We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, April 14. 2011
I really don’t get up in the morning asking myself “Who can I piss off today?” It just seems to work out that way, many days.
How does that happen? Closest I can figure, it’s because I study many issues, form conclusions, and am willing to share them, regardless of whose ox is gored. But, how did I come to be like that? Ah, that’s the real question, I think.
Indeed, I think is part of the answer. I don’t tend to react so much as to try to think ahead, seeing the consequence of current events, particularly in light of training, experience, and history.
This served me well in business, frequently clearing new paths and accomplishing remarkable goals, often necessarily undiplomatic and forthright, while others filled their pockets and defended their comfortable positions. This also served me well in politics, raising issues that others didn’t until I did, then the matters going viral. I usually didn't receive rewards, many times the opposite, but I was satisfied to accomplish something.
But, why me? Others are smarter or stronger or smoother or richer or better positioned.
Others say it’s because I came up ballsy through the scrappy streets of Flatbush. Others say it’s because I came up poor and learned to succeed. Others say it’s because I grew up surrounded by immigrants from the carnage of WWII who shared their painful lessons about the consequences of allowing evil to spread.
On the other hand, others say it’s because I’m a schmuck who puts my ego before possible relationships or personal gain.
I say, “whatever.” I don’t try nor care to try to self-analyze nor to care if others analyze me. I’m just me. I really don’t feel I have any other alternative. I believe, at core, that there’s a very simple and measurable way to know whether I am me.
If I’m unhappy, it’s because I’m not thinking or behaving like me but as someone else wants me to be, or it’s because I’m goofing off.
Back in the ‘50s there was a very popular TV show, The Millionaire, where weekly an anonymous million-dollars was delivered to a deserving person, changing their lives. The following morning, across America, people discussed what they would do with a million-dollars. Then and now I couldn’t come up with an answer for more than a few tens of thousands of dollars. I’ve always been satisfied with whatever I’ve had, however meager, always loved a good hot dog, and been happy to sit in whatever seats in the sun at a ball game. So, being me seems to be just being satisfied with whatever I have, not being obsessed with what I don’t.
The rough and tumble upbringing may have contributed to my spine, but we all know many who didn’t rise above their really or perceived tough childhood. We try to help them, with a boost or inspiration, and some do rise to their potential. We also know many who had every advantage and squandered them or who feel they’re entitled, with little care for their impacts on others in further feathering their own nests. Despite disdain by most, they live in insulated circles, usually blithely going on about their ways. Sometimes they earn their comeuppance, but whine the loudest when they do.
So, what makes the difference for the majority of us? I say it is fortitude and resilience. At 10 my grandfather asked whether I was lazy. That struck me hard, and I never quit at anything again. In Vietnam, although I was rarely in real danger, I made a deal with G-d: Get me out of here in one piece and you’ll never hear another complaint from me. We both kept that deal.
Fortitude and resilience come down to that, making a promise to oneself and keeping it to rise above circumstances. To do so requires paying attention to what’s happening, outside and inside, and doing something about it. Passivity and timidity are the enemy, to be overcome.
So, I don’t wake up asking myself, “who can I piss off today?” I wake up asking myself, “what can I overcome today?” And, “how can I help others to overcome?” It just doesn’t occur to me to ask, “what’ll be the consequences for me?” When I hear myself or someone else describe their “reason” for avoiding difficult choices, I substitute the word “excuse”, and that’s usually more accurate.How do you wake up?
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I don't wake up intendin' to irritate and sure can relate to yall's wonderment.
But whatever attitude i leave for the wimmin.
I try to avoid making "deals" with God, but I get the point, and I have done it. Usually I wind up breaking the deal, and usually it's over something stupid.
But generally speaking your outlook on life is PRECISELY what I see as the problem in the US today. Each day that I discuss an issue with someone, and the discussion ends with "yeah, well he/she is the one making the money, so they must be doing something right", I know that there is something WRONG taking place. What is that thing?
Well, first of all, making money isn't a bad thing. It's a reward for honest, hard work. Most of the time. It's also a reward for being a crook who happens to have convinced alot of people that it's OK to be a crook. Unfortunately, as our gauge of what is "crooked" lurches further and further off the course of what is well and truly right, we have less of an idea what we are dealing with.
Secondly, making money isn't a sign of anything in particular. Any fool can make alot of money if they stumble onto the right property at the right time. Keeping that money is far more interesting to me. Keeping it honestly, that is. It never ceases to astound me the number of wealthy people who wind up in rehab - and usually it isn't long afterward that you learn of other issues that eventually wind up with the word "financial troubles". Certainly alot still have the "financial troubles" without the rehab....but I believe the two go together, because rehab isn't just about abuse of drugs. It's about general abuse....having too much of a good thing and letting it go to your head and alter how you live your life.
So, I have always had one pact with God, and it's one I'm sure to keep. That is, if I ever win the lottery, I'd section the money out to cover a few things:
Pay my mortgage off
Get a new car
Set up the kids with college/pay off their loans
Set aside something for retirement.
Continue working - but preferably at a more fulfilling job like teaching. Possibly for free. Unless it was Home Depot, which would be kind've cool to work in the lumber department. or power tools.
Take whatever is left over and set up a philanthropy or give it away. The tricky part is winning the lottery and then determining how much is good for retirement. I don't think it should be too much. Still, it's not about trying to figure out how you need to spend it - it's trying to figure out how to put it to productive use.
