Saturday, June 25, 2016

The System Is Not Broken, But the Illusion of Its Existence Has Been Punctured -- The Colonel Carries On #37

By Chip Reader
Epigraph: “An alcoholic I know cut his drinking by half. Now he goes to A meetings.”

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't." -Richard Bach, writer (b. 1936)

“Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.” --Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

“Here’s a bit of good advice: win free tickets, and keep winning free tickets.” --Merry Groghairs

“[Donne wrote that no man is an island.] I feel we are all islands -- in a common sea." --Anne Morrow Lindbergh, writer (1906-2001)

“The country has already demonstrated that it is prepared to accept leaders with stupendously imperfect personal lives if they get us where we want to go in public.” --Gail Collins

Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich (1881-1956), a bishop in the Serbian Orthodox Church, was arrested for speaking out against the Nazis in World War II and taken to Dachau, where he became very sick and frail. He was near death when U.S. forces liberated the concentration camp in 1945. He is associated with the “bless my enemies” prayer, of which a slightly shortened adaptation appears below.
“Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

“Enemies more than friends have driven me into your embrace. Friends have bound me to earth; enemies have loosed me and demolished all my worldly aspirations. Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms, a traveler, not an inhabitant.

“A hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted; so have I, hiding myself beneath your tabernacle, found the safest sanctuary, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

“Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

“They have confessed my sins before the world when I have not. They have scolded me when I flattered myself. When I wanted to lead people, they shoved me into the background. When I rushed to enrich myself, with iron hand they prevented me. When I tried to build a house for a long, tranquil life, they demolished it and drove me out.

“Thinking to hurt me, enemies have cut me loose from the world, leaving me nothing but to stretch out my hands for the hem of your garment.

“Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them:

“So that my fleeing to you may have no return; so that all my hope in people may be scattered like cobwebs; so that absolute serenity may reign in my soul; so that my heart may be the grave of all my arrogance and anger; so that all my treasure might be with you; so that enemies may free me from the dreadful web of illusory life in which my self-deception has entangled me.

“Enemies have taught me what almost no one knows: that we have no enemies in this world but ourselves. Enemies have taught me that they cannot touch my life. It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who more evil in this world, friends or enemies.

“Therefore, O Lord, bless both my friends and my enemies. Let me step freely among them and pray to you.”
Headline: “Google concerned about curious but destructive cleaning robots that hack reward systems.” Meant to follow up on that, but life happened.
“[V]oters see Mr. Trump as a hugely successful businessman, and they believe that business success translates into economic expertise. They are, however, probably wrong about the first, and definitely wrong about the second: Even genuinely brilliant businesspeople are often clueless about economic policy.” --Paul Krugman

On the other side of the coin, even genuinely brilliant policymakers are often clueless about the not-immediately-obvious effects of what they do. “Policy” is a soft name for coercion: “[Policy’s] like anything you take to -- habit-forming need for more and more.” --The Police, Murder by Numbers

A woman who had lived for years in Haiti for a job with a charity said reluctantly that the fine work of all the foreign governmental and nongovernmental aid and charity organizations had created an “exoskeleton” that supported Haiti, but as a result Haiti had not grown its own internal skeleton, and remained chronically infantilized. She was reluctant to say it because doing so could demotivate people inclined to help Haiti -- the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It’s a tough problem, on a par with “How do you cure the effects of footbinding?”

“Ready, Fire, Aim” is the title of a real book (subtitled “Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat” -- nice work if you can get it) that expresses one end of a spectrum whose other end is something like, “Measure twice, cut once.”

“Cultivate a bias for action” has always struck me as advice to be considered warily, like “always bear left.” It’s certainly anti-agricultural, where much of the time the grower must be patient and wait for things to grow, with “action” limited to judicious pruning and weeding.

Sometimes a scheme of action is the fruit of insight, not bias, as when General Grant, knowing that the North had enormously more wealth and population than the South, concluded that if the North went on continuous offense, the South would run out of men and matériel before the North did. More grisly realism than bias for action, yet action resulted.

Grisly realism makes me think of “triage,” which has its accent on the second syllable. “Exquisite” has its accent on the first syllable. “Patent,” as in “patently absurd” and “patent nonsense,” has a long a, like its antonym “latent.” Here’s one that’s hard to swallow: “incognito” has its accent on the second syllable: “in COG ni toe.” (“Ni” has a short i, as in “we are the knights who say ‘ni’”).

Bishop Nicolai Velimirovich

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