Saturday, March 24, 2007

H.L Mencken was right

In a July 26, 1920 article in the Baltimore Evening Sun, Mencken wrote about the difficulties of good men reaching national office when such campaigns must necessarily be conducted remotely:
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men.
As democracy is perfected, the office represents,
more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.
We move toward a lofty ideal.
On some great and glorious day
the plain folks of the land
will reach their heart's desire at last,
and the White House will be adorned
by a downright moron.

And so it has come to pass...

Pure Genius: Moving Huge Objects

Check out the video to learn how Wally Wallington of Flint Michigan has figured out how to move enormous weights with no pulleys, hoists, or massive manpower... just the laws of physics. Very interesting!

Then go to Wally's website for more information.

(Thanks to good bud from high school Mike Wargo)

More than 60 years ago, diminutive Latvian eccentric Edward Leedskalnin built his "Coral Castle" as a tribute to his obsessive and unrequited love. This Florida curiosity was built by him alone, at night, and using huge stones, but he never revealed his methods. Many attributed his powers to the supernatural or even alien technology, but once again Occam's Razor shows that the simplest explanation is usually correct.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Recent Reading

by Henry David Thoreau
The original classic first published in 1854
never gets old.
Life in the woods,
as experienced by Thoreau's 2 years there,
or, in my case, 30 years by the sea,
quiets the mind.
A must read.

Walden Two
by BF Skinner
A description of Utopia
as envisioned by the behaviorist author
first published in 1945.

Made to Stick
Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Chip Heath & Dan Heath
If your ideas could use some help
in getting the world to notice
this is a book for you.

I've just finished reading
Ronnie: The Autobiography of Ronnie O'Sullivan
the world champion snooker player.

I got interested in learning more about the game
and the player,
after watching this video on youTube
in which he runs the table
faster than anyone, ever:

I also learned a little something about
the differences between pool and snooker.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and
The Madness of Crowds

by Charles Mackay, LL.D.

This awesome book,
with the aid of the history of stupidity of crowds,
proves we are all lemmings.

If you had read this book when it was published in 1841,
you wouldn't have been hornswoggled
in the Internet bubble.
A most excellent read,
and one of my all-time favorites.

Where Are The Customers' Yachts?
by Fred Schwed Jr.
Subtitle: A Good Hard Look at Wall Street. Humorous, but serious review of the investment business. Written just prior to WWII, with lessons learned from the Crash of '29 and the Great Depression, this book is a great read for anyone trying to deal with the issues facing investors today. Not much has changed. A true classic. (4/14/2007)

The EnerQi Connection: Demystifying Acupuncture
by Sheri Laine and Tiffany Strause
Qi ("chee") is the energetic vibrating force field in each of us. Good friend Sheri Laine, a licensed acupuncturist, explains this concept in detail and takes you through a typical session of acupuncture and offers several case studies of success with this ancient healing/balancing technique. (3/17/2007)

Crimes Against Logic
Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests,
Journalists, and other Serial Offenders

by Jamie Whyte
This should be required reading for anyone with a brain. It is very well written, clear, witty, and loaded with examples of how we are all led astray by illogical statements and arguments in all aspects of our lives. (3/15/2007)

iCon: Steve Jobs
The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business

by Jefrey S. Young & William L. Simon
Excellent! Show Jobs' significant human and business flaws as well as his extraordinary talents and good fortune. I am not an Apple fan, but I am also not a detractor, so this book seemed to be a well balanced presentation of the prime mover of the Apple experience. (3/12/2007)

On Bullshit
by Harry G. Frankfurt
Highly philosophical treatise on the subject. Sometimes witty. (3/1/2007)

The Wisdom of Crowds
Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
by James Surowiecki
The best book I have read in years. The scientific proofs for ideas I have held for decades, and which will propel me forward with implementation. (1/3/2007)

They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky
The True Story of Three Lost Boys From Sudan

by Alphonsion Deng, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak,
and Judy A. Bernstein

This is the story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan -- incredibly depressing reading of the true story of the tens of thousands of orphans whose parents were killed during the continuing genocide in the Sudan, and how these children escaped by walking through deserts and war zones experiencing the worst of tragedies including starvation, exposure, disease, physical abuse, slavery, and attacks by wild animals, to reach refuge camps in neighboring countries, only to subsist in continuing horrible conditions for 14 years until, miraculously, a precious few were rescued through the kindness of strangers, and were brought to a new life in the USA. This story was written by 3 boys who came to San Diego. After reading this fantastic story, you will be amazed at the indomitable human spirit, and the will to survive, powerful reading... (11/21/2006)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Spring has Sprung

My first walk on the beach in 10 days
(nasty influenza bug has kept me cave-bound)
shows the first signs of Spring.
And the beach itself has been refreshed
with new clean brown-sugar sand.
All is, again, right with the world.