Jul
17

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On Melvin Pond

pond

When we moved a few weeks ago, I jokingly said that since we had a pond, I was going to call the place Melvin’s Pond and walk around thinking deep thoughts. I already spend a great deal of the day walking the dog and thinking all sorts of thoughts, some deep, some dumb, and everywhere in between so it wouldn’t be a big stretch. Just needed a pond.We have found that sitting on the lanai (That’s Floridian for screened in patio) in the evening gazing a the pond, reading, chatting or even just sitting is a pleasant way to end the day. As I sat deep in thought last night just before the iced tea turned to wine and it occurred to me that Thoreau was worth deeper consideration. Although seen primarily as a tree hugger-primarily because no one actually reads him anymore- his reflections of self, society, government and the individual are worth consideration by your pastor. As always, my thoughts and observations are mine and mine alone. If you do not like them, I don’t give a fuck. If you do gain some insight or knowledge, please feel free to send money.

 
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

 
This is Thoreau’s best know quote and rings ever truer by the day. All around me I see people getting up every day to f go to work at jobs they despise with coworkers they can’t stand to earn money to pay for houses they wish they never bought. They spend their lives with spouses they stopped liking a decade ago and attempt to raise children they would secretly love to be the ever-loving shit out of most of the time. They spent an inordinate amount of time thinking what if and if only as they look at their lives. They are risk averse to a fault and look to the government and social structure for the answers to all their problems. Far too many people have traded their ability for joy and experience of living for the illusion of security and safety. It’s the worst trade of all and leads to a quiet desperation and worst of all a dull life with no appreciation for the beauty and potential that is life.

 
I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

 
This is probably the second quote of Thoreau’s that we hear repeated by the toe dippers of the world. I have seen it on posters, and the self-help set uses it constantly. Very few ever do it, but it sure is fun to say. Most of the people I talk to couldn’t tell you what their dreams are or have dreams that are heavily reliant on winning the lottery at some point. I was well into middle age before I screwed up the courage to just say fuck it and go do what I wanted to do. My life is not the perfect reflection of my dream life but it is pretty fucking close, and I continue to move in the direction that reflects what I want from life. It was not always easy, and there were plenty of bumps, puke, shit, and blood along the way but it is far more rewarding than all the hours, days and weeks spent in offices listening to managers spout drivel and having clients whine about just about everything. Someone asked me recently asked me what value I add to the world, and the real answer is that I have no fucking clue but every day I add value to my own life and that of the people I love. Looking at the world, we live in most of the value-added propositions I come up with involving napalm, so I will just concentrate on my little corner, focusing on my life and my dreams. The rest of you are on your own, and my single solitary promise to the world is that I will do nothing to impede you doing the same.

 
It’s more than just a cute fucking poster. Quit bitching, live your life, chase your dreams.

 
Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.

 
Only idiots blame their lack of success or good fortune and someone else’s opportunities. Yes, indeed there will be people who are born with more opportunity and privilege than you. Yes, people that go to Ivy League universities have more opportunity and a network of alumni that will give them an advantage over you. We can sit here and point at all sorts of privileges that others have, and we lack. We can complain mightily about the inherent unfairness of life. Allow me to point out that their advantages and opportunities do not have one fucking thing to do with you and your life. All you can do is look for the possibilities around you and exploit those. You might have to work harder, work smarter and bleed more but if you focus on your dreams and where you want to go, you can indeed get there. Live your life. To the best of our knowledge, there is no do over. Right here.Right now. That is what you have. What you do with that is entirely up to you.

 
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.

 
Like Thoreau himself, I am amazed at the shit people put up with from governments at all levels. It is stunning that so many people blindly accept the limitations put upon them by a group of morons whose only skill is being able to lie is so skillful a fashion as to convince their fellow citizens to grant them highly paid jobs requiring no skill or thought. While the skill of making one’s self electable has been the source of many fortunes down through the annals of history, I am not sure it means that the ones so elected have the common sense God gave a puissant. Giving such folks the ability to tell us how to live our lives, raise our kids and what dream we may dream seems a tad ridiculous to me.

