Saturday, February 1, 2020

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

Santana........................................................Black Magic Woman


In all of American life, there is a bias towards the happy ending, toward the notion that human resilience and intellect will be a match for any problem.  This holds especially true for problem of white supremacy.  For white people who have not quite taken on the full load of ancestral debt but can sense its weight, there is a longing for some magic that might make the burden of slavery and all that followed magically vanish.  For blacks born under the burden, there is a need to believe that a better day is on the horizon, that their lives, their children's lives, and their grandchildren's lives are not forever condemned to carry that weight, which white people can only but sense.  I felt this need whenever I spoke to audiences about my writing since, invariably, I would be asked what I could say that would give the audience hope.  I never knew how to answer the question.  The writers I loved, whom I sought to emulate, were mostly unconcerned with "hope."  But moreover—what if there was no hope at all?  Sometimes, I said as much and was often met with a kind of polite and stunned disappointment.

-Ta-Nehisi Coates,  We Were Eight Years In Power:  An American Tragedy

Rewards and risks...............

History shows that the way innovators make ideas into practical and affordable products or processes is trial and error. Edison understood that, as does Jeff Bezos, who made plenty of mistakes on his way to huge success. Says Bezos: ‘Our success at Amazon is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week.’ Among Silicon Valley’s best features is a forgiveness of going bust at least once. Capital there is patient and takes risks.

-Matt Ridley. as culled from this essay on unleashing trial and error, serendipity, speed, and innovation


....................................................and it's only 100 Words.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Highly recommended..................

nothing more healing...................

     Step off the superhighway of modern life and go quietly onto your own track.  Go to a new trail where you can hear the whisper of your wild self in the echoes of the forest.  Find the trail of something wild and dangerous and worthy of your fear and joy and focus.  Live deeply on you own inner guidance.
      There is nothing more healing than finding your gifts and sharing them.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life

a kind of energy.........................

     I'm terribly thirsty now and wish that I could go and dip my face in the river, but I am conscious of not wanting to seem weak.  As I look at Alex and Renias, it appears that in six hours of walking, of intense focus and vigilance, and with no food or water, they have not broken a sweat.  It is a kind of energy I have witnessed in people who have merged "work," "mission," and "meaning."  These people don't take holidays or need days off.  They outwork everyone not from some kind of gritty determination, but from a place of pure pleasure.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life


All around us, nature quietly teaches of abundance.

-Boyd Varty


“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

-Joseph Campbell

Live it into reality..........................

For thousands of years, to be outside the dominant cultural story spelled death.  To be outside the band of hunter-gatherers meant you had been shunned by the village.  Deep inside, we want to belong.  This remains true today, but maybe for the first time in human history, modern society—the dominant culture—has become the thing that isolates us.  If you could track your way out of the burdens of modern life and create and existence that is much more an expression of who you are, then your own life could become a living mythology.  One that could inspire others.
     Inside of me I hear the wild self whisper, Live it into reality.

-Boyd Varty, The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life

a far horizon..................................

     To the east, the land runs for hundreds of miles of pure uncharted wilderness.
     Looking out toward it from the high ground, I feel the space enter me and expand me in some fundamental way.  The scope of the horizon liberates my imagination.  Staring daily at screens, we have lost what a far horizon does to the spirit.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life

image via

a human community.....................

Out here, surrounded by trees and the presence of wild beasts, we are a human community of three.  Individuals made more by our trinity.  People help each other grow through shared endeavor.  I am traveling miles beyond where I could go alone.  Alex has goon beyond where he could go, and Renias has had his life opened because of us.  True giving gives in every direction.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What's the worst that could happen.......?


individually infinitesimal...........

Hayek’s great lesson is that each of us, individually, can know only an infinitesimally small amount of the knowledge the full use of which is required for any great and prosperous civilization to exist – but that, when we engage with each other under the laws of private property, contract, and tort (what Hayek called “the rules of just conduct”), each of us is led by this engagement to combine his or her speck of knowledge with the specks of knowledge of countless others in a way that causes this use of these dispersed bits of knowledge to produce and sustain a great and prosperous civilization.
Hayek’s great counsel is that we never forget how individually ignorant each of us inevitably is, or how unfathomably great is the amount of knowledge daily put to productive use in free, market-oriented societies.
-Don Boudreaux, from this post


.......................................................................on luck.

. . . luck over time is a symptom of productive contributions. 

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

Neil Young.................................................................Tell Me Why

Sailing heart-ships
thru broken harbors
Out on the waves in the night
Still the searcher
must ride the dark horse
Racing alone in his fright.
Tell me why, tell me why

Is it hard to make
arrangements with yourself,
When you're old enough to repay
but young enough to sell?

Tell me lies later,
come and see me
I'll be around for a while.
I am lonely but you can free me
All in the way that you smile
Tell me why, tell me why

Is it hard to make
arrangements with yourself,
When you're old enough to repay
but young enough to sell?

Tell me why, tell me why
Tell me why, tell me why

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

One trillion stars.............

.......................................................232 million light-years away. 

Explanation: In this Hubble Space Telescope image the bright, spiky stars lie in the foreground toward the heroic northern constellation Perseus and well within our own Milky Way galaxy. In sharp focus beyond is UGC 2885, a giant spiral galaxy about 232 million light-years distant. Some 800,000 light-years across compared to the Milky Way's diameter of 100,000 light-years or so, it has around 1 trillion stars. That's about 10 times as many stars as the Milky Way. Part of a current investigation to understand how galaxies can grow to such enormous sizes, UGC 2885 was also part of astronomer Vera Rubin's pioneering study of the rotation of spiral galaxies. Her work was the first to convincingly demonstrate the dominating presence of dark matter in our universe.


We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice, or kindness in general.  Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique.

-John Dewey

The Intertunnel is an interesting place.  There are several places that attribute this quote to Benjamin Jowett.  Regardless, it's a good quote.

for no reason at all.....................

You want to live with a spring in your step, a smile on your face.  Why not make cheerfulness, outrageousness, playfulness a new priority for yourself?  Make feeling good your expectation.  You don't have to have a reason to feel good—you're alive; you can feel good for no reason at all!

- Anthony Robbins,  Awaken The Giant Within

On persuasion..................

A rhetorician of times past said that his trade was to make little things appear and be thought great.  That's s shoemaker who can make big shoes for a small foot.  They would have had him whipped in Sparta for professing a deceitful and lying art.  And I believe Archidamus, who was king of Sparta, did not hear without astonishment the answer of Thucydides when he asked him who was better in wrestling, Pericles or he:  "That," he said, "would be hard to establish; for when I have thrown him in wrestling, he persuades those who saw it happen that he did not fall, and he wins the prize."

-Michel De Montaigne, from his essay Of the vanity of words 

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

Grateful Dead.........................................................Casey Jones


lightness about being.................

     This brings us to the main result of our inquiry.  Sartre seems mistaken about human nature.  He puts freedom before flow.  The surfer suggests that flow comes first.  Flow is a matter of attunement to what lies beyond the self, and it is through attunement that we find full freedom and contented peace.
      Angst is not our natural state but socially induced, by a cultural requirement such as the Protestant work ethic.  For Sartre, out anxious culture simple reflects our anxious selves.  Our need to be seen, loved, validated, and Instagram "liked";  our ceaseless preoccupation with self-presentation in social media postings, fashion choices, and displays of wealth, of sex appeal, of intellectual plaudits, or of taste—these are mainly public expressions of our "being-for-others" that anyway would haunt our private thoughts.  We each hope to recognize ourselves in the gaze of others but find ourselves in fraught, even hellish, conflict, always denied mutual recognition and lasting peace.  For the surfer, our natures and our social dynamics are less fixed.  Our attunement to others or to our natural environment can certainly be spoiled in a confused culture.  But it can equally be eased and drawn forth in cooperative practice.  Our driven, time-is-money work culture is a disability for living.  But we can lessen the demands of work, in a shorter workweek, and our anxieties can be reduced.  The surfer's lightness about being could be for all of us.

-Aaron James,  Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry Into A Life Of Meaning

Balancing act...................

     The idea of balance is exactly that—an idea.  In philosophy "the golden mean" is the moderate middle between two polar extremes, a concept used to describe a place between two positions that is more desirable than one state or the other.  This is a grand idea, but not a very practical one.  Idealistic, but not realistic.  Balance doesn't exist.

     This is tough to conceive, much less believe, mainly because one of the most frequent laments is "I need more balance,"  a common mantra fro what's missing in most lives.  We hear about balance so much we automatically assume it's exactly what we should be seeking.  It's not.  Purpose, meaning, significance—these are what make a successful life.  Seek them and you will most certainly live your life out of balance, criss-crossing an invisible middle line as you pursue your priorities.  The act of living a full life by giving time to what matters is a balancing act.  Extraordinary results require focused attention and time.  Time on one thing means time away from another.  This makes balance impossible.

-Gary Keller,  The One Thing:  The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Monday, January 27, 2020

Track awareness.................

