Saturday, October 28, 2023

I see what you did there........................

Everyone says the new speaker, Mike Johnson, has no experience, but that claim just makes me smile. If our current condition is the result of “experienced” politicians, how could “inexperienced” politicians be any worse? Besides, I thought this whole “self-government” thing meant ordinary Americans could participate fully in the exercise of state power. At this point, any of the Johnsons of Rockridge would do, since nearly all House members are fluent speakers of authentic Beltway jibberish.

-Steven Hayward, from here


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Trick or treat........................

Newark tends to celebrate Halloween on the final Thursday of October.  Not sure why, but it was a fine night for it.  Lots of fun was had by all:

Be careful what you wish for.............

      Driverless cars will finally solve the problem of moving people around with maximum efficiency, by ceding human control to impersonal algorithms.  They promise to bring a messy, dangerous domain of life under control at last.  Traffic jams will likely become a thing of the past, and accidents will be greatly reduced.  So we are told at any rate.

     In this case we can detect a familiar pattern.  Driverless cars are one instance of a wider shift in our relationship to the physical world, in which the demands of competence give way to a promise of safety and convenience.  The skilled practitioner becomes a passive beneficiary of something more systematic, rendering his skill obsolete.  

-Matthew B. Crawford, Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road

thanks Michael


      On the morning of May 11, 2021, Sam Bankman-Fried made his first television appearance.  He sat at his trading desk and talked into his computer screen to two female reporters on Bloomberg TV.  Thick black curls exploded off his head in every direction.  People who tried to describe Sam's hair would give up and call it an "afro," but it wasn't an Afro.  It was just a mess, and like everything about Sam's appearance felt less like a decision than a decision not to make a decision.  He wore what he always wore: a wrinkled T-shirt and cargo shorts.  His bare knee jack-hammered up and down at roughly four beats per second, while his eyes darted left and right and collided with his interviewers' gaze only by chance.  His general demeanor was that of a kid pretending to be interested when his parents hauled him into the living room to meet their friends.  He'd done nothing to prepare, but the questions were so easy it didn't matter.  Crypto Wunderkind, read the Bloomberg chryon, while the numbers on the left of the screen showed that, in just the past year, bitcoin's price had risen by more than 500 percent.

-Michael Lewis, Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon

an immense treasure.................

      Like Warren Buffett, Munger inherited no wealth.  He built his fortune on the sheer power of his will and his business acumen.

     "While no real money came down, my family gave me a good education and a marvelous example of how people should behave, and in the end that was more valuable than money," explained Munger.  "Being surrounded by the right values from the beginning is an immense treasure.  Warren had that.  It even has a financial advantage.  People trusted Warren partly because he was a Buffett and people trusted the Buffetts."

-Janet Lowe, Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

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

 Life is not a problem to be solved. It’s a paradox to experience. You can believe one thing and also believe its opposite.

-Derek Sivers, as culled from here

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

 It was fifty-five years ago, but I still have clear high school memories of borrowing my parents' Plymouth Fury (that was back when Detroit really knew how to build "lemons") and just going for a drive.  The very definition of freedom for a teenager in 1968.

Here's a mental framework..............

 In a world where the economy becomes a key tool that great powers use to prosecute their conflicts, it’s completely impossible to just “stick to the economics”.

-Noah Smith, from here  


 It is a very disorienting thing to watch as evil is denied in real time. Especially when that evil, in the case of Hamas, was filmed and broadcast by its perpetrators.

-Bari Weiss and Oliver Wiseman, from this substack

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Sometimes it is easier...................... simply cut-and-paste, than it is to figure out what to excerpt:

 If we exclude misanthropes, most people today can – without excessive simplification – be divided into two distinct camps: the Awestruck and the Awws. The Awestruck are unceasingly amazed at the modern world. They are enormously grateful for the countless amenities and benefits of life in the modern global economy. They are aware that nearly all of our ancestors not only did without the comfort and convenience of the likes of air-conditioning, automobiles, air travel, aspirin, automatic dishwashers, telephony, recorded music, and laptop computers and smartphones connected 24/7/365 by wi-fi to the Web, the Awestruck also realize that most of our ancestors did without access to antibiotics, artificial lighting, indoor plumbing, the ability to bathe daily, and even regular supplies of food.

