Diversify Your Business Risk through Shared Risk and Reward Programs

Diversify Your Business Risk through Shared Risk and Reward Programs Risk assessment is a principal tool used to make current environmental decisions, but it is still crude, expensive, and controversial.

While diversification is indispensable to managing financial investment risk, business leaders need to prevaricate their bets and manage their financial vulnerabilities.

Risk taking is the part of business strategy that involves assessing how a business’s decisions will damage or benefit the company. Every business encounters risks, which may or may not be anticipated or controlled by the company.

This does not mean you attempt into markets or embrace technologies you don’t understand, but instead that you look at what you are already doing and categorize natural market synergies and product line extensions. In addition, it is best to be ahead of the curve on market trends and changes rather than lagging behind them.

Leaders Comprehend the Value of Shared Risk and Reward Programs

'Enterprise Risk Management' by James Lam (ISBN 111841361X) There is no seamless diversification strategy. It is more of an art than a science. The significant thing is to protect your margins and stabilize your cash flow while growing your top line. For example, you may have some parts of the business that are in a fast growth mode and eating cash. In this case, it would be helpful to have other areas of the business that are growing more incrementally, generating surplus cash flow and steady margins.

Risk assessment is a form of analysis of the probability and magnitude of harm from various events and activities. Related to the science of risk assessment, risk management determines how to plan for and communicate about risks. Risk perception is a science devoted to examining the qualitative aspects of risk, not simply its quantitative aspects.

To bring together the various disciplines and implement integrated risk management, ensuring the buy-in of top-level executives is vital. These executives can institute the processes that enable people and resources across the company to participate in identifying and assessing risks, and tracking the actions taken to mitigate or eliminate those risks.

'The Essentials of Risk Management' by Michel Crouhy (ISBN 0071818510) You may also have become too reliant upon one client and need to have a marketing strategy that pushes you to identify multiple new prospects that have the potential to grow with you in the same way. You may entered one market as much as you can and need to expand to other geographies. Never rest on your marketing laurels or get too self-satisfied. Companies needed to take advantage of regional management contracts.

I realize that business size does come into play here. However, regardless of how big you are, do not become a “one trick pony.” Anticipate that your business will have up and down periods and then think of imaginative ways to smooth out this curve. All good leaders understand and embrace the importance of diversification. To the maximum degree possible, put your fate in your own hands instead of being subject to whims of the marketplace.

Tagged
Posted in Business and Strategy

Mighty in Deeds and Not in Words

The Wisdom of Deeds Will Be Necessary for the World to Come

Wisdom of Deeds Will Be Necessary The man sweeping the synagogue paused for a moment. He looked at die flowers lying about in disorder. “What waste!” he said to himself. Those roses had adorned the pulpit at a wedding an hour before. Now all was over and they were waiting to be discarded.

The attendant leaning on his sweeper was lost in thought when suddenly he heard a strange sound. One of the roses replied to him.

“Do you call this a waste?” the flower protested. “What is life anyway, yours or mine, but a means of service? My mission was to create some fragrance and beauty, and when I have fulfilled it, my life has not been wasted. And what greater privilege is there than to adorn a bride’s way to her beloved, what greater privilege than to help glorify the moment when a bride and groom seal their faith in each other by entering the covenant of marriage?”

Our listed flower paused for a moment to watch the man’s face, and then continued her discourse.

Roses are like people. They live in deeds, not in time.

My glory was but for a brief hour, but you should have seen the joy in the bride’s eye, “I like to believe that I had something to do with it, by creating a suitable setting for the moment of her supreme happiness. So do not grieve for me. My life has been worthwhile”

Having spoken her little piece, the rose was once more silent. The attendant, startled from his reverie and a little wiser, pushed the sweeper again and continued with his work.

If only the people who agonize about their financial obligation would think about the riches they do possess, they would stop troubling. Would you sell both your eyes for a one hundred thousand dollars … or your two legs … or your hands … or your hearing? Add up what you do have, and you will find that you will not sell them for all the gold in the planet. The best things in life are yours, if you can acknowledge the economic value of yourself.

Be Not Careless in Deeds

Be Not Careless in Deeds In all cases and constitutions, in all habits of body, at every point of life, and under possibly every circumstance, cool air, drinking cold water bountifully, and bathing the whole body, or at least the private parts with tepid or icy cold water, agrees absolutely well, and produces the happiest and most providential effects. Therefore, it is strongly connected with a detestation of oppression of every kind; and forms a taste for liberty and laws.

