Wednesday, April 8, 2020

a great and strange reputation...............

     So science has, it seems, been so successful that it has inevitably earned a great and strange reputation.  If it has never yet been defeated, presumably it is all-powerful.  And since science is, after all, the work of scientists—for one seldom encounters disembodied science—then presumable these scientists are both so clever and so wise that they can do anything.  Perhaps we should turn the world over to this superbreed.  Perhaps they could, if properly supported, really liberated, and put in charge—perhaps they could solve all problems of human relations, of economic stability, of international peace, and of the good life.  Perhaps they should design not only the churches, but the creeds also.  Perhaps the best music and the loveliest poetry will, in a short time, come out of a machine.
     The sad fact is that some scientists themselves appear to believe precisely this.  And this arrogant attitude quite naturally irritates, or even angers, the social scientists, the humanists, the moralists, and the creative artists.  The classic protest is surely that of Keats:

               Do not all charms fly
               At the mere touch of cold philosophy?  
               There was an awful rainbow once in Heaven:
               We know her woof, her textures; she is given
               In the dull catalogue of common things.
               Philosophy will clip and Angel's wings.

-Warren Weaver, Science and Imagination, 1967

Asking history to repeat itself............

Initial responses are inevitably confused. But trial-and-error learning happens and we do get better. The U.S. was horribly unprepared going into WWI and WWII but, once on track, American productivity stunned enemies as well as friends.

-Peter Gordon, from this list of ten things we are re-learning

As long as Scott................

................................keeps introducing (some of) us to new music, the future will be normal enough for me.  Stay healthy my friend.

Monday, April 6, 2020


"Refusal to forgive leads to a self-imposed imprisonment.  It's time we freed ourselves by letting old pain dissipate into the darkness, so that new opportunities can take us to greater heights of joy."

-Marc & Angel Chernoff,  1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently

Worth their salt......................

     Today, thousands of years of coveting, fighting over, hoarding, taxing, and searching for salt appear picturesque and slightly foolish.  The seventeenth-century British leaders who spoke with urgency about the dangerous national dependence on French sea salt seem somehow more comic than contemporary leaders concerned with a dependence of foreign oil.  In every age, people are certain that only the things they have deemed valuable have true value.
     The search for love and the search for wealth are always the two best stories.  But while a love story is timeless, the story of a quest for wealth, given enough time, will always seem like the vain pursuit of a mirage.

-Mark Kurlansky,  Salt:  A World History

Sunday, April 5, 2020

On education...........................

I wrote two books on education and spent a lot of time thinking about it but, as anyone might have expected, I was better at talking about it than at doing.  I am not a believer in complete freedom during childhood.  I think children need a fixed routine, though there should be days when it is not carried out.  I think also that, if a person when adult is to be able to fit into a society, he must learn while still young that he is not the center of the universe and that his wishes are often not the most important factor in a situation.

-Bertrand Russell, Portraits From Memory and Other Essays

On cares..............................

There are many things you should care about

Like sick animals, dying trees, and saving the bees.

What other people think of you

is not one of these things.

-Courtney Peppernell, Pillow Thoughts III:  Mending the Mind

An interesting book.................

As we all know, predictions are difficult, especially about the future.  Our fearless authors are undaunted by the task.  Essentially, they explore the intersection of the exponential growth of a wide swath of technologies and the convergence of those various technologies in unpredictable ways.   The future they envision sounds amazing—and cheap, as technological advances solve one problem after another.   The one thing they seemed to ignore is human nature and our love of mischief (and control).   Well, they did devote three whole paragraphs to the subject before dismissing it.  The authors note:

. . . we're going to experience a hundred years of technological progress over the next ten years.  In fact, many of the most powerful technologies we'll have at our disposal—artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology—are only starting to come online.  So yes, the threats we seem to face might seem dire, but the solutions we already possess will only continue to increase in power.

We will see.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Fun with math.........................

more fun here

Steven Pressfield.................

