Sunday, May 31, 2020


19.  Because a thing is difficult for you, do not therefore suppose it to be beyond mortal power.  On the contrary, if anything is possible and proper for man to do, assume that it must fall within your capacity.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Six


          leaning back on a
                       bench look straight up
                       at the blue sky duomo

                       all the church we'll ever need

-Gary Snyder, from This Present Moment:  New Poems

An unusual gift................

In life, there is no gift as overlooked or as inevitable as failure.  I've had quite a few and have learned to relish them, because if you do the forensics you'll find clues about where to make adjustments and how to eventually accomplish your task.  I'm not talking about a mental list either.  After the second attempt, I wrote everything out long-hand, but didn't start with the obvious issue, my grip.  Initially, I brainstormed everything that went well, because in every failure a lot of good things will have happened, and we must acknowledge them.

-David Goggins,  Can't Hurt Me:  Master Your Mind And Defy The Odds

On understanding....................

      While his mind was neither quick nor facile, young Lincoln possessed singular powers of reasoning and comprehension, unflagging curiosity, and a fierce, almost irresistible, compulsion to understand the meaning of what he heard, read, or was taught.  "When I was a mere child," Lincoln later said, "I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand.  I do not think I ever got angry an anything else in my life."  When he "go on the hunt for an idea" he could not sleep until he "caught it," and even then was not able to rest until he had "bounded it north and bounded it south, and bounded it east and bounded it west."

-Doris Kearns Goodwin,  Leadership: In Turbulent Times

Friday, May 29, 2020


     Years after his initial work on the Dymaxion Vehicle, Fuller would theorize that the core of the problem obstructing progress on such a vehicle was a condition he had faced many times during his career and which he perceived as a continuing impediment to humanity's advancement.  That single issue is the bureaucratic drive for power and control that pervades any organization, especially governments.  Both the Dymaxion House and the Dymaxion Vehicle were conceived to function autonomously.  Once built and installed, they would require no roads, airports, electrical power lines, plumbing and sewage connections, or any of the other links through which corporations and governments control individual human beings' lives.
     Bucky eventually realized that if such autonomous innovations were publicly available, independent-thinking humans would quickly discover that the bureaucracies dominating their lives were no longer necessary or useful. . . .
     Because of the formidable opposition he received from power structures, Fuller also realized that the officials who dominate other individuals through bureaucracies and who prosper from their power would resort to extremes in blocking any innovation which would provide individuals with more autonomy and freedom.   Still, he envisioned a new era in which responsibility for maintaining basis human needs would shift from governments and other institutions to individuals themselves . . .

-Lloyd Steven Sieden,  Buckminster Fuller's Univers:  His Life and Work

photo (and more info) via

Thursday, May 28, 2020

If you don't read Martin Gurri................

...................................................well, you might consider doing so:

News is not truth. In the time of the tweet, news isn’t even first in delivering “news or information,” as journalism professor Jeff Jarvis recently noted. News is bait for ads sold by a hard-nosed business: rather than inform citizens or protect the underdog, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox News, Vox, and Politico are trying desperately to make money. That fact explains many of the strange distortions of news content.

-as cut-and pasted from here


The collapse of trust in our leading institutions has exiled the 21st century to the Siberia of post-truth. I want to be clear about what this means. Reality has not changed. It’s still unyielding. Facts today are partial and contradictory—but that’s always been the case. Post-truth, as I define it, signifies a moment of sharply divergent perspectives on every subject or event, without a trusted authority in the room to settle the matter. A telling symptom is that we no longer care to persuade. We aim to impose our facts and annihilate theirs, a process closer to intellectual holy war than to critical thinking.

-Martin Gurri, as culled from here.  

Aim high.........................

"No one knows enough to be a pessimist."

"Never listen to those who try to influence you with their pessimism."

"Aim high, refuse to choose small thinking and low expectations, and above all, do not be seduced by the absurd idea that there is danger in having too much hope."

-Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

cultivation of an orderly mind....................

To a great extent fatigue in such cases is due to worry, and worry could be prevented by a better philosophy of life and little more mental discipline.  Most men and women are very deficient in control over their thoughts.  I mean by this that they cannot cease to think about worrying topics at times when no action can be taken in regard to them. . . . It is amazing how much both happiness and efficiency can be increased by the cultivation of an orderly mind, which thinks about a matter adequately at the right time rather than inadequately at all times.  When a difficult or worrying decision has to be reached, as soon as all the data are available, give the matter your best thought and make your decision; having made the decision, do not revise it unless some new fact comes to your knowledge.  Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing so futile.

-Bertrand Russell,  The Conquest of Happiness

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

Van Morrison...............................................................Moondance


Anyone totally committed to a single purpose almost inevitably becomes the propagandist of his own effort.  As a nation of specialists, we have become a nation obsessed with self-justification.  When we don't have it, we make it.  And we are by now familiar enough with the make-work of manufacturers who need products, scholars who need projects, politicians who need issues, generals who need armies.  We speak the language of a people bent on justifying everything we do or want to do, whether it is justifiable or not.
     This preoccupation, with its consequent language of self-praise, is epidemic.  It is chronic at the highest levels of government.  Much of the blame for the erosion of our idealism must be laid to the government, because the language of ideals has been so grossly misused by the propagandists.  The liars of policy and public relations are addicted to the rhetoric of high principle.  Our political ideals fill their mouths as unctuously, and will as little involvement of conscience or intelligence, as so many pieces of fat meat.

-Wendell Berry, excerpted from his 1969 collection of essays, The Long-Legged House

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More freedom, more innovation...............

Necessity is not the mother of invention. Ambition is.

-Matt Ridely, from this blog post on the serendipity of innovation


...................................................................................from Henry.

No matter..........................

Choose any competitive situation that you're in right now.  Who is you opponent?  Is it your teacher or coach, your boss, an unruly client?  No matter how they're treating you there is one way to not only earn their respect, but turn the tables.  Excellence.

-David Goggins,  Can't Hurt Me

On seeing things.................

     The science of anything may be taught or acquired by study; the art of it comes by practice or inspiration.  The art of seeing things is not something that may be conveyed in rules and precepts; it is a matter vital in the eye and ear, yea, in the mind and soul, of which these are the organs.  I have as little hope of being able to tell the reader how to see things as I would have in trying to tell him how to fall in love or to enjoy his dinner.  Either he does or he does not, and that is about all there is to it.  Some people seem born with eyes in their heads, and other with buttons or painted marbles, and no amount of science can make the one equal to the other in the art of seeing things.  The great mass of mankind are, in this respect, like the rank and file of any army; they fire vaguely in the direction of the enemy, and if they hit, it is more a matter of chance than of accurate aim.  But here and there is the keen-eyed observer;  he is the sharpshooter; his eye selects and discriminates; his purpose goes to the mark.

-John Burroughs,  from his essay The Art of Seeing Things

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

The Beatles..................................The Long And Winding Road

placid and self-contain'd.....

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

-Walt Whitman, as he starts Song of Myself, 32

Monday, May 25, 2020

Learned something new............

On habits..............................

     Habits do not restrict freedom.   They create it.  In fact, the people who don't have their habits handled are often the ones with the least amount of freedom.  Without good financial habits, you will always be struggling for the next dollar.  Without good health habits, you will always seem to be short on energy.  Without good learning habits, you will always feel like you are behind the curve.  If you're always being forced to make decisions about simple tasks—when should I work out, where do I go to write, when do I pay the bills—then you have less time for freedom.  It's only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity. . . . Building habits in the present allows you to do more of what you want in the future.

-James Clear, Atomic Habits:  Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

as fundamental as gravity...............

