Saturday, December 9, 2023

the weary world rejoices.............

Jennifer Nettles............O Holy Night/Hallelujah


We don't often quote Richard Nixon.....

 ...................but perhaps we should:

The unhappiest people of the world are those in the international watering places like the South Coast of France, and Newport, and Palm Springs, and Palm Beach.  Going to parties every night. Playing golf every afternoon.  Drinking too much.  Talking too much.  Thinking too little.  Retired.  No purpose

      So while there are those that would totally disagree with this and say, "Gee, if I could just be a millionaire! That would be the most wonderful thing."  If I could just not have to work every day, if I could just be out fishing or hunting or playing golf or traveling, that would be the most wonderful life in the world—they don't know life.  Because what makes life mean something is purpose.  A goal.  The battle, the struggle—even if you don't win it.

-Richard Nixon, as quoted here


 I know a couple who treasure friends who are what they call "lingerable."  They are the sort of people you want to linger with at the table after a meal or in chairs outside the pool, to let things flow, to let the relationship emerge.  It's a great talent—to be someone others consider lingerable.

-David Brooks,  How To Know a Person:  The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen

life its ownself.........................

 Sometimes you can learn more about a person by watching how they talk to a waiter than by asking some profound question about their philosophy of life.

-David Brooks, How To Know a Person:  The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen


 This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, as culled from his 1837 speech, The American Scholar

Inadvertently.................ah, history

 Deprived of French help, on December 28, 1783, the Turks officially acknowledged the loss of the Crimea.  Exclaimed on observer, "The Russian state has spread out like ancient Rome."  Indeed, Catherine's swollen dominions now stood larger that the entire Roman Empire at its height.

     But there was a price to be paid for this brash expansion.  For one thing, Catherine's actions had inadvertently opened the wounds of religious wars that would one day cross borders and carry over into a new age.  For another, the Crimea remained a boiling stew of biases, prejudices, and fierce hatreds.  In the years that followed, while annexation was one thing, actually extending Russian control over the region remained an exasperating business.  Russian forays into the area known as the Caucasus were especially riddled with troubles—in 1785 a rebellion broke out among a deadly mix of Chechens, Avars, and other tribes.  Descending down from the mountains, a shadowy leader wrapped in a green cloak and espousing a mystical version of Islam proclaimed a Ghazavat, or holy war, against the Russians.  With dauntless flair and lightning strikes, this self-anointed "Sheik Mansur" led a coalition of mountain tribesmen that harassed and tormented the Russians with guerrilla warfare, laying the seeds for a conflict that still sputters today.

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

Thursday, December 7, 2023

We must be part of the same...............



 Nothing can become truly resilient when everything goes right.

-Tobias Lutke

The upside of stress..................

      Stress focuses your attention in ways good times can't.  It kills procrastination and indecision, taking what you need to get done and shoving it so close to your face that you have no choice but to pursue it, right now and to the best of your ability.

-Morgan Housel, Same as Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes

Patience Grasshopper........................

 A good summary of investing history is that stocks [and real estate] pay a fortune in the long run but seek punitive damages when you demand to be paid sooner. . . . there's a "most convenient" investing time horizon—probably somewhere around ten years or more.  That's the period in which markets nearly always reward your patience.  The more your time horizon compresses, the more you rely on luck and tempt ruin.

-Morgan Housel, Same as Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes

inevitable desire....................

 The greatest impediment to creativity is your impatience, the almost inevitable desire to hurry up the process, express something, and make a splash.

-Robert Greene

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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

.................................A Motown Christmas album


a paradox.................

 The popular adage "use it or lose it" doesn't go far enough.  If you don't use it, you might never gain it in the first place. 

. . . a light bulb went off for me.  Comfort in learning is a paradox.  You can't become truly comfortable with a skill until you've practiced it enough to master it.  But practicing it before you master it is uncomfortable, so you often avoid it.  Accelerated learning requires a second form of courage: being brave enough to use your knowledge as you acquire it.

-Adam Grant, Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things

Just some random cartoons.............


An ode to peanut butter..............

Last spring, from Switzerland, I was moved to repay the debt I have felt to peanut butter.  "I have never composed poetry [I wrote in my syndicated column], but if I did, my very first couplet would be:

            "'I know that I shall never see

            A poem as lovely as Skippy's Peanut Butter.'" 

