Post # 431     AMERICA’S COLD WAR

We would, request reader permission, to suggest two relevant definitions:

  • “Democracy,” is a system of governance, by which the eligible members of a population, determine governmental policy and action, as expressed by their vote.
  • “Cold War,” is a relationship of significant hostility, between parties (most often, Nation- States), characterized by threats, propaganda and other methods, but short of actual warfare.

The theme of this mini-essay, is best introduced, by a wry quote from the brilliant and witty, H.L. Menken: “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” America’s past election results may lend a good measure of empirical wisdom, to Mr. Menken’s observation.

We ask forgiveness, for our repetitive indulgence, in referring to the wisdom and prescience, of Thomas Jefferson, in his famous declaration that, in order for a Democratic Republic to be successful, one must have an informed and educated citizenry. The empirical observation, that this is a standard, yet to be realized, has eternally, galled the relative minority, of those of us, who do see ourselves, as, educated and informed.

It boggles the mind that authoritative studies, demonstrate, that there are many people who cannot name, even one, of our three branches of government, that less than 25% know who their U.S. Senators are, and, remarkably, only 50% are aware that their State has two of them.

Sir Winston Churchill, is famously known to have said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried, from time to time.”

The eternal issue, is how to organize a community of 180 million people, where needed, so that it sufficiently comprehends, and is sensitive to the Nation’s needs. Solutions, such as extra ballots for the well- educated, literacy tests, the “University Vote” and others, have been contemplated, but history shows these programs, to be uniformly, perverted instead, to the tactical disenfranchisement of certain groups of people (example: “literacy tests” in the South).

It so appears to us, that it was at the end of the (nation- unifying), Cold War, that America began to experience, deep divisions, which appear to have become visibly defined and permanent. The use of the new nouns, “tribe” and “tribal,” came then to designate, groups of like- thinking people, who predictably vote, in accordance with their group, irrespective of their (possibly, divergent) independent belief. Representative examples of such phenomena are: left versus right -wing oriented groups, supporters or detractors of religious, geographical, ethnic and religious or partisan identification, supporters, or opponents, of gun control, the woman’s right to abortion, same sex marriage, tax policy and the death penalty. These insular cohorts of common belief, view as the enemy, all other groups and individuals, who do not espouse views similar to theirs.

To us, the most disagreeable, and perilous to the welfare and existence of established society, are the many millions of Americans, who see themselves, and their lives, as being subservient to, and dominated by, perceived and hated, “elites,” defined: as Americans with College, or higher education. The latter, is the most divisive, reductionist, and dangerous delusion, and constitutes the fundamental basis, for our expressed sentiment, and the title of this mini-essay, “America’s Cold War.” This neurotic conception, may serve as a sufficient reason, for some, for not casting, a “meaningless and futile” vote.

Statistical records of the 2016 election, indicate that 102.7 million, “no-shows, vastly outnumbered the 63 million that voted for Donald Trump. An educational program, is vitally needed, to increase the motivation to vote, so that the results of elections, better match the will of the people. Courses must be designed and dedicated, to educate (particularly, the young people) in civics and political engagement. To increase the rate of citizen voting, our educational programs, for the young, (as well as adults) must stress, moral reasoning, the evaluation of historical experience and the educational and social skills employed in building political positions. We must, in such educational programs, in addition to such subjects, responsibly, foster, the development of a more humane and empathic citizen and voter.

With all that said, we are very pleased and thankful, to be able to honestly aver, that our system, such as it, unfortunately is, has, nevertheless, been persistently successful in the continuing pursuit of the Nation’s vital goal, of full civil rights for all.



The most notable “Mardi Gras,” [French, for “Fat Tuesday,”] is the carnival or bacchanalia, in New Orleans, which is celebrated, perennially, after the Catholic feast of the Epiphany, on the first Tuesday before Lent. The colorful event, features virtually, unlimited indulgence in food, drink and wild behaviors. For the tourist, a most memorable feature, in addition to the gifted and spontaneous street musicians, and the Louisiana Cajun cuisine, is the magnificent annual parade, featuring colorful floats with exotically costumed, participants. We are informed that each of the traditional parade groups, marching and performing, are in replication of past generations of celebrants, called “krews,” each represented by its traditionally, signature float.

We have elected, (with profuse apologies) to, metaphorically, refer to the staging of American elections, [ Statutorily mandated, for the first Tuesday after the first Monday, in November], as, our own, “National Mardi Gras.” On this event, for the one day, citizens are exempt from their employment, for the sole purpose of choosing their governing leaders and representatives; such popular vote, inarguably, being the validating hallmark of a Republican Democracy. In fact, it is no less than a duty, for all citizens of voting age to cast their popular vote, which enables government to be universally representative, as opposed to favoring the interest of certain groups of citizens, over others. The applicability of chosen analogy, as between Election day and the New Orleans Mardi Gras, among others, can be discerned, in the fixed day of the relevant week, Tuesday, but, also, in its nuanced, and, in many cases, less than rational, participation, by many American voters.

We have eternally, made reference to the sage and prescient declaration of Thomas Jefferson, that, for a Democratic Republic to be successful, it is necessary to have an informed and literate citizenry.  The observance of this declared standard, has eternally, been our concern, and, consequently, the salient subject of most of our, to date, nearly half-thousand mini-essays.

