Tuesday, September 29, 2009


For reasons I cannot figure out, we have turned life into a competition. We so frequently think about our lives and how successful we are at living it, not in terms of what we have accomplished, but in terms of what we have accomplished relative to what the other guy has accomplished.

The amount of money we make, though sufficient to provide a comfortable place to live, food, clothing and other amenities, seems barely adequate when compared to the greater sum the other guy makes. Our home is not as large, the vacation we took was not as grand, the party we threw was not as elaborate, and, yes, the person we married is not as beautiful, as the other guy's. Instead of pride and joy and happiness, the constant competition and comparisons with others often makes our lives seem humdrum, mediocre and unsuccessful. After all, there will be virtually always someone who runs faster than we do.

The bandied about idea that we all have equal opportunity to succeed in life...the idea underlying the alleged competition...is not true. We have different physical appearances, different mental capacities (affected by different genetic or environmental influences), different levels of psychological health, different values, different financial resources available to us, different levels of social skills...all of which, plus another thousand differences in the people we meet and the circumstances we encounter, directly and dramatically impact our potential for sucess. Is it possible for someone to succeed no matter what? Sure, that is the attraction of lotteries. But to believe we otherwise have equal opportunities is to deny reality.

As species evolved, they became more and more complex, and the individual members of the species more anf more diverse. This diversity, this variety, is at the heart of the beauty and and splendor of human life. Individual success ought be measured solely by what each of us makes of our individual selves.

You are unique.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This post is in honor of a single concept...a concept that has been remarked about since Biblical days, though the full beauty of it seems lately to have been forgotten.

The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus lists the following as synonyms or as related to the honored concept:

benevolent, eleemosynary, good, humane, accommodating, obliging, helpful, kindhearted, sympathetic, thoughtful, considerate, affection, attachment, love, goodwill.

And let me add: rational solver of many of the world's problems, rewarding to those who indulge in it, legal, moral, spiritually ordained.

A concept worthy of all that is certainly worthy of great honor, no? Worthy of enhrinement on our monuments and in our hearts...worthy of universal practice.

So why then do virtually all of the world's leaders and presumed experts, when contemplating the dire needs of the poor and impoverished around the world, ignore totally the concept of Charity--the free, voluntary giving of aid to those in need--and fail to use it as the linchpin of their solution, resorting instead to the use of force against the innocent?

Think everyone should have needed medical treatment, a college education, a roof to sleep under, adequate food supply? Think Charity, think freedom to give if you wish, as much as you wish. Do not think coerce, compel, command, demand, require, force. Those are not the honored words. They are words of shame and degradation and dehumanization.

And no matter the alleged honorable purposes to which they are put, they will forever remain ignoble and alien to man's free spirit and loving soul.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Ready? It’s the truth nobody wants to tell you, because if they tell you they would be telling themselves as well and that they don’t want to do. Here it is: life has no meaning, no higher purpose. You’re born, you live, you die. That’s it. You’re not here for any particular reason…a sperm fertilized an egg and you came into being. Had the sperm swum the other way, you wouldn’t be here. That’s the whole cold fact of why you’re here.

And the process is simple: from the moment of birth, your body begins to age, to decay, to rot, and then you die. You were here, then you’re not here. That’s the big deal. You had children? Had your sperm kept swimming, there would be no children. Had your sperm entered someone else’s egg, there would be different children. Built a bridge? Someone else could have built it. Taught a class? Someone else could have taught it. Painted a great painting? You won’t be around to enjoy it. Enjoy listening to music? Soon there will be no music.

Here’s more truth. A little microscopic bug enters your body…and you’re gone. A bolt of lightning from the sky? You’re done. Forgot to turn off the gas stove? Goodbye. Death is an instant away. Rage lurks beneath our manufactured exteriors. So we dull our brain to avoid knowing what we know. We drink, we indulge in mind- altering drugs, we engage in orgies, we swallow anti-depressants. But the truth is immune to our feeble antidotes. It remains ever potent.

