Thanksgiving Ruminations, 2015

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the November 26th, 2015

From November 26, 2015 The Transom column by Ben Domenich (

Giving Thanks

It is difficult to give thanks in a time that seems so dark. War, terror, and genocide stalk nearly every corner of the globe. The insecurity we felt after 9/11 is amplified by the fears, for the first time in a generation, of great-power war — or even world war. China is run by authoritarian kleptocrats. Latin America is run by criminal gangs. Russia is run by a revanchist tyrant. Europe is run by a discredited and feeble gerontocracy in deep denial over reality. And the Middle East is run by fanatical killers who will gladly provide the sparks that light the whole thing ablaze.

Then there are these United States. America too is governed by fools, and the people know it – the political phenomena of the past few months bears this out. Americans do not trust their government to get anything right – to pay the bills, to respond to hurricanes, to analyze intelligence, to hold to red lines, to build websites – and certainly not to tell the good refugee from the bad. The personality to come along and give voice to these concerns of total fecklessness and incompetence at the highest levels is thriving. At least he recognizes BS for what it is, and calls it like it is, even if he himself is the highest ranking BSer in the land.

Yet we Americans should be thankful, very thankful, for our place within the world. Thanksgiving serves as a reminder that for us today, compared to the history of our country and the planet, all the problems of modern America are rich people problems. A lot of our problems are problems of choice. We have human and social capital and natural resources in great abundance that we simply choose not to use.

Tomorrow blue collar working stiffs across the country are going to eat feasts that would put all but a handful of emperors in history to shame. The United States in 2015 is still the envy not only of every country in the world but every country in history. Our controversies are the controversies of a nation that has prospered to an unbelievable degree. Our policy questions are more about how to make almost universal educations and benefits that were once reserved for royalty.

Yes, the status quo is broken. Yes, we are ruled by idiots. Yes, there is corruption and mismanagement and very real despair. But anyone wondering what to be thankful for just ought to look around. Go to an American grocery store on Wednesday, a Thanksgiving dinner in Thursday, and then a mall on Friday, and then think on the fact that most of the country thinks we’re in a recession and headed on the wrong track. Be thankful that our biggest problem is an isolated authoritarian who is nonetheless term limited and checked by constitutional counterweights. Compared to surviving a winter barely living indoors, and eating only what you can kill, we are doing rather well.

The rest of the world still has many millions of people who live in such poverty. Homeless and hopeless, life for them is little changed from the dark old days of warlords and scimitars. Things are very dark in far too many corners of the earth.

But there, too, we can have hope. Our current leadership may not grasp the indispensability of America to the world — but Americans do. We did not seek the charge to stand against the foes of civilization and freedom. We never do. But we will do the job when the job comes to us. America is not without her faults. But it has within its people a stoic spirit that for all the weaknesses of an era of soft heads and hearts is still firm as iron. When the world is at its worst, we are at our best.

So let us be thankful for this: that we are incredibly fortunate to be Americans. We have good fortune to live in these times, dumb as they are. We have the luck to be born at a time in history when anyone can prosper and thrive. We have the blessing and the privilege, whether born to deep roots or newly arrived from strange lands, of being the greatest people in the history of the man.

The world is dark. But there is a light in the darkness, and it is us.

Letter to Think Tanks with Letter to Superintendent, USMA: Joshua Charles’ Liberty’s Secrets

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the November 9th, 2015

Letters to Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Witherspoon Institute, Hoover Institute, Brookings
with a letter to the Superintendent of Cadets at the United States Military Acaemy at West Point.

Dear Sirs;
This is a broadside, addressed to no one in particular, but to anyone to who it might have interest. I am a great fan of think tanks – institutions – and was amazed when I looked up a list of them on line to find that they exist in most countries of the world; but there was a separate page devoted to the United States; why should I have been surprised at that? In this day and age of tepid and superficial media contribution we owe so much to your organizations – even if many do not realize it. You might ask why I don’t contribute more to your organizations; I do what I can; I am retired and live on fixed income, and believe in personal fiscal responsibility.

That is in a way related to why I am writing this letter. I am reading a book by Joshua Charles entitled Liberty’s Secrets, but more about that elsewhere. In fact the elsewhere is discussed in a letter I mailed to the Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point yesterday. That letter will be self-explanatory, and a copy of it is enclosed with this letter.

Why am I sending it to you? Again, I think you will find that self-explanatory too. I feel we are in very challenging times, and are losing much of what has made us what we are; I, having great respect for what you do, feel you share my concerns. And that is what Mr. Charles was writing about. All of that is why I sent the letter to Gen. Caslin.

I hope I am not presuming either in this letter, and to others I am sending to other institutions, as well as to General Caslin; but I feel I have to do whatever I can do, and what I can do is not a great deal. What you can do is far greater, so I am writing to you; it is the only influence I can hope to exert.

I am also enclosing an essay I published on my personal website, which gets little attention, which is all right with me because I do it to help me develop my own personal thoughts and philosophies. What I was doing in it is trying to explain the connection between the God of our forefathers and the true meaning of what I believe “supreme being” entails. I did this, and send it to you, because I think this is the cause of much of the antipathy that we are currently getting with respect to Christianity; I shan’t elaborate on that, save to say that I see bits of it in Charles’ book, although one must be careful what says in print these days so as not to insult the thinking of some. I personally don’t have to worry about that.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to send this – merely by being there and doing what you do. If you don’t find my remarks of merit, at least I hope you will give consideration to Joshua Charles’ book. I consider it really significant, and deserving of far more interest than it may be receiving.

Office of The Superintendent
United Stated Military Academy
West Point, New York 10996
7 November 2017

Dear General Caslen:
I hope I am not presuming by writing this letter to you, but I have been reading a book named Liberty’s Secrets (the lost wisdom of America’s founders), by a young millennial by the name of Joshua Charles and could not pass up the opportunity to send my recommendation of it to you and your staff. Charles co-authored a book with Glenn Beck (The Original Argument). He leads the “Rediscovery Project” at the Public Policy Institute of William Jessup University – I won’t go on with his credentials. The book was published by WND Books, (registered trade mark of, whose books are distributed by Midpoint Trade books, 27 West 20th Street, suite 1102, New York, New York 10011.

I would be surprised if such an obscure publication were to come to your attention; I could be wrong, but it is why I am writing to you. I am a graduate from the class of 1958, and was the son of a graduate from the class of 1934. I am conservative, as you might suspect, but no right wing radical; this is not a right wing radical book. It is a book about all the things that we stand for: principles, discipline, service, country, dedication and that which our republic stands for. Yes, it is also a bit heavy on the Christian religion, but in a very positive way, focusing as it does on principles and not dogma, which is the way I got my Christianity and have come to understand it. It is not bible thumping nor, in my opinion, is it ideological: it is straight from the shoulder patriotism, as we teach it at West Point.

But it is not written by a fossil like me, dredging up ancient past that too many today have forgotten or choose not to think about. I think it is timely, and I was overwhelmed by this “breathtaking book”, as described in the fly leaf of the dust cover. It is not an “easy” book but it is certainly one that makes one think, if one has been brought up to think as we have, and should make anyone, who considers self American, who reads it to think. But our culture has wandered, and we have lost understanding of much that should be commonplace to us. We at West Point, however, are still teaching it, and believe in it, which I why I have directed this letter to you.

Much of the book includes selected references to and quotations by the founders, many which I had never seen; they are eye opening, and impressed me greatly. Enough; I need not belabor it, but wanted to bring it to the attention of you and your staff. Too much of what our young are introduced to these days are from us old fogeys, who are over the hill; maybe we are difficult to believe; maybe modernity has changed the world, and we have just not kept up. But THIS book is written by a millennial, who thinks the way we do. What convinced me to write this letter was reading passages that I could have thought were from our curricula. But, as I say, enough. I have done what I wanted to do.

Thank you for giving it your attention.

Putting Things In Perspective

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the November 5th, 2015

This is a difficult thing for people to do these days, partly because too many do not have much perspective. Why not? Because media (including social) and government attempt to make it unnecessary to have perspective, providing its own, and preferring emotional divide and conquer controversy. Government didn’t use to be that way, or at least not as bad as it is now; but that’s where we are, and it is divisively unhealthy. Ignorance is a contributor too; nothing new there, but today it doesn’t seem to bother us, partly because we are too busy being occupied by entertainment of all kinds that is far more fun than pursuing knowledge. Forget trying to understand.

Perspective; there are almost no yes/no answers to questions concerning policy today, despite that polls continually solicit them. I responded to a poll the other day; mostly these days I just don’t bother; leaving a number of questions blank; but included a brief letter telling the pollster why: because such questions cannot be reasonably answered by yes or no, and not because I have no opinion, but because it takes discussion – perspective. Of course no one is going to bother to read that brief letter, because the pollster is merely interested in compiling statistics, and getting contributions. That is also the world in which we live, but before being critical, remember what they do takes money, and they do what they do because that is the only way they have to get it. Free enterprise; we don’t want to listen to that either, preferring to criticize.

I had a conversation yesterday with a friend who had become upset with an item she heard on the news and wanted to tell me about it; when I attempted to try and introduce perspective she became irritated at me, and said I don’t listen, and merely try to push my own opinions, thinking I know everything. I do not know everything, but perhaps in trying to make an attempt to introduce perspective, I was overdoing it. I admitted that I accept that, and need to be more careful in trying to say what I say; but that applies here too. I think I turn many perspective readers off by pushing perspective. Essentially it is a plea not to accept a black and white position, but to think about it; but many have no patience with that, since they already have made up their minds and have no intention of changing them. Open minds? Perspective? Thinking? There I go again.

