Monday, August 31, 2009


We all run into setbacks--big and small--in life...we don't get the job we really wanted, we travel to the theater only to find they're sold out, potential business partner acts unfairly and angers us. And on and on. Who hasn't run into a handfull or more of those? And, of course, we have to get past them and move on.

But what is not commonly seen is that each setback brings us to a psychological crossroad...and taking the wrong road can have far reaching, long lasting effects far more important to our lives than getting that job, seeing the show or not feeling angry that day.

There are two basic ways of looking at life: from a benevolent or a malevolent perspective. The benevolent view is that life is good, things will generally work out, life is always worth the effort. The malevolent perspective is that your life is in a general mess, things are chaotic and not likely to work out for the better, and life is simply not enjoyable.

The particular perspective you buy into was developed imperceptibly over a period of time, beginning in childhood. How those close to you--parents, friends...responded to setbacks was likely of great influence in shaping your personal perspective. The scope of early setbacks, how you chose to deal with them, and the success or failure of those choices, may be influencing factors. Your genetics may also have played a role.

It is easy to see how your life perspective connects to your prospects of attaining happiness. The accumulation of negative experiences--anger, disappointment, resentment--will likely reinforce a malevolent perspective, or even convert a benevolent perspective to a malevolent one. The shaping of your perspective is a continuous one.

Didn't get the job? You could think, "I always seem to miss out, I'll never amount to anything great, what do I do now?" -- or, "Maybe I should broaden my horizons, the perfect job for me is out there, what can I learn from this?"

Theater tickets sold out? What do you say? "Wasted time travelling here, should've gone to the ballgame, shoot, nothing to do this evening" -- or, "Not often in this part of town, maybe I can find a great new restaurant to eat in, or a unique curio or antique shop to buy something for the house with the money I saved on the tickets, it's a great night for a walk, can use the exercise."

"Can't believe a potential partner would be so unfair, you can't trust anyone any more, the woorld sucks" -- or, "Glad I found out about him before it was too late, it is always good to know the truth, maybe I can do this deal on my own."

Yin, yang. Here's the tip. Each time you run into a setback, after you have come to grips with it, literally say to yourself, "What is the positive side to this experience?" Almost everything that happens to us in life has both a positive and negative side to it. Verbalizing the upside of an experience not only helps to keep the setback in perspective of everything else that is good in your life, but goes converts the setback into something advantageous and opportunistic.

Doing that repeatedly will help you from taking the wrong turn at that critical psychological crosroad.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I think

We talk too much
We sleep too much
We work too much
We need too much
We rush too much
We worry too much
We forget too much
We hide too much
We lie too much
We expect too much
We repeat too much
We conform too much
We look past and forward too much

We don’t touch enough
We don’t contemplate enough
We don’t see beauty enough
we don't mean what we say enough
We don’t wonder enough
We don’t create enough
We don’t sense nature enough
We don’t relish enough
We don’t revel in our lives enough
We don’t heal enough
We are not optimistic enough
We are not independent enough


The current fervent debate over health care reform and how to cover some millions of presently uninsured, unveils a sinister truth.

From the perspectives of free enterprise and individual responsibility, both of which I ardently support, the health care industry ought be left alone. There is no standard of life to be set, which if the free enterprise system is not reaching, demands government intervention. The fact that government involvement never ever ever attains perfection, is not the point. Freedom is the only standard for human life because the nature of our species, with each individual's power to contemplate and choose, requires freedom. Any limitation in the respecting of the freedom of each of us, any shackling of the mind's power to choose, attacks the very essence of our species. It is akin to cutting off the wings of a bird.

But that is not the sinister truth I refer to. Even granting, for the moment, the right of the government, and the advisability of it being the agency, to solve the "problem" of uninsureds in our country, why is not the obvious solution the one proposed? Why is there now a 1,200 page bill proposed in Congress to completely overhaul and remake what is probably the best health care system in the world...when all that is required is for the government to pick up the insurance tab for the 10 or 20 million uninsured people (no agreement on the actual number) via a simple health care stamp program, a la the current food stamp program? Meet certain standards of financial need and receive government stamps which can be used to purchase health care coverage. At, say, $1,000 annually per person, that would cost $20 billion a year, to be paid out of our general federal revenues. Far less than the trillions estimated under the current proposals. Little bureacracy would be required. Perhaps the people running the food stamp program, slightly augmented, could handle it, since my guess is that many of the same people who now qualify for food stamps would qualify for health care assistance. And perhaps nost importantly, our great health care system would be substantially left alone.

And there is the sinister truth. It is clear to me that it is not benevolence or goodheartedness or sense of community that is triggering the screaming for health care reform, but a desire by some in power to own and control our lives, a desire driven by the same ugly hunger that drove the slavemasters of the past. I am not exaggerating. See my post, If I Were Black.

Make no mistake. There is only freedom and slavery. There is no third choice. There is no halfway measure, no hybrid, no little bit of this, little bit of that. Take away freedom and you have slavery. And in the slave world there are the slaves and the slavemasters.

That is the reality that is being covered up with pseudo- impassioned speeches of caring and concern for the needy. Those in office know exactly what they are doing. They are not innocent. If they were truly for the needy, they would be advocates of a free health care system because we all need freedom. Obama played with the electorate. "Time for a change" he bellowed, but refrained from revealing the true depth and breadth of that change. Truth be known, there is more likely to come.

There is time to resist but it must be done passionately and quickly and withe right intellectual weapons. That is another sinister truth. The opposition party in Washington still doesn't get it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The difference between those who excel in any human activity and the rest of us is enormous.

For example, Lance Armstrong and other world class cyclists can bike over 2,000 miles up and down mountains at high speeds...the rest of us, maybe, can do 1 or 2 miles at slow speeds up and down the street in front of our homes.

Jascha Heifetz and other master violinists can remember and play the more than 5,000 notes of a Pagnini Caprice...the rest of us sometimes can't remember the 10 digits of a phone number.

Albert Einstein unraveled mysteries of the Universe...the rest of us generally can't unravel the mystery of opening a box of cereal without spilling a handful.

And on and on. If we sense that these and other high achievers give us a glimpse of what all members of the homo sapien species are potentially capable of, and realize that even those axhievers probably did not reach their maximum potential, the spread between what homo sapiens can achieve and what most often is achieved is humongous. Why? Why do most of us function at such a low level on the Potential Index? Are we built any different than the high PI scorers noted above? Do we have less grey matter, fewer muscles, than they have? Not to my knowledge.

What explains the spread, I believe, begins with what I call "LIFESCOPE"...a vision, literally, of the size of your life, the width and breadth and grandeur of it. Do you see yourself as owning a clothing store in your local hometwon, or a chain of clothing stores around the country, around the world? Do you envision being president of the PTA, or President of the United States? Do you look forward to a comfortable, secure, normal life, or one filled with excitement, adventure and daring?

The answers to these and related questions compose your LIFESCOPE, developed by you gradually, imperceptibly, as you mature. It develops by observation of life about you and as it is portrayed in works of art, and is influenced by many factors, including the LIFESCOPES of your parents and others you respect, your very personal psychology, and your sense of the meaning, purpose and value of life.

It is said that achievement stems from and requires determi- nation. Determination begins with vision...seeing what is possible, seeing yourself achieving it. Do not say No to yourself. Your life can be as large as you choose it to be...or as small. In The Fountainhead, when the young architecture student is told the public will not let him build his buildings the way he envisions building them, he answers, "It is not a question of who will me, but who will stop me." Good way to think. Who is there to stop you. Without that vision and attitude, little but the ordinary is possible.

High achievers do have one thing most do not: sweeping panoramic vision.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Here are the number of hours the average worker in selected countries works each week, 50 weeks per year:


The difference between the United States and Germany and France, two countries with respectable standards of living: 400 hours per year.

I was out on the road this morning at 5:15 and there they were...hordes of cars rushing to offices and factories in the before-sunrise darkness, and I had to wonder: Do we work too much in this country? Are we obsessed with work? Would we, as a nation, be healthier, less stressed and happier if we each worked as the French do?

Now, I know all about the importance of work in our lives, its role in establishing our individual identity, enhancing our self-esteem, elevating our standard of living, and so on. But are we overdoing it?

