Sunday, January 31, 2010


The thing about statistics is this: they are commonly the first things turned to when someone is trying to prove a point, when in fact they rarely prove anything.

For example: let's say someone is trying to prove the economy is gettiang better by citing a statistic that more homes were sold in the past three months than were sold in the three months priori That stat could indicate that more people are working and are earning and spending more money...a good sign for the economy. Possibly.

Or, it could mean that fewer people are working, have used up their savings, need money to live and are selling their homes at low low prices, mostly to a small number of speculators...and that stat reflects a deepening of the recession.

Which is it? Or any one of a hundred other possible meanings?

For example: let's say a stat shows that a greater percentage of high school graduates are going on to college, and it is used to prove that our educational system is working better and that more of today's youth see the value of education. Possibly.

Or, it could be that our educational system is in decline, that today's high school students are less interested in education, learned little in high school, do not have the skills to make a living, and are looking for four more years of partying and fun, fun, fun.

Which is it?


We live in a cause and effect world. Things do not happen arbitrarily. Some cause produces some effect. Different causes may produce the same effect.

For example: a television commercial shows some fellow saying, "I had a headache the other day, took an XXX pill and my headache went away. XXX works great!" Does it? What caused the headache to go away? The XXX pill? The water that was taken to help swallow the pill? The body's natural healing system? The phone call he got from that pretty young lady inviting him to dinner? The $100 bill he found in the street? The doctor telling him his biopsy was negative? What?

To prove cause and effect is one of the more difficult things to do. Generally takes extensive research and study, examining and testing a multitude of alternative possibilities, etc. Most are not willing to expend the effort and time, which can be substantial. Hence, the grabbing of a stat out of the drawer, waving it about and shouting "Can't argue with facts. Here's the proof".

Proof, hell.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


One day after I wrote Viva la Truth!, which dealt with the claim by dems that Justice Alito's mouthing of the words "not true" during President Obama's SOTU address was "inappropriate", comes another attempt at repression of speech and opinion that makes the news.

The pro-choice National Organization for Women is objecting to an ad scheduled to run during the Super Bowl tv broadcast that is pro life. The objection is that it is the "wrong" event during which to run such an ad. The ad by Focus on the Family shows the mother of Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow telling her story of why she refrained from aborting the birth of her now famous son though physicians told her that her life was in jeopardy and recommended she have an abortion.

Americans are ingrained with the idea of free speech, and treasure it. Frontal attacks claiming your opponents' views violate free speech will not likely succeed. So attacks on those opposing views are now being launched from the blind side under the banners of political correctness, social protocol, tradition, etc. Now comes football correctness. What's next? Rodeo decorum? Circus decorousness? Bowling alley seemliness?

And please, would someone tell me what standard is being used to formulate these refinements to free speech, and prove to me that it is the correct standard for us to use. The hearing of opposing positions via free speech oils the way to knowledge. It is never inappropriate, untimely, improper, unseemly, to get as much of that as we can.

Are we to assume that the reason NOW was concerned about the pro life tv ad being aired on the Super Bowl telecast was NOT the fact it will be seen by over 100 million viewers...but just a matter of appropriateness?

The Super Bowl this year will be played by football players whose mothers did not abort them when they were fetuses. That makes the ad in question seem appropriate to me. When the game is played by football players whose mothers aborted them when they were fetuses, a pro choice ad at halftime will be perfectly in order.

Friday, January 29, 2010


In his State of the Union address, President Obama referred to and voiced strong disagreement with a recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned the law that prohibited corporations from contributing to our elections. When the President erroneously said the new ruling would allow foreign corporations to make such contributions, when, in fact, it does not, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., sitting in the audience with other members of the Court, was seen to mouth the words, "not true".

Both Obama and Alito were said to have acted "inappropriately". Reps said the function of the SOTU address is to state the condition of the country at the time, and that it is outside its purview for the President to make politically-charged statements, as he did frequently in his talk. True enough, but the President's voicing of his opinion of the recent ruling is barely over the edge of appropriateness and I have no major problem with his doing so.

Dems said that Supreme Court justices normally sit silent and stony faced at SOTU addresses and that Alito violated that protocol. Perhaps he did, but viva la violation.

Unlike Representative Joe Wilson who shouted out "you lie" during a Presidentiall speech, Justice Alito did not make an accusation of deceipt. He merely, silently, was expressing the fact that the President had made an error in what he had said, which he had, and that the truth was otherwise. AND THAT THE TRUTH WAS OTHERWISE.

The Dems who criticized Alito for mouthing his opinion are the same Dems who had no compunction to make their approval of the President's speech via frequent applause. So much for equality under the law!

So, here's your choice: meaningless protocol or meaningful truth? What side do you come down on? What better serves our interests? Which pillar better supports our country?

The question, buried by the media in its reporting of this story, is how, for heaven's sake, could the President of the U.S., in a speech heard round the world (and by CEO's of some of those foreign corporations the President spoke about)be so wrong about the court ruling? Who did the research?...who wrote the speech?...and what unemployment line are they now on? And why have I heard not one word from this Administration correcting the error?