     Very few people know how the bottom feels, but I do.  It's like quicksand.  It grabs you, sucks you under, and won't let go.  When life is like that it's easy to drift and continue to make the same comfortable choices that are killing you, over and over again.
     But the truth is we all make habitual, self-limiting choices.  It's as natural as a sunset and as fundamental as gravity.  It's how our brains are wired, which is why motivation is crap.
      Even the best pep talk or self-help hack is nothing but a temporary fix.  It won't rewire your brain.  It won't amplify your voice or uplift your life.  Motivation changes exactly nothing.  The bad hand that was my life was mine, and mine alone to fix.

-David Goggins,  Can't Hurt Me


. . . but just because you believe something doesn't make it true.  Denial is the ultimate comfort zone.

-David Goggins,  Can't Hurt Me:  Master Your Mind and Defy The Odds


     A choice confronts us.  Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdraw in anxiety and panic?  Frightened by the loss of our familiar mooring places, shall we become paralyzed and cover our inaction with apathy?  If we do those things, we will have surrendered our chance to participate in the forming of the future.  We will have forfeited the distinctive characteristic of human beings—namely, to influence our evolution through our own awareness. 

-Rollo May,  The Courage To Create

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

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young...................................Our House

The Mad Farmer..................

From the union of power and money,
From the union of power and secrecy,
From the union of government and science,
From the union of government and art,
From the union of science and money,
From the union of genius and war,
From the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
The Mad Farmer walks quietly away.
There is only one of him, but he goes.
He returns to the small country he calls home.
His own nation small enough to walk across.
He goes shadowy into the local woods,
And brightly into the local meadows and croplands.
He goes to the care of neighbors,
He goes into the care of neighbors.
He goes to the potluck supper, a dish
From each house for the hunger of every house.
He goes into the quiet of early mornings
Of days when he is not going anywhere.
Calling his neighbors together in to the sanctity
Of their lives separate and together
In the one life of the commonwealth and home,
In their own nation small enough for a story
Or song to travel across in an hour, he cries:
Come all ye conservatives and liberals
Who want to conserve the good things and be free,
Come away from the merchants of big answers,
Whose hands are metalled with power;
From the union of anywhere and everywhere
By the purchase of everything from everybody at the lowest price
And the sale of anything to anybody at the highest price;
From the union of work and debt, work and despair;
From the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed.
From the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation,
Secede into the care for one another
And for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth.
Come into the life of the body, the one body
Granted to you in all the history of time.
Come into the body’s economy, its daily work.
And its replenishment at mealtimes and at night.
Come into the body’s thanksgiving, when it knows
And acknowledges itself a living soul.
Come into the dance of the community, joined
In a circle, hand in hand, the dance of the eternal
Love of women and men for one another
And of neighbors and friends for one another.
Always disappearing, always returning,
Calling his neighbors to return, to think again
Of the care of flocks and herds, of gardens
And fields, of woodlots and forests and the uncut groves,
Calling them separately and together, calling and calling,
He goes forever toward the long restful evening
And the croak of the night heron over the river at dark.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

just snugly enough......................

First, all grapes need trellises if they are to bear much fruit, and there are may ways to build a trellis, depending on the variety of grape and the growing conditions.  After all, not all grapes are alike;  they need different kinds of support.  Creating a rule of life is like that:  what liberates one person may constrict another.
     Likewise, what serves me well at this stage of my life would have been quite wrong, even damaging, for me as a twenty-year old.  From my viticulture book I also learned that growers of grapes know that the vine must not be tied too tightly to the trellis, but just snugly enough so that it is supported and free to flourish.  Like the vines, we too need to be supported but not constricted, held up but not rendered immobile.

-Margaret Guenther,  At Home in the World:  A Rule of Life for the Rest of Us

image via


Each person creates an independent world in his mind and then dwells in his creation.

-Swami Muktananda,  Mystery of the Mind


     Do not underestimate the irritation level of people who are subjected to listening to another person talk on a cell phone.

