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Sailing to Byzantium

Updated: 2018-03-07T10:16:24.848-05:00


The Brave


The male gender appears to associate masculinity and courage with the size of one’s muscles.  Men often admire body-builders thinking size is equivalent to masculinity and manliness.  While it is true that the biggest boys in high school are often bullies – purposefully intimidating the smaller boys, later in life these same small boys are achieving financial success while the bullies are not.  Successful aggression on the playground does not equate to success in life.It is true that imposing muscles – often garner envious looks from many males.  Arguably the ultimate test of courage and bravery is demonstrated in armed combat on the field of battle.  Most of the men who served in WW II knew that there was a high probability they would not return home to their loved ones. Yet they did what they were ordered to do and faced down the fear that they experienced on a daily basis. The guys who have muscles just as scared as the skinny kid.The men who landed on the beaches of Normandy and survived never need to prove their manhood in any other way.  In the landing craft on the journey from their ship to the beach, each man had an opportunity to consider that his next few minutes might be his last.  Few situations that occur in a man’s life compete with the horror of that experience.I think that it is quite telling that the most honored soldier in WW II was a man 5’ 5” tall who weighed 112 lbs.  He was given every award for valor that the Army had available – in all 33 of them.  His name was Audie Murphy and he joined the Army when he was 17.  He had been wounded 3 times and was only 21 at the end of his 4 years of service.Men join the service for a wide variety of reasons.  The men who join the Marines are not necessarily courageous but they usually know the rigorous physical tests they are compelled to endure in basic training.  Marines also know that they will be the first to be sent in – as they were in the South Pacific.  Those who meet the Seal’s mental and physical requirements are almost certain to face combat, even in times when the United States in not formally at war.Courage and bravery are not broken down by gender or physical size.  I don’t know what drives bravery – the willingness to put oneself in harm’s way intentionally.  At first, I thought a reason was necessary; I think that reason is not always apparent to others.  But I know when another human being is foundering in distress, something instinctual takes over and any man or woman close by will risk themselves to save that person.  In combat, I think bravery may be a mix of self-preservation and the desire to protect others.I saw a news film on television that showed a man risking his life to save his dog.  He ran back into a burning apartment to get his dog.  He might be the same guy who bullied small guys in middle school, but I doubt it.  Human behavior follows a documented path in regards to others in dire need.  Although our behavior is generally predictable, hidden inside each of us is an unknown – unpredictable kernel of hidden potential.  Call it what you want; but don’t stake your life on predicting what another person will do when they are in danger or someone they love is in danger.The use of the words “hero,” and “courage” are thrown about irresponsibly by the media.  They want to put an emotional spin on every piece of news and they know that the general public (I’m not sure who that is) responds to acts of bravery. You only have to be in the same vicinity where another person does something risky and you are identified as brave.  Most thoughtful people are, if they examine their feelings about how the word “hero," puzzled and disconcerted by its irresponsible use in the media.In the end, acts of bravery on the civilian side are generally sporadic and distributed through time unpredictably. However, anyone in the active theater of war are by definition brave and a hero to U.S. citizens.&[...]

Raison D'etre


I think the happiest people in the world (depending on your definition of happy) are those who never ask themselves “what” they are or “why” they exist.  More exactly, they never ask “who” they are.Books and movies formally address the notions of who and what we are.  Isn’t that what we are really looking for?  If you are a member of the popular culture movement, you are consumed by this arcane, exotic, and esoteric quest. You hear it repeated again and again in the media; “who am I.”The context of this question is usually presented within the noble shroud of romantic idealism.  Like the Somerset Maugham book, The Razors Edge, the main character is contextually surrounded by a narrative of profound self-examination; he is “searching for answers.”  Ever hear that expression?For some reason, those who utter that phrase along with the “I am searching for who I am,” phrase is accorded a special status within the human community. The lower socio-economic and extremely religious are protected from the futile quest for self-knowledge.  A God tells them who and what they are and why they exist.The rest of us are stuck with a life that needs to be defined; we search for a reason for existing. In the eternal and infinite black universe within which we are only a dot of cells capable of reproducing, we stumble aimlessly.  Unlike dogs and cats and whales, we are aware of ourselves.In the movie “Blade Runner,” the main character – a blade runner (someone whose task is to find and assassinate humans that are really androids – self-aware but limited to 4 years of life) is played by Harrison Ford. He is capable of giving the androids a complex test needed to find out if they are human or not.  After testing an extremely sophisticated android whose longevity may be as developed as humans, he asks the designer and builder of the android – “Doesn’t it know what it is?”In the philosophical and cosmological sense, humans ask themselves who we are what we are. The answer is, I think, fairly simple.  But that simple answer can take a lifetime to discover. We are the only species that searches for a reason to be alive and consciously asked its self what it is supposed to do with that life. The search evolves as a romanticized journey of self-examination. The words that allude to this journey are usually complex abstractions that require definitions which are autological and recursive; circular reasoning is required and inescapable.  If romantic was defined by the physiological, neurological, and biochemical status of our body and brain (commonly found in classical conditioning), it would take all the autological, physical experiences that defines romanticism, and smash it into the practical.  However, if we wanted practical, we would read a critique of the book.Anatomy, histology, and physiology all define” what” we are; our behavior defines “who” we are within the family of humans on the planet. To other humans, we “are” what we do. A person who says and does kind things for others is known as a kind person – though many other words would describe his behavior equally well.In linguistics, words like “who” can be described as autological or heterological, or “weasel” words; words that have multiple meanings and ambiguous connotations.  The word “who” is an equivocal word that cannot be applied to oneself. It can be applied as an interrogative about one’s job, or as a category of behavior.  Who is he? Oh, he is a watchmaker, an engineer, or a murderer; they all answer the question.The word "who" thusly a word that is fake when used to search for a description "what" one is. What one is most often attempts to describe a person in subjective terms - when in fact it can only be defined objectively.  There are no synonyms in Roget’s Thesaurus for the word “who.”In conclusion, the question one may ask oneself – “who am I,” is an irrational question.  So the s[...]