The great majority of psychiatrists not only hold that dementia consists in the constipation of such encompassing mental powers as memory, judgment, conception, etc., but also believe—in company with most psychologists—that an average mental test measures one of these powers. The Lebanese-American scholar, statistician, and essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in Antifragile,

While in the past people of rank or status were those and only those who took risks, who had the downside for their actions, and heroes were those who did so for the sake of others, today the exact reverse is taking place. We are witnessing the rise of a new class of inverse heroes, that is, bureaucrats, bankers, Davos-attending members of the I.A.N.D. (International Association of Name Droppers), and academics with too much power and no real downside and/or accountability. They game the system while citizens pay the price.

At no point in history have so many non-risk-takers, that is, those with no personal exposure, exerted so much control.

The chief ethical rule is the following: Thou shalt not have antifragility at the expense of the fragility of others.

In all matters of opinion and science, the case it diametrical: The divergence among men is there oftener found to lie in generals than in particulars; and to be less in reality than in appearance. The reliable harvest of my daily life is as impalpable and untellable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little stardust caught a section of the rainbow, which I have clutched. If the flash should reach so low as the earth, and a person should regrettably be in the place of its detonation, he is broadly struck dead in a moment, and feels the most instant of all kinds of death. Mighty in deeds and not in words.

Tagged
Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Peter Cundill Quotes from ‘There’s Always Something to Do’

Peter Cundill Quotes from 'There's Always Something to Do'

F. Peter Cundill (1938–2011) was a Canadian value investor of the Benjamin Graham investment school. He was most well known for his flagship investment fund, Cundill Value Fund. His The Mac Cundill Value Fund Series A has returned 10.1% per annum during 1993 until 2003, compared with 8.1% for the benchmark Citigroup World Equity index, according to Morningstar.

  • On Forecasting: “I think that intelligent forecasting (company revenues, earnings, etc.) should not seek to predict what will in fact happen in the future. Its purpose ought to be to illuminate the road, to point out obstacles and potential pitfalls and so assist management to tailor events and to bend them in a desired direction. Forecasting should be used as a device to put both problems and opportunities into perspective. It is a management tool, but it can never be a substitute for strategy, nor should it ever be used as the primary basis for portfolio investment decisions.”
  • On Skepticism: “Scepticism is good, but be a sceptic, not an iconoclast. Have rigour and flexibility, which might be considered an oxymoron but is exactly what I meant when I quoted Peter Robertson’s dictum ‘always change a winning game.’ An investment framework ought to include a liberal dose of scepticism both in terms of markets and of company accounts. Taking this a step further, a lot of MBA programs, particularly these days, teach you about market efficiency and accounting rules, but this is not a perfect world and there will always be anomalies and there is always “wriggle room” within company accounts so you have to stick to your guns and forget the hype.”
  • On Patience for Investors and Selling Too Early: “This is a recurring problem for most value investors—that tendency to buy and to sell too early. The virtues of patience are severely tested and you get to thinking it’s never going to work and then finally your ship comes home and you’re so relieved that you sell before it’s time. What we ought to do is go off to Bali or some such place and sit in the sun to avoid the temptation to sell too early.”
  • 'There is Always Something to Do' by Peter Cundill (ISBN 0773535373) On Statistical Overvaluation: “I almost stopped selling Japan short in the last quarter of 1989 because I couldn’t stand it anymore. But intellectually I was convinced that I was right and so I carried on and then in the first quarter of 1990 the Japanese market fell by 25% in eight weeks and I made back everything I’d given away since 1987 plus a good deal more. But I tell you statistical overvaluation is a funny thing—it can go on for a very long time, far beyond the limits of rationality, and it is a problem for the value investor in two ways: it can tempt one to compromise standards on the buy side and it may lure one into selling things far too early. I have less of a problem with the selling temptation because I have always loved cash—if you’ve got lots of it you will never have to pass up a great opportunity.”
  • On Curiosity: “Curiosity is the engine of civilization. If I were to elaborate it would be to say read, read, read, and don’t forget to talk to people, really talk, listening with attention and having conversations, on whatever topic, that are an exchange of thoughts. Keep the reading broad, beyond just the professional. This helps to develop one’s sense of perspective in all matters.”
  • On Patience: “For all my emphasis on the virtues of patience in value investment it has to go hand in hand with minute attention to the detail, with conviction and determination, otherwise patience is just futile endurance.”
  • On Intellectual Distractions for Investors: “Just as many smart people fail in the investment business as stupid ones. Intellectually active people are particularly attracted to elegant concepts, which can have the effect of distracting them from the simpler, more fundamental, truths.”