-Michael Wade,  All I Said Was:  What Every Supervisor, Employee, and Team Should Know to Avoid Insults, Lawsuits, and the Six O'Clock News


We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us. . . . Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself.  You'll rise together.

-James Clear, Atomic Habits:  Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

The 40% Rule................................

    The human body is like a stock car.  We may look different on the outside, but under the hood we all have huge reservoirs of potential and a governor impeding us from reaching our maximum velocity.  In a car, the governor limits the flow of fuel and air so it doesn't burn too hot, which places a ceiling on performance.  It's a hardware issue;  the governor can easily be removed, and if you disable yours, watch your car rocket beyond 130 mph.
     It's a subtler process in the human animal.
     Our governor is buried deep in our minds, intertwined with our very identity.  It knows what and who we love and hate; it's read our whole life story and forms the way we see ourselves and how we'd like to be seen.  It's the software that delivers personalized feedback—in the form of pain and exhaustion, but also fear and insecurity, and it uses all of that to encourage us to stop before we risk it all.  But here's the thing, it doesn't have absolute control.  Unlike the governor in an engine, ours can't stop us unless we buy into its bullshit and agree to quit.
     Sadly, most of us give up when we've only given around 40% of our maximum effort.  Even when we feel like we've reached our absolute limit, we still have 60% more to give!  That's the governor in action!  Once you know that to be true, it's simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and your self-limiting stories, so you can get up to 60%, then 80% and beyond without giving up.  I call this The 40% Rule, and the reason it's so powerful is that if you follow it, it will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than material success.

-David Goggins,  Can't Hurt Me:  Master Your Mind and Defy The Odds

Monday, May 18, 2020

Hot streak..............................


Is "sensible regulation"................

............................really possible, or is it just an oxymoron?
It is not just vaccines. Throughout the economy, with the exception of the digital industry, the West is experiencing an innovation famine. The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s “perennial gale of creative destruction” has been replaced by the gentle breezes of rent-seeking. . . .
Innovation relies upon freedom to experiment and try new things, which requires sensible regulation that is permissive, encouraging and quick to give decisions. By far the surest way to rediscover rapid economic growth when the pandemic is over will be to study the regulatory delays and hurdles that have now been hastily swept aside to help innovators in medical devices and therapies, and to see whether such reforms could be applied to other parts of the economy too.

Opening paragraphs.........

In the summer of 1969, when I was eleven, I bought a stereo system at the local hi-fi shop.  It cost all of the hundred dollars I had earned weeding neighbors' gardens that spring at seventy-five cents an hour.  I spent long afternoons in my room, listening to records:  Cream, the Rolling Stones, Chicago, Simon and Garfunkel, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, George Shearing, and the saxophonist Boots Randolph.  I didn't listed particularly loud, at least not compared to my college days when I actually set my loudspeakers on fire by cranking up the volume too high, but the noise evidently was too much for my parents.  My mother was a novelist;  she wrote every day in the den just down the hall and played the piano for an hour every night before dinner.  My father was a businessman;  he worked eighty-hour weeks, forty of those hours in his office at home on evenings and weekends.  Being the businessman that he was, my father made me a proposition:  He would buy me a pair of headphones if I would promise to use them when he was home.  Those headphones forever changed the way I listened to music.

-Daniel J. Levitin,  This Is Your Brain On Music:  The Science Of A Human Obsession

Lost and found............................

     A black tenant farmer he was, then, in 1967, when I first met him, and a black tenant farmer he still is today.  But time takes its toll, he reminded me recently, as we reminisced together.  I had returned to Alabama in the summer, a whirl of a trip, all too characteristic of my ilk—the busy, self-importance of the Yankee bourgeoisie.  He had no claim to being in a rush; his time was mine, all of it I wanted, and then some.  As for my various obligations, he sure hoped they didn't "overwhelm" me.  I thanked him for his concern, and hastened (in a hurry with words, also!) to let him know I was "alright."  I was referring to my body—letting him know that I wasn't suffering any ill effects, as a consequence of my various speedy trips.  But he had other thoughts in mind, and he was willing to offer them without hesitation:  "You can get going so fast, you lose your way.  Jesus told us:  He said, He's the way, but we figure we're the way, and that's being lost!"