Perhaps we might discuss why the situation is as it is today. I contend our current government has been overly active in insisting that its way is the only way; but then we read that continually that is the policy of progressives in general as well: my way or the highway, and down with you if you cannot accept what they know is TRUE. Media (and particularly social media) jumps right into that one with both feet because they know people love it, and therefore want to encourage it: it sells, and they are in business to sell, if not product then ideas, or at least opinions. It is what we have become, and it is much of the reason that things are so contentious: because WE LIKE it that way. Well, I don’t; but being in the minority it irritates people who don’t want to hear it. So I need to pull in my horns, but not here. Here is where I say what I feel I need to say, and anyone who doesn’t want to partake in it, need not. I have to do that for myself. In fact it is part of the mental exercise I need to help me deal with mild dementia. Oh, that sounds terrible; poor me. Mild dementia is not all that bad; it is adversity that makes me try harder, and that is not only useful, the results are highly satisfying, for reasons that might be obvious if one thinks about it. In fact life is better, because in pursuing perspective I find I have more respect for others, more concern for them and what they think, and expand my own understanding in the process. Glen Campbell: “let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder; let me praise a little more” – and let them help me think outside of MY box.

I could say give it a try; but it is not for everyone. In fact it seems to be for the relative few that are comfortable enough in their knowledge that they don’t feel threatened. Comfortable in their knowledge? Enough? It is NEVER enough; just enough to not be threatened.

That is also perspective.

Why Are People as We Are?

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the November 3rd, 2015

The short answer to that question, Why Are People as We Are, is differences. Yes, diversity, but not the self-serving political correct version being bandied about: diverse is what we are, because we are different – for all the reasons that have been put forth.

We are also all flawed; that’s part of humanity. Being flawed means we pursue opportunities selfishly, take advantage and often do whatever we can to get ahead. But that’s only one extreme; accept that one, but be surprised at also how good people CAN be at the other exreme, and often (sometimes surprising us) are. Human nature, good and bad; differences; diversity. That is what humans are. In fact it is what animals are, of which we are only an advanced variety. Advanced? why advanced? because we have expanded capacity to think, although this capacity varies widely among us, and many do not use it to good advantage. Why not? Again, the differences; just take a minute to examine them: learning, motivation, nurturing, effects of family and friends, and socializing…or rejection of any or all of them. The choice is ours, but a collective “ours”, and almost all need help in achieving the good, and are likely to suffer if we don’t have it. That is another part of the differences that exist among us.

But of course there is more than that. And most of that more has to do with how we react to anything and everything, particularly emotionally: humans are emotional animals, reflecting how we think and how we react.

We are also impetuous, which has much to do with how it all plays out. The current wave of impetuousness has to do with excesses, of almost everything. In an article I read today, a young Australian model suddenly renounced what she is seeing as the irrationality and unreality of social networking; it is a bankrupt philosophy, she writes (of course), and she is turning her back on it – by creating a new website and soliciting donations to proceed – whither? Who knows? but hazarding a guess doesn’t require much.

And the world in which we have been caught up has progressed too rapidly into realms beyond our ability to cope. So we just have to catch up? easy to say, not so easy to do; We cannot agree on what needs to be done, or how to do it, but there will be pain in doing it, however and whenever it is done, and only that will be the catalyst that will allow us to learn – and progress, if we will. We learn, after all, from adversity, not from success – even pleasure, “happiness” has been over-sold; and yes, that is the subject of yet another study. So many studies; why can’t we learn? First, since studies are created by people, considering different realities, they are not in perfect synch. But second, “we” tend not to access them; who reads heavy technical philosophical studies any more, if we ever did? If more would, things could right themselves more quickly; but that takes us back to differences. We are what we are, and resist being otherwise. Why? partly because too many just don’t want to, because too many don’t want to make the effort, or even think about it all that much, and just emotionally want – and expect – what we want.

Ah, expectations; that is emotion, is it not? So blame it on the chaos of “democracy”. Only that doesn’t work, because the chaos has always been there, just in different forms and organized and driven in different ways – because we, people, are flawed, selfish and emotional. That is just how we are, and it is unlikely to change. Which is not to say that there will not be evolution, as we oscillate between the extremes of human nature, giving in on the one hand, and learning on the other, but hopefully with positive trajectory.

So why don’t we learn? We just went through that: too few make enough effort to, because our differences deflect us in too many different directions, often attracted by selfishness, greed, lust for power, pleasure and whatever else drives us. So what do we do, just roll over and give up?

To start with we can stop whining about adversity and what we do not have, and try to do something about it for ourselves. I have recently attempted to address that, so will not go into it again. Too much of our unhappiness is self-generated. So what to do about that? Again, we are all different, and what we do depends on who we are and our expectations – but more than expectations, expectations are too much of our problem; expectations have to be balanced by reality, and much of reality is within our ability to influence, accepting that “our” must be a collective concept, heavily influenced by family, friends, social relationships and culture; all of which are within our capabilities to at least attempt to deal with – should “we” make the effort to do so, helping each other in the process, if we are open to accepting it.

Another article (study) that appeared over the past several days, discussing how we are suddenly seeing a slight decrease in the longevity of middle class Caucasians with only a high school education; Joel Kotkin has recently addressed this with an article about the disappearance of the working class. The suggested causes are drugs, alcohol and suicides, perhaps due to a perceived decrease in opportunities of this class, education contributing to that for reasons familiar to us today. But education is something AVAILABLE to all, so what is happening there? Too many are not availing themselves of the basic educational opportunities they are being offered, and those basics are critical to progressing to the next level of training that is essential in our increasingly demanding economy, which leads to the more critical education of experience. We will all suffer from this, but forget that individuals – and their support networks, are major contributors, since they are allowing critical opportunities to be lost, or forgo them. Whose fault is that?

End of lecture. In short, “we” have to face life as it is – reality – and deal with it, to the best of our abilities. So difficult to do, sure, but that should only give us incentive to try harder. But then we are all different, and some will make the effort and some will not; but expect the same results? And some will even resist being helped; so be it. It’s up to us, individually, but collectively individually. The skill jobs are still there, and demand is only increasing as supply of current incumbents decrease due to retirement. So, if demand is increasing, why is not supply responding? Because first, our culture has disparaged skilled labor in favor of the entitlement of less arduous employment; and second, because of that those who could be qualified to pursue such demand have failed to make the effort to prepare themselves for it. So it’s all their fault! too simple; it is the collective fault of a myopic culture that is not thinking about what needs to be done, even though it is in their interests to do so. “They” are only the results of the process, which does not excuse them, observing that responsibility for it is collective, and we must help each other – to help themselves; but that does not eliminate the individual responsibility to help themselves.

So let’s get on with it – and begin DEALING with it, if we are so inclined, instead of whining and making excuses. Yes, I know; that is not just going to happen – because we ARE all different; and, because we are, we each have the option to take the path, We, each of us, wish to take, IF we can summon the motivation to do it. And we must help each other to be able to realize that.

It really is all up to us, individual, but also collective.

Kind of deep, but something to think about – a lot.

“New” Fantasy: Over Reaction to What is Good – But also to What is Bad

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the November 2nd, 2015

Fantasy and over-reaction; if it seems to be good, we exaggerate just how good, and go overboard with it. But when it is bad we exaggerate that too; and become paranoid. But that is human nature, and as I have written so many times, it is why, due to the efforts of the founders of our republic, the constitution they wrote, and the checks and balances they created (that are being eroded as quickly as the power elite can do so can) we still wallow in fantasy and love doing it – to excess.

We see this everywhere, and continually. Our challenge is to try and remind anyone who will listen (influence them) as to why reality is important and why we need to exert more effort in understanding it – and providing influence for others to do the same. As I also have written lately, I am encouraged that many others seem to be leaning in that same direction, as I see more and more writers with similar messages. Because of my influence, of course; ha, forget that; because we, at least those that apply thinking to it, are doing so together, and remembering what our great republic was, and will continue to be – with our efforts. I have written letters to the Dallas Morning News complimenting them for their efforts in this regard; I have also written many personal communications to Ben Domenich of The Transom (.com)and Joy Pullman editor of The Federalist (.com) with my congratulations for their efforts; both on-line publications are beginning to make real contributions in helping this happen, and are being recognized for it. Our support of them can only help; people need to be recognized for what they do.

But then, we have become so mired in fantasy and lured away from understanding of reality that many are missing it. Yes, I belabor these subjects, but it is because I worry about the effects that they have on our young, and not so young, who no longer make the effort to expand their minds outward, and learn from the wisdom of others who take the time and make the effort to bring that wisdom, with all that it takes to research it and understand it, to us.

Different opinions? yes; that is human nature and always will be. But the different opinions are also what stimulates us to open our minds and learn – and not just be content to believe whatever we want to believe. Absorbing the opinions of others, especially when they are opposed to ours, is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary if we are to grow and progress. That, of course, also works both ways; it is not about just accepting and absorbing, it is about thinking about it, questioning it, adding to it and supporting it, if we agree to it. Or criticizing it? yes, if it can be done by adding value; but too little of today’s “criticism” does not do so, and too much of it is little more than the self-glorification of seeing our own opinions in print. There should be more, much more, but the more takes initiative, reading, studying, asking questions and thinking. And wanting to.

That is not disappearing, it has merely been side-tracked by more exciting opportunities – of all kinds. We just need to get back to it. Good luck, us we will probably need some it to get there,

How is North America; Dallas Morning News Op Ed, 1 Nov 2015

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the November 2nd, 2015

1 November 2015
Dear Sirs;

Incredible issue of Points today. I am so encouraged that you are reaching back to our journalistic traditions; two few today are. But I am seeing subtle changes. I read recently that older millennials are becoming upset over the lack of people being real today; I think that is part of it. I am proud that you think so too. We are going through difficult times, not helped by an inept administration; it is about to get worse, but we’ll get through it, as we always do, even as some will be hurt more than others. Those will be those who have not been paying attention, and are not doing what they need to do for themselves. This is something, in a world of perennial ignorance that must, unfortunately be relearned periodically. Thank you for standing up for to that. Things never go back to what once was, but they do return to the principles that are the foundation of our great republic. Thank you for understanding that.

“How is North America?” and the George Bush institute was a great focus. But then, that is a reminder of the very considerable contribution our “think tanks” make. I saw a compilation recently of the think tanks of the world; there are more everywhere than most know, but there was a separate list of those in The United States, for obvious reasons. There can be no doubt why we are enjoying the success we are enjoying; which of course is also a reminder: we always suffer from too much of a good thing, and deserve to.

We are also prone to attack and complain, and too slow to compliment – not as is being done through today’s myopicism, but with real justification. More of that same subject: reality. Well past the time when we returned to reality – and the principles of Christianity, not the dogma, but the principles; we often get that wrong. But that is human nature; we believe what we want to believe, and are too prone to accept whatever we are told. Which gets back to your contribution. Yes, publishing is a business, and businesses must be aware of what consumers want, and provide it. But Publishing has to be more than that, because publishers influence; influence is critical in a free culture and publishing should support and exhibit that responsibility as well; it is the publishing tradition. I have argued that it is disappearing; it is not, it has just been obscured for a period of time, just as so much has been obscured by the excesses of our rapid cultural and economic progress, with which we have not been dealing with well, and with which we must have help – always. Thanks for helping.

When we read about North America, we are too often exposed to unrealistic sensationalism that is both slanted and often wrong. Both Mathew Rooney and John R. Macarthur brought this out clearly. The challenge for all, even while allowing ourselves to be dragged into the inevitability of short-sightedness, is to think outside of the box, and allow those with more knowledge and perspective to help us do so. In this regard I often cite the Oxford definition of philosophy: “ use of reason and argument in seeking truth and knowledge of reality.” I also like to quote Anton Myrer from Once an Eagle: (my additions in parentheses) “Read, think (listen, experience), disagree with (question) everything, if you like – but force your mind outward.”

Thank you for helping provide that which we can read that will help us do so, and seeking out the authors capable of providing it. Keep up the good work.

Opinions, Inability to Modify Them, Arrogance and Human Nature

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 30th, 2015

How could we possibly be surprised by what we are seeing?

Websites are primarily for the purpose of selling something, often ideas and opinions; to convince others of what we believe. Wait a minute, anyone reading might ask, and you I am not? Well, yes and no. I have opinions, and wish to share them, but my primary convincing I have to do is of myself. As to modifying them, opinions, that’s why I read, as extensively as possible, and with as open a mind as I can generate; to me this is the essence of moderation.

Several years ago I sustained a concussion and it has resulted in some minor brain damage, confusion, and lack of concentration. But my primary care doctor told me that there were indications that even prior to the concussion I was showing signs of “being on automatic pilot.” He sent me to a neurologist for testing for dementia. Neurological testing determined that the dementia was trauma related; that does not mean that I do not have dementia; there are many causes of dementia. I recently watched a presentation to a seminar on aging in which the speaker addressed this. Aging is a real problem, but it has hidden advantages: it makes us more aware, if we work at it. The speaker allowed that he was happier now than he had ever been in his life, and cited advantages of aging to support that: increased knowledge, more understanding, more tolerance, more awareness; I think we call it call it maturity. I am in full agreement with him. We learn more from mistakes and setbacks than we do from success; I am learning to appreciate that.

Thinking about this led directly to politics and politicians because this, as it is an important part of life, politics being a necessary extension of our lives, as they, through government, contribute to order that would not be there without it. Politicians are selling opinions, as they attempt to sell themselves to voters in exchange for votes to put them in power, but differently from those of many other salesmen of products or ideas: politicians must convince, and many people can only be convinced of what they already believe, or what they are open to being convinced of. So we call politicians liars; that is exaggeration: politicians try to shape their opinions to what people can accept, and therefor vote for. Does that get out of hand? Sure, sometimes; how could it not?

This leads to what I am really trying to write about: the complexity of life, the differences among people and the fact that a bipolar view of almost anything is unrealistic. Balance, moderation, even compromise? I have been there before. Open minds, trying to understand others? I have been there too. And I contend (and have also been here) that social media (heavily influenced by media) has only complicated all of that because it has made it so easy for almost all to express their opinions, with hope if not expectation, that they will be paid attention too. We love it; one of the main objectives of human nature and power is to want to influence.

Recently I have tried to address both political leanings and religion in this regard; political leanings as liberal/progressive, and religion as belief in a supreme being and rejection thereof; I’ll not repeat those discussions here for obvious reasons. Bipolar doesn’t work: black/white, good/bad, right/wrong; there is always grey, nuances, differences even if they are minor. Why do we have such difficulty in discussing with open minds? Because human nature mitigates against it; we don’t want to; it takes effort to do otherwise. Why? don’t ask others, think through it for selves; only in that way can one truly come to understand.

If you haven’t gone through this with me before, and you probably haven’t; and are not willing to do so now, I understand; I don’t blame you. This, after all is the 791st of these essays I have attempted in the past 15 years; that’s a lot of words, a lot of thoughts, and what might motivate you to want to wade through all that? Who am I? But I digress.

The point is the effect of opinions and how they dominate our lives has a lot to do with the problems we have in living together, and dealing with each other, in all walks of life, which are only getting more challenging. Would that it were not so, but it is not: human nature. It has caused many problems, and continues to do so; and WILL continue to do so. Life is continually changing and culture evolving, even as it evolves differently in different places among different people. Education is part of that, but so is the specific cultures themselves. Then there is motivation, ability and incentive to think – and ignorance, and complacency with it. All the problems we face in the world today are intimately associated with all of this, and why we have such difficulty in dealing with them. That won’t change; actually, yes it will; it has. But don’t expect it to ever turn to perfection; that will NEVER happen with humans. And if anyone thinks that robots will solve the problem, forget that; robots are programmed by people.

So what can we do? Just try harder. We can dream. Hey, why not?

It really does come back to people doing for themselves; but we cannot forget that “ourselves is plural, and means more than just individuals. That does not change the equation: ourselves is family, groups and all kinds of associations. We, the government of the people of this great nation, cannot do it for them; learning that, accepting that, is most difficult for many, and the difficulty is exacerbated by the bleeding hearts that think that it can. Does this make me a conservative? How about a realist?

We have a great deal to face over the next several years or decades, or even longer. We cannot do it alone, but neither can we expect others to do it for us. Is that so difficult to understand? Apparently it is for many,


Natural Order, Religion, Principles and Life of Man

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 29th, 2015

I am writing this today because much of what I have been thinking is coming together through the benefit of digesting what what I have been reading. I do not expect most readers to agree – or even understand, for that matter. But this morning some things – for me – suddenly came into focus and I wanted to collect them here – for myself, if no one else – so that I can remember to help myself understand what I believe, and why. Yes, most supported beliefs that I already had, and supported them; but isn’t that part of how we learn?

I wrote in the past of religion and God, and it may have sounded skeptical; I am a skeptic about most things I encounter in life; I think it is essential to be. I wouldn’t expect most to understand that either.

What I wrote at the time might have sounded like atheism; I am not an atheist. But I am uncomfortable with our concept of God, which seems to have evolved into the belief of many to be a deity conceived in the image of man; yes, I know, it was presented as the other way around. But that is the point, and a point that is beginning to dominate my thinking these days, positively, I would argue, but that’s just me.

In short, I cannot believe there is a God that is in the image of man. But that is because I believe God is a concept, based on the reality of life. As Joshua Charles put it (yes, what he writes is influencing my thinking), “Religion (has) anchored the definition of morality on God and asserted its obligations on man by acting as a powerful regulator of the inherently negative aspects of human nature.” He goes on to quote John Adams as saying, “If I were an atheist…who believed or pretended to believe that all is ordered by chance…that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent being, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential PRINCIPLE of all morality and consequently of all civilization.” Why sovereign? Because that is the only way humans could understand it, equating, as we do, to 0ur own experience and understanding; it is also the only way humans could accept the constraints that are part of the constraints imposed by religion. Think about it, and human nature, and how effective bribery is. We see it everywhere; it works; we are selfish and prone to believe what we want to believe, which is what is good for US. Eternal life? Another concept I cannot accept; but we love the thought, and it influences us to want to adhere to the principles; in other words it is a bribe. My opinion, of course.

More Charles, “For the Founders, the most effective catalyst of virtue was religion, for it reminded man he was not God and he therefore cannot shape morality according to his own selfish desires.” I read what I took as similar, probably because it was in my mind, when reading about the GOP political debate last night, when differences of opinion were discussed, and how they were manipulated by the coordinators. Man has a difficult time accepting he is not God; that is, that he can not do whatever he wants to do, because of his purpose of the moment: man is headstrong and selfish, and has difficulty following principles of right and wrong “of all morality and consequently of all civilization,” because it is inconvenient and inhibits him in pursuing his own selfish desires.

Religion as principles to live by make perfect sense to me; trying to put them in such a way that it fits into human understanding – such as dogma – bothers me. Why does it bother me? Because I think we are trying to define something that is beyond our comprehension. So why do we do that? Because it is necessary to focus human minds upon the need to adhere to the principles. If we don’t reduce it to human understanding there is no hope that it will have any meaning to impart to most.

Does this sound like sermonizing? I contend it is not; I suggest it is more just reality. The principles of right and wrong matter, not because of religion, religion exists because we have come to understand that the princip0;les of right and wrong do matter. Look at it has meant to the development of mankind; and look at what happens when those principles are ignored. To me it is nothing more than common sense, but common sense at a philosophical level and not a personal, read selfish, level.

Enough; I have captured what I set out to accomplish – for now. It helps me make sense of life as I observe it, and to help me deal with it. As I am wont to add, and think about it.

What Can We Believe?

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 28th, 2015

We are truly in strange times – for many reasons. We are flooded by so much information, from so many different sources. Which can be believed? It is becoming more difficult to know.

The proliferation of sources, and the competition for them to keep up with each other, is part of it. Whereas we used to have relatively reliable, and somewhat limited, media – and government sources we could generally trust – today we are flooded with coomu8nications, many of them private or at least partially so, that have gained more and more attention from more and more people. Why? Obviously part of it is that they are so ubiquitous; they are everywhere. And why is that? We suddenly have the capability – almost all of us – to say publicly whatever we want to say – or write – and do. And the more that access something or other, however questionable, the more it seems to catch on, and the more likely many are to believe it. And then, as I keep writing, we believe what we want to believe.

On top of that is the lack of real knowledge that is becoming so evident; I call it ignorance, but it is more than that. And the controversy that is both so popular these days, and so mined by a media that is intent on sensationalism, just exacerbates that. Then add in activism, which is anything anyone wants to throw out there for effect, and personal aggrandizement. and the mix becomes toxic.

Lack of discipline? Yes, that is part of it; there seems to be little enough discipline, and little concern for the fact that it is lacking; it seems that we even reject the need for it. Why should we discipline ourselves when “no one” else does, and gets away with it? and we can get away without doing so? Political correctness also has it’s place, and ironically political correctness is a rather dictatorial attempt to impose the wrong kind of discipline: my way or else. And worse, we are letting it happen, even endorsing it – each in his/her own way for their own reasons – and objectives, whatever they might be. Objectives? They abound; everyone seems to have a bundle of them, mostly selfish, mostly ignorant, and almost all without consideration for other than self – and never with thought of unintended consequences.

How did we come to this? Everyone free to express own opinions is surely part of it, and let there be no doubt, there is no end of opinions, many, even most, without factual justification; all are entitled to their opinions, no matter how ridiculous and unsupportable; those are our RIGHTS! And as soon as they are launched, someone, often media, but more often social media, picks them up and runs with them; and many, lemming-wise, latch on to them and pass them on – because they can, and give no thought to what that might mean or concern for what others might pick up and also pass on, unless that is the intent, and it often is. Is our youth culture part of that? Is our fantasy culture part of it? Or is it just pride in our ignorance because it gets attention? Discipline again comes to mind; perhaps it is more resistance to it than mere lack of it. Can that be a reflection of lack of maturity? but more: pride in the lack of maturity, although it is not recognized as being that. Too many seem to not care; they just want to take it and run with it, without really thinking about it. Why? I’m not sure; maybe it’s cool; maybe it is just the thing to do and everyone is doing it. I contend that is part of the impetus behind activism: we all have to be against something, and the more aggressive the better, as long as it is in our interest and makes us feel good. This is, I might add, generational; it is being passed on. A friend told me today of an episode in school where a child refused to stop using or give up her cell telephone – to the teacher, the principle or the policeman who was summoned; her response? they were being racist. The young, unfortunately, are being brought up that way.

Am I wrong? Maybe I am missing something; maybe I am over-reacting. What is the harm, after all? Maybe it is just immature posturing, and it will pass. But what if it is more, and takes hold, as it seems to be doing? Indications are that we love it, and pursuing it makes us feel free and entitled; too much entitlement seems to be part of the problem. I find it a matter of concern, and I worry about it, because I see where it could lead, if not curtailed, and brought back into the realm of reality. How much is too much, and where is the point of no return? We are even seeing it in our criminal justice system. I don’t think I need to explain where I stand on that.

Am I over reacting? What do you think? But more to the point, if I am not wrong, what can be done about it? Is this the new drift of our culture? unbridled and unrestrained ability to do whatever we want to do, without limits? Do I really believe that is what is happening? No, I do not believe that is what is happening – yet – but the tendency in that direction is difficult to ignore; so what can we do about it? Culture; group think; we have to see what is happening, think about it, and collectively decide what to do about it. So what do we do? First we might begin by giving a lot of consideration to what we believe, and why we believe it – and justify it to ourselves; and exert influence on others to give some thought to the importance of doing so, especially to our impressionable young. If I am anywhere near right, our future depends upon it.

Now, anyone reading this will rightfully point out, fine, but what if we can not agree on what we believe? and of course we won’t. The challenge is obvious, and anything but simple, but it must be met if we are to survive as we have lived; too much? I don’t think so.

our future depends on exactly that: our collective POSITIVE influence upon each other; that is what makes up culture. I contend that the current trend is not positive, and needs to be changed; and it will take us working together to make that happen. I also contend that we had better get with it – the sooner the better. Tough to do!

What do you think?

A Potpourri of Thoughts – Centering on What I Shall Call Balance

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 27th, 2015

I take notes; but every time I get something down I read something else and have to modify them; that’s the way knowledge is constructed: we stand on the shoulders of giants – and then think about it.

My thoughts yesterday with discrimination; good or bad? Necessary. Discrimination: (Oxford 1996) “Differentiate…have good judgment”. Today – this is what happens to us – the meaning of that word has morphed into all kinds of convoluted prejudicial views, each trying to capture an activist constituency; piffle.

We wallow in generalization and take from it what we will. What of awareness – real awareness, not just the pap of what someone is trying to sell: propaganda, if you will? How about understanding? Thinking? Perspective? Have we lost capability to embrace these? No, we haven’t, and as they sink into decline more and more are standing up to remind us. Yes, judgmentalism, criticism and just plain complaining seem to reign supreme today; but that is because ignorance has gained control – that is not stupidity, but ignorance; ignorance can be overcome with just a little effort. Entertainment, pleasure, etc? Yes, I have belabored all that, and won’t go into it again – at least not now. What is happening to us? That’s not difficult to discern: we are letting what we think is exciting overwhelm what is important.

What is important is what our founders discovered as they delved into human nature: the need for balance – checks and balances – and why they are necessary. I have thought to mention Joshua Charles’ Liberty’s Secrets that discusses that brilliantly, but probably have not because I am still consuming what he has written; but it is wonderfully done, and I shall address it here, when I am ready to.

The importance of balance – yes, moderation, even as that word has also been corrupted in modern parlance. We corrupt almost everything in pursuance of our own inclinations, bending to fit our needs and desires. Human nature, yes, but as I have also written, human nature bends both ways, toward incredible and despicable. Our republic (yes, madam, if you can keep it) is example of what can happen with balance; today’s politics, rooted in general ignorance,arrogance, short shortsightedness and selfishly aggressive absorption is another kind of example. Progressive? Conservative? more words with sliding definitions as we fit them to our needs and aggressions. Both are examples of fringe activism; both are wrong. But there is an element of truth in both, as our founders were adept at telling us, as they developed the incredible governmental experiment in which we currently reside – and do not adequately appreciate. Yes, that is also a generalization, but I contend it is justified due to the rising crescendos suggesting it needs changing. Change in principles? that is what our
Constitution is, principles, and no matter our progress, and there has been much, the principles hold; but I have been there before too, so we needn’t go there again now either.

In order to achieve balance we must have information from all levels of our society, our culture, such that the liberty that we have achieved (and are threatening to destroy) can be continued. In the past that has been done admirably through a variety of sources: government, media and our educational institutions primarily, but also through continuing individual education, pursued by each. Today our “think tanks” are doing an admirable job of attempting to continue that effort; perhaps their importance has grown as the responsibility and effectiveness of the those others have waned. But even there the result is inadequate because it is not being disseminated widely enough; why not? because we are not reading enough; we don’t care enough.

The world about us is falling apart because WE, yes we, are letting it happen; having set the example, we have backed off and are allowing relativity, political correctness and just plain let’s feel good and get along to take control. due to inattentiveness. Too much of a good thing? yes, I’ve been there too; but so has our world, numerous times. Are we going to let it happen again? sure we are; that’s human nature; but are we just going to sit back and watch it happen? Indications, more and more of them, suggest that many are not; but are we paying attention? If not, why not? We cannot expect all to take the initiative; that is why we need effective leadership. Where is ours? I cite those who are standing up; so who are they? put up or shut up. Ok, here is a list I have made; it is not complete, but it could never be: Will, Barone, Wiiliamson, Fund, Continetti, Kotkin, MacDonald, Hanson, Domenech. Eeee, all conservatives; they are not just conservatives, but reasonable people who understand reality and eschew the extremes; people who think, research and tell it the way it is. And they all do not agree; that is key; we cannot all always just agree. There are – there must be – differences of opinion and they must be discussed – with compromise found; oh no, compromise again; and discussion, another thing I have written about. Those are our culture, and why it has been successful. Democracy? no, a balanced republic that has checks on power bases, including the people (see Joshua Charles for more on that) to ensure that none usurp the liberty of the others. Tough challenge? yes it is, that is why it continues to be called an experiment. Many are already attempting to push it aside, calling it outdated; they may succeed for a time, let us hope that time is short; but I suggest that now we have reached this point we will be difficult to extinguish. But that’s just me; we shall see what we shall see.

Yes all words: balance, liberty, reason, differentiation – even thinking; meaning different things to different people, more and more often. But the meanings have resonated in our republic, and led to continual success; which has currently gone too far, admittedly, and is being challenged both internally and from the outside. Will the challenge be successful? it will probably be, somewhat, but not enough to destroy us. My hope? yes, but also my belief.

What do you think? And what are you doing about it?

Letter to Regnery Publishing, Inc re: Dr. John Lott’s book, Freedomnomics

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 23rd, 2015

Regnery Publishing, Inc
One Massachusetts Ave, N.W,
Washington, D.C,21001


I am writing to with regard to Professor John Lott’s book, Freedomnomics, published by your company in 2007. My comments are for you; but I would appreciate them being forwarded to Dr. Lott as well.