And these simple cold truths are hard to take. We want a larger meaning, significance to our lives. Something to make our lives worthwhile beyond the mere living of it. So we set up structures, artificial structures to give our lives an illusion of importance. We create families and we are each a member of a family. Of a race, of a nation, of a religion. We need to belong. The group is larger than we are individually, it must be more important than we are, we think. We create a God who has a plan for us. We are doing His work here on Earth, we say, to give our lives cosmic purpose.

But all the other members of all the groups are but as we are, others who are born, who live and who are dead for eternity. No more, no less. Society sets up conventions, formalities, holidays and celebrations, all designed to give form and substance to our lives. But they are transient and transparent.

Or, life is precious and wondrous beyond words, everything grand and noble we make it out to be.

One view is the damn truth of it all.

But which one?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


It was smart for early people to realize that there were distinct advantages to living in proximity to others... including greater protection against predators (both animal and human), varied food supplies, social interactions, etc. The development of small societal units, hamlets, was understandable. Those who lived in and about the hamlet measurably improved the quality of their lives.

It was also understandable that some who saw the success of the hamlets would imagine even greater success by expansion of the hamlet into a larger and more populous village...then, a larger and more populous town...then, a larger and more populous city...and then into the larger and more populous megalopolises we see today. It was understandable...but it was dead wrong.

For with the blinding worship of bigness came blindness... blindness to the nature of our species, blindness to the needs of that nature, and blindness to the severe penalties which that nature exacts when it is violated.

Our human nature gives each of us the capacity to choose, the power to carve out our own unique path in life. To those who exercise that power and staunchly and steadily walk that path, no matter the winds that blow, our nature offers a rewarding sense of purpose and meaning to life, and pride, and crowns our souls with unparalleled happiness.

As societal units enlarged, more and more people were attracted to the multitude of benefits they offered. The number of individual paths soared into the thousands, and then millions, crisscrossing and smashing into each other, causing bottlenecks, frustration, and chaos.

The solution? Standardization. One way traffic. Social proprieties, cultural norms, political correctness. Mainstream thinking. Standardized working hours, attire, home designs. Concrete monsters rising to the sky. Conform, comply, defer, submit, submerge, obey.

The price? Loss of individuality and spontaneity, suppression of personal dreams, motonous repetition and sameness, lethargy, tedium, depression. Precious time lost on waiting lines...on the road, at shops, at hospitals, for jobs. Some turned to violence, some chose eternal escape. Those who couldn't or wouldn't pay the price? Isolation, banishment.

We humans were smart to congregate the way we did.

Or were we?

Friday, September 18, 2009


Now, there are two popular television shows this year that feature a central character who knows what witnesses really believe, and secretly know, and whether they are lying, not by having concrete rational evidence, but by "reading" how the witnesses say what they say, their facial expressions and mannerisms, tone of voice, choice of words, etc. They can be thought of as mentalists, mindreaders, ESPers, etc.

And now former President Jimmy Carter seeks to join the group. Commenting on those who ardently and vociferously oppose President Obama's proposed health care plan, he professes to "know" that many are motivated by racism manifested toward Obama and an "inherent belief that African Americans ought not be President." He presumes to know this not by what the protesters say, but by how they say it. How they act when they are saying it.

What factual proof does Carter have of his racism accusations? None. How many of those he is denigrating has Carter spoken with and polled? None, apparently. How does he know what he's talking about? Carter hasn't directly been asked that, to my knowledge, but I suspect he would say he just knows it in his gut. Wrong body part. Since he is making comments by the seat of his pants, it would be more accurate to say he knows it in his tuchus.
(Ask a Jewish friend)

Are some who oppose the health care proposal, racists? Don't know. Assuming there are some, how many might that be? Don't know. And with regard to these imagined racists, assuming there are any, do we know that it is their racism that is behind their opposition to the proposal? No. And even if it is racism that drives their opposition, does that automatically mean the reasons they offer for their opposition are not possibly correct? No.

