Post # 242     FINAL SCORE: NATURE 4, NURTURE 0 (a true narrative)

Wisdom may be obtained in various ways; the easiest and most accessible of which is by reading fine literature or authoritative works on any elective subject in the humanities or science. On rare occasions, it can be anecdotally acquired by an unusual life experience, delivering a memorable message. But, this is a narrative, and we should not hesitate, any further, to begin the story.

For upwards of two decades, we have been the titleholders of modest country property, abutting a pretty pond, in Kent Connecticut. We commute to it from our apartment in New York City, weather permitting, provided we have no conflicting engagements. We are avid gardeners, and in addition to raising flowers, have a special interest in raising flowering shrubs and small trees.

On one October, we celebrated a significant birthday, and received a gift of two very young pear trees. The problem was that the young trees were “bare rooted” (as opposed to being wrapped in soil) and planting season was at least six months away. Not knowing what to do, we telephoned the local agricultural extension for help. We received the prediction that the young trees probably would not survive. We pressed further and were told that it would be a “long shot” but, if the trees were kept extremely cold for the next several months (6), that there was some “slight” chance of survival. We have two bathrooms in our N.Y. apartment, and dedicated one to this chancy six months project, by keeping the window to one bathroom open (and the door closed) all winter, to keep the trees cold. In April, we brought the little bare branch pear trees to Connecticut, gently scraped the roots, and, after adding a small quantity of growth hormone to the soil, planted them, and awaited results.

Mother Nature was especially merciful; not only did the nascent pear trees live, but they survived the next few seasons, grew substantially high and produced normal, healthy leaves. Although they developed and grew tall, they did not, for some reason, produce any buds for reproductive flowering. The trees were similar, but different varietals, which, we were advised, was the necessary combination to interact sexually. After nine years of disappointing chastity, we bought and planted one other varietal and thereafter, a second varietal of these pear trees; still no buds.   One year later, we had a truly unique experience. Despite the complete absence of any flowers, a single pear had miraculously appeared, on one of the two original trees. We could not fathom how a fruit could be produced without a flower-fertilized (sexual) connection, and humorously called the event an “immaculate conception”. We cut the singular pear into several pieces to share the miracle with the family.

The following year we were surprised and overjoyed to observe that (after eleven disappointing years) the trees, in season, produced their traditional white flowers, and later, a modest crop of fruit. The harvested pears, after one week, softened and were delicious treats for the family; there were only about thirty harvested, but we were exultant.  We assumed that, when we return this year (2018), there would expectantly, be plenty of beautiful, delicious, green pears; enough to make presents to family and friends. Did we mention that the property abuts a beautiful pond? Perhaps so; but we did not mention that the pond is inhabited by a large industrious beaver. When we returned to our country house in Spring, having been absent for a few very cold months, we made a sad and frustrating discovery. There would be no plentiful crop of pears this year, or any year; the beaver chewed down and removed all the pear trees. We suppose that they were just the right size for that big tooth rodent to fell, and then to drag down to the water for his lodge, or some other large underwater infrastructure project.

Let us set aside our grief for the moment and return to the theme expressed at the outset of this sad, but enlightening narrative, viz., that sometimes wisdom may be acquired from an unusual experience. We did learn a valuable lesson from this event; and it certainly, was not, the trite maxim “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” [ we, to the contrary, heartily approve of hopeful optimism, especially under such facts as this narrative]. The enlightened lesson is that, all of us who fancy ourselves, “owners” of property [ by reason of the filing, in some County Clerk’s or Register’s office, documents called Real Estate Deeds, with our names on it, prepared and notarized, bearing official seals, in accordance with the written law of homo sapiens] are in error. Our exclusive ownership is indeed, recognized and legally respected by other homo sapiens; but not by the beaver, deer, squirrels, foxes, otters and other creatures in nature. Our documents are unknown, irrelevant, and of no interest, whatsoever, to the critters, who are the authentic owners and original inhabitants of the property. Mr. Beaver does not owe his rights of residency of the pond, to the performance of an officially choreographed legal transaction, nor to official legislative fiat. He, and his fellow forest denizens, are, always were, and will continue to be, the rightful owners and possessors of the land, by the incontrovertible law of recognized inheritance. In accordance with the universal and eternal Planetary Law, we are mere squatters.



In an admittedly, intentional and deliberate reversal of logical procedure, we opt make the radical choice of stating our conclusion at the outset, and thereafter, setting forth the recital of our argument. We do this in the felt expectation that our unusual theme will be clear.

Conclusion: The use of the labels, “liberal” and “conservative” in the political lexicon, should be retired, permanently.

For as long as we have been aware, the more educated and informed citizen has frowned upon, often with contempt, the low information, unsophisticated (“flat earth”) person, who he has criticized for reductive thinking and baseless decision making (perhaps with some justification). Judgments and decisions are made by such people based on scant knowledge of the issue in question, and an insufficient apprehension of the effect of their vote. Often, as in the last election, they vote against their own vital interest (government assistance). Such inclination towards reductive (impulsive, non-factual) thinking, seems to permeate and direct the course of their lives, and their choices.

There appears to be a number of well educated and literate members of society who have  (admirably) expressed a desire to bring further education and enlightenment to such people, enabling them to enjoy a fuller life and, perhaps better equipping them to make more empirically rational judgments. We would share in such salutary goal, however, with the express caveat, that reductive thinking is not confined (solely) to the inadequately educated citizen. While we applaud the charitable sentiment, we are, also tempted to employ the old metaphoric admonition,” Physician heal thyself.

People are generally aware of the political etymology of the words, “Liberal” and “Conservative.” In the era of Adam Smith, (as we have observed in past writings) the mainstream “Liberal” was a staunch advocate of complete freedom from government participation in commerce (“laissez faire”). The supposedly self-sufficient entrepreneur himself, as well as all business and financial affairs, were properly, he felt, left to the free market, to be regulated by the natural law. The “Conservative,” reflective of his loyalty to the Crown, believed that the State (the King and the Parliament) should have supervisory authority over matters of business and finance.

Thereafter, the parties switched team uniforms; the Liberal now believed that the government has the right to referee business, and, as well, the obligation to protect the common man from onerous working conditions, and from hunger and privation. The Conservative, conversely, now fully subscribed to the historic, liberal philosophy of laissez faire independence.

As can easily be deduced, the subject designations were not imprinted on the two proverbial stone tablets delivered to Moses, but easily morphed with the changing times. It is our position that, in the present era, the two words, when used as political adjectives are at best, outmoded, and at worst, misleading and useless. The use of these tiresome designations, in fact, is every bit as reductionist, as the trait of that description, for which the low-information population has eternally been castigated.

Any rational citizen may find himself for, or against, any of the designated “liberal” causes, such as, gun control, women’s right to choose, affirmative action, guaranteed minimum wage, regulations to protect life and health, or climate control legislation; or, for or against, any of the traditional conservative preferences, such as, free trade, diminished regulations, strict immigration policy, or  increasing the federal stockpile of weapons.   It would be an unrealistic, and insincere, for a person who would self-identify as a liberal or as a conservative, solely out of some sense of tribal loyalty, to favor every one of the diverse causes in a party’s platform. The many disparate issues ought to be functionally addressed in the same manner as a metaphoric dinner “menu,” and the individual, like a dinner-patron, free to select his own nuanced preferences. Making a stereotypic choice based upon one’s avowed, or perceived, identification as a “liberal “ or “conservative”, would  be as reductionist, as any other non-thinking citizen, whether he be deemed part of the well- informed, or lesser informed population. These two misleading words should not be permitted to affect individual choices and judgments; and, since they have the likelihood of affecting the spontaneous exercise of freedom of opinion, they should be relegated to that famously full, dustbin of history. In voting the citizen would consult his perception of the nation’s and his own priorities, and make a considered choice; a more rational and democratic practice, than a reductive selection upon traditional tribal loyalties.

Such two words, obviously,  have utility, in the non-political context, such as: “Jules was liberal with the apple pie, but Judy, unfortunately, was too conservative with the ice cream,” “She made liberal use of metaphoric references” or: “He wore a conservative suit, but a psychedelic tie.”

The reader is now enabled, as desired, to return the beginning of this note, for the stated “Conclusion.”



Post # 240      HIGH VOLTAGE SEEDS (A tribute to “Earth Day,” 2018)

After a reasonable period of deliberation, we have reached the confidant decision, that the printed evidence appearing on the yearly calendar, outweighs in probative value, the recent testimony of media weather forecasters, and that therefore, it is now adjudged to be Spring. At such time of year, our thoughts naturally gravitate to gardening and verdant subjects. These perennially include the amazing phenomenon of what appear to be, drab and inconspicuous tiny seeds, and their innate potential for truly magical performance. These small, unassuming power houses, when  natural conditions are favorable, (temperature, moisture, oxygen and darkness) are switched to “on” and prodded into action.

Much life on Earth, whether fauna and flora, owe its germination and existence to one kind of seed or another, activated by some mysterious force (which we choose to call the “spark”) and develops to its destined maturity. We are absolutely in awe, truly mystified and immensely respectful, of this eternal dynamic. But what is the origin and nature of this mysterious and essential spark that precipitates earthly life, governs and abides its existence, and at some point, sputters out, causing life to end? Devotees of Deistic religions have opted for an easy way out. A Deity of some denomination or another, omniscient and omnipresent, is their recognized origin, curator and source of life, as well as the referee as to longevity. There are, comfortably, for such believers, no such unanswered, agonizing questions to ponder, as there is for the agnostic.

For some perspective on the longevity of such Deist belief, we would refer to the many ancient religions in Europe, and elsewhere, who worshipped the Sun God. At certain times of the year, it was universally believed that the Deity was sick and dying; the presenting symptoms being, declining vegetation and trees, cold wind and snow, and the scarcity of animals. The sole exception were the wondrous evergreen trees, which magically continued to flourish. Societal rituals, involving evergreen trees, were religiously and faithfully enacted, and consistently resulted in the gradual, healthful recovery of the Deity; as evidenced by the appearance of new green plants, leafy trees, the thawing of frozen streams and the re-emergence of bunny rabbits and other woodland animals. It has been theorized by academics, that such early religious belief and rituals provided the foundation for those later faiths which chose to incorporate the “miracle” of “death and resurrection” in their belief and liturgy.

Comfort and satisfaction is derived from traditional religious explanations for the existential dilemmas and profound questions which eternally befuddle the agnostic. Yet, the latter, it seems, systemically, cannot ascribe to non- empirical explanations for earthly phenomena, such as the performance of seed, the laws of gravity and electricity, and, indeed, the earth’s origins. They would, defensively, stress that the word, “faith,” in the expression, “religious faith,” is distinguishable from the word, “knowledge,” in that the word “faith,” affords the permissible choice, to be a “believer” or not. Thus, believers have an obligation to not consider agnostics,” lost souls” or outcasts, and agnostics have a like obligation not to consider religionists, superstitious or schizophrenic.

We would surmise that it is doubtful that the underlying genesis of that “spark,” that impels a little seed to beautiful mature growth, will be empirically discovered; nevertheless, its scientific pursuit is most appropriate, as part of man’s natural and continuing aspiration to discover knowledge, and understanding. In any event, people of disparate opinion and belief, should respect mankind’s mutual limitations, and on principle, religious, or secular, entertain respect for each other, and practice reverential care for the Planet, its natural environment, and for all living things.