The Dread of Eternity


If you are in your 20’s or 30’s, you think you have no reason to maximize the years you have.  I know I was similarly inclined at that age.  I felt that my life was almost infinite; even though, at some level, I knew otherwise.  I heard people say that you should live every day. . . Right; how do you do that?Recently, I was looking at the sky, the clouds, and the birds behind the house (I cannot describe the area behind my house as a well-defined yard; I have 12 acres of trees).  I thought (consciously observed) that someday – I would no longer be able to see these things; I would no longer be alive.Try it! Look at anything and make the same observation I did.  Since I am 75 years old, death and the inability to see even the most commonplace thing will be a reality. I am only a few years away from the age most people die.  Sometimes I think to myself, “Perhaps I have 10 more years.”  But if I do have 10 more years, then I will be 85.  At that age, most people have already died – or, they are infirm and shuffle along, incapable of walking at a normal pace.It is easy to fall into the habit of imagining more years.  One struggles with conscious application to will one’s life into older and older years.  I don’t want to dissolve into nothingness; into a bleak nonexistence. But reality always exerts its will, and you hazardously sidestep the misery of a stark reality.  At this point in life, it also becomes a reality that you cannot be dishonest with yourself and picture some mystical escape from fate.There will come a day when you will have some of these thoughts and the reality I live with will be your reality.  Then, you will become depressed; you will escape depression by using a stale and unconsoling ploy sold by motivational speakers and others who purport to offer you hope; you will attempt to “live every moment as if it was your last.” Lucky are those who can internalize these trivial life-rafts and begin to believe that hope is available within such stale and over-used advice.When you write about such personal paradoxes, it allows you to explore dimensions of consciousness formerly unexplored.  You stare into the darkness of “not being,” and a dread, a feeling that you have been avoiding dissolves the comfort of rationalization. In a few years, no one will even know that I existed.  In the time that remains to you, try to purposefully will yourself to do something that brings you solace – that allows you to exist in the most fulfilling state of mind you can attain given your current circumstances.  Explore the territory that is within your reach. Death is the “unexplored country from which no traveler returns.” (Shakespeare; Hamlet) The particles of matter that have shaped our being – and shape our not being predict our life span; we are destined to obey the complex matrix of matter – whose formula we weakly understand.  Our God is the genetic code that we are assigned. There is no redress or forgiveness for our transgressions; our self-regard is shaped by the things we have done.  We carry our moral and ethical misbehavior into eternity.  The chains of misjudgment, poor decisions, and the hurt caused to others, like Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, will be carried unto our demise.  Everything dies.[...]

A Society of Bullies


The media presents us with occasional exposés of school bullying and its effects. The tragedies at Columbine and Virginia Tech both brought attention to the topic, and 60 Minutes has done segments that provide a pretty clear picture of the psychological damage experienced by bullied children.My personal experience with bullying has given me some insight into the emotional dysfunctions it creates. I can truthfully say that the only two people in my life that I have held a grudge against are two boys who bullied me when I was a teenager.It was easy for them; I was small and thin. I was shy and already emotionally abused at home. Children like me often sought to deflect attention from themselves and remain in the shadows of social engagement. Bullying destroys the individual’s self-worth, and the constant anxiety compounds existing adaptation and adjustment problems.The destructive effects of bullying run deep, and the hard wired neuroticism and emotional dysfunction is extremely difficult to remediate. One of the aftereffects of my experience is my predisposition to overreact to anyone who is attempting to control my behavior. My prejudice against authority of any form is a manifestation of that tendency.Overbearing fathers can create this trait as well, but bullying is a behavior within the same class, with the same effect. When physically threatened, I have a tendency to respond in an exaggerated way. I recognize that I have a kind of bottled up rage—something that frightens me. I know under the wrong circumstances I might do something that would be over the top.During my tenure as a “management consultant”—someone who attempted to change organizations with dysfunctional management styles—I recognized my innate disdain for managers and supervisors. The abuse of power is a theme interwoven into our societies and cultures; it reflects a basic human flaw. This does not have to be explained to America’s workforce.Bullying appears to be a phenomenon related to natural selection; in societies, the aggression that worked so well to help our species dominate our environment creates problems in much the same way that the “flight or fight” response does. Both are genetic anachronisms that contradict the best interest of our contemporary environment.Bullying among children and adolescence is mostly a physical thing; the big kids pick on the little ones. The big kids with poor parenting—the kids who themselves are the victims of abuse at home—can be quite sadistic in their taunts and threats. In adult society, bullying behavior is often exhibited by sanctioned authority—by institutions and organizations whose members have the groups’ implicit support.Authority and majority are enfranchised and empowered by edict, by the justification of sovereignty inherent to organizational hierarchies and custom. My recent blog which references A.C. Graylings article on religion touches on the bullying behavior of organized religions around the world.Interestingly, those who have “beliefs” or “faith” in a supernatural power assume they have special dispensation; they are allowed special respect, credibility, and sovereignty:People who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitionsA.C. GraylingOur culture, our government and institutions are bullied by religious organizations who claim special dispensation—the right to force their wills on others.I have experienced a life time of bullying by religion. In many instances, refusal to support a Christian perspective can lead to embarrassment, castigation, or alienation. Sometimes the threat is overt, sometimes subtle. In Tampa, Florida in 1960 two men were beaten to t[...]

Observations From An Ignored Blog


1. With millions of blogs to choose from, each trying to be more compelling than the other, your chances of collecting a crowd are directly related to the number of obscenities and embarrassing personal disclosures included in your content. So, if young, impressionable teenagers read your blog you have to keep it clean or you’re fucked.2. Nobody gives a shit what you think or feel.3. If you say anything negative about the government, your IP is listed and tracked for content against a list of words and phrases which have been identified with anti-republican ideologies and socialist ideas. Subsequently, they give your address to Jehovah’s Witnesses – so don’t answer the door anymore.4. Your friends read your blog because they are still trying to figure out just how twisted you really are in order to feel better about their own clinical symptoms. They’re hoping you will use obscenities, or salacious, lascivious or bawdy language so youngsters will tell their mother and the PTA will hate your stinking guts.  Your friends will know you are sicker than they are and feel better about themselves.5. People who read and write blogs are probably suffering from Internet Obsession Syndrome (IOS), which has just been identified as a legitimate medical condition. Symptoms include anti-social behavior, alienation, paranoia, and coulrophobia. Fear, self-loathing and alcoholism are also characteristic of IOS victims.6. Nobody gives a shit what you think or feel.  7. If a blog were to ever reveal a truth of sufficient magnitude to constitute an epiphany for readers, the blogger would immediately be identified as a false prophet and shunned (de-bookmarked). It’s a felony to be prophetic in Kansas without being ordained.8. Using truth (accurate information) in blogging, is just the bloggers sordid attempt to gain attention (hits) using obvious appeals to decency and conventional values—a flagrant violation of the bloggers cult (a satanic thing with lots of sacred stuff about technology.) A good blogger knows that reality is simply artistic material that requires creativity to be properly presented to the masses.  American blog readers hate the rich, intelligent people, anyone on welfare, and anyone who uses words like ethics and morals.9. Comments that you think are cool, insightful, wise, funny, satirical, controversial, inflammatory, and contentious are perceived as esoteric, abstruse, cryptic, sarcastic, pedantic, argumentative, inhumane, patronizing and condescending. If you were really smart, you would be rich and would not have to get your kicks trying to write stuff that sicko shunned and isolated people read during work hours.10. Keep your smart ass opinions to yourself; nobody cares what you think or feel.11. Your own family doesn’t give a shit what you think or feel. It’s true; none of my relatives read this blog—wonder why?12. The world has millions of times less smart and clever people than it does people who give a shit whether you are smart or clever (if you really are, mister smarty pants.) All that matters is whether or not you have money—or if you are outrageous, irreverent, and pornographic.13. The only person who ever cared whether you could compose a brilliant sentence or whether you were a gifted writer, gave you a C in 12th grade English class and now she’s dead. I hope you learn a lesson from that. Writing is like thinking, only without the brain.14. If you don’t know what lugubrious and vituperative mean, that’s because I chose to hide it from you.15. If you are really miserable, make sure you write about it in your blog. It is encouraging to others and lifts their spirits. They feel like, “boy, I’m glad I’m not him.” The conspicuous absence of empathetic responses sustains your sense of worthlessness.16. Don’t wri[...]

Crazy People


 Seriously abnormal people have structural brain anomalies and biochemical dysfunction.  If you read the studies instead of watching the evening news, you would know this.  The evening news is populated by “broadcast journalist,” (Latin for people who graduated from colleges you’ve never heard of and who wanted to be popular) who read and mispronounce teleprompter scripts that are written by minor league writers who couldn’t get jobs writing a worthwhile TV series.The big broadcasting companies usually use psychiatrist to provide them with the “why” someone has suddenly gone crazy and done something horrendous.  Beginning with Freud, psychiatrists have trumped up specious theories about mental states and illnesses that elicit crazy behavior.  If you pay attention, you will see that the analyses that they provide for the behavior of crazy people does not explain anything.  Psychiatrists do not cure mental disorders.  People go to psychiatrist after they have decided to quit drinking, doing drugs, or being an anxiety ridden neurotic.  People heal themselves.Yes, it is consoling to be able to talk to someone who is non-judgmental and asks you questions that lead you to understand more about your own motivations.  Analysis of your upbringing usually reveals that your parents helped make you depressed, anxious, angry, and aggressive.  Upbringing, brain structure, brain chemistry, synaptic dysfunction, and other genetic variations can make you a strange, potentially violent person.  Read the studies on the brain structure of psychopaths and that will start you on a journey of understanding.The real problem is that the psychiatric lobby has convinced the nation that crazy people are “just like you and me” and they can be cured.  Yes, mentally ill people can be controlled and managed with drugs; but that is about it.  I worked in psychiatric hospitals for 3 years and the psychiatrists and nurses all agreed on that one thing.  Take away the patients drugs and they would soon be tearing up the unit and beating each other to death.It is interesting how easily the average person accepts strange, inappropriate behavior from their co-workers and neighbors.  Often when interviewed on TV after their next door neighbor has kept his children in a closet for a couple of years, they reveal that they “felt” their neighbor was a bit odd or “kept to himself” – something like that.  Odd behavior from others is now accepted as eccentricity or someone that is “just different.”  The truth is that those of limited cognitive endowment are incapable of noticing nuances of behavior and speech that indicate potential mental illness.When I was in middle school, one of my class members who was thought to be “different” expressed that difference during a fire drill when he knocked down one of the girls in the class and stuck his hand up her dress.  Everyone talked about it as being “strange,” but the teachers did not do anything about it.  About a month later, he was shot when attempting to steal $10 from a home in order to fund attending the Florida State Fair.I know what you are thinking; you have strange thoughts and fantasies.  You know if they were made public people would think you were seriously deranged.  Don’t despair; everyone has thoughts that they don’t want anyone to know about.  They do not act on those thoughts; they behave normally – or mostly normal – though normal is hard to define it is a state with which we are all attuned.  Your instincts, your gut level feelings, send you a message when someone does or says something out of keeping with the social context, something abnormal.The imminent danger we face is from those individuals that are medicated by their parents and kept at home or close by.  The CCHR International, a mental health ass[...]

The Shadow of Lost Knowledge


I initially wrote this post about 8 years ago; my angst at that time was incubated in the spirit-defiling predictable frustration of commercial flight.  Now, having witnessed my fellow humans select Hitler’s reincarnation as President of the United States, I have lived to see my worst fears realized; we are, as I feared, little better than the cannibalistic, incestuous, murderous cave dwellers from which we evolved.Winston Churchill had it right when he said, “The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter.”  I think this has been proven repeatedly as the media interviews the average citizen in a small town café.  No matter what Trump says; no matter how egregious and festered the lie or misdeed – the gravy drooling local ghoul who thinks the landing on the moon was staged and that the Holocaust was a fiction – comes to Trump’s rescue.  “It’s a plot by the liberals and other Commies.”How is it possible for a species to have been given the gift of self-awareness and for that same species to defile the sanctity of that benefit by murdering, slaughtering, and butchering each other?   And much worse, for that species to be devoid of the intelligence required to perceive the murderous intent and rhetorical chicanery of their peers. Yes, it appears that the only thing worse than death is life.Somehow that preface leads logically into my rant about “mistakes.”I am totally mystified by the number of people who make mistakes – repeatedly – and are not apologetic or display any form of self-disapproval. One thing is apparent, if someone works for the government, you can expect them to screw up important, critical things as a matter of course.Like the sequence of bozoesque screw-ups that led to a self-proclaimed terrorist boarding a plane for the US from Amsterdam with explosives sewn into his jockey shorts. It always happens; every time something happens where innocent people die, somebody in the government had their head up their ass and didn’t do their job.Every year the world loses trillions of dollars’ worth of human productivity and spends tens of billions of dollars on airport security. I think Maureen Dowd of the New York Times captured the spirit of my frustration in her column on December the 29th:“We seemed to still be behind the curve and reactive, patting down grannies and 5-year-olds, confiscating snow globes and lip glosses. Instead of modernity, we have airports where security is so retro that taking away pillows and blankies and bathroom breaks counts as a great leap forward.If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?We are headed toward the moment when screeners will watch watch-listers sashay through while we have to come to the airport in hospital gowns, flapping open in the back.”I think Maureen has captured the spirit of the thing. Tens of millions of American travelers have to pull off half their clothes to get through airport security where we usually hear the TSA employees talking about some preceding passenger who they would like to “tap that ass.”Listening to a high school drop out with petty authority try to persuade a paraplegic in a wheel chair to “move your legs or I won’t be able to check you.” Or rousting some 90 year old Anglo-Saxon woman and bossing her around: “Lift your arms.” Meanwhile, the Arabic looking 18 to 30 year old males stand around and glare at everyone daring them to make an allegation so they[...]

Don't Die Like A Schmuck


Do you ever think about your obituary? Probably not—you don’t know you are going to die until you turn 60 and then it’s too late to live life to the fullest because you’re all petered out and your body is starting to go. But, I mean did you ever think of how banal it is to die in some backwater—a town that, when mentioned, makes you think you would rather be dead than live there.I know this is pretty superficial, but you tell me what sounds better:Bill Jones of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Arizona (a real city) went to his Lord…OrBill Jones of Paris, France passed away today…Don’t you want to die in some cool place—LaJolla, California, or Santa Barbara, or Manhattan Island, New York. Maybe Strasbourg, Austria? Not Spuds, Florida, or French Lick, Indiana. It’s embarrassing to die in some city that causes people to feel sorry for you.What about the way you die? It is pretty cool to die in your sleep—right? It sounds peaceful…it has some dignity. It is pretty embarrassing to die in a stupid way—something bizarre that makes people’s skin crawl. What happens if you die and you don’t have any friends and your funeral is a non-event; nobody shows up. Next time you insult one of your friends or alienate a relative think about your funeral. If you’re not nice to them, they may not show up. Best to get cremated and then have a memorial service—where nobody shows up. At least your not laid out in a box—surrounded by a significant nothingness—no people or tears and stuff.And while you are thinking about dying with dignity (which will probably mean you have to move to a new city and start treating your friends better), think about the obituary. What kind of stuff are they going to say about you (given that there is somebody left that cares enough to write an obituary for you). Will there be anything to say?Obituaries like, “Bill worked at the Wal Mart for 25 years and everybody said he was a great guy.” Some obituaries are so lengthy and the person did so much that it is embarrassing for the living. You think, Jesus I haven’t done anything and this guy graduated from Harvard, where he was the quarterback on the football team, married the home coming queen, started an investment firm that is the 4th largest in America, was president of… was chairman of…served on the President’s committee to—you get the picture.People like that make the rest of us look like we are wasting space on the planet.That kind of guy really gives the preacher something to work with. I mean he can cut the usually pseudo-sermon out and really talk about the man who died. It is so embarrassing when the average human dies and the preacher has no material.What is he going to say: “Bill was an average guy, with no particular intelligence, who worked at a pretty stupid job, had two kids that are now in rehab, ate like a mule, was overweight, and drank himself into a stupor every night?Well, I hope this get you motivated to do something with your life so that you can have a respectable death. Even if you do fall down the basement stairs in a drunken stupor—if you made a few friends and live in a descent city—it will read well in the obits and the preacher they hire for your service will be able to say a few things without sounding awkward -- like he is making stuff up.[...]

Self Awareness


Getting older is about facing certain realities – for instance one’s importance or one’s uniqueness, creativity, intelligence. This is when the wonderful capability that distinguishes us from other species has dubious value. Oh to return to primy youth, the days when I was arrogant and full of confidence. Energy and intensity are the bedfellows of unbridled self-conceit. Awareness of self was overshadowed by a riot of new experiences.For me, the most difficult reality has been facing my limited intellectual abilities. I am one of those unfortunate people who can discriminate between various levels of intellect; I know who’s smart and who ain’t.Although I’ve read hundreds of books, I can only remember snippets from each. Memory is not a thinking skill, and it is clear that many creative people and great problem solvers don’t have perfect memories…but it helps if you do.I just finished reading a book entitled, Prodigy, by Amy Wallace. This biography is about a man named William James Sidis (pronounced like Midas). He died in 1944, at the age of 46. He is arguable the smartest man ever born.Billy had a projected IQ of between 250 to 300 points. He was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. The father was an MD, PhD, who could speak 27 languages. The mother was an MD. When he died, Billy Sidis could speak over 200 languages. Yes, I said 200.Billy had a photographic memory. He remembered everything he ever read, and if you quoted a line from a book, he could tell you what page it was on. He was reading the New York Times at age 18 months and had written 4 books by the age of 8.He passed the Harvard Medical School’s anatomy test at age 9, and in that same year passed the MIT entrance exam. He lectured the Harvard Mathematics Club (about 90 PhDs) on the 4th dimension when he was 11. He read Einstein’s paper on relativity when he was 6…to search for errors.His mathematics ability was so gifted he was expected to be the most important mathematician of the 20thcentury. He was gifted in every field; he knew almost everything about everything. Law, anthropology, history, you name it – he knew everything there was to know. He could learn a language in a day.Ask him about any street in American and he could tell you how to get there from any other street. He had a mental map of every city in his head. If he walked into a library he could later tell you where each book resided – which shelf, next to what other book.Later in life he became eccentric and neurotic – owing to his overbearing mother and yellow journalists who berated him continuously – presenting him as a kind of freak. He eventually refused to discuss intellectual subjects and preferred to work clerical jobs in back rooms.Intelligence is genetically determined, but can be amplified by early parenting techniques. Most of us did not have a say in either of these things. The thing that is frustrating for me is to see how easy it is for the lucky people who caught high IQ points to move among the world of ideas and concepts; to understand complex concepts and reason within the intricacies.For me, there is little merit in proclaiming that you have to work twice as hard to learn as someone who has 10 more IQ points. Hard work is overrated. William James Sidis did not have to work hard, but he chose to eschew the world of comparative achievement; he found it pointless to strive for money or renown. He lived in a boarding house with very few possessions.My desire for a few extra points is not driven by the need for material goods or fame; I would just like to be able to process more information and perhaps reach a better understanding…about things. No, no, no…you say! Friends, fami[...]

The Meaning of Life


Over the millennia, our species has obsessed about the origin of our being. Enigmatic words like “soul” are used to define the object of our search.  Science has definitively established our evolution from one-celled microorganisms.  But, there are those who refuse to entertain the idea that we are merely a combination of particles created by the physics of our universe.Institutions have been created that organize the thoughts of historical figures and collections of speculations around the idea we have been created by “something.”  God is the word used most frequently and the descriptions of God takes many forms; one for each of the thousands of beliefs that surround the existence of this source of our being.Our historical mother and father were both combined within the microorganism that birthed humankind. Knowing the truth as science provides it is both ennobling and depressing.  It is much better, I think, to be one of the many; those who believer in a singular creator and have no doubt that we die to rise again in some paradise of existence.  If you understand – even vaguely – the reality of sub-atomic particles and the idea that the matter and energy in the universe behaves lawfully – it paves the way for reevaluating our perspective on all matter of things.  For instance, although I have been pro-abortion my whole life, I recently changed my opinion.   When the spermatozoa enter the female egg, the embryo begins cellular division; the embryo is now a human; everything else is merely the growth and development of that human over a period of about 9 months. I think any argument to the contrary is difficult to contemplate.  You feel somewhat bestial crying, “no, no; it’s a thing. . .it’s a thing not a human.  Doesn’t make you feel good even to think that way does it.The question of abortion is of little interest to me.  It is a social and moral issue better addressed by the parties for whom this reality has some relevance.  Each woman must decide what she wants to do and it is her business.  Like so many human decisions, the consequences fall upon us; and if those consequences have moral implications, then it is our lot to bear them.We have no idea where all the materials that created the “big-bang” (if there was such a thing) or where the rest of the universe originated.  All we have is some observations that support elements of the dynamic principles of sub-atomic particle behavior.  One of those principles (restated in a baseborn manner) is illustrated by the tendency of matter to organize itself in ever-increasing levels of complexity. The one cell becomes a human; the human creates a tribe, a city, a society, a country and so forth.If you accept the premise stated therein, the idea that the same chemistry and physics that created the microorganism and thus the human is possible elsewhere in the universe.  The environmental conditions must exist elsewhere. Subsequently in this universe other colonies of life must be present.  Hopefully they are smarter than we are and they have explored science for some reason other than to build better weapons of death and destruction.Life on other planets may have used knowledge to create societies that better serve the growth and development of their population; perhaps they understand the moral code co-opted by religions on our planet.  The moral code for humans exceeds the poor limitations and distorted representations described in the specious texts of pre-psychotic pretenders.  Kindness, love, and the awareness that harming others is not right, are all elements of any accurate description of a “human.”  Human is a word used to describe those that behave in accord with the creation of an advanced mam[...]