A rational discussion and sensible solution to the health care issue cannot take place until we stop arbitrary, unfounded, derogatory name calling, and we all, including the former President, recognize that knowledge begins and ends a few feet north of the tuchus. And with facts.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I wrote a bok a few years ago titled "Awakening the Real You" which set out the way to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. Imagine if I told you that the book was Divinely inspired, and the elements comprising that lifestyle must be adhered to under threat of eternal damnation. What would you say?

After you stopped laughing, you would likely say that if I were serious, I was certifiably crazy, and recommend I check myself into a mental institution for an extended stay. And you would be...right.

But isn't that exactly what the Bible, in all its various forms, is? Books written by a host of different writers thousands of years ago, laying claim to Almighty authorship. The books are loaded with contradictions, unbelievable stories, impossibilities and childish fantasy.

I mean, a talking walking serpent?...two of each animal in an ark?...living in the whale?...turning into a pillar of salt?..splitting of the Red Sea?....walking on water?...rising from the dead?...a few provisions feeding 5,000?...living for 930 years? Please. If your 8-year old child came home and told you those stories, you'd say to your dear child, "It's time we had a serious talk. There really is no Santa Claus."

But those who want to believe (key word, "want"), seem to have no trouble setting aside their reasoning and accepting the unacceptable. When something in the Bible is too unacceptable even for the "wanters," they come up with "words used thousands of years ago had different meanings than they do today," "the Bible can't all be read literally," and "those who doubt have doubt have no faith and are heading to Hell." Convenient. Interpret the Bible as you wish. Believe what you want to believe. Accept this story literally, that one allegorically, the other one figuratively, but accept or the fiery destination awaits.

So how do the "wanters" worship a God that approves of slavery, stoning nonbelievers to death, exalted men treating their wives as second class citizens, the slaughtering of whole tribes, the killing of innocent firstborn, etc.? With a flip "Times were different then." Now, of course, times were different then, and man had to learn things. But surely God already knew them, no?

And of course, there are things to learn from Biblical stories, as there are from the Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Punch and Judy stories. But isn't it about time we had that serious talk?

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Watched a movie, Nothing but the Truth, about a newspaper reporter who disclosed the name of a covert CIA operative, refused to reveal her source, was held in contempt and was imprisoned for a year.

One argument was that her disclosure was an act of treason against the United States. The counter argument made by her attorney was that she was protected from punishment by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects freedom of the press.

By enumerating certain freedoms in the Constitution (speech, religion, assembly, press), the Founding Fathers, intentionally or otherwise, gave the impression that those four freedoms had greater ranking than all others. That was a mistake. While there may have been sound historical reasons why the Founding Fathers were particularly concerned about the enumerated freedoms, they are of no greater importance or substance than others. My freedom to choose what cereal I eat in the morning, or whether to smoke, or the career I wish to pursue, is as absolute as the four freedoms enumerated in the First Amendment. Freedom never includes the right to initiate the use of force against others, which the reporter did when she aided our enemies by exposing the secret operative. And reporters have not one iota of greater freedoms than the rest of us do.

As someone who lived through World War II, I wonder if those who applaud the reporter and her principles would do the same had she revealed aforehand the landing site of the D-Day invasion.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


By the time a child reaches the age of 18, he or she will have been scrunched and jammed into a socially- manufactured box called, alternatively:

Politically correct
Socially acceptable
It's not the way it's done
In the loop
Don't rock the boat
Join the group
Rowing with the tide
Have to
Divine will

And more. The idea of the box is to lay out the way a person ought do things in virtually every circumstance. A script not for determining what is moral or immoral, but the appropriate way to implement the moral and those aspects of life that do not involve moral issues. The effect of the box is to constrain, delimit, and conform human action...human minds...into a preset mold. Don't know why we need so many different ways of referring to chains, but I guess the theory is that if you have the strength and courage to break one set of chains, another one will get you.

Why the box in the first place? The prevalent desire by so many for safety and security of knowing that the majority of your neighbors have pre-approved of the way you live your life...and conformity buys you social acceptance, membership in the herd. Also, the obeying of preset patterns and contrived rules eliminates the need for personal thinking, and presumably lessens your responsibility for personal decisions.