We, have expressed in past writings major concerns, regarding the quality of the mass vote, on subjects such as: (1) uninformed, low education voters, (2) one- issue voters, (3) lifestyle voters, (4) partisan voters, (5) personality voters as well as (6) tribal voters. Accordingly, it would seem sufficient, to merely, recognize these categories of non-objective, voting behavior:

  • We were lulled into the happy delusion, with the election and re-election, of Barack Obama, that the Nation was on the upswing, in terms of well informed, Jeffersonian prescribed, citizens. Thereafter, the election of Donald J. Trump, due, in large part, to the voting of, low educated, “flat earth”, voters, [ tactically manipulated by profit- oriented industry] reinstated our serious concern about the nature and quality, of the contemporary American voter.
  • It may be, that it is the one-issue voter, that has most skewed the result, and frustrated the fundamental purpose, of the franchise. Votes that are based solely, upon one, singular position, of the candidate [for example, Israel, guns or abortion rights], and, irresponsibly, ignore the balance of the candidate’s platform, distort the perception of the Nation’s will, [as to the balance of his platform] and may, conceivably, include policies, inimical to the interest of that voter.
  • Loyalty based upon the religion, race, family, social position, marriage, physical appearance, or domicile, rather than an independent determination of the candidate’s positions on the current issues.
  • Partisan loyalty. There are a great many voters, who automatically vote for a candidate of a particular party; perhaps the party of their parents, and without sufficient (or any) knowledge of the candidate’s platform, or political leanings.
  • Perceived personality. There actually exist, voters, who favor candidates, based on their subjective perception of the characterological behavior, of the candidate. Voters who admire the behavior of Donald Trump, would likely, tend not to vote for a candidate emulating Fred Rogers.
  • Tribal voters, are individuals who choose to surrender their self-determination and opinion, to that of a social group, and vote identically, with that group. We have expressed the view that this willing surrender of individuality, appears to be an inclination, whose apparent purpose, is the attempted satisfaction of a neurotic desire for acceptance.

The clear purpose of a democratic election, is to accurately and fairly, ascertain, a meaningful and relevant understanding, of the nation’s desired choices of determinative policy; a vote, polluted, with elements of ignorance or irrationality, is as useful, and trustworthy, in steering the Ship of State, as a giddy, intoxicated celebrant, at a New Orleans Mardi Gras.



Post # 429     CALIBRATING MIMESES 3 (opinion)


A subject which has eternally piqued our interest, is the underlying dynamics of human choice, inclusive of its origins, motivation and nuance. We are particularly curious concerning, the interplay of the general influence of society on the individual, and his, ultimate selection of referential models, for acceptable lifestyle, belief and deportment. The ascertainment, and dynamic features, of these referential models, has been the impetus for this tripartite series, “CALIBRATING MIMESIS.’’

The first, of our three- part series, concerned the interface of style and conformity, with nuanced individuality, in the context of dress; the second, with the wide extent of public conformity, to populist jargon, in lieu of traditionally styled, language. This final installment, on the subject of conformity (“mimesis”), is a general examination of the impact of society’s influence, on individual, personal opinion.

We would, in this mini-essay, exclude, the ripe subject of religion. The acquisition of one’s specific religion, as we have observed in past writings, is simply a product of the random or accidental, event, of birth. Thus, little Hindu or Christian babies, are born, without exception, to Hindu or Christian mothers, and so on. Well intentioned early childhood teaching, insuring the identity of the young child, and his sense of secure membership in the particular ethnos of his birth, as we have previously stated, unfortunately, also implants in him, the seeds of a “we” and “they” dynamic. The latter, we have, sadly observed, often matures to be a responsible factor, in much of history’s conflict. This, however, is an entirely separate subject; but as to the sole, relevant point, the assignment of religion was never a matter of choice.

Family, empirically, appears to be the first, and most enduring, influence on young people’s developing opinions. As children grow older, however, other influences are experienced, which may amend those early learned teachings. We, in slightly less than 500 mini-essays, have consistently stressed, the continuance of education and efforts generally, tending to individual self- advancement, as the best route, to the acquisition of a mature and objective perspective, and, as well, a satisfying life.

Political belief, relates to an assertion of idealized principles, or doctrines, concerning the manner in which a society should work. Virtually, it is the assertion of a desired, governmental and cultural blueprint. We have often referred to the declaration of President Thomas Jefferson, that, for a Democracy to be successful, it requires an informed and educated population. This blogspace has been primarily dedicated to that goal, with the understanding that an informed and educated citizenry is an ideal, yet to be realized.

History relates that the Founders of our Republic, optimistically, envisioned a regular practice of amical, dutiful debates, between informed citizens, of contemporary issues. The results of such debates, would serve as a useful guide in governance, thus resulting, as intended, in a government, by and for, the people.  Such idealized vision, of a nation of informed citizens, in friendship and respect, mutually, striving, towards a successful Republican Democracy, never materialized. Instead, there developed sharp and divisive differences, which, has tragically, polarized the Nation, into insular “tribes” of like-thinking people, at odds, with other tribes of citizens, espousing disparate views. In an early blog post, “THE DEATH OF CIVIC AMITY,” we unhappily, decried the complete absence of citizen good will toward others of disparate opinions, and the consequent, non-realization of these Founders’ dreams.