In philosophy we say that those who fudge the truth will come to learn that truth avenges itself. Beware, Mr. President. When shining light on the truth is broadly accepted as "inappropriate", we will be plunged into darkness.

Long live the truth!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


It's easy, really easy...

We live in a reality, all of us, you know that and I know that...those who tell you otherwise have a mind to control humans we have our five senses that put us in touch with that reality...five senses and five senses only...when we believe something to be part of that reality without any of our senses proving that to us, we are in unreality..which is nonexistence, a nothingness, in which there is nothing to be gained, nothing to be enjoyed...

Reality, that is, what is out there, objectively exists independent of what we subjectively think in our minds...the opinions of others as to what is true, absent existential proof, does not determine philosophy that is referred to as the primacy of existence, existence is real and true, opinions may or may not is the learning of what is out there so that we may better use it to enrich and enhance and extend our lives...

Reality dictates four things we must do to live...two of which are programmed into us and that we do automatically: breathing and heart beating...two of which we must choose to do: eating and drinking, and reality reminds us of those two via hunger and thirst...everything else we do or don't do has been blessedly left to our own choosing, and that includes our choice of career, whom to love, how to find happiness... and even the choice to live totally or at times in unreality...though the more time we exist in unreality, the greater the risk that we will not survive in reality...

Each of us, though we may be a part of a family, society, race, religion or other group, live and die as individuals...we are each an independent being...we each have the capacity to choose the course of our life...the sole authority of the government we have established is to protect and guarantee our freedom to make those choices...anyone, any society, any government, that seeks to forcefully impose dominion over our lives to any extent, great or small, to limit our freedom to choose, whether in the name of our general welfare or not, and no matter how noble or humanitarian you may think it to be, is violating our individual sovereignty and committing the most insidious crime against us...what you may think of what they are doing does not alter the reality of it...

It's as easy as that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Here is today's list of lousy ideas:

Behind every great man is a woman...don't tell that to Christ, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Albert Schweitzer

Dead men tell no tales...see CSI, NCIS

All's fair in love and war...including deception, dishonesty, trickery, subterfuge?

Familiarity breeds loving relationships, too?

Out of sight, out of absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder?

Spare the rod and spoil the child...or use the rod and make him prone to violence

The pen is mightier than the sword...but actions speak louder than words?

Variety is the spice of monogamy is bland?

Every man has his price...including John, Paul and Matthew?

Can't teach an old dog new it can become too late to learn?

Will wonders never cease?...I wonder

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


One of the things trampled nearly to extinction by the stampeding herd is the concept of individual rights envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Accordingly, I believe it vital to specify and clarify those rights and propose:


Rights apply to all American citizens. Rights may be exercised by anyone who has attained age 18, except that right TEN may be exercised by anyone who has attained age 21. The rights of any person under those ages shall be exercised by the parents, guardian, or in an emergency by a court, on behalf of and for the benefit of such person.
The terms "anyone" and "one" shall include persons, corporations, government or other entity.

Whenever a person's action is contested on the grounds that it does not fall within any of such person's rights, the person, government or other entity contesting such action shall have the burden of proving in a court of law that it does not. Any ambiguity or uncertainty in the evidence or the law or in the application of the law, shall be resolved in favor of the action being considered a right.

ONE: The right to live their lives as they choose free of the initiation of force against them by anyone, provided that this right does not include the right to initiate force against anyone.

TWO: The right to peacefully assemble or otherwise speak their minds.

THREE: The right to select their names and to change them without anyone's approval.

FOUR: The right to ingest into their bodies whatever they wish, including any drugs, without the need for a medical prescription.

FIVE: The right to retain and/or spend or gift their assets as they choose, free of any income, sales, capital gains, gift, estate, or other taxes or levies imposed by government.

SIX: The right to engage with others in any enterprise on terms of their own choosing.

SEVEN: The right to marry and divorce anyone without government license.

EIGHT: The right to sell their body organs.

NINE: The right to live in a serene environment.

TEN: The right to choose not to live.

In a very real sense, right ONE includes them all.

Monday, January 25, 2010


There is a Grand Canyon-like crevice in the field of morality.

On the one side are those I call social moralists...they who believe that there is no one objectively provable correct code of morality for humans. They believe that each society establishes its own code.

On the other side are those I call natural moralists...they who believe that there is an objectively provable correct code of morality based on the nature of the human species. Just like the proper amount of water and sunlight any species of plant needs to survive and to flourish is determined by its nature, so, too, they say, the proper way for humans to act to survive and flourish (that is, be happy) is determined by their nature.

For example: unlike a stone, man is confronted with a life and death alternative. To remain alive, man needs certain things: food, shelter, clothing, etc. Therefore, the proper code of morality (or code of pro-life conduct) includes the virtue of Productivity.

Another example: man lives in reality, he must survive, if at all, in reality. Unlike animals, he is not programmed by instincts to act a certain pro-life way. He must make countless decisions each day of his life. Should he eat poison for breakfast or bran flakes? Should he jump out the window of his tenth floor apartment, to get down, or should he take the stairs? Etc., etc., etc. His nature gives him an effective way of making these decisions: it provides him with (1) five senses to gain information about reality, (2) a mind that can process and objectively evaluate that information logically, and (3) the capacity to choose a course of action. In combination, those three natural traits of the human species give rise to the virtue of Rationality.