..............takes a stab an defining an all important ethic:

It’s the ability to keep on working with undiminished focus and effort even when we believe (or at least strongly suspect) that there will be no external reward or recognition at the finish.
            In other words, the act of performing a function for its own sake entirely.


Can't even pretend that this is a bad sign.........................


Thursday, April 2, 2020

The times, well they have changed..........

"The Congress is ordinarily courteous and patient about listening to testimony, but gives not evidence of being willing to delegate any of its authority."

-Warren Weaver, Science and Imagination:  Selected Papers, circa 1959

Gone, but not forgotten.......................

"We've upped our standards.  Up yours."

 "To get to the meat of the matter, I will come right to the point, and take note of the fact that the heart of the issue in the final analysis escapes me."

-One of Pat Paulsen's campaign slogans, followed by one on his stock answers to most questions.

the good life.............................?

     True leisure, however, is neither a luxury nor a vice.  It is as vital to our brains as Vitamin C is to our bodies.   There's not a person on earth who on their deathbed thinks, "Had I only put a few more hours at the office or sat in front of the tube some more."  Sure, swimming in a sea of spare time will not be easy.  A twenty-first century education should prepare people not only for joining the workforce, but also (and more importantly) for life.  "Since men will not be tired in their spare time," the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote in 1932, "they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid."
      We can handle the good life, if only we take the time.

-Rutger Bregman, Utopia For Realists:  How We Can Build the Ideal World

Sunday, March 29, 2020

On praise and blame.................

     My soul preached to me and said, "Do not be delighted because of praise, and do not be distressed because of blame."
     Ere my soul counselled me, I doubted the worth of my work.
     Now I realize the trees blossom in Spring and bear fruit in Summer without asking praise; and they drop their leaves in Autumn and become naked in Winter without fearing blame.

-Kahlil Gibran,  Thoughts And Meditations

Checking in with Orwell.....................

There are some things only intellectuals are crazy enough to believe.

One is almost driven to the cynical conclusion that men are only decent when they are powerless.

Perhaps a man really dies when his brain stops, when he loses the power to take in a new idea.

The thing that strikes me more and more—and it strikes a lot of other people, too—is the extraordinary viciousness and dishonesty of political controversy in our time.  I don't mean merely that controversies are acrimonious.  They ought to be that when they are on serious subjects.  I mean that almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters as long as you can score a neat debating point.  (December, 1944)

The choice before human beings, is not, as a rule, between good and evil but between two evils.

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. This is an illusion, and one should recognise it as such,. . .

Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.

The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.

The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: . . .

Fate seemed to be playing a series of extraordinarily unamusing jokes.

It is almost impossible to think without talking. ... Take away freedom of speech, and the creative faculties dry up.

-attributed to George Orwell, much more fun here

the elegant patterning................

The universe is a form of divine law,
your reasonable father.

When you feel ungrateful to him,
the shapes of the world seem mean and ugly.

Make peace with that father, the elegant patterning,
and every experience will fill with immediacy.

Because I love this, I am never bored.
Beauty constantly wells up, a noise of springwater
in my ear and in my inner being.


enlargeable photo and description here


Science tries to answer the question: ‘How?’ How do cells act in the body? How do you design an airplane that will fly faster than sound? How is a molecule of insulin constructed? Religion, by contrast, tries to answer the question: ‘Why?’ Why was man created? Why ought I to tell the truth? Why must there be sorrow or pain or death? Science attempts to analyze how things and people and animals behave; it has no concern whether this behavior is good or bad, is purposeful or not. But religion is precisely the quest for such answers: whether an act is right or wrong, good or bad, and why.

"We keep, in science, getting a more and more sophisticated view of our essential ignorance."

-Warren Weaver

Warren Weaver...........................

