Monday, August 31, 2015

So good, it needs to be re-played..........


Johnny Cash................................................................Hurt

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


I didn't recognize him at first.  He came into my office unannounced, a jowly man whose hairline had receded to a fringe of dark curls.  Too much sun had baked his skin the color of brick, although maybe it had been too much beer, judging by those ill-named love handles poking over the sides of his jeans.  The seams in the faded corduroy jacket strained when he moved his arms;  he must not often dress for business.

-Sara Paretsky,  Brush Back

Very good questions..............................

























“Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw?   Well, what tongue does the wind talk?   What nationality is a storm?   What country do rains come from?   What color is lightning?   Where does thunder go when it dies?”
-Ray Bradbury

photo via

Be careful who you listen to....................


Like so much else in the world, the overwhelming majority of investment-related online opinion is junk. Intelligent investors understand that. They know that other people have agendas, biases and cognitive issues that make their perspective less valuable or relevant. Those who must learn this the hard way will find that education to be very expensive indeed.
-Barry Ritholtz, as excerpted from here

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


Johnny Cash....................................... Orange Blossom Special

Let it be......................................
















The only sane thing to do with the world is to let it struggle with its own problems.  You can do this only when seeing clearly that the world prefers to struggle painfully with its problems, never really wanting solutions.
-Vernon Howard

photo via

Lest we forget.............................








via

One more reason not to watch the news...........


























via

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I think that maybe I'm dreaming.................


The Byrds........................................................Renaissance Fair

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


The town of Gros Ventre was so far from anywhere that you had to take a bus to catch a bus.  At that time, remote locales like ours were served by a homegrown enterprise with more name than vehicles, the Rocky Mountain Stage Line and Postal Courier, in the form of a lengthened Chevrolet sedan that held ten passengers besides the driver and the mailbag, and when I nervously went to climb in for the first time ever, the Chevy bus was already loaded with the ladies' club heading home from an outing to Glacier National Park.  The only seat left was in the back next to the mailbag, sandwiched between it and a hefty gray-haired woman clutching her purse to herself as though stage robbers were still loose in the middle of the twentieth century.

-Ivan Doig,  Last Bus to Wisdom

Really...............................................



Shirking.................................


Once a week one must check in with The Shirk Report....

Come on Phil

Actual feedback..................

Win or lose, we're in this together

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


Cannibal & The Headhunters..................Land of 1,000 Dances

Is this a great country, or what......................?


















A milk chocolate bar with bacon bits and potato chips!

I feel like celebrating......................


........................every time I think I understand a xkcd cartoon.




















Of course, if I was being honest, I would tell you I double-checked the meaning of "syllogism."




And the question was asked..............................


"How much should we know?"

and the answer gently drifted by.............................

"Not so much."


















Explanation: The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, image. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies and is the home of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A. The prominent patch below center is 30 Doradus, also known as the magnificent Tarantula Nebula, is a giant star-forming region about 1,000 light-years across.

Source, and enlargeable photo. is here.  I love how their explanations just raise so many more questions.  God love the explorers.

Friday, August 28, 2015

May I have this dance, Sweetie...............?


Eric Clapton..........................................Wonderful Tonight

On level playing fields...........................


      My friend the Hawk and I were playing the first hole at Prestwick in Scotland;  the wind was howling out of the left.  I started an eight-iron thirty yards to windward, but the gale caught it;  I watched in dismay as the ball sailed hard right, hit the green going sideways, and bounded off into the cabbage.  "Sonofabitch!" I turned to our caddie.  "Did you see the wind take that shot?"
       He gave that look that only Scottish caddies can give, "Well, ye 've got t' play th' wind now, don't ye?"
      The professional conducts his business in the real world.  Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged.  The field is level, the professional understands, only in heaven.

-Steven Pressfield,  The War of Art:  Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Blocks
     

Trying...............................................

















via

Think his point is probably still valid.....


