Like the eternal, immutable and unchanging tides of the great oceans, events, history and human lives seem predictably repetitive and seldom original. With exception as to dimension, such as in tsunamis, the persistent dance of the sea contemplates no break in its inexorable routine.  Similarly, the eternal repetition of events discernable in human society, sometimes referred to as the human comedy, plays out its reliable themes in regular and predictable tempo except, like planetary tides, as to dimension.

It takes but a cursory review of world history to confirm the inexorable continuance of stone-age tribalism and xenophobia in every era and in all cultures. Hatred, fear and jealousy of the stranger have been consistent and visible pollutants on the planet’s eternal tides. Efforts to pacify the bellicose nature of the Homo sapiens have ultimately failed; world confederations and organizations, treaties and ententes cordial, international language, cultural exchanges, all were relegated to the dust bin of human history. As we have sadly observed, in many past writings, early teachings in we and they, seem to be virtually eradicable and persistent. The tsunami of World War I was named The War to End All Wars and was quickly and decisively rebutted by the occurrence of World War II and the countless, shameful international conflicts which ensued.

Organized religion has certainly not proven to be an instrument for peace, as some adherents persist in maintaining. The many bloody tides of religious conflict that have washed in, evidencing that more homicide has been perpetuated in the name of a Deity, than in the name of a supposed Satan. The Thirty-Year’s War, the many Inquisitions and Crusades, The Sunni-Shia intra- Moslem horrors, are but a small example of the uncountable expression of homicidal inclinations of religious zealotry. The outlook in this area continues to be bleak and the visible amount of blood in the incoming tides is proof positive that yesterday’s ignorance and superstition is today’s perennial planetary inheritance.

Human avarice and sociopathic greed seems to thrive in an evergreen existence. The ancient myth of the Midas Touch still fuels hedge funds and investment houses in our society while a modern version of the Marie Antoinette “Let them Eat Cake,” mentality, a complete absence of empathy seems to be the acceptable attitude du jour regarding the needy. Today is indeed yesterday again.

The current, frightening tsunami inundating our American republic, is highly unusual since it appears to be a conglomerate of many of yesterday’s malevolent phenomena. We are confronted with an autocratic head of state, whose king-like egotism is his presumed license to disregard the established laws and regular procedures of our nation, demean scholarship and advancement, deny the established findings of science, extol and engage in improper behavior, act on  ignorant and neurotic impulse, practice medieval and dark ages behavior (large threatening military, exclusionary walls, establish generals as close advisors, install family in privileged and powerful positions, spew threats and epithets as official foreign policy, practice favoritism as well as bigotry), and generally, emulate, or exceed all of history’s examples of disreputable behavior. [We lament the present situation but look forward to the next tidal change.]     -p.

Blog # 211                   LODESTONES

For many centuries before the advent of the compass, voyagers, especially seafaring voyagers, relied upon a unique mineral, called “lodestone” (magnetite) which is possessed of magnetic properties (always indicates true north) for consistent and reliable directional guidance. Especially useful in long ocean voyages, the lodestone made foreign commerce and, when necessary, emigration, possible; and was essential in military applications; it has been recorded that the Vikings used the lodestone to make possible their premeditated raids and pillaging of foreign cultures. The directional advice of this unique mineral could be relied on irrespective of challenging sea or foul elements.

The primitive lodestone was, in time, replaced by the mechanical compass, faithfully indicating due north, which later morphed into digital guides, which communicate with Earth orbiting satellites for guidance that is reliably accurate and precise.

In this writing we are taking the liberty of using the lodestone (magnet) as a metaphor for the needed establishment of a fixed setting, a bedrock true north, for guidance in matters of of optional choice of behavior and moral direction, which seems to be appropriate at this unprecedented, and confusing moment in American history.

The beginning of the creation of an ethical, personal lodestone no doubt, has its origin in the early childhood period. It should be noted that the establishment of a life-long moral compass cannot be created by mere teaching and citing literary parables; the instruction as to right action is most convincing and becomes deeply imbedded by actual examples of rectitude practiced by the parent. Teaching one thing and behaving in another, is worse than confusing, it destroys all belief in the instructed standards taught. Empathy, honesty, truthfulness, respect for others of different appearance and ethnos, loyalty, sensitive consideration for others, especially the poor and disabled, appropriate behavior, desire for the fulfillment and enhancement of the self and society, are among the numerous required subjects in this education. If established properly and ratified by the parent’s own behavior, consistent with the taught standards, they become enduring, fixed compass points of reference in the child’s future voyage through life, in later confrontation with ignorance, bigotry and improper behavior.

Consistent with our oft-repeated personal belief, we would supplement these early (and subsequent) teachings, with the recommended reading of good literature, which opens the reader to the existence of classic ethical issues which are eternally and universally experienced and acted upon by humankind.

The maintenance of an available moral compass, or ethical lodestone, reaffirms a firm and confident self-image and personal identity in the individual, and serves as a fixed, accessible reference and directional guide, when presented with a maelstrom of ignorance and disreputable behavior as appears to be the diagnosis of this unprecedented and shameful presidency. Confidence in the validity and intrinsic virtues of our ethical standards will give confidence and hope to all lodestone bearers, of a corrected course of travel.                   -p

Blog # 210                A DAUNTING DILEMMA

The concerned and responsible parent enjoys the vitally important responsibility of transmitting the basics of acceptable, societal and moral, standards of belief and behavior to the child. This is done by instruction and, very importantly, by the parent’s own right action. As the child matures in age and practical experience, the job becomes somewhat more complicated; the inexperienced, trusting child ordinarily, sees those early moral lessons in “black and white” mandates; accordingly, all compromise, however minor and appropriate, is perceived as inconsistent betrayal. The positive value of appropriate compromise, often necessary, as a practical matter, to accomplish just ends is learned later in the child’s life, from personal experience. Proper parental teaching is, of necessity, in step with the ambient communal and societal standards; and the observant child is thereafter welcomed into society as a new and respected member.

We take little pleasure in the the success of our prognostication to the effect that the possible elevation  of Donald Trump to the office of President (and his inevitable installation of a coterie of his disreputable enablers and opportunistic sycophants), would predictably plunge our nation into the depths of  a 21st Century reprise of the horrific  Dark Ages, of medieval Europe several  centuries ago This fearfully anticipated “Mad Hatter” administration, encompassing dysfunctional players chosen by our new egoistic, incapable and ignorant chief of State, lost no time in initiating actions, directly and purposefully to sabotage our useful governmental agencies and structures. These entities had been wisely put in place to provide constant, watchful superintendence of the proper operation of our democratic republic, and as well, to delimit excesses of avaricious and irresponsible business practices, detrimental to the public .Rather than empathy and concern for the poor and the disadvantaged, the Trump administration has demonstrated  as little awareness and concern as the ignorant and arrogant Queen Antoinette, in medieval times, whose voiced solution to  the starving French citizen’s cry for bread, famously, was her repulsive remark, “Let them eat cake.”

Medieval xenophobia, rather than modern day diplomacy in international relations, has been resurrected as the American policy “du jour.” The building of protective walls and a policy of exclusion of the foreigner, is a regular (medieval) main course on the Trump daily dark ages menu. Also consistent with the medieval period, top military leaders have been appointed to intimate positions in the royal council, vast inventories of weapons and bombs are stocked, ready to go, together with a huge standing military, both sufficient to assuage any paranoid’s psychotic’s worst fear of foreigners.  It appears that, in many cases, even local police have felt emboldened by this new, atavistic atmosphere, to brutally and illegally operate with impunity; a blind eye policy is employed, regarding the all too frequent episodic misbehavior of these uniformed extensions of governmental authority. Large standing armies were the typical  stratagem of the medieval rulers,  including those legendary crusaders who pillaged and raped their way across continents.

Our present Autocrat, together with his Royal Family and Court, have been publicly and illegally enriching themselves, with confident impunity, at the cost of the American citizen; such behavior is committed in intentional disrespect of our laws, including our historically established ethical and legal rules, concerning conflicts of interest, and, in the case of the President, in full breach of the Constitution’s emolument clause.

The pursuit of knowledge, all learning and Intellectual pursuits, literary and scientific, have been disparaged and defunded; disrespect for the truth, has been rampant and the responsible [and citizen protective] media has been viciously attacked. Science, responsible for the survival and advancement of mankind, has been totally disrespected, especially climate science. Bigotry has been irresponsibly tolerated, the recognition of women’s natural and legal right to own their own bodies, has been dealt set- backs and the national duty of protecting citizens’ legal and human rights has been relegated to the back seat in the now proverbial bus. This is comparable with the medieval practice of enrichment of the royal retinue, at the expense of the citizens of the realm, and in the current metaphor, most especially, the rewards to the campaign donors whose substantial donations, while made in their own selfish business interests, [usually irrespective of damage to the planet and the citizen] financed Trump’s electoral win.