On the Worst Investment He Ever Made

The worst investment we have ever had was Cable & Wireless, which had built up a large cash pile through the sale of telephone companies in Hong Kong and Australia and their mobile telephone business in the UK. They were well negotiated, judicious sales. What they had left was a stand-alone operation in the Caribbean, which still exists, and they were in the fibre optic business that was blowing cash. So we said, look they’ve got cash, they’ve got a valuable, viable business and let’s assume the fibre optic business is worth zero—it wasn’t, it was worth less than zero, much, much less! Their accounting was flawed to say the least and they became obsessed by a technological dream. In this respect it was reminiscent of Nortel and that should have caused me to think twice.

I talked to John Templeton about it afterwards and he took a worse hit than us. He said “this is why we diversify, if you are right 60% of the time and wrong 40% you’re always going to be a hero, if you are right 40% of the time and wrong 60% you will be a bum.” I think he probably put it more elegantly than that! But there’s one more thing. We had put a huge amount of time and energy into that one and we were willing it to save itself and, on the face of it, it could have. What we needed was a dissenter in the team—a contrarian among contrarians, a lateral thinker watching out for the left field. On that occasion there wasn’t one. So my thought is, if there’s no natural sceptic on an investment maybe it would be wise to appoint one of the team to play Devil’s Advocate anyway.

'Routines and Orgies- The Life of Peter Cundill' by Christopher Risso-Gill (ISBN 0773544720) Peter Cundill was the founder of Cundill Investment Research and was named Canada’s fund manager of the year at the Canadian Investment Awards gala held in early December 2004. Born in Montreal and based in London, Cundill spent much of the year scouring the globe in search of value opportunities for Mackenzie Financial‘s Cundill fund family.

On Investors’ Biggest Challenges

The ultimate skill in this business is in knowing when to make the judgement call to let profits run. While it is true that 99% of investment effort is routine, unspectacular enquiry, checking and double checking, laboriously building up a web of information with single threads until it constitutes a complete tableau, just occasionally a flash of inspiration may be necessary. Once we have begun to build a position it has to be recognized that our intentions may change in the course of its construction. An influential, or even controlling, position quite often results from a situation where a cheap security does little or nothing price-wise for such a long time that we are able to buy a significant percentage of the equity. Whether our intentions remain passive under these circumstances depends on an assessment of the outlook for the company and the capability of its management, but I don’t think that we ought to be pro-active merely for the sake of it. My task is principally the identification of opportunity and the decision to press the buy button. This may sometimes turn out to be a catalyst in itself, but normally we should rely on others to do the promotional work or to put the company directly into play. Otherwise it will turn into a constant and time-consuming distraction from our prime objective of finding cheap securities to buy.

Tagged
Posted in Investing and Finance

Zen Koan #26: Parable of Trading Dialogue for Lodging – Buddhist Teaching on the Eyes of Love

Zen Koan #26: Parable of Trading Dialogue for Lodging - Buddhist Teaching on the Eyes of Love In our most tenebrous times of being disoriented or inundated, there is additionally sapience in reaching out to ask for avail. The mentors, sagacious friends, and guides who treasure our celebrity, are allies to call upon in the moments of greatest pain. However, if you go one step further into no mind, you cannot even be in the present. There is a saying that is useful for practitioners: “Put down the myriad thoughts.” Even if you convince yourself intellectually that everything is illusory, you may still have a lurking concept of the reality of things and be attached to them.

The feeling of resistance to the pain, the feeling of utter helplessness, and the feeling of hopelessness disappear. To respond appropriately to any given situation, an individual must have some understanding of that situation. A practitioner should not consider his own security. However, the effort to still your mind will cause it to become more active. There might be more placidity. Originally, you had to work very hard on your method, but when you get to the second level, everything flows naturally.

This does not mean that you do nothing, but that your mind is in a state of rest. Their minds are filled with thoughts of misery and a sense of failure.

Zen Koan: “Trading Dialogue for Lodging” Parable

Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live there, any wondering monk can remain in a Zen temple. If he is defeated, he has to move on.

In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together. The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had but one eye.

A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about the sublime teachings. The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take his place. “Go and request the dialogue in silence,” he cautioned.

So the young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down.

Shortly afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said: “Your young brother is a wonderful fellow. He defeated me.”

“Relate the dialogue to me,” said the elder one.

“Well,” explained the traveler, “first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and his followers, living the harmonious life. Then he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here.” With this, the traveler left.

“Where is that fellow?” asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.

“I understand you won the debate.”

“Won nothing. I’m going to beat him up.”

“Tell me the subject of the debate,” asked the elder one.

“Why, the minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes. Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended it!”

Buddhist Insight on Seeing With The Eyes of Love

In Zen Buddhism, it is quite likely that the mental faculty is most active at every crucial hour. If there’s confusion and doubt, to read something or to speak with someone—it just reminds you of another part of yourself that’s a counter to that, so then you come into enough stability to watch it. By the damp womb, it is fettered, in unbearable fearful stench. Practically anything useful can be given as a gift when seen with the eyes of love. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Teachings On Love,

When the energy of love is strong in us, we can send it to beings in all directions. But we must not think that love meditation is only an act of imagination – we might imagine our love as being like waves of sound or light, or like a pure, white cloud that forms slowly and gradually spreads out to envelop the whole world. A true cloud produces rain. Sound and light penetrate everywhere, and our love must do the same. We have to observe whether our mind of love is present in our actual contact with others. Practicing love meditation in the sitting position is only the beginning.

But it is an important beginning. We sit quietly and look deeply into ourselves. With practice, our love will increase naturally, becoming all-inclusive and all-embracing. As we learn to see with the eyes of love, we empty our minds of anger and hatred.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Glimpses of History #1: Early Humans

Australopithecus - Fossils of Early Humans The term australopithecine refers to any member of the extinct genus of human-like hominids Australopithecus, supposed to have existed between 4 million and 1 million years ago in southern and eastern Africa.

The most compete fossil material is known from the Ethiopian archaeological spot of Hadar, about 50 km (30 mi) north of Aramis, where deposits returned fossils dating between 3.4 and 2.9 Ma. In 1974, an incomplete skeleton was found and recognized as a female by its pelvic bones (and small size compared to other fossils) and nicknamed Lucy. This person would have stood only 3.5 ft (106 cm) tall and weighed possibly 65 lb (30 kg). In Ethiopia, the assembly is also known as Dinkinesh, which suggests “you are marvelous” in the Amharic language.

The history of human evolution expands both onwards and backwards from this point. Hominidae, the taxonomic ancestors that humans share with their closest living relatives, the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos, the latter controversially proposed to be closer to Lucy than modern humans) shared a mutual ancestry up until rather recently in evolutionary terms, possibly distinguishing 6 million years or so ago. The first beings to walk erect easily seem to have been the Australopithecus genus, developing around 4 million years ago; they had smaller brains than even modern apes, and became destroyed perhaps 2 million years ago. However, they were capable of developing tools, and genus Homo (which involves contemporary humans) evolved from them.

Members of the family Hominidae, including our own species Homo sapiens, our supposed ancestors Homo erectus and Homo habilis, and forms believed to be intimately related called collectively the australopithecines. Many scientists now also incorporate the African great apes—the two chimpanzees and gorilla—in the human family, instead of grouping them with the more vaguely related Asian apes. The outmoded way of grouping the large apes (chimpanzees, gorilla, and orang-utan) is in their own family, Pongidae. Approximations of the date of divergence of the ape and human lineages vary.

The Asian apes undoubtedly branched off 8–12 million years ago and the African apes 10–5 million years ago. The stages of progress in which humans departed from ape-like ancestors and took on their current form required no less than five million years.

Tagged
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Magnificent Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery Building in Mysore

The Magnificent Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery Building in Mysore

As the name itself signifies, the Jaganmohan Palace is an elegant and majestic building in Mysore. Actually it is at a walking distance from the Mysore palace to the west of it. It was originally built during the rule of Krishnaraja Wadeyar III sometime in 1860. When there was an accidental fire in the Mysore palace, this was used as a palace and all important functions took place here. The marriage of the then Yuvaraja was celebrated in this palace.

