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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Nope. Just Nope. Not enough pitching, a not very good bullpen, and the young guys need more time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Big question here is what month they trade Sonny Gray and Khris Davis
Al Wild Cards
Baltimore and Texas
This hurts like the pain of constipation caused by opioid use but Boston
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
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.
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+.
They are not good, but they should be a little better than Atlanta
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.
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.
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.
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.
A rebuild in progress. I wonder where Ryan Braun ends up at the break.
Ditto for Votto and Hamilton
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.
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.
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
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.
NL Wild Cards
Nationals beat Boston in World Series bringing great joy to the universe and giving folks in DC something to talk about besides Donald Trump
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
There is a surprisingly long list of great thinkers and philosophers associated with Baltimore. When most people think of Baltimore things like riots, crack cocaine, murder rates, and bad beer come to mind more quickly than great thinkers. I have lived in Baltimore and became very familiar with the great minds like HL Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Edgar Allan Poe, John Waters, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Slappy White who have called Baltimore home for some period of their life.
However, I think that the greatest philosopher and biggest thinker produced by the city is overlooked and rarely mentioned except by those who spent time in the 60’s and 70s sucking down cheap beer and listening to the dulcet tones of Chuck Thompson recite the day’s antics at the world’s greatest outdoor zoo on 33rd Street. Rather than the rare air and pleasant savagery of the Algonquin Roundtable, this philosopher was more likely to be quoted in Sam Lorea’s Tavern on the docks of Annapolis or The Horse You Came In On Saloon along the Fells Point waterfront. It is a philosophy built on cold beer and unfiltered cigarettes, but I believe that the mind and often profanity-laced words of Earl Weaver contain many of the secrets of life.
The Earl of Baltimore managed 17 seasons in Baltimore and won over 1400 games with just one losing season. His team won 4 pennants and one World Series. They had 5 100 win seasons. Earl didn’t make many friends among the umpire’s or players, but the barstool tenants in Highlandtown and Dundalk loved the guy. He won often, and he took no shit from anybody, He was one the more quotable managers of all time and his words leave us guidance for living a life that might win as much as he did.
It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts
This was the title of one of Earls books and should be a guide for all of us. At many points in our life, we will be convinced that we know everything that matters. This starts in the teenage years and repeats several times throughout our lived. The day after college graduation are often among the worst of these times when those who had the top marks in law school or business school or other advanced degree program emerge to challenge the world with their brilliance only to discover that not one fucking thing they learned in the last 7 years has one ounce of usefulness in their chosen profession. To succeed they will have to forget all but the most basic knowledge they spent so much to acquire. All the elegant formulas and grandiose knowledge they accumulated are pretty much worthless. It is shocking to learn that you do not, in fact, know everything, and in fact, it is highly likely that you do not know shit about these are the moment sin life where we will learn the most.
The most dangerous people you will ever meet are those who think they know everything because of their superior political or religious views. These folks are highly unlikely to learn anything one their leaders have poured their heads full of falsehoods and dogma and hey believe they have the high moral ground to simply destroy anyone who does not agree with them. They are the Absolutely Convinced and should be avoided at all costs. There is a pretty good chance these folks will take all of you money and beat you to death while telling you it is for your own good and they are killing you to show how much their magic man in the sky loves you.
You do not know everything. You do not even know as much as you think you do. A liberal use of the phrase “I don’t know” will make your life much more enjoyable and as a bonus, you are likely to learn more if you admit you don’t know.
I became an optimist when I discovered that I wasn’t going to win any more games by being anything else.
We don’t have a hell of a lot of control about what is going to happen to the world, but I don’t see any real point and spending a hell of a lot of time worrying about it all. Most of the stuff I have worried about in my life never happened anyway so why waste the energy?
There is a lot that can wrong in the world and life, but there is also a lot that can go right. I prefer to focus on that. I prepare for what can go wrong as best I can and then concentrate on the brighter parts of the future. Not even the most optimistic soul back in 1950 could have conceived of what cars, medicines, and homes look like today. The pessimist would have just assumed we would all be radioactive dust by now and if he is still alive and he has benefitted little from all the advances we have seen in the last 67 years.
Life will bring what it will bring. In the meantime, there is music, books, kisses, love, wine, beaches, bourbon and baseball to enjoy. You might as well look on the bright side. If the light does turn out to be a train at least you will die singing.
Do the dull things right, so the extraordinary things will not be required too often.
The simple truth is that life is made up of a lot of boring shit that has to be done. Earning a living, cleaning the toilets, doing the dishes, all that sort of dull stuff that is so easy to put off. Just fucking do it and do it well. It takes 10 minutes to do the dishes, or you can just let the shit pile up until it’s a health hazard and you need to pay a Hazmat team armed with a few hundred Brillo Pads to fix the mess. Do the dull shit and do it well. Your life will be better for it.
You win pennants in the offseason when you build your teams with trades and free agents.
A great baseball team is great because of the people on the team. You need a guy that can play the game and add something to the team be it an arm, speed, a bat or a glove. You need good people to have a great team. If they don’t add something to the team, you have to cut them and get someone that does.
Apply that standard to the people in your life. Do they add value? Do they encourage you or just sit around bitching about life’s bad breaks? Does their presence in your life make your life better? No, apply that standard to yourself and the people in your life. Do you add value to their life? Do you make their life better? If not then perhaps you need to start being part of the team.
Only have people in your life that make the team better. Make sure you are doing something every day to make the team better. Your life will improve dramatically if you apply these simple tests to your relationships and acquaintances. Above all don’t be afraid to make the cuts. If your shortstop is making errors that are costing games cut their ass and get someone who can play the game.
The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.
This is the key to life in my opinion. It needs to be a sign on your wall, stitched into a pillow or for you avant-garde types tattooed backward on your ass and read in the mirror every morning when you step out of the shower.
Fundamentals matter. Do what you need to do and do it well. Stand out from the crowd because you execute often and you execute well. If you are a ditch digger, be a good one. If you are a writer, then write well. If you handle others people money, then do it honestly with integrity as your first concern. If you are a cop, then be a good cop. If you are a parent be a good one. Learn the things you need to do to be good at living your life. Ask, practice, read and learn the things to you need to know to be good at your job, your marriage, or whatever else is important to you. Learn them, practice them and also be looking to get better. Avoid the stupid mistakes that cost games and can ruin your life.
Do what you can to get on base every time up at the plate. If you are on base someone else can drive you in and the runs matter as must as it does for the one who hits it out.When the pitchers float one or hangs a curve rear back and knock that son of a bitch out of the stadium. If you drive someone else in they, get to score a run, and you get a RBI so do what you can in life to drive others in.
Life will hang curves. I see it all the time in the financial markets. It sure as happened to me in my personal life as I finally found that one person who can live with me without giving into the overwhelming desire to kill me in my sleep. It happened to me professionally back on 2008 and I have had the best nine years of my life as a result. The key here is that when I realized the pitch was not going to break, I swung from the heels and took advantage of the opportunity. I have missed a few in life, but I also missed every single one when I didn’t swing. If life offers a floater swing. If you miss, there is another game tomorrow.
Protect yourself, avoid unforced errors, do not make stupid mistakes and when life hangs a curve plant that fucker ten rows back.
Tell politicians and preachers to leave you the fuck alone. You and Earl got this.
In the furor of the few days after the election, political rants from both sides were spewed out on social media covering the mind of those unfortunate to read the crazed material like a coating of bile spewed forth by the vilest of drunkards who has been imbibing of the noxious of liquors. One very admirable fellow in my timeline just answered each and every piece of mental vomitous with a tweet or post that simply said: “Read Montaigne.” Indeed the philosopher and essayist about whom Nietzsche once said “That such a man has written, joy on earth has truly increased. If my task were to make this earth a home, I would attach myself to him ” would seem to offer some words and thoughts that might give pause to some of the hateful Absolutely Convinced diatribes that have occurred since November 8th. Unfortunately, the moronic diarrhea of the mind and the mouth has continued unabated, so I thought I might examine some Montaigne’s thoughts and ideas and provide if nothing else a brief respite from that is shat forth as dialogue these days.
Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
This one simple phrase holds much of the world’s woes within its grasp. People grasp onto beliefs and values that are unproven at best and pure evil at worst. They insist that they know these things to be among the higher truths but have not spent so much as a minute researching it. One of the best news items I have seen is when Jesse Waters of Fox News will ask ardent supporters of a particular candidate if they agree with their candidates positions on certain issues. He will then present the opposition’s views on wide range of topics and attribute to the individuals chosen favorite. 100% of the time they not only believe it but support it with all their heart and soul. These folks have not even taken the time to read their candidates’ positions on the important issues of the day but swill with their dying breath they are the only hope for their world and call you 16 kinds of a fucking moron if you aren’t voting the way they think you should.
If you are going to talk to me about medical issues, read a medical book or 10 first. Should you wish to advise me on tax policies, have some clue how the tax code and enforcement process works. Before telling me which economic policies will save the world have a basic grasp of how economics and business work. Before you passionately support some belief or cause and have the effrontery to insist everyone else share it with you, have some fucking clue about what you are proclaiming.
I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.
In reality, very little truth is told today. To tell the pure, unvarnished truth is to invent ridicule and rebuke. Like the philosopher, I find that as I age, I care less about those things and think a little truth telling is good for the soul. Even if it is just my soul that feels better. So, to wit, some truths:
I do not own my fellow citizens one fucking thing except the courtesy to leave them alone, so they can live their lives as they see best.