Our daunting challenge consists in contemplation of how to properly and effectively counsel our young children in ethical behavior,  in view of the pervasive, shameful and immoral atmosphere which now pervades our government. Each of us has his applicable style of rendering advice, so our proposals for such instruction, are stated in principles, only, and  offered in random order:

  • The present administration is a rare aberration, our Presidents have, as a rule, been dedicated to, and believers in right principle. They may want to remember President Obama.
  • The trust required in relationships, of every kind, social as familial, friendship, teammate, romantic partner and neighbor, depends upon consistency of truth and honesty; people who are mendacious will never be trusted in any relationship.
  • One’s own consistent identity and positive (internal) self- image, is maintained by right thinking and practiced morality,
  • Empathy, and consideration for others, makes for self- respect and acknowledged maturity,
  • The attainment of success and self-fulfillment depend upon your candid evaluation of yourself,
  • Self-fulfillment and self enhancement are the rational measure of true success, and,
  • Act in a way that you and your future children would approve.

We can endure whatever disappointments, unfair outcomes and distasteful events dealt to us by life, provided that a we have a good self-image, are possessed of appropriate wisdom, and maintain good communication with those who are close to us; but most especially, with ourselves.



 Blog #209       REBUTTING MISRULE (Redux)

It was an innovative, enlightened and historically revolutionary conception, on the part of our idealistic and erudite founders, that in the citizens of the newly established democratic republic, would reside  the effective control of the operation and destiny of the nation. For such a democracy to succeed, said Thomas Jefferson, it requires a literate and informed citizenry. Our frequent repetition of the latter observation, perhaps, will be forgiven, upon the grounds of its inestimable value.

It is unfortunate that the wisdom and verity of said principle, has of late, been sufficiently proven by its demonstrated obverse. The current state of the American government, like the apocryphal building project, popularly known as the Towel of Babel, is in a confused and total state of shambles. A major causative factor was the vote of the enormous horde of low-information, flat earth inhabitants of our country, who were herded together by devious, self-interested shepherds who, in snake-oil salesman fashion, falsely promised complete solution to whatever problems they could suggest; such disgruntled and needy voters were an easy target, and were mesmerized into voting against their own vital interests and needs (governmental assistance).

The unprecedented and easily observable disfunction of our present government, nationally and internationally, has been worrisome and downright embarrassing, except to those scheming, major campaign contributors who, in their own irresponsible financial interests, premeditatively brought about the disaster. The disfunction is so clearly and evidently demonstrable, that it appears not to require specification; except that it may be observed that those needy, low information supporters of the present administration, are just now beginning to realize that they have been “snookered” and literally left in the winter cold, without vital governmental assistance. As further homage and repayment to those self-interested, major campaign contributors, government regulations, promulgated to protect the health and safety of the American people, are cruelly and immorally being eliminated.

Editorializing and protesting, however legal and emotionally satisfying, appears to bring little useful results. The miscreant, selfish campaign contributors are only too aware of the objectionable results which they strategically brought about. The American public feels frustrated and utterly hapless regarding the amelioratation of the many serious problems. We would modestly suggest, however, that we have the answer.

Preliminarily, we would observe that the status of citizen, necessarily encompasses several mandated obligations, among which are, the duty to pay taxes, to be productive, to serve, if needed, in the military, and to generally comport oneself in accordance with accepted legal and social norms. We would proffer a further mandated obligation, this one as a necessary solution to our present problem of shameful governance (and as an antidote to the recurrence of the malady). Just as the weight lifter develops his biceps, which can then be successfully used for other physical needs, and the student of higher mathematics develops problem solving skills, which skillful reasoning can be suitably applied to non-academic problems, so the reading of good literature and engagement in the arts, develops sensitivity and wisdom, in addition  to resulting in a more satisfying life experience for the individual, but also to the citizen’s capacity for rational understanding and appropriate problem resolution. As young students in school, we may have been somewhat resistant to certain academic subjects which we, at such stage, deemed useless or impractical. We may have been too inexperienced to understand that the essential benefit of study of the specific subject, like the lifting of weights, or the study of mathematics, was in the development of our intellectual skill- set for potential use, when needed.

