.........................the World is getting better.
Friday, April 7, 2023
Failing to learn from others’ mistakes is one of life’s greatest mysteries. Despite having nearly unlimited access to examples of others making all kinds of mistakes, people repeatedly fail to learn from past generations.
-Ted Lamade, from here
We might also eat our meals mindfully, slowly savoring each bite with appreciation. Take a daily walk in nature, looking at everything entering our field of vision with gratitude and connection. Take a moment to marvel at the feeling of our heartbeat and the movement of blood through our veins before sleep.
The purpose of such exercises is not necessarily in the doing, just as the goal of meditation isn't in the meditating. The purpose is to evolve the way we see the world when we're not engaged in these acts. We are building the musculature of our psyche to more acutely tune it. This is no much of what the work is about.
Awareness needs constant refreshing. If it becomes a habit, even a good habit, it will need to be reinvented again and again.
Until one day, you notice that you are always in the practice of awareness, at all times, in all places, living your life in a state of constant openness to receiving.
-Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: A Way of Being
If we sometimes spent a little consideration on ourselves, and employed in probing ourselves the time we put into checking up on others and learning about things that are outside us, we would easily sense how much this fabric of ours is built up of feeble and failing pieces. It is not singular evidence of our imperfection that we cannot establish our contentment in any one thing, and that even in desire and imagination it is beyond our power to choose what we need?
-Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works, Book 1, Chapter 53
This disposition, to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue, and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.
-Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Monday, April 3, 2023
There are good biological reasons for accepting the fact that man is so constituted that he possesses an inner world of the imagination which is, different from, though connected to, the world of external reality. It is the discrepancy between the two worlds which motivates creative imagination. People who realize their creative potential are constantly bridging the gap between inner and outer. They invest the external world with meaning because they disown neither the world's objectivity nor their own subjectivity.
-Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return To The Self
Whenever you think that some situation or some person is ruining your life, it is actually you who are ruining your life. . . . Feeling like a victim is a perfectly disastrous way to go through life. If you just take the attitude that however bad it is in any way, it's always your fault and you just fix it as best you can . . .
And in so far as the apparent prosperity is caused by an unusual plentifulness of loanable capital and a consequent rise in prices, that prosperity is not only liable to reaction, but certain to be exposed to reaction. The same causes which generate this prosperity will, after they have been acting a little longer, generate an equivalent adversity.
-Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (1873)
Our infatuation with nomadic life has grown in direct proportion to the rise of highly complex, circumscribed, and crowded societies. Nomads are our alter ego, a personification of escape from the gray flannel suit and the tract home. . . . These adventurers, most of whom were semi-tamed rebels themselves, were obsessed with nomads' "freedom of movement, freedom from authority, freedom from the habitual anxieties of urban living, freedom from the constraints of organized agriculture, freedom from any convention but their own." . . .
Pastoral nomads, of course, are not "rootless wanderers," free to go where they please. Their harsh, often chosen way of life, is defined by movement for survival's sake, not exploration or a quest to live "without ties." Most pastoral nomads, diverse as they are, follow seasonal pathways, moving back and forth to graze their flocks in the best pastures.
-Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
Sunday, April 2, 2023
The government has little incentive to regulate banks effectively. When there is a breakdown, public officials just end up with more power.
-Arnold Kling, from here
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . until it turns absolute.”
So much of what people call “conviction” is actually a willful disregard for facts that might change their minds. It’s dangerous because conviction feels like a good attribute, while its opposite – being wishy-washy – makes you feel and sound like an idiot.
Lost in the American mythology of the Mayflower is a central question: How did a group of disenfranchised religious separatists finance a large ship, pay an experienced crew, and provision for a year's worth of supplies on the way to the New World? Even for sovereign authorities of the early seventeenth century, outfitting a trans-Atlantic voyage was no small financial undertaking. Certainly, impoverished political refugees of today, when crossing oceans, do not do so in chartered transportation or arrive with any capacity for financial sustenance. The financial story behind this journey points to a parallel narrative, one in which the exalted sentiments of religious liberty found themselves subordinated to economic considerations and motivations.
-Bhu Srinivasan, Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism
When the keeper of the inn
where we stayed in the Outer Hebrides
said we had bags of time to catch the ferry,
which we would reach by traversing the causeway
between this island and the one to the north,
I started wondering what a bag of time
might look like and how much one could hold.
Apparently, more than enough time for me
to wonder about such things,
I heard someone shouting from the back of my head.
Then the ferry arrived, silent across the water,
at the Lochmaddy Ferry Terminal,
and I was still thinking about the bags of time
as I inched the car clanging onto the slipway
then down into the hold for the vehicles.
Yet it wasn't until I stood at the railing
of the upper deck with a view of the harbor
that I decided that a bag of time
should be the same color as the pale blue
hull of the loan sailboat anchored there.
And then we were in motion, drawing back
from the pier and turning toward the sea
as ferries had done for many bags of time,
I gathered from talking to an old deckhand,
who was decked out in a neon yellow safety vest,
and usually on schedule, he added,
unless the weather has something to say about it.
Japanese soldiers described World War II as a "typhoon of steel." It certainly felt that way to Akio Morita, a studious young engineer from a family of prosperous sake merchants. Morita only barely avoided the front lines by getting assigned to a Japanese navy engineering lab. But the typhoon of steel crashed through Morita's homeland, too, as American B-29 Superfortress bombers pummeled Japan's cities, destroying much of Tokyo and other urban centers. Adding to the devastation, an American blockade created widespread hunger and drove the country towards desperate measures. Morita's brothers were being trained as kamikaze pilots when the war ended.
-Chris Miller, Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology
. . . the candidates for fortune too frequently abandon the paths of virtue, for unhappily, the road which leads to the one, and that which leads to the other, lie sometimes in very opposite directions. But the ambitious man flatters himself that, in the splendid situation to which he advances, he will have so many means of commanding the respect and admiration of mankind, and will be enabled to act with such superior propriety and grace, that the lustre of his future conduct will entirely cover, or efface, the foulness of the steps by which he arrived at that elevation. . . . But, though they should be so lucky as to attain that wished-for greatness, they are always most miserably disappointed in the happiness which they expect to enjoy it in.
-Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments