Nov
5

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The Silence is Deafening

Do you hear that?

 

This new and sudden silence is deafening.

 

No crack of the bat. No slap of the mitt. No murmur in the stands. No roar of the crowd. No police whistles as they break up a fight at Citifield. No melodious tones of the announcers as they describe how the pitcher overcame juvenile explosive diarrhea to attain Major League success. Hell, I would go even put up with Joe Bucks annoying cadence and nonsense of the would turn the lights back on and open the turnstiles once more. But it is not to be. The 2017 baseball season is gone now. It had a good, exciting long life-extending as far as the rules allow but it has left the world leaving us only memories of its glory and grandeur. Spring training is 100 days away, and the silence is deafening.

 

Gone are the bright colors and melodic songs of the Blue Jays. Cardinals and Orioles. The Marlins and Rays scamper among the waves no longer. The Padres and Mariners have both ended their voyages for now. Though they are champions only memories of the Astros light the night sky now. The Rangers and Indians alike have retreated from the plains. The delights of spring and summer are gone once again along with the extreme passion and grand intensity of October.

 

Ahead lies only winter with Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Raptors to hold our attention to any degree. They won’t work for me as I find most NBA basketball to be absolutely unwatchable on TV. One can almost succumb to tears comparing Havlicek, Monroe, West, Frazier, Bird, and Magic to the run and slam version of the game played today. I must confess I do watch the highlights most nights but a whole game would be too much for me.

 

I have pondered my loss of interest in the NFL a great deal. Part of it is the fact that the game is shit. The referees seem to be determined to have more airtime than the two starting quarterbacks and flags fly out more consistency that many airlines have ever shown. While I am a fan of celebrating achievements watching some idiot do a victory dance because he sacked the quarterback while his team is losing 31-7 late in the 4th quarter disgusts me. If we are honest, it is just not a very good game anymore.

 

Part of it I think is social. Football is an excuse for the single, or no kids crowd to head to the bar at noon on Sunday and avoid the emptiness of an apartment on Sunday with no work or events to distract you. It is something to do when the snow is up to the low edge of your ass, and the idea of venturing outside is about as welcome as inviting a politician to dinner. It helps pass the winter and gives you something to think about besides frozen pipes salted driveways.

 

I am now married these past seven years and live in Florida. I am not a big fan of day drinking unless I can get a nap before dinner, so I don’t head out to the sports bars much anymore. There is always something to do in Florida and weather that allows you to do things.

 

I am sure it is a combination of things, but the NFL just does not hold my interest. I follow and watch Notre Dame and Navy at the college level but have no interest in the pro version of the game.

No, baseball is the game for me. An evening with a book, while the games played on the TV, has been the preferred activity of many of the last 249 days. Checking the MLB app on a regular basis when the wife wants to watch something else has also been a significant part of my life. Games on the radio version of the app while running around town doing errands while engaging in Florida things has also been a regular activity.

Now, that’s over. One catch, one toss from Altuve to first base and baseball is over. No more home runs, double plays, dumb baserunning, brilliant pitches, astounding catches, stretching a single or stealing a base. No more second-guessing the manager, yelling at umpires encased in my flat screen or wondering how in the hell Chris Davis could let that pitch go by without swinging. No more box score searching, mathematical determinations of how we can catch the division leaders with a little run of luck. There will be the hot stove league, trades and all sorts of managerial stuff going on all winter to follow.  I will probably go sit at the bar during the Winter meetings next weekend to get a little fix. But none of it will enough.

 

The silence is deafening.

 

In the meantime here are the odds for 2018 to contemplate:

 

 

 

 

 

2018 World Series Odds

TEAM OPENING ODDS
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1
Cleveland Indians 6-1
Houston Astros 6-1
Washington Nationals 7-1
New York Yankees 8-1
Boston Red Sox 10-1
Chicago Cubs 10-1
New York Mets 20-1
Arizona Diamondbacks 20-1
St. Louis Cardinals 20-1
Tampa Bay Rays 30-1
Toronto Blue Jays 30-1
Seattle Mariners 30-1
Milwaukee Brewers 30-1
Colorado Rockies 40-1
Chicago White Sox 50-1
Los Angeles Angels 50-1
Atlanta Braves 50-1
San Francisco Giants 50-1
Baltimore Orioles 60-1
Texas Rangers 60-1
Miami Marlins 80-1
Pittsburgh Pirates 80-1
Minnesota Twins 80-1
Kansas City Royals 80-1
Oakland Athletics 80-1
Philadelphia Phillies 80-1
Cincinnati Reds 80-1
San Diego Padres 80-1
Detroit Tigers 300-1

 

Sep
3

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Random Musings on a Sunday Afternoon

It is once again the most wonderful time of the year. Now even though the stores have had Christmas shit out for weeks, that’s not what I am talking about today. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to like about Christmas. There are family, friends, parties, left-over turkey sandwiches, mini-Hershey bars and all sort of things I like about Christmas. As we get closer to the big day I turn into a ho-ho-ho merry motherfucker but let’s be honest there are some things about the season that are a pain in the ass. The decor monster eats my house and yard. The son of a bitch yard guy who routinely runs over my wife’s pants and the garbage guy who is already paid outrageous wages expect Holiday Tips. Charities pop up everywhere with pictures of starving Ethiopian children and puppies tied to a cinder block behind a tenement in search of cash. Fistfight over Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays break out all over the place. Fat perverts with boozy breath in red suits set up shop all over the place. Christmas is nice, but it has its faults.