This newly mandated obligation might possibly be administered at school premises by volunteers, to whom the compliant citizen would report at conveniently scheduled intervals his activities and progress. In the cases of well- educated individuals, a procedure for exemption for such procedure may be granted. In the cases of recalcitrant citizens, sensible methods for encouragement may be devised; in the last analysis, the citizen who is physically capable, but ultimately unwilling to participate in this self-enhancement program, should be denied the privilege of his uninformed and possibly harmful vote.

The fundamental and basic raison d’etre of plinyblog was, and is, a dedication to the imperative promotion of the liberal arts and the humanities, for the growth and enhancement of the life of the individual, and as well [ if Thomas Jefferson is to be believed] the success of our nation. We fully proclaim our credo to be identical to that of our prescient founders, that the quality of a nation, founded as a democratic republic, necessarily, is intimately bound up with the quality of its citizenry.

We have ultimate faith in our continuing belief that reading good literature and some modest involvement in the arts, develops mature sensitivity and the capability of intelligent awareness; essential qualities in any significant progress toward ultimate wisdom. The development of our understanding of ourselves, in context with others,  within our shared environment, is essential to the enhancement of our own life and personal our self- fulfillment; and just as well, and important, the guide to the proper functioning of representative government.

It’s just about the most valuable “win-win” possible!


Blog # 208           A TRIBUTE TO THE FOUNDERS

The hope that that this writing will be seriously considered by those to whom it has critical reference may be unrealistically optimistic. However, we at plinyblog do not shy away from potential criticism of “preaching to the choir ” in the hope that some readers of differing opinion may be interested enough to re- examine their belief systems from a fresh point of view.

We have heard, all too often, speakers who sanctimoniously declare that, “We are a Christian nation.”  On the assumption that such an ardent speaker has the capability, to notice that America has substantial populations of diverse religions, the only possible deduction is that the speaker believes that America was properly designed and established by its founders to define itself as Christian, and function in accordance with Christian dogma.

While, admittedly, one of our mottos reads, “One Nation Under God” the presumed intended emphasis was “One Nation” (E Pluribus Unum) and no specific Deity is mentioned, or indeed, believed intended. History relates that while some of our founding fathers were Deists, others, in fact, were agnostics or atheists. It is a rudimentary corollary that the freedom to believe in any religion (acquired by the random chance of birth) necessarily carries with that franchise, the right not to believe at all. Many prominent Americans were, in fact, atheists, like Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll. Those individuals who proclaim the principle that America is a Christian nation, appear to possess a religious ethnocentrism  complementary to their ignorance.

It is to be observed that the Constitution of the United States does not make any mention of the word, God, whatsoever, consistent with the founders’ knowledge of the sordid history of Europe, where an established church was part of the governing mechanism. The long and sad history of war, conflict, persecution and atrocity, they understood, was the result of that unholy partnership.  The replication of bloody centuries of European experience accordingly, was intentionally and studiously avoided. The founders in their wisdom, believed that to put the word “God” in the Constitution, was to eliminate (rule by) man and that the inclusion of any reference to a Deity would be seized upon by zealots and religious fanatics and used as a pretext for destroying the liberty of the citizen. Indeed, in too many places in the world, believers in any variant religion as well as non-believers have historically been stigmatized and prosecuted as heretics or infidels. Our nation was legally, wisely and morally created as a singular experiment in secular governance, for which thanks and reverence are forever due to our enlightened founders.

It is disappointing to observe, in the modern era, a significant number of citizens with a militant, as opposed to a reasonable and tolerant, religious belief who [ despite one’s acquisition of his beliefs  by the random accident of birth,] see themselves on a militaristic mission to evangelize others to ascribe to their (“the “true”) faith. Many will see the  purportedly “divinely inspired” bible as their field manual and lifetime guide  even though it was written by men who believed that the sun orbited the earth, condones slavery, capital punishment, the subjection of women and xenophobia. The Scopes trial and the shameful U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dredd Scott case, are but two, of a great many atavistic and shameful travesties that had their origin and justification in the “Good Book.” It may be noted that disparate religions also have their respective, revered “holy book”.