-Robert Coles,  from his 1988 Harvard Diary:  Reflections on the Sacred and the Secular

Sunday, May 17, 2020

On dogma........................

Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion;  it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindness in favour of systematic hatred.  Since argument is not recognized as a means of arriving at truth, adherents of rival dogmas have no method except war by means of which to reach a decision.

-Bertrand Russell, Philosophy And Politics, from his speech delivered in 1946

On taming the dragon................

     You affirm, "I am rich," and your mind contradicts, "You're not."  The conflict that develops confuses the Universal Law, which is about to deliver your heart's desire.  This clash of opposing energies has been the challenge of the would-be initiate since the beginning of time.  It is the hunt for the Grail, or the slaying of the dragon.  It states that no one enters the kingdom of heaven within until he has tamed the dragon of negativity that he inherited from the collective unconscious.

-Stuart Wilde, Miracles

The important question..................

But I learned a lesson that is more valuable than any piece of paper bearing a university seal, and it has served me on the long road back to myself: How did we get here? is not as important as Where do we go from here?

-as culled from this non-Commencement Address

thanks Michael


If Kurt takes a good look at this, he will see one of his books awaiting return.


"If finality makes something holy then every moment is holy, because every moment could be the last. That’s a thought we spend too cheaply. Live each day as if it’s your last, we think, and then we don’t. Everything is holy. It’s only when we die that the holiness is called up. But it was always holy, all along."

-Samantha Harvey, as cut-and-pasted from here

"Like people" rules.....................

1.  Learn to remember names.  Inefficiency at this point may indicate that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
2.  Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you.  Be an old-shoe, old-hat kind of individual.
3.  Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
4.  Don't be egotistical.  Guard against the impression that you know it all.
5.  Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
6.  Study to get the "scratchy" elements out of your personality, even those of which you may be unconscious.
7.  Sincerely attempt to heal, on an honest Christian basis, every misunderstanding you have had or now have.  Drain off your grievances.
8.  Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
9.  Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone's achievement, or express sympathy in sorrow or disappointment.
10.  Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

-Lyndon Baines Johnson, as quoted by David J. Schwartz, in The Magic Of Thinking BIG

Self publishing.............................

     Human character evermore publishes itself.  The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character.   If you act, you show character;  if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it.  You think, because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on secret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom.  Far otherwise;  your silence answers very loud.  You have no oracle to utter, and you fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for oracles speak.  Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice?

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his 1841 essay Spiritual Laws

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Somewhere near the top of my list...................

...............of amazing things is that science tells us there are a billion trillion stars in the observable Universe.  That is a really big number.  What is just ahead of that fact on my list of amazing things is the Universe is mostly empty space.  Obviously this is apropos of nothing, just felt like sharing.

Of course this discussion may remind you of this remarkable scene from Animal House.  If you are in a hurry, skip to the 1:50 mark:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Life in the balance....................

The Taoists revered water because they saw it as a symbol of humility and service.  Water nurtures and sustains all living things, and yet it seeks nothing for itself—it always flows to the lowest place.
     So, be like water, be humble, nurture yourself and others.  And stay at the back, where you are free to slip in and out of life's situations unnoticed and unencumbered.  That is the watercourse way.
     You don't need razzmatazz and glamour.  That only serves to create emotional weight in your life, pumping the ego into a false sense of importance.  Too much hype and attention, and the ego becomes a spoiled brat, and impossible to control.  It will soon drag you away from the Tao, from what is natural and good.  Trash that nonsense before it makes you sick.  You don't need it.  All you need is balance—and the contentment, creativity, love, and comprehension that flows from that.