In today’s culture, the descriptive term, “tribalism,” refers to a mode of thinking or believing, which places loyalty to the views of an insular social group, above all else, and furthers discrimination, against like groups with disparate views. Such loyalty appears, to us, to be a major factor, in the neurotic need, of many people, for acceptance. To be clear, outside the scope of our criticism, is the formation of groups of right thinking people, espousing a common cause, like equal rights for minorities, or people concerned with global climate change, or loyal supporters of a sports team. These are organic groups of people, possessing a fixed and common goal, or purpose, and not at all comparable, to the insular, cohorts, where views and sympathies, publically, and regularly, change in tandem and conformity, to that of their tribal group.

We are affirmatively concerned, with the threat to the organic and systemic functioning of our Republican Democracy, by certain people who will predictably and reliably, vote, in sync with the “groupthink” (mimesis) of their tribe. These are people who place loyalty to, and cohesion with, their chosen group, in its unitary political stance, above their own individual and spontaneous judgment, and, conceivably, contrary to the best interests of the Nation. It is our view, that they do so based upon a perceived, need, for acceptance and social inclusion, which perceived needs, will, often, apparently, override their own personal decisional and judgmental capability.

Based upon such assumption, the critical presenting issue, is the lack of self-esteem or confidence; specifically, a felt inadequacy or an inability, to think independently, inclusive of political choices of candidate, or political platform. The Jeffersonian, foundational requirement, for the success of a democratic republic, being a population of informed, literate and capable citizenry. The solution, accordingly, (as we have emphasized in past writings) resides, in the restoration, of self-esteem, and mature perception of the citizen, as needed. This can be accomplished, through continued education, and participation in the arts and sciences. These qualities, of course, have universal application, inclusive of the totality of life, as well as political choices.

We have been, stubbornly, consistent, in our affirmative encouragement of the individual’s development of mature confidence, self-image and esteem, by way, of the continued pursuit of learning. An individual with a healthy, mature, sense of esteem and stable personhood, would shrink at the thought, of ceding his personal choices to others. As a concomitant of his sense of confident individuality, and faith in his own independent judgment, he has no need, and certainly, no desire, to surrender his unique personhood, to any social celebration of, possibly, flawed populist memes.



Post # 428    CALIBRATING MIMESIS 2 (speech) 

In the preceding writing, [the first, of an intended series of three posts], we offered certain, personally, considered observations, concerning dress within the contextual interface, between style and conformity, (mimesis), and individual nuance and choice. The application of the concept of “mimesis” (again, imitation), in the present mini-essay, relates to a discernable trend, toward populist jargon, for better or, (as usually, the case) for worse. We have the intention, hereafter, to publish, a third, “MIMESIS” post, on independently generated opinion, versus the social compulsion of “groupthink.”

We are acutely aware that the phenomenon of language, is a constantly changing one, that the English-American lexicon has significantly evolved since the age of the classic OED (“Oxford English Dictionary”), and continues to evolve, with the passage of time and its relevant, contemporary usage. Additionally, we acknowledge, that new additions to any lexicon are, at the time of their introduction, considered exotic and unacceptable, until they are, if ever, officially sanctioned as acceptable. The present note, however, does not concern itself with newly evolving vocabulary, but, rather, with the subject of words which have been universally accepted, but are contemporaneously, being misused, in an apparent desire, we surmise, to seem au courant.

A respectable inventory of such misused words, being too numerous to responsibly recount, we have selected illustrative examples, which we felt to be the most egregious. For purposes of attempted clarity, we have divided the subject into its two practical categories: (1) Wrongful misapplication of nouns, as verbs, which modest sample, is felt sufficient, to illustrate the basic dynamics of the flawed practice, of fracturing grammar, and, (2) Selected, “populist” words, we find to be particularly objectionable, together with our justification, respectively, for such views:

  • One is not required to be a purist, to concede, that the rules concerning the structure of sentences, have as their vital purpose, the effective use of the language, to accurately, and unambiguously, convey a speaker’s or writer’s intended meaning. It is, foundational, to observe, that the subject of a sentence is the “noun” or the “pronoun”, the indicated action, is known as the “verb,” the description of the subject of the sentence, requires the use of “adjectives,” and the quality or nature of the verb (the action) requires the use of words, designated as “adverbs.” These traditional, grammatical rules of the road, are so fundamental, as in their recitation, to run the predictable risk, of an accusation of pedantry, or sarcasm.

To commit error, amounting to inadvertent, non- adherence, to this universally accepted, conception and structure, is to run the predictable risk, of being misunderstood. By bright contrast, to intentionally, and irresponsibly, violate these fundamental rules, for the purpose of imitation (mimesis) of some current, aberrant fad, is no less than reprehensible.