Contemporaneous with this writing, we are the recipients of news reports regarding the candidacy of an individual for the United States Senate,[ a child molester and sexual abuser] who was removed from the judicial bench in Alabama on two occasions for his contemptuous disobedience of Orders, issued by the Federal Court, to remove his prominently installed display of the Ten Commandments at a public courthouse. Sadly, he is the popular favorite to win. It is both fascinating and extremely frustrating to observe that many of his conservative supporters,  ignorantly purport to be advocates  of the theory of “original intention” of the founders.

We, albeit in the modern era, are experiencing the tragedy of many so-called educated and enlightened followers of religious tractates and teaching, who persist in castigating Darwin and deny evolution, believe that the planet and all its fauna and flora (including homo sapiens) was created in one week, that the Earth is only two thousand years old, and who deprecate priceless enlightenment ,obtained as the successful result of scientific research, including man’s role in climate change. It seems that among our popularly exercised freedoms, the right to remain ignorant, is a well exercised franchise, and one which is both harmful to the advancement of society, as well as manifestly unfair to its informed citizens.

The time may arrive when observation and empirical experience will be the exclusive rational source of knowledge and wisdom for man, as opposed to irrational predilection, as wisely envisioned by our rational founders. Until then, we can only remain hopeful and eternally grateful to those eminent founding fathers, for showing us the way.




We were re-reading our #206 and became disconsolate. As expressed, the universal teaching of “we” and “they,” taught to the young [ undoubtedly, to furnish them with an individual identity and a sense of belonging] effectively  plants seeds of discord, predictably festering and morphing into prejudice, warfare, and human tragedy. Unexpectedly, at such time a sudden recollection of a joyous and memorable event occurring several years ago, flashed into our mind and not only rewarded us with renewed hope, but fortuitously provided an antidotal preventative, as well as a cure, for such pathology of hatred and fear of the “other” (religion, race, ethnicity, belief system). First, the remembrance.

A good friend had invited us to the wedding ceremony and reception of his son. As it happens, the father of the groom was part Native American, the mother, Jewish. The bride’s family were Hindu-Americans, descendants of immigrants from the Indian Continent.  The occasion was attended by a large, diverse and multi-ethnic mix of celebrants, all of whom visibly enjoyed the happy event. The timely occurrence of this memory effected a positive change in our mood, and as stated, articulated an instructive primer on the evident cure for the dangerous and tragic pathology of “we” and “they.”

The ceremonials, presided over by a distinguished Guru, incorporated cultural wedding traditions derived from the traditions of the Cherokee (groom offers firewood to bride, couple are draped in blankets pinned together, the Jewish (smashing of wineglass) and the Indian (bride’s mother gifting bride to groom). Prayers and blessings were multi-cultural as, most enjoyably, was the food. Our sole complaint was the choice of  American rock music (we had expected some sitar music and Native American chant).

Admittedly, the event was somewhat extraordinary, in that it was multi-ethnic, featuring beautiful silk saris, multi-lingual toasts and blessing and some culturally traditional dancing [ but mostly American rock and roll]. The celebratory interaction was spontaneously and universally warm and affectionate, making the happening a great and memorable success. We appreciated, above all, the discovery and dynamics of an enjoyable, and effective antidote to the eternal toxic theory of “we” and “they.”

During the rearing and nurturance of our children, it certainly would be a salubrious and beneficial policy, to refrain from, solely and exclusively, teaching lessons in our own folkways, and to wisely include some enlightenment on the analogous ways of other peoples, emphasizing the commonality of mankind. For example, we can explain the functionality of chopsticks to knives and forks, the daily drinking of tea to the regular cup of coffee, the similarity of idealistic goals of all religions, the observation that traditional folkways of other cultures are historically meaningful, just as ours are. The theme is commonality, “us,” not the ultimately poisonous lesson of insularity, “them.”

For older members of society, already tainted by thoughtless and improvident childhood lessons [ it being too late for an antidotal dose of such wholesome messaging], we would respectively prescribe an effective cure, consisting of the following salubrious activities:

  1. Socialize with others of alternate ethnos and belief systems;invite friends of different nationality to your home,
  2. Listen on occasion to the music of other cultures,
  3. Exchange folktales, recipes, experiences with others,
  4. Learn about other cultures, their history and traditions,
  5. Attend museum displays of international exhibits and art, and,
  6. ** Very important—Do not passively tolerate ethnic jokes or slurs.

We can, ultimately, attain world peace by a universal awareness of the essential commonality and worth of all human inhabitants of our planet, and, especially, by teaching such principle to our young.