An Uncomfortable Peace

A great quote from my Quora feed reminding us why old men are best suited to negotiate an uncomfortable peace.

There’s nothing further here for a warrior. We drive bargains. Old men’s work. Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men. Courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace. And the vices of peace are the vices of old men. Mistrust and caution. It must be so.

7 Cardinal Rules For Life

7 Cardinal Rules For Life

  1. Make peace with your past
    so it won’t disturb your present.
  2. What other people think of you
    is none of your business.
  3. Time heals almost everything.
    Give it time.
  4. No one is in charge
    of your happiness, except you.
  5. Don’t compare your life to others
    and don’t judge them, you have no idea what their journey is all about.
  6. Stop thinking too much.
    It’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.
  7. Smile.
    You don’t own all the problems in the world.

I got this from a post on a Simple Thing Called Life. For fun I converted the image version back into straight HTML and CSS.

Dillian’s Loop

There is something just not right about our economic malaise. Obviously this economy is different from my father’s economy but just because it is different does not mean it is better. When I went to college in the 1970s my middle class parents cash-flowed my education. Today it is nearly impossible for middle class parents to cash-flow their kid’s college education. Is this progress? The same is true about health insurance. It was such a non-issue in the 1970s that I can only remember that I had it and did not have to pay for it. As a healthy person I get no value from my current health insurance but it has grown to be one of my largest expenses and most of the increase occurred in the last couple of years. Is this progress? We seem to stuck in a loop where we keep spending more money to get the same results our parents got for much less.  It is this value proposition that is frustrating and angering the middle class the most. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to read a Mauldin Economics newsletter describing “Dillian’s Loop“.  Jared described it simply by giving the following example.

  • If the regulations work, they are declared a success and they write more regulations.
  • If they don’t work, it means they need to have more regulations.

In a way it reminds me of Albert Einstein’s quote, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“. The subtle difference is that “Dillian’s Loop” makes fun of people who continue to propose single factor answers to multi-factor problems despite getting the wrong answer or in some cases the right answer for the wrong reason. In the developed world we still cling to the belief that there are simple solutions to complex problems and we are only one smart administrator away from eventual success. This belief permeates a lot of our policy making. Many of the Affordable Care Act supporters believe that because they expanded Medicaid it is working as intended and the act only needs a little tweaking to bring affordable health care back into the Affordable Care Act. If reforming health care costs was that simple why didn’t the Affordable Care Act supporters start off with that? Do they really believe a few more regulations will fix the health care cost problem? Even if this overly simplistic belief system leads us into making bad decisions on complex problems like the Affordable Care Act, regulations, or quantitative easing, we cling to another belief that there is still time to kick the problems down the road for the next generation to fix. The problem is that our faith in these two beliefs is waning and the clock is ticking on when our problems will spin out of control. If we cannot fake till we make it, we will be screwed.

Sage Advice on Making Political Points

From Ann Althouse’s blog we have this sage advice. I hate to think we need to seek lawyer’s advice before making a political commentary but  we can probably minimize this problem if we spend a little more time looking at the problem from the other side. We seem to see a lot of “misrepresenting the facts” problems when people are in a rush to publish.

If you have a set of facts that you want to present to make a political point, you have to frame your words carefully, so that your grasping for strength of expression doesn’t result in any inaccuracy.

Quotes on Writing

Here are some sage quotes on writing collected by Business Insider writer, Megan Willett.

On Getting Started:

“I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I’m in good company there.” – J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter” series.

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” – Harper Lee, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London, “White Fang.”

On Word Choice And Punctuation:

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.” – George Orwell, “1984.”

“If you are using dialogue ”” say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.” – John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath.”

“Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby.”

On Story Development:

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.” – Vladimir Nabokov, “Lolita.”

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” – Edgar Allen Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

“Get it down. Take Chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner, “The Sound and the Fury.”

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451.”

On Editing:

“Write drunk, edit sober.” – Ernest Hemingway, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” – Stephen King, “The Green Mile.”

“My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.” – Anton Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories.”

“Substitute ”˜damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ”˜very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

And Why Simplicity Is Always Key:

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson, “The Declaration of Independence" and other writings.

“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.” – William Butler Yeats, “Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.”

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