Dear Bruce, you don't piss me off, today, anyways, you do keep me on my toes. So, another comment,question(?) for you, I need a link to the hilarious 3D CGI video, "Koran burning, I'm Excited!" This was available on Powerline but it's been dropped recently. Could you please send me a link if you have one? Thanks, Jeremy
Thank you so much for writing this. From what I know of you - and myself - it's an issue of integrity. When you see the truth - you tell it. Most don't like to see or hear the truth. The whole 1960's - today philosophy of "There is no objective truth." has helped bring us to this state of affairs. Well, of course there is objective truth. IMHO, it's mostly an issue of being honest with one's self. You and I both know that there is objective truth, and when there is disagreement we can discuss and debate and attempt to pursuade. Honor is a gift a man gives himself.
I know that you're not as politically partisan as I am but I think a nice addition to your post would be, "If you want to anger a liberal - tell him the truth. If you want to anger a conservative - tell him a lie." It is increasingly difficult to debate with liars. The web helps do an amazing job of shining the light of truth on issues that used to be hidden. The cultural elite who controlled the media and the message are not used to and do not like the fact that they can no longer ignore the real news or squelch the dissenting voice. Academia, Hollywood, the Arts, can now be examined and the subtle and not so subtle ways in which popular culture was guided by convention can now be fought.
In my gadfly way of looking at politics I believe it's increasingly important to shine the light of truth on issues forcefully and often. It's one of the reasons I make time to read your musings. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experience. Please keep pissing people off.
Perhaps you are a contrarian?
Glad to know I'm not alone.
I've long said I have the spiritual gift of pissing people off. I don't mean to. Sometimes I've been thoughtless or rude, or made an unfair assumption.
But largely my experiences seem to match yours. I like to believe that's for many of the same reasons.
Mr. K., I do not always agree with you. You and I disagree on a very important issue. But, I believe that you are among the few people that would be able to hear my argument and give it thought. One of the few people who would know my disagreement does not stem from any deep prejudice, but rather my disagreement comes because I, like you, am deeply concerned about the well being of the people involved. You get that Mr. K. and I believe you do, because like me you were raised to be hard working, and honorable. My daddy's last words to me when I was five years old were "always seek the truth". I do--I still keep the faith that the truth will indeed set all of us on a better path.
I am willing to concede that it is half my fault that I am irked by poor grammar. It should be, "WHOM can I piss off today?"
How do you wake up?
With the resolution to do one good deed during the day.
For today, it was donating 250 lbs of dry food to the local cat and kitten rescue group - PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society).
Yesterday, twelve sheets of 1/2" floor underlayment that I found when cleaning out my wood shop to Habitat for Humanity.
Day before that, we donated a bunch of new items that the Mrs. and I have accumulated over the 30+ years in this house and never, for some reason to the local Masonic Lodge for their yard sale.
And so on and so on. Sometimes it might just be something simple - other times something special.
Always makes the day go right when you do something for somebody without recompense.
Never for some reason used. Honest to pete - I sometimes wonder if I'm ADD. :>)
Often I wake up mindfully considering just how I am going to go about, that day, severely pissing a particular person off. But then I'm a lawyer!!
But seriously. One of the interesting facets of attorneyhood is that, in service of your client's best interests, you may be obliged to ask, say, and do things that are really going to set somebody's pants on fire. Sometimes that means, say, carefully and calmly questioning a deponent, in a small, quiet room, about various documents that appear to suggest that the deponent is a rat-faced weasel who for years cheated his business partners. Sometimes it means sitting with your client and calmly pointing out that the reason he's getting sued is because the facts in play seem to indicate that he may be a rat-faced weasel who for years cheated his business partners.
People get really pissed off when you do things like that!!
Formerly, in social settings, I was famously argumentative; even though I was raised to never bring up politics, religion or money amongst strangers, if everybody else just goes ahead and talks about it, I'll weigh in!!
But now I tend to just sit and listen & only engage if prompted, and often then will dodge it with a quip, or try to steer the whole conversation elsewhere (of course, socially I'm surrounded by liberals, so if I don't get the subject changed I'll either argue constantly or roll my eyes out their sockets).
Anyway, now that arguing is what I do for a living (and enjoy!!), I find it easy to leave the arguments at work.
It's because you're a Jew.
A child of Abraham - the son of an idol-maker who renounced idolatry - and his wife Sarah - a barren woman who transcended society's opinion to find and assert her worth, and that of every person.
They camped out on the crossroads of the ancient world (which is why we were given the land of Israel, look at the map) and gave out food to strangers - unheard of in the tribal, pagan world. Did you hear about that crazy monotheistic couple out there by the highway?
You're a son of Isaac - whose name literally means laughter, and whose children will "laugh last" in the face of all the scoffers. And Rebekkah - who broke the strictures of female roles to leave a wicked house, in a wicked nation, and build the house of Israel. A woman so committed to truth and good that she tragically rejected her own evil son.
You're a son of Jacob - who combined the spiritual insight of Abraham and Isaac with the force and worldly wisdom needed to oppose - and ultimately prevail against - his evil, rebellious brother Esau and his Canaanite neighbors. And his wives, who like Sarah and Rebekkah sought spirituality despite evil environments and personal challenges.
hen and now I couldn’t come up with an answer for more than a few tens of thousands of dollars.
We play that game, too, and can't ever come up with much more than paying off our house, maybe helping our siblings with their houses, funding a comfortable retirement, and some new shoes.
My husband would be thrilled to quit his job and move into a new, less lucrative career, but we really don't need that much money day to day, so we're planning for him to do that anyhow.