Outside Looking In


It is interesting to me that most people have no interest in knowing what other people are thinking – even if their thinking elicits revelations, epiphanies; even if another’s interior dialog validates and confirms their own innermost thoughts and feelings.  Why do so many read melodramatic trash novels; novels that are replete with irrational incidents and dysfunctional relationships?I’ve always been interested in others thoughts because it helped confirm or negate my thoughts and feelings.  Soon one discovers that what people say or write about themselves is often spun to affect the perceptions others have of them – or they have of themselves.  My perception is that disinterest in the interior life of others is symptomatic of a weakness in the individual.  I say weakness when it might in fact just be a psychological state that increases the value of books written by “authors,” and devalues blogs written by “just other humans.”My blog may be off-putting because it is just the thoughts and feelings of an average human.  Perhaps the poetry pushes many away.  I don’t read it much, but when I do it has a pronounced effect.  Perhaps it is the speculatory comments about life that causes many to pass on bye.  Maybe it is my non-spiritual bias and dislike for organized religion.Trying to describe the experiences of a man, stuck on a planet, in an infinity of space we barely understand is difficult.  Trying to articulate the thought and feelings that accompany the self-awareness of being a living thing among the billions that have no sensitivity to the notion of “life,” – is difficult.  The most daunting thing about the miracle of conscious intelligence is that this capability inevitably leads to one’s knowing that humans care little for each other; we are a self-interested species.The fiction, the act, the masks of socialization - all serve the purposes of manipulating our environment toward some end that we desire.  Overflowing with personal bias we argue about everything and anything.  There is no single, conspicuous truth - some reality that is self evident upon which we can all agree. It is very difficult to have a positive opinion about our species.The patterns of civilization and human behavior are obvious to the learned.  Politicians encouraging riots to the religious right; the victims of their rhetoric send their sons and daughters off to fight and die for the economic objectives of the barons of business; the intelligentsia mired in endless abstractions and complex rationales to legitimize their biases.  So I spend my life with those who are too cognitively restricted to understand all this and those who are too bright to experience coarse reality.  Most are too self-centered by force of psychological dysfunction to stand outside looking in.[...]

Are You Refined?


Am I the only one who has failed to achieve refinement? How can you be cultured if you do not like art, ballet, opera, plays, and classical music? I haven’t taken any appreciation classes, but I have tried to acquire taste.  For some reason, it just doesn’t take on me.When we were in London a few years back, we went to Covent Garden, an Italian-style piazza with shop and restaurants. It was the setting for the first scene of the movie My Fair Lady where Liza is selling flowers to the gentry as they come out of The Royal Opera House, the centerpiece of the Garden. There is a pit in the center of the piazza where street entertainers perform for tips.On this Saturday, there was a man and a woman, both of whom sang with the English National Opera, in the pit singing bits from La Boheme. There is one part that is particularly listenable, the same piece that made Cher cry in the movie, Moonstruck. I was 10 feet from the woman singing this piece and it made me tear-up. Her voice literally filled the air (I never knew what that expression meant until then), and my whole body seemed to reverberate; it was a physical and emotionally overwhelming experience. For that instant, I knew what opera could be.I have been in the presence of great art. I attended an Impressionist exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York in 1965, when I was only 40 years old – just kidding, I was only 20. I was amazed at the skill and creativity, but I did not experience any emotions – which I think is a big part of the “aesthetic experience.” The ballet appears to be an athletic event where no one is ever declared a winner. I get nothing from it.Classical music can make me cry (maybe I’m just a big baby and that’s why I am not refined). A lot of it is too somber for me—chamber music – ouch! I like the Romantic composers like Chopin and Debussy; the cerebral guys like Mozart are harder for me to get into.I may be wrong, but the culture game appears to be a hobby for the rich and those seeking “refinement.”  They love to collect money for the arts. They put on tuxedos and expensive gowns and attend galas and get their pictures in the paper on the social page. “Dr. and Mrs. Chaim Ashkenazi and daughter Ruth were seen enjoying the Vega Ensemble at last night’s fund raiser,” and they are smiling broadly so they must be having fun. Hitler and his ministers were always attending the opera to hear Wagner; they supported the arts heavily.Many people I know travel broadly. Travel is widely believed to be an activity that leads to personal development, so parents can’t wait to get their kids on the road. And, I don’t mean Disneyland or Water World; they take them to Paris to visit the Louvre. I think the 10 year olds would rather be back at home with their friends catching frogs and playing computer games.I know people that have traveled around the world and seen all that man can design and create.  It has not changed them one iota; they behave the same, believe the same things, and have the same prejudices and biases.  If experiencing other countries and the products of creativity do not influence your moral or ethical behavior, it is all for naught.I see no moral development related to travel. You can see the world and still behave like a sociopath, a redneck, or a litterateur.  I looked over into the Grand Canyon for about 3 minutes and then headed to the lodge to get a drink. Thus are the limitations of my construct; my cognitive capacity, neural potential, and genetic inheritance.In London, I stayed pretty liquored up on gin and “warm ones.” I’d rather go to a local pub and stagger around Kensington than go to the Victoria and Albert Museum 3 blocks away; I went though it and the Egyptian artifacts [...]

