Archive for August, 2009

dead ted

Senator Ted Kennedy has died. I offer my sympathy and condolences to his family. The death of a family member is always difficult, even if you know it is coming. I know this because my father died from the same thing not too long ago.

Personal sympathy to the family is all I can offer, because the absence of Senator Kennedy from our government will be nothing but a blessing. While he worked and supported a few good pieces of legislation in his lifetime, the greatest part of his legislative effort was devoted to enslaving productive men to the benefit of the least worthy. I will not mourn the loss of this man as a senator, only as a loss to the family.

I wouldn’t take one hundred Ted Kennedys for one of my father.

the ideology of science

On April 27th, President Obama addressed the annual meeting of National Academy of Sciences. While that may be old news to some, I just read his speech and am fascinated by the president’s capacity for self-contradiction. Of course, to his mind he is perfectly consistent, but let’s see what you think.

In his speech, President Obama states,

Next, we are restoring science to its rightful place. On March 9th, I signed an executive memorandum with a clear message: Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.  Our progress as a nation – and our values as a nation – are rooted in free and open inquiry.  To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy.  It is contrary to our way of life.

That’s why I’ve charged John Holdren and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with leading a new effort to ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information.  I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions — and not the other way around.

Is there anyone in his or her right mind who can say that the “Cap & Trade” carbon tax legislation that was rammed through the House is based on “the best and most unbiased scientific information?” To say that this piece of legislation, based on what is at best speculative science, takes a back seat to ideology is laughable.

Just as George Bush attempted to twist national science policy to conform to his religious beliefs, Barack Obama is infusing his national science policy with the unproven pseudo-science of the radical environmental left.

Try telling the scientists who disagree with the government’s scientists that, “Our progress as a nation – and our values as a nation – are rooted in free and open inquiry.” If you don’t toe the party line, the party hacks will do their utter best to discredit your views by any means available, supported by science or not.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is no place in government for objective science.

a meditation master

I find that I am getting really good at meditating. You know – you just let your mind go, unfocus your attention, just let yourself “be” without thinking. As a matter of fact, I find that I’m able to do this anytime and anyplace, and very often without even trying.

I will be in the middle of the grocery store, having gone there to pick up one specific item, and suddenly find myself with a blank mind staring a shelves and shelves of product without a clue as to what I am looking for.

I’ll be driving from point A to point B and suddenly look out the window and realize that I have no idea where I am, and hope that I am still somewhere between points A and B.

I will stride into a room full of purpose only to find myself staring at a blank wall with a blank mind, sure that I have a reason for being there but being unable to put my finger on the exact reason.

Ah, yes, I am becoming a Meditation Grand Master. I wonder where I apply for my black belt.

it ain’t me, babe

Every once in a while, for giggle and grins, I check out some of the listings on Yahoo’s personals. I’m not looking (I’m in a committed relationship) but if I were, there are certain red flags that would wave me off of some of the women, which actually turns out to be most of the women.

First, if a woman wants a man who loves dancing, she’s out (and what woman doesn’t like dancing). As for me, if you want to stand in one place and rock back and forth, I can handle it, but take it beyond that and I’m about as coordinated as a . . . well, you come up with something. Let’s just say that I can’t dance, I look like an idiot doing it, and I feel like an idiot doing it, which pretty much limits the enjoyment I get out of it to less than zero. If I want to hold a woman for pleasure, I would rather do it horizontally and without clothes on.

If a woman is looking for someone with an athletic build, good luck. The only thing athletic about my build is that I’m built like a sports stadium – large and round. If she is looking for a younger man, that’s obviously out, unless she is eighty, and then I might have a few qualms. If someone says she drinks daily, that’s kind of a yellow flag – proceed with caution. Smoking? Well, I would prefer not, but I’m flexible on that (hi hon 😉 ).

Kids at home would be a no-go – I’m done with that. If she expects me to be attending church with her, she will be rather disappointed. The only time I go into a church is to attend someone else’s wedding. If she loves a guy on a motorcycle, or lives at the beach all summer, I’m certainly a cross-off on her list.