The Awws, in contrast, are either ignorant of how most of our ancestors lived, or they believe that our ancestors’ experiences are irrelevant for assessing the state of the world today. Unlike the Awestruck, the Awws do not compare the state of the world today to that of the actual past. Instead, the Awws compare the state of the world today to fictions conjured by their imaginations. They compare today’s reality to what they imagine to be a Perfect World. The Awws then notice an undeniable reality: As marvelous as today’s world is, it’s not perfect. It could be marvelouser. Imperfections abound.

Upon noticing these imperfections the Awws, in their dismay, moan “Awww.” No matter how much higher standards of living for nearly everyone in today’s market-oriented economies are, living standards could be even higher. The costs of obtaining, maintaining, and further raising these living standards could be even lower. The ‘distribution’ of the abundance of goods and services could be more equal. And were there fewer disagreeable aesthetics of industrial, commercial society – what with its factories and mines and pipelines and strip malls and light pollution and telemarketers and vulgar websites – persons with finely polished sensibilities would indeed suffer fewer irritations.

-Don Boudreaux, from this post



He knew how to make us more afraid of letting each other down than we were of any opponent.

To my surprise, Hakeem turned around and left.  That's when I learned that, for fear to win, you have to be afraid, and for that moment, I wasn't.

. . . the true measure of a competitor is not by the number of opponents they defeat, but by what they do to surpass what they have already accomplished.

Live on the edge, play on the edge, but never hurt the team.

The play would be a textbook example of the age-old cliche: it's not how you start, but how you finish.  Effort and finish had become my most consistent attributes.

Every friend ain't your brother, and every brother ain't your friend.

I had just learned a lesson about how money works.  It's not about using your labor as the sole source of all your income.  It's about using your labor to acquire cash that you save that gives you an opportunity to leverage credit or assets to buy other assets that make you money.

They'll tell athletes all the time that your financial advisor, your agent, your marketing rep, all these people work for you, you should be the boss, and most of us are unprepared to be a boss, and quite frankly, I had to learn that those people actually don't work for you.

During the national anthem, I gave a strong prayer to my ancestors.  I knew I was going to need all the help I could get, so I prayed for toughness, poise, and love.  All that I hoped they passed down onto me.

*although I wish his editor had worked a little harder

Probably a good thing..........................

      In truth, to the rest of the world, even as the American Founders boldly harbored utopian visions of the perfect republic, and as theyir wondrous ideas propounded in the Constitution fanned exuberantly outward, across the oceans, into the courts of the world's great powers, the United States remained little more than "revolting colonies," a fringe republic, an obscure land on the margins of Western civilization.  As Bernard Bailyn trenchantly reminds us, America was a "small, unsure, preindustrial borderland" filled with "provincials."  One European diplomat, the Comte de Montmorin, summed it up this way: "the united States," he sneered, were "the laughingstock of all the powers."  So, while Americans now groped forward to wrestle with their numerous inconsistencies—there were many—and their unresolved problems and seemingly insoluble dilemmas (they were numerous as well), the eyes of the world were not on these rustics.

-Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World: 1788-1800

Monday, October 23, 2023


 Admitting the obvious is to take a scary leap. It is to make decisions that bring your life into alignment with what you truly want—rather than what you think you should want or what others want from you. It is to risk taking the low-status meandering path, instead of the high-status linear one. 

. . . Sometimes the obvious truth is hidden from you for a reason, and it takes great care and lots of time to see it. 