The Wisdom of Instinct


I have noted that poor decisions are frequently made by intelligent people whose graven images are reasoning, logic and analysis. We tend to abandon our serpentine evolutionary capability (our adaptive unconscious) in favor of conscious analysis. One way that we learn from our environment seems to occur surreptitiously, and the information gathered is available in an integrated reification—a coherent Gestalt that cannot be accessed by deliberate means.Most of us have ignored our gut on more than one occasion and have regretted it. Afterward, we will say something like, “I felt like I should have…”, or “something told me that…” We ignored our gut instinct and went through a deliberate decision process—weighing factors, listing pros and cons, and so forth only to find that all the thinking clouded the picture and caused us to make a decision that contradicted our first impression—the decisions we make in a “blink.”A finding of related research is that during the disassembling and analysis of a set of circumstances, you tend to lose its meaning. Holistically looking at a problem—using your “gut” level instincts—often provides superior results. The more analytical you are the more you distance yourself from your computational cerebral capability. We tend to override our computer—our brain—with heuristic pretensions and logical claptrap.The more experience you have in any given field, the more likely that adaptive learning has accumulated that will allow you to make accurate gut-level decisions. Unfortunately, highly verbal people tend to believe that the ability to articulate thoughts, ideas, patterns, templates, and relationships confers one with an advantage in regards to decisions and behavior.Highly intelligent people often become desynchronized with their environment as they chatter past the primeval signals conveyed through hunches and feelings. The “smart game” compels and obsesses highly educated folks. I have sat through innumerable meetings where everyone in the room had either a PhD or a high IQ and watched them parry and counter-parry, fencing with ideas and language—leading to poor decisions—one-upping each other in the jousting.Verbalizations can be initiated in a vacuum. Words can pour forth with intricate phrasing and riveting complexity without being grounded in any environmental reality. We have spiritualized “consciousness” as a manifestation of superiority. It seems to me to be not much more than talking inside your head instead of talking outside your head. And, all that talk gets in the way of our brains evolutionary mechanisms for learning to exist and prevail in a given environment.I am not denying the need for systematic evaluation, but I think we need to listen to our adaptive unconscious—factor in the learning system that has demonstrated its value for several hundred thousand years. I have constantly overridden my instinct in decision making much to my dismay.The problem with the adaptive unconscious is that it is not accessible through introspection and attempts to ferret out its nature tend to disturb its functional efficacy. Understanding oneself seems to be inversely related to one’s ability to talk about one’s self or examine one’s self abstractly. Self-talk may take us further and further from self-knowledge.We may not know who we are nearly as well as our friends and family—those who have observed our behavior and can apply some objectivity to conclusions about us. We can seek contact with our feelings and our instincts—the natural, uncorrupted responses of an evolving organism.[...]

From the Other Side of the Eye


My mother bore me in the southern wild, And I am black, but O! my soul is white; White as an angel is the English child: But I am black as if bereav’d of light.My mother taught me underneath a tree And sitting down before the heat of day, She took me on her lap and kissed me, And pointing to the east began to say. Look on the rising sun: there God does live And gives his light, and gives his heat away. And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive Comfort in morning joy in the noon day. And we are put on earth a little space, That we may learn to bear the beams of love, And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove. For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice. Saying: come out from the grove my love & care, And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice. Thus did my mother say and kissed me, And thus I say to little English boy; When I from black and he from white cloud free, And round the tent of God like lambs we joy: I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear, To lean in joy upon our fathers knee. And then I’ll stand and stroke his silver hair, And be like him and he will then love me.[...]

Death's Dream Kingdom


                              “I have of late,—but wherefore I know not,—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”-Shakespeare"And this is the simple truth - that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce."- Soren Kierkegaard"Childhood is full of mystery and promise, and perhaps the life fear comes when all the mysteries are laid open, when what we thought we wanted is attained. It is just at the moment of seeming fulfillment that we sense irrevocable betrayal, like a great wave rising silently behind us. Confronted by the uncouth specter of old age, disease, and death, we are thrown back upon the present, on this moment, here, right now, for that is all there is. And surely this is the paradise of children, that they are at rest in the present, like frogs or rabbits."- Peter MatthiessenNine-Headed Dragon RiverThey Are Not LongVitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam.They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,Love and desire and hate;I think they have no portion in us afterWe pass the gate.They are not long, the days of wine and roses,Out of a misty dreamOur path emerges for a while, then closesWithin a dream.Ernest Dowson[...]

Being, Existence, Evolution, and the Apocalypse


Most people don’t purposefully think about something as inauspicious as their existence; they don’t think analytically about states of being and not-being.  Perhaps only the top 2 or 3% of the human race have a self-awareness level and IQ level that enables the introspection required to contemplate existence and non-existence.  Contemplating the subject is unimportant to people who believe in a religion – which provides them with a state of existence after their biological demise.The word "being" is complex; it can be an intransitive verb, a noun, or a verbal.  My discussion is examining this word in the sense that Hamlet used it in Shakespeare's play: "To be or not to be, that is the question."  To exist or not to exist states the issue more clearly for me.  For me, the wonderment of being (existing) is more mystical to non-theistic people than for those whose existence is explained by a religion - explanations of our presence on this planet grounded in a supernatural context.People who are spiritually inclined accept the supernatural (religion) as a truth. Christians believe in a mythology birthed over 2000 years ago in the desert. Non-believers are relegated to a status that condemns them to justify the reasons why they do not believe in the supernatural – as strange as that sounds.  There is evidence that the tendency to share beliefs with others is a socializing phenomenon that has survival value and has evolved in our species for survival purposes.Those who are religious (there are an estimated 4,200 religions in the world) are not inclined to examine “being” as a state nor as a behavioral phenomenon.  Morals and ethics are principles of social behavior that define a human’s being.  Those who believe in a religion believe they were created by an entity that communicated the principles that humans should “believe” in and live according to through human prophets.  In most cases, the principles are antithetical to the human characteristics that promoted our continued existence and survival on this planet.  Humans evolved through aggressive and territorial behavior that led to undesirable behavior toward other social groups and individuals.  Subsequently,there is value in religion’s competition with our instincts.Humans are in fact an aggressive class of Mammalia that is both dangerous and destructive to other forms of life and to the environment.  Fortunately, the intellectually capable developed ethical and moral guidance in the form of “written laws” that outline acceptable and unacceptable conduct.  Our society is governed by the rule of law and by the positive imperatives promoted by religious doctrine.  Subsequently the self-annihilation that is inevitable for our species has evolved at a much slower pace with the restrictions and influence of these social structures.Most of our language is replete with words that express inner states that are linked to emotions.  Emotions are a complex product of our nervous system that at the meta-level, support and increase our survival capability.  Words like “fear” and “love” describe states of being that have considerable survival value.  When most people think about “being,” they picture themselves in some kind of feeling state.  The emotions (feelings) we have increase affiliation and often increase isolation as well. Once you accept and understand the facts of evolution and the manner in which our bodies and social behavior have evolved synchronously, the next step is to objectively “look-at” (for lack of a precise word) humans as a wonder o[...]

Stop Making Sense


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The state of mind when one reaches my age is characterized by his recommendation. 

