Saturday, October 28, 2006

Falling Behind?

Day to day I have my life set up pretty well. The services I need I can get without difficulty. The equipment I need to do what I want to do is in place. The miscellaneous paraphernalia that facilitate my existence are close at hand. So is there a problem?

Not a problem really, just a sense I have from time to time that I’m falling behind the curve in terms of what’s happening in the world around me. Here’s what I mean:

I have one cell phone that I keep in the car, and I use it rarely.
I don’t send instant messages to anyone.
No one sends instant messages to me.
I listen to music when I’m having dinner, in the morning in the bathroom and sometimes in the car, so I don’t have an iPod or any other such device.
I download music online infrequently.
I don’t download videos online.
I have a PC, not a laptop.
I don’t have a PDA.
I don’t have a Play Station or an Xbox.
I’ve never played a video game.

In my defense I have to say that if I were still working and traveling a lot I’d have all the best tools to do my business successfully. But I have the feeling that even if that were the case I’d still be out-of-date with a lot of stuff. At this point I’m probably two generations behind.

Does it matter? I’ve always thought there was something grotesque about old people trying to be like younger people, trying to be ‘in’ with their language, clothes, attitudes, and the like. I’m left with the conclusion that people need to be real, need to be who they naturally are. So if I decide I want to play video games, fine. But I should do it because it’s what I want to do, not because I’m trying to be somebody I’m not.

In the meantime, how the hell do you work one of those PDAs anyhow?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Meaning of Life

Sandra and I were walking along the Marina the other day and a group of 4 or 5 teenagers, one with a video camera, stopped us.

“What do you think is the meaning of life?” a thin, freshly scrubbed, earnest young man asked.

I was going to blow him off and keep walking but decided instead to stop.

“There is no meaning to life,” I said.

The kid looked troubled. “No meaning? Well how can you go on living then?”

I breathed deeply and exhaled. “I do that,” I said. “I breathe in and out and in and out and keep living.”

Now he looked like he felt sorry for me. And I saw the same look on the faces of his buddies.

“Well, if that’s all there is to life then you can’t enjoy it.”

“Of course I can.” I looked around. In front of me was the beautiful bay. To my left was the Golden Gate Bridge. The sky was blue. The air was warm. “It’s all beautiful.”

Now he got to the point. “So you don’t think there is a creator. You don’t think there’s intelligent design behind our life.”

“No. There’s no creator behind it. It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just beautiful.”

They kept trying. How can you explain life then? I don’t explain it. How can you explain the beauty of a human eye? It’s just beautiful. No explanation needed. How about the world around us? And the sky and the sea and, and, and . . .

We were clearly hopeless. Lost souls, just going through life asleep, without an awareness and appreciation of the intelligent creator.

We said goodbye and walked on. It was an absolutely glorious day. We totally enjoyed it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I read today that since the war began in Iraq 600,000 Iraqi civilians have died.

That’s 2½ % of their population.

If we lost 2½ % of our population that would be 7½ million people.

The equivalent of almost the total population of New York City.

Twice the population of Los Angeles.

Dead. In 3½ years.

That’s a lot of people.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


As I’ve become more and more disenchanted with organized anything – religion, movements, unions and maybe mostly, political parties, I’ve wondered what do I stand for? I finally figured it out – I’m a Libertarian.

The two main definitions of Libertarian are:

1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
2. One who believes in free will.

And what exactly is free will?

1. The ability or discretion to choose; free choice.
2. The power of making free choices that is unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will.

Perfect. Keep those bureaucrats and clerics out of my life. So:

1. A woman should have the freedom to choose whether to have a baby or not.
2. A man or woman should be free to choose a mate of any gender.
3. Or any number for that matter. So we should have the right to practice polygamy or polyandry.
4. I shouldn’t have to pray or salute the flag or follow symbols others think are important.

And on and on.

Having said that, I don’t want to be so broad minded my brains are falling out. It is fine to have laws to protect us from those that would do us harm. So long as we have nation states there is a role for government. Citizens should expect support if circumstances they can’t control keep them from having food to eat, clothes on their back, a roof over their head, basic health care or an education.

I recognize that some will say I can’t have it both ways. I can’t stand for libertarian principles and still insist on state intervention in certain areas of our lives. I say, “Yes I can.” I’m arguing for libertarianism as a place to stand, a context, not as a new set of rules to replace rules I don’t like. I’m arguing for an organizing principle, not a new organization.

It’s fine for you to disagree. After all, that’s your right.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Friend's Passion

My friend Jim Selman stopped by yesterday. Jim lives in Vancouver and is en route first to St. Lucia and then to Brazil and Argentina for some consulting gigs. This can be seen as an exciting and exotic way to make a living or, if you’ve been traveling around the world this way for 30+ years, a pain in the ass.

Let’s just say Jim is still paying homage to the furies that pursue him to keep making money. Not a bad thing, I guess, if that’s your passion. Thing is, it isn’t Jim’s passion. What are the other furies pursuing him, you ask? None of your business. I’m not about to do an amateur sleuthing job on his psyche.

Selman’s passion is aging. Or to be more precise, the way people think and act as they grow older. I don’t think even he is in love with the idea of getting old and dying. He is focused on working with people so that they see the exciting possibilities available during the fall and winter of one’s life rather than kind of giving in to the inevitability of deteriorating, becoming of no value, fading away.

I’m getting to the point here, so bear with me. Jim and I began talking about this about 15 years ago. Then for a long time we dropped the conversation. But in recent years Jim has gotten back into it in a big way. He has a web site, a blog, and a million ideas. His passion and extraordinary creativity around the subject make it fun to talk with him about his ideas and approach.

Here’s the only problem I have. I don’t have the same passion about it as he does – not even close. My approach is to live life fully and totally enjoy it. I don’t have a ‘withering away’ mindset, and I don’t hang out with people who do. So I can recognize in the abstract what Jim is talking about and relate to it from a distance, but the subject doesn’t get my juices going.

He wants me to participate by writing things, interacting with him and others, having ideas. I’m happy to continue our conversation and, because I love him, to do what I can to help. But I’d be more enthusiastic about doing all this if I shared more of his passion.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where to Look First

It’s a gold mine out there. I can’t decide where to look first. I’ve got:

All the salacious gossip about ex-Congressman Foley’s indiscretions
Conjecture about whether Hastert will resign
More bad news from Iraq
A guy slaughters girls in an Amish school
North Korea says it is going to set off an atomic bomb
Iran says it doesn’t want to talk anymore about its atomic bomb
Doctors who say it’s very painful when you get executed (Duh!)
A nurse is convicted of killing patients
A typhoon hits Vietnam
More more bad news from Iraq
New bad news from Afghanistan
Israelis killing Palestinians
Palestinians killing Palestinians
Palestinians killing Israelis
The Russians fighting with the Georgians
Continuing genocide in Darfur
A new book talking about the Bush team lying to us
Another new book talking about the Bush team’s incompetence
And another new book talking about the Bush team’s hubris
More bad news from Iraq
The Dow hits a new high (Whoopee!)
More hedge funds collapse
An NFL lineman kicks an opponent in the face – and apologizes
Fifty other football players kick opponents and aren’t caught and don’t apologize
Fastow gets six years instead of ten. Judge says his family has suffered enough

Need I go on? I’m tired. I think I’ll stop and go find some good news. Ha!!