Saturday, March 18, 2023

On clerking..........................

 Now the world is run by sophists. They think that because they read a few books about people who were great that they are great in their turn. There are two problems with this surmise. One, the people they think were great probably weren't. Secondly, most people are incapable of much more than misremembering and misunderstanding the twaddle they read anyway, because education isn't very rigorous anymore. If you think the world's business is decided by simply choosing wisely between John Galt and Noam Chomsky, I don't know what to say to you. Mozart is never going to show up on American Idol.

-as cut-and-pasted from this Sippican Cottage post

Here is the money take...........................

 ................on San Francisco's reparations plan:

The plan would cost an estimated $600,000 per household. Just out of morbid curiosity about what literally happens to the city if this plan goes through, I’m in favor. Also, after the exodus of people fleeing to avoid this new tax, there’ll be a lot of nice properties around for cheap. I’d like one of those. So let’s do this.


On the importance of the "struggle"....

 The downfall of capitalism will not come from the uprising of an impoverished working class but from the sabotage of a bored upper class. This was the view of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter believed that at some point in the future, an educated elite would have nothing left to struggle for and will instead start to struggle against the very system that they themselves live in.

-from Newsweek magazine of all places 


Might pay to remember this..............

 The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie.

-Joseph Schumpeter

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Is this a great country or what....................

 CONTRA-INDICATOR: Inverse Jim Cramer ETF outperforming market trackers after just 2 weeks. “In the two weeks since its launch, the ‘Inverse Cramer Tracker’ exchange-traded fund (ETF) has been outperforming the market by allowing investors to short any stock CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer recommended buying.”


The Present...........................

Much has been said about being in the present.
It’s the place to be, according to the gurus,
like the latest club on the downtown scene,
but no one, it seems, is able to give you directions.

It doesn’t seem desirable or even possible
to wake up every morning and begin
leaping from one second into the next
until you fall exhausted back into bed.

Plus, there’d be no past
with so many scenes to savor and regret,
and no future, the place you will die
but not before flying around with a jet-pack.

The trouble with the present is
that it’s always in a state of vanishing.
Take the second it takes to end
this sentence with a period––already gone.

What about the moment that exists
between banging your thumb
with a hammer and realizing
you are in a whole lot of pain?

What about the one that occurs
after you hear the punch line
but before you get the joke?
Is that where the wise men want us to live

in that intervening tick, the tiny slot
that occurs after you have spent hours
searching downtown for that new club
and just before you give up and head back home?

-Billy Collins

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

       Whether the photographer, who would forever remain anonymous, felt the conceivably immense pressure we will never know.  But with the head of the nation and the soul of the nation's preservation movement, both rugged, demanding, and outspoken men, paired together for a brief time, posted against arguably the nation's most transcendent and iconic landscape, a long journey by train, horseback, and boot from any major city, the stakes in making a good image were high.

-Dean King, Guardians of the Valley: John Muir and the Friendship That Saved Yosemite

dependence and addiction...............

 Industrialization plus globalization has not only generated the fastest economic growth in history; collectively they have dramatically increased the standard of living of billions of people the world over.  Unlike the shockingly unequal preindustrial world, the industrialization/globalization combo has achieved the seemingly impossible duology of enabling the utterly unskilled to live at something above an abused subsistence level while pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and education further and faster and more broadly than ever before. . . .

     Botton line: the world we know is eminently fragile.  And that's when it is working to design.  Today's economic landscape isn't so much dependent upon as it is eminently addicted to American strategic and tactical overwatch.  Remove the Americans, and long-haul shipping degrades from being the norm to being the exception.  Remove the mass consumption due to demographic collapses and the entire economic argument for mass integration collapses.  One way or another, our "normal" is going to end, and end soon.

-Peter Zeihan, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization


 Our senses often misperceive data.  And our minds don't have the processing power to take in all information surrounding us.  Our senses would be overwhelmed by light, color, sound, and smell.  We would not be able to distinguish one object from another.

     To navigate our way through his immense world of data, we learn early in life to focus on information that appears essential or of particular interest.  And to tune out the rest.