     Warren Weaver is not a household name, but he may be the most influential scientist you've never heard of, actively shaping three of the most important scientific revolutions of the past century—life sciences, information technology, and agriculture.  In 1932 Weaver joined the Rockefeller Foundation to lead the division charged with supporting scientific research.   Funding was scarce during the Great Depression, and the Rockefeller Foundation, with an endowment nearly twice the size of Harvard's at the time, was one of the most important patrons of scientific research in the world.  Over his three decades at the Rockefeller Foundation, Weaver acted as a banker, talent scout, and kingmaker to support the nascent field of molecular biology, a term he himself coined.  Weaver had an uncanny knack for picking future all-stars.  Eighteen scientists won Nobel Prizes for research related to molecular biology in the middle of the century, and Weaver had funded all but three of them.

-Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Simple Rules:  How To Thrive In A Complex World


23    And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24   And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25   Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26   Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27   Neither give place to the devil.
28   Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29   Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30   And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31   Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32   And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
-The Holy Bible, Ephesians 4:23-32, King James Version

injustice collecting.....................

     We need to be aware that we have unwittingly become "injustice collectors."  The media reports are full of this form of chronic resentment.  We see "injustice collecting" in international relations where making the other nation "wrong" is actually a primary objective.  We are unconsciously programmed to believe that  "injustice collecting" is "normal."  In contrast to this habitual pattern, which is destructive and weakening, the letting go technique frees us from keeping close account of the "wrongs" made against us.  Our time and attention are freed up to see the beauty and opportunity around us.
     Anger is binding, not freeing.  It connects us to another person and holds them in our life pattern.  We are stuck in the negative pattern until we let go of the energy of anger and its little payoffs of righteous indignation, feeling wronged, and the desire for revenge.  It may not be exactly the same person who constantly recurs in our life.  If not that person, then others will appear who have the same quality that triggers our anger and resentment.  This will keep recurring until we finally handle our inner angriness.   Then, suddenly, people with that quality disappear from our life.  Therefore, anger may force someone to be physically distant from us, but psychically it binds them to us more closely, until we fully relinquish the anger and resentment.
     Relinquishing anger brings us many benefits.  We are free to experience emotional comfort and ease, gratitude for the daily opportunities to grow and heal, mutual caring with another without subtle "strings attached," improvement in health, and more life energy.  These breakthroughs allow us to move up to a more effective and effortless state of inner freedom.

-David R. Hawkins,  Letting Go:  The Pathway Of Surrender

Fifty years ago....................

Santana.................from the Abraxas album...............Samba Pa Ti

Saturday, March 28, 2020

this triple trend...........................

The first digital camera, built in 1976 by Kodak engineer Steven Sasson, was the size of a toaster oven, took twelve black-and-white images, and cost over $10,000.  Today, the average camera that comes with the average smartphone shows a thousand-fold improvement in weight, cost, and resolution over Sasson's model.  And these cameras are everywhere.  In cars, drones, phones, satellites, and such, and with an image resolution that's downright spooky.  Satellites photograph the Earth down to the half-meter range.  Drones shrink that to a centimeter.  But the LIDAR sensors atom autonomous cars capture just about everything—gathering 1.3 million data points per second.
     We see this triple trend of decreasing size and cost, and increasing performance everywhere.  The first commercial GPS hit shelves in 1981, weighing fifty-three points and costing $119,900.  By 2010, it had shrunk to a $5 chip small enough to sit on your finger.  The "inertial measurement unit" that guided our early rockets is another example.  In the mid-sixties, this was a fifty-pound $20 million device.  Today, the accelerometer and gyroscope in your cell phone do the same job for about $4 and weigh less than a grain of rice.

-Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler,  The Future Is Faster Than You Think:  How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives

Fifty years ago...................

James Taylor............................................................Country Road

Random images found on my computer....

On the vision thing........................

Intellectuals are often shortsighted, failing to see what is before their very nose. Their object is to obscure the obvious and to make complex the simple, so that they are then needed to lead humanity away from its ignorance and stupidity. With the inexorable rise of tertiary education, we have more intellectuals than ever before, and yet final enlightenment seems as elusive as ever. Man remains a problem-creating animal.

-Theodore Dalrymple, as he begins this post


Opportunities arising................