Natural moralists reason that all other virtues (including honesty, integrity, justice, independence and pride) can be proven by reference to man's nature.

Natural moralists believe that man acting immorally, even in the solitude of a locked room, generates punishment for those actions since they are, at root, opposed to his nature. He cannot escape them. His actions are anti a pro life code of morality and he suffers their natural consequences (loss of self esteem, loss of confidence, self denigration, despair, loss of ability to distinguish reality from unreality,etc.).

Overwhelmingly, though, most people are social moralists and they believe that there is no punishment to be had for acting immorally unless society knows about it. Morality is considered to be in the same category as socially established crimes: unless you're caught, no punishment. Which is why it is common to hear these defenses of immorality:

"So I lied...nobody will ever know...what's the difference?"
"I got away with it, didn't I?"
"It's a dog-eat-dog world...anything goes."

And even when caught, social moralists defend their transgressions with:

"It was only a white lie."
"Come on, everybody does it."
"Who are you to say what's immoral?"

Point: Unless and until natural moralism is more generally accepted, and it becomes more widely understood that there are inate inescapable penalties to be paid for your acting against your nature, there will be no reduction in, no way to counter, the immorality plaguing our world. No way. And it all begins with educating our youngsters.

Take it from a natural moralist: even if no one is watching, eat the bran flakes and take the stairs.

Friday, January 22, 2010


In 1992, our oldest known human ancestor was discovered in Ethiopia. Belonging to the Ardipithecus ramidus species, and nicknamed Ardi, she lived about 4.4 million years ago, over a million years before Lucy, previously thought to be our oldest ancestor. Ardi stood 4 feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds. Her skeleton reveals that her species, similar to early apes, used all four limbs to climb trees, but was bipedal on the ground, the way we humans are. Considering the fact that walking on all four limbs is a much more efficient way of getting around, the question arises: What would have induced Ardi, and particularly the male hunters of her species, to be bipedal on the ground?

The answer suggested by some who claim to "know" what happened over 4 million years ago may surprise you. It was monogamy and sex, they say.

Apes and gorillas were polygamous by nature. They had large canine teeth which males used as weapons in battles with other apes and gorillas for sexual favors. Those with larger canines usually won, had more offspring, and survived evolutionarily. The Ardipithecus had smaller canines...convincing some scientists that they had learned they could obtain and retain the exclusive sexual favors of a particular female not by fighting for her, and thus no need for large canines, but by bringing her food. Walking upright gave the Ardipithecus two hands to easier carry that food, and more of it...which turned that species toward monogamous relationships.

One thing further. Gorillas and apes that had to fight for sex had bristles on their sexual organs. These bristles provoked quick ejaculation, which enabled them to have many sexual encounters while still leaving them fighting time. Females, too, preferred quick ejaculations to increase their chances of bearing offspring. The Ardipithecus had no such bristles because, the scientists say, there was no evolutionary need for quick ejaculations since they had become monogamous and did not need fighting time to win sexual favors. And females no longer preferred "quickies" because they had a guaranteed mate at their beck and call.

Today, taking a lady out for a dinner that may lead to sex is still the order of the day, and quick ejaculations are not what most females prefer, I've been told. Nothing's changed since Ardi.

I guess 4 million years is just a drop in the old bucket, evolutionarily speaking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


There is a tribe I heard about that is among the happiest of all beings on the planet. And since happiness may be the ultimate goal for all of us, I thought it worthwhile to study how this tribe lives, their customs and mores, and what they are doing that makes them laugh and seem to enjoy life so much. Here is what I learned:

They tend to weigh under 150 pounds, which suggests they avoid many fat-related diseases. Also, their lighter weight no doubt puts less stress on their hearts and other organs. Is health a factor in happiness?

Their brain size is about half the size of that of most people. Perhaps that suggests that overthinking a problem is not psychologically healthy since it may produce feelings of doubt and uncertainty, all of which attack and lessen the level of self esteem thought by most psychologists as the prerequisite to attaining happiness.

Their average life expectancy is 15 years below the worldwide human average, suggesting they avoid the debilitating illnesses and limitations of older age, and the knowledge of even middle aged people of what is likely in store for them. So while they may live shorter lives, they may be in fact more fearless, less incapacitated, ones. Happier ones.

They are polygamous, most often bisexual, and crave and engage in frequent sex...which no doubt explains a lot. Their main work is hunting, suggesting perhaps that civilization hasn't worked out as well as expected. They are altruistic and show great empathy toward other life forms. They are extremely curious, have exceptional memories, and appreciate natural beauty.

Can we learn from them? That is for each of us to answer for ourself. With so many of us finding happiness so elusive, I would think it best to leave no stone unturned.

For more information on the tribe, check out Pan Troglodyte or Pan Paniscus on your computer.

You know them as chimpanzees.


I was brought up in a religious home, and my family always ate dinner together. Before we ate, we would each stand, close our eyes and say a prayer together. The prayer did more than have us give thanks to God. It served to turn our thoughts away from day to day matters, from petty diversions and annoyances, and to focus for a few moments on what is truly important in our lives. I remember as a child it always brought a smile to my face.

I am not religious now and miss the transcendent serenity that prayer evokes.

Accordingly, I will take time each day for this reflection:

"Let me forever be mindful of the beauties of nature, comforted by the love of others, and enthralled by the joy of life."


Monday, January 18, 2010


I made some notes for this post...they are in caps below.

Ever notice that when people argue about politics, ethics and the like, virtually no one ever changes their mind, no one ever "sees the light". Virtually everyone has the exact same position at the end of the argument as they had at its start.

I wondered about that and I think one reason that explains it is that the arguers come from different arguer may come from the emotional camp, where decisions are based "on the way I feel about the issue", and the other may come from the intellectual where decisions are based on facts, reason and logic. What one of them says is stopped at the gate of the other.

The way your emotions work, they are not directly within your power to change, the way your thoughtful conclusions are. New facts can directly and swiftly change your mind about an issue. But the emotional camper does not bring facts to the table, and is not particularly swayed by the ones the intellect camper does. Stalemate!

Since arguments are often based on what my position on the issue is likely to lead to, and where your position is likely to lead, they are both conjecturing about the unknown future. Hard to show the other guy that you are more clairvoyant.

Because a youngster's intellect has not fully developed, it is natural that he or she would drift into the emotional camp. That is reinforced by exposure to religious sermons that are faith, that is, nonintellectually based. Any wonder the emotional camp is overcrowded and the intellectual camp is sparsely populated.

Emotions are freebies. Infants have them, animals have some. But intellectual ideas have to be acquired and since man is blessed (cursed, some say) with the power of choice, they ought be studied before acquisition. The price? Time, effort, dedication, money.
Which attracts more?

"Right" requires proof of meeting an objective standard, a factual standard, and it can be found only after thoughtful analysis in the intellectual camp. There positive rewards for doing that well. On the other hand, one person's subjective emotions are neither right nor wrong, they just are. And since many of us have shaky self esteem, and finding out we are wrong can hurt, which camp allures you?

Many of us would say that: our emotions reveal the real us, who we really are, in a way our intellect does not. Ironic, since what distinguishes us from all other living things, what has made us the ruling species of the world is our intellect, with its power to create, to judge, to forgive, to laugh, to fantasize...but it is our emotions that many think defines us.

Then there are those who want to keep one foot in each camp and who profess to know something in their gut. Sorry. You know it, if at all, in your brain.

Without benefit of a survey, it seems to me that Republicans tend to prefer the intellectual camp, though overwhelmingly most Reps straddle the fence, while Democrats seem to prefer the emotional camp...which helps explain why they responded en masse to candidate Obama's emotional calls for change, without knowing precisely what change, and made him President.

The growing Tea Party seek to attract voters in both camps. It argues intellectually for support of America's underlying principles, and frames its arguments in very emotional terms. That might work. Some surveys show them outpolling both Dems and Reps.

It is a common practice for people to wear engagement and/or wedding rings on their left hand to announce their romantic and marital status. I suggest that it would be inordinately valuable if we wore a ring on our other hand connoting which camp we reside in. Perhaps a red ruby ring for the emotionalists inscribd "I feel I am", and a blue sapphire ring for the intellectuals inscribed "I know I am". Think of the wasted time and verbiage and argumentation to be saved, and the frustrations to be avoided. Think of the efficiency of it all.

"Looking for a single emotionalist? There's one. No, not her...she's an engaged intellectualist."

I like that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Freedom = opportunity = incentive to produce goods and services others want = earn money = spend money as you choose for things you choose = enjoy a better lifestyle

Haitians, in the news these days, are poor and impoverished not because they are ignorant people (they aren't), not because they are lazy (they aren't), not because their country does not have resources to exploit (it does). They are poor because they have little, if any, freedom. And that is true for every freedom-suppressing country in the world.

In an historically short 234 years, America has become the richest, most powerful, most advanced country on the planet, not because we are have the best resources of any nation, or are physically stronger or mentally smarter, not because we feed off the plight of other nations, not because we dominate them, as some America haters would have you believe, but because we are among the freest. We have the best health care in the world (where do world leaders come for their critical health care needs?), some of the best educational centers in the world (where are the children of world leaders frequently sent for their education?), many of the most creative and inventive scientists in the world, because we are among the freest of nations.

Why does freedom work? Because it is the only environment suited to the universal nature of the human species...which includes our unique capacity to choose. Every government limitation, restriction, of our freedom violates our nature and is inappropriate for human life. Every single one. Since our nature is a universal one...all humans have it...our freedom does not, by definition cannot, include the denial of freedom to others, for if they are not entitled to it, neither are we.

Capitalism is the name given to the political system that supports freedom. Those who seek a better life for their people via any... any...other political system, whether it be some alleged socialism/freedom hybrid, or communism, or whatever, are dead wrong. And I use the word "dead" purposefully, for they are rejecting the only pro-life environment suitable for mankind and opting for a system that attacks human life. And history over and over again has proven that to be true.

Those, like many of today's Democrats,... who call for the redistribution of the wealth of the nation, from the more productive to the lesser productive, those who would require us to have health insurance whether we choose to have it or not, are attacking our nature. They seek to replace the natural equation above with an artificially, freedom violating equation of their own (need = entitlement = possession). Unfortunately, that well is not a bottomless one, it will very soon run dry, and history proves that to be true, as well.

The name "capitalism" has developed a bad reputation...perhaps because it includes the word "capital", which to most of the world means money...which, unfortunately, is considered evil by so many. The beauty of capitalism, that it embraces freedom, is not generally seen or appreciated. Accordingly, I suggest the name "capitalism" be changed to "dominism" be dominant over your domain, to govern your sovereign life.

Freedom is not just a nice sounding idea, it is not just another alternative. It is the only environment in which civilized prosperity and progress and true benevolence and humanity can and will thrive. The ONLY one.

Are you a dominist?


It started, when I was younger, with unmarked police cars. It has grown in innumerable ways to police women posing as prostitutes to catch Johns, to adult police officers professing on the Internet to being minors to lure sex offenders. It is the insidious drive to convert America into a secret society.

There is nothing inherently sacred about speech, nothing holy about the press, nothing sacrosanct about meetings. What those three things have in common is the open exchange of knowledge. The Founding Fathers understood that the vibrant, confident, energized country they sought to establish required the free exchange of information. They knew that throughout history, all authoritarian, abusive governments were rooted in secrecy and thrived on the distrust it generated among the people. Hitler rewarded and gave medals to young children who told the Gestapo what their parents spoke about in the privacy of their homes. Underlying our guaranteed freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly, is our right to the free exchange of information...that is, the right to exist in an open, trusting, benevolent society.

As a campaigner, Barack Obama promised an open, transparent Administration...inordinately appealing to those who believed that the public's general support of the war in Iraq was founded in the secrecy of, and the falsehoods issued by, officials of the prior Bush Administration. As President, to date, Obama has run as closed an Administration as could be imagined, fraught with secret conferences and negotiations, secret deals to obtain votes, and more. Do you believe one word of what is told to you publicly?

I deplore child molesters, but I refuse to believe it is necessary to change the character of our country to catch them. For if it is, we will all be victims of Government molestation...which has already begun.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Why oh why did we set it up the way we did?

1. Most men are polygamous by nature, it is said, but polygamy is outlawed in most of our country.

2. Few find passion in their work, would rather have more time for themselves, but the established workweek consumes the better part of 5/7th of each week.

3. Humans have the capacity to think conceptually, but its two essential tools... thinking objectively and reasoning logically...are not taught in any elementary, middle or high schools I know of.

4. The unique ability of humans to make choices is subverted by society's relentless pressure on its members to conform to prescribed protocols and standards.

5. Freedom is extolled, but adults are not free to use hard drugs, and, in some states, to pay for sex, or to engage in certain types of gambling...and when our freedom is threatened, we protect it by violating it in the most insidious way: requiring young men and women, via the military draft, to risk their lives against their will.

6. Almost every major city has extensive rush hour traffic, wasting time and causing stress, when it could all be alleviated by some companies slightly varying their 9 to 5 workday.

7. Almost all humans seek meaning and purpose in their lives, but from early childhood they are told they will not find them in the real world, the only world they will ever know, but must look for them in an imagined fantasy world they cannot know.

8. We are told that money is the root of all evil, and spend most of our lives trying to figure out how to acquire more and more of it.

9. We talk readily about the tragedies of life, but hesitate to talk about one of the pleasures of treat it publicly as if it were something we had little interest in.

10. If we do what we must do to healthily stay alive...think of ourselves, seek pleasure for ourselves, love ourselves, we are labeled selfish, debauched, narcissistic, all used derogatorily...but if we do the same things for and toward others, we are compassionate, benevolent, magnanimous...all words of praise.

?way this it designed Who.

Friday, January 15, 2010


We talk too much, say too little, and hear almost not at all.

Amazing how many people know the answer without having asked any questions.

The glory of freedom is not tarnished one scintilla by the fact it includes the freedom to make bad, poor, wrong, stupid choices.

Fame is fleeting. Perhaps that is why so many are forever chasing it.

Serenity is tridextrous: it soothes before, during and after the storm.

The thing I remember most about my mother is that she never forgot how much she loved me.

The thing about a kiss is that the more you long for it, the shorter it will seem to be.

We're all a bit crazy, but only a few of us know it, and fewer of us still are happy about it. Shame.

Most of us work our hardest not to work so hard.

To outlaw all gambling would be to outlaw life.

This automatized answering machine generation has missed out on what has become one of life's great pleasures: having a questioning phone call answered by a helpful human.

If you think all good things come to those who wait, you either think you are immortal or are pretty sure it will be Heaven.

There cannot be a convincing reason not to use reason.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Years ago when I was in high school, I had a conversation with a friend who seemed to know more about economics than I did. When I voiced complaint that the Government's new budget showed it running at a deficit, he explained to me why that was fine, even beneficial, to our country. I did not understand it then and I do not understand it now.

First, it is not a Government deficit. It is a people deficit, our deficit. The Government is not an entity with money of its own. It is the framework we have set up to handle certain of our affairs. It is a conduit, getting "its" money from us. So, when the Government goes into debt, it puts us into debt. You and me.