I don't know. Adding hours of weekly travel time to and from work, sometimes having to work overtime, leaves little time during the 5-day workweek for what I call "spiritual time" ---avocations, simple pleasures, quiet contemplation and social exchanges, that focus on the artistic, sublime, side of life. I don't like referring to that time as "down time" because that term suggests that little, if anything, of importance is being done. In fact, the focus on spiritual beauty is vital to our mental health and our overall well being. It gives us impetus for living and, yes, for working. It puts our life and our work in context of the world about us, and adds grandeur to them.

I also don't like referring to that time as "unproductive time." It is very productive--your life being the product.

Squeezing some spiritual time into a packed and pressured weekend is, in my view, good, but not good enough. From my own experience I can tell you that a daily dosage will change and enrich your life in ways far more rewarding than a slight increase in our country's GNP. See if I am exaggerating.

Monday, August 17, 2009


We are at war and have been at war for 8 years, but you'd never know it. Except for an occasional report on radio and tv that one or two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq or Afghanistan, you would never know it. Unless of course you have a son or daughter, brother or sister or husband or wife on the firing line, then you know it, those shots being fired over there are loud and clear. Deafiningly so.

Our President and Vice-President don't seem to know it, running around the country, smiling, bantering with reporters as if the war is over and we won...and running around the world shaking hands with and bowing to supporters of terrorism as if they were not the ones we are fighting.

I don't know precisely why our leaders, and the country in general, are acting as if everything is fine.

Is it because there are so many other problems in the country, with the economy and all, that we have no room left for more things to worry about?

Is it because, hey, this is not World War II when we had millions fighting, "there are only 150,000 or so being shot at"?

Is it because "this is Bush's war, it's not our war, and we shouldn't really be there"?

Is it because we've gotten so cold and callous that we've gotten used to killing and dying?

Is it because they don't allow the showing of filled coffins coming back to the States?

Is it because we are fighting this war as a war of containment rather than going all out to win it...and that we know this war will not end soon, but that it is likely to continue for years and years, decades?

Do I think we and our leaders have to mope around looking sad and forlorn. We didn't do that in WWII either. But withinin our demeanor there must be some element of recognition that we are facing threats, that some of us are directly in harm's way and though we don't know them, they are risking their lives to save ours.

Is that not real? Is that too much to expect?

Let us begin each political press conference and town hall meeting with a few moments of silence, prayer if you wish, to acknowledge the realities of the war we are fighting, to pay our respects to those on the front lines who are fighting it, and to reflect our determination to end it soon and victoriously.

General Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying, "It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win." I will paraphrase that by saying "It is fatal to continue fighting any war without acknowledging you are fighting it."

Sunday, August 16, 2009


...I would never have voted for Barack Obama for President, as 95% of black voters did, because I would have known:

* that the person voted the most liberal U. S. Senator would use the power of his office to implement the most massive entitlement programs in our country's history;

* that there are apple trees and pear trees and all sorts of trees, but there are no entitlement trees to pluck to pay for the entitlements;

* that the other side of entitlement is requirement, and that if you are entitled to something, others will be required to provide it to you;

* that the entitlement/requirement scenario is the essence of slavery, even when invoked by the government...the slave required to work at his master's behest, and the master entitled to the fruits of the slave's labor;

* that any program that contains the element of slavery is abhorrent and contemptible and dead wrong no matter what other perceived benefits to the program there might be;

* that when Obama talks of requiring everyone to have health insurance that others will be required to provide or pay for, that is slavery;

* that when Obama wants to dictate what medical care you are entitled to, that is slavery;

* that when Obama says everyone is entitled to a college education by increasing taxes on some others, that is slavery;

* that when Obama talks of taxing you extra if you don't use certain forms of energy, that is slavery;

* that when Obama says that everyone is entitled to a fair share of the bounty of this country and wants to redistribute your wealth, that is slavery;

* that when Obama wants to dictate what compensation CEO's of private companies are entitled to, that is slavery.

If I were black, I would have sought out and been attracted to an ardent advocate of limited government and of each individual's freedom...and of the idea that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution means what it says:

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States."

I would have voted Libertarian.

If I were white, I'd feel exactly the same way.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I work out at a gym 3 times a week, i hour each time. I enjoy it. But the other day I began to wonder why I need to go. Put another way: What am I doing, or not doing,the remaining 165 hours each week that puts me sufficiently out of shape to need a gym?

Am I jumping in the car too quickly rather than taking a brisk 1/2 mile walk to the store?