     Every time a technology goes exponential, we find an internet-sized opportunity tucked inside.  Think about the internet itself.  While it seemingly decimated industries—music, media, retail, travel, and taxis—a study by McKinsey Global Research found that the net created 2.6 new jobs for each one it extinguished.
     Over the next decade, we'll see these kinds of opportunities arise in dozens of industries.  As a result, if the internet is our benchmark, more wealth could be created over the next ten years than was over the previous century.

-Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler,  The Future Is Faster Than You Think:  How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives

Fun with the language...............

 Having beers with Shakespeare would be extraordinary.

    • Sir NathanielI praise God for you, sir: your reasons 
    • at dinner have been sharp and sententious; 
    • pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, 
    • audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, 
    • and strange without heresy. I did converse this quondam 
    • day with a companion of the king's, who is intituled, nomi-
    • nated, or called, Don Adriano de Armado.

    • HolofernesNovi hominem tanquam te: his humour 
    • is lofty, his discourse peremptory, his tongue filed, 
    • his eye ambitious, his gait majestical, and his general
    • behavior vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. He is
    • too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it
    • were, too peregrinate, as I may call it.
       -William Shakespeare,  Love's Labour's Lost:  Act Five, Scene 1

      thrasonical is a new one for me.  According to our friends at it means boastful; vainglorious.


     Instead of starting big and then flaring out with nothing to show for it other than time and energy wasted, to really get essential things done we need to start small and build momentum.  Then we can use that momentum to work toward the next win, and the next one an so on until we have a significant breakthrough—and when we do, our progress will have become so frictionless and effortless that the breakthrough will seem like an overnight success.  As former Stanford professor and educator Henry B. Eyring has written, "My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve:  the best place to look is for small changes we could make in the things we do often.  There is power in steadiness and repetition."

-`Greg McKeown,  essentialism:  The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

In the background....................

Lee Ritenour...........................................the This Is Love album

Friday, March 27, 2020

On angriness.....................

     We typically feel so much guilt about anger that we find it necessary to make the object of our anger "wrong" so that we can say our anger is "justified."  Few are the persons who can take responsibility for their own anger and just say, "I am angry because I am full of angriness."

-David R. Hawkins, from Letting Go:  The Pathway Of Surrender

It's likely fallen off the cliff here of late, but......

The Gross Domestic Product.  So, what is it really?  Well, that's easy you say:  the GDP is the sum of all goods and services that a country produces, corrected for seasonal fluctuations, inflation, and perhaps purchasing power.
     To which Bastiat would respond:  You've overlooked a huge part of the picture.  Community service, clean air, free refills on the house — not of these things make the GDP an iota bigger.  If a businesswoman marries her cleaner, the GDP dips when her hubby trades his job for unpaid housework.  Or take Wikipedia.  Supported by investments of time rather than money, it has left the old Encyclopedia Britannica in the dust — and taken the GDP down a few notches in the process.

-Rutger Bregman,  Utopia For Realists:  How We Can Build The Idea World

The type of person............... would be fun to have beers with:

Clarke had an expanding brain that functioned like an accordion.  He sucked in ideas, mixed them together and then expelled them as something altogether more melodious.  Where most people saw problems, he saw only solutions.

-Giles Milton describing Cecil "Nobby" Clarke in Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

The most important step.......

….......….in becoming a successful real estate investor is surviving the ownership of the first investment property.    As we tell all of our prospective new investors, life its ownself can be messy at times, and that goes double (or triple) when dealing with property and tenants.  Acceptance of that reality is an important step in clearing the way to success.

     Apparently (ten years of a bull market notwithstanding) the same thing is true for investing in the stock market:

Risk and reward are attached at the hip. You can’t expect to earn higher returns if you aren’t willing to accept occasional losses and volatility.

Some fights are worth having...............

Check out the 2:30 mark.   Comic genius.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Learning new tricks..............



 God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; 
That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. 
Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
-Psalm 67, The Holy Bible, King James Version

Fifty years ago..........................