An illustrative sample, of such grammatical, mimetic, aberrations is, as follows:

The misuse of the dramatic noun, “impact,” as a verb, viz.,” The rain impacts our plans for a picnic.” Impact is a noun, not a verb. The noun “lunch” is at times used as part of a dual verb, viz., “Let’s do lunch.” The noun “parent,” is wrongfully used as a verb, unfortunately, by well- educated people, viz., “she does not know how to parent.” Identical grammatical abuse is observed, in such pervasive use of nouns as verbs, in words like, vacation, television and picnic.

Some other risible, but, objectionable, grammatical exemplars, are: “He doesn’t do soup,” or, I’m not into dogs, hip-hop, or, “I’m not into peanut butter.”

  • There is, a veritable, lexicon, of imitatively, flawed expressions, to consider, however, we find the following illustrative examples, particularly objectionable:

[“AWESOME],” currently used to designate high quality, or satisfaction, as in the phrases, “The pizza was awesome” or, “the band was awesome.” The word “awesome” is an adjective expressing a quality that is sensational, majestic or awe-inspiring. It may be, that the deafening and immense, roar of Niagara Falls, the Moon landing and, for believers, the Deity, are all awesome; but, never, ever, pizza, French fries or a jazz band. For reasons of fashion, (mimesis) superlative words like, “awesome,” “tremendous,” “great,” or, “fabulous,” are imitatively applied to mundane subjects. This popular misuse, severely handicaps the expressive utility of vocabulary, since, when properly employed, such intended, powerful words have previously been thus diluted in meaning, and thereby, rendered, less impressive.

[“PERFECT],” to designate assent. The word “perfect,” is, in reality, the ultimate designation of flawless quality. The positive response to the suggestion, I’ll meet you at the store, at 5 P.M., properly, should not be, “Perfect.” How about, Yes? or, “OK.

[“WHAT’S UP”] or, just, [“S’ UP”] are confusing, but nevertheless, frequently used substitutes, for a greeting or a normal telephone response in lieu of, “Hello.” In reality, they are questions, which require a response.

[“SO”] The word, “so,” properly has an explanatory, or emphatic function, as in, “I was sleepy, so I went to bed early.” or, “The coffee was so hot, it was undrinkable”. Why has the word, “so” been eternally used, and frequently imitated, to precede responses to questions? At a minimum, it is annoying and distracting; at worst it is confusing.

[“LATER”] This is another, imitative travesty, and frequently used as an attempted, fashionable, or “cool,” substitute for “goodbye,” or, “see you later.” It is a useful word when used, as intended, as a designation of time, or order of appearance.

[“LIKE”] This word, properly communicates a simile, but, is very often used by the young, to precede a recital of events, the quotation of another person’s statement, or, the recitation of one’s emotional feeling. It seems, at least in such instances, to have become a regularly availed of predicate, to statements, in the similar (“like”) and bizarre way, that “so” has become an introductory word, to statements of response. In the case of “like,” it is our theory that has emotional utility, in making a statement of fact or, of intimate feelings, defensively, less emotional, less serious, or “cooler”.

[“WHATEVER”] We have, tactically, reserved, what we consider this singularly, atrocious perversion, of a useful vocabulary word, for the last, of our “hit parade”. “Whatever,” is understandably, known and used in a sentence, as a word of express consent, to another, to make a desired choice, regarding a theory, an action, or use. Our objection, especially, is to the practice of using the word, “whatever,” as a single word response. Such use, has become a mimesis of disagreeably crude remarks, of dismissal, disinterest, inattention or a non- verbalized, “go away.”  Assuming, for example, that one underwent a thorough medical examination, at a leading medical center, resulting in the diagnosis of X, and thereafter makes an anxious inquiry, of his personal physician, as to why, for years, he has been treated instead, for Y, and received the response, “whatever”, one would see the word’s true extent of obnoxiousness. Using the subject word, twice in a row, (“whatever, whatever”), in response to a statement or question, unmistakably, but crudely means, “go away.” We have made it a prudent practice, if possible, not to engage in conversation with individuals, who regularly, (and unsociably), make such use of this word.

As a current update, to the above, we would add a few of the latest, unclassified, objectionable expressions, recently heard and popularly imitated, in the context of language injury: “That was the reveal,” “What is the ask?” “What is the solve?” “What is the take away?” and, one, which has already, earned the status of a classic inquiry, as to outcome, “What’s the bottom line?” as if all subjects discussed, were, in reality, profit and loss statements.

For some mysterious and unfortunate reason, it universally appears that, once the ignorant or careless, use of any sort of objectionable words or phrases, is broadcast, people, at once, faithfully commence their ardent homage to that duplicative Deity, known as the God of “Mimesis.”


Post # 427  CALIBRATING MIMESIS (dress)

Mimesis, as may permissibly be defined, refers to the art or practice of imitation of other people’s appearance, voice or personal views or opinions. It may be a useful and revelatory exercise, for all of us, to stand fully dressed, for a few moments, before a full-size mirror, and candidly ask, the following: “How much of this is me?”

Societal and personal pressures and concerns, the need to be accepted and respected, the desire for inclusion, the influence of interactive communication, the influence of the media (most particularly, the advertising industry), economic considerations and perceived status,” keeping up with the Jones’s,” and self-image, are among the numerous considerations, which play, far too significant a role, in how we choose to dress, look, communicate, and, all too often, sadly, how we think.