Spiders weave webs across gaps that cannot be crossed by crawling or jumping. Instead, when a tiny spider wants to weave a web across a large distance, it produces a fine adhesive thread that it allows to catch and drift along the wind. It can feel by the sensitive vibrations passed along the thread when it catches and adheres on the other side of the gap. Then, it carefully walks across that first strand like a tightrope walker, laying another thread down as it goes.

It weaves back and forth like this—carefully, one step at a time—until a web is formed out of thin air. 

I think this is the way to admit the obvious. Loose a single thread in the direction of what you want. When it catches—follow it, and strengthen it. Eventually, you’ll be ready to cross the gap with confidence and spin a web of your own.

-Dan Shipper, from this essay



 You may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value to you than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself; because only through ordering what you know by comparing every truth with every other truth can you take complete possession of your knowledge and get it into your power.

-Arthur Schopenhauer, as quoted here


 It's so simple: you spend less than you earn. Invest shrewdly. Avoid toxic people and toxic activities. Try to keep learning all your life. And do a lot of deferred gratification. If you do all those things, you are almost certain to succeed. And if you don't, you'll need a lot of luck. And you don't want to need a lot of luck. You want to go into a game where you're very likely to win without having any unusual luck.

-Charlie Munger, as quoted here

Having fun with 107,000 friendly folks..........

 A friend offered two tickets to the OSU-Penn State game last Saturday noon.  Hard to pass that up.  Seats were pretty fantastic.  Game wasn't bad either.  An experience worth having.

Band passed the spelling quiz again.

Early voting has started........................

They make it really easy.   Visited the Board of Elections in downtown Newark this afternoon and cast my votes. Took less than five minutes; ends up with an actual paper ballot, printed out with your votes, that you get to post. Contests on the ballot include two constitutional amendments, school board seats, and the City Council-At-Large positions.  About twenty fellow citizens were participating at the same time I was there.  That is about 19 more than usual for this time of year.  Hmmm..............

Sunday, October 22, 2023

free agents......................

       But the intelligent world is far from being so well governed as the physical.  For thought the former also has its laws, which of their own nature are invariable, it does not conform to them so exactly as the physical world.  This is because, on the one hand, particular intelligent beings are of a finite nature, and consequently liable to error; and on the other, their nature requires them to be free agents.  Hence they do not steadily conform to their primitive laws: and even those of their own instituting they frequently infringe.

-Charles de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws


 But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights.  Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions.

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract

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

      A sullen wedge of gun-metal-colored clouds rolled in from the west, autumn's jackboot crunching down on the Twin Cities.  A cold breeze sent fallen leaves skittering along the darkened October streets as a flash of blackbirds passed above the treetops, heading south.

-John Sandford, Judgment Prey

a sense of history............................

       Driven, singularly willed, quietly but fiercely ambitious, hot-blooded and bold, and uncommonly charismatic, he cherished the military, but he also cherished something even far greater: a sense of history.  And virtue.  Thus, when a movement among the troops mounted at the end of the war to make him king of America, he rebuked them; it had given him, he said, "painful sensations."  Thus, when he learned of the pending mutiny among unpaid and disaffected officers of his army, Washington personally rebuked them, saying an insurrection would only "open the floodgates of civil discord" and threaten the very liberties for which they had fought.  Thus, when he informed Congress after Evacuation Day that he was relinquishing military power and turning it over to them ("I retire from the great theatre of action"), he was self-consciously imitating the legendary Roman republican leader Cincinnatus, who returned power back to the Senate and retired to his farm.  This single action, more than any other, was a virtuoso performance: His refusal to seize power that a Caesar, or a Cromwell, or a William of Orange would have eagerly grasped, and, moreover, his refusal to even entertain the notion of accepting power others would have gladly handed over to  him, earned him an international prestige and a domestic power that no American, before or after, has surpassed.  The old French generals saw him as a great captain because he did not let a superior force destroy his army; the world recognized him as a great man  because he did not let his victorious army turn loyalty to him into a military dictatorship of the United States.

-Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800