One summer morning in 1944, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, age ten, stood on a train platform in Budapest, Hungary, with his mother, two brothers, and about seventy relatives who'd come to see them off.  World War II was raging, and Hungary, an ambivalent member of the Axis, was being squeezed from every political and geographic corner.  Nazi soldiers were occupying the country in retaliation for Hungary's secret peace negotiations with the United States and Great Britain.  Meanwhile, Soviet troops were advancing on the capital city.
     It was time to leave.  So the foursome boarded a train for Venice, Italy, where Csikszentmihalyi's father, a diplomat, was working.  As the train rumbled southwest, bombs exploded in the distance.  Bullets ripped through the train's windows, while a rifle-toting soldier on board fired back at the attackers.  The ten-year-old crouched under his seat, terrified but also a little annoyed.
     "It struck me at that point that grown-ups had really no idea how to live,"  Csikszentmihalyi told me some sixty-five years later.

-Daniel H. Pink,  Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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


John Coltrane.....................A Love Supreme, Pt. 2 - Resolution

Please let this be true.........................


The human individual is equipped to learn and go on learning prodigiously from birth to death, and this is precisely what sets him or her apart from all other know forms of life.  Man has a various times been defined as a building animal, a working animal, and a fighting animal, ball all of these definitions are incomplete and finally false.  Man is a learning animal, and the essence of the species is encoded in that simple term.

-George Leonard,  Mastery:  The Keys To Success And Long-Term Fulfillment

Stumped the panel.................................................. or, yes we have no bananas...................................


A few weeks ago the Mighty E. posted this picture and offered a free cd (Volume 1 from E.'s Hall of Fame for Perfect Songs)  (Ed. Note:  I have a copy of Volume 2.  It is perfect as well) to the best caption submitted.



















To my knowledge the prize has yet to be claimed.  I will confess to not having thought of a worthy caption.  Perhaps you can do better.  His post has inspired me, however, to notice other banana related themes.  Like these:














































































and the topper:




banana sculpture photos from here

Checking in with Billy Penn..................




































184.  If we take issue with everything that is disputable, our dispute would be endless.

214.  If we would change the world, we should change ourselves;  and teach our children to be, not what we are, but what they should be.

237.  Do good with what you have, or it will do you no good.

238.  Seek not to be rich, but happy.  The one lies in bank accounts and portfolios, the other in content;  which wealth can never give.

239  We are apt to call things by wrong names.  We call prosperity, happiness;  and adversity, misery;  though adversity is the school of wisdom, and often the way to eternal happiness.

249.  Too few know when they have enough;  and fewer know how to spend it wisely.

307.  Humility and knowledge in poor clothes, excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.

308.  Neither despise, nor oppose, what you do not understand

-William Penn,  Some Fruits Of Solitude In Reflections and Maxims (1682)

back story on statue of Penn here

Thursday, August 27, 2015

But wait............................................


Roy Orbison................................................Oh, Pretty Woman

In defense of a liberal arts education................


 A little capacity for reflection might reveal that morality is not simply a matter of common sense or reading a sacred text, and that an understanding of other cultures — or simply an acknowledgment that there are other cultures — might have led to better outcomes in, for example, Iraq.

It is a mistake to focus basic education on job-specific skills that a changing world will render redundant in a few years. The objective should be to equip students to enjoy rewarding employment and fulfilling lives in a future environment whose demands we can neither anticipate nor predict. In 20 years, we will probably not be using the Black Scholes model, or referring to the case of Bloggs v Bloggs. But the capacities to think critically, judge numbers, compose prose and observe carefully — the capacities that education can and should develop — will be as useful then as they are today.