The late, Fred Rogers, (“Mr. Rogers”) the compassionate, empathic and loving host, of the highly respected, children’s television program, “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” in one of his trademark, well-remembered programs, sang, (along with the other children in the studio) to a young boy, manifesting the cruel and heartless symptomology, of cerebral palsy, “It’s YOU, that I like, not the clothes you wear, or the way you do your hair…” The unforgettable, saintly, Fred Rogers, reminding everyone, that it is the essential person, that matters, not his external trappings. This mini-essay, is an attempt to speak to the essential “person,” beyond, or behind, what may be his required, external, persona.

The great, English, 19th Century philosopher, John Locke, espoused the “Social Contract” theory, in which man, contractually, surrenders (exchanges) certain of his natural liberties, for the many benefits of living in society. A salient and admirable feature of the societally healthy member, nonetheless, is his continuing, individualized, perception of his own personal identity, as well as the personal desire to be guided by his own normative reason.

Legal rights and issues aside, the question at hand is, how much tailoring of one’s persona, is fairly, or properly, to be performed, in order to be deemed an acceptable member of society. What are the limits, on the one hand, of liberty and spontaneity, or on the other, of mandatory conformance to societal folkways. This question might well concern, in addition to the present emphasis on the subject of attire, acceptable behavior, speech, dress, style, family relations, reaction to stimuli, speech, work ethic, even political theories and current politics. How much “self-hood” is required to be to be stifled, or eroded, in one’s aspiration for societal acceptance.

In the context of employment, there are certain conformities which seem to be exempt from the realm of dispute; a librarian does not show up for work in a diving suit, a lawyer does not wear a baseball uniform to the office, a grade school teacher dresses up like Spiderman, does so at her own risk, a clergyman does not come to Sunday service in a Tutu, and so on. Each professional calling, has its own range of traditionally expected, dress codes, generally, but not uniformly, adhered to. A business suit, a sports Jacket and tie, is the expectation for office work. In some cases, merely,” sports-neat” is acceptable.

In private life, there are dress expectations, depending upon the person and the event. The extent of expectation, may vary with the activity, with age, with nuanced notions of tradition and propriety, and, possibly, within the category of some personally intended, reactive, impression. Empirical experience tells us, that most styles of dress will vary with the subjective fantasies of the dresser, or the impression intended to be made on others. The majority of people, seem to dress, to “fit in,” with their peers.

A cogent guide to the question is, eternally, first, how we see ourselves, and the extent of our confidence in that personal perception. A secondary, but, rather crucial, consideration is, how big a stake, we are willing to invest, in that personal assessment.

How many of us dress and comport ourselves, as a conceived, fantasy (mimesis) of an admired movie star, a famous athlete, an employer, or in the manner felt, to be  “expected” of us, or, possibly, also, in revolt against authority, escape from reality, or, lastly, unwillingly, but in accordance with perceived style.

Doesn’t anyone dress anymore, just to feel comfortable?

Look again…



There are certain words which appear to be especially apt for metaphoric illustration of particular themes. The metaphor “du jour”, is the noun, “easement.” The specific term, expresses the (legal) right of a person, or governmental agency, to enter upon, or use property, owned by another. The franchise of an easement, is most commonly established by Contract, Deed, Last Will and Testament or, persuant to certain Statutorily prescribed criteria, by continuous, uninterrupted use,of the land, without overt objection, by the landowner (“adverse possession”). Without the right, granted by a valid easement, the crossing over, use, or entry upon land, owned by another person, would amount to a “trespass”, addressable by legal action.

The most common easements, are those granted, or reserved, in documents of title, typically, affording a utility company, or a municipality, the right, to run power lines, or water pipes, over or through, privately owned land. The simplest instance of an easement, is the agreed, mutual use of a common driveway, by the owners of attached homes.

In contemporary American society, the right to privacy, equality and freedom of action, are legally, unassailable, and justly celebrated, as concomitants of the personhood of every citizen. Provided that a course of action is recognized as lawful, and societally responsible, the individual is completely free to act, as may be desired. Like the rights inherent in the ownership of land, unauthorized infringement of the right to life and liberty, amount to an indefensible trespass upon one’s person.

A common occurrence of unfair trespass on individual rights, as between members of society, has its origin in the faux evaluation of individuals, upon factually unsupported assumptions, as to their quality as citizens, or the extent of their mature responsibility. Such error has its disputable basis in nuanced, or stereotypical appearance, or perhaps, in idle gossip. It is manifestly unfair, and unjust, for society to hold individuals, esteemed as highly responsible, to greater expectations and higher standards of performance, than those, subjectively, perceived as irresponsible.  This is effectively equivalent to granting to the people, deemed, less dependable, a gratuitous easement, on the liberty, life and life, of those who are deemed more responsible, and, by consequence, taxed with the performance of societal obligations. It is often heard, with a measure of knowing amusement, or anger, “I’ll do it, what can you expect of ….?

We may, at times of felt need, choose to rely upon selected others, to act in our behalf. In such matters, relevant details have to be clearly and expressly discussed, and mutually understood; otherwise, an error can occur, consisting of non-performance of an important action, or on the other hand, an undesired, continuance of services; leading to, a felt encroachment upon one’s desire for non-interference. In metaphoric similarity to the grant of easement rights, regarding the use of land, the relegation of someone to act in your behalf, has to be clear, specific, and, especially, limited in nature.