Second, one way or the other, that debt must be paid, generally by taxes or by the printing of new money which devalues the money we now have. I resist using these infrequently heard words, but it seems patently clear to me that it is both "logical" and "fair" that monies spent be obtained from those who are choosing via their representatives to spend Not our children or grandchildren, but us!

Yes, to be sure, future generations may benefit from what we do today, and I can accept that reasoning if the deficit is minor. But when the deficit exceeds $12,000,000,000,000...or $35,000 per person in America...which, with new welfare and benefit programs being installed, will continue to will create a bondage on future generations to pay it off that is unacceptable in a free country. Further, the unprecedented size of the debt will significantly and negatively impact their lives.

This week's earthquake disaster in Haiti is a monumental tragedy. It evokes a natural humanitarian desire to help. But the U.S.Government has no funds and it is not within its Constitutional authority to use funds, even if it had them, to help the citizens of other countries. Our Government's sole responsibility is the welfare of the American people. Free independent Americans may, of course, voluntarily charitably contribute all they wish. The U. S. can certainly aid in the situation by flying in donated food and supplies, medical personnel, and evacuating wounded to neighboring hospitals, etc.

When election time comes around, we voters ought remember who strapped the packs onto our children's backs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Political debate these days has fallen to new levels of idiocy:

1. Republicans count and harp on how many terrorist events in which America or Americans are involved have occured during the Obama Administration. Questionable whether he bears responsibility for them. The Democrat response is to list the number of terrorist events that occured during the Bush Administration. Hardly a fair comparison since Obama has been in office for only one-eighth the time Bush was.

But even if that wasn't an issue, here is the problem: The proper standard to judge Obama's performance is not Bush's performance. They could both have been incompetent. The fact that a Republican did not do well does not logically preclude the Republicans pointing out a Democrat's inefficiencies. The standard to use is what can reasonably be done to thwart the events, using all the resources at our command...and what and how well was it done. Period.

2. Acknowledging its health care bill is far from well crafted and needs substantial fixing, the Democrats are now arguing "better to have a bad health care bill than no bill at all". Sorry, no urgent desperate need to spend an estimated trillion dollars on a garbage bill that will muck up probably the best health care system in the world. This is a first class nation and we ought to get first class legislation. Get it right or get it out.

3. If the best argument you can come up with to deny homosexuals the right to marry is that "the Bible condemns homosexuality", then toss out the Constitution and replace it with the Holy Scriptures. True, they countenance slavery, treat women as chattel, and prescribe stoning criminals to death. But you can pick and choose what you care to follow, the same way you do with the Constitution.

4. We are a nation of poll takers. But the fact that 52% of the American people want something, doesn't mean a darn. The Government is not a band of lynchers run by mob rule. We are a nation of laws and not of men, and until those 52% get a law passed, what they want means nada.

Also, when I hear that 68% of the people think we should or should not send more troops into Afghanistan, I have to wonder: Are they the same 68% who studied military strategies at West Point? Are they the same 68% who have top secret clearance and know the real threat facing us in that country? Are they the same 68% who have been to Afghanistan and who understand the terrain, the weather, the culture, where this war is being fought?

5. When I hear people proclaiming that animals have rights, what exact rights do they mean? The right of self defense? Does an animal have the right to eat you if you are trying to eat him? Does an animal have the right to live free, or can it be caged?

Ashley Montagu said it: "Human beings are the only creatures who are able to act irrationally in the name of reason".

And Ronald Reagan: "Politics I supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."

And William James: "A great many people think they re thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices".


Monday, January 11, 2010




Sunday, January 10, 2010


Here is the spectrum:


Time to be honest. During the past week, month, year, how often did what you did fall to the right of pleasant? How often was it exciting/thrilling? Not merely OK, or good or nice or even fun, but exhilarating, stirring, rousing, gripping, engrossing? Frequently? Rarely?

And therein, in my view, lies the source of so much of the unhappiness so many feel, the root of why life may not seem to "measure up" for so many, the frequency of stress, psychological breakdowns, anger, violence.

As a society, we have settled for a life that sets "pleasant" and not "thrilling" as the goal...and the standard of success. Routinized activity in and outside of work are the norm. Safety has preempted daring, the comfort of the familiar does not abide the uncertainty of exploration and adventure. The fear of death outstrips the joy of life.

All the pills we take, all the psychiatric counseling we get, will do little if anything to bring us the happiness we crave. If we settle for mediocrity, it is a mediocre emotional state of mind that we will earn. A pleasant one, perhaps, but nothing more.

Charles Kingsley said it well: "We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about".

Well, I don't know if that is all we need, but it is certainly something we need. Fervor generated by excitement, not blandness generated by pleasantries, is the root of enthusiasm.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The planet is not suffering from Global Warming...we are suffering from Global Noising.

I have written before that the world is a composite of two realms: the mental and the physical, ideas and concretes. Two interrelated realms, both critical to man's life. Throughout history, the pendulum, the emphasis, has swung from ome realm to the other.

Today, the emphasis is on the realm of the physical, the concrete...where noise is welcomed and treasured.

