cold, and honey sweet, whatever they may say to the contrary. He must either be a fool, or want to make a fool of me, that would reason me out of my reason and senses.” 

-Thomas ReidInquiry and Essays

Softens and polishes.......................

"Commerce tends to wear off those prejudices which maintain distinction and animosity between nations. It softens and polishes the manners of men. It unites them, by one of the strongest of all ties, the desire of supplying their mutual wants."

-William Robertson The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V, Vol. I (1769)

In praise of reflection..........

"Nothing, in truth, has such a tendency to weaken not only the powers of invention, but the intellectual powers in general, as a habit of extensive and various reading without reflection."

-Dugald Stewart, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind

Thursday, December 28, 2017


“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.” 

-Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

Thanks Kurt for getting me started reading Solzhenitsyn

The tickets arrived today........................

Rediscover afresh..................

     Self-knowledge - an ancient remedy so old that its value is easily forgotten - is the process through which one may organize conflicting options.  "Know thyself" was carved over the entrance to the Delphic oracle, and ever since untold pious epigrams have extolled its virtue.  The reason the advice is so often repeated is that it works.  We need, however, to rediscover afresh every generation what these words mean, what the advice actually implies for each individual. ...
     Inner conflict is the result of competing claims on attention.  Too many desires, too many incompatible goals struggle to marshal psychic energy toward their own ends.  It follows that the only way to reduce conflict is by sorting out the essential claims from those that are not, and by arbitrating priorities among those that remain.  There are basically two ways to accomplish this:  what the ancients called the vita activa, a life of action, and the vita contempativa, or the path of reflection. ...
     Activity and reflection should ideally complement and support each other.  Action by itself is blind, reflection impotent.  Before investing great amounts of energy in a goal, it pays to raise the fundamental questions:  Is this something I really want to do?  Is it something I enjoy doing?  Am I likely to enjoy it in the foreseeable future?  Is the price that I - and others - will have to pay worth it?  Will I be able to live with myself if I accomplish it?

-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,  Flow:  The Psychology Of Optimal Experience

Happenings around Newark..............

My Sweetie and I had the good sense to visit the fabulous Weathervane Playhouse to take in their winter production, Meet Me In St. Louis.   Neither of us was familiar with the 1944 movie (Starring Judy Garland), from whence the play is derived, so we went without expectations.  The production was excellent, the voices were superb.  A most enjoyable evening.  The show closes this Friday.  If you get the chance, do go.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Probably THE all-purpose formula......

"If you’re not dealt a perfect hand and in your ideal situation I find the best way to stay happy is to be content and grateful for what you have."

-Ben Carlson, as culled from here

If this is true............................ likely can't have a happy ending:

"... that modern democracy has turned into a battle between the voters and the taxpayers. The two groups increasingly do not overlap ...


Very few people...................

...........................have as much fun with the language as George Will.   Read The survival of the shrillest for example, or just enjoy this wee excerpt:

"The many Americans who are happiest when unhappy seem as addicted to indignation as the fewer Americans are to cocaine. Brain imaging might show the same pleasure points lighting up in both cohorts. Furthermore, because today’s technologies have eliminated barriers to entry into public conversations, ignorance and intemperateness are not barriers. Because modern technologies allow the instant, costless dissemination of fulminations, and because the more vituperative the fulminations the more apt they are to be noticed in the digital clutter, public conversations often quickly degenerate into something less."

Santa worked overtime......................

 The 2017 Christmas stack......................................

About problems................

From the sub-chapter, Identify and don't tolerate problems:

b.  Don't avoid confronting problems because they are rooted in harsh realities that are unpleasant to look at.   Thinking about problems that are difficult to solve may make you anxious, but not thinking about them (and hence not dealing with them) should make you more anxious still.  When a problem stems from your own lack of talent or skill, most people feel shame.   Get over it.  I cannot emphasize this enough:  Acknowledging your weaknesses is not the same as surrendering to them.  It is the first step to overcoming them.  The pains you are feeling are "growing pains" that will test your character and reward you as you push through them.


f.  Once you identify a problem, don't tolerate it.  Tolerating a problem has the same consequence of failing to identify it.  Whether you tolerate it because you believe it cannot be solved, because you don't care enough to solve it, or because you can't muster enough of whatever it takes to solve it, if you don't have the will to succeed, they your situation is hopeless.  You need to develop a fierce intolerance of badness of any kind, regardless of its severity.

-Ray Dalio,  Principles

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Surfer wisdom.....................