What an excellent book it is, but I suspect it’s sales were underwhelming, and if so I know why. I was carrying it while being at the hospital to get cleared after a hernia operation, and a nurse asked about it. She was not young and seemed interested. I told her it was about economics and she turned up her nose; she really did. I guess I am just weird, I told her with a smile; she nodded, and said there is one like you in every crowd. What can I say?

In beginning Dr. Lott’s book I thought it was a bit simplistic, but that was because most was familiar to me, and quite within agreement with my understanding. But as I continued on I began to realize not only the effort it had taken, but the wisdom it displayed. Everyone should read it; yes, I know, dream on. An informed electorate is but a dream; and being informed about economics, even as it is perhaps most critical to us, is not an option for most, who just don’t want to do it, preferring comfortable and entertaining fiction – and comfortable complacency.

My intent in writing this letter is let Dr. Lott, who deserves all the praise he can get, know what a great job he has done on it. But it is also to you, his publisher, for publishing it. We need all of this kind of information we can get, and I am encouraged that in these difficult times more and more seems to be becoming available. Keep up the good work.

Jerry Betts
Garland, TX 75043

Bootstrap Charity

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 20th, 2015

What on earth is that? Simple; it is charity that encourages recipients to pull themselves up by their bootstraps as opposed to making us feel better by merely helping them out. There is no doubt that helping one help self, is better than just helping, and taking away his/her incentive to help self.

From the ivory tower that must seem cruel; and to embrace it leaves us with a guilty feeling. So be it; feeling a little guilty for the right reasons is not all bad. We learn from our mistakes – IF we accept them and are forced to do something about them; others do too. And if we (they) don’t learn? Think about that one. What if people make continual mistakes and never learn from them? Let them deal with it! Oh, so cruel. But then, what if the mistakes are cumulative? that is, building over several generations, leaving the latest to suffer the consequences? All we can do (my opinion) is to help them turn it around for themselves. And if they don’t? That’s where we are now; we have let it happen for so long, and even encouraged it through our own selfishness, that the current recipients are no longer responsible and cannot help themselves. So we have to instill some discipline, or assist them in doing so. And what if they resist? Yup, that’s where we are; ever hear someone say, it’s not my fault? Then they have to suffer. But that is so cruel; how can we do that?

Either they suffer and learn now, or they suffer permanently for the rest of their lives, and induce others to do the same. That is life. And life can be cruel. We want equality? That is where to begin, making people deal with it; helping them to deal with it, sure; but making THEM deal with it themselves. Our criminal system faces this dilemma, and instead of letting it do what is necessary to see the kind of results needed, we (so many, and particularly ivory tower dissociated progressives) can not face such brutal cruelty; or don’t want to.

I have had the privilege over the past week to spend time with three special people. One is an immigrant from Greece who plays the most fantastic bouzouki I have ever heard; no one did that for him. The second is a man who joined the navy, became a deputy sheriff upon leaving it and has since become a successful businessman, not without going through many difficult times. I drove up to north central Texas (west of Sherman) for a log raising for a home he has been building, with help from a contractor. He is a hunter and wants to live there, but his wife is still working, and if it doesn’t work out, then it will have been an investment. The third is the young AT&T technician who came to install a Uverse connection to a television my daughter gave me. I asked him what his background was and he told me: varied. He had done many things, including selling motorcycles. Experience is so important I told him, and he enthusiastically agreed. None of the three had college educations, all are successful; rich? no, successful is much more than rich, though that might be difficult fro many to understand these days. When I said something about that the AT&T tech said, well, I’d like to be rich, so I could support what I want. I could not disagree with that, and have heard it before; having adequate funds provides many advantages. But being rich? there is a difference. In fact maybe the line of separation is just that: between having adequate funds to provide and enough to do whatever and being rich. Once across that line there is a tendency to lose perspective; we seem to always want more. And why not? I could go into detailed discussion on that, and it would be only my opinion; and many, particularly those for whom being rich is of tantamount importance because they want to pursue excess, would vehemently disagree. But I won’t. You would be bored – and maybe even resentful – before I even began.

The point of this is that pursuing what we call success is personal and individual, and each has to make the decision as to which way to proceed on his or her own. Which, essentially, is the point of this diatribe: bootstrap charity. Each has to do it for self, and even define for self what success is, for themselves. And if they are unable, including due to how they have been raised, that is difficult and unfortunate, but not impossible; we should not forget that; others in similar circumstances have done it. But we cannot do it for them. What does it take for us to realize that?

Many tempting tangents to pursue from here present themselves, but I shall resist the temptation, as they would inevitably take me down the same path I have been trodding so dogmatically, and obsessively. Let’s leave at that for now; I’ll return to the path soon enough; I can’t help it.

Accentuate the Positive

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 20th, 2015

Accentuate the positive; what does that mean? Kind of catchy. It was a Broadway song from the 1940s as I recall, but many might not remember that today.

It has good thoughts though, and many songs since have had similar advice, and not only songs; look on the bright side of life. keep a good attitude, be positive in outlook. Makes a lot of sense. So how do we interpret that these days? One way is with children; applaud them, boost their self-confidence; that makes them feel good about themselves. That sounds good too, right? Well the idea sounds positive; but what if what they are doing doesn’t merit lauding or complimenting? Even kids know that, hey, great, you did a terrific job, when they know they didn’t, is not such a good thing. When everything is great, wonderful, what distinguishes it from, you need to do better. False praise can be better than no praise.

But feeling good? Feeling good is always a positive objective. Even when drug induced? when it leads to very bad when the drugs wear off? To be effective, feeling good, whether physical or mental, should be associated with positive. So what is positive? Need I explain?

There was an article in this week’s Wall Street Journal about aging, that was interesting, suggesting that how one feels about aging is an important aspect with respect to how one views life and self. So how can one feel positive about aging? It cited ways, supported by tests that told just how. Yes, as the body ages, it looses strength and resilience; it loses what we call youth; we hate that. We love being young. In fact we love it so much we fake it, way beyond the point where it is plausible to believe. So we just give in and get old? That was the point of the article, suggesting that we find positives in aging that offset the obvious negatives. In fact it provided statistics from studies that suggested that when pursued effectively, it works.

So what can be good about aging? Much of it is relative. Yes, we tend to be more tired, and unable to do many of the things we once were able to do. But with exercise, physical and mental – and diet, we can help ourselves to be less tired, and even able to continue to be active, even if not quite so active as we once were; and still reasonably good in doing it, even if at different levels. But we also know more, have more varied memories to look back on – IF we will. We can even provide ourselves options to do different things that might prove as interesting and rewarding, at a reduced energy level. And how we look? Is it so important to look 26? It apparently is to some, regardless of how that might appear to others. So why it is so important how we appear to others?

That is a loaded question. We want to look our best, and that is surely positive, and it instills positivity within us. But, and this may surely just be my opinion, can we not “look good” without trying to dress and act like we are just out of our teenage years? Now I shall show you some of my prejudices: how about long hair (men as well as women) and tight fitting clothes; why? Why do we not present ourselves in a way that will most present us positively? Can one still be attractive if a little over weight? oh yes. Being well groomed is the way to begin on that. But not only how we look outwardly, how about how we act? I contend that much of what happens to us as many of us age, and the article suggests similar, is that we don’t know how to make the transition between youthful and mature any more. Why must one who is maturing try to emulate those who are still youthful? Because that’s what we think people expect? or the way we think OTHERS think we should look?

Why don’t we think for ourselves, and be who we are, and make the most of it? Ahhhh, because it takes effort, a different kind of effort; but it takes understanding too, understanding of just who we are: understanding of what matters in life – or should. Is that just my opinion? We can do much in more as we advance in age than we could do in our early youth, just perhaps not as vigorously. So? The key question is what matters to us, and why it matters. And I ask again, why do we place such great importance upon what others think? It’s just the way we are. Well, I don’t buy it, and neither did the writers of the WSJ article.

Change, as I keep saying, is a constant; we need to adjust to it and let it work for us – positively. Can we? Sure we can, if we make the effort, physical, but also mental. Carefully choosing our friends for the right reason is one way; and what is right? That is for each to decide. But then look at friends; how do we attract friends? Same way, though effort; we have to work at it. Which is another thing many people today never learn to do any more. Social media works against us today, as we lose ability to interact effectively at the personal level. But so do many of our means of entertainment, so many of which are passive, and so few active; watching television, for example. so what should we do, read? It wouldn’t hurt, if the reading resulted in gaining knowledge that might be available to share. Again, effort; we have to want to.

That takes us back again to what is important, and surely that is a most personal thing. Accentuate the positive; how is that a place to begin? Being positive helps others to be positive, especially if we can say something that is positive about them – and mean it in such a way that they know we mean it, and can believe it is deserved. Compliments? Sincere advise? not telling them what we want, but to offer what WE think might help THEM.

Accentuating the positive means not only what is good about life, but is positive within ourselves – and positive as it pertains to those we are communicating with; when I say communicating I am referring less to the common acceptance of the meaning of that word: talking with; but actually communicating, that is, being of a community with.

That takes much thinking and a great deal of effort; it also takes preparation. We have to want to do it and work toward it. It is well worth it and leads to, as the WSJ article suggests, an increase in enjoyment and satisfaction among those who age well, as opposed to many whose focus is less positive when they are younger.