     When I was a boy, Renias would take me to a game path, the open trail created by animals as they traveled from clearing to water.
     "Walk down it and tell me what you see," he would instruct.
     I would walk down the trail and see the tracks of a herd of impala and then the massive four-toed foot of a hippo.
     "Hippo and impala," I would report.
     "Famba uya languta futhi."  Go look again.
     The next time, I would notice under the hippo track a washed-out genet track, where a squirrel had bounded towards a tree, and where a hornbill had dust-bathed.
     "Now walk and listen," Renias would say.  Then, "Walk, listen, and smell."
     Each time, there would be more information.  It was like I was an instrument tuning myself to the information around me.  Later in my life, I would come to realize that becoming aware of such information and the feelings it evokes—the people who are important to you, the things that bring you to life, the arrival of something meaningful—is its own kind of consciousness:  track awareness.  You can easily miss this information if you don't know how to see.  Track awareness is how attuned you are to what is around you.  It is recognizing a track when it appears.  It is teaching yourself how to see what is important to you.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide To Life


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 care for one another
and for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth.

-Wendell Berry, being the fourth stanza of The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union

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

George Harrison.............................................................Wah Wah


If you add up the time you spend where it's none of your business, or none of your concern, or that you cannot affect the outcome (news, TV reruns, and other crap) you could have been the greatest salesperson in the world or a syndicated columnist, or an author.  But no, you'd rather piss your time down the drain thinking that you're some kind of savior to mankind when in fact, it's just the opposite.  Save your own ass first. . . .
In 1972, when the twins were born, I was in a rotten marriage, I was broke, and I was studying positive attitude daily.  I first read the phrase resign your position as general manager of the universe.  I have searched back and cannot find its origin.  I wish I could.  I wish I could tell you that I created this phrase, but I can't.  What I can tell you is that I have used this philosophy as one of the building blocks of my success.  The reason I have saved it for last is because it is the least evident and the most difficult.

-Jeffrey Gitomer,  The Little Red Book Of Selling


     In surfing and in life, it's true that one can't have a "too willful will," as the Zen master says.  One won't be very well attuned to things beyond oneself without paying careful attention to them, and it is difficult to pay close attention to other things if one is preoccupied with oneself.  Perhaps one need only withdraw certain "attachments" consistent with one's aim of hitting the target, such as an attachment to performing well, or to winning, or to pleasing one's parents or oneself.  But Zen seems to require more, and indeed nothing less than "withdrawing from all attachments whatsoever, by becoming utterly egoless: so that the soul, sunk within itself, stands in the plentitude of its namely origin."
     Surfing simply can't be so exactingly ego-free.  No aquatic movement is so fixed to permit falling into a fully passive state;  there's no time for not actively adapting.  If you had to find a trance state or wakeful dream sleep, and the wave's next movement was coming quickly, you'd eat it, or quickly become out of sync.  The bodily dynamism and moment by moment demands on one's attention naturally draw one's consciousness out into the waves, away from oneself.  But this ego transcendence serves the surfer's active purposes, of being adaptively attuned.  If that isn't Zen, it's a blessedly easy way of being while doing.

-Aaron James: Surfing With Sartre:  An Aquatic Inquiry Into A Life Of Meaning

examining the wallpaper of life........

      We pass a herd of elephants feeding on the combretum veld.  "They like to feed now.  Do you know why?"  Ren turns to ask me.
      Before I can answer, he continues, "I think it's because the branches have dew on them and so they like how juicy it is.  That's what I think."
      It's a question I have never even thought to ask, and it contains an insight into a weakness of mine:  I tend to just accept what I see.  Ren always looks closer, he always asks why.  He has gift for examining the wallpaper of life.
      The art of the way of the tracker is the way he can look at something he has seen a thousand times and always see something new.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life


     As modern society reduced the role of community, it simultaneously elevated the role of authority.  The two are uneasy companions, as one goes up, the other tends to go down.

-Sebastian Junger,  Tribe:  On Homecoming and Belonging


The findings are in keeping with something called self-determination theory, which holds that human beings need three basic things in order to be content:  they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others.  These values are considered "intrinsic" to human happiness and far outweigh "extrinsic" values such as beauty, money, and status.

-Sebastian Junger,  Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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

George Harrison..........................................................What Is Life

Wanting to............................

In America, many men in the groups I have facilitated have told me that they feel like they are sleepwalking through their lives.  Going through the same routines, falling asleep into social media or the news.  They are experiencing a kind of disengagement that makes them feel older than they are.  I suspect that part of being a man is that you will of course fall asleep in your own life.  It will happen.  Knowing this seems important to me.
     The journey out of that will not begin with the call but the desire to hear the call.  The desire itself has an energy.  Part of waking yourself, it seems to me, is made by paying attention.  Most of us are looking but not seeing.  The same men who had told me about falling asleep in their lives reported amazing things when they turned their attention back on and started to tune in and listen for a path back to life.  The ancients call this essential knowledge.
     As trackers our part is to be awake.  Our part is to listen.  We want to hear the call.
     Tracking begins with wanting to track.

-Boyd Varty,  The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life

On achieving financial independence....

Morgan Housel tells a story.   Two wee excerpts:

To generalize only a little: In the 1950s camping was an acceptable vacation. Hand-me-downs were acceptable clothes. A 983 square foot house was an acceptable size. Kids sharing a room was an acceptable arrangement. A tire swing was acceptable entertainment. Few of those things are acceptable baselines for most households today. The average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants.
Everything has a priceand prices aren’t always clear. The price of exercise isn’t just the workout; it’s avoiding the post-workout appetite. Same in finance. The price of building wealth isn’t just the trouble of earning money; it’s avoiding the post-earnings urge to spend what you’ve accumulated.

Given that it's only January 26th......

..............this likely will not end well:

The Focusing Question............

You know about habits.  They can be hard to break—and hard to create.  But we are unknowingly acquiring new ones all the time.  When we start and continue a way of thinking or a way of action over a long enough period, we've created a new habit.  The choice we face is whether or not we want to form habits that get us what we want from life.  If we do, the the Focusing Question is the most powerful success habit we can have.  
     For me, the Focusing Question is a way of life.  I use it to find my most leveraged priority, make the most out of my time, and get the biggest bang for my buck.  Whenever the outcome absolutely matters, I ask it.  I ask it when I wake up and start my day.  I ask it when I get to work, and again when I get home.  What's the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

-Gary Keller, The One Thing:  The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Beer me.........................

Checking in with a polymath............

The American Interest talks with Tyler Cowen.   Some excerpts:

And then you look around and you ask, “Well, which are the societies that deliver sustained economic growth the best?” And it turns out they are, for the most part, liberal capitalist democracies. So I think one should be pragmatic. But it’s clear to me what the better winning systems are and I’m all for them.
And I feel I’ve always been consistent on this point, but people have swung around wildly—first for unions, then against them, now for them again, and they’re just not looking at the facts. I would just say, “Look at the research, there are some benefits, but don’t go crazy telling yourself this is going to be the next difference-maker.”
I think addiction is an underrated issue. It’s stressed in Homer’s Odyssey and in Plato, it’s one of the classic problems of public order—yet we’ve been treating it like some little tiny annoyance, when in fact it’s a central problem for the liberal order.
of people who decide voluntarily not to be that ambitious. And they will stay somewhere between middle and lower-middle class, and actually do fine and often be quite happy. They just won’t climb the ladders of success. There are different ways one can evaluate that normatively, but to call it an underclass, I think, is misleading.  Ambition is distributed in a funny way and not everyone is going to have it. And the people who don’t have it… There’s not some future where they’re paid like $300,000 a year, but even so, they’ll do fine. They’ll have a higher per capita income than, say, Belgium today. Is Belgium just a big underclass? I wouldn’t say that.
. . . it seems to me that discussions about what is behind the rise of Trump are some of the worst areas for truthful, accurate commentary in the whole world right now. I would hardly believe any of it. I want to see serious work with data put up against alternative hypotheses. You should just dismiss most of what you read on that topic. It’s probably junk.

a tongue set free from fashionable lies....

Let me be plain with you, dear reader.
I am an old-fashioned man. I like
the world of nature despite its mortal
dangers. I like the domestic world
of humans, so long as it pays its debts
to the natural world, and keeps its bounds.
I like the promise of Heaven. My purpose
is a language that can repay just thanks
and honor for those gifts, a tongue
set free from fashionable lies.

Neither this world nor any of its places
is an "environment." And a house
for sale is not a "home." Economics
is not "science," nor "information" knowledge.
A knave with a degree is a knave. A fool
in a public office is not a "leader."
A rich thief is a thief. And the ghost
of Arthur Moore, who taught me Chaucer,
returns in the night to say again:
"Let me tell you something, boy.
An intellectual whore is a whore."

The world is babbled to pieces after
the divorce of things from their names.
Ceaseless preparation for war
is not peace. Health is not procured
by sale of medication, or purity
by the addition of poison. Science
at the bidding of the corporations
is knowledge reduced to merchandise;
it is a whoredom of the mind,
and so is the art that calls this "progress."
So is the cowardice that calls it "inevitable."

I think the issues of "identity" mostly
are poppycock. We are what we have done,
which includes our promises, includes
our hopes, but promises first. I know
a "fetus" is a human child.
I loved my children from the time
they were conceived, having loved
their mother, who loved them
from the time they were conceived
and before. Who are we to say
the world did not begin in love?

-Wendell Berry, being the first three stanzas from Some Further Words

Fun with science and statistics............

No one can ever be wrong using statistics. Pick a common food and studies can show it helps and harms you.

enlargeable graph and back story is here.