-Stuart Wilde, Infinite Self:  33 Steps to Reclaiming Your Inner Power

On trade..........................

The philosopher and lover of man have much harm to say of trade; but the historian will see that trade was the principle of Liberty; that trade planted America and destroyed Feudalism;  that it makes peace and keeps peace, and it will abolish slavery.  We complain of its oppression of the poor, and of its building up a new aristocracy on the ruins of the aristocracy it destroyed.  But the aristocracy of trade has no permanence, is not entailed, was the result of toil and talent, the result of merit of some kind, and is continually falling, like the waves of the sea, before new claims of the sort.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his 1844 lecture, The Young American

On plans..........................

It is essential to get lost and jam up your plans every now and then.  It's a source of creativity and perspective.  The danger of maps, capable assistants, and planning is that you may end up living your life as planned.  If you do, your potential cannot possibly exceed your expectations.

-Scott Belsky, as lifted from here

A brief word about risk....................

Life is inherently risky.  There is only one risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.  Get out there and make something happen, even if it's just a small step in the right direction.

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

Monday, May 4, 2020

If you are ever tempted............... think that 2020 has been an especially crazy year, you may have not paid enough attention to human history.   For example, fifty years ago the Ohio National Guard was called out to quell student disturbances at Kent State University.  It was a bad time.

Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of the student Jeffrey Miller, who was killed by Ohio National Guard troops during an antiwar demonstration at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.
Credit...John Paul Filo/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

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

Neil Young, with help from Crosby, Stills, & Nash...............Ohio

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Doesn't seem like much has changed.....

Human  reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to consider questions, which it cannot decline, as they are presented by its own nature, but which it cannot answer, as they transcend every faculty of the mind.
     It falls into this difficulty without any fault of its own.  It begins with principles, which cannot be dispensed with in the field of experience, and the truth and sufficiency of which are, at the same time, insured by experience.  With these principles it rises, in obedience to the laws of its own nature, to ever higher and more remote conditions.  But it quickly discovers that, in this way, its labors must remain ever incomplete, because new questions never cease to present themselves; and thus it finds itself compelled to have recourse to principles which transcend the region of experience, while they are regarded by common sense without distrust.  It thus falls into endless confusion and contradictions, from which it conjectures the presence of latent errors, which, however, it is unable to discover, because the principles it employs, transcending the limits of experience, cannot be tested by that criterion. 

-Immanuel Kant, from the Introduction to his 1781 first edition of Critique Of Pure Reason

Catching up with Chesterton............

...................................and his fence:

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

-Gilbert Keith Chesterton, The Thing, circa 1929, from the chapter The Drift From Domesticity, which may be read in its entirety here

Catching up with Frost..............

...................................................and his wall:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

-Robert Frost, Mending Wall, circa 1914

The Sphinx and her riddle.............

     This human mind wrote history, and this must read it.  The Sphinx must solve her own riddle.  If the whole of history is in one man, it is all to be explained by individual experience.  There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time.  As the air I breathe is drawn from the great repositories of nature, as the light on my book is yielded by a star a hundred millions of miles distant, as the poise of my body depends on the equilibrium of centrifugal and centripetal forces, so the hours should be instructed by the ages, and the ages explained by the hours.  Of the universal mind each individual is one more incarnation.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay History

An anniversary..........................

......................................................................worth celebrating!


Friday, May 1, 2020

Looking for salvation in all the wrong places....

Democratic institutions today, including government, are a legacy of the industrial age, when it was believed that “science” and “rationality” in the hands of “experts” could cure the human condition, if enough power was applied.  Salvation came from the top down, as if by divine grace.  Presidents were expected to speak with Olympian authority.  Every crisis was a “problem” to be solved, almost mathematically, by specialists deciphering the data.
The credibility of this model of organizing society has been destroyed by the digital age.  There’s just too much information available.  We know every falsehood, error, and failure of judgment that presidents and governments are responsible for.  The public was promised salvation but is now condemned to elect persons with few divine attributes.  So it is angry.  The public was angry long before the pandemic.
-from this post by the ever-wise Martin Gurri

Interesting paragraphs.........................