Grand Funk Railroad.....from Closer To Home:  I'm Your Captain

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Embrace life's challenges.......

4.  You may think that taking a detour in life is a waste of time and energy, but you can also see the detour as a means of learning more about who you are and where you are headed.  Being off the beaten path may be disorienting and confusing at times, yet it challenges your creative spirit to discover new ways to build a stronger you.

-Marc & Angel Chernoff,  1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently, from the Chapter:  10 Actions That Always Bring Happiness


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

-attributed to William Butler Yeats, but I found the quote, unattributed, here

Stand for something............

Add up the sum of our days and that’s who we are. We get what we repeat.

-Seth Godin, from here

Fifty years ago......................

The Moody Blues...from A Question of Balance:  Melancholy Man

I'm a melancholy man, that's what I am,
All the world surrounds me, and my feet are on the ground.
I'm a very lonely man, doing what I can,
All the world astounds me and I think I understand
That we're going to keep growing, wait and see.
When all the stars are falling down
Into the sea and on the ground,
And angry voices carry on the wind,
A beam of light will fill your head
And you'll remember what's been said
By all the good men this world's ever known.
Another man is what you'll see,
Who looks like you and looks like me,
And yet somehow he will not feel the same,
His life caught up in misery, he doesn't think like you and me,
'Cause he can't see what you and I can see.

Whimsy in the age of Covid.........

more fun here

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fifty years ago.....................

Spirit.......from the Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus:  Nature's Way

Be very careful what you wish for......

     Lest there be any misunderstanding:  It is capitalism that opened the gates to the Land of Plenty, but capitalism alone cannot sustain it.  Progress has become synonymous with economic prosperity, but the twenty-first century will challenge us to find other ways of boosting out quality of life.

. . .  conflicting utopias are the lifeblood of democracy, after all.

     True progress begins with something no knowledge economy can produce:  wisdom about what it means to live well.

If anything, kids today are struggling under the burden of too much pampering.

-Rutger Bregman, being a few excerpts from his Utopia For Realists:  How We Can Build The Ideal World

a torment without end.................

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

-C. S. Lewis, read the balance of the passage here

He's pretty good.................. searching for the silver lining.

Speaking of silver linings....................

1. Necessity is the mother of invention, so our willingness to solve problems is about to surge.

2. Worry will exceed actual harm, which is both tragic and in a way comforting.

-as cut and pasted from Two Things We Know With High Confidence

Saturday, March 14, 2020


"When we're grateful, our problems don't disappear, they simply occupy less space in our hearts, minds, and lives."

-from here

Decisions, decisions, decisions......

Uncertainty shrinks your field of vision at the worst time. When the world changes in a 24-hour period it becomes hard to think more than 24 hours ahead. The year ahead is impossible to envision when assumptions you had at breakfastime were destroyed by dinnertime. The irony is that long-term thinking is most powerful when everything is falling apart. The majority of long-term results are determined by decisions made during a minority of times, and right now is one of those times. It’s a tragic moment to become short-sighted.

-Morgan Housel, from this post


 “I’m certain that the answer is totally uncertain.”

-as clipped from here

More wisdom....................

When the old glasses don't work, it helps to get a new pair.

-From this post from our man in Phoenix

This actually makes a lot of sense.....

In short, when it comes to detecting emotion in other people, the face and body do not speak for themselves. Instead, variation is the norm. Your brain may automatically make sense of someone’s movements in context, allowing you to guess what a person is feeling, but you are always guessing, never detecting. 

-from this Nautilus post, Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite:  Think you can read people’s emotions? Think again.


Healthy thinking..................

No one wants to hear this right now because we’re living in scary times but things will get better eventually. They’re likely to get worse before they get better, potentially much worse, but I have faith in our human spirit to continue moving forward.

-Ben Carlson, as culled from here

Happy Birthday, Al....................

 "Yeah Einstein was pretty smart in high school but you should have seen this other guy!"

-as cut-and-pasted from here