Everywhere around us, noise abounds:
Television screens, especially commercials, blare away;
Radio and cell phones add to the din;
Movie screens erupt with mind shattering special effects;
The popular genres of music raise instrument and vocal pitch levels to new heights.
Talk, talk, talk wherever, whenever...all fueled by the notion that if you are not talking all the time, you have nothing to say, and if you have nothing to say, you are a boring person leading a boring life. I am one of those quiet ones and when I hear what the others are talking about, I invariably find their conclusion to be reversed.

Dogs bark when they want attention, babies cry when they need attention, men talk talk talk when who they are and what they do, do not warrant attention.

In the realm of ideas, abstractions and reflection, tranquility and calmness of mind are sublime. It is for good reason that schools, libraries, churches, monasteries, retreats and other places of thoughtful contemplation have traditionally been places of quiescence and serenity. Our minds are best served by quiet composure. I suspect the noisemakers do not enjoy being alone with the silence within their own minds.

Two quotes make my point:

"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact"...George Eliot

"The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak"...Benedict de Spinoza

Friday, January 8, 2010


Finally, the thought provoking movie I have been waiting years to see..."Brothers", screenplay by David Bernoff, beautifully and believably acted by Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, and quietly directed by Jim Sheridan.

The plot revolves about a militarily committed Marine captain who is declared dead in combat in Afghanistan, only to be found alive, and to return home to his wife and two young girls. This is not a war movie. It is a story of the complexity of each "ordinary" human life, the life altering choices we may encounter along the way, and the best and moral way to handle the crises they give rise to. I put ordinary in quotations because you may come to see that none of us are "ordinary", but each of us a very unique and complex collection of attitudes, principles and emotions that cannot be easily categorized.

I said the movie was thought proking. Here are some of the questions you may be provoked to think about:

* Is the military standard of "there is the mission and only the mission", realistic and/or humane and/or livable?

* Is there ever a time when it is better to be dead than alive?

* What obligations, if any, do brothers share with each other?

* Can a love that has ended because of the death of one of the lovers continue to deserve respect?

* Is there ever a time when truth is not the best choice?

* When, if at all, do parents deserve forgiveness for errors in parenting?

* How best to deal with a failure to meet our own standards?

* Can one outlive the trauma of combat?

Do not be surprised to find that your initial instinctive answers to these questions may be challenged as the movie unfolds, and may be completely different by movie's end. And in a way this movie does not end, for the provocative questions it raises may leave the theater with you and join you on your trip home.

At least they did with me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Here are their definitions:

Concrete: "actual, cat"

Abstract: "thought apart from concrete realities, specific objects or actual instances...difficult to understand, impractical idea, something visionary and truth."

Which would you care to focus your attention on...the cat or the truth? If you said "the cat", then you are in league, I suspect, with 99% of the population, who are not attracted to the allegedly impractical and unrealistic.

Nor perhaps, should they be. Except for the fact that abstractions are neither impractical nor unrealistic. Abstractions...basically, ideas...can be very practical. In fact, every piece of human induced progress through the ages, every invention, was at first an abstraction, an idea in someone's mind. Thank heavens there were and are some among us who enjoy the contemplation, the tinkering with, the exploration of, abstractions, or humankind would stagnate.

And as for an abstraction not being realistic, tell me the anger you feel when you are unfairly treated, the sorrow you feel at the loss of a loved one, are not real. Things that are not real can have no impact on your life.

So what explains this general disinterest in this critical sphere of human life?

Perhaps it is the remnants of our forms that had only sensory and not conceptual skills. Humans mutated into conceptual beings capable of dealing with abstractions. All other life forms, including that cat above, can focus only on concretes.

Perhaps it is the effect of the breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution. Before that time and dating back to ancient times, there were concretes...a man owned a donkey, he ate food, he had clothing...but the variety of those concretes was limited. One donkey was pretty much like any other donkey, there was no 5-page menu of dinner entrees to choose from, there was no Bloomingdales, no Old Navy, no Adidas. .

The Industrial Revolution's capacity to massively and quickly produce new goods, in seemingly endless varieties, quantities and types, changed all that. Man now had choices galore, and his eyes were tempted by them. This year's model soon became "old", that brand was more durable, more functional, cheaper. Improvements came rapidly, and with them came a deep-rooted psychological need for more and more and bigger and better concretes. Man's conceptual attention was overrun.

Perhaps the developing disinterest in the sphere of abstractions was fostered by the one group that should have known better: the "thinkers", the academia. Playing rationalistic mind games, many went to the edge and fell over...loudly proclaiming that there was in fact no such sphere, that what is true for me may not be true for you, that you can't know anything for certain, that majesty and beauty and serenity are fantastic constructs with no practical or realistic value.

Any wonder that not many amongst us can easily and precisely define abstract concepts like benevolence, sovereignty, justice, soul, nor care much to think or talk about them? Any wonder why after 2,000 plus years, we still are not certain as to how to attain happiness, perhaps the most pleasurable of abstractions? Any wonder why so many are more intrigued by what's on sale at Walmart's than they are in philosophy? Any wonder why we all know about Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell and Bill Gates, but few know, or care to know, who Hegel, Descartes, Rousseau and Adam Smith, were?

