Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The disappearance of literature

From an address by Mark Twain 119 years ago tonight:
We have heard a discussion to-night on the disappearance of literature. That's no new thing. That's what certain kinds of literature have been doing for several years.

The fact is, my friends, that the fashion in literature changes, and the literary tailors have to change their cuts or go out of business.

Professor Winchester here, if I remember fairly correctly what he said, remarked that few, if any, of the novels produced to-day would live as long as the novels of Walter Scott. That may be his notion. Maybe he is right; but so far as I am concerned, I don't care if they don't.

Professor Winchester also said something about there being no modern epics like Paradise Lost. I guess he's right. He talked as if he was pretty familiar with that piece of literary work, and nobody would suppose that he never had read it.

I don't believe any of you have ever read Paradise Lost, and you don't want to. That's something that you just want to take on trust. It's a classic, just as Professor Winchester says, and it meets his definition of a classic—something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The reason government pricing is toxic

There is much political rhetoric these days calling for government to “negotiate prescription drug prices.”

These words lead people to think two things: • the government is another customer, and • the government can negotiate just like another customer. Both of these assumptions are incorrect.

The free market customer negotiates for the most of amount of value for the least amount of cost. This negotiation necessarily includes inherent uncertainty over whether or not a transaction will occur.

The government is not just another customer in the economy which means those factors do not have the same affect on the government as they do on the free market customer.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A combination of spirit and strength

In 1963, we were the Pennsylvania state champions in the mile relay and invited to compete in a special event in New York City at the 168th Street Armory.

On the bus ride there, I sat, as usual, next to my best friend, Bobby Bryant, a six-foot African American superstar. Bobby was so warm and kind that it would take him forever to get through the school cafeteria because he had to stop and joke with every table. School was a struggle for him academically, but on the track, he was magic.

His family never had much money, so I bought him a pair of Adidas spikes with the money I made working. It was a gesture of friendship, but also more than that: Bobby running in a great pair of spikes made all of us look good.

Six teams lined up in the final. I always ran the first leg, and I never passed the baton in second place.

When the gun went off, I broke out in front. But coming around the first curve, I felt my right hamstring rip. The pain was sudden and excruciating.

I had a choice: I could pull over and stop, the sensible choice for my body. Or I could continue and find a way to keep us as close as I could and give us a chance to win.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Who will dare to prove?

He is not wanting great men, but He is wanting men that will dare to prove the greatness of their God.
SourceSimpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (November 10). Kindle Edition.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Jargon File

The very next year, between March and April 1977, we see the beginning of the social acronyms.

This version describes them as “a special set of jargon words, used to save typing” in Talk mode, an early kind of chat. These acronyms include the now unremarkable R U THERE? but also the now obscure BCNU (be seeing you), T and NIL for “yes” and “no,” and CUL, “see you later.”

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tasks of mourning

Many people don't know that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's familiar stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—were conceived in the context of terminally ill patients learning to accept their own deaths. It wasn't until decades later that the model came to be used for the grieving process more generally.

It's one thing to “accept” the end of your own life… But for those who keep on living, the idea that they should be getting to acceptance might make them feel worse (“I should be past this by now”; “I don't know why I still cry at random times all these years later”).

Besides, how can there be an endpoint to love and loss? Do we even want there to be?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The reason prices work in a free market

A price is an agreed-upon amount of money for a buy to pay a seller in exchange for goods and/or services.

The definition is not as exciting as reality.

• Sometimes they don't agree.
• Sometimes the price fails, and there's no transaction.
• Sometimes prices exclude some people and not others.
• Sometimes the seller reinvests from what was paid at a high price to enable more product delivery at a lower price.

A potential transaction starts an interaction. Mutual exchange of value is sought. For the seller, the price must be high enough; for the buyer, the value must be high enough and the price low enough. If buyer and seller can agree, then begins the great mystery and intrigue of negotiating over how much overlap there is in the price range for agreement: How much can the buyer pay? Will the seller go lower? If they agree to meet on a price, the transaction can proceed. If not, the transaction fails. In a free market, there is no guarantee, and that uncertainty is exactly why it works so well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

500 Days

I'm half way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Since I last posted a 100-day update, I realized I do have a single way to see stats on my last 100 days of posting. My two most popular posts in that time were:

• What makes students thrive or flounder

When I first undertook this commitment, I had a lot of writing ideas I wanted to force myself to develop. Once I started, I found many of them I had saved were not as useful as originally thought, mostly due to their now-stale nature. They would have been more useful the time.

Another thing I've noticed in this first half is a daily commitment is a commitment to a very specific length of writing. Some of my posts are more drawn out, and with the nature of blogging it's acceptable to have some be quite short, too. If a point can be made very succinctly, why draw it out further?

What is not as conducive to a daily commitment is longer-form writing. I've had some ideas for longer writing projects, and they've had to take a back seat to the daily writing. I can think of two ways to free myself up for the longer writing.

Monday, November 11, 2019

'We knew we were in the hands of a genius'

Jack Armstrong, my track coach at Abington, was medium height, medium build, with gray hair swept back behind his ears. Every day, he wore the same maroon sweatshirt and windbreaker, the same stopwatch on a lanyard around his neck. And every day, he brought the same positive, cheerful demeanor to work. He never shouted or got angry, just raised or lowered his voice within a narrow range, the slightest change in cadence to get his point across.

“Look at what those guys have just done. And you’re making pretend you’re working out!”

There wasn’t a day I didn’t throw up after practice, sick from the effort.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

An alternative to being judgmental

It's easy to hear something about someone and think nothing but condemnation for them. This helps no one.

Instead, pray for them. Do you believe God can change a person, can deal with whatever is messed up in a person's life?

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

Friday, November 8, 2019

Old early adopters

Some Old Internet People eventually became early adopters of blogs or Twitter, and their facility with internet-mediated social interaction often made them highly visible, influential users.

Some became the first generation of internet researchers, writing up the practices of their own communities.

Others just kept puttering along in their familiar internet byways, and now find themselves having to explain to young whippersnappers that just because they’re older doesn’t mean they don’t know technology—they were programming computers and dialing in via phone lines before said whippersnappers were even born.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

8 life stages

In the mid-1900s, Erikson came up with eight stages of psychosocial development that still guide therapists in their thinking today. … Erikson's psychosocial stages focus on personality development in a social context (such as how infants develop a sense of trust in others).

Most important, Erikson's stages continue throughout the entire lifespan, and each interrelated stage involves a crisis that we need to get through to move on to the next.

They look like this:

Infant (hope)—trust versus mistrust
Toddler (will)—autonomy versus shame
Preschooler (purpose)—initiative versus guilt
School-age child (competence)—industry versus inferiority

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You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin