Blog #8 The Inside Story of Happiness

Several years ago, and on a day when the weather was rather unseasonable,  p. was confronted by a well-known TV weatherman and crew, and asked for his opinion on the unusual weather. P. extremely surprised,  but pleased, stated to the surprise of the interviewer  that, in his experience the daily weather report  was internal, and not outdoors ;Even on a sunny, temperate day,  if one is troubled, it is a rotten day; conversely, it is a fine day, albeit nasty weather, if one is feeling  peaceful and untroubled.

It is not only our judgment of weather that is internal but, it seems, all of our perceptions are internal.

Our industrial society seems to ( solely) value the production of material  goods and services and achievements in  their increased production, while human activities such as reading, thinking at leisure, enjoyment of the arts are relegated to categories of less importance, The means, efforts to acquire material things  is unfortunately, approved and  encouraged by society. Life teaches the intelligent observer that such insatiable formula for material things is futile ,and, ultimately not productive of human happiness. There are untold examples in life in general, in business, and show business, that it never satisfies and leads to disappointment, misery and even, suicide. Individual and thoughtful re-evaluation of “means” and “ends” may be called for realistic self-evaluation may put us on the path to ultimate satisfaction.

Individual, personal and private perception of one’s virtue is very essential, hypocrisy is ultimately self-destructive. Should I steal your watch, even if I return it and all is completely forgiven, I still have the private and agonizing doubts as to my earlier wrongful act as a reflection of my character.

p

Blog #7 Democracy, the Enemy of Liberty

It is disappointing to observe, at times, the conflation of the basic and competing, concepts of the elemental words, “Democracy” and “Liberty”.

History reveals that democracy is not the natural state of societies. Rule by a king or queen, chief and the like, was traditionally the case. The 6th Century Greeks can claim the kudos for the origin of the word “democracy” (government by the people, instead of a Ruler) if not the practice. It seems that the right to participate in Greek democracy (viz.,to vote) was restricted to male landowners as distinguished  from most of that population, slaves, women and “foreigners.”

Today it is an established American truism that majority rule (more than 50%) is the preferred (binary) decision- making formula; after all, rule by a supermajority  only vests decision making  power in a needed  minority. Bentham and Mills’ “greatest good for the greatest number,” affords problems for the lesser numbers.

In a democracy, those who do vote not with the majority are understandably concerned with the limits set on society. The ever- present fear of “the tyranny of the majority” was the concern of our founders who added an addendum to the Constitution, “”The Bill of Rights”, protecting all citizens (including significantly, the minority) in general language as to enumerated rights. Generally speaking, individuals are not accountable to society for acts that affect only the actors but only are accountable for acts which harm others, The legal limit between governmental power, exercised pursuant to the will of the majority, while not arbitrary, all too often  requires scrutiny, and, where needed judicial determination.

I have too often heard a Member of Congress (who should know better), demand certain action simply because a majority of his constituency favor it. They need to be tutored in High School civics before they can do great harm.

p

Blog #6 Enfin! La soupe. (Old Age is Not A Disease)

Movies and public media, perhaps for perceived marketing reasons, has been mono-focused on the young, shapely and fashionable people, to the exclusion of our challenged and senior population (except for big pharma).

There seem to be a great many people who ignorantly see “aging”  as a” disease”  These people should be disabused of such an erroneous understanding and perception of reality.

Remember those childlike questions, “Is it soup yet?” After enough years of simmering,   it would appear that the “Third Act” of our lives, assuming reasonable health, is a gift–the long awaited soup!

Situational, for most, earlier stages of life seem to present anxieties, school, apprenticeship performance, sexual angst, finances, doubtful self- image and aspirations.,  It would appear that many, at such stages may seem to define themselves by their perceived weaknesses rather than by their strong points and occasional success …

In the maturing adult, gone are the youthful perceptions and resultant insecurities and fears; their place taken by a more pacific and reasoned image of the self and the world. At times, immediate recall of past events may fade somewhat, but reason and philosophical attributes arrive as a sufficient recompense

An appreciation for living things (as well as history) seems to markedly increase even for people who were always caring of our planet its flora, air and fauna. Grandchildren are a generous recompense for getting older.  Those who enjoy the pleasure of reading great novels, understand and identify even more than before, with the literary depiction of humanity, its flaws and aspirations as portrayed by these geniuses. The experience of living shows us filled in blank spaces of which we may have been unaware.

It may be that the most valuable and useful of gifts, the understanding and practice of the appropriate measure of depth and response and depth to stimuli, good or bad; this is a lesson which takes decades to learn.

p

Blog #5 Where you at, SCOTUS?