The proper answer,in my view, of what to focus on, the cat or truth, is both, of course...because both are real, both exist, and both contribute to the glory (oops) of our lives.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Terrorist groups and nations have successfully stirred up violence against civilization in many countries of the world...and it should not have been a surprise that they were able to do so, and to maintain it. The reasons for their success seem clear:

* most of the people in most of the victimized countries lead poor, impoverished lives with little hope of ever escaping them;

* they are not solidly rooted in the rule of law, but in the rule of man, whether it be imposed by a terrorist organization or by "elected" officials;

* their political leaders are often corrupt;

* many are believers in fanatic mysticism that can be interpreted to urge them to war;

* they have no defense to the force, and threat of force, exerted against them by terrorists, and are given one choice: join or be targets;

* they generally are envious of, and share a common hatred of, the symbol of civilization, the United States;

* they correctly believe that the U.S. does not understand their culture, their religion, their way of life;

* they perceive any presence by the U.S. in their country as unwanted "occupation".

All of the above goes back thousands of years. We are incapable of changing it. If those countries are to change, they must be changed by themselves, from within.

We have no need to have forces there...we can do little and all will likely be reversed the day we leave. And they are not a threat to us while they are in their countries, and not in our country. We have the military might, particularly air power and advanced technological weaponry, and nuclear weapons, that can contest and be victorious against any nation on the face of the globe. Our enemies see talk as weakness, and weakness as an opportunity for aggression. We should make it crystal clear to ally and foe alike that we will do whatever needs to be done to protect the safety of the American people. Whatever.

To our allies we say: "Join with us to preserve civilization, or we will, and can, do it alone".

To our enemies we say: "Make a move against us and we will use every weapon at our command to destroy you...we will not respond to your violence 'two times over' or 'ten times over'...we will annihilate you, we will destroy your headquarters, your airports and seaports, your industrial plants, your weapons caches...and it will all be done from the air, not one American soldier will set foot on the ground, and, no, we do not recognize any responsibility to later rebuild what we have destroyed...many innocent people will die, you will have killed them...we do not accept the 'nobility' of our innocent people dying so that innocent people elsewhere may live...test us at your peril".

To our people we say: "We will stop engaging our enemies fighting their battles, on their terms...we will stop the unnecessary loss of lives in our Armed Forces and the wasting of billions of our dollars in foreign wars that do not directly serve our security...and with unbounded commitment, we will forever preserve the blessings of the American way of life."


This post is intended to raise, though perhaps not answer, one question:

Should the mere thinking of doing something evil/immoral be considered evil/immoral?

We know the general rule that thinking does not rise to the level of a crime unless some action is taken. But that is because crimes involve other people and physical action is required to affect them. The question here is whether what is only in a person's thoughts, unaccompanied by physical action, impacts his character and ought affect our judgment of it?

For example: I contemplate what it would be like to commit adultery with my beautiful neighbor. I fantasize having sex with her and what it would feel like. Have I done something wrong? Am I evil (immoral) for thinking it?

I contemplate what it would feel like to kill someone. To rape someone. Am I evil for merely thinking it?

The word "contemplate" can cover a whole range of thought...from idle conjecture, to conceiving, to imagining, to visualizing, to deliberating, to ruminating. Is there a point at which innocent thought becomes evil thought?

The Bible tells us that Abraham believed God wanted him to sacrifice his son Isaac on a burning altar, and took his son to the mountain, built the altar, and tied Isaac to the top of it. At the last moment, God intervened and stopped Abraham and Isaac was saved. It is believed by many that that was God's way of testing Abraham's faith in Him before making Abraham the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Was Abraham evil? Would your answer be different if God had intervened before Abraham had set with Isaac for the mountain, but after Abraham had determined he would sacrifice his son?

(If the fact that God is in the story affects your answer, remove Him from it. Would your answers be different if Abraham had done those things without attributing them to a God's will?)

If you would say that you would do something immoral (evil) "if I thought I could get away with it", but you have never thought you would not get away with it, and you did nothing, are you guilty of wrongdoing...wrongthinking?

If you watch a movie and root for the bad guy to get away, is there something wrong with your code of morality?

Ought the contemplation of an evil act, and its consequences, be used as a teaching method in schools?

We know that man is a composite of Mind and Body. Can he be evil in one and a saint in the other?

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Alphaport is a word I is a conjunction of "alpha", meaning first or beginning, and "port", a harbor.

If today is, as said to be, the first day of the journey that will be the rest of your life, then where you are terms of education, health, finances, relationships, your alphaport, your starting point. It is critically important for the success of your upcoming journey, that you know the precise longitude and latitude of your alphaport if you are to stand any realistic chance of reaching your destination.

And, equally importantly, you must accept where you are without anger or regret or blame, for they will do nothing but becloud your vision and divert you from your preferred course. Those burdened by negativity can often be heard to say, "I refuse to accept where I am in life. I do not deserve to be here, I never wanted to be here."

Perhaps not. Attribute it to poor navigation, or rough seas, or whatever, but do not deny your location. Your alphaport is the sum total of your journey, your choices, your fortune, to this point, whether you like it or not, wish it were someplace else or not. Acknowledging the reality of its location is the unquestioned first step to successfully charting the rest of your journey.

Bon boyage!