World War III


It is interesting to me that humans (and those posing as humans) use language irresponsibly – when language is a major influence on our prosperity.  Exact language leads to exact communication which in turn leads to precise understanding.  When you say that WW III is inevitable given the course of our geo-political strategy, most will not connect cognitively or emotionally with that statement.I’m not referring to the Fascist political regime currently in control or the resemblance between the current President’s personality and that of Hitler or Stalin.  I am not comparing the United States’ attempt to control the world and that of the Roman Empire.  I am referring to the nature of man and his propensity to aggress and control.As a species, we cannot help ourselves – we desire power, we aggress against others – that is what we do.  Invariably our nature and evolutionary programming permeates everything we do.  In business, politics, and international affairs – we exhibit the same self-destructive traits.  We are not spiritual beings; we are animals.  Our behavior over the last 5,000 years demonstrates quite clearly that we are capable of horrors of which other animals are incapable.In addition, the propensity of a majority of humans to “believe” and have “faith” is dooming us to the fiery, stinking hell that so many believe in literally. Religious differences fuel the wars and atrocities that have killed hundreds of millions of people throughout history.  All of this carnage is based on superstitious fabrications perpetuated by obedience to authority and a comparative disdain for logic and reason.Religion is also a function of cerebral structure and evolutionary survival and adaptation.  Believers tend to form social groups; social groups provide opportunities for creating food sources, security, and procreation.  Evolution is a product of the compulsion of sub-atomic particles to move toward organizational complexity – which in turn leads toward systems organization.  The ever increasing complexity of systems and structures leads to people, and other animals. We have no idea what existed before the “big bang” which supposedly created our universe.  We don’t know what created the conditions that preceded the big bang.  But, several hundred religions posit that a male of some kind was the creator of all this.  And, that the male creator of the universe enfranchised human males called prophets with his spirit and assigned them to tell us what to do on earth. He provided moral and ethical lessons that have failed miserably to influence the instinctively evolved nature of our species – although it has kept us from eating each other and procreating with our family members.All the prayers in the world are not going to influence one event on this planet.  If you think it will, tell it to the 30 million civilians killed in WW II – in addition to the 30 million soldiers.  Life and death on this planet is not controlled or influenced by a deity.  Belief in various prophets is fueling hundreds of thousands of deaths.  Combine that with politicians perpetuating war to support wealthy industrialists and you have a perfect storm awaiting us.Sooner or later our deteriorating relationship with other nations – particularly the ones run by mentally defective narcissist – will lead to someone launching a nuclear missile.  That will lead to a spontaneous reaction from other launches in other countries and there you have it.  American cities wil[...]

The Mystical Realities You Avoid


When you read below, you will begin to have a haunting suspicion that all you know, or think you know, is not as concrete as you thought.  Most of my friends are concrete in their thoughts and secular in their beliefs - as am I.  Except for the inexplicable instances and incidents that vary from the "rational" world I live and think within.  I think if you Google Theresa Duncan and "The Wit of the Staircase," you will encounter some unusual information that causes one to question our belief that we control our personal narrative and unyieldingly plot its course."That the world is, is the mystical."- Ludwig Wittgenstein"And this is the simple truth - that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce."- Soren KierkegaardThe following post was left on Theresa Duncan’s blog, The Wit of the Staircase. It was automatically programmed to be posted on December the 31st, 2007. I like this poem, because it expresses some of the frustrations inherent to “finding one’s voice.”The poem obtains even richer levels of complexity when you consider that Theresa Duncan committed suicide on July 10, 2007.New BeginningAnd so each ventureIs a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate.So here I am, in the middle way, having hadtwenty years -Twenty years largely wasted, the years ofl'entre deux guerres -Trying to use words, and every attemptIs a wholly new start, and a different kindof failureBecause one has only learnt to get the betterof wordsFor the thing one no longer has to say, orthe way in whichOne is no longer disposed to say it. And soeach ventureIs a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,With shabby equipment always deterioratingIn the general mess of imprecision of feeling,Undisciplined squads of emotion. And whatthere is to conquerBy strength and submission, has alreadybeen discoveredOnce or twice, or several times, by men whomone cannot hopeTo emulate - but there is no competition -There is only the fight to recoverwhat has been lostAnd found and lost again and again: and now,under conditionsThat seem unpropitious. But perhaps neithergain nor loss.For us, there is only the trying. The rest is notour business.--T. S. EliotEast CokerFour Quartets"Childhood is full of mystery and promise, and perhaps the life fear comes when all the mysteries are laid open, when what we thought we wanted is attained. It is just at the moment of seeming fulfillment that we sense irrevocable betrayal, like a great wave rising silently behind us. Confronted by the uncouth specter of old age, disease, and death, we are thrown back upon the present, on this moment, here, right now, for that is all there is. And surely this is the paradise of children, that they are at rest in the present, like frogs or rabbits."- Peter MatthiessenNine-Headed Dragon RiverThe following entry was posted on Theresa Duncan’s blog October 31st 2007—again, automatically. The story was reported by Dick Cavett in The New York Times as factual. He was an acquaintance of Basil Rathbone.Basil Rathbone’s GhostsBasil Rathbone was entertaining a friend one night at his home in the Hollywood Hills. Both men were keenly interested in dog[...]

That Which Differentiates Us


I read this at my father’s funeral.  He was a man of many faults, but he was often thoughtful of others and showed remarkable charitable strengths.  It is symptomatic of humans that they often demonstrate behavior that is uncharacteristic of our stereotypes. I find this quotation from Corinthians 13 describes what we want to be as humans but seems so difficult for us to achieve. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.[...]

The Days of Wine and Roses


I first wrote this summing up of my life and perspective almost 10 years ago.  I find it fascinatingly accurate to my current views and embarrassingly honest. Because of its accuracy, I am publishing it again.  Very few people read this blog; some who do have the personal insight and the constant internal dialog that accompanies an active internal life. One's personal narrative undulates actively with external events and perceptions and seeks to absorb the knowledge of others. Insights into the conscious experience of others is usually only available through reading what others say about themselves. Reading is mostly about pairing with another's personal narrative even if it is camouflaged by fictitious characters. Progressive aging has evolved my thinking toward a rememberance of all the mistakes I have made and all the things I have done for which I experience an unceasing sense of guilt.  I once knew an unprepossessing man who had lived for several years in an Ashram. I asked him for what reason did he seek that kind of lifestyle.  His answer was a single word - which at the time I found puzzingly cryptic.  He said, "forgiveness."  Now I understand completely.Most people do not actively divulge much of their personal lives or their private thoughts; I suffer under no such restriction.  I do not deem myself important enough such that my affairs require protective privacy. I think that an important facet of the human experience is understanding how others think and feel; understanding how their internal narrative and our own match and diverge.My life has been defined by social ambition, class conflict and emotional turmoil. I was raised by immature alcoholics without financial means. Early in life—because of my intellectual potential (something I never fulfilled)—I was thrust among peers with similar intelligence, most of whom were from upper class homes with educated parents and normal lives.Dysfunctional parents create dysfunctional predispositions in their children, and I was emotionally immature, anxious, shy, rebellious and ill prepared to socialize with normal children. I gravitated toward low achievers with adjustment problems and wound up hanging out with the “hoods” as they were called in the 50s.My early years were equally distributed between rural and urban environments and my teen years reflected the ambiguities and uncertainties of moving from WW II’s social culture to the emerging Elvis-Rock and Roll, breakout rebellion and individualism of the 50s.I lived in “the projects,” in rural shacks, in downtown apartments, and in suburban starter homes. I lived with drunken disorder, conflict, screaming, fighting, threatening, verbally abusive parents and mocking, bullying, teasing, taunting classmates.I wanted to be a barber like my best friend, but instead worked menial jobs until starting Jr. College then transferring to a four year school. I loved English Literature and hated business topics. I sought escape and salvation in the esotericism of art and dreaded the drudgery of repetitive tasks and soulless concerns of the business world. I was a truth seeker.I wanted to achieve—I wanted success, but was not predisposed by temperament or personality to accomplish either. I was a skinny geek with no self-confidence until I transformed my body by exercise and became more confident and outgoing. Management consulting (Behavioral Psychology) and training and speaking in front of groups large[...]

