Friday, April 15, 2022
Yes I've got something on my mind
But words come hard
When your lying in my arms
And when I'm looking deep into your eyes
But there's truth and consolation
And what I'm trying to say
Is that nobody ever had a rainbow baby
Until he had the rain
...............Income taxes aren't due until Monday the 18th! Why you ask? The answer is simple. The deadline to file federal taxes is on Monday, April 18, this year because the Internal Revenue Service’s District of Columbia offices will be closed on Friday, April 15, in observance of the locally recognized Emancipation Day. The D.C. public holiday technically falls on Saturday, April 16, but is observed by the government on the closest weekday when it falls on a weekend.
|first dandelions of the year|
|Good showing by the PJMs this year|
|Our favorite magnolia tree suffered from a late freeze last year. |
We are hopeful for this year.
|Most of the neighbors are friendly|
|Peonies are getting ready|
|It has been a good daffodil year|
|Note the pollenator|
Life is like a play: it's not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters.
If you live in harmony with nature you will never be poor; if you live according what others think, you will never be rich.
People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.
Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.
Everyone prefers belief to the exercise of judgement.
What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.
True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
Thursday, April 14, 2022
.......................with Tim Harford. Some snippets from The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics:
Much of what we think of as cultural differences turn out to be differences in income.
It’s a rather beautiful discovery: in a world where so many people seem to hold extreme views with strident certainty, you can deflate somebody’s overconfidence and moderate their politics simply by asking them to explain the details. Next time you’re in a politically heated argument, try asking your interlocutor not to justify herself, but simply to explain the policy in question.
A hammer looks like a useful tool to a carpenter; the nail has a different impression altogether.
Ten rules of thumb are still a lot for anyone to remember, so perhaps I should try to make things simpler. I realize that these suggestions have a common thread—a golden rule, if you like. Be curious.
So the problem is not the algorithms, or the big datasets. The problem is a lack of scrutiny, transparency, and debate.
But we can and should remember to ask who or what might be missing from the data we’re being told about.
trust is easy to throw away and hard to regain.
Neuroscientific studies suggest that the brain responds in much the same anxious way to facts that threaten our preconceptions as it does to wild animals that threaten our lives.
I worry about a world in which many people will believe anything, but I worry far more about one in which people believe nothing beyond their own preconceptions.
Not asking what a statistic actually means is a failure of empathy, too.
The good stories are everywhere. They are not made memorable by their rarity; they are made forgettable by their ubiquity.
It is impossible to be one's own pope. For some, the moral life becomes an endless, solipistic quest to figure out "what my true self stands for." Many feel they have to reinvent the moral wheel daily, which is the height of arrogance, not to mention utterly exhausting. Still others externalize all of the conscience's furies, directing them against the faults of others or those of social and political systems. Worse, too many simply learn to tune out the conscience's voice, now lowered to a murmur for lack of authoritative supports.
The think-for-yourself culture celebrates all of these groups for their "free minds." Yet we know that most people sway, feather-like, to the prevailing winds of news and social media, fashion and fadism, public and "expert" opinion, P.R. and propaganda. Large corporations, especially, what nothing more than for our minds to be independent—that is, unmoored from absolute, unbendable moral authorities that might challenge corporate agendas. And how much the better for the powers that be if pliant consumers and docile workers fancy themselves rebels and radicals.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
The ethos, whatever its general benefits was not one that the newly arrived Oscar Wilde found immediately congenital. At nine he was almost a full year younger than the designated entrance age. And there was little in his character that suited him to the rough-and-tumble of boarding school life. Slight, imaginative, independent, and dreamy, he drifted to the edge of things. He made no firm friends. Games—the great motor of schoolboy existence—held no interest for him ("I never like to kick or be kicked," he claimed). Work, too, at first failed to engage his energies. He distinguished himself mainly by being hopeless in mathematics.
-Matthew Sturgis, Oscar Wilde: A Life
......................with Oscar Wilde:
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking other people to live as one wishes to live.
It is only intellectually lost who ever argue.
It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.
I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.
Writing about something, even something you know well, usually shows you that you didn't know it as well as you thought. Putting ideas into words is a severe test.
-Paul Graham, from this essay
..............is the law of unintended consequences. Having said that, rent control is always a bad idea. Ok, so I'm a real estate investor and may be a tad biased. Don't take my word for it. Check out the latest study:
"Thus, to the extent that rent control is intended to transfer wealth from high-income to low-income households, the realized impact of the law was the opposite of its intention."