In the 21st Century, mankind continues to have sufficient reasons for disappointment and concern. There is yet no establishment of lasting world peace. World poverty and hunger have still to be adequately addressed. Economic injustice seems to prevail everywhere, with small percentages of national populations owning virtually all the wealth, while the far more numerous others are suffering various conditions of want. The planet and its immediate atmosphere is in the process of despoliation, despite which, many ignorant people, and selfish profiteers, are adamantly denying climate change (in the face of uniform warnings of the world’s most accredited scientists). Most rational priorities have been turned profoundly askew, with the denigration of scientific and social research, as well as intellectual pursuits.

If one were systemically optimistic, he might entertain the hope that in the future, mankind, at some point, will become more  informed and motivated, and such problems then capable of solution; what is necessary, he knows, is merely a popular realization that the path to their amelioration is in the direction of addressing such problems by rational awareness and enlightenment.

Sadly, no such optimistic outlook is possible for Sr. Antonio Vivaldi, the brilliant 18th Century composer.  His most famous work, four short (combined) violin concertos each dedicated, respectively, to one of the natural seasons, is known as “The Four Seasons.” In Antonio’s day, and until recently, there were, inarguably, four distinct seasons, to which Vivaldi gave mellifluous, and specific recognition, in that inventive and exciting  Baroque composition.

Summers had been reliably hot and humid, for which we wore, appropriately, light clothes, Fall, cooler and drier, necessitating warmer dress, cold and snowy Winters required heavy clothes and boots, and Spring, called for lighter, more comfortable wear. The dates indicated on our yearly calendars, informed us of the (approximate) times when the distinct seasons were to arrive and expire.

In recent years, we have experienced unprecedented alteration in the seasonal weather patterns, manifesting no regularity, and little advance predictability.  This spring, as an illustrative example, had its dramatic inception with ice and snow, followed by strong cold winds and heavy rain. Past months  have demonstrated unpredictable weather events, often at variance with our  empirical expectations for the respective season. Accordingly, there is now the practical necessity to dress as dictated by the needs of the particular day, as opposed  doing so seasonally; there are, now, functionally no “winter jackets” or “fall” or “spring jackets”; there are only “heavy” And “light jackets.” . Our choice of activities, as well, may depend upon the day’s weather, rather than those in which we were traditionally engaged relative to the season.

We may be inconvenienced with the inconvenient clothing adjustments, but we are especially troubled lest these irregular meteorological shifts, portent future catastrophic planetary events. We are not versed in the discipline of meteorology nor climate studies, but  intuit that this phenomenon may be related to the climate changes referred to by our leading scientists. Their published findings warn of the dangerous  impact of man’s harmful production of hydrocarbons and other hazardous chemicals, polluting the earth’s atmosphere. We would like to  issue a serious public challenge to all “climate deniers,” to furnish a more cogent reason for these unprecedented and unusual meteorological  events.

While many Americans may opt to stay calm and await further developments, we can envision the unfortunate Antonio  Vivaldi, sitting quite alone, in his heavenly music room, severely dejected, concerning these recent events, most particularly concerning the possibility of downsizing  (or heaven forbid) the determined obsolescence, of his beautiful, four-part symphony.




Post #238   TRUTH OR (dire) CONSEQUENCES or “THE MASK”

The degree of accuracy contained in the apocryphal tale of America’s first President, George Washington, which provides that, as a youth, he spontaneously and honestly confessed to his father that he (wrongfully) chopped down the cherry tree, or the conduct of an inquiry into the historic basis for President Abraham Lincoln’s nickname, “Honest Abe,” is relatively inconsequential. What does matter is the symbolic message communicated by such folklore, viz., that the good character and natural  inclination of Americans, is to reliably tell the truth (today, we might say, it is in our DNA). These two virtuous Presidents were elected by a voting population which did not deem it necessary to suspect any variation from the implicit traits of honesty and truthfulness, they experienced in interaction with each other, and expected of their governmental representatives.