The Deadliest Species


I’ve read thousands of “famous” quotes about the human species and the human race.  Many pose their famous observations as pessimism – others as optimism.  Most of the quotes are not grounded in the reality of our evolutionary history and the genetic predispositions embedded therein. These quotes from well-known people are philosophical in their tone and poetic in their intention.  They seem to be motivated by the desire to engender quasi-spiritual qualities to humans and the qualities inherent to their nature. The inference, the connotation of their reverence is to say, “We humans have Godlike capabilities that have yet to manifest themselves but nevertheless will ultimately become apparent.”The unfortunate reality is that we have witnessed several thousand years of genocide, wars between nations and states, wars between religious groups, economically-driven wars, wars driven by the quest for power, and the military-industrially driven wars that disguise themselves as morally respectable conflicts anointed by God who sanctions the chaos and killing.Politics, the pulpit, and power seem to be the primal sources of human conflict.  But really these are simply the vehicles that express the basic instincts of our species.  We are aggressive beings that use force to obtain security, feed ourselves, and to reproduce.  The killing of another human in order to obtain money, power, or authority is a behavioral characteristic that has evolved over millions of years. How wonderful it would be if these allegations were fulsome explanations of the savagery of the human.  Unfortunately, the history of tortures humans are capable of perpetrating against their kind is so savage as to defy expression.  We choose to ignore the films and evidence of our baser nature; we don’t want to see ourselves as we are.  How can the species who celebrate holidays of reverence for a beneficent creator do the things we have done.We humans are so proud that we are “conscious” beings – capable of knowing what we are and so proud that we have the ability to think and make decisions.  This glorious capability does not seem to prevent us from slaughtering each other by the millions.  Our cerebral propensity to evolve uncontrollable urges and destructive characteristics appears to be inaccessible to thought and exists irrespective of our “consciousness.”  We are vulnerable to the purveyors of death because our personalities crave to be told what to do – to be told what is right and what is wrong.  Morality is institutionalized and subject to political polemics and religious pronouncements.  Hitler’s racism killed 60,000,000 people; Stalin’s paranoia caused him to murder 20,000,000 of his own people; the emperors of the Roman Empire and, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan – a list of mass murderers that is so long one becomes inured to the number of dead.Abraham Lincoln’s political views motivated him to promote a war that killed 600,000 men and mutilated many more.  George Bush and Dick Cheney fabricated a righteous war that set in motion the worldwide threat of Muslim terrorism killing hundreds of thousands of non-combatants, and costing the United States taxpayers 7 trillion dollars – or about $18,000 dollars for every man, woman, and child in the US.  Stephen Hawkins predicted human extinction within 1000 years.  I think that is optimistic.  Our willingness to kill each [...]

Jason Lawrence Jones


width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Today I saw this man on Facebook.  He sings and performs in clubs on the Virgin Islands.  He is my son.  Well, genetically he is my son.  He was raised by my ex-wife and his step-father who adopted him as his own.  It appears they did an excellent job parenting and Jason appears to be a happy, talented person.I didn’t attempt to friend him on Facebook because I don’t think I could withstand the sadness of my overture being rejected.  My past attempts to connect with him have met with a similar fate.  His absence of interest is not unreasonable.  I absented myself from his life when he was young and I don’t think forgiveness will be forthcoming.Now at age 73, I understand his lack of interest in getting to know me.  I am just an old man guilty of not participating in his life when it mattered most.  Why does anyone want to get to know an old man who is a stranger?  I understand completely; there are many forms of wisdom that accompany old age for those who are willing to face the reality of their behavior without fabricating rationales of innocence.Emotional wisdom – understanding and accepting one’s mistakes and those of others – can evolve if one is capable of carrying the pain and guilt of culpability.  Like Marley, Scrooge’s partner in A Christmas Carol I have earned my chains incrementally over the years.  It does not keep me from living in a constant state of pain and regret, but better this reality than deluding one’s self with excuses.It gives me great satisfaction to see that Jason has turned out so well.  I can’t help feeling proud of him even though it is through no enabling behavior on my part that he became who he is.   I will never know him; I guess that would be too easy for me – allowing me to buy off some of the pain I feel.  Jason’s mother told me a long time ago that I would be sorry for my behavior in the future; how right she was. I do find some consolation in a few lines from one of my favorite American poets.  It characterizes the emotional foundation that sustains my constant attempt at self-forgiveness. What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now for ever taken from my sight,     Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;       We will grieve not, rather find       Strength in what remains behind;       In the primal sympathy       Which having been must ever be;       In the soothing thoughts that spring       Out of human suffering;       In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



It is amazing that the average American thinks that any person in politics is a human.  Politicians have killed more humans than any mass murderer.  Stalin and Hitler combined killed 80 million people.  Bush, with his wars to facilitate the profits of the military-industrial industries has killed thousands and cost the average American (included children) $18,000 a person.For political and economic reasons, Abraham Lincoln decided that he didn’t want the South to create a separate nation; so 600,000 men died.  How noble of him to speak of the value of unity for America.  Would you like to kill 600,000 men so that you could buy a Porsche?  What is the difference? Noble words always seem to convince the weak-minded.Real heroes, like Martin Luther King managed to overcome the fascist police forces of the South only to be murdered by trailer-trash.  Then, the people he freed have managed to create a nation that is like a criminal asylum; murder and mayhem accompany their population of any geographic area.Now the scourge of the intelligent, political correctness eviscerates reality.  The truth is now unacceptable.  Reality is too . . . real to be tolerated.  So let’s play like the reason African-American children don’t score higher on tests is because we are not providing them with the same education as whites.  Part of my youth was spent in the projects, but I was in an accelerated class in middle school.  We know from studies that the Asians have higher IQs than Anglo Saxons.  So what?The thing that is bad about getting old is that reality surfaces; you can no longer harbor fantasies of what you want life to be. In WW II, the Germans demonstrated that there is no such thing as human.  We are clever animals; we are capable of atrocities that are unthinkable among the other animal species that populate our planet.  Consciousness is a bitter thing. To know what one is . . . is a bitter reality.[...]

For Those with a Bit of Irish in Them


allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" frameborder="0" height="266" src="" width="320">Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are callingFrom glen to glen and down the mountain sideThe summer's gone and all the roses fallingIt's you, it's you, must go and I must bideBut come ye back when summer's in the meadowOr when the valley's hushed and white with snowIt's I'll be here in sunshine or in shadowOh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you soBut when ye come and all the flowers are dyingIf I am dead and dead I well may beYou'll come and find the place where I am lyingAnd kneel and say an 'Ave' there for meAnd I shall hear tho' soft you tread above meAnd all my grave will warmer, sweeter beFor you will bend and tell me that you love meAnd I shall sleep in peace until you come to meg[...]