     In sum, then, the surfer wisdom for success as a person is this:  Take it easier.  Accept.  Persist.  Focus.  Leave time.  Don't compare.  And mix things up.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning

Take it easy.........................

     First, take it easy.  Enjoy the fine weather.  Watch the waves.  Maybe go for a paddle if the waves aren't doing it today.  Chillax.  For those of a nonaquatic lifestyle, take ample time in leisure, and don't try to do too much.  Leave time for becoming attuned to your books or your music, your garden, or the birds in your neighborhood.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning


     Second, accept.  Accept your present circumstances.  Because nothing interrupts attuned adaptation to this coming moment like resisting the fact that one is, for now, where one is.  Seek reconciliation.  Check feelings of entitlement.  Cultivate grace and gratitude.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning


     Third, persist.  Get into a nice rhythm.  Check the waves daily.  Surf around work.  In good or bad waves.  Eat.  Sleep.  Relax with a friend or your children.  Repeat.  For the nonaquatic, persist in learning or in a creative project.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning


     Fourth, focus.  Do what is most worth doing.  Pass on what is not.  Skip other fine and good activities in order to focus your attention on waves and surfing them.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning

Leave time.............................

     Fifth, leave time.  Don't blow a lot of time in mere entertainment, let alone get yourself tied up in some time-sucking, high-maintenance house, even if you can afford it.  Keep the schedule light, so you can be on it when the waves turn on.  When the waves are flat, or you're in a creative lull, seize the day to get miscellaneous tasks done efficiently, so as to free up more time for the most worthy activities.  Most important, in a world of long workweeks, of e-mail never leaving you alone, of "stacked" schedules and a zillion empty activities performed in the name of a supposedly "full life,"  the one thing to control is your time.  With vigor and virtue, protect it against an out-of-control, money-hungry, work culture that cares not about how much you surf, or your quality of life, and that threatens to devour it.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning

Don't compare.........................

     Sixth, with all good wishes of peace for your fellow man and woman, let your watchword by "What are the Joneses to me?"  Resist comparing yourself to them, and look away when you do.  If they're confused enough to blow their time and stretch their resources on an ever bigger house, even pricier cars, and ever more demanding jobs to pay for all this, the proper response is not envy but sympathy.  Sadly for them, they aren't fortunate enough to be surfers.  If they are surfers, they may be confused.  And if the surfer Joneses seem to have everything - including enviable regular surf trips to world-class waves, with photographs for your to see regularly on Facebook - well, gosh, I know, that's harder.  But maybe just focus on the waves near home and the very good life you have (and check social media a lot less).

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning

Mix things up...........................

       Seventh, mix it up.  As the seasons change, switch up the surf breaks and equipment.  In California, when the swells come from the South Pacific, from mid-spring through mid-fall, you'll probably what to surf the south-facing breaks, and then in winter, with chillier air and water temps, the north-facing breaks.  Push yourself a little, so as to keep things interesting.  And maybe, so as to constantly progress rather than stagnate, try different surfboard shapes.  Each one helps you see the wave slightly differently, so as to take a different, new approach and develop your surfing in a new direction.  Try playing a new instrument.  Do a new kind of art or craft project.  Read a new genre of books,

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Michael Wade as Christmas shopping guru......

4.   If you are in the market for good chocolates, pray that your state has a See's Candies store. They have excellent chocolates. The only drawback is that See's has a high number of customers who like lengthy discussions with the check-out crew. Those people will be ahead of you in line. Each will have a group discount, but they will have to search for the card.

-his full list of ten observations is here.

Newark, Ohio, to our everlasting good fortune, is home to Goumas Confections.   See's may have a better known owner, but other than that, you are better off with Goumas.   Try them.  You'll be glad you did!

On structure.........................

 I learned that someone had to direct and encourage the observations of others, and get real data, in order to make effective changes.  Leadership is not always delegation, but co-ordination with foresight.  I did not impose my rank in the division to make it all work, but enabled their insights through structure that they themselves could not impose.

-David Merkel, from here via here

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

On letting go..................................

.......................................................permission not required.

Far better..........................

These well-meaning gentlemen of the British Broadcasting Corporation have absolutely no qualifications and no claim to represent British public opinion.  They have no right to say that they voice the opinions of English or British people whatever.   If anyone can do that it is His Majesty's Government;  and there may be two opinions about that.  It would be far better to have sharply contrasted views in succession, in alteration, than to have this copious stream of pontifical, anonymous mugwumpery with which we have been dosed so long.

-Winston Churchill, from a February, 1933 speech in the House of Commons

More random stuff found on the computer....