To make living in the box easier to take, society will, occasionally, recommend your thinking outside the box. That is intended to make you feel unrestrained and free. But truth be known, what society is really doing is merely reshaping the mold a bit. Truly go outside the box and break the mold and, slam bam!, you will be labelled rebellious, even dangerous, and shunned.

Of course, the responsibility for choosing to remain in the box is all yours. The cost of living in the box? Nothing but your individual identity.

Your choice.

Friday, September 11, 2009







Five words I am voting out of the English language. They are words a healthy human ought not ever feel...because they are based on misguided perceptions of perfection about ourselves, or of others about us...because they stem from accepting standards thare either unrealistic or unattainable...because they all cast us in a negative spotlight...because whatever we learn from experiencing them (usually little) can better be learned in a positive context...because they attack our ability to fully and unqualifiedly accept the reality of who we are...because they demean rathan than ennoble human life...because they are used by others to enhance undeserved feelings of superiority...because they are often used without true meaning...because they contribute to depression and feelings of inadequacy... because they are often said artificially to gain undeserved favors and acceptance.

Here's my tip: the next time you feel ashamed, embarrassed, foolish, humiliated, or sorry, stop and think about whether you did something that makes those feelings rationally deserved, and, if they are, make amends to repair any damage you may have caused, accept the reality of you, and be determined not to have to feel that way in the future...and then forget what you did and move forward with your life.

Or, go 30 days without thinking or using those words and see if you don't feel better about yourself.

Try it, or you may feel sorry you didn't.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Democrats are talking about imposing a tax on soda, to dissuade people from buying soda, which can help cause obesity and diabetes. Those illnesses, you see, drive up the cost of our country's health care, and with the Democrats wanting to have the government run health care, they'll do anything to lower costs. (I've heard that some Dems want to tax auto driving since there are a lot of accidents on the highways and that drives up health care costs...some want to tax walking since people invariably trip and fall and need medical care...some want to tax sitting on a couch since that, too, leads to obesity and weak hearts...some want to tax talking since we sometimes get punched in the face for what we said and need medical attention...and some want to ban thinking since we think we ought to go to a hospital and that drives up costs...Dems need not be personally concerned about that last one.)

The tax on soda would make me pay for my freedom to satisfy my thirst as I see fit, to live my life and take whatever risks I choose, as I see fit to do...rather than as they (the Dems) see fit for me to do. America, where have thou gone?

The other day I heard a leading Democrat saying that corporations are not individuals, as such they have no rights and "we (the government) can do anything we want with them." Of course corporations are individual...corporations are nothing more than a legal form, a way, for individuals to do business...and those individuals do not lose their unalienable rights when they choose that form. If corporations aren't individuals with protected rights, neither would be partnerships, associations, married couples (marriage is just a legal form in which individuals choose to conduct their personal lives), etc. Nonsense.

The obvious common denominator in the Dems approach to government-run health care and corporations is their desire to control our lives...all phases, if they can get away with it.

The even more insidious common denominator? They don't think the rest of us are smart enough, capable enough, resourceful enouth, responsible enough, to care for ourselves in a free environment. At heart, they do not believe in freedom and lie when they pledge allegiance to the idea of "liberty and justice for all."

So now we know the scope of "the change" Obama ranted about but never identified, and millions of voters blindly cast him into the White House.Now we know the most dangerous enemy America faces today.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The old settlers of the West had it half right...go West, find a piece of unused land, claim it, fence it and use it. Plant corn or oats or wheat, and they were yours to eat or sell. Dig gold or oil out of the land, and those treasures were yours. You paid for thom all with toil and sweat. You didn't have to pay anyone for the land, it was yours to live on and use.

That part was right. The wrong part was that claiming a piece of land gave you ownership of it, the right to sell it and keep the proceeds, the right to deed it to others when you died. That gave you ownership of a slice of the planet, and that is absurd.