The most wonderful time of year for sports fans is September to the end of October. Baseball is in the home stretch, and we will soon have playoff baseball. Football is getting underway. I prefer the college game, but for most of America, the NFL is akin to religion. However, you like it it’s the start of pretty much seven days a week football on the television. If you are into tennis the UP Open is underway. The NASCAR playoffs start this month. Indy car racing season is finishing up. It’s the home stretch for MLS as well. This is the time of year that couches fear and TV salesman love. Truly, the most wonderful time of the year.

I don’t care if you are left, right or center if you made Houston, Rockport, and Beaumont about politics there is something fucking wrong with you. Hurricane Harvey had no politics. It was not George Bush’s fault. It was not because of some evil deed by that dastardly Barak Obama. It is not even Donald Trump’s fault. It was a hurricane, and people suffered regardless of race, creed, gender or politics. If politics is such a big part of your life that everything is political you are well on your way to becoming one of the Absolutely Convinced and are in danger of becoming part of the vile group of people whose tainted stench stains the very air we breathe.

If you watched the film this past weekend you saw the best of humanity in action. I am sure that the heroes in kayaks, canoes, john boats, bass boats jet skis and airboats were probably from everywhere on the political spectrum. They didn’t worry about the race, gender or politics of those they rescued. They were just people saving people. We could surely use a lot more people and a lot less politics.

Naturally, the climate change folks were out in force showing up even as people were abandoning their homes and struggling to survive. My dear friends if scientists are still debating the subject it is not settled science.1+1=2 is settled science. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit is settled science. Climate change is a theory, and there seems to be lots of evidence on both sides. It is not settled by a long shot. We should be doing things to clean the air and water and protect the environment no matter which theory is correct, but there is no evidence that climate change is not making the storms worse.

Now the special kind of really fucking stupid among us will ask why we hear so much more about these storms today that our parents and grandparents did? Take a second and work your brain okay? These storms have been happening since the beginning of time but before funs thing like automobiles, air conditioning, mosquito repellant and indoor plumbing not many people lived in the suburbs of Houston. Before there was an oil industry there was pretty much no valid reason to live near Beaumont Texas. Rockport Texas was a fisherman and pirate playground until we got highways, cars, and bridges.

The storms happened. There just was not anyone there. There sure as shit was not CNN shoving a microphone up the nostrils of some poor bastards who had just spent 48 hours perched on the roof of their house until they were rescued. The year we had the most major hurricanes (1961) Jim Cantore was not even born yet.

The climate change true believers will point to the fact that 2005 was the most active year ever. Of course, the fact that Harvey was the first hurricane to hit the US in more than five years does not come up at all. Nor does the fact that the second most active year was 1933. No one likes to mention that third most active was 1886 and the longest hurricane season on record was 1899. 1886 was the year the most hurricane hit the US with a total of 7.

There have always been storms. The difference is that now people live there thanks to” just because we can doesn’t mean we should” technology improvements and the media. We don’t have a climate crisis as much as we have a media crisis.

While we are on the subject of media I have to say I don’t know any alt righters or lefters. I have some friends that have some pretty fucking goofy political ideas, but they don’t stand in the streets throwing bags of piss at police officers. I have met some cops that were real shit bags, but most of are good folks doing a difficult job and really don’t deserves the feces flinging we have seen in recent weeks. I don’t know anyone on the extreme violent edges of the political system, and I do not want to know them. They are no better than the corrupt politicians and crooked churchmen that make up the absolutely convinced, and they are a blight on society. If your ideas can only be distributed via violence your ideas are probably shit.

A very small percentage of the population falls into the “alt” classification but if you watch the news that’s all we see. The worst part is that if you just ignored the racist fucks on the alt right they would go away. The KKK and groups like them love publicity of any kind. They need it in the hopes that in the millions of people that see the shit show on TV there might be one or two other ignorant fucks who will then rally to their cause. The best recruiters the racist groups have are the Antifa morons and the press who worship them. Someone said the other day that we all have to pick sides in the growing political divide. I already picked mine. It’s the “leave me and mine alone, or I will bust a cap in your ass” side. Whether it’s the right or left cheek doesn’t matter to me.

We would be better off if more people chose that side. The greatest thing that could happen in this country today is if they held an election and nobody came. Whatever would we do if we had no one to tell us what to eat, drink, smoke or otherwise ingest. How could we function without Papa Government there to advise us? I suspect we would do just fine.

Same with church. Could we function without someone to tell us who to love, who to hate and direct our acts of kindness as directed? Maybe we would stop feeding the hungry children halfway across the world and feed the ones we stepped over to get into the services this morning. Maybe-just maybe- we stop hating people who believed in a different imaginary being than we do.

I am reminded of the word of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher when he spoke of the Gods. I think it today’s modern times we could also apply them to politicians at all levels:
“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will or lastly, they are able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?”

Gods nor politician can do a lot to change your life. You can.

Gods nor Politicians have done a very good job of feeding the poor. We can

God and politicians have done a terrible job of improving our broken education system. We can

Gods and politicians cannot love, protect and support your family. You can

More People. Less Politics

Jul
17

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On Melvin 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?

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.

Mar
7

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March to the Beat of a Different Drummer

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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