Whatever God exists does not give a fuck about who wins a football game, I am pretty sure She is a baseball fan but has the wisdom only to interfere when it’s the Cubs in game 7.
The government cannot help you.
There is scant evidence that any one religion is better or worse than another.
Your children are not better looking and smarter than every other kid.
Your shit does, in fact, stink.
You do not know best. Neither does Father.
Taxes are merely a government endorsed form of armed robbery.
The Pope looks ridiculous in those shoes.
Pure democracy is a vile form of government that leads inevitably to some malignant form of socialism.
The Boston Red Sox signing Chris Sale is proof that evil exists and flourishes in the world.
Formal political parties are a cancer on a free society.
An excess of political correctness is an advanced form of idiocy.
And so on and so forth.
Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
I confess that religion troubles me greatly and along with the IRS is one of the few things I fear in this life. People in the grasp of religion can justify any foul act, or cruel measure as they insist is suits the purpose of their all-knowing and all-powerful God. In the name of this loving being, their forefathers invented out of necessity and fear of the unknown people will kill anyone who does not share their desperate beliefs. We rely on the crutch of religion to carry us through the troubled times when it might be best if we got off our knees and worked for a solution but praying is easier it seems. Having a divine reason to insist everyone else thinks and acts as we do is so much better than admitting that we are close minded ass hats who cannot embrace different thoughts and opinions.
I am pretty sure there is some being, deity or great intelligence behind this miracle we call like. There is too much order, sprinkled with exactly the right amount of disorder to encourage growth to think otherwise. I am just not arrogant enough to suggest I know what he./She/It looks like or the name of the force involved. I do not know the grand purpose or meaning if it all. I do know that by considering the act of sex, the process of defecation and the fact that men have nipples whoever created all this has a fabulous sense of humor.
It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.
I will take this one step farther and say that it should be brains that do not always agree with us. At times it should be with someone who disagrees with every single thought and belief we have so our own may be tested. Spending all of our time talking with only those who believe as we do limits us from understanding the world we live. To learn you must be willing to entertain the notion that you are wrong. Of course you will have to learn to interact with the modern method of discourse which appears to involve beating the living shit of those who do not share your point of view in favor of a nice discussion over some wine and cheese but it is still a worthwhile endeavor to engage with some who thinks differently even if you do not get the pleasure of knocking their fucking teeth out.
There were many terrible things in my life, and most of them never happened.
We all worry about things, and we are all morons for doing so much of the time. Being afraid of what might happen and what could happen to the point of paralysis is mankind’s favorite pointless activity it seems to me. Anxiety is rampant in our society, and it really should not be. We have little to no control what particular brand of shit the universe will throw at us on a given day, but we can control how we react to events. If it isn’t going to kill you, you can deal with it. If it kills you, you will no longer give a shit.
When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
This has been the case for as long as I can remember. Mine was not a happy house to grow up in much of the time, and I escape the shattered crockery, the sister who was medivaced on a regular basis, my mom’s’’ propensity for affairs, fathers drunken absence and other childhood moments via books. I lived in the world of knights and astronauts, kings and philosophers, wizards and villains and other times and places just by the mere act of opening a book. The one thing I will always be grateful to my mother for, as many differences as we had in life, is that she encouraged us to read and instilled a love of reading in all of us. It was not until much later in life that I understood that she had hidden from the darkness of her own childhood in books and wanted to be sure that we were all able to do the same.
Whatever measure of success I have had in life is a result of this love of reading. I taught myself how to think, how to invest, how to write, how to cook a meal and just about everything else I know today by reading. My moral center or lack thereof comes from reading the thoughts and ruminations of great minds like Jack Schaeffer, Robert Parker, and Louis L’Amour along with Rand, Friedman, Twain, as well as a host of others. Whatever I am reading made me and continues to make me.
Even today when things get too much, or I just want to relax and not think about taxes, elections, protests, executive orders, resurgent New York Yankees, high-frequency trading, the rise of the robots and other evils of the day I turn to books to free my mind and relax my soul. When asked my favorite hobby I always reply reading but more than a hobby it something close to the center of my existence.
By the way, you can substitute the word baseball for books in Montaigne’s quote and have a great truth staring you in the face as well. Baseball was the other great escape of my childhood, and my love of the game remain unabated today. 3 hours or so of watching a good game can realign the whole world. I often combine books and baseball by watching the game over the top of my book and hours spent in this manner are pure bliss.
There is indeed much to learn in Montaigne’s words and thoughts, so much so that we cannot cover them all today. Doubtless we shall return to the subject at some future date, but for now, I leave you a parting thought:
Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee
I Love Everyone….But
Your humble minister issues a mandate from high above
Sometimes when someone asks me what religion I am, and I tell them that I am not, they launch into a lecture on the importance of having stuff…
Everyone wants to be happy but no one can tell you just what the hell happy is exactly.