Sunday, December 17, 2017

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


He came to New Jersey for the air.  Arriving at Princeton in the autumn of 1769, James Madison, Jr., found something unique in the North America of the time:  a college offering entrée into the European republic of letters and the ideas of the Enlightenment as well as a close-knit community of smart, ambitious young men intent on forming lasting friendships and getting ahead in the world.  For the eldest son of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner, educated privately by tutors, this was the true start of his life.

-Noah Feldman,   The Three Lives Of James Madison:  Genius, Partisan, President

I'm pretty sure this was the norm........


.............................................................not all that long ago:

"In the world as I see it, reasonable people can disagree, and progress is best made when people do not question the moral rectitude of others simply because they hold different opinions."

-Greg Mankiw, as he comments on a Paul Krugman blog post

David Warren.................


.............discusses current events and all the "special places,"  wherein he offers the following point of view:

(This is one of my arguments for capital punishment, incidentally. It helps us distinguish between the serious and the frivolous; wakes the jurors up.)

A throwback...................


 

     The conniving and bibulous character Fields developed caught the public imagination at a time when the nation was deep in the throes of the Great Depression and the sale of liquor was still prohibited by law.  He appeared on the scene as the embodiment of public misbehavior, a man not so much at odds with authority as completely oblivious to it.  He drank because he enjoyed it and cheated at cards because he was good at it.  Fields wasn't a bad sort, but rather a throwback to a time when such behaviors were perfectly innocuous and government wasn't quite so paternalistic.

-James Curtis,  W. C. Fields:  A Biography

On dark views...............


There is a bull market in paranoia these days. I am missing out on it.

-Arnold Kling, from this post

Bumps and detours..........


Failure is a far better teacher than success because it’s much easier to duplicate failure than it is to replicate success. 

-Michael Blatnik, from this post about a post-presidency failure of finances

Saturday, December 16, 2017

On being careful what you wish for...


In recent years, especially, we have become prone to replacing complex thought with shallow slogans. We live in times of extremism, and black-and-white thinking. We should have the self-awareness to suspect that the events of recent weeks may not be an aspect of our growing enlightenment, but rather our growing enamorment with extremism.
We should certainly realize by now that a moral panic mixed with an internet mob is a menace. When the mob descends on a target of prominence, it’s as good as a death sentence, socially and professionally. None of us lead lives so faultless that we cannot be targeted this way. “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”
-Clair Berlinski, as excerpted from here

Best idea wins.......................


I think a very smart CEO of any company, big or small, has a policy where they listen to every suggestion and idea — best idea wins. That’s how it should be. Best idea wins. And you never know where it’s gonna come from.

-as culled from here

Recovering........................


...............................from a serious scare.   Wishing Scott a peaceful holiday season and a healthy 2018!

And the fever rages on..............


THE MENTAL INFECTION known as "political correctness" is one of the most dangerous intellectual afflictions ever to attack mankind.

-Paul Johnson, from this politically incorrect essay

via

Wired.............................


Knowing how one is wired is a necessary first step on any life journey.  It doesn't matter what you do with your life, as long as you are doing what is consistent with your nature and your aspirations.  Having spent time with some of the richest, the most powerful, most admired people in the world, as well as some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people in the most obscure corners of the globe, I can assure you that, beyond a basic level, there is no correlation between happiness levels and conventional markers of success.  A carpenter who derives his deepest satisfaction from working with wood can easily have a life as good or better than the president of the United States.  If you've learned anything from this book I hope it's that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has an important role to play in life.  Nature made everything and everyone for a purpose.  The courage that's needed the most isn't the kind that drives you to prevail over others, but the kind that allows you to be true to your truest self, no matter what other people want you to be.

-Ray Dalio,  Principles

Friday, December 15, 2017

On paths to happiness..................................




On plasticity and change.......................


g Understand how much the brain can and cannot changeThis brings us to an important question.  Can we change?   We can all learn new facts and skills, but can we also learn to change how we are inclined to think?  The answer is a qualified yes. 
     Brain plasticity is what allows your brain to change its "softwiring."   For a long time, scientists believed that after a certain critical period of childhood, most of our brain's neurological connections were fixed and unlikely to change.  But recent research has suggested that a wide variety of practices - from physical exercise to studying to meditation - can lead to physical and physiological changes in our brains that affect our abilities to think and form memories. ...
     That doesn't mean the brain is infinitely flexible.  If you have a preference for a certain way of thinking, you might be able to train yourself to operate another way and find that easier to do over time, but you're very unlikely to change your underlying preferences. ... The best way to change is through doing mental exercises.  As with physical exercise, this can be painful unless you enlist the habit loop discussed earlier to connect the rewards to the actions, "rewiring" your brain to love learning and beneficial change. ...
     ...Instead of expecting yourself or others to change, I've found that it's often more effective to acknowledge one's weaknesses and create explicit guardrails against them.   This is typically a faster and higher-probability path to success.

-Ray Dalio, Principles

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On focused persistence..................


The organizations that actually change things are the ones that have a time horizon that's longer than 36 hours.

-Seth Godin, from here

As proverbs go.................


..................................................these are pretty good:

"And do not look outside yourself for the leader."

An important question.................


Am I getting older or has the supermarket begun playing great music?

-question asked here

"To be normal is nothing to brag about...."


...........................................On embracing your inner freak.

On accepting the responsibility...........


....................................................................of being editable.