     As artists, we seek to restore our childlike perception: a more innocent state of wonder and appreciation not tethered to utility or survival.

-Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: A Way of Being

a temporary setback................

     On November 10, 1954, a story appeared on the front page of the Cornell Daily Sun that began, "The spirit of Prometheus was reincarnated and the campus and the routing of the arts school upset when, yesterday morning, Ed Epstein, '57, made a dramatic horse and buggy appearance for his 10 AM class in Boardman Hall."

     As the story explained, the reason I elected this quaint form of transportation was that my driving privileges had been suspended for my sophomore year because I had transgressed the rules by having a car on campus my freshman year.  Oddly enough, it was not that difficult finding a buggy in 1954 in Upstate New York.  I went to several local farms, and, at the third one, the farmer offered to sell me both the buggy and a horse named Wisconsin for $200.  Driving it onto campus had consequences though.  I was put on probation and, when I refused to rein in my horse and buggy, double probation.  I then gave the buggy and horse to a local farmer, but my probation was not lifted.  It was the beginning of a downward spiral.  I stopped attending classes, my grades plunged, and the following year I was asked to leave Cornell.  I considered it a temporary setback. 

-Edward Jay Epstein, Assume Nothing: Encounters with Assassins, Spies, Presidents, and Would-Be Masters of the Universe

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The doctor says.....................

.................give yourself a break: 

Here’s a tip for anyone wanting to become a machine of relentless focus: stop trying to become a machine of relentless focus. Despite the officially sanctioned fairy tales, you can’t. Your brain does not work like that. Nice theory — wrong species.

-From this post by Eric Barker

Be like hating to eat or breathe..........

 And though correlation is not causation, I submit that we’d save ourselves an enormous amount of trouble in the future if we’d agree to a simple litmus test: Immediately disregard anyone in the business of selling a vision who proudly proclaims they hate reading.

-Backstory is here

Keys to the kingdom..............

. . .  key four is to chase quality of life rather than standard of living (8) key five to freedom is to realise that most-if not all-of what we want, is available to us now if we simply slow down and notice it. (9) Key five is thus don't defer good times. Don't think when. Nor one day. Think now. Build them in now: breaks, walks, conversation, home cooking, reading to the children, learning that language, that project, charity work, learning how to knit (10) key six is to note that people become free every day in an instant when they wake up and realise that the thing for the majority of us in this part of the world is that freedom is a decision not a goal, qualification nor purchase. A decision. And that's pretty damn cool. 

-Nicholas Bate

Monday, March 13, 2023

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

The Temptations....................the Masterpiece album


      We are an infamously mobile nation.  That is one of the cornerstones of the American dream and a root cause of our equally infamous stores of optimism. . . . The traits that foreigners both detest and adore in us—our informality, friendliness, instability, and restlessness—owe much to the idea of movement, . . .Will we never tire of the hunt for something better? . . . We can't all be what Virgin Atlantic, in a silky paean to its best customers, dubs the "fast-moving, culture-shaping jetrosexual, who dwells in multiple worlds and time zones" ever-hungry for the new and at home in the placeless metropolis of the airport.  But that's no matter, because the possibility is there, and the yearning is deep. . . .It's not so much moving for a job or a love or an ideal that stirs us anymore.  It's moving for movement's sake. "Mobility climbs to the rank of the uppermost among coveted values," observes Bauman.  The bootless chase continues.  What's around the corner?

-Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age


       One area where all American steelmakers could maintain absolute, almost religious agreement was on the topic of British steel.  British steelmakers were more efficient, and as a result, their rails were cheaper even than Carnegie's.  As with the iron industry before, the Americans' collective strategy was equally simple: tariffs.  Congress complied.  The tariff on a ton of imported British steel started at $28 per ton.  Given that Carnegie's first-ever order was fulfilled at $68 per ton, the British would have had to sell steel at $40 per ton, with overseas shipping included, to pay the tariff and match the price in the market.  In an era without a personal income tax or corporate income taxes, the federal government relied on duties and tariff generated income for a significant portion of its revenue . . .

      Even Carnegie, with all his competitive, Darwinian pride, granted that tariff protection "has played a great part in the development of manufacturing in the United States." . . . But laissez-faire capitalism it was not.  The invisible hand of Adam Smith's free market was accompanied by the guiding hand of government policy.