Any merely general, unspecified, ceding of authority, is foolhardy, and will predictably, result in serious misunderstanding and consequent, problems. One, heartbreaking, but frequent, category of such problem typically exists, where a person, usually, an unmarried family member, such as an unmarried niece, consents to accepting the all-consuming responsibility of care, for a disabled, elder relative. The caregiver, maintains the appropriate, expectation of appropriate recompense, for such extensive services; and, more profoundly, for its major incursion into (trespass upon) her private life. The disabled party, and possibly, other relatives, choose to regard the services as consistent with the well- known, caring persona, of the caregiver, and therefore, not relevant to any expectation of remuneration; as if she granted the family, a voluntary easement on her private life. There exist many such cases of record, in State and Surrogate’s Courts, throughout the Nation, where, again, a relative, undertook the unlimited responsibility of care, for an elderly, or otherwise incapacitated relative, in normal expectation of remuneration, for her years of service and sacrifice (remaining unmarried); perhaps, to be bequeathed under decedent’s will, or otherwise, but, in fact, received nothing. The attempted grounds for these lawsuits, were, “implied contract for services,” or some similar contractual theory. The claimants have, typically , been unsuccessful.

The years of nursing and intimate personal services rendered by the unmarried niece, were “taken for granted” (analogous to an unenforceable [because unwritten] assumption of a legally granted, easement in the nurse’s private life), and, not compensable. Sadly, and ironically, in said Court cases, the assets of the Estate, are usually left to another relative; often to a sibling, who may have been entirely disinterested in the elder’s health. Relative to the general theme of this writing, is the view that the services of the caregiver, were offered, by the caregiver, by our analogy, a voluntary, gratuitous, grant of “easement,” on her personal life, and as such, not compensable. The boundaries of the caregiver’s life, in such cases, effectively have been incrementally, eroded, by her own loving action. It is our inarguable position, that the intrusion into, and upon a life, based upon self-serving perception, is decidedly worse, that any analogous trespass on real estate. [ N.B. Under uniform Real Estate Laws, claimed easements to use the land of another person, must be pursuant to a mutually executed writing].

Assumptions, albeit, based upon recalled perceptions, of past performance, should not be a determinant for future, nuanced treatment. For society to prosper and be just, every individual must be treated, as equally capable, and responsible, as evaluated, pursuant an identical normative standard. Prejudgments, are harmful, and may often be, merely, an unreliable and subjective reflection of a skewed or unreliable memory. All members of society should, uniformly, be subject to identical standards of expectation, lest unfairness and injustice be predictably, a better bet, than efficiency of performance. The boundaries of human expectation, and assertion of rights, whether regarding ownership of property, or the liberty of  individuals, should eternally, depend upon reason, fairness and upon mutually accepted and expressly communicated terms.

The famous, Colonial American Revolutionary pennant, memorializing the historically famous admonition, “Don’t tread on me,” seems to be in sync with our selected,  (but unusual) metaphor, as between (“easement”) rights to use the land of another, and the eternal, moral concern, about impinging upon the life and liberty, of another person.


Post # 425 (poesie) THE CHASM

The soft, slow, down-tumble
From the cool side of the pillow
Into the dark recesses of sleep
Is velvet smooth and non- abrading.
A digital demon of the dark chasm,
Presses the “app” for confused reality
Bringing disquietude, but also peace.
Sunrays of sound, cordant and discordant
Night beams of joy, also painful loss
A random collage of personal memories
The shifting days of joy and sorrow,
The reunion of deceased with the living.

(Leonard N. Shapiro, October, 2019)

 Post # 424    FARE AND BALANCED

Lest the reader think that we are solely preoccupied with esoteric, philosophical subjects, related to mankind and his interface with society, we have chosen for this writing, the inarguably, mundane subject of New York City buses. In common with most of our mini-essays, we prefer to refer to the relevant past history, prior to the expression of our thoughts concerning, the subject in its contemporary existence.

The word “bus” is, in reality, a contraction of the word, “omnibus,” meaning,” for everyone,” signifying the ability of anyone, without any previous reservation, to board as a fared passenger, at any designated point, along its fixed route. Buses are relatively large motor vehicles, capable of carrying many passengers, along their assigned route, during which there are dedicated stops.

The first “streetcars” in New York, (1830’s) were, actually, pulled by horses along rails, to various designated stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Research indicates, that, in addition to the usual logistical and mechanical problems, intrinsically inherent in such an enterprise, the signature problem was horse poop.

The horse-pulled street cars, were subsequently replaced by cable cars, (overhead sourced electricity) which, like its predecessor, traveled on street- level, rails to designated stops (“trolleys”). The next, succeeding, surface transit system, the fuel powered bus, replaced the electric-sourced street cars (trolleys”) very soon after, it is thought, largely due to the concerted public relations efforts of the fuel industry. The change, of course, was a true, paradigm shift, in City travel and commutation.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, (“MTA”), we are informed, presently, operates a fleet of approximately, 6,000 buses in New York City, covering 322 routes. Regular fare is $2.75, payable with a “MetroCard,” or by exact change (in coins). They, conveniently, tend to service areas of the City, not located close to subway entrances.