Am I getting younger, stronger members of the family to do the heavy lifting?

Do I use the elevator rather than doing some cardio training by climbing some stairs, even when it's only 2 or 3 flights?

Do I not rake the lawn anymore because "Raking is not my favorite thing to do"?

Do I sit sedentary for too long rather than biking, bowling, playing tennis, swimming, chopping wood and dozens of other things that would help me stay in shape?

Aside from the money it costs to go to a gym (this post is not about money), aside from the time it takes (equivalent, when travel time is included, to about one full month of 8-hour days each year), what is most disturbing are the kinds of lazy, stagnant, lifestyles have we developed in modern times to make us need to artificially do some exercises to keep us fit? Did we not see the full price those lifestyles were exacting? Did caveman go to a gym? Don't think so. So why do I think he was, nevertheless, in better physical shape than most of us are today.

Certainly, if there is are a couple of muscles that need extra work or rehab, there might be a reason to visit a gym, temporarily. But otherwise, Mother Nature has her own built-in gym if you just look around and see it right. It's everywhere and we are already members...paid up lifetime members.

I'm switching gyms. I'm gonna tote that barge, lift that bale, heave ho and all that good stuff. give Ma Nature a big hug and kiss that old treadmill goodbye.

Friday, August 14, 2009


We don't want you hurting other people.

So, you have to pass a test to drive a car, practice medicine, be a lawyer, teach in elementary and high schools.

But, you don't need to pass a test to teach in college, be President of the United State with your hand on the nuclear button, or to be in the President's cabinet, or to be nayor, governor, or congressman, or to get married, or to be a parent, or to prepare food in a diner, or to repair airplanes carrying 350 people, or to own a gun, or to own a pit bull, or to be a high-wire aerialist catching other fliers, or to parachute from an airplane over picnic grounds, or to build skyscrapers and bridges, or to buy dynamite, or to set off massive fireworks, or to be a babysitter, or to be a school crossing guard, or to dispense drugs in a pharmacy, or to cut down 400 foot-high redwoods, or to be the GM of a manufacturing compay building and putting 5 million cars a year on the road or hundreds of airplanes in the air.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


How many times a day do I hear something equivalent to, "You can't do it that way, you can't say that, you can't go there." Can't, can't, can't. Restraints, constraints, restrictions, protocols. It's as if all human behavior has been pre-packaged, pre-programmed, pre-orchestrated, and all you have to do is push the right buttons and, ouila!, success. And the reverse: push the wrong buttons and, ouila!, disaster.

Horsefeathers. I not only never accepted that confined way of thinking, but I would fight to the end not to have my free spirit cajoled or curtailed by what others - no matter how many - think is the "right" way for me to do something. And history has proven me right.

I was told "you can't open a New York law firm without already having clients on retainer"...I was told "you can't get your own New York radio show or tv show without extensive prior experience"...but all of those things happened, and more.

I suppose one reason for all those rules about how the game is played is to relieve responsibility for your not succeeding. After all, if you do it by the book and it doesn't work out the way you'd like it to, hey, not your fault.

Another reason may be that making your own decisions takes thinking, and many (most?) don't like to do that too much, too often and/or don't do it very well.

But to me, the major reason for not doing things your way is the failure to know and appreciate the great great joy of living YOUR life YOUR way...the strength and courage and self-esteem it brings you, and the positive impact it can have on your sense of life and sense of self worth.

If my life is a work of art that I am creating, then once I design it, I paint it my colors, my shadings, my patterns. If I see myself as twelve feet tall and orange, that is how I will appear. Then and only then can it be said that the painting is totally irrevocably me and mine.

The next time someone tells you "you can't do it that way," remind them who the artist of your painting is.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I have been intrigued and bewildered for quite a while as to why so many of us who have so much good in our lives are still stressed, depressed, unhappy.

Think about it. Most of us have an abundance of goods in our, homes, tvs, stereos, ipods, blackberrys, paintings, momentos of places been and things done in the past, people we love and who love us, and on and on. Yet many feel stressed, anxious, angry, depressed.

I have wondered whether there was something we were doing wrong, something basic and universal that could explain this emotional paradox. We have abundance of reasons to feel great but we don't.

