To be perfectly frank, we prefer to publish on subjects, concerning man’s persona and advancement, his pursuit of wisdom and mature prospective, on morality especially, in these equivocal times, on the impact of scientific development on human society, on lifestyles, traditional and contemporary, and current events, which may be revelatory of positive human aspiration, and as well, his dark side.

However, we have received some requests, from some our followers, for additional posting on the subject of our earlier years, in ethnic (Eastern European) Brooklyn. This is in essence, truly ancient history. To date, in our more than 400 mini-essays, we have published only three on that truly venerable subject: “ A LONG TIME AGO, IN BROOKLYN,” # 399, concerning immigrant life, during World War II, “PIGMENTED SPEECH, # 394, an observation that the American-English lexicon(compared to Yiddish) contains a dearth of “feeling words,” requiring that colors be used as a substitute, and “LOSING OUR MARBLES,” on the role of marbles, as an essential ingredient, in the interactive life of very young Brooklyn boys.

In an attempt to please our followers, we will, for the moment, return to the overcrowded, hot tenement life, the street food venders (ex, “Mom’s Kosher Knishes), the sellers of hot baked potatoes, and the venders of hot “arbis (cooked chickpeas, or garbanzos). In this time capsule, we also return to the remaining horse-drawn wagons, fruit and vegetables, (invariably Italian), used clothes for sale or purchase (predictably Jewish) and knife and scissor sharpening. Additionally, to the ancient wagons that delivered large blocks of ice, for the pre-refrigerator, ice boxes; the “ice man” would perform the Herculean task, of seizing each large ice block between his pincers, and deposit it on a worn out towel on his shoulder, and climb the tenement stairs to reach each of his customers, with that prodigious, cold weight, and install the ice blocks, in identical manner, in each customer’s ice box, in the building; there were a great number of multiple level apartment houses, in the neighborhood. His horse would wait, peacefully, at each building. Horses also waited, peacefully for the deliveries of milk, seltzer or other products delivered in the buildings. Heavy trucks, with chutes, would empty coal into barrels, held still by coal deliverers, and then rolled over to an open window to the basement of apartment houses (tenements) and emptied down the chute, placed strategically for the receipt of the coal, from each discharged barrel, until every building’s order was delivered. The janitor of each building, then would laboriously, shovel the coal to a designated area.

Most of the produce shopping, however, was done at avenues, or streets, populated by pushcarts. Purchases of other foods, as desired, were generally located at, or near that street. The atmosphere was deliciously redolent of pickles and “schmaltz”, (fat) pickled herrings, each, sold from separate large wooden barrels, by sellers, who, consistently, bore the aroma applicable to their respective inventories. The retail food stores, even during the war, were reasonably well stocked with cheeses, appetizing fishes, fresh bread, and ground coffees.

These were basic, but delicious foods. We had a working agreement with a young friend, who was the sibling in his large family, unluckily designated to do food shopping. We would perform the favor of accompanying him (then, “walking him”) and received as agreed consideration for such service, a large, green, sour pickle. We would walk him, on such missions, even when it rained, and discovered that the taste of sour dill pickles markedly improved with rain.

When we were old enough to graduate from marbles, we played softball, basketball and handball, in the City Park. We would play until exhaustion, relaxing against the park fence, with a cold bottle of Mission Orange Soda, in, perhaps, a somewhat less elegant replication, of high societal attendance at “apres- ski.”

We have a poignant memory, of, dutifully, skipping our customary pastimes, like ball playing, to engage in the wartime citizen program, to collect cans and other metals, needed for the war effort; on one occasion, we went to the nearby grassy lots to trap lightening bugs, as requested, for a military naval experimental program. No one, young or old, refused requests, related to America’s war effort.

There is a special anecdote, which I dare not omit from these selected, early recollections:

As we, the offspring of the heavily accented, Old World Style, immigrant parents, grew older, and experienced American Standard Speech, from teachers, from the radio media, and non-immigrant friends and their parents, our own spoken style and accent, improved and morphed to the American style and intonation. Immigrant parents, naturally, continued to interactively communicate in their familiar, nuanced vocabulary and pronunciation. By the time we reached College age, by virtue of our exposure to the American way of life, we naturally spoke in the American (non- accented) style, and employed proper American vocabulary. The people, with whom we, generally, came in contact, also spoke American Standard Speech. Essentially, the only Eastern- European accents we experienced, were that of our parents, older relatives and their friends. As time went on, should we would note any young person with any nuance of an accent, we would probably, look at them askance and critically.