-John Kay, as excerpted from here

At the risk of repeating myself, allow me to share the teaching style of my favorite professor from Denison University, circa 1972, Dr. Robert Toplin.  Toplin taught, among others, a course he called "Latin America:  Evolution or Revolution."  With a great deal of 20-year-old sensitivity, we called it "Bullets or Bananas."  This semester long class was held for two hours, twice a week.  Actually, each class was comprised of two one-hour lectures.  During the first hour Toplin would take some topic, say the history of slavery in Brazil, and preach on it from the right-wing point of view.  His arguments would be thoughtful, powerful, coherent, and convincing.  At the end-of-the-hour break, we would all agree that the man was undoubtely right.  Then came the second hour.  He would then preach the same topic from the left-wing point of view.  His arguments would be thoughtful, powerful, coherent, and convincing.  By the end of the second hour, we would be thoroughly confused.  In the first weeks of the course, us students spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what Toplin believed, so we would know how to write our "blue-book" exams when they came.  Gradually it dawned on us.  It didn't matter what he believed.  What mattered was what we thought.  All Toplin wanted from us was that we would to be able to process a significant amount of conflicting information and ideas and then make, in writing, our own thoughtful and coherent judgments about said conflicting information and ideas.  In other words, he expected us to learn how to think.  It was quite the semester.

Thinking the latter is correct..................


One bias of mine is that most macroeconomic policy actions of the government or central bank either don’t help, or merely shift the problem to another place.
-David Merkel

It's that vision thing...................................


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 
-Winston Churchill

For more on the pessimist/optimist, visit here

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


Roy Orbison.............................................Big As I Can Dream

The headline reads................................


A self-made millionaire who studied 1,200 wealthy people found one thought pattern they all tend to avoid.

I could have made about thirty guesses before coming up with this answer:

He also noticed one thought pattern they tend to avoid: nostalgia.

Full post here.


Fun with statistics...............................



















A statistical analysis, properly conducted, is a delicate dissection of uncertainties, a surgery of suppositions.  
-M.J. Moroney

Statistics can be made to prove anything - even the truth.  
-Author Unknown

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.  
-Rex Stout, 

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.  

-Author Unknown

Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything.  
-Gregg Easterbrook

I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest.  The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable.  
-Mrs. Robert A. Taft

cartoon via

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Oh why.............................................


Vance Joy.......................................................Wasted Time

The Art of Persuasion.................


In case you are wondering how Donald Trump is kicking Jeb Bush's ass,   why it is not even a contest, Scott "Dilbert"  Adams has the story.  Full explanation is here.  Longish excerpt to help you see his point is here:
Now review Trump’s empty sentence: We need to take America back.
From whom? Notice the intentional lack of detail? In this case, the lack of detail is the powerful part of the sentence.
The media’s political filter automatically goes to immigration, and that interpretation is probably somewhat right. The problem is that it is only 10% of the explanation. The other 90% is what is happening in voters’ heads when they get an open-ended suggestion that someone has somehow stolen the country. 

Who did this awful thing???

Is it the top one-percenters who stole all the country’s money?
Is it the liberals?
Is it the politically-correct people?
Is it the immigrants who are taking jobs?
Is it the wrong-headed people in general?
Is it the minorities? The women?
Is it just our reputation in the world that we lost?
Was it our former greatness we lost?
See how the open-ended suggestion works? Every voter is free to fill in the topic of their own greatest fear. Your brain is a movie that creates your personal history, and when the movie finds a gap, your imagination fills it in. It happens automatically and bypasses rational thought. As with the salesperson who has already made the sale, Trump says nothing you can dislike while giving you the freedom to fill in the blanks in the way that influences you the most.
In other words, Trump’s sentence “We need to take America back” invites you to hypnotize yourself to finish the thought. And you do.

Those who scoff at Trump's capacity for persuasion might benefit from reviewing this Amazon page.  Love him or hate him, the man has some skills.
thanks Dennis

If you like old photos...............................


.....................................do visit Shorpy from time to time.

Rooting through their archives, I came across this jewel.  My father worked in one place (if you don't count his three years in the U. S. Army) for his whole career.  My sister should feel free to correct me, but it strikes me that he worked for the Union League Club from 1933 to 1979.  Growing up, the League was an important part of the fabric of our lives.

Circa 1905.      "Union League Club, Philadelphia."    via Shorpy




















The Union League,  circa today via Google Earth



















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

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles...............My Girl Has Gone

And you thought your morning was rough.......




via

Hate it when that happens............................


Woman Sees Trump’s Face In Her Tub Of Butter