I think I have identified the major culprit, a virus that we are all vulnerable to. The dictionary refers to the virus as "anticipating, looking forward to, supposing something obliged." It is the EXPECT virus. We expect something to happen in the future because we think it ought to happen, because we want it to happen, , because we think it is due us. And when it doesn't happen, wham! the virus strikes with disappointment, disgust, despair.

The EXPECT virus comes in many stripes:

You expected to be married by now.

You expected that by this time in your life you wouldn't have to worry about money.

You didn't think there would be traffic.

You didn't expect it to rain on your vacation.

You expect that after all you've done for the kids, they would call more often.

You expected your business to pick up faster.

(This being the 69th post on this blog, I can't resist) You expected to have sex last night.

And on and on. The EXPECT virus is rampant, all over, in epidemic proportions. It forever lurks close, waiting to pounce.

Is there a readily available antidote? Yes, you already have it. It is in your mind:


Wish for, hope for, long for, pray for. But don't expect. You are not omniscient, you can't know the future. You are not omnipotent, you cannot control the future.

Open your mind to the unknowns of tomorrow. Welcome them. Delight in the surprises of that which is around the bend. Carpe the diem whatever the diem may bring. Remember that probably yes includes possibly no, likely includes maybe not, rarely includes sometimes.

Need an expectation of some sort to keep going? Here's the one that will never ever harm you:


Sunday, August 9, 2009


Each year in the U.S. there are over 6 million auto accidents that kill about 45,000 people and injure almost 3 million. The financial cost of these accidents exceeds $230,000,000,000.

For the purpose of reducing these horrific numbers, here is my list of Shouldn'ts?:

1. Shouldn't all cars be equipped with a horn that beeps auto- matically when the car is in reverse?

2. Shouldn't cars have a rear view camera to give the driver a clear view when he or she is backing up?

3. Shouldn't smoking be prohibited in moving cars, since smoke impedes a driver's vision whether windows are open or closed?

4. Shouldn't drivers be retested at specified ages (say, 50 and 70) to be certain that vision and reflexes are in satisfactory condition. Age naturally affects those two factors adversely. Haven't you seen elderly people who can barely walk and with impaired vision sitting scarily behind the wheel of a car?

5. Shouldn't a car that was used in a DUI incident be removed from the road for an appropriate period of time? (See my post, THE DUI CHARADE)

6. Shouldn't cars be made out of a less damaging and injuring material than metal (e.g., hardened rubber)?

7. Shouldn't the front lights of a car turn on automatically every time the windshield wiper is on?

8. Shouldn't a supplementar side view mirror be required on each side of a car to eliminate its blind spots?

9. Shouldn't it be required that animals be in the back of the car, comfortably harnessed?

10. Shouldn't wheel chains be required in snowy conditions?

11. Shouldn't cars have the capacity to blow warm air beneath the car's floor to melt snow and ice on the road?

12. Shouldn't bright headlights be made to automatically dim when they sense oncoming headlights?

13. Shouln't a warning on the dashboard show if any tire is dangerously over- or under-inflated?

14. Shouldn't a driver be prohibited from eating while driving? Or reading? Or writing?

Shouldn't we all welcome these changes?

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Society demands

Plan every detail of your life
At what age to buy a house, take a wife

How to push your budding career
Where and when to vacation next year

How much money you need to retire
How many children you wish to sire

What time you'll go to sleep tonight
What you'll wear tomorrow, black or white

What to eat for dinner next week
What you'll say when you get up to speak

Knowing ahead what will make you nervous
Who will be invited to your funeral service

If Mom had known what I would be
She might've never have had me

When spur of the moment spontaneity dies
So does the wonder of a child's surprise

Life is rife with tomorrow's unknowns
It is there that all our dreams are sown

So there's one good planning I would guess
That's planning planning to plan less

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I need you to fill out this form in triplicare, answer all the questions in Parts A, B, D and E, and F, if you are pregnant, or may become pregnant intentionally or otherwise.
I'm not pregnant. I'm a man.

Have you had a birth control test within the past 30 days?
No, of course not.

Then you must state that fact in Part F, question 2(c) and then in question 3(b) state that you believe you are not pregnant.
Believe? I'm a man!

We only have your word for that.
Want to see?

Want to see that I'm a man?

This is not a small matter.
No, it's not a small matter.

And we need 3 pieces of identification, 2 with your picture on it...a passport?
I don't have a passport.