Glow of Hope by Sawlaram Haldankar in Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, Mysore This palace also served as the durbar hall until the completion of the new pavilion in 1910. Another important function that took place here was the installation of His Highness the Maharaja in 1902 which was graced by Lord Curzon, the Governor General and Viceroy of India.

Later in 1900, a spacious and ornamental pavilion was added to the then existing palace. It was specially designed for the invitees to witness marriages, royal installations, and birthday celebrations. The long hall has two balconies on both sides so that the royal women could witness the functions.

Subsequently the Representative Assembly meetings took place here. Even Mysore university convocations were held here for some time.

Raja Ravi Varma Paintings in Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, Mysore

Today this palace has been made into an art gallery. The three-story structure behind the main hall is a fine repository of paintings, sculptures, musical instruments and other artefacts connected with Mysore royal family. The excellent paintings include those made by Raja Ravivarma, Ramavarma, and some European artists and Roerich.

Particularly interesting are the paintings giving the genealogy of Mysore kings and other matters of interest. The front facade of this palace is majestic with stucco ornamentation and broad doors. Minarets and domes at the four corners are highly pleasing.

Jaganmohan Art Gallery The central part has a vimana like tower with minarets and kalasha. The miniature sikharas on either side have chaitya like niches and the same is found at the central dome. Thus, it looks very elegant. It has a vast enclosure with a fine garden and huge shady trees. Hundreds of tourists visit this palace daily to get a glimpse of the Mysore royalty through paintings and other artefacts in the rare ambiance of a contemporary palace for which the Maharajas were famous universally.

Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

How Corporate Executive Education Programs Could Collaborate with Universities

How Corporate Executive Education Programs Could Collaborate with Universities

Executive education programs are comprehensive and wide-ranging. Everything from off-the-shelf programs focused on significant business challenges to made-to-order programs. Great faculty-people who can stimulate and invigorate executives-teach these programs. Executives go back to their firms with great recollections and ideas. They feel cherished by their company because the company has invested in them. Hurrah!

How can lessons from these involvements be applied to enhance business results? The answer lies in cultivating the relationship between the corporation and the university.

Curriculum design in Corporate Executive Education Programs The first step is to tailor the executive education program with the university. To do this, the firm must have specific goals that the core curriculum can address. These goals could aim at specific business problems or performance. Class makeup is important in any made-to-order course designed for impact. Attendees must be responsible for that impact.

The firm will need an executive sponsor who can enunciate the goals and contribute to the curriculum architecture. Inherent in this design is the post-program application. Useful goals are measurable. Measure their state of achievement before and after the course to understand impact. When the core curriculum is designed around these goals, attendees then can be expected to conclude the program with a plan to apply the lessons. If at all possible, the executive sponsor should hear those plans and follow their progress.

Curriculum design must integrate scalable learning. If the lessons learned during the course are to generate operational results, those who attended the course must teach them to those who did not attend. This can be a challenge given time and location constraints. Scalability often necessitates innovative solutions such as interactive e-learning sessions where employees anywhere, anytime can partake in online sessions that deliver the key message to implement. Future programs for smaller teams targeting a specific problem can be launched through virtual white-board sessions with faculty. CDs also provide a useful medium to capture and share key sessions. Workbooks can be used to scale the plans.

Corporate Executive Education Programs partnership between a corporation and a university Our universities include impressive thought leaders who spend their careers studying business challenges, pursuing solutions across industries. This talent can do far more than share their insights. If properly reinforced, they can channel their classroom work towards corporation-specific goals. This support includes pre-program preparation. Meeting with the faculty and educating them on the firm’s business and the goals is vital. Investor relations’ performances and annual reports are useful tools for this meeting. They cannot customize their teaching if they do not understand the business and the issues. Depending on the content necessitated, a non-disclosure agreement may be needed.

Faculty must also understand the attendees and their roles in the goal achievement. Once the faculty understands who does-what-where, they can effectively tailor discussions for individual and group needs. Knowledgeable faculty can also participate in study group discussions beyond the classroom and help create solutions. Also, sharing the attendees’ biographies or leadership profiles can give the faculty an understanding of their partners in this impact-focused learning journey.

The elements of a working partnership between a corporation and a university are the same ones we use for any partnership. Both parties must have an open working relationship with identified, measurable goals. Clear communication is imperative. Both parties must be focused on results and know the talent they have to achieve those results. Scalable solutions are indispensable. We approach business this way every day. Developing our key talent deserves nothing less in commitment or rigor.