The natural assumption of truthfulness, in fact, comprises the cornerstone of any successfully stable, interdependent, and interactive society. Historically, survival and existence were dependent upon truthful and reliable reports, often concerning matters which bore on life and death. As societies matured into more complex political-social entities (city states, and much later, national entities), presumed accuracy and truthfulness, remained a cornerstone support, facilitating mutual protection, social interaction, and ultimately, the growth and maturity of such societies through the communication of reliable information and instructed skills.

Since veracity, was always implicit, any questioning of the same was perceived as blatant insult. Like the traditional trust that necessarily exists between family members, especially spouses, its questioning was unnecessary and rare; and usually portended serious problems. It has been observed, empirically, that once the elements of trust and veracity, are breached, they can never be fully restored.

Thus, truthfulness and sincerity, existing as natural and implicit assumptions, an individual, who had been shown to have uttered a falsehood, became a social pariah, a resident outcast from society and, in effect, a stranger. The intentional act of lying, encompasses the secret withholding of the truth, from others, by the perpetrator, who may see himself as superior, by virtue of his exclusive knowledge of the truthful facts. Yet, by this lone and selfish act, he has effectively separated himself from those he knowingly misled; in pictorial terms, he has donned the invisible mask of deception, and has effectively, become a stranger, living behind that mask. This would be unendurable for a properly socialized member of society, who might well, remorsefully, confess his lie. Not so with the selfish, or sociopathic liar who may see his engineered deception as a personal accomplishment. It may be surmised that the latter never was, in essence, a dedicated and fully committed, member of society and had always worn a mask.

In sum, the element of truth was universal, and ultimate faith in its existence, made any explanation of such assumption, superfluous. Truth was never a subject for discussion but was the natural expectation; in rare cases of offense, the miscreant was adjudged a societal pariah, an outcast from that society.

From its inception, the surprising elevation of Donald Trump, an incapable, ignorant, egoist, to the office of President, began to evince harmful, bizarre and embarrassing activity. In his first days of office, Trump commenced an unprecedented series of adolescent style, informal, telephone calls to foreign heads of state, despite his complete ignorance of official protocol, or any knowledge [ by this transmographied former game show host] of the political state of affairs between the respective country telephoned, and the U.S.  Further  damage to the Office of the President and the country, has included appointment of self-serving, inept, cabinet members and departmental Secretaries; causing national and international embarrassment and disrespect by his acts and statements; publicly expressing his derogation of science, especially climate science; articulating voiced disrespect for the women’s movement;  commission of publicly advertised acts of sexual abuse; making bigoted statements on the subject of civil rights; manifesting consistent opposition to sensible gun laws, in support of the NRA; showing express disrespect for learning and intellectual pursuits; engaging in an inappropriate and cruel nativist immigration policy, and so very much more, as we have enumerated in prior writings. Notwithstanding the extensive list of these shameful misdeeds causing great damage to the nation and to the Office of the Presidency, due to his incompetent and impulsive rule, we see, yet, a far more devastating and enduring wound to the very heart of the nation; and that is his attack on, and disparagement of, that precious, systemic and irreplaceable commodity, truth.

We assume that the substantial social and political injury caused to our nation, domestically and internationally, by Trump’s sheer ineptitude and ignorance, in time, will be repairable by succeeding competent leaders. But, we fear, that spiritual damage to the basic systemic identity of our nation is so profoundly insidious, that full restoration and healing may not, be completely attainable. We again refer to the essential message of the “Honest Abe” and George Washington societal myths, which still have significant resonance, and are in stark contrast to Trump’s total disregard for, and frontal attack, upon truthfulness. Not unlike traditional and practical faith in marital fidelity, the subject of implicit citizen truthfulness had always been the normal assumption, and had never, until now, been a subject of discussion, but was always the natural, automatic assumption. Such an effectively damaging outcome could never have been accomplished by any well- financed propaganda campaign of a foreign enemy.