Moderation – and Balance

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 19th, 2015

As I pump through these over time I am continually reminded of how I keep coming back to the same things; different nuances perhaps, but essentially the same. But then I realize (over and over) that what I am doing is fleshing out my own personal philosophy. That’s what this is all about, after all. I am pleased that any who chose to join me do so, but be assured, I am not doing it to impress you; I am doing it to make myself understand whatever, appreciate it and write it down for what it’s worth, including posterity. Effort goes into it, especially now that I am not as steady as I once was, and have to make many, many corrections; but that just adds to the challenge. But then, I have said that before too. I am particularly pleased at how much thinking this effort generates for me; that, really, is what it is all about.

I have mentioned moderation before, and how it has become a disparaged concept: mup-wumpism, some call it; inability to make a decision about life. On the contrary, life is too complex for black and white judgment, and one needs to consider both sides carefully; not to embrace, but to understand, and allow self to determine what to believe, for self, nuances and all. Balance derives from that.

Classical liberal is how we broke lose from the chains of the middle ages; new liberalism, or progressivism is how we carry it too far. Conservatism is resistance to change; change is inevitable; thus new conservatism, desire to return to what was, is not only unrealistic, it is detrimental. What we need to do is shape the changes to conform both with reality and the principles upon which our modern philosophy has been constructed. That is challenge enough; it takes a great deal of effort, some deep thought, and truly open minds. How’s that for a gauntlet?

My concentration of late has been on economics; yes, I know, boring. I was on an elevator at a hospital the other day and a volunteer joined me, looked at the book I had with me and asked if was good. It is about economics, I replied. She made a face. I laughed and said, yes, I am kind of weird. She smiled and said, there is one in every crowd. But economics is the at the center of or our culture, and is critically important to each of us, whether we realize it or not.

I worry about that, not because everyone does not get excited by economics – or history for that matter; and certainly not business or politics. And the fact that I am a bit weird is not a concern at all to me – even if it might be to others. But what I worry about is that people do not take more interest, even if a bit superficial, about that which has so much impact upon their lives. Yes, they say, but what can I do about it? Let’s just say I don’t buy that, and not take it any further.

The book I am reading discusses free markets and that brings me back to my second and third paragraphs. Black and white, are free markets good or bad? Free market principles have great potential for working things out in ways that are better than what the government can do; perfect? hardly. Both free markets and governments are made up of people, and people are flawed. It is not a matter of this or that, but what works best, for the most, over the long run. “Progressives” and “conservatives” don’t agree on what works best. So both like to cite statistics, studies, which are also often flawed because they are created by humans, require assumptions, and must be based on collection of data, which is often also flawed. I don’t want to belabor that either, but that’s part of moderation: trying to read between the lines, if you will. Yes, I am a skeptic; I think skepticism is healthy; being cynical, as I have said before, goes too far.

So what do I expect of people? Frankly, I do not expect a great deal. But because of that I would expect people to accept that we are not all equal and cannot expect equal results in life; unless we are willing to invest the same level of effort that is needed to yield the desired results. I have said before, and am saying it again: motivation, and the discipline it demands, is more important than raw intelligence. Which does not suggest that intelligence is not necessary; we depend on what it contributes to our culture and understanding of it, but it is not enough. It is too easy for the really intelligent to think that what they think is the only truth and reality, and to reject all else. It is too easy for the successful, however they might have come to their success, to think everyone else is stupid, and to look down upon them, and reject anything they might say. It would be more appropriate to accept that we are ruled by ignorance, something that applies to each of us in some way; no on knows everything; and beyond that, much of what we think we know, is merely opinion. If we haven’t noticed, opinion is everywhere, and tends to have much more influence than it should have. So we reject influence? Of course not; we cannot; it is how we develop what we know, what we believe, and how we conduct our lives. So how do we choose which influence to accept? Ah, there is the challenge.

May I suggest moderation and an attempt at gaining a balance as a place to begin. Anton Myrer: “Read, think (listen and gain experience)disagree with (question) everything, if you like – but force the mind outward.” That is another way of saying keep an open mind.

There it is. How much effort? Each has to determine that on his or her own, but understand that the extent of that effort is likely to determine success in life; monetary success? Ah, much more than that, but that would be yet another tangent.

Let me finish this by just saying that our collective success over the long term will depend on the effort we able ton convince each other to make – together; and on moderation and balance in the process.

Human Nature – Again

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 13th, 2015

I have deprecated human nature much; it deserves more.

Human nature, after all, that of which we are programmed, is constructed, as everything in life, with yin and yang. And the result we must attempt to cultivate is a balance – a positive balance between the two.

I have concentrated on the negatives such as ignorance, selfishness, indolence, indifference and violence, that which characterizes the dregs of our culture; there is another side. It is actually a magnificent side that is characterized by caring, reaching out and taking responsibility; I need to say something about that side.

Human existence is centered on community, living together, working together and mutual support; we cannot survive without that. Unfortunately, however, that “community” existence can go in two directions; one is taking advantage of the caring, reaching out and responsibility to achieve positive results; the other, pursued by some because they can, is to achieve selfish goals. So perhaps first we need to visit selfish, again. It is part of living; without being selfish (that is, self-sufficient and able to take care of self) we cannot survive (unless, of course with government welfare); self-confidence derives directly from that. But as with everything with man, and this is the center of understanding human nature, it can be carried too far. One result of human nature, positive opportunity being pursued, we consider a good thing, and it is, if it is not allowed to get out of hand. Opportunity: “a good chance; a favorable occasion. A chance of opening offered by circumstances” (Oxford 1996). But opportunism, carrying it too far, is: “the adaption of policy or judgment, especially regardless of principle.” Ah, principle again. Opportunity is the ying, opportunism is the yang.

Yin and yang should be obvious, as well known extremes. Our Western culture is based on positive pursuance of opportunity; but opportunity also attracts negative pursuance as well; we need not elaborate upon that: especially as it applies to “the regardless of principle” part. We are all quite aware of how opportunity is exploited, and how our more and more convenient technological access aids and abets it. We are also aware of what results, and tend to concentrate on that yang, instead of the ying, because it is so in our faces. So let’s concentrate for a bit on the positive aspect of opportunity.

I went to the Dallas Arboretum on Sunday and saw people pursuing opportunity to enjoy nature; created and maintained at great and loving expense as a result of an endowment of land by the DeGolyer family many years ago. It provided me a good feeling, and reminded me of the great reservoir of good and responsibility that continues to exist in our nation. There were families and children there, since there was a large Halloween exhibit for them to visit, and most were well-behaved, happy and curious; the parents, and couples or single people as well, seemed content and friendly, and actually talked to others, me included. What a pleasant experience in a world seemingly turned upside down, and increasingly surly. An oasis? We have been accentuating the negative, the yang, because it is newsworthy: people pay attention to it. That doesn’t mean it does not exist, and it does get the most attention; but is it dominant?

Why is it newsworthy? Partly, perhaps, because we are so aware of the negative aspects of human nature, as are currently being so well publicized, that appear so evident; not because we like to hear about them, but because they worry us and we wish to understand them better, so as to be able to deal with them. Well, that’s not entirely adequate either; it is also because we are prone to complain and see the dark side, since that is also a trait of human nature. Surely it’s not simple; it is a combination of many things, only several of which are concern and worry. Should we be so concerned and worried? Yes, we should, else we become complacent and just learn to accept the yang. But should we allow it to dominate our thinking? Balance again: be concerned but not to the exclusion of seeing the yang part of it in everything without giving due consideration; there is still much good, and we must build upon it if our nation can be expected to continue its greatness.

Can it? Culture constantly changes, technology changes, people change. There can be no expectation that ours will return to some idyllic past that has most likely been exaggerated; that is not the way life is. So the greatness that ensues, if we can continue it, must be nurtured, just as our children must be nurtured; and we have to work at it.

Mr. Franklin, what kind of government do we have? A Republic, Madame, if we can keep it.

Alexander Tytler: Democracy will never work; as soon as the voters find out they can vote themselves what they want, they will.

The media of yore: it was not simpler or truer then than that now which is fraught with opinion and gloom. But it was not always wrong either; much of opinion is people’s attempt to see into the future; we did then and we still do, often with flawed insight. Considering the events that are strewn over our past (that is the past of our entire historical world) we have reason to be pessimistic – but not terminally so.

We have dug a deep hole from which we will not easily climb, but it does not go straight to hell, nor does not have to. There are many reasons that I have enumerated in the past, and will not again; one that I have not has to do with statistics and data; recent studies seem to be indicating that data, particularly polling data, can be manipulated to prove almost anything within reason, since we are prone to believe what we want to believe. Much statistical data, massaged by the media, encourages us to believe what we want to believe. That is something to think about. Perhaps that also has something to do with opportunity and the need to apply balance to it – but also principles.

So how do we keep thinking that the digging will not continue? No reason I need go into that; we all know how that can be changed, if we think about it, and accept the communal effort that it will take to keep it from happening, which will not keep us from swinging back and forth between the ying and yang of human nature; but it can keep the long term pendulum swinging increasingly toward the positive – as it has been, over the long period of history through which our ancestors have toiled, with balance that favors ying.

A stroll through the Arboretum on a Sunday morning reminded me of what can be; but a stroll through my neighborhood can show similar. There is so much good left in us; bad too, of course, but I am betting on a balance of good.

Now a great leap: quotations from books I have been reading and for which I have great respect for those that write them. What is the connection? it might seem obscure. The quotations pertain to current reality, which is increasingly depicted as dire, and by some, hopeless. I am suggesting that these wise and knowledgeable writers see clearly the yin and yang of human nature, and look beyond hopeless yang. Give them a try, and see if you don’t see the same.

Joel Kotkin from The New Class Conflict, Telos Press Publishing (2014):

“Of course, the right and left may offer different solutions to the new class conflict, but the first step is for people on both sides to recognize the current drift toward a society that offers dismal prospects for the middle and working classes. This trajectory breaks with the historic experience that, for all its obvious flaws, has made America the greatest success story of modern times. Instead of accepting decline, and ever less social mobility, we must forge a future that also offers the chance for fulfillment of aspirations. We need to provide the next generation with something other than just memories of a former American dream. We should offer them a full chance to experience it for themselves.”

