Thursday, August 21, 2014

Something's lost and something's gained.......

Judy Collins (and the Boston Pops)............Both Sides Now

Both sides now................................















418.  It is dangerous to make man see too clearly his equality with the brutes without showing him his greatness.  It is also dangerous to make him see his greatness too clearly, apart from his vileness.  It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both.  But it is very advantageous to show him both.  Man must not think that he is on a level either with the brutes or with the angels, nor must he be ignorant of both sides of his nature;  but he must know both.
-Blaise Pascal,   Pensees

thanks jessica

The Intertunnel is a fabulous place...............

This essay contains this line:  "The dispute recalls the comment of another Harvard professor, Henry Kissinger, that academic politics are so bitter because the stakes are so low."  It's a cute quote.  I have used it in conversations myself.  Reading it this time, however, the questions arose:  "Given the successful march of stultifying political correctness from academia to the mainstream, were the stakes really all that low?" and  "What would Kissinger think now?"  Not having the ability to ask him, the next best thing, The Oracle Google, was consulted.  Among other things this year-old post from the Quote Investigator was found.  It includes these fun quotes:

In 1765, Samuel Johnson wrote this


"It is not easy to discover from what cause the acrimony of a scholiast can naturally proceed. The subjects to be discussed by him are of very small importance; they involve neither property nor liberty; nor favour the interest of sect or party. The various readings of copies, and different interpretations of a passage, seem to be questions that might exercise the wit, without engaging the passions."
"But whether it be, that small things make mean men proud, and vanity catches small occasions; or that all contrariety of opinion, even in those that can defend it no longer, makes proud men angry; there is often found in commentaries a spontaneous strain of invective and contempt, more eager and venomous than is vented by the most furious controvertist in politicks against those whom he is hired to defame."
In 1970, Dwight Waldo wrote this:
We can no longer use our little joke that campus politics are so nasty because the stakes are so small. They are now so nasty because the stakes are so large.
For the record, Wikiquote seems to believe that the subject quote was "misattributed" to Kissinger.  This whole process of "discovery" took about two minutes.   Isn't the Intertunnel is a fabulous place?

Some interesting things Henry Kissinger said...

















Henry Kissinger, as Secretary of State, was an important actor on the American political stage during the Nixon and Ford presidential administrations.  He practiced what was known as Realpolitik.  Pioneering detente with the USSR was perhaps his most noteworthy policy, although he also negotiated the end of our involvement in Vietnam and paved the way for Nixon's historic trip to China.  Here are some of his quotes:

The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision. Each side should know that frequently uncertainty, compromise, and incoherence are the essence of policymaking. Yet each tends to ascribe to the other a consistency, foresight, and coherence that its own experience belies. Of course, over time, even two armed blind men can do enormous damage to each other, not to speak of the room.

A country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security.

Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." … But since the Freedom of Information Act, I'm afraid to say things like that.

The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.

We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition; our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win. The North Vietnamese used their armed forces the way a bull-fighter uses his cape — to keep us lunging in areas of marginal political importance.

Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There is too much fraternizing with the enemy.

Behind the slogans lay an intellectual vacuum.

Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

Difficulties with disruption..............

Successful companies succeed, in part, through close attention to their customers, delivering incremental (and sustaining) innovations they want.  Disruptive innovators leap ahead to produce what customers do not yet know they need. As Henry Ford observed, if he had consulted his customers they would have asked for a faster horse.
-John Kay, as excerpted from this essay

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

The Newbeats......................................Everything's Alright



Because sometimes you just need a B-side

Did you ever wonder about corn..................?

..................Sure seems like a lot of plant for a little output.  Why did God design an 8' tall stalk to support one ear?   Seems like a waste of energy.  Wouldn't 4' tall have been sufficient?  How come most stalks have one ear, but some stalks have two?  Just wondering.  Corn is pretty important in the Midwest.  Fortunately, the folks at Wikipedia have done some research.  You may read more than you really want to know about maize here.  A more specific, and shorter, answer to the question of "how many ears per stalk" may be found here.

From where I was standing, these healthy looking stalks seemed about 9' tall                          

The exception to this field's one-ear-per -stalk tendency

Your basic one ear per stalk plant

You can't win them all.........................

