Saturday, May 26, 2018

Wisdom Of The Week

The best thing about Brooks Brothers apart from their essential catholicity is their conservatism. There are very few items for sale in their stores or online that would have turned an eyeball in 1960. (They have been serious about doing women's clothes for about as long as Donald Trump has been a Republican politician.) Despite the upheaval of the garment industry at the hands of free trade, they have tried to hold fast to ethical manufacturing standards. To this day they have factories in Queens, New York (ties); Garland, North Carolina (shirts); and Haverill, Massachusetts (suits). Even the eight pairs of coral-colored wool socks I bought 50 percent off a few months ago were made in Italy by people paid a just wage rather than by wage slaves. There is virtually no other men's outfitter in the United States of whom this could be said.


I reflect upon these things with quiet satisfaction when I open my closet and see outnumbering the Tyrwhitts and the casual western shirts, the lone Versace of unknown provenance, in a row of stolid whites and blues, with the occasional pink or orange gingham popping up like an embarrassed spring flower, all the sensible items I have acquired from Brooks Brothers. No matter where I am going — to Mass, to my uncle's for a few drinks, to my office downstairs for the morning's work — I know that I will look and feel all right.

- In Praise of Brooks Brothers

Quote of the Day

It’s a metropolis.  Home to millions of ants ... A single colony harvests half a ton of grass a year, more than any other animal on these plains.  But since they themselves can’t eat it why do they do so?  The answer lies underground ... This is a fungus that is found nowhere else on Earth.  And the ants cultivate it assiduously ... They construct their nest so that it has an automatic air conditioning system.

- David Attenborough

Friday, May 25, 2018

Quote of the Day

Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves…. They exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.

- Lewis Thomas

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Quote of the Day

Why then be concerned about the conservation of wildlife when for all practical purposes we would be much better off if humans and their domestic animals and pets were the only living creatures on the face of the earth? There is no obvious and demolishing answer to this rather doubtful logic although in practice the destruction of all wild animals would certainly bring devastating changes to our existence on this planet as we know it today...The trouble is that everything in nature is completely interdependent. Tinker with one part of it and the repercussions ripple out in all directions...Wildlife - and that includes everything from microbes to blue whales and from a fungus to a redwood tree - has been so much part of life on the earth that we are inclined to take its continued existence for granted...Yet the wildlife of the world is disappearing, not because of a malicious and deliberate policy of slaughter and extermination, but simply because of a general and widespread ignorance and neglect.

- Prince Philip Mountbatten

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quote of the Day

Now when you cut a forest, an ancient forest in particular, you are not just removing a lot of big trees and a few birds fluttering around in the canopy. You are drastically imperiling a vast array of species within a few square miles of you. The number of these species may go to tens of thousands. ... Many of them are still unknown to science, and science has not yet discovered the key role undoubtedly played in the maintenance of that ecosystem, as in the case of fungi, microorganisms, and many of the insects.

- Edward O. Wilson

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Quote of the Day

A good upbringing is necessary for a long life, but sometimes the patience of the young trees is sorely tested. As I mentioned in chapter 5, "Tree Lottery," acorns and beechnuts fall at the feet of large "mother trees." Dr. Suzanne Simard, who helped discover maternal instincts in trees, describes mother trees as dominant trees widely linked to other trees in the forest through their fungal-root connections. These trees pass their legacy on to the next generation and exert their influence in the upbringing of the youngsters. "My" small beech trees, which have by now been waiting for at least eighty years, are standing under mother trees that are about two hundred years old -- the equivalent of forty-year-olds in human terms. The stunted trees can probably expect another two hundred years of twiddling their thumbs before it is finally their turn. The wait time is, however, made bearable. Their mothers are in contact with them through their root systems, and they pass along sugar and other nutrients. You might even say they are nursing their babies.

- Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World

Monday, May 21, 2018

Quote of the Day

We inherit every one of our genes, but we leave the womb without a single microbe. As we pass through our mother's birth canal, we begin to attract entire colonies of bacteria. By the time a child can crawl, he has been blanketed by an enormous, unseen cloud of microorganisms--a hundred trillion or more. They are bacteria, mostly, but also viruses and fungi (including a variety of yeasts), and they come at us from all directions: other people, food, furniture, clothing, cars, buildings, trees, pets, even the air we breathe. They congregate in our digestive systems and our mouths, fill the space between our teeth, cover our skin, and line our throats. We are inhabited by as many as ten thousand bacterial species; those cells outnumber those which we consider our own by ten to one, and weigh, all told, about three pounds--the same as our brain. Together, they are referred to as our microbiome--and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists like [Martin J.] Blaser have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.

- Michael Specter

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quote of the Day

Don't postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.

- Alan Cohen

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wisdom Of The Week

Feynman was also a renowned educator. Those lucky enough to have attended his lectures have the best sense of how his agile mind operated. He taught a first-year course at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena: ‘Physics X’, in which students would ask him anything and he’d think on his feet. Feynman loved to astound, and often refused to provide solutions, to spur students on intellectually. The careful notes of attendees have been published as books and articles, bolstering his reputation as a master lecturer. One such from Caltech was the three-volume The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1964). Another, 1959’s The Theory of Fundamental Processes, is based on notes taken by Peter Carruthers and Michael Nauenberg, two students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, when Feynman was a visiting lecturer there in 1958. Nauenberg told me how, during the first lecture, Feynman walked in, glanced at the blackboard, wildly erased the equations on it and declared that they would all learn the whole of physics from scratch. Within a few weeks, the course proceeded from elementary quantum mechanics to Feynman’s rules for particle-physics calculations. The Character of Physical Law (1967), another of Feynman’s works, emerged from lectures he delivered at Cornell six years later.

Feynman’s books urge us to explore the world with open-minded inquisitiveness, as if encountering it for the first time. He worked from the idea that all of us could aspire to take the same mental leaps as him. But, of course, not every ambitious young magician can be a Harry Houdini. Whereas other educators might try to coddle those who couldn’t keep up, Feynman never relented. The essence of his philosophy was to find something that you can do well, and put your heart and soul into it. If not physics, then another passion — bongos, perhaps.

Richard Feynman at 100

Quote of the Day

When a problem occurs, a good leader will accept the news with patience and understanding, listen carefully, discuss the cause with the managers and team members directly affected by the problem, and work toward a solution.

- William C. Oakes, Christlike Leadership: Leadership that Starts with an Attitude