Michael Hirsh from Capital Offense; John Wiley & Sons (2010):

“What seemed indispensable..was that America’s Cold War triumphalism had finally run its course. The United States had come out of the Cold War so full of hopefulness and promise. Over the ensuing twenty years The United States had lost ground in military projection, manufacturing, moral issues, and technological innovation. And now we had to confront the fact that something essential about America’s traditional role in the world – as its locus of wisdom, its lodestar for behavior – had irretrievably slipped through our fingers. The shattering of the free-market fantasy was of a piece with the debunking of the neocon pretensions about the unlimited projection of U.S. power. The ideals we relied on and espoused so passionately during times of life-or-death struggles – during the fight against fascism and during the Cold War – were certainly not dead. But it was clear they were irreparably tarnished, revealed to be full of fallacies, and they were no longer sufficient as a basis for governing the global system.”

Jonathan Rauch from Government’s End – Why Washington Stopped Working; Public Affairs, Perseus Books Group (1994, 1995, 1999):

“In the end that is why it’s so important to adjust our attitudes to government, as well as to adjust government itself. Like the aging person who knows he’ll never be young again but who nevertheless understands why he should stay on his diet and take some exercise every day, Americans need to understand the limits of change without surrendering to passivity. They need to understand what is doable. Then they need to do it.

After half a century of ballyhooed ‘new deals’ in American political life – the original New Deal and then the fair deal and the New Frontier and the Great Society and the Reagan Revolution and the Republican Revolution and whatever else – comes a hush, and then a still, small voice, like a rustling of leaves. It speaks, to those who have the patience and maturity to listen, of what is perhaps the most momentous new deal of all. Call it Real Life.”

The lesson: understand reality, and deal with it. Just because things are looking grim does not mean we have to give in to it. Which was the basis of my piece from the beginning: see the good; think positive, then do something about it – as a community. The ying of our culture is still there, and still strong; it is up to us to maintain its emphasis in the upswing of life’s pendulum. It is, after all, up to us.

We must keep the faith – in ourselves.


Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 8th, 2015

A very complex subject; love is a many splendored thing, what’s more it has many meanings. I want to address it in it’s more universal meaning, neither religious nor emotional. That is, I want to address it as it applies to relationships in general.

The idea occurred to me as I listened to a radio program from Dallas in which an eminent psychologist was being interviewed with respect to dealing with children in this day and age. I will only address the part of it in which he was talking about how children should be treated with respect, and contrary to parental opinions, they have their own way of looking at things, and to think that they have no value and need to be automatically over-ridden by more experienced parents should be avoided. When asked to explain that, he mentioned one should think of being stupid, and pointed out that kids have opinions too, that often have merit, and should be listened to. Such as? example: smoking pot; saying that’s stupid is not enough. In listening, I was particularly thinking about changes in our culture, and dealing with them, something I do regularly because it is on my mind; my stream of consciousness took over from there.

In dealing with one’s child, love is tantamount. But dealing with one’s child is, in many ways, or should be, very similar to dealing with anyone we love, particularly those that are very close to us, with a relationship that is critical to us. Compromise comes to mind (again) and I know how we have come to disparage that concept. But it is an important concept in life, and particularly where loves comes into play: giving up something to achieve something more important to us. We have lost track of the real meaning of that on both ends: one end where we assume it means giving up the farm, the other where it means unconditional love, as love thy neighbor, period. It is much more, and much more complex, as is most of life; which I say often, usually to the rolling of eyes.

Two related concepts, to my way of thinking, are flexible and malleable. I contend we must be flexible, as I think the psychologist was saying; but we cannot be is malleable. That is, we should discuss with an open mind and with respect, but we should not just roll over and accept whatever is being preached. Preached is an interesting word to use in this context. Theology, recall, is philosophy in that it is using reason and argument in seeking truth and knowledge of reality. Little in religion can be construed as “truth”; in fact a large advertisement for a local Church along Highway I-20 between Fort Worth and Dallas proclaims “we all have questions”. That is where philosophy has always had its place: to fill in the gaps between what we know, as best we can.

We all want what we want, however, and believe what we want to believe; the fact that most of us do not really even know what we want – or even what we believe, is immaterial. There is too much that is unknown to all of us, even as we resist admitting it. The beginning of love, and all relationships, for that matter, is admitting that. It is often not easy to do, and even less so the more we THINK we know. The next step is to work together to achieve an optimum position within the relationship to make that relationship successful: giving up a little to achieve a lot, particularly when it has to do with love – and, of course, it must accomplished together. In fact being able to do that, together, is the best way to prepare the ground for a successful relationship, particularly one based on love. Basically it is opening up the mind to attempt to think of other rather than self.

Let’s not get carried away; part of loving another is loving self; one cannot effectively love without a healthy degree of self respect. Think of that for awhile if it doesn’t seem to make sense, but will a broad interpretation of love.

And, of course, we all are the way we are, and we are all different, think differently and have different experiences – and we are all flawed. That has to be taken into consideration, and be compensated for, if the relationship is to really achieve successful; the better it is done the more successful it will be. That starts with avoiding being judgmental, but goes on to include being just a little careful of what is said, and particularly what is challenged; usually we do it because of ego, not because it is really important. The conversation of life that ensues need be pursued to make sure that it works for all parties in the process; that requires a lot of effort, on the part of each of the parties involved; but at least a great deal on the part of one. We must, with open mind, be open to dealing with all aspects of it. That’s the way we grow

We must be aware of all the differences, and be willing to compensate for them: it is well worth it; it is essential.

Let’s take that back to changes in our culture; culture ALWAYS changes, some times more rapidly that at other times. We are currently in a time of great change.

Affluence; world dominance and the responsibility that entails; the Internet, and the nature of its burgeoning, frequent and inevitable headaches – and the political/economic challenges that inevitably result. Then add the power structure/class conflicts that are generated, how they are reflected in education, and therefore in accompanying cultural change, and there is much to deal with; throw in excessive debt and drugs and it’s enough to make one feel weak at the knees; I might even sneak in gambling, nothing new, but suddenly gaining high interest, if not even becoming excessive – again.

To say that the way to deal with that is love, might seem a little naive, but that seems to be a good place to begin; if we approach it right. Right/wrong? All relative. Again, too simple. Our nation, our culture, is built upon principles. Our concept of love should be based on similar principles.

It is, of course, a big challenge; but then life is a big challenge. Love, and thinking about it, really thinking about it, is a good place to start, as well as being something useful to keep in mind as we proceed.

Communications and Friendship

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 6th, 2015

Sounds like Facebook and social media, yes? No. Communications and friendship are the foundation of culture, any culture, but particularly ours based on the principles of Christianity but with the influence of so many other philosophies leading up to it. I think it is time we understood the differences between our culture and the new one emerging.

I have waxed eloquent about social media; so perhaps I don’t have to belabor that again, save to say that electronic social media today has corrupted communications and friendship by substituting focus on self for focus on community and others. The difference, might I suggest, is profound, and has contributed to the so many disconnects that have arisen in our modern culture.

Human culture requires community; we all need friends with whom to share our lives, else we tend to be very lonely and often shallow. That does not mean that all need be consumed by being social gadflies; there are all kinds of us and we are all different. But we need relationships with others to live productively. That includes family, community and friends – and communication with them. In many ways our form of government, a Democratic Republic, is based upon an understanding of that. The difference between plain vanilla democracy and the Democratic Republic of The United States has much to do with the understanding our founders had of human nature, and how they implemented checks and balances to deal with it. Today I am reading with some regularity of how our Constitution is out of date, and the most recent I read (by Anne Applebaum, not a Progressive) suggests that our founders really did not understand, which is why changes are necessary. I must accept that no one in 1776 could have understood what our future would bring, but I contend that is why the members of the Constitutional Convention, with much sturm and drang, were as successful as they were in hammering out the result that evolved, through stressing principles. I do get carried away, but I think the principle of community is a big part of that, and community is communications and friendship.

The importance of communications and friendship is in the relationship between or among those taking part in them. The problem with social networking is that we have lost track of those real relationships, substituting something much less real and enduring. In my opinion is has substituted me for us, as has become so common in our culture today, beginning with what we are teaching out children. When too much is for me, and too little for for other, that the magic is beinglost. But let me demur on that and suggest that when everything is for other there is a problem there too, especially when for other means just giving, and expecting nothing in return; the return needs to be what they do for themselves as a result of the giving, and that’s how giving should be structured. Everything is a balance, and friendship and communications must be balanced too; something all need work toward, individually and collectively. Basically what I think I think I am talking about is reaching out – to help others help themselves; but that is not as simple as it sounds either; it all takes work, lots of it.

This is what also is advocated in the principles of traditional Christianity, aided by all that came before, and nurtured by a very dedicated group of men that understood.

As I keep suggesting, we have launched our boats upon troubled waters, not for the first time. And the cause of troubled waters is always change; we are going through perhaps the most monumental change the world has ever experienced. But even that might be challenged; change is relative, and if what is being changed is our entire culture as it goes from what was to what it has become, that has happened before, numerous times. Digital communication is just part of that; affluence is also a part of it, along with our world dominance; and people who have had nothing in the past are suddenly finding a whole new world. But globalization is also a part of it; a great deal is coming together all at once, and neither we nor the world are not ready for it. But on a perhaps more reduced scale, similar has happened before, just in different ways.

Our means of survival remains much the same, however; we need each other, and must get back to where we make the most of it. Communication, real communication, and friendship – real friendship – are a good part of that. Is that not what community and family are all about? extended family?