Since its establishment, the Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS”) have required that all cases initially file a preliminary proceeding seeking approval and acceptance by the Court (“writ of certiorari”). If granted; then and only then, can the matter proceed to be heard. By far, most writs are denied. One historical reason for denial, by consistent legal precedent, is the presence of a political question, in whole or part, such judicial restraint being understood to be in the interest of the  avoidance of a violation of the Separation of powers, under the U.S. Constitution.

Nevertheless, famously, starting with Bush v. Gore, it appears that this historic and fundamental principle of law and government was selectively ignored by the Court, resulting no less, in the selection of one candidate for President of the United States over the other (political?).

Worse still was the Citizen’s united case. Not only did the court accept a clearly political case, but held that corporations had   “personhood” with First Amendment rights of free speech (read, contributing unlimited sums of money to favored candidates). This meant and means, that elections may be bought by these entities thus destroying the one man one vote required in a Jeffersonian democracy. Talk about “Separation of Powers!”

Going back to Victorian times, it has consistently been the law, and history, that a corporation is a  “fictional entity, a creature of the State, created to afford to venturers and entrepreneurs “limited” as opposed to “unlimited” liability, in order to encourage investment in new ventures by limiting the potential   of risk to the individual entrepreneur

Every law school student learns and knows, that the legally accepted phrase, and “for the purpose of” is an essential concept in law, in the determination of legal rights and responsibilities

Thus, for the purpose of doing business (only) was, and is the corporation deemed to be a “person” in that it can enter into contracts, sue and be sued in its corporate name. It was preposterous for SCOTUS to hold that a corporation is a person with the First Amendment right of free speech donating enormous sums of cash to political candidates of their liking, just cannot get his head around the concept that SCOTUS doesn’t know what every law school freshman and informed citizen knows, and therefore am mystified as to its motivation.

p

Blog #4 Emogee Emotion

It is an unfortunate reality that so many people have chosen to sacrifice the natural pleasure and reassurance of person-to- person conversation in favor of e-mail and the like. Lost are the reassuring features of facial and voice recognition, spontaneous response, meaningful emphasis and tone. The existence of “emogees”, for example, is an irrefutable admission that electric speak is an inadequate substitute for authentic human interaction. Would you propose marriage by Morse Code?

Clearly, e-mail and texting talk are profoundly inadequate substitutes for real human conversation and appear to be the mere transmission of data (haven’t we had enough data?).

There are some who fancy that they have a plethora of “friends”, who may  in reality live lonely, solitary lives, transmitting e-mails and texts, instead of personally meeting up with visible and audible others, for pleasure, company, affection and, when needed, support and reassurance.

p

Blog #3 An especially dirty word

Unhappily, and perhaps, disappointingly, history as well as current events instruct us that  war and human suffering are all too often motivated by the clash of  different religious beliefs .  Yet it is obvious, and must always borne in mind, that it is only by the mere accident of birth that we randomly acquire our culture and specific belief system.

The early seed of discord is planted by a well-meaning parent or guardian by the reference to a “we” and a “they”. As a consequence, thereafter, some dedicate their lives to evangelism, myth -making and even, warfare.

On the assumption that religion is needed by the believer to face his mortality, it should be realized and understood that other’s beliefs may be serving the same purpose albeit seen as “different” (“they”)

Personally, I seem to prefer secular morality.

Addendum:

All of mankind would greatly benefit from the permanent eradication of the word (and concept) of “race”. Worse than useless, arbitrary and unscientific, it has never been employed for useful (as opposed to malignant) purpose. Simply put, the word “race” only leads to mischief.

p

Blog #2 Columbus Day Redux Columbus adv. Columbus Day

The 17th Century impetus was to find a short route to the “Indies” -for spices and other products and, very importantly, to find a route by which payments for the privilege of ocean passage might be avoided.

Chris’ application for the financing of the voyage was, perhaps wisely, turned down by his own rulers and so he applied to the religious zealots, the lunatics, Ferdinand and Isabella, who were almost too preoccupied with burning innocent people alive as “heretics” in Spain. The celebrated royal couple financed the voyage for their own   purpose of converting heathen savages to their brand of Catholicism.  (Presumably, one which would not be approved by the new Pope, Francis, by any means).

Three ships, loaded with many missionary priests (and some sailors) set out for the continent of America but ended up in Haiti (my wife berates me for getting off the LIE at the wrong exit!!).

He did, however, succeed in killing many indigenous people, bringing death, atrocity and new diseases to the “New World”. And its innocent inhabitants.

I enthusiastically celebrate the ethnos, but not that villain, Columbus.

p

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