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Modern civilization is all about conquering space: winning territory in geopolitical contests, building ingenious contraptions and monuments to this ingenuity, growing and prospering economically. It seeks relentlessly to convert time, priced like any other commodity into achievements in space. But, "the danger begins," Heschel worried, "when gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time." In that realm, "the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord."
Perhaps there is no better skill to have and master than the skill of curiosity. . . . Learning requires you being open, interested, and ready to lean into differences. It requires surrendering being judgmental. It is impossible to be curious and judgmental at the same time. Curiosity is different than just asking a lot of questions. Curiosity is a deeper more soulful interest. People who are genuinely curious ask great questions because it originates from an authentic place. Asking questions without curiosity is just obnoxious.
-Mike Staver, from here
Monday, April 11, 2022
..................birth of a sub-division: Episode 19
At the top of the aerial photo is Phase 1. Completed in early December, the builder (D. R. Horton) recently completed the purchase of all 49 developed lots. If you squint your eyes, you may notice they have about 15 houses under construction. The bottom portion of the aerial photo shows the early days of the 64 lots in Phase 2. Progress.
In a magnificently ironic moment, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, referred to Mount Rushmore with reverence during his address to the U.S. Congress. Every one of the four presidents carved on that mountain has had his statue toppled and his name removed from some elite institution. Few right-thinking U.S. politicians would bring up their names today. Zelensky knows what so many of us have forgotten: That this is a war of systems as well as nations, and that the alternative to American democracy isn’t utopia but Putin and gangsterism. We should internalize this truth before the Ukrainian dead rise from their graves to remind us of it.
Salmon Portland Chase never liked his name. In his early twenties, Chase wrote to a college classmate that he was thinking of changing his "awkward, fishy name" to something more impressive, like Spencer Payne Cheyce. Five years later, he had another idea: Samuel Paca Chase, taking the names of one of the early justices of the Supreme Court, Samuel Chase, whom Chase believed was a distant relation, and William Paca, another signatory of the Declaration of Independence, apparently simply because his last name started with P. During the Civil War, when an admirer wrote that he was thinking of naming his son Salmon Portland, Chase replied that he "had the misfortune to be born about a year after my uncle Salmon Chase died at Portland; and to have a sort of monument to his memory made of me by giving me the name of Salmon Portland." His uncle "was an excellent man and Portland a very respectable city, but somehow I never liked the name derived from them." Chase urged the father to think of "the feelings of your boy, fifteen years hence or twenty," and to find a better name.
-Walter Stahr, Salmon P. Chase: Lincoln's Vital Rival
In the realm of tradition, truth is something that precedes individual human beings, something we inherit and must hand down, in turn. We can discover truth and reason about it, to be sure, but we can't change it. In the realm of progress, however, truth is what individuals or groups can articulate or build on their own, through scientific inquiry and their acts in history. Truth thus becomes an ongoing project, a malleable thing. In our realm of progress, tradition is viewed as not only antiquated and inefficient, but as an impediment to achievement.
But what if that confidence of the modern world is an illusion, the product of a determined resolution not to confront the fundamental dilemmas of what it means to be fully human? Or what if beneath the moderns' complacency lurks a deep soul-soreness?
Pick your favorite negatively trending social indicator—loneliness, alienation, addiction, polarization, etc.—and the dire message is the same: the realm of progress can't fulfill our soul's yearning or satisfy our urge to put ourselves right with the sacred.
I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.
Sunday, April 10, 2022
..............We journeyed south to Destin, Florida, with a brief layover in Nashville. A few observations: Nashville is an amazing place, but Broadway is a younger person's game. There is music everywhere. Next time we go, we will seek out more of the smaller, quieter venues. The traffic on I-65 from Nashville to the Florida Panhandle is ridiculous this time of year. Visiting Seaside is a wonderful idea, but during Spring Break the place is overrun with kids, of all ages. It is really easy to get sunburned in April. Renting a house for a week in Destin, and having the whole tribe join you, is a fabulous thing to do.
How do I transmit to my son the value of permanent ideals against a culture that will tell him that whatever is newest is also best, that everything is negotiable and subject to contract and consent, that there is no purpose to our common life but to fulfill his desires? How do I reinforce that fragile thread linking my son to a life of humane obligations and responsibilities? To a life anchored in stable and unchangeable ideals? To a life, in other words, filled with the goods secured by tradition?