Tagged
Posted in Business and Strategy

Synopsis of the “Romeo and Juliet” Ballet in Three Acts

Synopsis of the 'Romeo and Juliet' Ballet in Three Acts

Romeo and Juliet was first performed by The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House on February 9, 1965. It entered the repertoire of American Ballet Theatre on January 3, 1985, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. with Leslie Browne and Robert La Fosse in the leading roles of Juliet and Romeo.

Romeo and Juliet Ballet: ACT I

  • Scene #1: The Market Place. The scene is Verona. Romeo, son of Montague, tries vainly to declare his love for Rosaline and is comforted by his friends Mercutio and Benvolio. As day breaks the townsfolk meet in the market place, and a squabble develops between Tybalt, a nephew of Capulet, and Romeo and his friends. The Capulets and Montagues are sworn enemies, and a fight soon starts. The Lords Montague and Capulet join in the fray, which is stopped by the appearance of the Prince of Verona, who orders the families to end their feud.
  • 'The Ballet Book' by American Ballet Theater (ISBN 0789308657) Scene #2: Juliet’s Anteroom in the Capulet House. Juliet, playing with her nurse, is interrupted by her parents, Lord and Lady Capulet. They present her to Paris, an affluent young aristocrat who has asked for her hand in marriage.
  • Scene #3: Outside the Capulet House. Guests arrive for a ball at the Capulets’ household. Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio, disguised in masks, decide to go in pursuit of Rosaline.
  • Scene #4: The Ballroom. Romeo and his friends arrive at the height of the revelries. The guests watch Juliet dance. Mercutio, seeing Romeo is entranced by her, dances to sidetrack attention from him. Tybalt recognizes Romeo and orders him to leave, but Lord Capulet interferes and receives him as a guest in his house.
  • Scene #5: Outside the Capulet House. As the guests leave the ball, Lady Capulet contains Tybalt from pursuing Romeo.
  • Scene #6: Juliet’s Balcony. Unable to sleep, Juliet comes out on to her balcony and is thinking of Romeo when he suddenly appears in the garden. They acknowledge their love for each other.

Romeo and Juliet Ballet: ACT II

  • Scene #1: The Market Place. Romeo can think just of Juliet. Moreover, as a wedding pageant passes, he dreams of the day when he will marry her. Meanwhile, Juliet’s nurse pushes her way through the crowds looking for Romeo to give him a letter from Juliet. He reads that Juliet has agreed to be his wife.
  • Scene #2: The Chapel. The lovers are clandestinely married by Friar Laurence, who hopes that their union will end the discord between the Montagues and the Capulets.
  • Scene #3: The Market Place. Interjecting the revelry, Tybalt fights with Mercutio and kills him. Romeo avenges the death of his friend and is banished.

Romeo and Juliet Ballet: ACT III

  • Scene #1: The Bedroom. At dawn the next morning, the household is agitating and Romeo must go. He hugs Juliet and leaves as her parents enter with Paris. Juliet declines to marry Paris, and hurt by her snub, he leaves. Juliet’s parents are annoyed and threaten to disclaim her. Juliet rushes to see Friar Laurence.
  • 'Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina' by Misty Copeland (ISBN 1476737991) Scene #2: The Chapel. Juliet falls at the Friar’s feet and begs for his help. He gives her an ampoule of sleeping potion that will make her fall into a death-like sleep. Her parents, believing her dead, will bury her in the family tomb. Meanwhile, Romeo, warned by Friar Laurence, will revisit under cover of darkness and take her away from Verona.
  • Scene #3: The Bedroom. That evening, Juliet agrees to marry Paris, but next morning, when her parents arrive with him they find her seemingly lifeless on the bed.
  • Scene #4: The Capulet Family Crypt. Romeo, failing to receive the Friar’s communication, returns to Verona dumbfounded by grief at the news of Juliet’s death. Masquerading as a monk, he enters the crypt. Finding Paris by Juliet’s body, Romeo kills him and, thinking Juliet to be dead, drinks a vial of poison. Juliet awakes and, finding Romeo dead, stabs herself.
Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Three Expositions on “The Fox and The Lion”

Three Expositions on The Fox and The Lion

The “Fox and the Lion” from Aesop’s Fables:

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

From Chapter XVIII “Concerning The Way In Which Princes Should Keep Faith” in Niccolo Machiavelli‘s The Prince:

A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to excuse this nonobservance.