........and sometimes there is incredible value in falling short:




thanks

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

The Peacemaker Colt has now been in production, without change in design, for a century.  Buy one today and it would be indistinguishable from the one Wyatt Earp wore when he was the Marshal of Dodge City.  It is the oldest hand gun in the world, without question the most famous and, if efficiency in its designated task of maiming and killing be taken as criterion of its worth, then it is also probably the best hand gun ever made.  It is no light thing, it is true, to be wounded by some of the Peacemaker's more highly esteemed competitors, such as the Luger or Mauser:  but the high-velocity, narrow-calibre, steel-cased shell from either of those just goes straight through you, leaving a small neat hole in its wake and spending the bulk of its energy on the distant landscape whereas the large and unjacketed soft-nosed lead bullet from the Colt mushrooms on impact, tearing and smashing bone and muscle and tissue as it goes and expending all its energy on you.
-Alistair MacLean,  When Eight Bells Toll (1966)

More than you.........................

..........wanted to know about the Colt Peacemaker - here.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Live from Woodstock............................

Santana.......................................................Soul Sacrifice

Perspective.................................

The evolution of telephones.....................


Information on Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886), the 21st president of the United States is here.

One of the first portable phones


















Back story on the brains behind Motorola's foray into cell phones is here.

A very brief pictorial on the evolution of telephones:











































































A few reasons why technological improvements were a good thing:

Early telephone lines

The switchboard

Seven............................................

..........................................................skills worth having.

Makes perfect sense to me....................



































courtesy of

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

The Beatles................................................Ain't She Sweet

It used to be anyway................................


Freedom squandered...................................?

All scientific knowledge is uncertain.  This experience with doubt and uncertainty is important.  I believe that it is of very great value, and one that extends beyond the sciences.  I believe that to solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar.  You have to permit the possibility that you do not have it exactly right.  Otherwise, if you have made up your mind already, you might not solve it.

This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the science, and, I believe, in other fields.  It was born of a struggle.  It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure.  And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the thing fall away.  I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought.  I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings.  If you know you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation.  I want to demand this freedom for future generations.

-Richard P. Feynman, as excerpted from The Meaning Of It All:  Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

Like computer modeling..........................?




















“Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. ” 
-Nikola Tesla

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

The warm monsoon blew gently from the east, wafting HMS Leopard into the bay of Pulo Batang.  She had spread all the sails she could, to reach anchorage before the tide should turn and to come in without discredit, but a pitiful show they made - patched, with discoloured heavy-weather canvas next to stuff so thin it scarcely checked the brilliant light - and her hull was worse.  A professional eye could make out that she had once been painted with the Nelson chequer, that she was a man-of-war, a fourth-rate built to carry fifty guns on two full decks; but to a landsman, in spite of her pennant and the dingy ensign at her mizen-peak, she looked like an unusually shabby merchant ship.  And although both watches were on deck, gazing earnestly at the shore, the extraordinarily bright-green shore, and breathing in the heady scent of the Spice Islands, the Leopard's crew were so sparse that the notion of her being a merchantman was confirmed:  furthermore, a casual glance showed no guns at all; while the ragged, shirt-sleeved figures on her quarterdeck could hardly be commissioned officers.
-Patrick O'Brian,  The Fortune of War

A pleasant mixing of facts and fiction.............













The Wikipedia page on the HMS Leopard

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pour a drink, put your feet up, relax..........

Stan Getz....................................................Autumn Leaves

From simpler times........................................

The Edsels........................................Rama Lama Ding Dong

Opening paragraphs...............Part the First

Something happened in Florence six hundred years ago, something so unique and miraculous that it changed our world forever.  We call it the Renaissance, a rebirth of ancient art and learning.  Yet it was more than a rebirth or rediscovery of ancient secrets;  it was a first birth, the beginning of modern consciousness, a modern way of seeing an representing the world around us.  It was the defining moment for the societal role we call the artist.  It was the beginning of Art with a capital A.
-Paul Robert Walker,  from the Preface to The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance:  How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World

Opening paragraphs...........Part the Second

In the summer of 1399, a religious movement arose in Lombardy, the northern Italian region around Milan, and began to travel southward toward Rome, attracting thousands of followers on the way.  They were called the Bianchi, the Whites, for the white linen robes they wore as a sign of penitence and spiritual renewal.  The pilgrims reached Florence in August, and their effect on the city was extraordinary.  Shops and factories closed as citizens joined the pilgrimage to smaller towns and villages, up the Arno and into the Apennine Mountains, "piously singing lauds, engaging in acts of penitence, abstaining from meat for nine consecutive days, and from wine for another day, not sleeping in beds ... the air vibrating with their voices."  Old enemies swore new friendship, and there were cries to throw open the gates of the city prison.
-Paul Robert Walker, The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance:  How Brunelleschi and Ghilberti Changed the Art World

Il Duomo di Firenze............................

Say what you will about the Middle Ages.  Those people had incredible faith in the future.  Exhibit A of that claim might be the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, which dominates the skyline of Firenze (Florence to us American-types) today.  Construction began in 1296.  While plans were amended as construction moved forward, the cathedral was ready for its dome in 1418.  Unfortunately, there were no design plans for the construction of said dome.  No one knew how to build it.  In August of 1418, a competition for the design of the dome was held.  Our hero Brunelleschi won the competition.  Construction of his dome began in 1420.  It was completed in 1436, 140 years after the building of the cathedral commenced.  More on the story can be found here, pictures of the inside of the cathedral may be found here.


Ghiberti...............................

Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) was a Florentine goldsmith, sculptor, and artist.  Building domes may not have been his strong suit, but the man was a genius in his own right.  More on his story is here.  Information about the Baptistery is here.  Information on the north doors - here;  east doors -here.

The East Doors of the Baptistery of Saint John   "The Gates of Paradise"






































The North Doors of the Baptistery of Saint John

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

The Tridels................................................Land of Love

Apparently I'm a business conservative.....

.............or, so says Pew Research after I took their Political Typology Quiz.  Labels really are not my thing.  Nor am I overly fond of either/or questions.  Life seems more nuanced (or gray, if you prefer) then their answers would suggest.  But, for now, file me with 10% of "the population."

thanks mark

A most important action..................

"Discipline yourself to count your blessings everyday."
-Wiley Johnson

Welcome to the asylum.......................

We are in the very best of hands:  Exhibit A here

Generally................................

"I think in general it's clear that most bad things come from misunderstanding, and communication is generally the way to resolve misunderstandings, and the Web's a form of communications, so it generally should be good."
-Tim Berners-Lee

Nevermind, I think I'll just take my car.....
















courtesy of

Proof...............................................


Monday, August 18, 2014

The genius of the Beatles............................

The Beatles..................................Tomorrow Never Knows

(psychedelia alert)




22 things any business can learn from the Beatles - here

Toto, I don't think we're in Ohio anymore.....

My Sweetie and I had an away game this past weekend.  Went to a wedding at the Cheaha State Park, hard by the Talladega National Forest, Alabama, USA.  Let me tell you, that's a long, but pretty, drive. We had fun with family and learned that those Alabamans sure are nice folk.  Cheaha is the high point of Alabama.  These photos are from Bald Rock, the high point of the high point.






Believe...................................

"Somehow, I can't believe that there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. The special secret it seems to me is summarized  in  four C's. 

They are Curiosity,CourageConfidence and Constancy. And the greatest of all is Confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."
-Walt Disney

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

The Four Seasons....................................Born to Wander

Meaning.....................................

First, there was the earth without anything alive on it.  For billions of years this ball was spinning with its sunsets and its waves and the sea and the noises, and there was no thing alive to appreciate it.  Can you conceive, can you appreciate of fit into your ideas what can be the meaning of a world without a living thing on it?  We are so used to looking at the world from the point of view of living things that we cannot understand what it means not to be alive, and yet most of the time the world had nothing alive on it.  And in most places in the universe today there probably is nothing alive.
-Richard P.  Feynman,  The Meaning Of It All:  Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist






















image via

Always wondered how to do this........................

.........................................................now I know.

Enemy.............................................

"If there is any consistent enemy of science, it is not religion, but irrationalism."
-Stephen Jay Gould






















the above cartoon is a mystery to me, but it comes from here.  Maybe I should have used this cartoon instead:




Sunday, August 17, 2014

You know we could....................................

Jefferson Starship...................................................Miracles

Source..............................................

Do not go about worshipping deities and
religious institutions as the
source of the subtle truth.
To do so is to place intermediaries
between yourself and the divine,
and to make of yourself a beggar who
looks outside for a treasure that is 
hidden inside his own breast.

If you want to worship the Tao, first
discover it in your own heart.
Then your worship will be meaningful.

-Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Verse 17
Brian Browne Walker

A fortuitous concourse........................


"That the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, I will no more believe than that the accidental jumbling of the alphabet would fall into a most ingenious treatise of philosophy.” 
-Jonathan Swift

image via APOD

Yep. and it looks like she's hiding him..........


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

The Beach Boys...........................................Louie Louie

Ouch......................................


Verse.......................................

27  And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
-Luke 18:27
The Holy Bible
King James Version

We noticed......................................


Hope he's not referring to blogging........

“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”
-Peter Drucker

Not up to Her..........................























via