Archive for July, 2006

From Erie to Ontario

July 24, 2006

Charles Mackay finds an analogy for the life of John Law during the Mississippi scheme:

His fate was like that which may be supposed to have overtaken the first adventurous boatman who rowed from Erie to Ontario. Broad and smooth was the river on which he embarked; rapid and pleasant was his progress; and who was to stay him in his career? Alas for him! the cataract was nigh. He saw, when it was too late, that the tide which wafted him so joyously along was a tide of destruction; and when he endeavoured to retrace his way, he found that the current was too strong for his weak efforts to stem, and that he drew nearer every instant to the tremendous falls. Down he went over the sharp rocks, and the waters with him. He was dashed to pieces with his bark, but the waters, maddened and turned to foam by the rough descent, only boiled and bubbled for a time, and then flowed on again as smoothly as ever. Just so it was with Law and the French people. He was the boatman and they were the waters.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of the Crowds, “The Mississippi Scheme”.


“A Prairie Home Companion”

July 22, 2006

Perfect film for a hot summer night: Slow-paced and comfortable. I enjoyed it, though I still don’t understand the last scene.

Hot town, summer in the city…

July 21, 2006

The mercury hit 104 this afternoon, which is a Portland record for July 21.

It was still 100 when I got off the 6 at Belmont. I picked up my mail at the post office, then thought: “What the hell…why not walk the rest of the way home?”

I made it three-quarters of a mile before hopping on the 14 for the rest of the trip.

My house does not have central air. Off to Cinemagic to see “A Prairie Home Companion”!

This week’s iTunes purchases

July 20, 2006
  • “Nature Anthem” by Grandaddy
  • “The Sun Shines Down on Me” by Guster
  • “Kicks in the Schoolyard” by The Rosebuds
  • “Are You With Me?” by Overnight
  • “Good Thing” by Fine Young Cannibals
  • “Death Disco” by Public Image Limited
  • “Drum Mode” by Gray
  • “This is Not a Love Song” by Public Image Limited
  • “Joining a Fan Club” by Jellyfish
  • “The Captain of Her Heart” by Double

I wanna walk up the side of the mountain…

July 19, 2006

Spent the early afternoon today hiking in Forest Park. After a couple of days of grueling mental work, I needed something physical.

I started at the Thurman Street Bridge trailhead, and took the Lower Macleay Trail to the stone house. I picked up the Wildwood Trail there and took it to Pittock Mansion, which I toured for the first time. A handsome house with some of the best views in Portland — if you live here and haven’t visited, you’re missing out!

After the mansion tour, I continued on the Wildwood Trail to the Japanese Garden, and caught the 63 back to the city.

I need to get out there more often…

Words to remember

July 16, 2006

I’m sure I am wrong about many things, although I’m not sure exactly which things I’m wrong about.

— Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pgs. 19-20.

Image and reality

July 16, 2006

Martha Nussbaum’s review of Harvey Mansfield’s book Manliness is a demonstration of what can make a book review worthwhile. She explores not just the intellectual failings of a book purported to be an intellectual work, but goes on to examine how those failings could plausibly have been a deliberate attempt to increase Mansfield’s appeal and marketability to a certain audience.

Nussbaum shows how the image of “Harvey Mansfield” differs from the reality of Harvey Mansfield. That sort of exposé is necessary but too rare.

Image is nearly empty when detached from reality. An intellectual image so detached can do little more than provide a brief thrill of knowingness that seems like knowledge before you stop to think about it.

Humility is a virtue because it restrains us to the hard work of reality when the easy charm of image tempts us. And when people are not humble, as with Professor Mansfield, sometimes it is in the public interest to humble them.


July 15, 2006

Have you ever seen a phrase in a foreign language and you don’t know what it means but you know what it looks like it means?

For example: A ballet called “Im Puppenladen”. The title obviously means “I’m carrying puppies”. And the plot is about the trials and tribulations of pirouetting while balancing several squirming and yelping canines in your arms.

According to Free2Professional Translation, however, “Im Puppenladen” is actually German for “in the doll store”. Which sounds more like a ballet, but not nearly as much fun.

Young love

July 11, 2006

Seen today on Southeast 33rd Avenue: A teenage boy walking about half a block ahead of a teenage girl running.

And he’s smiling because she’s running after him.

And she’s smiling because she’s about to catch him.

World Cup pool results

July 10, 2006

Finished 4th out of 28 in Jack Bogdanski’s pool.

My only regret is not picking Germany to beat Argentina. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I picked Argentina to win it all.