 
It is not just government we must disobey in today’s world. The politically correct absolutely convinced folks are not elected but they sure as hell have set themselves up as the best judge of how you may think, feel, speak and live. If we track the incentives of the PC and Resist crowd of today, we find that mostly what they want is what you have and respect far beyond any they have earned on their merit. While no one should ever be judged on race, gender, sexual preference or any other outward criteria nor are you entitled to any particular privileges or compensation based on such factors.

 
Disobey governmental ignorance. Disobey the herd mentality. Disobey the absolutely convinced. Be not a slave to government, opinion or crowd think. Not easy but worth doing to the greatest degree possible.
I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe

 

 

— “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. The government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.

 
I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely despise government at all levels. From the UN to the Fed and right down the line through state, county local and even the fucking HOA of the community I live in here in Florida. Whenever an august body of men and women gather to make rules governing how I live my life I know that very little good will come of such activities. Governments may start as a good idea but they all eventually become a bureaucracy that lives only to grow and protect its own interests and limit individual behavior.

 
The government has but two legitimate functions-providing for the common defense and taking such measures that allow commerce to flourish. Providing for the common defense would not seem to me to include poking your nose, rifle and young lives into the affairs of other nations around the world. Nor does it mean function as the world’s policeman merely because you can. Allowing commerce to flourish does not mean choking out innovation and entrepreneurship with regulations and taxes. Government truly does best when it does less.

 
All of the government’s interventions are done with the best of intentions, but somehow the end result is always a larger bureaucracy with little or no benefit for those they seek to serve. Consider first the war on drugs. Erasing drugs and drug related crime seems to be a worthy endeavor. We should do it for the children. Except it has not, does not and will not work. We have spent trillions of dollars in the war on drugs, and we are getting our ass kicked. The government in all its wisdom seems unable to recognize that drugs are a demand problem, not a supply problem. People like to get high. As long as that’s true someone, somewhere will find a way to make a shit load of money meeting the demand.

 
We would be far better off if we legalized drugs across the board, taxed the ever-loving fuck out of them and regulated the production and delivery methods as we currently do alcohol. It will be safer (give your teenager $100 bucks and tell them they have an hour to come back with the equivalent value in weed or whiskey. You will be getting weed as it’s far easier for kids to buy), we will raise revenues. Users can get higher quality cheaper dope from legal sources, so cartels and drug related street crime are history. As a bonus, we now have thousands of unemployed lawmen we can hire to actually make a difference by going after illegal guns. It is the smart thing to do, but it means dismantling a massive bureaucracy that has sprung up to keep our children safe from this scourge and enrich themselves.

 
How about the war on poverty? We have spent trillions and poverty has not improved. If anything, it’s worse. The only thing we achieved is creating an alphabet soup of federal, state and local agencies that suck up an enormous amount of tax dollars and achieve almost nothing.

 
Government cannot fix your problem. Far too often government is the root of your problem. Less is better, and none would be best (We will discuss the personal responsibility implication of this at another time).

 
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?

 
Not reading is the equivalent of making the jockey riding Smarty Jones wear a 500-pound chain mail suit during a Triple Crown race or sending Bryce Harper to the plate wearing handcuffs. No matter how great the latent talent or potential you are placing an enormous handicap on you odds of success by not reading. As I study great thinkers, philosophers, theologians and successful people, there is a common them. Almost all of them read enormously and widely. Charlie Munger has commented that he knows of no successful person who does not read a lot. Everything I am in life is largely a result of my voracious reading habit.

 
Read to learn. Read to relax. Read for knowledge. Read for entertainment. Put down the damn smart phone, get off Facecrack and Instaboobs and read a fucking book. Turn off the TV (unless baseball is on. You can leave that on in the background) It doesn’t have to be some weighty tome of a deeply serious nature. In truth, I avoid most to those. I have learned much about life and morality from the westerns of Louis L’Amour, picked up cooking and fighting tips from Robert Parker; cocktail formation, exercise, and philosophy from John D’ McDonalds Travis McGee and Myer; a smattering of marine biology from Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford; and law from Mark Giminez novels. I don’t care what you read but read. Reading expands your mind and your universe. You gain exposure to new ideas and ways of looking at the world and live. It strengthens the imagination. Want a better life? Read.

 
The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well.