The conduct of the Trump presidency, from its outset, has shown little regard for veracity. His profound ignorance and complete lack of capacity for the position of America’s chief executive, complicated by an adolescent ego, seems to serve as an impassible roadblock, preventing Trump from accepting any guidance regarding his impulsive and perpetual mistakes. Accordingly, mendacity, inconsistency and subterfuge, continue to be his defensive strategies and main survival tactic. On a great many  occasions, he has, wearing the referenced mask, comfortably contradicted statements he made the very same day. Trump’s constant output of mendacity and sham, is loyally ratified, when needed, and called upon, by his chosen sycophants. It is the (legitimate) media such as the N.Y. Times and The Washington Post as well as the (long standing, dependable) news services, he persists in claiming, that are disseminating “fake news,” (a signature Trump defensive term) critical of his Presidency.

We are gravely concerned that the policy of glib, apparently super -confident, but false, statements of fact, on the part of, (no less) a President of the United States, may, conceivably, result in some degree of erosion of the previous American emblematic reverence for truth. We fear that in some subtle and gradual fashion, regular exposure to the President’s convenient, defensive tactics of mendacity, may acquire some measure of normalcy, the smallest degree of which, would surely constitute major, devastating injury to the traditionally understood American moral character.

Society cannot advance, nor can its citizenry strive for enhancement, unless the conduct of our lives is reliably unmasked, and proceeds in a milieu of mutual trust.


Post# 237           A NATIONAL PATHOLOGY

There have been various ways in which the current U.S. Administration has been artfully described. We would prefer comparing the shocking and unhealthy ascendency of Donald Trump et al. to America’s Oval Office, with an apt medical metaphor.

The Trump disease, like other virulent infections, once insinuated into the body politic, lost little time in effectively spreading its toxin. It appears that our body politic had no relevant antibodies nor immunity whatsoever, to address this unprecedented attack, accordingly, dire symptoms immediately began to noticeably manifest themselves and spread at an exponential rate.

The etiology of this dread disease, appears (to us) to have had its clinical onset by virtue of the following causative factors: 1. A general lack  of enthusiasm for the opposing candidate, 2. The organization and mobilization of the discontented, low-information, flat earth segment of our (generally non- voting) population, by tactical, demagogical and false promises  of a better life and a cleaner government ,and  3. The ample financing of the Trump campaign by billionaire entrepreneurs who, immorally, care far more for profits than they do for government regulations protecting the public.

Once the noxious biotic gained admittance into the national physiology, grave and immensely troubling symptoms began to present themselves, aggressively establishing a firm foothold and metastasizing at an exponential rate. These symptoms include: an alarming state of confusion regarding policy and government action, atrophied governing structure, including the appointment of a perverse cabinet and secretaries of governmental departments, the latter, generally ignorant as to the subject matter of their department, and in some cases, in manifest opposition to it, confused and unpredictable national and international policies (including trade), rejection of the findings of America’s top scientists concerning dangerous global warming, opposition to reasonable gun control laws and support of the NRA, disparagement of the nation’s trusted media (while engaging in a consistent policy of presidential mendacity), prejudicial treatment of women and woman’s  rights,(while engaging in personal acts of sexual abuse), damage to the  civil rights  movement by inappropriate statements and action, disparagement of all learning and academic endeavors generally, inhumane policies respecting immigration (in this nation of 100% immigrants and their progeny), lack of ethics, particularly those involving conflicts of interest, treasonous interaction with enemy countries, and  an embarrassing (world-wide) display of adolescent behavior in combination with a demonstrated show of shameful indiscretion and colossal ignorance.

This alarming and disabling disease, unless arrested and cured, has the potential for an Armageddon size impact upon our republican democracy, and warrants the immediate attention and vital concern, as would be appropriate to a sudden onset of a deadly plague.

However, we are pleased and greatly relieved to observe, lately that there are grounds for significant hope. Non-political agencies and investigative committees of our legislature are, at present, conducting proceedings which seek to fully uncover the dynamics of the inception of the disease, and appropriately deal with the responsible agents. Additionally, we have witnessed the women’s protest movement, as well as the huge public demonstrations of our young people, protesting the administration’s gun policy. It is hoped that these, and other spontaneous expressions of public opposition, will have the natural curative impact of white blood cells in eliminating this infection. The public seems at last, to be fully awakened to the dire need for political cure; we sincerely hope that it will be fully successful and will result in the production of such antibodies as will afford to our nation, a complete and permanent immunity to this catastrophic and dangerous illness.




In the eponymous children’s tale, Pinocchio, the puppet protagonist,  magically transformed into a” real-life boy,” joyfully returns to his father and (woodcarver) creator, Geppetto, but only after learning a painful lesson in naïve trust. The obvious lesson for all of us is to avoid blindly trusting in the representations of strangers who may not entertain our best interests.

Senior citizens, particularly the elderly, many of whom are physically confined to extensive sedentary periods, (during which television viewing is a frequent practice) are the most vulnerable to the Pinocchio-like lure of many shameful and tactically aimed television advertisements. The obvious and natural concerns of this segment of the public, health, finances and comfort, are tactically exploited by irresponsible, and avaricious advertisers, feigning concern and promising needed solutions.  We have selected two, as illustration, which we consider the most shameful and Pinocchio-like, targeted shamefully at the Senior Citizen.

  • Purchases of Life Insurance Policies by Insurer:

This is a particularly reprehensible scenario which, unless one is desperately strapped for cash, should be avoided. The actuarial profession is specialized in the determination of the dollar amount of premium  to be charged to the insured, relative to the respective policy desired, based essentially upon his age. Naturally, the younger the policy holder, the longer is his future life expectation, and the larger the amount of premiums he will have paid prior to his decease, when the policy proceeds  are to be paid.; viz., the older the insured, the greater the premium.

Television advertisements featuring happy senior citizens, joyfully celebrating the receipt of proceeds received from the sale of their life insurance policies (back) to the Insurance company is, without doubt, a true Pinocchio scam. Older people are, as a matter of practicality and actuarial arithmetic, closer to the insured event, their demise, and the consequent pay-out of the face amount of the policy, to their designated beneficiary.  A sale back to the insurer of the policy, at such time, releases the insurer from  contracted obligation of payment of the proceeds of the insurance policy [for which you paid actuarially calculated premiums]. It releases the insurer but deprives your beneficiary of the paid for and intended benefit such insurance.  It is an unfair windfall to the insurer and a Pinocchian way to obtain needed financing.

  • Reverse Mortgages. As every homeowner knows, the greater the total amount of mortgage payments made on the purchase money mortgage, the larger the amount of the equity owned in the home. People who reside in their home as their primary residence, and have attained the age of 62 (or older) may enter into a transaction by which they encumber their equity in the realty, for a loan against that accumulated equity, known as a “reverse mortgage,” while still, for whatever it is worth, remaining the “record title owners” until decease, or removal, when the “loan” becomes payable.

The Pinocchio style television pitch for this potentially questionable product has been made by a heavily mustached, older looking, tweedy and reverential, Tom Selleck, or by the established Delphic oracle of the senior citizen set, Alex Trebek. The purported benefit of this transaction is emphatically emphasized (getting needed money) but none of the vital details involved in these transactions are ever mentioned, in this indiscriminate, Pinocchian pitch. We, out of a sense of felt responsibility, have listed below, the major considerations and questions, pertaining in this type of transaction:

  • Is there a charge or finder’s or origination fee, which may be submerged into payments under other designations in the transaction?
  • What is the amount of the loan ( fair valuation of the equity).
  • What is the interest rate? How is it calculated (or compounded) to the date of repayment (decease, removal or  sale).
  • Are there family members residing in the realty, besides the named borrower?
  • Is the borrower aware that taxes and insurance premiums remain his obligation?
  • Is the borrower aware that all maintenance, upkeep and repairs are his obligation?
  • Is the borrower aware that a breach of any obligation can result in foreclosure?

No one should enter into such a transaction without the advice of a family attorney or s other  qualified person, with, solely, the homeowner’s interest in mind.

There are several other instances of advertisers’ shameful elongations of the Pinocchian wooden nose, that we have been included in earlier writings. The potentially harmful practice of irresponsibly hawking medications to the public, knowing nothing of a potential purchaser’s medical history, or condition. [ One should (solely) rely upon his physician and not on potentially harmful advertisements.] Personal injury attorneys who advertise that no fee is payable, unless they get the client money [ as their shameful and unprofessional sales pitch] are not offering any special offer; the law specifically mandates that, in personal injury cases, no fee is payable unless there is a recovery.  Lastly, the assertion by any bankruptcy lawyer that bankruptcy “is a new beginning,” without revealing any future impact on the bankrupt’s future credit possibilities, is not revealing the entire picture.

We earnestly suggest that, to avoid being a modern- day Pinocchio, professional assistance should be selected only after reasonable inquiry, the advice of experienced friends, but, most assuredly, not from television commercials.


Post # 235  VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY (redux)

The word “happiness” is a beautiful word in contemplation, but in practical terms, is impossible to rationally define or accurately describe. It is a useful term in philosophical or ethical parlance, yet, otherwise, the word and its conception, may be elusive and even potentially misleading. In too many instances, it has served as a fatal trap, or preoccupation, like the alchemist’s vain search for gold from base metals, or Ponce De Leon’s search for the fountain of youth; all inevitably, leading to frustration and defeat, and materially delaying any reasonable search for desirable attainment.

It has been the consistent mantra of this blog, that the pursuit of the nonspecific goal of “happiness” by external means, such as seeking it in alternative venues, or in new relationships, will only defeat, or at least, delay existing potential for joy and self-realization. Self-realization and satisfaction are essentially, internal phenomena, developed within the psyche of the individual over time, by the personal achievement of meaningful goals, leading to a sense of valued self- identity, and an enhanced self. We have all learned, through the media, that the attainment of “celebrity” status (widespread public recognition), or by the accumulation of expensive assets, such as Rolex watches, yachts, jewelry, and other externals, do not seem to do the trick. This is unhappily evidenced by the number of suicides and drug dependencies, reportedly attributable to many of our show business idols .Additionally, the drive for external success has proven to be disorienting and disappointing, once actually attained.

If one were (merely) to employ useful, alternate vocabulary, in lieu of the dreamy and ethereal designation, “happiness,” he will have taken an important first step toward the attainment of his aspirations for satisfaction and peace. We have consistently suggested the words, self-realization and personal enhancement, as appropriate and achievable designations for such ultimate life goals.

The acquisition of sought- after success and true joy in life, are manifested in satisfactory self-realization, personal enhancement, and at least a modicum of accumulated wisdom. The sense of self-realization is perhaps the sweetest success. It consists in a confident overall feeling that one has led a useful and productive life, perhaps in the pursuit of essential knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The pursuit of skills, capabilities, knowledge and, indeed, the appreciation of great literature and the humanities have been among the well-recognized routes to such attainment.

With apologies for an obvious reiteration, (since the principle is so vitally important) we maintain that the search for happiness in the external world is predictably unrewarding and, no doubt, greatly discouraging, since personal Identity and felt purpose are internal (psychological) phenomena.  The discovery of a worthwhile cause, a self-engrossing interest, literary, cultural, scientific, mechanical or natural, among others, can provide a beginning step towards satisfaction and self- fulfillment.

The impetus for such an engrossing life interest, or calling, may be discovered while ruminating in one’s favorite easy chair, sitting quietly in the library, during attendance at a lecture, in a visit to a museum or from the occurrence of an unusual personal experience. Its discovery can provide an ultimately rewarding addition to one’s life. The opportunity to explore and delve in depth into a subject, perhaps only barely apprehended previously, may be a fortuitous resource for the embracing of new dimensions in one’s life, and can provide that missing ingredient for self-fulfillment and ultimate joy. Those who travel the world in search of themselves, may, fortuitously, ultimately discover their long sought inner identity while at home.