     Lucas shook his head;  he disagreed.  The disagreement was fundamental, and generally divided cops everywhere.  Some believed in underlying social order, in which messages got relayed and people kept an eye out, and bosses reigned and buttonmen were ready to take orders, and a network connected them.  And some cops believed in social chaos, in which most events occurred through accident, coincidence, stupidity, cupidity, and luck, both good and bad.  Lucas fell into the chaos camp, while Mallard and Malone believed in the underlying order.

-John Sandford, Mortal Prey

Us history majors already knew this..................

But remember what Daniel Kahneman says. “The correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising.” . . .

Studying history can feel like intellectual candy that offers no practical use to investors who are paid to foresee the future. But once you accept how fragile our assumptions of the future are, you realize that forecasts are the real fluff and history is where the meat is.
-Morgan Housel, from this post

Check in with Kevin Kelly................

• Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists. To be an optimist you don’t have to ignore all the many problems we create; you just have to imagine improving our capacity to solve problems.

Kevin Kelly, from this instructive list of 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice

thanks Chris

Thursday, April 30, 2020

unreal strength........................

     What is normally considered to be power is not real power at all.  Chasing money, glamour, sex; wanting control over others—political and military power—are all manifestations of the ego.  They're often glorified forms of showing off;  they dwell in the currency of the ego, and they often appeal only to other egos, so they're subject to people's whims.  A person can be rich and successful and still be very weak.  Money doesn't give you real strength;  it just keeps you comfortable while you experience your dysfunction.  The world of the ego is brittle, fragile, and insecure;  it never feels really safe, and it has no lasting worth.  The ego's world dies.  More often than not, it self-destructs.

-Stuart Wilde,  Silent Power

cartoon via

Some pretty good questions................

     What about the grocery boy, the newspaper vendor, the chap at the corner who polishes your shoes?  These people are human—bursting with troubles, and dreams, and private ambitions.  They are also bursting with the chance to share them with someone.  But do you ever let them?  Do you ever show an eager, honest interest in them or their lives?  That's the sort of thing I mean.  You don't have to become a Florence Nightingale or a social reformer to help improve the world—your own private world; you can start tomorrow morning with the people you meet!
     What's in it for you?  Much greater happiness!  Greater satisfaction, and pride in yourself!  Aristotle called this kind of attitude "enlightened selfishness."  Zoroaster said, "Doing good to others is not a duty.  It is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness."  And Benjamin Franklin summed it up very simply—"When you are good to others," said Franklin, "you are best to yourself."

-Dale Carnegie, from my father's autographed 1948 edition of the book, How To Stop Worrying And Start Living


The philosopher Decartes believed that he had found the most fundamental truth when he made his famous statement: "I think, therefore I am."  He had, in fact, given expression to the most basic error:  to equate thinking with Being and identity with thinking.  The compulsive thinker, which means almost everyone, lives in a state of apparent separateness, in an insanely complex world of continuous problems and conflict, a world that reflects the ever-increasing fragmentation of the mind.  Enlightenment is a state of wholeness, of being "at one" and therefore at peace.  At one with life in its manifested aspect, the world, as well as with your deepest self and life unmanifested—at one with Being.  Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and continuous conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking.  What an incredible liberation this is!

-Eckhart Tolle,  The Power Of Now:  A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Opening paragraphs.........................

Such is the universal desire for fame that those who achieve it accidentally or unwillingly will wait in vain for pity.

-Robert Galbraith, Lethal White:  A Cormoran Strike Novel

Not terrible music to wake up to.............

The Beatles..........................................................Number One Hits

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Checking in with Emerson............

