Saturday, April 15, 2017
.......................rules from writers. Here is a simple sample!:
5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
Any scheme that attempts to predict the future based on the patterns of the past is but a grid laid over the messiness of reality. History is ambiguous, and every financial mania is unique, the product of the peculiar folly of its time.
Friday, April 14, 2017
We’re all focused on Trump, but one of the reasons Trump was elected was that many of the people who try to use government to do good just haven’t thought things through.
-David Brooks, as culled from here
................notes that failed populist revolts often bring the unexpected tyranny. History may not repeat itself, but its cycles sure seem similar (and not very pretty). Full post is here. Two wee excerpts here:
"There is a lesson here. Europe as a whole is heading down the same path: slow growth and far too many people living off redistribution rather than enterprise — in private, public and voluntary sectors. The goose that always lays the golden eggs of prosperity is the habit of exchange and specialisation: people doing what they are good at, and getting better at it with innovation, while swapping the results freely with others through commerce."
"Yet history shows that free exchange is constantly at risk of being infected and captured by parasites and predators who live off productive people through taxes, tithes, rents, slavery, subsidy, war and theft. This is what killed the goose in ancient Greece and Rome, in Renaissance Italy and Holland’s golden age. From time to time anti-oligarch insurgents are needed to purge the parasites, expel the predators and free the economy from their burden."
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
........................................................with Søren Kierkegaard:
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
“How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.”
“Nothing is as heady as the wine of possibility”
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it's a joke.”
“The daily press is the evil principle of the modern world, and time will only serve to disclose this fact with greater and greater clearness. The capacity of the newspaper for degeneration is sophistically without limit, since it can always sink lower and lower in its choice of readers. At last it will stir up all those dregs of humanity which no state or government can control.”
“What looks like politics, and imagines itself to be political, will one day unmask itself as a religious movement.”
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
-P. J. O'Rourke
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
"Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms ... but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot. This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health, but as proof of his/her strength.”
-Robert Heinlein, Friday
“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They're Caeser's praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, "Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal." Most of us can't rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven't time, money or that many friends. The things you're looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Monday, April 10, 2017
“Now times had changed, and the inherited wisdom of the past had become folly.”
-Arthur C. Clark, as culled from 2001: A Space Odyssey
Love the quote, but removing it from its context might change its meaning. Here it is in its full context:
Those instincts had served his ancestors well, in the days of warm rains and lush fertility, when food was to be had everywhere for the plucking. Now times had changed, and the inherited wisdom of the past had become folly. The man-apes must adapt, or they must die - like the greater beasts who had gone before them, and whose bones now lay sealed within the limestone hills.
- All that is gold does not glitter,
- Not all those who wander are lost;
- The old that is strong does not wither,
- Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
- From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
- A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
- The crownless again shall be king.
- - J. R. R. Tolkien
Spengler weighs in on Syria:
They're nuts. The last thing the US should do is commit ground forces.
Feel free to read the whole thing. This part was especially interesting:
A seventh of Russia's population is Muslim, and 90% of them are Sunnis. China has a restive Muslim population among the Uyghurs in its far West, and all of them are Sunnis. Moscow and Beijing therefore support Shi'ite terrorists as a counterweight to Sunni jihadists. A Eurasian Muslim civil war is unfolding as a result. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum thinks America should let Sunnis and Shi'ites exhaust each other. If it were just Syria, that would make sense, but the Syrian conflict is the nodal point for a much larger and more dangerous conflagration. If the 300 million Muslims of Southeast Asia were to become involved, the consequences would be horrific.
Us western types would do well to remember that not all that long ago Western Europe was convulsed by more than a century's worth of religious wars (reasonable people may disagree whether the will to power was the root cause and religion was just the pretext, or visa versa). Islam is +/- 700 years younger than Christianity. Maybe they're just playing catch-up.
Two questions should be asked of very love; does it benefit the object, and does it benefit the subject? ... Love is not good in itself; it is good when part of virtue, bad when part of vice. In which case we should follow Aristotle, and say that it is not as such good to love, but good to love the right object, on the right occasion and to the right degree. Learning how and what to love is part of growing up, and love, like other emotions, must be disciplined if it is not to collapse into sentimentality on the one hand, or domination on the other.
-Roger Scruton, as excerpted from Confessions of a Heretic
Dogs do not judge, and their love is unconditional only because it has no conception of conditions. From a dog, therefore, we can enjoy the kind of endorsement that requires no moral labour to earn it. And this is what we see all around us: the dwindling of human affection, which is always conditional and dependent on moral work, and its replacement by the cost-free love of pets.
-Roger Scruton, Confessions of a Heretic
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Yet one recent idea emerging from his interest in self-deception appears to have real significance: Research shows that older adults are biased toward paying attention to and remembering the positive over the negative and that they don’t dwell in negative moods, a phenomenon called the aging positivity effect. There’s been no functional explanation, and it would seem that such a bias could be dangerous by blinding people to hazards. But Trivers notes that positive moods improve immune function, and older adults have a greater need for a strong immune system to fight off tumors and other ills. So maybe we’ve evolved to cheer ourselves up as we age just to boost immunity.
He suggested the idea to von Hippel, who didn’t buy it. Why would natural selection shape old age, after we can no longer reproduce? But, Trivers argued, you can still help raise your grandchildren, who carry your genes. Von Hippel ran a test that found that in older adults, a greater positivity bias correlated with stronger immune function. So they published the findings in 2014 in Psychology & Aging. Now they’re working on a longitudinal study to see if positivity predicts later immune function.
"Before you can be physically free you need to be mentally free."
-Nicholas Bate, lifted from Zen and the Art of Cubicle Freedom
“Take wrong turns. Talk to strangers. Open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing. Do things without always knowing how they'll turn out. You're curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. There are so many adventures that you miss because you're waiting to think of a plan. To find them, look for tiny interesting choices. And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.”