So what is entailed? reaching out to others, not for ourselves but for them, but in reaching out to them we are helping ourselves as well. It is mutual; that’s what makes it so important, and yields such amazing results, if we only give it a chance. In short, people need people to talk to, to bounce their opinions off, and to receive feedback, from others. Note that is a process, not just a function; it cannot be done alone, and that is the point. I know its meaning first hand, not only with family but friends, particular those I communicate with daily; I think it is good for them; I know it is good for me.

We must get back to understanding what real communication, and friendships are all about – and community as well. It is the foundation of who we are – and needs to be. Have I ever mentioned re-learning what is really important? Well, that is part of it, believe me.

Fame, Fortune, Power

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 4th, 2015

I have decided that fame, fortune and power have defined us – throughout history, but even more in modern times. Is there more? Of course there is more, but the more seems to weave through these three. Then everything weaves through everything, doesn’t it? What of the principles I keep discussing? Yep, they weave right in there too, and of course we could go on. Today I just wish to just address fame, fortune and power and see what they are doing to us today.

Fame is an obvious one; however in simpler times it was popularity: how many people were attracted to us, for whatever reason. What changed? Communications and all that followed. It became possible to expand fame from an immediate association of acquaintances to a larger population: movies, books, magazines, television and now the Internet, including the ubiquitous Social Media. But look at the Internet; Facebook is the epitome of fame, as we collect “friends” as we once did whatever it was we collected; for the same reason: it makes us feel good.

Fortune is also obvious. Luxury, pleasure, travel, even eating, all cost money and require a level of “fortune” to support them. We all want them, but we want more; we want to be admired, envied for being able to achieve them. One might even say that we want to be “famous” for having them.

Power. Bertrand Russell in a small book of the same name: “One of the chief emotional differences (between men and animals) is that some human desires are essentially boundless and incapable of complete satisfaction…imagination is the goad that forces human beings into restless exertion after their primary needs have been satisfied…of the infinite desires of man, the chief are the desires of power and glory…the men who cause social changes are, as a rule, men who strongly desire to do so; love of power, therefore, is a characteristic of the men who are causally important.” That captures most of it, and he puts it better than I could. But just think, what is bullying among children a quest for power? Let me sink no deeper into it than that.

The point I often try to make (going back to principles) is that many people attempt to go no further: fame, fortune and power are enough; who could want more? I contend that most find out that it is NOT enough, but that’s another tangent. Today the lust for them seems to be consuming us – at almost every level, and in many different ways.

The ultimate problem is that we can not all achieve them to our satisfaction, and due to greed and envy, that causes us great dissatisfaction in life. The solution to that dissatisfaction is to set appropriate goals to which we are willing to devote ourselves to create a balance between what we would have and what we can achieve; but forget that; it ain’t gonna happen, because we are beset by human nature: to wit, making the investment, for so many reasons, is not within most of us. That, of course, leads us elsewhere also, because “making the investment” is neither simple nor individual, and includes at the very least strong family support – which leads us in all kinds of different directions.

One of my favorites is to know what really matters, but that’s way too deep for most, because of our influences, and any reader here will see where this is going – again. Let’s simplify it this time by saying our influences have become way to broad and complicated, and let’s leave it at that. It takes some deep thinking, and quite a bit of experience, good and thoughtful experience and honest knowledge of self to answer the question to one’s own satisfaction: what is important? or stated differently, with the same intent, what really matters?

Our “New” World

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the September 27th, 2015

Really something, isn’t it? My, how creative we are; but that’s the way it is, to our credit. But things are changing: our “new” world . Some see it as the end of it all, at least as we know it, and that’s understandable; we can’t handle it. Others just don’t think about it, and go sailing along, oblivious; that’s part of the problem. But it certainly has become a matter of some confusion, if not sturm and drang. Why? Our amazing global communications have to be part of it: more information than most are able to assimilate, much less understand; too much too fast, and not enough ability to understand what it’s all about. What will happen to us? Who knows? But never fear; we’ll muddle through – somehow. We have stumbled into a new and amazing era, that we will somehow have to learn to accommodate, and will only do so with difficulty, which, clearly, has begun. Oh woe.

Part of it is our arrogance. Too many want to see it their own way, and think they know everything – and are trying to exploit it, particularly through unrestricted publication through social media, to say nothing of making use of opportunity to exploit it. Too many at the other end of the spectrum are just shell shocked. But with our incredibly cheap mass communications, everyone (well, almost everyone) wants to jump in – on line (whichever line is chosen, and there are many) – and give their opinion, and exploit opportunity, which adds to the confusion.

We need a little wisdom, but more, we need more understanding, and more interest in trying to understand: education, at a time when education is deteriorating,for the very same reasons: man is screwing it up. That’s the way man, human nature is, and has always been; have you noticed? Well, that’s part of the problem – short memories; poor bases of historical knowledge,; and selfish, arrogance being thrown at it. It just has to work itself out; it has before, but never without pain. So, what pain? How will it be worked out? Stay tuned; are we ready?

Of course we are not ready; we never are. That’s what has made our history so turbulent. But, we have wanted to believe that was all behind us, as we have moved into the great world of KNOWLEDGE; don’t hold your breath. Unfortunately, KNOWLEDGE is relative, and is (and has always been) controlled by those that make it their place to control it; and the rest of us, through complacency and pure laziness let them do it, and then emote about it – and blame; oh do we blame. We are emoting more than in the past because our vast ability to communicate has been so expanded. Whee, we are on a roll, roller coaster actually. Ain’t it fun?

Hang on; it;s going to be with us for awhile. And pain? I have beaten that to death, haven’t I?

But we MUST keep it all in perspective; that’s why I spend so much time with philosophy: use of reason and argument in seeking truth and knowledge of reality; you are getting tired of that (if you are paying attention), I understand. There is so much we do not know, but need to try and understand; that means going back to those that have reasoned before us, and those that continue to do so, and learn from them: standing on the shoulders of giants. Education is much more than what we have been making it out to be. Experience? Yes, I have belabored that as well.

But allow me to add to that; we must also be aware; of what? ourselves to begin with. We have to WANT to understand, and that requires knowing who we are and what our values are. It takes much effort; but then it seems I have been beating on that for awhile as well. I do go on.

Keep the faith – and endure my lecturing, if you will; that is what I have to do, but I’ve belabored that too.

Stream of Consciousness Legacy

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the September 25th, 2015

This takes some explaining. I have spent my life accumulating information; I like to make it sound more important – at least to justify the effort – by calling it education; maybe and maybe not, but it doesn’t matter, it is what I have chosen to do in my dotage, and for a significant time leading up to that; it has just gained momentum. Of potential value? This is for anyone who might be interested to determine, on their own, for whatever reason. When I originally began thinking about it, I thought of it as a legacy of some sort, something to pass on; my thinking was that I had made adequate effort and it might be useful to someone. So I am making this effort to make it available. It is certainly not for all, perhaps not of any particular use for any. That’s ok; I make no grandiloquent claim for it having any value at all; so it might be just so many vapid words that people seem to have to propagate; of that I am guilty.

I call it stream of consciousness, deliberately; that’s almost always how it begins; sometimes consciously but often when waking up with it in the middle of the night with a thought, a subject, popped in to the mind. I lose a lot of sleep in the process, and that may be impacting my health; but after being exposed to Lumosity’s brain exercises as a result of being referred to a Neurological testing unit after sustaining a concussion, I told my physician how much I appreciated what it had done for me. Knowing how much stock I place on physical exercise he explained that mental exercise is of equal importance. I fully agree. My physician thought I was coming down with early dementia; the testing unit suggested that it didn’t appear to be normal dementia, but trauma; that made sense. But dementia can have many causes. as almost everything can. Call it what you like, but I do have some brain damage, and am very fortunate that it is localized and not more extensive, and I can funntion more or less normally, most of the time.

In fact previous to this site I was attempting to do something like what I have been here doing since 2010 here on a Yahoo site, but Yahoo stopped supporting it. That site is still out there, and I can access it, but don’t know whether others can or not; the sites are similarly named. I offered the original site to a friend to look at, suggesting it was a pretty confused mess; it was, and he agreed. Thus I attempted something more orderly with Blue Host when I resumed in this format.

Anyway it consumes a good portion of my “free” time (lots of that, after all) and it gives me pleasure and satisfaction – the pleasure of exercising my mind, but in the process encouraging me to reach out to continue to build my store of knowledge through reading, and the satisfaction of still being able to do it. I do not contend that it is truth or even right, certainly I can not claim it to be profound; it is just my stream of consciousness exercise that keeps me occupied and gives me a kind of perverse kind of pleasure. It has been given some attention, but not much, and mostly, apparently, in Australia; don’t ask me why. Keying it, with deteriorating eyesight and worse keyboard control, has been trying, but has been worth it, to me. Let’s face it; it has all been for me, and I want nothing more than that. But why not offer it to be shared, should any one want to share it? Believe me, I have no expectations for anything more, nor should I desire anything more.

The Weblog Essay site it titled, or sometimes and it is public access.

But let’s reach out a little further. I have had incredible good fortune; great family, solid nurturing, good friends, fine experiences – ah experiences, SO important. I have worked in places all over the world, with people from those counties; so we are all the same? No we are not all the same; why do we continually drone on about that? it is NOT true. So why don’t we make more of an effort to learn about those differences, and expand more effort to understanding which is better and why, instead of basking in our entertainment wallow of indulgence, and whining because someone won’t give us more of it?

This is my attempt to do what I can. Big deal; no it isn’t, but it’s all I can do. I don’t even ask anyone to buy in, but to just think about it and find out what all the rest of us can do.

My next step will be to compile a list of friends and family, then send emails of this to them. If it is useful then perhaps the rest of the website might have some value. It is all I have left to offer.

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