All of that is bad enough, but the ultimate red flag for me is when they list the minimum income level of the person they want to hook up with. Even worse is when these women don’t list their own income. Now, there could be a legitimate reason for this. Perhaps a woman has a high income or is worth a pile of money and doesn’t want to be attracting flies. I guess I could understand that. The problem I have with that specification is that it sounds an awful lot like a woman looking for some guy to support her in the fashion to which she is accustomed, and I have no need for a woman like that. Actually, a woman looking for a certain minimum income isn’t going to want me, either. I’ve never seen an income level listed that mine would fit into. I guess I’ll never be anyone’s sugar daddy.

spurred to reexamination

I’ve been re-reading Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. This was a formative book in my life. Even today, many, many years after having last read the book, the words are familiar, like old friends. But this is not a book in which to find comfort.

This is a book that slaps you in the face and forces you to look at your own life. It is a book of black and white, where any form of equivocation puts you on the wrong team. It is disturbing, to say the least, to look at the life you have led in light of the values expressed in the book.

I spend time reading it each night before I go to sleep, and each night after I turn off the lights I find myself unable to sleep. My mind won’t shut up. It starts going over all the details of my life, past and present, and looks at all the inconsistencies between what I believe and what I do. I abhor the reality of the way I am living and wonder how to change myself into someone I can respect, and fear that I cannot find the way.

One might think that these principles are the fantasies of youth; a time when all things seem possible and when living according to a moral code appears to be a simple matter of right and wrong and does not allow the fuzzy, inconsistent thinking and internal contradictions that compromise requires. After all, as we get older we learn that we have to give a little to get a little, and that we have to “get along” with others, regardless of the cost. I do not believe it must be this way.

I believe that to live as fully functional human beings we need a sound philosophical framework on which to build our lives. This is as true in our nineties as it is in our twenties, and it is never too late to build, or rebuild, that framework. It is a matter of choice. I believe that framework must be built using reason and logic. I believe that there is an objective reality that demands objective thinking if we are to live a happy life.

Yes, I said “happy.” A life designed by logic and reason does not mean some cold, calculation of an existence that turns you into a robot. Rather, having a moral code that is consistent with the natural universe allows one to act decisively and consistently in one’s own self interest. A life of compromise – a life adjusted to the whims and desires of others – is not a happy life.

I could go on here for pages and pages, but it would devolve into a stream-of-consciousness bit of mental masturbation, and I don’t really want to do that where people can watch. I will have more to say on this as my thinking gets clearer. However, regardless of the clarity of my thinking, it will be action that is consistent with that thinking that will be the real issue. While necessary for an integrated life, resolving theory with reality can be a very difficult thing to accomplish.

peace and quiet

Yesterday I went out to McDonalds for breakfast. My favorite parking spots were already taken and the park where I usually go to eat was overrun by runners, so I set out to find a different suitable place to enjoy my repast.

Heading west, I worked my way through town and then south and west again through farm country. The weather has been pretty good to farmers around here this year and the corn is tall and sturdy and the bean fields are lush. I drove down several miles of road but couldn’t find a spot to pull over and eat that struck my fancy until I passed a farm house with a “For Sale” sign in its window.

I turned around and went back. The house appeared to be empty, so I pulled into the driveway to eat. I think that only one car drove by while I was sitting there. I had the car windows down and the breeze was blowing wonderfully. The only sounds were the crickets and the wind in the corn. It felt so peaceful that I could have stayed there all day.

I am not a city person, and barely a suburb dweller. I love open spaces and quiet. I don’t want another house next to mine for at least a mile or so. I would prefer to be able to walk outside to the clothesline in the buff if I wanted to with no concern over whether I would upset the neighbors (and believe me, the sight of me naked would upset them). I am also a flat earth person – open fields for as far as the eye can see! Some people like the mountains, and I have to agree they are great scenery, but they make me claustrophobic. There’s nothing like the wide, open spaces to make one feel really free.

I took down the information on the “For Sale” sign. I thought I might call to see what they want for the place. As I drove back, though, I realized that it would just be too far from my work to make sense, not to mention that I don’t have any real money for that anyways. Sigh.

The house I live in isn’t bad, but I’ve got kids all around me. Whenever it is nice enough to open my windows it’s also nice enough for the kids to be out screaming and having a good old time. I can’t hold that against them, after all, that’s what kids do. But it sure does get irritating after a while. Almost makes you long for winter to have some peace and quiet.

And, of course, no matter what you are doing, your neighbors see it. While I’m not doing anything that shouldn’t be seen, it just gets irritating not being able to even scratch your butt without being observed. Also, a little city lot doesn’t give one much elbow room and certainly no feeling of wide, open spaces.

Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am doing. I’ve managed to become debt free and could live just about anywhere as long as I could make enough money to meet my living expenses, which aren’t huge. Why don’t I move someplace that will give me what I want? Actually, there are reasons. I guess it is all a matter of the choices we make in our lives, and sometimes it is just that old habits are hard to break.

sticking the pin into her

I got a real kick out of Hillary’s little fit of pique during her press conference in the Congo yesterday. As part of a student’s question, she was asked, “What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton . . . ,“ to which Mrs. Clinton responded, “Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am. So, you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”

Touchy, touchy.

Actually, the question had gotten a bit confused, either by the student or the translator (after all, neither of them are native speakers of English), and what the student really wanted to know was what Mr. Obama thought about the subject, but the little faux pas proved enlightening.

I had thought to write about a similar subject last week when Mr. Clinton went to North Korea to fetch the two criminals journalists who were released to return to the States. My immediate thought at the time was, “Why in the hell is he doing this? Isn’t this the Secretary of State’s responsibility?” I’m guessing that perhaps Hillary had thoughts along the same line and that perhaps her feelings got tweaked enough in that press conference to bring them bubbling to the surface.

I have to admit that I would not want to be in her shoes, but then again, she’s the one who chose to put herself in this particular pair of shoes in the first place. She should have bounced her philandering fool of a husband out on his ear long ago, but she chose not to, for what I would guess are purely practical political reasons. So now she is saddled with having him botch up her life again and again.

Then, after losing the primary to Obama, she somehow decided that accepting the position of Secretary of State was a good idea. I would be interested to know her true motivations for this, but whatever they were, I suspect that she didn’t expect to be playing second fiddle to Obama as he directly involved himself with the foreign affairs that Hillary should have been managing.

So now she finds herself relegated to a role in which she has no real power or status, and that must really rankle. So watch out how you phrase your questions to her or you may just find yourself stinging from her verbal whiplash. Then again, since she seems to be all bark with no bite, don’t worry about it.

The World of Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

This is a rather large book with thirty-four Wooster & Jeeves stories, any one of which can be easily read in an hour – great bedtime reading. For some reason I can relate to British higher society in the early 1900′s, so I actually feel a bit at home in the world of Wooster and Jeeves. Unfortunately, I can’t relate well enough to be fully knowledgeable in the slang of the day, so I suspect there are fine points that are lost on me.

(Finished 8/7/09)

Enter Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

Rather than create a new entry for this book, I decided to just add it to this entry. Almost all of the stories in this book are in The World of Jeeves, so it is rather redundant. Still, the stories are entertaining enough that a second reading wasn’t objectionable. This collection of fifteen early stories would serve well as an introduction to P.G. Wodehouse.

(Finished 8/8/12)

John Hughes

Another reality check; John Hughes died today. Fifty-nine years old – same age as me – and dropped dead of a heart attack while walking on the streets of New York this morning. They say that twenty-five percent of all heart attacks suffered by men are fatal. I guess the odds didn’t go his way.

Each time this happens it reminds me that I am going to die, sooner than later, and that it could be at any minute. I sure wish I could keep this in mind when I start feeling down. I need to remember that every minute is precious and that I shouldn’t be wasting them.

RIP, John, and thanks for the movies.

Ayn Rand lives

Thank you, President Obama. Your proclivity for socialism has spurred people into thinking critically again. If only they had done that before they elected you, but that’s water over the dam, or under the bridge, or down the toilet, or pick your own metaphor.

I was at the bookstore today and they had more copies of Ayn Rand’s books – particularly Atlas Shrugged – than I have seen there in a long time. Why? Because those who have read the book see the astonishing parallels between the government in the book and Obama’s administration and the bookstores see an opportunity to make money. In fact, I bought a new hardcover copy. It’s about time that I refresh my memory, too.

I do hope that people are buying the books and reading them, in particular our young people. We need a new generation of individualists and objective, critical thinkers. We seem to have lost our way with fuzzy, feel-good, emotional reactions (“reactions” because I can’t call it thinking) to everything. I truly hope that we can stir enough young people into looking at issues with a clear, skeptical and logical eye.

There’s nothing like extremism to inspire those who are unwilling to be led like sheep. So, again, thank you Mr. President, and all your lackey allies, for contributing to “the cause.”