From Marcus Tullius Cicero‘s De Officiis (On Duties or On Obligations):

But let us remember that we must have regard for justice even towards the humblest. Now the humblest station and the poorest fortune are those of slaves; and they give us no bad rule who bid us treat our slaves as we should our employees: they must be required to work; they must be given their dues. While wrong may be done, then, in either of two ways, that is, by force or by fraud, both are bestial: fraud seems to belong to the cunning fox, force to the lion; both are wholly unworthy of man, but fraud is the more contemptible. But of all forms of injustice, none is more flagrant than that of the hypocrite who, at the very moment when he is most false, makes it his business to appear virtuous. This must conclude our discussion of justice.

Tagged
Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

The Significance of Weeds in the Garden

Why God Made Weeds

Why God Made Weeds A farmer once sighed after he had finished weeding his garden. His back was bent; the perspiration ran down his face. “If not for those cursed weeds,” he said to himself, “gardening would be such a joy. Why God made weeds is really beyond me.”

The farmer mused a little as he contemplated the heap of weeds he had pulled out. Suddenly one of the weeds spoke up. Its face was already pale and wilting, but it mustered enough strength to speak in self-defense.

“You should not speak ill of any of God’s creatures,” the little weed said. “You have given us a bad name and decried our presence in the world. We render you a thousand uses you may not be aware of. We tend your soil when you are not there to cultivate it. We prevent your precious earth from being washed away by the rain. We do not allow it to be carried away by the wind as dust. Moreover, do we not justify our existence even in your carefully cultivated garden? Your flowers would never be able to stand the elements, to survive the blowing winds and lashing rains, if we did not toughen them. In their skirmishes with us, they gain strength. When you enjoy their spectacle, remember that we had a part in their growth.

If a great part of humanity had their eyes thus tinctured, each would see objects different from his fellow, yet none would be sensitive of the mistake.

If even those weak forms of religion, mixed with so much wrongdoing, were significant to society; how much more, that reasonable and true worship of God which the gospel teaches? True religious belief introduces the idea of regular subjugation, by accustoming humankind to the awe of super ordinate power, in the divinity, joined with the esteem of superior wisdom and goodness.

The weed made a marked impression, and then although almost exhausted it continued in a peroration, “The vegetation you cultivate is like the people in your own world. They need some opposition to be toughened for the formidable business of living.”

The weed resumed its silence. The farmer straightened his back as he wiped his brow. A smile of satisfaction came over his face. He looked out on the field that was yet to be weeded, but he knew that weeding would no longer be a disagreeable task. They are fixed in a frame, which can interpolate their focal distance at pleasure, so that the same machine, which throws the combined reflected rays to a distance of two hundred feet, may, by the turn of a handle, be made to throw their united force upon an object not distant above twenty.

We Value Medicine for the Role Can Play in Promoting a Return to Health

Promoting a Return to Health The level to which a signal would alter the lives of our descendants depends on whether we could decipher any attached message. The assortment of sounds is innumerous; but because the ear cannot compare two sounds so as promptly to differentiate their discriminations when they exceed the proportionality of one and seven, musicians have been contented to confine all concordance within that compass, and allowed but seven notes in musical composition. Mark Rowlands The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness

According to many philosophers, happiness is intrinsically valuable. What they mean is that happiness is valuable for its own sake, not for the sake of anything else. Most of the things we value, we do so because of other things they can do for us. We value money, for example, only because of other things we can purchase with it: food, shelter, security, perhaps, some of us thing, even happiness. We value medicine not in itself but because of the role it can play in promoting a return to health. Money and medicine are instrumentally valuable, but they are not intrinsically valuable.

The honor and glory of the average man is that he is capable of following that enterprisingness; that he can respond internally to wise and noble things, and be led to them with his eyes open. He went from being a demanding boss to a very verbally opprobrious boss to a boss who would come in and throw things at you. In such moments, and in many early moments likewise, he reminds one of the approbatory spirits of Ronald Reagan and, like Reagan, reminds his listeners of the better angels of their nature. Various bitter wars were fought over the issue and the country changed hands a number of times, until 198 B.C.E., when by a decisive feat of arms, the Seleucid king added her to his kingdom.

Tagged
Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom