Saturday, July 22, 2023

"social debt".............................

 . . . once money goes from being a tool you can use to make yourself happy to a symbol of what other people measure you by, you are buried in a kind of social debt that’s hard to measure but has a real impact on your happiness.

-Morgan Housel, from here


 Wedged as we are between two eternities of idleness, there is no excuse for being idle now.

-Anthony Burgess, as quoted in this Martin Amis piece


........................or, why I was a History major:

     "It's just first year engineering," she said.  "Everybody cries."

     I was a little concerned, and a little curious, so I poked around a bit and talked to a grad student I knew in mechanical engineering.  He told me that only one in three students who started as an engineering major would finish with the degree, and that in fact early courses in the major were designed to be "weed out" classes, meant specifically to compel students to drop the major and choose another.  Why?  Because the rigor of the engineering programs was so high that a large percentage of students were guaranteed to drop out eventually, and it was far better for them to do so early in their college careers before they had accumulated a lot of credits.  What had seemed like cruelty to me was in fact an act of mercy, an artifact of a pragmatic and necessary acknowledgement that not all students possess the underlying ability necessary to flourish in some fields.  In time I would learn that many college classes, such as calculus and organic chemistry functioned in much the same way.  And I grew to think that rather than representing a failure of educators to do their jobs, these classes that screened out students performed a necessary if unfortunate function for institutions dedicated to training young people for their futures.

-Fredrik deBoer,  The Cult of Smart

A good question................

 Our friend Ben Carlson opines on, Why Higher Interest Rates Haven’t Mattered (Yet).  Included with this post is this handy pie chart:

The proposition is that the overwhelming majority of home borrowers have locked in very low rates and are unaffected by the recent rate increases.

It is hard to disagree with that, but we're pretty sure it doesn't tell the whole story.  Most commercial and investment loans are variable rate mortgages.  Typically, they are fixed for a three- or five-year period, then they adjust to reflect the current market conditions.  We believe that there is a bit of turmoil ahead as those loans adjust over the next year or so.  As an example, we recently had a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage adjust from 3.75% to 8.25%.  Yeow.  Fortunately for us, we were able to pay the loan off.  Not all borrowers we be as fortunate.  Stay tuned.




 "Compassion arises when the jewel of the mind rests in the lotus of the heart."*

     In the West, we tend to separate the mind and the heart.  The mind thinks rationally.  It knows hard and objective truths.  It judges good from bad, right from wrong.  The heart is emotional and soft.  If we pay too close attention to it, it will make us weak and or lead us astray.  But the truth lies outside of this dichotomy altogether.  The mind is powerful when it is situated in the heart, when striving and trying to get something right is held with love and compassion. 

-Brad Stulberg, The Practice of Groundedness

*quote attributed to Jack Kornfield

On comparing....................

 Contrary to the cultural norms of heroic individualism, do not compare yourself to others.  Compare yourself to prior versions of yourself and judge yourself based on the effort you are exerting in the present moment.

-Brad Stulberg,  The Practice of Groundedness

hard lessons...............................

 More than any of the other early presidents, George Washington learned in early life the pain of loss, humiliation, and hardship.  It is axiomatic among military historians that commanders learn more from defeat than from victory, but this is especially true of Washington.  He had been taught many hard lessons and would have two decades in which to mull them over before he fought again. Reviewing is experiences, he could have distilled them into some general maxims along these lines:

      -Know yourself, and know those who you are fighting.  This is a more complex proposition than it may seem, as it requires introspection, strategic thinking, and reliable intelligence.

     -Study terrain, and make it your friend.

     -As circumstances change, be ready to change views and abandon assumptions.  Listen to dissenters and know how to weigh alternatives.

-Thomas E. Ricks:  First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

Think we have witnessed this............

 . . .he became able to study a situation, evaluate its facts, decide which ones were meaningful, develop a course of action in response to work toward a desired outcome, and verbalize the orders that need to be issued.

      These are the basic steps in critical thinking, but the military commander's task is especially difficult because he or she must take one additional step, often the hardest one of all: ensuring that the orders are implemented.  It is one thing to know what to do, but quite another to get other people to do it.  New presidents often make the mistake, for example, of paying too much attention to formulating policy and not enough into implementing it.

-Thomas E. Ricks, First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

Sunday, July 16, 2023


 We are optimizing for all the wrong things: Busyness.  Nonstop information.  Digital relevance.  It is easy to convince ourselves that we are getting so much done when in fact we are hardly getting anything done, at least not of real value. . . . If the goal is to optimize, we shouldn't be focused on doing more for the sake of doing more.  Rather, we should be focused on being fully present for the pursuits and people that matter most to us.

-Brad Stulberg, The Practice of Groundedness

when slow is fast.....................

There is nothing heroic about quick fixes, hacks, or silver bullets, especially given they rarely, if ever, work.  Most breakthroughs rest upon a long-standing foundation of steady and consistent effort.  For so many of the meaningful endeavors in our lives, the best way to move fast is to go about it slowly, to proceed with a gentle yet firm persistence.

-Brad Stulberg, The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds—Not Crushes—Your Soul 

Your Silence..............

 There is a language so

beautiful that it is never spoken.

There is a deep sort of silence

that may never adequately fall into words.

That, I tell you, is more valuable

than any jewel

or any diamond.

-John M. Sweeney and Mark S. Burrows, channeling Meister Eckhart in Book of the Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul

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

      The classical world was far closer to the makers of the American Revolution and the founders of the United State than it is to us today.  Nowadays the Greeks and Romans are remote to us, their works studied by a few in college and then largely forgotten even by most of those readers.  But Greco-Roman antiquity was not distant to the leaders of the American Revolution. It was present in their lives, as part of their political vocabulary and as the foundation of their personal values.  In short, it shaped their view of the world in a way that most Americans now are not taught and so don't see.

-Thomas E. Ricks, First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our County

thanks Jon

Quite the cast of characters..............

      The grew into distinctly dissimilar men: Washington a stiff-necked soldier; Adams a brilliant, honest, self-absorbed crank; Jefferson a dreamer of liberty who lived in hypocritical luxury off the sweat of captive humans; Madison already with one foot in the next generation, perhaps more American than a Virginian, and an unapologetic politician. Like Alexander Hamilton, he was more skeptical than his elders of the verities of the Enlightenment, with its core faith in human improvement.

-Thomas E. Ricks:  First Principles

Those were the days my friend.............

 The best place to begin to understand the views of the Revolutionary generation is with a look at the word "virtue."  This word was powerfully meaningful during the eighteenth century.  Today it is a mere synonym for morality, and also, anachronistically, a signifier of female chastity or the lack of it, as in the euphemistic phrase "a woman of easy virtue."  But for the Revolutionary generation, virtue was the essential element of public life.  Back then, it actually was masculine.  It meant putting the common good before one's own interests.  Virtue, writes the historian Joyce Appleby, was the "lynchpin" of public life—that it, the fastener that held together the structure.

-Thomas E. Ricks, First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country