The planet is part of nature, part of the Universe. Can we own a cloud and deny others the right to fly through it, or to capture the rain that falls from it? The Universe is where we all are. It can be said to be, OUR Universe. We can own things within the Universe, but not the Universe itself. The idea of owning part of the Universe in perpetuity to the exclusion of others not to our choosing is abhorrent to the finite nature of human life and the relationship between human life and the dimension in which it exists. It is akin to having a system that would allow me to own the next moment of time, and which gives me the power to restrain everyone else from living in it.

Patents and copyrights give us ownership of our mental output, the products of our brainpower...inventions, artistic creations, etc...for specified periods of time. Then they become public property. The same should hold true for our physical output. Use the land as a residence, for sustenance or recreation. Use it for a lifetime or some other designated period and it should then be open to claiming by others.

We ought not have a code of human behavior that does not provide room and opportunity for all others to survive...which is a possible result of our present misguided system.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


The problem with political debates and discussions these days, whether in the hall of Congress or on radio or television, is that they are almost all unprincipled.

Take the discussion on national health care and whether we should all have to have certain levels of coverage, whether employers should be required to do this and that, and whether there should be a "public option" --an insurance program run by the government that would compete with private insurers.

Leftwingers argue there are 40 million health care uninsured in the country and we need a program to cover them all, insurance premiums are too high, health care professionals charge too much, there are too many malpractice lawsuits generated by unscrupulous lawyers, and the Obama administration's 1,200 page health care bill will take care of all that. Rightwingers argue there are only 12 million or 18 million uninsured (nobody seems to know for certain), if we exclude uninsured illegal immigrants and those who would be covered if they weren't unemployed, we have the best health care in the world, most Americans are happy with it, and while the system may be in need of some repair, we shouldn't redo the entire system, just fix what needs fixing (whatever that is).

What's missing? Principles. We humans have the capacity to identify principles-- general statements about life that capture our basic sense of right and wrong and that can be used to resolve many issues. For example: let's say I need my car to get to work, my car is in need of repairs which I presently can't afford. Do I think, "I'll steal some money from my neighbor, he has more than he needs, he won''t miss it, this is an important situation for me"...or do I think, "Stealing someone's property is wrong and I should find another solution"? The latter is the principled choice.

So what is the proper principle for Americans to use to resolve the health care issue? What is the fundamental rule that applies?

In this country, we recognize that each person has the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Life...I live my life as I see fit

Liberty...I am free to make my own choices and to live without force being exerted against me by anyone

Happiness...I live for my happiness.

Provided I recognize and respect the same rights of all others, there are no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemtions to those rights...no occasions when they may be suspended, no circumstances when they can be denied. They are unalienable ...incapable of being repudiated, unassailable, inviolable, absolute.

That principle was pronounced at the founding of this country, repeated a million times in our governing documents, speeches and declarations, carved into our monuments. That principle is ingrained in our way of life. It is what has lured millions to our shores, what we have fought for and died for. In every sense, it is the soul of our country, it is what makes America, America.

In our free society, there are no "problems" that warrant the suspension (destruction) of that principle. There are no "problems" with freedom that need a little fixing. There are only problems when absolute freedom is not absolutely invoked. The Government has no legal authority to require me to have insurance, nor to pay via taxes for the insurance of others, nor to violate the free enterprise system by setting up a public company funded by public funds to unfairly compete with private industry.

Throw those 1,200 pages into the rubbish, dust off the principle...and let's get on our glorious way.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Every time I turn around, I hear some fervent ranting by someone that without religion there would be no proper code of morality ...no way for man to know for certain what is good or bad, right or wrong way for him to live his life.

Mindless hogwash. Religion is a bunch of people sitting around talking about ghost riders in the sky. Sorry, but the human species has only 5 senses to gain knowledge, and even if there is a god up there, there would be no way for man to know him, to know what he wants, to know what code of morality he wants us to live by. No way. Revelations and epiphanies and the like have all been artificially created by man to cover that obvious objection to their "knowing" anything...anything...about a spiritual world and divine power.