     My addiction is lifelong, and total.  I reminisced.  "I was hardened very young to the skeptics.  When I was twelve, I was packed off to a British boarding school by my father, who dispatched every fortnight a survival package comprising a case of grapefruit and a large jar of peanut butter.  I offered to share my tuck with the boys who shared my table.  They grabbed instinctively for the grapefruit—but one after another actually spit out the peanut butter, which they had never before seen and which only that very year (1938) had become available for sale in London, at a store that specialized in exotic foods,  No wonder they needed American help to win the war."

-William F. Buckley, Jr., Overdrive: A Personal Documentary

a fairly harsh judgment.......

 . . . he concludes that one of the principles of contemporary management is to "push details down and pull credit up."  That is, avoid making decisions, because they could damage your career, but then spin cover stories after that fact that interpret positive outcomes to your credit.

-Matthew B. Crawford,  Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work


      The truth, of course, is that creativity is a by-product of mastery of the sort that is cultivated by long practice.  It seems to be built up through submission (think of a musician practicing scales, or Einstein learning tensor algebra).  Identifying creativity with freedom harmonizes quite well with the culture of the new capitalism, in which the imperative of flexibility precludes dwelling in any task long enough to develop real competence.  Such competence is the condition not only for genuine creativity but for economic independence such as the tradesman enjoys.

--Matthew B. Crawford,  Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

hey, that's my generation................

 . . . the liberationist ethic of what is sometimes called "the 1968 generation" perhaps paved the way for our increasing dependence.  We're primed to respond to any invocation of the aesthetics of individuality.  The rhetoric of freedom pleases our ears.  The simulacrum of independent thought and action that goes by the name of "creativity" trips easily off the tongues of spokespeople for the corporate counterculture, and if we're not paying attention such usage might influence our career plans.  The term invokes our powerful tendency to narcissism, and in doing so greases the skids into work that is not what we had hoped.

-Matthew B. Crawford,  Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

Sunday, December 3, 2023


I stood where Sennett could see me.  He was standing with Mabel, looking into a hotel lobby set, biting the end of a cigar.  "We need some gags here," he said, then turned to me, "Put on a comedy make-up.  Anything will do."
     I had no idea what make-up to put on.  I did not like my getup as the press reporter.  However, on the way to the wardrobe I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat.  I wanted everything a contradiction:  the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.  I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennett had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small mustache, which, I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression.
     I had no idea of the character.  But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was.  I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.  When I confronted Sennett I assumed the character and strutted about, swinging my can and parading before him.  Gags and comedy ideas went racing through my head.
     The secret of Mack Sennett's success was his enthusiasm.  He was a great audience and laughed genuinely at what he thought was funny.  He stood and giggled until his body began to shake.  This encouraged me and I began to explain the character: "You know this fellow is many-sided, a tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.  He would have you believe he is a scientist, a musician, a duke, a polo player.  However, he is not above picking up cigarette butts or robbing a baby of its candy.  And, of course, if the occasion warranted it, he will kick a lady in the rear—but only in extreme anger!"

-Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography

a funny thing............................

 It's a funny thing about the [New York] Times: I don't know anybody who works for it who doesn't have a sense of humor (the big exception: John Oakes.  But then he retired as editorial page director several years ago, and is understandably melancholy about having to live in a world whose shape is substantially of his own making). Abe Rosenthal, the working head of the newspaper, is one of the funniest men living.  Punch Sulzberger is wonderfully amusing, and easily amused.  And so on.  But there is some corporate something that keeps the Times from smiling at itself; don't quite know what.

-William F. Buckley, Jr., Overdrive: A Personal Documentary (1981)


       I've seen many people shy away from writing because it doesn't come naturally to them.  What they overlook is that writing is more than a vehicle for communicating—it is a tool for learning.  Writing exposes gaps in your knowledge and logic.  It pushes you to articulate assumptions and consider counterarguments.  Unclear writing is a sign of unclear thinking.  Or as Steve [Martin] himself quipped, "Some people have a way with words, and other people, uh . . . oh, not have a way."

-Adam Grant, Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things

Good question.....................

 When I thought back on past expedition experiences, it was clear to me that I had always drawn much of my motivation and resilience from those around me.  It was often the knowledge that I couldn't let my team down that drove me forwards when times were tough.  Now that I was to be alone, what would stop me giving up?

-Felicity Aston, Alone In Antarctica  

story telling....................

Every investment price, every market valuation, is just a number from today multiplied by a story about tomorrow.

-Morgan Housel, Same as Ever