A birth certificate?
I don't have one and the hospital where I was born shut down before they filed a copy with the county office.

A marriage certificate?
I'm not married.

A driver's license?
I have no license. I have palsy and am not allowed to drive.

A high school diploma?
I dropped out in my junior year.

Mr. Whatever your name is, then as far as we're concerned you don't exist.
You're talking to someone who doesn't exist?

Legally, you don't exist.
Do I exist actually?

I don't know.
You don't know?

No. So I can't count you as living for purpose of the census.
I was counted last time.

You must have died.
And gone to Hell.


There is no question but that money plays a significant role in our justice system. Differences in the amount of funds available to the parties in a judicial proceeding -- for the hiring of more and more qualified attorneys, for research and the discovery of evidence, and for the ability to survive an extended lawsuit -- can and has tilted the scales of justice one way or another. Examples are legendary, whether it be wealthy celebrities defending against criminal charges, or low and middle income individuals against major corporations in civil matters.

There is an argument to be made that in a society built on the freedom of each of its members to accumulate as much wealth as he or she can, differences in affordable goods and services are an inherent "part of the system." Some would say a valuable part, since it promotes incentives for greater production and a potentially higher standard of living for all.

Nevertheless, a well functioning judicial system is critical to a healthy society, and we ought take all steps to maximize the likelihood that our judicial system will produce just results. Here are three suggestions:

1. Judges should take a more active role in the trial...questioning witnesses, raising objections, helping the jury in its work and lessening to the extent possible the adversarial aspect of a trial. In fact, perhaps we should stop referring to a case as "Jones versus Smith" and refer to it instead as "Jones and Smith"--two parties presenting their version of the facts and understanding of the law for the purpose of achieving justice. Contrary to what Robert Frost may have said, a jury does not consist of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer. They are chosen to shine a light on truth.

2. Juries should be encouraged to more actively participate in the trial by asking questions of witnesses as the trial unfolds for the purpose of clearing up any confusions, uncertainties and curiousity they have about witness testimony and the facts in the case. Juries ought be free to go down paths of inquiry that the attorneys have avoided, if in the judgment of the court it is deemed propitious to do so.

3. More courtrooms ought be built, more judges and court personnel hired, and the most advanced technologies employed, to lessen the time it takes to get to trial and to enhance the quality of justice in our society.

A perfect system of justice may never be obtained, but a better one can be.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I wrote recently about Robert Kearns, inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper and his 13-year lawsuit against Ford Motor Company for infringement of his patent. Early on in the lawsuit he was offered a settlement by Ford of one million dollars, but Kearns turned it down because it did not include a public acknowledge- ment by Ford that he was the inventor.

The ability to invent, to create, new things is a unique attribute of the human mind. As a child, I thought that the ancients' belief that man was created in the image of God referred to the fact that man, too, was a creator. In school, the names Edison, Bell, Marconi and Whitney were familiar to me and my classmates. They were honored for their inventions, which had added so much to the quality of human life.

As I thought about the Kearns case, I wondered whether there were other unacknowledged inventors. I turned on my computer to listen to a performance by a world-renowned singer. Song after beautiful song she sang...without once, I suddenly realized, mentioning the name of a composer. Why not, I wondered. Would we publicly read a passage from a book without mentioning the author? Were creators of works of art not entitled to recognition and adulation?

Here is my short short list of recognition:

Who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance? Francis Bellamy

Who designed the White House? Benjamin Latrobe

Who sculpted the Lincoln Memorial? Daniel French

Who designed the Golden Gate Bridge? Joseph Strauss and Irving Marrow

Who designed and sculpted Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro? Heitor da Silva Costa and Paul Landowski

Who wrote the song, Mr. Bojangles? Jerry Jeff Walker

Who invented television? John Baird, Paul Nipkow and Philo Farnsworth

Who invented the zipper? Gideon Sundbeck

Who invented toilet paper? Joseph Gayetty

Who invented the game of Monopoly? Charles Darrow

Let us bestow on them great honor for the beautiful creations they bestowed on us.

Monday, August 3, 2009


When you get right down to it, there is really only one question that determines your political views:


The argument that we are individuals is based on the following evidence:

we are born and we die as separate entities;
we each have a brain whose function it is to make decisions;
each of our brains is fully capable of working on its own;
we each have the natural power to choose the course of our own lives;
we have separate tastes, priorities, preferences and pleasures.

The argument that we are links in a social chain centers on the following:

we are members of one species;
we tend to live in groups;
we develop feelings for other group members;
we generally find comfort in not being alone;
we benefit from being interdependent..

If you see man as an independent individual, you are a strong advocate for freedom, you want limited, if any, government (group) control over your life, you wish to retain the decision as to how you spend your money, and for whose benefit you spend it, you see man as the sovereign power, the master of his fate.

If you see man as a link in a social chain, you welcome greater government control over our personal lives, you believe we are each responsible to some extent for the support of others, particularly the haves for the have nots, you support social benefit and entitlement programs, you see society as the sovereign power.

Variations on each side can be found, of course, but the themes remain the same. Both Democrats and Republicans are advocates of the social link side, the only differences being in what areas and to what extent the chain ought control the links. Advocates of the sovereign individual side are often pejoratively misnomered as extremists, when in fact that is complimentary since one ought to be extreme about the principles one lives by. Religionists are social link supporters, believing we are all part of one family of God, with God as the ultimate decider of all our actions and the supreme sovereign power.

I sometimes hear politicians say, "I am for government controls on business, but I am for freedom on social issues." Or, vice versa. But those positions are contradictory. If you believe man is an independent individual, then he ought be treated as such with regard to all issues, at all times, or he is being mistreated. And the same holds true for links in a chain. Give a link independence at any time and the chain is broken.

As originally envisioned, America was an independent individual country, hence unalienable rights. recognized for individuals. The government ruled with consent of the governed, and then only with the specific owers granted to it. Over the past 80 years, those who support the group ideology have made significant inroads. Today, under President Obama, the country is at the edge of repealing its philosophic origins and turning into a gigantic link chain.

We know how far the independent individual idea took America unprecedented heights of productivity, standard of living and strength. We are yet to know how strong, or how fragile, America's new chain will be.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


In the movie Flash of Genius, Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, singlehandedly takes on Ford Motor Company, claiming it has stolen his invention. Despite urging by family and friends, Kearns rejects several settlement offers from the auto company because it will not acknowledge the wiper was his invention. The legal battle lasts thirteen tortuous years, during which Kearns loses his marriage, alienates his six children (they ultimately reconcile) and endures a nervous breakdown . Representing himself at trial, Kearns wins the lawsuit, is acknowledged as the inventor of the wiper by the jury (Ford does not make that acknowledgement) and is awarded $10 million.

Triumph or Tragedy? Victory or Defeat? Good Fortune or Disaster?

Or all of them?

Viewers of the movie will debate whether Kearns won or lost...did he make the right decision to fight his fight. Most, I think, would say that the millions and millions of dollars he ultimately received did not compensate for the 13-year ravaging ordeal and all its consequences to him and his family. Especially since he was early on offered a substantial sum of one million dollars by Ford to drop his lawsuit. Kearns' rejection of that offer because it did not include a public statement by Ford that recognized him as the inventor, would likely seem to many to be an act of stubborness, even stupidity.

Or did Kearns win? His motives were pure. He wanted truth to prevail and his achievement to be confirmed. He wanted justice. He had integrity. He was willing to live, and die, by the principles he believed in. He refused to compromise them for the sake of convenience or for other values (his family, his marriage, his friendships). Those were the virtues he had taught his children.

Too high a price to pay for winning? The answer to that question for Kearns lay within his spirit, as my answer is found within my spirit and your answer within yours. For it is within our private spiritual realm that there is a confluence of our total being--our values and virtues, our sense of life, our hopes and dreams and wishes and fears, our likes and dislikes, prejudices and priorities, and more. It is there that the core of me, the heart of me, the soul of me, can be found. exists. Decisions that are true to and in harmony with my inner soul and keep it pristiine in serenity and beauty are the right oness for me to make.

In his poem "If," Rudyard Kipling wrote:

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
,,,you'll be a man, my son.

Why imposters? What I think Kipling meant was that earthly triumphs and disasters are not the measure of a man (or woman) nor the determinants, as society projects them to be, of the quality of your life, or your happiness, or your sense of self worth. Those rewards must be sought and are to be found elsewhere.

Kearns won in his spiritual realm. Would his decision have won in yours?