-Bhu Srinivasan, Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism


 Whenever I get caught up in my ego battles, I just think of entire civilizations that have come and gone.  For example, take the Sumerians.  I am sure they were important people and did great things, but go ahead and name me a single Sumerian.  Tell me anything interesting or important Sumerians did that lasted.  Nothing.

So maybe ten thousand years from now or a hundred thousand years from now, people will say, "Oh yeah, Americans.  I've heard of Americans.

You're going to die one day, and none of this is going to matter.  So enjoy yourself. Do something positive.  Project some love.  Make someone happy.  Laugh a little bit.  Appreciate the moment.  And do your work.

-Naval Ravikant

Sunday, March 12, 2023

14 ways............................. start an argument in a bar:

4) Today’s super-hopped IPAs are close to undrinkable.

7) An important moment in civilizational collapse was when they replaced live action Saturday morning kids’ shows (The Lone Ranger, Sky King, Fury, The Cisco Kid) with cartoons.

8) Today we listen to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, not to mention the Beatles, but fifty years from now no one will listen to today’s rap.

12) If we all went back to dressing like people did in the 1940s and 50s the world would be a better place.

13) Notwithstanding a few worthy practitioners like Jackson Pollock, abstract expressionism was basically a mistake.

-as extracted from here

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

R.E.M...........................................Greatest Hits



 The bizarre thing about the banking sector is it’s a faith-based system. Sure there are assets and liabilities, checks and balances, rules and regulations but trust plays a larger role than most people think.

-Ben Carlson, reviews some history here

the most valuable thing................

 This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.

-John Steinbeck

Why write.....................?

 Writing is the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about. Importantly, writing is also the process by which you figure it out.

-Farnam Street

Some stufff that interested me...........

      Most technologies do not fundamentally change us.  Consider the contemporary smartphone.  It is a flashlight, a music player, a camera, a game console, a fare card, a remote control, a library, a television, a cookbook, a computer—all in one.  It hasn't enabled us to do much that's fundamentally new, but it has combined more than a dozen preexisting devices into one, increasing efficiency and access.  Important? Ridiculously.  But such improvement-based techs do not fundamentally change who we are.

     Transport technologies, on the other hand, profoundly alter our relationship with geography.


Before industrial techs remade the world, "urban" areas required nearly a half acre of farmland per resident to prevent starvation—over seven times the land we use today, plus another one hundred times as much area in forestland to produce charcoal to cook and see the population through the winter.  It made cities stay small.


I'm sure you've all heard about Rome's famous roads being one of the greatest achievements of the premodern age.  A few points of perspective:

       Rome's roads stretched from Glasgow to Marrakech to Baghdad to Odessa, and were roughly equivalent to total length of roads in modern-day . . . Maine.  The Roman road network took six centuries—one billion labor-days—to construct, to say nothing of  maintenance.


       While a camel could move a quarter ton and ox-drawn carts around a tone, even the earliest bulk ships could move several hundred tons at a fraction of the price per ton.  The Romans famously imported most of their capital's food from Egypt.  Remember those better-than-world-class Roman roads?  In 300 CE it cost more to move grain 70 miles on those roads than it did to sail it some 1,400 miles from Egypt to Rome.


      The average grocery store today has about forty thousand individual items, up from about two hundred at the dawn of the twentieth century.


     Take his concept of utter availability, apply it to absolutely everything, and you now have a glimmer of the absolute connectivity that underpins the modern, globalized economy.


-Peter Zeihan,  The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization

Historically, a tough assignment...............

 Thousands of years of recorded history present a persistent story of poverty and tyranny, with an occasional experiment in personal freedom and opportunity being fulfillingly productive. If we are to foster the good society and its responsive, efficient economy, intellectual competence must be married to high character. Otherwise, we will defeat ourselves by generating increasingly efficient gulags.

-as cut-and-pasted from here

Like the view this morning.............


Claude Monet      Frost      1880      Oil on Canvass

Claude Monet      Frost     1880     Oil on Canvass

This is what public service......................

........................................looks like