One day, an elderly European- born neighbor, asked our mother for the following favor. The neighbor was planning to visit a relative in New Jersey, and asked that we look in on her caged bird, and feed him, during her absence. We, of course, agreed. The bird was a small, beautiful, shiny black mynah bird. We went to feed it, one day, completely ignorant of the fact that this species, like the parrot, has the ability, to accurately mimic sounds as well as human speech. Just as we were carefully, filling the little receptacle on the side of the cage, the bird, suddenly and loudly, emitted a rather long torrent of loving Yiddish words, in the precisely accented voice and scratchy tone (as spoken) by her elderly European-immigrant owner. We still remember the shock and surprise, but most especially at the bird’s precise replication of his owner’s elderly, Ashkenazi accent.


Post # 409       TRANSITIONS

The final week of August has perennially meant palpable melancholy, concerning the ending of Summer, the season of sunshine, warmth, watersports and outdoor activities. The traditionally effective antidote, to this annually occurring emotion, were positive thoughts of the coming Fall Season, with its comfortable coolness, color, and universal renewal of energy. This year, the concluding days of Summer Season, seem not to have occasioned any of the usual, seasonal regret. The excessive and unusual number of fires, the flooding rains, the unusual and intensive storms, the extreme climatic conditions, including unusual heat, the frightening pace of glacial melting, effecting unwanted changes to the ocean and the terrestrial flora and fauna, the declining purity of the air and drinking water, are not productive of any such nostalgic feelings. Compounding these ominous symptoms of existential climate change, are the multiple fires, currently burning in the Brazilian Rainforest, with potentially alarming results, for North America, South America and the very Planet, itself.

A contemporaneous, and not entirely, unrelated transition, to the passage of this unusual Summer, is the decease of billionaire, David Koch.  One can only shake his head, with bewilderment, in recollection of his life, and in contemplation of his dubious legacy. The deceased was a partner in an entity, whose annual profits have been in the billions of dollars, specifically derived, from its far reaching, immoral exploitation, and sale of fossil fuel; despite its recognized, dynamic role, in despoiling our green planet, its air, water, and topography, as well as eons of evolutionary developed, fauna and flora. What can any truthful discussion of his legacy be?

David Koch (and his shamefully, guilty brother), may well be the most prominent, richest, and most successful, of that cohort of entrepreneurs, whom, we have often described as, functionally, valuing excessive profits over the existence of planetary life. In order to be permitted to make and accumulate, their vast treasury of many billions of dollars, the Koch brothers saw fit to buy-off a significant number of U.S. Senators and Representatives, the Presidency, and virtually, the entire Republican Party. The Koch Brothers were only too glad to advantage themselves, of the situational existence, of the huge expense, implicit in running for, and keeping, national political office, and the convenient number of less than idealistic, ambitious politicians.

Koch millions are undeniably responsible, for the operation of the dirty, polluting, coal industry, for fracking, excessive oil drilling, water pollution, deforestation, air pollution by carbon and greenhouse gas, general climate change and lasting insult to the planet. The Koch brothers have in large part, severely desecrated the American Republican Democracy, in order to personally profit, from their intentional despoliation, and the consequent, existential endangerment, of our planet; inclusive of the pollution of the environment. Most selfishly immoral, is their demonstrated cynical and intentional, downplaying of the importance, of the life and health of humanity. With such a toxic and pathological legacy, what can, even a fabricated, eulogy memorialize? We are not principally disposed to celebrate the occurrence of death, although many liberal extremists appear exultant, at the decease of one of the villainous, Koch clan. However, we will, at minimum, candidly declare, that we will not, especially, miss him.

As a direct result of his, (together with other selfish entrepreneurs’), unlimited predilection for profitmaking, and veritable, pathological disregard for human life, as well as the health of our threatened planet, we may never again, be enabled to experience the enjoyment of past, memorable and nostalgically recalled, Summers.



Blog # 408  LIKE WATER FOR GERANIUMS (A rumination)

It was another one of those nuanced, private experiences. You put aside your book, look around the ambient room and the familiar furnishings, and begin to silently muse. The familiarity of the room seems to lose some definition, and your sporadic inclination to ruminate begins, anew.

This time, it’s the many thriving houseplants, tactically positioned for maximum window sunlight, to partner, with our provision of water, in a successful leafy photosynthesis, producing indoor, verdant beauty, that caused the temporary transition. Vaguely noticing the indoor greenery, led to the contemplation of the great outdoors, and our contrasting, indoor lives, in houses and apartments. We sit indoors, in a safe, comfortable ambience, in nicely decorated compartments, in a shelter, apart from the outdoor ambience, the trees, shrubs grasses, and especially, the sun and the breeze.

Our ruminations lead, spontaneously, to the ultimate question, whether, our indoor lives are related to mankind’s early quest for shelter and safety; whether staring mindlessly, out of the window, effectively, is analogous to looking out on the adjacent environment, from a Stone-Age dwelling, by our ancient forebears.

Do the streets and avenues have their antecedent imagery in the naturally occurring roads and pathways, through forests and meadows, do the large, modern buildings bring to mind, hills and mountains? Just how far has the mindset of mankind travelled, unconsciously, and emotionally, from his Darwinian origins? What does the modern psyche continue to retain, and what does it eternally seek? It obviously does not desire to return to earlier days; not the dangers and deprivation of the Stone Age, certainly not the brutality and ignorance of the Medieval Era. It does not long for the period of the 30 years’ religious war in Central Europe, not to the American era of Slavery, or to the brutality and carnage of the two World Wars, not to Vietnam, certainly, not to the Holocaust, nor the incident of the Twin Towers.

Has mankind seen very much that is good and admirable, from the mouth of his cave, from the foxhole, or the cockpit of a jet bomber? It is not clear, at all, whether mankind has exploited the advanced brain, generously given him by evolution, to effect meaningful improvements through the exercise of reason, or to promote brotherhood and peace. By contrast, has he become increasingly divisive, bigoted and insular? The scene, from the cave mouth, or the window, seems to be as primitive and atavistic as it was in Cave Man times, apparently, with the exponential advances in electronics, travel and instruments of warfare, (ex. the impersonal, and highly efficient, drone bomber, in lieu of the up –front, limited, war club) compounding the universally perennial issues.

It may be preferable and perhaps, wise, at this point, to close the window, water the indoor plants, and return to my book, which happens to be “War and Peace.”


Post # 407   LANDLORD AND TENANT (In Memoriam to “Cicero”)

The actual mode of acquisition of a pet cat or dog, is of no consequence; as a matter of fact, it is completely irrelevant. The sole, operative fact, is that by its admission to your household, you have thereby entered into a Landlord-Tenant relationship, with Nature (effectively, the Planet), the two-faced, landlord; all smiles and kindness at the outset of the lease, but cold and unrelenting at its termination.

The term of the lease, is non-specific, but the understood, sense of the transaction, is that it is coterminous with the estimated, life-span of the particular pet, with, absolutely, no option or provision for extension. The legally indicated, “Lease Purpose,” is specifically limited, to the non-commercial, spontaneous, exchange of love and affection, for the non-specified term of the lease, which includes, in addition to solicitous care, unlimited exchanges of affection, games, photography and unlimited anthromorphic interpretations of common feline behavior, including, meows and other sounds, as, and when, spontaneously emitted.

Routines are behaviorally negotiated, in the case of a pet cat, as to mealtimes, playtimes and snuggling, but not in the areas of sleep; since cats sleep, on and off during the entire day. Over the years of the lease, all parties, human and animal, become fully acclimated and accustomed to each other, both in presence, routine activity, and temporary absences by the human tenants. Life, happily and routinely, goes on, with all parties, both human and feline, exhibiting nuanced and lovingly expressed, behaviors and activities. Things proceed, the time passes, is ignored, and, all too soon, the lease is suddenly up. In Cicero’s case, it was advanced cancer, and, unhappily, the situation seemed to offer, no empathic alternative to euthanasia, as hope faded, and Cicero evinced a marked decline.

In a previous writing, we observed, that to love someone, or something, is to predictably and unavoidably, render oneself vulnerable to loss. Life is finite and relatively short, for humankind, and the “lease on life” for a pet, even shorter. The pain and suffering of loss, however. is unavoidable; unless one avoids all loving relationships, which would make life, unthinkable.

So we were obliged to bid a tearfully painful and loving, farewell to our little Cicero, a truly unique and memorable, feline friend.




The relevant arguments against capital punishment, have been frequently enunciated, over the years, unfortunately, with less than universal, success. To us, each one of the classic arguments is, in and of itself, valid reason to discontinue this barbaric practice. We would attempt, however, to espouse our own additional grounds for its discontinuance, following a recitation of those (valid) classic grounds. We will maintain, that the death penalty, is an anthropological, evolutionary and societal aberration, and a travesty against nature.

The  traditional arguments for its discontinuance, include the observation that it is inhumane, irreversible (if later shown to be erroneous), lacks the intended deterrence (as consistently proven by sociological and criminological statistical studies), has empirically been shown to be applied unfairly ( especially to the poor and black people), is unconstitutional (“cruel and unusual punishment”), it is an atavistic form of revenge, and  is morally objectionable, since it is (State, sponsored) homicide. It appears that its proponents, illogically, and unethically, seek to teach people not to inflict suffering on others, by inflicting suffering.

It cannot be emphasized too much, that the continued use and modern retention of the term, “capital punishment,” is revelatory of the ultimate validity, of our proposed theme; as will be expressed. The word, “capital,” referring to the head, is historically derived from the ages- old practice of beheading. It is instructive that this pictorially, grisly, use has still been, revealingly, maintained, in this 21st Century.

The death penalty was part of a medieval, Dark Age, system, which included the “breaking wheel,” “keelhauling,” “sawing,” “hanging,” drawing and quartering,” “burnt at the stake,” “slow slicing,” “skinning” “boiling alive,” and other effective methods of “restoring justice.” One, particularly aesthetic example, of the meting out of justice, was the inimitable practice called, “the bald eagle.” The latter involved, placing the convicted criminal in a prone position, severing his ribs from the spine, with a sharp implement, and then, pulling the lungs through the opened body to create a pair of “wings.” These official acts of punishment were, generally performed before an enthusiastic, viewing public. Clearly, the classic argument that the death penalty brutalizes society has merit.

In authoritarian regimes, the death penalty is commonly utilized as a means of political repression. For example, it appears that during the Stalin era, more than one million citizens were executed in the year 1937 through 1938, most of them, by a bullet in the back of the head. In the Chinese, “Cultural Revolution,” as reportedly stated by Mao Zedong, more than 800,000 people were executed by the State, in 1966 to 1976.

The General Assembly of the United Nations has, over the years, adopted resolutions providing for a global moratorium on executions, looking to an eventual abolition of the same. However, shamefully, the United States is part of the 60% that still retain the death penalty.

The ancient Bible and the Koran, provide for the death penalty, as does the practices of many ethnic cultures. It may be noted that the renowned, Hebrew philosopher, Moses Maimonides, wrote, “It is better and more satisfactory, to acquit a thousand guilty people, than to put one innocent to death.” This concern endures to this date, and is expressed along with the other classic, oppositional arguments, cited above, seeking repeal.

Before the recitation of the bases for our opposition to the death penalty, we would like to subscribe to all of the classic and practical arguments, against it, but, most particularly, those arguments that relate to morality and cruelty; the balance, while absolutely valid, relate to the problematic effects of its implementation. It is true that mistakes in justice cannot be corrected, due to its finality. The assumption that it makes for deterrence, like the perception that it grants justice to the victim’s family, are obviously erroneous. Arguments concerning its selective application, the cruelty of waiting for the date of death, the botched procedures, the expensive and lengthy appeals, are all beside the point. The salient point is that it is intentional homicide, practiced by society, based upon an atavistic, cruel and ignorant vengeance-seeking practice which is shamefully unbecoming to modern mankind.

It took a course of uncountable eons, for the planetary environment, or nature, to ultimately produce, its most advanced, and conceivably, its ultimate product, mankind; a creature gifted with an advanced brain, the means of working and advancing (the opposable thumb) and an upright position for efficient mobility. After living alone, with the accompanying necessity to spend all of his time seeking food and safety, he progressed to inter-dependent and socially stimulating, societal living. The continued progress of this magnificent product of natural evolution, is largely due to man’s gifts of the ability for reason, and capacity for advancement. Today, mankind owes an unpayable debt to nature, for such potential, and to his many generations of forebears, for his present developed state. He is connected in time, to the homo sapiens of the Stone Age, and all of his brethren up to date. How dare he, or his society, kill another such human being for any reason? Errant people, even the most disreputable of us can be isolated from the rest of society; but, as fellow, homo sapiens, not, permissibly, terminated.

Humankind has come a long way since the dark ages, which may have been a retrogressive, misstep, involving, witches, spells, heresy, black magic, burning people at the stake, superstition and the like; it was a wrong turn, a deviation from the steady advancement of mankind toward an ever improving societal existence. The 19th Century Age of Enlightenment, that followed, seemed successful in opening man’s eyes to rational and empirical progress, and was a clinically needed antidote to the disease of Dark Age ignorance.

Capital punishment, or, as more descriptively and functionally termed, “the death penalty,” is, inarguably, anthropologically regressive; an atavistic, shameful and cruel medieval relic of the Dark Age. It is a U turn from enlightenment and moral modernity, back to the evil age of torture and the rack. Our supplemental argument for the elimination of the (ancient) death penalty, in short, amounts to, an appeal to modern man’s stage of rational perspective and moral progress.



It must have been in the second year of the three -year existence of this blogpost, that we published one of our usual mini-essays, on the subject of “empathy.” This word may well be our favorite, in the entire language; we carefully distinguished it, from “sympathy.” Our post reminded the reader that the word “sympathy” is the level of feeling, in which one responds with appropriate feelings of sorrow, for the plight of another; “apathy,” goes deeper, and enables the individual to vicariously, feel the other person’s pain. We entitled the writing, “Love Without Words,” drawing our inspiration from the beautiful title and musical composition, “Songs Without Words,” by Felix Mendelsohn.

We have also written on the negative subject of “tribalism,” a socio-political phenomenon, in which the desire for needed acceptance, and conformity to a group, results in the dysfunction of one’s decisional freedom, and leads to irrational outcomes. This syndrome, apparently, results from the profound insecurity of individuals, such that they lack the confidence to put to the test, their personal freedom of thought and expression. Such temerity and reactive devaluation of individual thought, results in a more comfortable, neurotic loyalty to a social group, and a pathetic participation in its “groupthink,” so that the participant’s position regarding an issue, is based upon the group’s point of view, rather than his own.

Loyalty in such instance, is total, unwavering, absolute and irrespective of personal disagreement. The salient principle, is the preservation of absolute unity, by the acceptance of the adopted group’s official position. If the “group” opposes welfare, the individual opposes it as well (despite, perhaps a previous support of the program) on the basis of fear of rejection, by the all-important group. In addition, proposed new ideas are evaluated by the group, based upon its evaluation of its source, rather than upon its merits. Logical and equitable solutions to confounding problems, may be adopted and applauded, or rejected and excoriated, based on their identified source, traditionally, deemed acceptable by the group, or not. This irrational phenomenon is non-productive, and could, actually, be dangerous. It appears that the pathological phenomenon of the continued existence, and devastating impact, of tribalism, has proven to have little limit to its invading metastasis.

Emotional reactions, such as empathy and sympathy, are well within the innate capability and potential inclination of every normally socialized human being. They are reflex-like responses, instantly set off at the mere sight, or realization, of a compelling situation. Such spontaneous reactions are initiated by the causative stimulus, and are natural (viz., non- political, universal) phenomena. Yet, it would appear that tribalism is (frighteningly) capable, in addition, of overcoming emotional volition and personal feelings, for many people, in order to concur with those expressed by the group.

We, at long last, have arrived at the troubling explanations for (1) the “Right to Life” organization’s inconsistent protection of the fetus, but its lack of support for the welfare of the baby, following birth, and as well, their general opposition to gun regulation, (2) the support by Evangelical Christianity, of Donald J. Trump, despite his sexual and criminal misconduct, and (3) the failure of the entire cohort of the Republican  party, to support redress for the shameful and Nazi-like treatment of Hispanic immigrants, particularly at the border, as well as their refusal to recognize, unanimous scientific  warnings, on climate change.

The explanation resides in the willingness of too many Americans to abdicate their own identity and worth, in exchange for a neurotically-needy, ersatz, sense of security, perceived from being part of a group, which is seen to be of greater status, than they are, as individuals. It may be noted that among the many generous gifts of evolution, an advanced brain, capable of reason and perspective, was awarded to individual homo sapiens, not to groups. We are greatly troubled, that so many Americans are willing to barter their capacity for reason and perspective, and even, to the extent of their innate, natural inclinations and empathic reactions, for the doubtful value of a perceived, secure feeling of commonality with groups of others.

This is no less than alarmingly repugnant, to the successful and moral existence of a Democratic Republic. The Founders created a nation, foreseen as composed of individual citizens with independent, and often, with divergent ideas. These were to be civilly debated, and the results, acted upon by a responsive government, resulting in a government, by and for the people. In our past essay, “The Death of Civic Amity,” we decried the tribal conglomerations of people with identical views, at virtual war, with other like groups of divergent opinion, and the practical impossibility of friendly and constructive debate. The evident divisiveness and tribalism of our Nation, was never anticipated, by our philosophical and optimistic Founders.

We are greatly disappointed, but, we are not without faith in a curative remedy, for this presenting tribal pathology. It may take some time, but the very initiation of our process of cure, will by its earliest dynamics, accomplish much, in the way of restoring the insecure citizen, to a proper sense of individual self-respect and independent reliance. The restorative remedy, seeks the renewed creation of his personal self- image, one confidently grounded, in a personal sense of capable self-determination. Our needy citizenry, possess the ability to return to a normal, instinctive sense of assured, individual capability, and confident self- determination.

As we have written many times, the private pursuit of personal wisdom and assurance, is through the awareness and realization of the independent capability of one’s own mind. This realization may be encouraged, by a dedicated (and enjoyable) reading of good literature, or the independent pursuit of a nuanced area of interest, such as music, art, nature, social work, or anything else of choice. The independent pursuit of an elective interest, is a valuable use of time, and an assured route to an enhanced life, satisfaction and personal growth; it is an effective elixir for the discontented, and to our point, an opportunity for the development of independent, personal initiative. The resulting sense of accomplishment, and experienced personal insight, is the best route to self-esteem and confidence.  The exercise of independent choices, may well be transferrable, from the elective activity, to other areas. There is nothing, in this context, more essentially impactful, and important, than “citizen building.”

Where neighborly encouragement or assistance is required, it should be generously supplied. We need to recognize that we are truly dealing with an existential problem, the very survival of our Republic.



The emergence of new human or animal life, when considered scientifically, and empirically, is the natural and eternal, continuance of the relevant planetary species, at the very start of its own individual life cycle. However, to the emotional perception of humankind, it appears to be a singular, miraculous event; despite the existence of identical past experience, and a relevant educational background. The reaction of enhanced astonishment, we would maintain, is an emotion having its etiology in the sudden realization, that life has irreversibly changed, in the context of the new addition to the previously familiar, family structure. A newborn child, even the introduction of a new pet cat or dog, portends changes, not only in the household dramatis personae, but also to its routine and undertaken responsibilities.

It usually takes but a short time, before the addition is incorporated into the recognized family household. The new responsibilities are willingly undertaken, in exchange for the invaluable pleasure of love for the new baby or family pet. One becomes grateful to incorporate this new recipient of the rare and most precious gift of the planet, the invaluable franchise of life, to the family unit.

We are struggling for a useful metaphor for the grant, or franchise of life, but can find no closer reference than the poet, Gertrude Stein’s expressed reverence, for the incomparable beauty of the rose. Her poetic statement was, “A rose is a rose, is a rose,” poetically editorializing her aesthetic opinion, that there is no other flower or suitable object, worthy of comparison to the inimitable rose.

There would appear to us, nothing on the planet, comparable in value or worth, to the gift (franchise) of life.  Just as the revered rose has thorns, life too has its own natural potential for pain and suffering. As may be known, by now, we have an obvious and irresistible penchant for words. Our least favorite vocabulary word in the American-English lexicon, is the word, “finite”, a word denoting absolute limitation. Bound up with being a fortunate recipient of life, is the unfortunate understanding, that life sadly, is finite in length.

However, man lives, and thrives, with the knowledge of the ultimate foreclosure on his franchise of life. Most of us are concerned with health, but are creative, in comfortably repressing thoughts of our ultimate demise. We attend funerals for other people, but could not be happy and productive, ruminating about the end of our own lives. We leave it all, to the Actuarial profession among whose express professional responsibilities, is the determination of the estimated span of life of individuals (for the insurance industry and other uses) by the use of several techniques, including probability mathematics.

We have eternally recommended the advancement and improvement of the quality of life, by the curating of an interest, or, reading good literature, continuing one’s studies, or participation in the arts and sciences, thereby increasing wisdom and perspective, and, for as long as it lasts, getting the maximum value and enjoyment possible, from the precious gift to us of life.

It can be uncomfortable, to candidly conclude, that since all life is finite, the practice of loving other people, unfailingly, exposes one to the vulnerability of the eventual loss of that love object.  This is the cost, or invoice, (like the thorns on Gertrude Stein’s rose) for loving someone or something.  The alternative is far worse; to avoid that vulnerability, by never loving, is to waste the essential value of life’s costly franchise.

After the enjoyment of a truly fine dinner at a good restaurant, with family or close friends, we are presented with the bill, which we happily pay, provided the dining experience was positive.



This essay, is singularly distinguishable, from (upwards of 400, in number of) its predecessors. We have consistently, written, with the intention to express our observations, thoughts, and critical commentary on universally vital subjects. These subjects have included, evolution, man in society, morality, truth and justice; as well as other material subjects, relative to man’s advancement, and the human condition. By contrast, this writing is a rare deviation, from that normal proclivity. It is instead, our personal expression, regarding a non-esoteric subject of interest to us.

Additionally, we disclaim any suggestion of inference, of a moral or ethical principle, herein, and desire to simply state our personal opinion on a subject, with no more profundity, than the elective selection and taste, of cuisine. We candidly confess, that our presently expressed, point of view, is strictly personal, nuanced, and probably, shared, if at all, by a small minority of our readers.

The present subject involves the sense of taste, man’s “fifth” sense; and so, it may be useful, to initially refer to that subject’s, scientific (largely, neurological) dynamics.

Taste, refers to what is detected by our taste center, located in the front and back of the tongue. We are instructed that the receptor cells (taste buds) bind with molecules of the food, or drink, to render a personal report, known by our fifth sense. The resultant tastes are professionally, categorized as, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent (viz. generally, “hot”) and astringent (viz., light, airy, dry like popcorn). It should be said that “smell,” an essential ingredient in taste, as advised, can, actually, be employed to change taste.

“Mild” taste, refers to a particular sensory response, which is understood by food experts, to be highly pleasing to the palate, and often is included in descriptions of food favorites, such as, fish dishes and “comfort foods”. We are told that “mild,” is the preferred choice of true food lovers. The addition, as desired, of modest amounts of salt and/or pepper, as flavonoids, is an acceptable practice, as enhancing, rather than altering, this desirable class of taste, in food.

At restaurants, parks, and other places of public consumption, we have observed, an increasing use of hot sauce, and other chili containing condiments, specifically, hot peppers, in one form or another, specifically, jalapeno, habanero, serrano, cayenne’s, and the like. (We have chosen to exempt, mustard and wasabi, from this critique, since they, like salt and pepper, seem to enhance, and not alter, the taste of food). We refer to, and, personally critique only, the addition of hot peppers, known as, ”chilies,” to food.

Hot peppers have a component of “capsaicin”, which is the heat supply (the fuel) of the vegetable. The greater the content of capsaicin, the hotter, the pepper. We have frequently seen copious quantities of hot sauce, or hot peppers in a powder form, generously applied to desirable foods, even, at times, before they are taste sampled. The very sight of this practice, is unsettling and confusing. The anticipated item of food, was, chosen by the consumer, presumably, for its previously experienced, and personally, preferred, taste. Why adulterate that preferred taste with hot chilies? Hot peppers, themselves, do vary in intensity, but, as advised, not very much in taste. If hot chilies are added, as a general practice, to desired items of food, doesn’t all food taste the same (like hot chilies), rather than the unique taste of the selected eatable?

In addition, we found, at various times, the ingestion of food with hot chilies, somewhat disturbing to the gastric system, as well, at times, to the tongue and lips. However, the populist practice is most principally disturbing, as man’s casual ingratitude and lack of appreciation, for the (natural) food of the planet.

The frequent practice of adding hot chili sauce to food, creates a boringly repetitious, common denominator, adulterating the unique natural taste, of the bountifully varied fruits of our planet, resulting in a trite, repetitious and unwaveringly, predictable (and sometimes, irritating) result.




The ancient Persian religion, Zoroasterism, a faith older than Judaism and Islam, first proclaimed the dualism of humanity; the good, symbolized by light, the bad, or evil side of man, represented by darkness. This, seemingly reductive concept of duality, has, in fact, been replicated in literature and folk belief, continuously, to the present day; “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, the novels of Herman Hesse, such as “Damien,” “Siddhartha” and “Steppenwolf”, Frederic Nietzsche’s Good and Evil,” “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, and the movie series, “Star Wars, uniformly, draw a clear, determinative line, between the light of goodness, or virtue, and the darkness of the evil and the degenerate persona.

Many classic scenarios in movies, plays and novels, feature a villain and an easily identified, “good guy;” in westerns, it is the man in the white cowboy hat, and the “villain”, often seen wearing a black one. In fairness, however, it appears that, from time to time, equivocal issues arise, which provide only tenuous degrees of clarity, and can result in benevolent, as well as malevolent, outcomes.  These, confusing, or ambiguous issues, are often referred to as “neither black nor white.” To be complete, on this subject, we would observe that, it is immensely disturbing, when the best choice is completely unknown, or beyond volitional ken (ex.: “The Lady or the Tiger”).

The Medieval period exemplifying superstition and ignorance, is known by scholars, as the “Dark Ages,” and the later advances in reason and empiricism of the 18th Century, is given the appropriate title of “The Age of Enlightenment.” Additionally, it is commonly said, that when one finally solves a difficult problem, or at last, understands himself, that he “has seen the light;” as opposed to, a state of continued ignorance or confusion, referred to as “still in the dark.” “Seeing the bright light of day,” is a similar metaphor, for finally arriving at a solution, or at a meaningful realization.

It is our offhand speculation, that the use of light, for goodness, and dark, for evil, may possibly have its derivation, from the planetary phenomena of the day, (safer, clear vision, ease of movement) and the night, (dangerous, poor vision, difficulty of movement.) Whatever the historical derivation may be, the words, light and dark, have been eternally used as metaphors, for virtue and reason, or, alternately, ignorance and evil.

The human persona is potentially known, to evince good, or acceptable inclinations, as well as other predispositions, which are, to applicable degrees, unreasonable or morally unacceptable.  A “good person” is one that strives to act morally, honestly and empathically. The contrasting personality is selfish, ego-oriented and disinterested in the possible impact, of his acts or statements, upon others. The differences, in awareness, like the differences in understanding, are often symbolized by the differing metaphors, “enlightened” versus, “in the dark.” It would seem empirically reasonable, to assume that few persons are entirely good, like the literary, “Goldilocks” or entirely bad like, the (disastrously) real, Adolph Hitler.

There are, two celebrated real-life examples of vastly contrasting personalities, which we sought to highlight in this writing; one exceptionally, good, the other, by stark contrast, unforgivingly bad. Each, of these two persons, is nuanced from the average persona, and representing, a complete contrast on any Zoroastrian light and darkness scale. It should surprise no one, that these two selected, singularly contrasting examples, are Fred Rogers and Donald J. Trump.

Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”) was a television host of a very popular children’s program and an exemplar of virtue and lovingkindness. He was a gentle counselor to his many childhood viewers, in childhood lessons of love, kindness and, above all, empathy. It is impossible to forget the program where Fred Rogers, sung, lovingly, to a smiling child, confined to a wheelchair and afflicted with the horribly symptomatic spasms and personal disabilities of cerebral palsy, the following song, beginning with, “It is YOU, I like, not the way you look, or the clothes you wear, or the way you do your hair…” the spasmodic and disabled child, smiled and sang joyfully, as best he could, along with Fred and the other children in the studio. Whenever we recall the specific television program, we find ourselves emotionally, choked up. If light does indeed, symbolize the good in humanity, Fred Roger’s light was brighter than a modern halogen searchlight.

We also maintain another mental picture of the contrasting, dark side of humanity, and one which is   unfortunately, also unforgettable. The daily acts and statements of Donald J. Trump, are so reprehensible, mendacious and embarrassingly immoral, that it might, conceivably, prove somewhat difficult to summon up an individual example, truly darker than the rest. But not for us. We have the recollection of a behavior, performed by him, before the television cameras, and millions of viewers; one that is pure evil, darker and even more reprehensible, than the many other acts of Trump (which are evilly uncountable.) We had not, until then, appreciated or imagined, the full, toxic and neurotic, extent of the cruel and awful behavior of which, the despicable, Donald J. Trump was truly, capable. This eternally memorable incident, was his gleeful, clownish, mimicking, on public television, of the involuntary, spasmodic movements of a questioning reporter, who was uncontrollably, manifesting the extreme and terrible, classic symptoms of cerebral palsy. Of all of his acts of abuse of office, criminality, immorality and overt bigotry, this singular act, should earn Donald J. Trump, for such spontaneous cruelty, insensitivity and disgraceful conduct, a place of special honor, at the darkest and lowest ring of Dante’s Inferno.

We are thankful, that, in our occasional ruminations about the general nature of humanity, we can, mercifully recall, the spiritually uplifting memories of Fred Rogers, a truly bright light, to contrast with the pitch- black persona of Donald J. Trump.



Post # 401  BEG YOUR PARDON (Editorial)

With the mere stroke of a pen, an American Commander-in Chief can forgive anyone for the commission of any Federal crime, which “pardon” cannot be challenged by any other branch of Government. [Art. II, Sec.2,   U.S. Constitution]. It is the most sweeping and unlimited power, granted to a President of the United States; its only limitations are, that it must apply to a Federal offense, and, that it cannot affect an impeachment. The grant amounts to an unassailable and final determination of complete absolution, cancelling the offense, as of record, and may be awarded, before or after conviction. It was inserted in the Constitution in 1789, by our Founders, (as an intended check on the Justice system) and seems to date back, before Monarchial Rule in England, to its existence in ancient Rome and Greece, and, before that time, the 7th Century.

We have the unavoidable sense, that in a Republican Democracy, such an unlimited and arbitrary power, amounting to a resurrection of one of the arbitrary rights of historic royalty, although, constitutionally authorized, is unjust; and in principled inconsistency with the American systemic institution of equal process, and equality before the law. We are obliged to concede to the provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the historic precedent; nevertheless, we, as American citizens, cannot avoid the disturbing conclusion that the right of pardon, is an anachronistic travesty, more suitable to the historic European monarchial system than to the United States of America.

If we are all, equal under the law, inclusive of the President, this arbitrary, Royal privilege has no place in our society, nor, appropriately, within the American philosophy and system of laws. We humbly submit that a Constitutional Conference, ought to be convened, to consider the elimination of this unjust and anachronistic, (Royal) privilege from our Republican Constitution.

The right is especially odious, when one considers the nature our present commander in chief, a proven wrongdoer and abuser of Presidential power, whose behavior betrays even a modicum of morality. He has, by his unfitness, bigotry, violations of civil and federal laws, as well as the Constitution, (particularly the Emolument Clause) embarrassed the nation, and publically defamed the Office of the American Presidency. In what sane World, in what Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, in what “Lord of the Flies” World, can such a common grifter and fraudulent miscreant, be in the position of a high priest, imbued with, and possessor of, the exclusive right to pardon (selected) criminals?

We would hazard our personally disturbing question, which, in its novelty and complexity, may be, especially revelatory, of the vestigial nature of the right of pardon. The Official Reports, of the Congressionally appointed Special Prosecutor, and the consistent findings, of several investigative Congressional Committees have, uniformly and consistently, determined the existence of a legion of illegal acts, perhaps, even Treason, attributed to this historically unprecedented, Presidential miscreant.

Our disturbing question is: Does the Constitution grant to the President, the power and authority, to pardon individuals, for the commission of crimes, in which he, himself is found complicit?

We would, wisely, and prudently, relegate this “Alice in Wonderland” question, to no lesser juridical mind, than the esteemed, “Mad Hatter,” himself.