Which means that if you base your morality on religion, you base it on nothing... illusion, fantasy...nothing but your arbitrary unproven subjective feelings. That is why equally religious people around the world can have significantly different views about what their religion-based morality entails...even to the point that some kill infidels (that is, those who don't have the same arbitrary feelings about god that they do) and claim divine inspiration for so doing.

I would hope that somewhere in the dark recesses of their minds, where there is no one to hear their secret, unspoken thoughts, many religious people know it is all made up, man made. Which may help explain why despite the fact most claim to be religious, the world is in a moral mess.

Is there an objective standard to set a code of morality for man? Yes. The logical one. Man's nature. We know the proper way to care for a plant, the proper amount of sunlight and water to give it, is determined by the plant itself--the nature of the plant itself. Each species of plant has its ow nature. The proper amount of water and/or sunlight for one species will kill a member of another.

We know that each species of animal life has its own nature that determines how it should be treated. The bluebird needs to fly, the salmon needs to swim, the tiger needs to roam.

What we don't seem to know, in general, is that the human species has its own nature that determines what it needs ti survive. Man has the unique capacity to choose the course of his life. Restrain that choice, by government edict or otherwise, and you force him to live contrary to his nature, and he begins to die. Which is why freedom is the proper environment for man to live in. What man's nature requires him to have to survive-- including food and shelter--are not automatically delivered to him each day. He must go out and get them...that is, he must be productive. Which is why productivity is a major moral virtue. And so on.

Who he is...a member of a particular species...is the sole determinant of a proper pro-life code of conduct for man. Not religion, not the majority of the population, not the Founding Fathers, not wise men like Aristotle, Plato and Locke, not custom nor culture nor tradition, not whimsy. But man's nature...his provable, identifiable, immutable, knowable nature.

in the name of their god (as has been done throughout history).

Thursday, September 3, 2009


There was a time when life was simpler than it is now. Not necessarily better, though I think it was.

Honor was in greater supply. People tended to mean what they said, do what they promised. When someone told you his name and where he came from, that was virtually always true. We didn't need 6 points of identification to prove who we were. Were there some who faked their identity. I'm sure. But those few did not cause us to be geerally distrustful of others.

There were no credit cards. If you wanted to buy something, other than perhaps a house or a car, you paid for it by cash or check...or you didn't buy it. We had less on average than people do today, but what we had was ours. There were no credit ratings. There were no mounting interest charges. There was no Xanex.

We bought insurance, but only for catastrophic events. We sustained ordinary normal losses ourselves. We paid out of pocket for general visits to doctors, and we only went to the doctor when we felt our natural bodily healing powers wouldn't take care of matters. And, oh yes, when we were ill with high temperatures, we didn't go out to see the doctor--he or she came to our home with that little black magical bag that seemed to fix everything.

Education and work were treasured. We were happy and felt privileged to learn more, we were happy and felt secure having a job. We were more focused on what we did have than on what we didn't have.

When the depression hit and wiped out most people's savings, they got up, went back to work, and rebuilt their lives. When the world and America were threated by the most monstrous evil in World War II, they left their jobs, they enlisted, they buckled down and fought with passion, over 400,000 gave their lives in Europe and the Pacific, and in 4 years we wiped that evil off the face of this Earth.

We were more independent. We did not expect others to take care of us, nor did we construct complex philosophical ideas to support social duties, obligations and responsibilities. What we did have was a sense of benevolence toward those in our neighborhood, those we knew. When another was in need, we went to help. Not because we felt obliged to, not because it was in our benefit to do so, but because we cared and it was the way humans should treat other humans.

Policemen walked the beat and were friendly and called us by name. Teachers wanted you to learn and did not threaten failure. If a student was not doing the work, not learning, parents were called in, not to punish the student but to help get the student back on track. Bus drivers smiled, store keepers gave you free pieces of candy. Older people were revered, their advice eagerly sought.

People did not rush about from one thing to another. Most of us didn't own cars, we walked more. We lived slower, quieter. We lived more in the now.

There was a time when life was simpler than it is now...and, I think, better.