“O, see how the masses of men worry themselves into nameless graves, while here and there, some great unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality.”

Has a man gained any thing who has received a hundred favors and rendered none? . . . He is great who confers the most benefits.

There is no penalty for virtue; no penalty to wisdom;  they are proper additions of being.  In a virtuous action, I properly am; in a virtuous act, I add to the world;  I plant into deserts conquered from Chaos and Nothing, and see the darkness receding on the limits of the horizon.  There can be no excess to love; none to knowledge; none to beauty, when these attributes are considered in the purest sense.  The soul refuses limits, and always affirms an Optimism, never a Pessimism.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The first quote is widely attributed to Emerson, but the Oracle Google refused to tell me the original source.  The second two quotes come from his essay, Compensation

Monday, April 27, 2020

The secret.........................

"The secret . . . is in the awareness that when we seek to give instead of to get, all of our own needs are automatically fulfilled."

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

perfection has not yet been attained.......

     Such a system did not arise fully formed after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.  Contrary to the orthodoxy of today's mullahs of market fundamentalism, a vigorous culture of stock investing requires strong government-run institutions to ensure that shareholders are not damaged by "information asymmetry"—that is, they are not cheated by the company's managers.  The recent accounting scandals vividly demonstrate that even after four centuries of active joint-stock operations, perfection has not yet been attained.  Both shareholders and government must vigorously police business.

-William J. Bernstein, The Birth of Plenty:  How The Prosperity Of The Modern World Was Created


Contemporary events differ from history in that we do not know the results they will produce.  Looking back, we can assess the significance of past occurrences and trace the consequences that have brought in their train.  But while history runs its course, it is not history to us.  It leads us into unknown land, and but rarely can we get a glimpse of what lies ahead.  It would be different if it were given to us to live a second time through the same events with all the knowledge of what we have seen before.  How different would things appear to us; how important and often alarming would changes seem that we now scarcely notice!  It is probably fortunate that man can never have this experience and knows of no laws which history must obey.
     Yet, although history never quite repeats itself, and just because no no development is inevitable, we can in a measure learn from the past to avoid a repetition of the same process.  One need not be a prophet to be aware of impending dangers.  An accidental combination of experience and interest will often reveal events to one man under aspects which few yet see.

-F. A. Hayek, from the Introduction to The Road To Serfdom

raison d'etre..........................

"As the flower obtains life and aromatic scent from earth, so the soul extracts wisdom and strength from weakness and errors of matter."

-Kahlil Gibran, as extracted from Thoughts And Meditations

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

The Beach Boys..........................Add Some Music To Your Day

The sunday mornin' gospel goes good with the soul
There's blues, folk, and country, and rock like a rollin' stone
The world could come together as one
If everybody under the sun
Add some music to your day
(Add some music add some add some music to your day)
A bob didit a bop didit

You'll hear it while you're walkin' by a neighbor's home
You'll hear it faintly in the distance when you're on the phone
You're sittin' in a dentist's chair
And they've got music for you there
To add some music
(Add some music add some add some music to your)
To your day
A bob didit a bop didit

Add some music music everywhere (add some music)
Add some add some add some add some music (add some music)
Your doctor knows it keeps you calm
Your preacher adds it to his psalms
So add some music
(Add some music add some add some music to your)
To your day

(Add some music add some music)
When you're alone
(Add some music add some music)
Is like a companion
(Add some music add some music)
For your lonely soul
Oo oo oo woo oo woo oo oo oo oooo

When day is over (when day is over)
I close my tired eyes (I close my tired)
Music is in my soul

At a movie you can feel it touching your heart
And on every day of the summertime
You'll hear children chasing ice cream carts
They'll play it on your wedding day
There must be 'bout a million ways
To add some music
(Add some music add some add some music to your)
To your day

Add some music to your day
Add some music to your day
Add some music to your day
Add some music to your day
Add some music to your day