We are pleased to note the following laudable features of City buses: lowered platform apparatus for the use of  the disabled, kneeling buses for easier passenger entrance, a new system, consisting of outside payment of fare and the permitted use of multiple entrance doors, to avoid crowding, allocated seating section for the elderly and disabled, and, from time to time, announcement of streets and avenues, along the route; the latter, especially useful, when dark and on rain periods, when visibility of street signs are a challenge. We would suggest that such regular announcements be a feature of all buses, on all necessary occasions.

We do, however, wish to lodge, an especially vexing, complaint. We, and as informed, many other bus passengers, have experienced the great frequency of instances in which (usually aggravated by a cold, rainy or hot day), the wait for buses, is unreasonably long, late, and inconsistent with the posted schedule. After an uncomfortable wait, usually with an ever accumulating crowd of travelers, no less than two buses, will then arrive. This is hard to comprehend or forgive. The bus company, (presumably, its dispatchers) know, or should know, from many years of repeated experience, the normal, daily and hourly passenger demand, at any given bus stop. There are, indeed, many people who aptly perform, multiple, complex responsibilities as part of their employment; by contrast, this matter is childishly simple, and there would appear to be is no reasonable excuse for such ineptitude.

We truly appreciate the positive features of the City buses, enumerated above, and choose to remain, eternally optimistic, that a solution of the needless scheduling morass, will be found, in good time.



As has been famously said, there is a “time for everything,” We see the moral obligation, for the first time, after publishing 422 mini- essays, to profusely and sincerely, apologize for the current title. We are morally constrained to admit, that the only comparative element, of all three subjects, in the above title, is that they have each, respectively, crossed the irreversible threshold of extinction, after a long, pre-eminence. The offense is aggravated, by our further admission, that this note does not in any other way, directly or by indirection, concern the titular subjects, of the ancient wooly mammoth or the dodo. The themed, extinct phenomenon, du jour, in truth, is that of (legitimate) conversation.

When early man progressed from a solo, to a societal, life, the desired interdependent benefits (ex., defense, food gathering, joint projects, exchange of skills) would not be,as a practical matter, attainable, without a common mode of inter-active communication; a developed language. The facility of an understandable language, made possible, among other things, the exchange of information and skills, as well as the expression of thoughts and reactions to events.

The fundamental ability to speak to others, was empirically essential, to the common solution of problems, the exchange of skills, joint undertakings and decisions, expression of needs, communication of events, whetherthey be dangerous, like threats from outsiders, or beneficial, such as the location of food and water. It is assumed that as the facility of spoken language improved, other matters were added to the common subjects of discussion: oral history, achievements and tragic events, as well as the news of the day. Members of society might express thoughts and opinions, and when the need presented itself, their personal feelings. The facility of speech, or “talking” to others, afforded a rational, and orderly mode of socialization and the necessary emotional relief of voluntary expression, and, still performs the identical functions in our modern society. The human facility of speech, or talk, is most certainly, not extinct, nor is it, in actuality, the subject of this writing.

Samuel Johnson, the 18th Century poet, playwright, essayist and lexicographer, was considered, by a great many, the greatest figure of that Century. He is known to have made the following statement, among many other great and memorable statements:

“… We have had talk enough, but no conversation; there was nothing [interesting] discussed.”

There is a significant, qualitative, aesthetic and intrinsic difference, between, talking and having a “conversation.”But, because the words, “talk” and “conversation,” are often considered synonymic, we have, defensively, quoted Dr.Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, lest our themed distinction, seem strained or pedantic. Conversations, are more than mundane interactions; a speaker actually says something incisive, interesting or memorable. The art of conversation, whenever it existed, was an engagement between two or three people, in which the exchange of language was, observingly, knowledgeable, at times, containing truly, original thoughts, but always, dependably interesting, and at various times, fascinating.

Many thought provoking observations or interesting points of view, as well as valuable observations were, in the recent past, articulated by letter correspondence. We feel that thoughtful correspondence, was and is, the most aesthetic and artistic mode of conversation, since they are expressed at leisure, with time and opportunity, to select the words, most expressive of the writer’s thoughts. For those who may not know it, and may be curious, history, records a, “Pliny the Younger,” as, famously, having written a great many letters which have proven to be a treasure trove of information, for scholars of ancient Rome. Our adopted, (possibly, presumptuous) use of that name, as the style of this blogspace, admittedly, was not accidental or whimsical.

Legitimate conversation is only possible for, and perhaps, solely desired by, that remaining minority of humanity, that has wisely dedicated, some part of its short life span, to knowledge and self- improvement; through engagement in reading good literature and/or pursuing the arts and sciences. It is such people who, happily, and successfully, attain the intended goal of natural evolution, of a more exalted platform of life, and the ability to live meaningfully and rationally; for which dedicated purpose, mankind was generously gifted with an advanced brain.

Nature’s goal is represented by a disappointingly, small, surviving, cohort of homo sapiens, who can speak and as well, engage in true and rewarding conversation.  For the most part, the fragile existence of bona fide, authentic, conversation, has gone the final and sad way, of the Wooly Mammoth and the Dodo.

ADDENDUM: The prevalent use of smart-phone “messaging” we feel, has permanently eliminated, any and all dreams of a possible return, to the esthetic and rewarding art of human conversation.



Major shifts in the tectonic plates, in the Earth’s crust, are reported to occur at geological “faults”, such that the positions of the plates, change relative to each other, often resulting in momentous results, such as, earthquakes, in the case of rapid occurrences, or “slips,” for slower ones. They evidently occur, locally, but can have global repercussions. Various organizations and scientists study this phenomenon, including the U.S. Geological Survey Organization. Some of the tectonic shifts take eons to occur, others may be more rapid in their formation. The subject is eternally investigated and is the subject of many academic disciplines.

In some cases, (like the movement of tectonic plates), shifts in the mutual relationships, between the younger and older members of society, also produce, enduring results, but, by metaphoric contrast, some may be societally beneficial, as well as damaging; but, clearly, never graphically catastrophic, as in the case of geologic earthquakes or tsunamis. We term these social changes metaphorically, “seismic” because of their noteworthy, and enduring effects. An additional difference, regarding human seismic changes, is that they occur on a more regular basis, and may require at most, only the period of a human generation or so, to manifest themselves.

As early as the beginning of the 20th Century, many salubrious, personal changes began to occur, which reflect a developing empathic and respectful recognition of the younger generation, as individual, nascent adults, with legitimate personal and emotional reactions, albeit, at times, from an inexperienced perspective.

Those readers, to young, to remember, may consult literature and old movies, to disapprovingly, learn, of such commonplace aphorisms, as “Children are to be seen and not heard,” Spare the rod and spoil the child,” “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” “Mother knows best,” “Respect your elders,” (the latter applied, as well, to adults who deserved little or no respect), ”You wouldn’t understand,” “You are just a child,” “Children think they know so much,” and the like. Moreover, for generations, schoolteachers in most States, were legally considered, to be “in loco parentis,” and were permitted to physically, punish children. In one account, read by us concerning what was advertised, in New England, as “Good Christian Schooling,”schoolteachers were permitted to cut a switch from a local tree, and whip the misbehaving child; a popular variation, was to have he alleged “misbehaving” child stand barefoot on hard peas. These behaviors, by schoolmasters at the time, were legally, and routinely, performed, with the implicit assent, of the parents.  These tectonic plates needed shifting.

Such atavistic and disgraceful disregard for the feelings and persona of young children, mercifully, came to a gradual (and inconsistent) end in the coming years. Among various factors, including, the reading of good, secular literature and liberal education, a rational perspective evolved, catalyzed, in short order, by the new exposure to television; the latter demonstrating modern views on the proper contextual relationship, of parents and children, and adults and young people, in general. Children were at last, considered authentic nascent adults, and not household possessions. On television and radio productions, children were portrayed as capable of owning their own unique persona and intelligence. The appropriate and realistic portrayal of young people, in the media and elsewhere, was a teaching experience, for those many, who needed it.

As can be assumed, the general family life of parents and children took on new perspective; inexperienced, or immature expressions, were lovingly considered, as such, or as “cute,” and, as the child grew older, his thoughts and opinions were duly recognized and given consideration, by parents. At appropriate times, children were spoken to as individuals, as opposed to as toddlers. Children now could freely, express themselves, rather than “be seen but not heard.” A momentous tectonic plate, had finally settled, in a fit and secure place.

But, as any physical geologist would tell you, tectonic plates are never predictable, and may,atany time, unexpectedly, disturb a peaceful environment. A different, and gigantic, societal shift more recently took place, commensurate and contemporaneously, with, the advent of computer technology, most particularly, with the hand-held computer telephone.

Younger people, not hobbled by the “traditional” teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic, as were their elders, were now required, not only to be heard, but as well, seen, since they became, of necessity, remedial instructors, for their older, digitally limited parents and seniors. Educated in a new electronic context, they have become accessible aficionados of the language and the novel context, of the new, digital computer-driven society.

As an aside, we have, consistently, expressed our adamant disapproval, concerning the prevailing use of the electronic phone, for personal interaction, pointing out the lack of individuality and spontaneity, in their use, and the impersonality of the practice of the receipt of code-like computer images, on a small, lighted screen, in lieu of spontaneous, personal conversation. We have implored the young to read books, and not screens. All to no avail. We have also remonstrated for the healthy, mind exercising, use of intelligent reason, for solving problems, rather than punching buttons on a digitized, hand held appliance. Again to no avail.

The most recent major sociological, tectonic plate shift, is manifested in the universal use of digital phones and computerized equipment. As to a great many of us, who have not been educated in the digital age, we are, blamelessly, handicapped, by the imperative need to alter our lives, so as, to become digital operators and to think, digitally. The result, is that the entire tectonic plate area has so shifted, that, even those of us who are objectively, well- educated, need to rely on available youngsters for even, basic assistance. The young person is now, by material necessity, to be heard, as well as seen, so that we elder members of society, can try his patience with sophomoric questions, and multiple requests, for computer assistance.

It is remarked, somewhere, that, “the worm has turned.” We would prefer the statement, “Society’s tectonic plates have remarkably, shifted”.