 
What is this good you speak of? Good manners? Moderate behavior? Accepting the alleged norms of civil society? Fuck that shit. I do not want to be polite to those undeserving. I retain the right to call an asshole an asshole and a moron a moron. I would count myself as living well if I were polite to the harried clerk at the store but call the grandiose community leader the pompous fucking asshole that he is. I want to play the music a little too loud, dance the funky chicken(it is the only dance I know besides the hokey pokey), slurp the wine loudly from the glass, dream, dare, proclaim and live the life I desire without a single fuck given what someone else may think of me for doing so. I want to read the books that were banned, see the art that was covered, hear the music the preacher damned, curse loudly at morons, fools, and charlatans, fornicate to my heart’s content, to move noisily and happily though this grand adventure and enjoy all the really good shit some generous creator has made available upon this earth. I have no time for good behavior. I am too busy living.

 
We must stop here for now. We are already at the point where my Iranian Jewish co-founder who constantly urges me to write shorter pieces is going to shit his proverbial pants at the length of this piece. Like HL Mencken Thoreau has left us much to read and think about so I am sure we will revisit his works and word again but for now we must move onto other tasks. I leave you with a final thought from Thoreau worthy of much consideration and contemplation.

 
Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.

Jul
2

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Sweet Land of Liberty?

firewrks2

The Fourth Of July is upon us and along with the popping whoosh of beer cans and the delightful aroma of delicious animals being slow roasted over an open (okay not really open so much as carefully contained inside some sort of metallic or ceramic container that we have carefully placed outside our homes in such a place as to not risk damage should something go awry, but you get the point) fire there will be flags a fluttering, fireworks a booming and patriotic songs a singing all across the land. We shall talk of freedom and sing of the sweet land of liberty without most of the participants having one fucking clue what liberty is or how it is obtained.

 
I love my country not so much as it exists but as the ideas that sparked its inception. This is still a beautiful place to live, and we have a standard of living that exceeds that of much of the world’s populace and I suppose we have fewer restrictions that many nations but this is not the sweet land of liberty any longer and as not been for a long, long time. Think I am wrong? Try driving a car without a seatbelt. Decide to homeschool your child without registering said instruction with the proper authorities. To protest local government decisions don’t pay your property taxes. Ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Enjoy a cold beer on the sidewalks of Main Street. Fire up a cigar in your office inside a building you own. Attempt to retain the right to refuse service to anyone. Try to start a business.

 
I could ramble on in this vein literally for hours, but you get the point. Over 241 years government has grown to be of enormous size and employs about 17% of the total US workforce. They have passed restrictions, regulations, and guidelines for just about everything imaginable and woe unto those who run afoul of this bureaucracy. Of course, it is all for our own good, but as Supreme Court, Justice Louis D. Brandeis warned us “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” The thing that should concern, indeed frighten the literal shit out of all of us is that nearly all of our laws have been written and passed by well-meaning men and women who are absolutely convinced that they know what is best for the rest of us. “Do it for the children” is the most frequently used phrase in the halls of tyranny.

 
No one cares perhaps what the opinions of the humble pastor of this clueless church may think of liberty, but it is worth time between trips to the grocery, liquor store and fireworks purveyor to think a bit of what liberty has meant to some of the greatest thinkers of the ages. Liberty is an excellent concept and sounds fantastic when we sing songs of freedom but what is it really and what does it cost?

 
HL Mencken goes right to the heart of the meaning of liberty when he writes “I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.” Liberty is the ability to live your life the way you choose, to think as you will. To worship as you will and to love as you will. Liberty is being able to be offended by the thoughts and even actions of others without doing one damned thing about it. It is being free to engage in commerce with whom we wish under the terms we wish without interference from those who may not approve and not attempting to force others to participate in commerce of a type that we approve. Be free to do as you please but ignore the urge to insist others act and think as you do.

 
George Bernard Shaw opined in Man and Superman that “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” This is one of the reasons, so many of us find that liberty is much better in song than in reality. If we have a true state of liberty, then you are responsible for you own actions and more importantly their consequences. You swindled your friends and neighbors and were tarred feathered and run out of town on a rail? Tough shit, you should have been honest in your endeavors. Lost everything as a result of bad decisions? Better luck next time. Liberty means that the decisions of the marketplace will hold sway and they can be at times brutal. Correct, fair but brutal. As you sow, shall you reap I believe was the suggestion of a great pastor of times past and this equation lies at the heart of liberty? The problem is too many of us want to harvest what some other poor fucker sowed. To be free, you have to understand that what’s your is yours but what is the other guys is his and you have no claim to it whatsoever.

 
Academic Thomas Szasz expressed a similar thought when he opined that ““Men love liberty because it protects them from control and humiliation from others, and thus affords them the possibility of dignity. They loathe liberty because it throws them back on their own abilities and resources, and thus confronts them with the possibility of insignificance.” In the sweet land of liberty, you are entitled to what you earn or are given freely. Nothing more and you have you no claim on the possession of anyone else. You are eon your own and best of luck to us all.

 
Robert Ingersoll was a lawyer, thinker, orator and (insert gasp of horror here) politician back in th1800s. His friend Walt Whitman said of him that” It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is ‘Leaves of Grass.’ He lives, embodies, the individuality, I preach. I see in Bob [Ingersoll] the noblest specimen, American-flavored, pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light.” Ingersoll in his book The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child said to his fellow citizens “This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.”

 
We see an appalling lack of this today. Want to say what in your mind? Fine but I get tot say what’s on mine. You want to tax the rich to fund your pie in the sky social programs that have been proven not to work. Fine, take to the streets and protest with your silly signs but I have the right to suggest t that perhaps your interests and those you claim to be helping would be better served if you pulled up your pants, got a job and quit asking for someone else to pay for your shit. You can’t have a safe space paid for by an institution for your (insert description of protected calls here) unless those outside your class attending the same institution also have a safe space. If you want to wear a Malcolm X or Che Guevara Tee shirt down the street that’s fine. But if you punch the guy wearing the Donald Trump or Ronald Reagan short then you are a criminal and a hypocrite. I don’t have to agree with you, and you don’t have to agree with me but if we are free then neither has the right to attempt to force their belief system of values on the other. Most people have a problem with that especially if their belief system includes relieving others of assets or income for the benefit of themselves. As Murray Rothbard once observed ““It is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to pay the cost.”

 
Returning briefly to Robert Ingersoll we find that he wrote ““The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellowmen.” This is what I consider to be the biggest threat to freedom and society today. No one thinks for themselves. It is all party line Jesse Waters of Fox TV does a great bit where he goes out in public and asks people how they fell about a particular politician’s beliefs. The twist is that he attributes the beliefs of another party to the individual in question and often misstates the politico’s beliefs. The best example of this was when he asked Hillary Clinton supporters if they supported her plan to assert Sharia law to protect women’s rights they all fell right into lock step.

 
That’s not to pick on the left exclusively although I have to admit that they have made it pretty easy in recent years. When the GOP politicians decry against abortion, gay marriage and the criminalization of pot their supporters fall right into step without a moment’s thought to the matters at hand. Whatever the leadership says they believe without an ounce of thought expended.

 
The hardcore Christians I know believe what the church tells them pretty much without question. As far as I can tell most of them never even pause to consider that the Christ they claim to follow hung out with hookers, thieves and an unseemly portion of society. He eschewed and even despised organize religion and once took a whip to the moneychangers who so much resemble the leaders of the modern church. He preached compassion for your fellow humans and was a big fan of things like forgiveness, acceptance and feeding the poor. Not sending checks to organizations or holding food drives but actually feeding the dirty, nasty lice inflicted, drug addicted wine soaked poor people with your own hands. I’m pretty sure he didn’t just mean at Thanksgiving either.

 
The more left leaning folks of my acquaintance believe that eating the rich is a good start and that doing well in life should be punished. They feel they should be able to speak their minds but if you do not agree all the way down the line your right to speak should be limited. In spite of all the historical evidence to the contrary, they think a government solution for all of our problems can be achieved if we just find someone to pay for it that is not them. Whatever the leadership says they believe without ounce of thought expended.

 
To be free, we must think. Independently and critically. Far too few do so anymore as it is just easier to pull the lever suggested by those we call leader and get back to blaming the other guys for everything wrong in the world.

 
Liberty is messy. It requires personal responsibility for your thoughts, actions, and deeds. If you get in a car with no seatbelt and wreck without the means to pay for the care needed you are going to fucking die. If you shoot heroin in your veins to the point your bodily functions begin to shut down, there is no social obligation to save you. You are going to fucking die. If you don’t work to provide for yourself, you are going to fucking die. If you attempt to steal or defraud others of goods and property odds are when you get caught you are going to fucking die.

 
It means relying on the harsh conclusions and dictates of a free market. If you make a product, no one else wants you will fail. If you offend the community, they will stop doing business with you, and you will fail. If you pollute the environment and deprive others of clean air and water to make some product, you will fail and should be made to clean up the mess. Or perhaps you just may have to fucking die.

 
Liberty requires a violent response when someone attempts to deprive others of the liberties they themselves enjoy. Liberty means accepting beliefs, lifestyles, and choices of others if we don’t necessarily agree with them. Liberty means not relying on a bureaucracy populated by those who are absolutely convinced they know how other should conduct their affairs.

 
Liberty means accepting one great truth. Life is not fair. Some will do well in life. Some not so well and some will be abject failures. The only one who can impact that out come in any meaningful way is the individual. Not the government as history has proven. Some of those who do well will have the kindness of heart and understand that helping other to succeed is in their best interest and will help lift other who want to be lifted. Some will not. We cannot compel them to do so and claim to live in a land of liberty.

 
Liberty can be simply expressed. First, do no harm. Then leave me the fuck alone to live my life, and I shall leave you the fuck alone to live in the manner and style of your choosing.

 
John Adams once said of the 4th of July ” I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” I quite agree.

 

 
Now, go forth eat, drink and blow shit up.

Apr
2

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2017 Baseball Predictions

stengelcrystalball (1)

Once again it Baseball season. Just about an hour from now, I will turn on the Yankees- Rays game over in Tampa and some time later this evening I will watch the Cardinals retire the last Cardinal as the begin their campaign to repeat. I am later than usual this year with the forecast, but it has been a tad busy around here of late, but I do want to get t out there before the season starts. Tomorrow will be wall to wall ball including my Orioles kicking off the season against a tough Toronto team. It is going to be a great year of baseball and am looking forward to the next seven months. My wife perhaps not so much but I think she has learned to live with my baseball addiction over the years.

Al East

  1. Boston Red Sox.

This is like rooting for the Empire to activate the Death Star and blow the rebellion into bits or for the villain to finally waste James Binds and feed him to the sharks. I hate picking these evil scum sucking rat bastards to win anything, but they are loaded top to bottom this year. They have 3 Cy Young winners in the starting rotation, and they upgraded the bullpen. The only suspect position in the lineup is the catcher. As they start the year but I expect to see Blake Swihart up from Pawtucket fairly early, and he hits the hell out of the ball. Young Center Fielder Andrew Benintendi is a superstar in waiting. I hate the Red Sox, but they are going to win the division.

  1. Baltimore Orioles

A bit if hometown hopeful pick here as many geniuses have them finishing last in the divisions, but the roster can hit the ball a very long way. They will hit a ton of home runs and if Tillman returns to form Gausman and Bundy step up and Ubaldo pitches like he is capable of this team wins 90 games. If they have a lead, the bullpen will hold it, so I like our chances. Manny will have a huge year, and Davis is till on Adderall, so he is a threat to hit 50 now that is wrist is healed. Jonathan Schoop takes another step towards superstar status this year hitting 30 plus, and I think the Adan Jones has a stellar year at the plate as well. Most of all are the Buck Factor. Buck Showalter is in the conversation with Joe Madden as the best manager in the game.

  1. New York Yankees

There will be some excitement in the Bronx this year as the Yanks next crew of superstars takes the field. Chapman heads a solid bullpen, but I don’t think they have the pitching to get it done. Yanks fans take to heart the fact that the new core of Bird, Judge and Sanchez will make this team a serious contender for years to come. They will hang around all year, but ultimately I think they get Bucked out of a wild card shot.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays

Another team that will be tough all year in a tight division but I think they fall short as the offense takes a step backward.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays

Great pitching but not enough bats to contend with this power packed division. They miss Joe Madden and whoever write the contract clause that let him get away should be horsewhipped.

 

AL Central

  1. Cleveland Indians

A very good team that got better in the offseason. Top of the league rotation, a bullpen that is the envy of the baseball gods and solid position players at all eight spots. Add the bat of Edwin Encarnacion, and this is a team to fear. A dynasty in the making.

  1. Detroit Tigers

The old guys will keep it interesting, but Cleveland is too good. Miggy and Martinex provide some fireworks and Verlander will be Verlander, but it’s not going to be enough

  1. Kansas City Royals

This is their last chance year as they will face free agent losses after this year but it’s not going to happen. They will make a run but fall short and be out of it by August.

  1. Minnesota Twins

Nope. Just Nope. Not enough pitching, a not very good bullpen, and the young guys need more time.

  1. Chicago White Sox

I suspect very few members of the opening day lineup to still be on the South side when the season ends. It’s going to be a going out of business sale to restock the minors for the future. Maybe we can see Jose Abreu in an Orioles uniform is the best thing I can say about the White Sox.

AL West

  1. Houston Astros

The division crown stays in Texas but switches cities. The Astros added power and the pitching staff should be an improvement over last year. This has been a fantastic rebuild, and I think this is the year they take the division crown from their rivals over in the big D.

  1. Texas Rangers

A very good team that will break my nephew’s heart by falling just short of the division title but they probably earn a wild card spot.

  1. Seattle Mariners

They made a lot of moves this offseason, but I am not sure you can say the any of them made the team that much better. Cano, Cruz, and Seager keep it interesting, but they will fall short again this year.

  1. Los Angles Angels

Poor Mike Trout will once again be the MVP, but he won’t have a chance in the playoffs until his contract extension is up and he finally make it to New York

  1. Oakland A’s

Big question here is what month they trade Sonny Gray and Khris Davis

Al Wild Cards

Baltimore and Texas

Pennant Winner

This hurts like the pain of constipation caused by opioid use but Boston

 

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals

This is the year. Strasburg and Max each win 20+.Tanner and Gio are at or close to 20 Bryce Harper shatters the base on balls records and still hits 50 with 120+ RBIs. Daniel Murphy again contends for the batting title. Jason Werth and Adam Eaton earn their paychecks and then some. The Nationals win 100 and run away with the division

  1. New York Mets

My long-suffering Iranian Jewish friend from Long Island is in for another tough year. This is a good team, but there is a great team in the same division. The pitching staff and Cespedes make this a fun team to watch, and they will win some games but not enough to catch the runaway train that will be Washington this year.

  1. Miami Marlins

The death of Jose Fernandez will be the early season storyline, but this is a much-improved baseball team I will watch a good deal of Miami baseball this year as they are on my local cable and I expect to see a tram that could slide into a wild card if the Mets have injury problems again this year. Stanton goes injury free and hits 40 while Yelich continues to improve and drives in 100+.

  1. Philadelphia Phillies

They are not good, but they should be a little better than Atlanta

  1. Atlanta Braves

I want a case or 3 of whatever the front office was drinking this offseason. Dansby Swanson will be fun to watch as he improves and begins his quest for superstardom and we should see Ozzie Albies at 2nd base early in the year giving the team some speed.

 

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs

The curse is broken, and a dynasty is born. Almora will replace Heyward in center, and there is just not a soft spot in the lineup. They should have Schwarbers bat all year, and that will make the team even more formidable than they were last year. My daughter and her Husband will be flying the W quite often at their digs on Addison this year.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals continue to be one of the best run teams in baseball, and they will be competitive again this year. They will be a lot like the 1960s Orioles and Red Sox, a very good team that wins but has a dynasty in the divisions that keep out of the World Series most year.

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates

The window is closing in Pittsburgh, and I expect them to make a valiant effort but there too much talent in their way. McCutcheon does not finish the year with the team.

  1. Milwaukee Brewers

A rebuild in progress. I wonder where Ryan Braun ends up at the break.

  1. Cincinnati Reds

Ditto for Votto and Hamilton

Al West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

They have the bats, and the pitching needs to just not suck in the days Kershaw is not on the hill. They are spending a lot of money to keep this team together, and it should pay off with another division title.

  1. San Francisco Giants

The pitching staff keeps them in it, but they do not have enough boppers to score enough runs to keep up with the Dodgers all year. They need Hinter Pence to stay healthy all year to have a chance. If he goes down, they could slip to third.

  1. Colorado Rockies

Having a pitcher as the manager of a team playing in a hitters ballpark is a genus level move that pays off for the Rockies. The Rockies have a solid chance at a .500 year

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks

Like the Blue Jays a few years ago a lot of talent here, especially on the pitching staff, that just does not gel into a winning club. Paul Goldschmidt will challenge Harp for the base on balls lead.

  1. San Diego Padres

Nah.

NL Wild Cards

Mets, Cardinals

NL Pennant

Washington Nationals

Nationals beat Boston in World Series bringing great  joy to the universe and giving folks in DC something to talk about besides Donald Trump

 

 

 

 

 

Mar
7

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March to the Beat of a Different Drummer

feynman-bongos

Physicist Richard Feynman has long been something of a hero of mine. Not, I assure you, because of my deep and abiding love of physics. While I am familiar with the fundamental principles of physics, I can do pretty much none of the calculations needed to solve the puzzles of the universe.

He is a hero because he was a thinker and a free spirit. He worked on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos and solved the puzzle of the Challenger Explosion. He won a Nobel Prize for his work with computing the probability of a transition of a quantum from one state to some other subsequent state. He was involved in one of the greatest love affairs in modern history with his wife Arline in the few years they had together before her early passing. In his later years while a professor at Cal Tech he would do calculations in a strip club in Pasadena in a determined effort to as Josh Roslar wrote in the Oxonian Review to “Do his part in bridging the great divide between theoretical physics and female nudity.” He played bongos at department gathering and did his own thing his way while excelling in his field.
Before we go any further with this go over to Amazon right now and order his two books, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think?. Once that is done, order Perfectly Reasonable Variations which is a volume of collected letters over his lifetime. You will thank me, and I will graciously accept all thanks in the form of cash or rare wine. Order the hard copies, not digital, as you will find yourself referring to them often.
There are a few Feynman principles that we should all take to heart as we go about our daily lives. Richard Feynman was a great thinker on matters outside the purview of math, and many of his conclusions were profound, and the adherence to some of his thoughts might just make the world a better place.
“I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain.”
This is a big one. I have touched on it several times in the past, but the world would be a better place if folks would learn just to say “I do not know”. You do not know the meaning of it all; you do not have Gods name and address in your little black book, there is no proof that your version of the powers of the universe is any better or more accurate than anyone else’s. Your thoughts on love, life, sex, fun and the world are are no more valid than anyone else’s. You may think, you may passionately believe, but you do not know. Your political theories are as dumb as the next guys. Far from just not knowing everything the fact is that none of us really know very much about this world and this life. Just admit you do not know and shut the fuck up.
People treat it as a blow to our ego and a reduction of our net worth in the world to admit we do not know something. People who have no clue how to get there will give detailed directions to Muscogee to a stranger who stops to ask. Better the poor traveler spends hours being lost and frustrated than simply admit we do not know. It seems to be a universal flaw and perhaps instead of doing self-ratification and praise routines in the mirror each morning as some self-help gurus suggest we should simply look ourselves in the eye and admit we do not know 100 times.
The best part about admitting that we do not know is that we are now free to search for the answer. We may never find it but rather than just blindly accept a belief some cleric or bureaucrat insists you accept as truth we are now free to delve into the matter and find things out for ourselves. Of course, we also build up karma points as we will fuck up a lot fewer lives by giving incorrect answers with a high degree of certainty.
Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is fascinating if you go into it deeply enough.
This would be the next logical maxim to adopt in our lives. You may never know, but you can explore to your heart’s content. A passionate curiosity and love of reading are the only reason I have made it this far in life. Finance, baseball, poker, horse racing, history, politics, religion or just about anything that interests me I have taken a deep dive reading, studying and learning as much as I can on the subject. I have never found the ultimate answer to any of them or all the answers or even most of the answers about much of anything at this point in my life. However, I know a lot more than I did before I dove into them and on balance, this has made my life a lot better. The world is a fascinating place, and life offers stupendous opportunities but to find them you have to explore. The meaning of it all is not discoverable until perhaps that last nanosecond before we pass but the exploration of it all is possible. This exploration makes for a much more interesting and entertaining life than just accepting what you are told.
“We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”
Challenge everything you think you know all the time. Hold all your carefully held ideas and ideals up to the deepest scrutiny. Blow up your cherished conclusions as often as possible. Ask what if often.
Charlie Munger, another of my favorite thinkers recently said “I think it’s my duty to destroy old ideas”. I know so many people whose main problem of life, is that the old ideas displace the entry of new ideas that are better. That is the absolute standard outcome in life. There’s an old German folk saying, “We’re too soon old and too late smart.” That’s everybody’s problem. And the reason we’re too late smart is that the stupid ideas we already have, we can’t get rid of! Now, it’s a good thing that we have that problem, in marriage that may be good for the stability of marriage that we stick with our old ideas. But in most fields, you want to get rid of your old ideas. It’s a good habit, and it gives you a big advantage in the competitive game of life. Other people are so very bad at it. What happens is, as you spout ideas out, what you’re doing is you’re pounding them in. So you get these ideas, and then you start agitating them and saying them and so forth. And of course, the person you’re really convincing is you who already had the ideas. You’re just pounding them in harder and harder.”

What Do You Care What Other people Think?

The title of one of Feynman’s book holds some sound advice. He also once said that ““You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.” It is your life. It does not matter than old Aunt Ethel does not like your lifestyle. Let the old biddy live her life as she sees fit, and you do the same. Find the work you want, the people you want around you, your passions, your desires and quit giving a rats ass about what the world thinks about your choices. You may have to care what your boss thinks, and what your spouse thinks occasionally but as for the great mystical “they” let them sally forth and go fuck themselves.
This is your life. In the final closing moments of your life “they” will not be there with you when you wished you had done things differently. “They” do not care if you like your life. Their only concern is that it conforms to their idea of what your life should be. Quit giving half a shit what the part of the world that is not an intimate part of your life thinks.
There is a flip side to this. As long as it does not cause you, direct harm quit giving a shit what other people do with their life. If your neighbor prefers a joint while you like a nice scotch at the end of the day, who cares? If the guy in the next office prefers boys to girls why should you give a shit? If you see some older dude with a hairline receding like the Philadelphia Phillies midway through the season wearing an ugly tropical shirt strolling along, it’s probably me and why the hell should you care how I dress?That’s my wife’s problem, and she leaves too early in the morning to stop me! How other people live their life is up to them, and you should not care even the smallest bit.
Quit worrying about what other people think and quit caring how other people live. Your life will be much better for it.
The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.”
Once you begin to explore and understand yourself and your role in the world you will quickly discover that if you do not learn to laugh at all, you are likely to go mad. Laugh often. Make others laugh when given a chance. Laughter really is the best medicine at the end of the day. Consider some of the absurdities of life. Examine the human body and contemplate that the recreational areas are near the sanitation facilities. One of the physical endowments that men most admire in women is actually just fat glands that nature provided for the purpose of feeding offspring. Consider the brave soul who ate the first oyster. Think about the amount of money spent on lawn care in the US alone. Contemplate the fact that North Carolina actually has a law that says elephants may not be used to plow cotton fields. Ponder the fact that the fastest growing nail is on the middle finger and all the social and communication elements present in such an interesting fact. Life is absurd. Read any set of laws or the tax code and consider how idiotic all of this has become. Learn to laugh. It prevents homicidal rage.
I am a big fan of  Ayn Rand and think a lot of her main points are spot on. However, I must part ways with the Randian beliefs when it comes to compassion for our fellow humans. Not everyone’s reduced circumstances is a lack of effort or ability or desire to live off the efforts of others. There is some of that, but some people are born so far behind the 8-ball they will never escape without a hand. I don’t think the way we have waged the war on poverty is working, but we need to care about the worst off in our society. We need to do what we can to lift more folks out of poverty. Have the compassion to help fix a badly broken educations system and help figure out to create real jobs among the worst hit areas of the world.
Show some compassion as you go through the day. The guy who brushed by you with a snarl on the way into work may have just found out that his wife was banging the pool boy and planning to abscond with half his assets. That slow moving waitress could be at her second job of the day and worried about her kid home alone sick with the flu. Sometimes folks are just having a shitty day so don’t be an asshole in return. Throw a bum $20 bucks one in a while. Yeah, they are going to use it on dope and booze but when you fall that far down anything that chases away the pain is probably not a bad thing. Who the hell are we to judge? Try a little kindness once in a while or just practice not being an asshole if that’s too much for you.
I can go on and may at some future point but buy the Feynman books and practice passionate, curious, compassionate living as done by one of the greatest thinkers of our, or any other, time

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