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


    The year 1900 ushered in a new century as well as an entirely new life for Bucky.  Late in 1899, his nearsightedness was diagnosed, and eyeglasses were prescribed.  Following that momentous transformation, the five-year-old was able to view a new world beyond his wildest dreams.  Prior to receiving glasses, Bucky had believed everyone was confined to the same blurred environment he experience.  So when his sister Leslie described the world as she saw it, he thought he was listening to the output of a fanciful imagination.  With his newly discovered, normal vision Bucky embarked on a journey of outward exploration, questioning, and experimental learning which would continue throughout his life. . . .
     In typical Fuller fashion, he turned his apparent visual problem into a benefit over the years.  Rather than regarding his myopia as a handicap, Bucky considered himself fortunate to be able to remove his glasses at times and consciously shift his attention inward, using his imagination and intuition, rather than his sight for guidance.  At those times, he could effortlessly recall the inner, imaginative environment he had lived within and explored prior to receiving glasses, and that "in-sight" provided him with many of his extraordinary ideas.

-Lloyd Steven Sieden, Buckminster Fuller's Universe:  His Life And Work

Some harsh truths........................

.................................that make us stronger:

2.  You will fail sometimes.
The faster you accept this, the faster you can get on with moving forward.  So don't let failure get to your heart (or success to your head).  Do your best and let your consistent daily actions speak for themselves over the long term.

5.  There's a lot you can't control.
You don't have to control everything to find peace and happiness.  It lives with you always, deep within.  See what happens when you loosen your grip, throw your hands into the air, and allow life to just happen and flow.

7.  You can't be successful without providing value.
Don't waste your time trying to be successful.  Spend your time adding value to the world around you.

13.  In life, you get what you put in.
If you want love, give love.  If you want friends, be one.  If you want money, provide value.

-Marc & Angel Chernoff, from their list of 16 "harsh truths" in 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently

Sunday, April 26, 2020

in no way "natural".................

For over a thousand years, Western man's approach to understanding the natural world could be summed up by two words:  Don't try.  This faulty, self-contained, self-satisfied system brooked no serious dissent, as Bruno and Galileo discovered.  The Aristotelian cosmos certainly did not stimulate inquiry.  Nor did it allow creative thought or real advance in our knowledge of the world, nor, ultimately, real improvement in the lot of the average human being.  The great medieval historian Johan Huizinga wrote, "The idea of a purposed and continual reform and improvement of society did not exist.  Institutions in general are considered as good or as bad as they can be; having been ordained by God, they are intrinsically good, only the sins of men pervert them. . . ."
     It did not much bother the average sixteenth-century European that no real social, intellectual, or scientific advance had occurred for a thousand years;  the human condition was universally assumed to be staticBacon's staggering genius lay in realizing three thing:  1) that there actually was a problem, that the state of medieval man was in no way "natural";  2) that the deductive system was at fault; and 3) that knowledge of the natural world could be continuously improved, and with it the welfare of mankind.  Improving the lot of mankind could necessitate replacing the old Aristotelian framework with an "inductive" system in which facts would first be gathered without preconception, then analyzed.

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

The prelude....................

In the Spring of 1918 death was no stranger to the world.  Indeed, by then the bodies of more than five million soldiers had already been fed into what was called "the sausage factory" by generals whose stupidity was matched only by their brutality.
     German generals, for example, had decided to bleed France into submission by matching it death for death at Verdun, believing that Germany's greater population would leave it victorious.  The French later replied with their own massive offensive, believing that their elan vital would triumph.
     Only slaughter triumphed.  Finally one French regiment refused orders to make a suicidal charge.  The mutiny spread to fifty-four divisions, stopped only by mass arrests, the conviction of twenty-three thousand men for mutiny, with four hundred sentenced to death and fifty-four actually executed.
      Yet nothing expressed the brutality of this war as did a sanitation report on the planned eradication of rats in the trenches to prevent the spread of disease.  A major noted, "Certain unexpected problems are involved in the rat problem. . . . The rat serves on useful function—he consumes the corpses on No Man's Land, a job which the rat alone is willing to undertake.  For this reason it has been found desirable to control rather than eliminate the rat population."

-John M. Barry, The Great Influenza:  The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

a restless animal..........................

     The ideal of static perfection, which Plato derived from Parmenides and embodied in his theory of ideas, is one which is now generally recognised as inapplicable to human affairs.  Man is a restless animal, not content, like the boa constrictor, to have a good meal once a month and sleep the rest of the time.  Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.

-Bertrand Russell,  Philosophy And Politics

a daunting task............................

The value of natural project planning is that it provides an integrated, flexible, aligned way to think through any situation.  Whereas, the basic five-step process of capturing, clarifying, organizing, reflecting, and engaging is a coherent way to achieve stability across the whole spectrum of your life, natural planning produces relaxed, focused control in more specific areas.
     Challenging the purpose of anything you may be doing is healthy and mature.  Being comfortable making up visions of success, before the methods are clear,  is a phenomenal trait to strengthen.  Being willing to have ideas, good or bad, and to express and capture all of them without judgment is critical for fully accessing creative intelligence.  Honing multiple ideas and types of information into components, sequences, and priorities aimed toward a specific outcome is a necessary mental discipline.  And deciding on and taking real next actions—actually moving one something in the physical world—is the essence of productivity.
     Being able to bring all these ingredients together, with appropriate timing and balance, is perhaps the major component of competence for this new millennium.  But it's not yet the norm of much professional and personal behavior; far from it,  It's still a daunting task to apply this awareness to all the aspects of one's life.  The natural planning model is natural, but in many cases it is not automatic.

-David Allen, Getting Things Done:  the art of stress-free productivity


"It's not what you know, it's what you do consistently."

-Tim Ferriss

Life its ownself.........................

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

Pat Metheny..........................................................Secret Story

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

Hal Parker was resolutely closing in on his prey, and he felt his blood pressure amp up with every firm step he placed into the dirt.  He could tell he was nearing his target by the frequency and volume of blood that had fallen onto the darkened ground, like dulled rubies scattered in the rich soil.  He had obviously wounded rather than killed his quarry.

-David Baldacci,  Walk The Wire

The long run...........................

"My goal is not to fail fast.  My goal is to succeed over the long run.  They are not the same thing."

-Marc Andreessen