About Me

My photo
"Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Make America Great Again - What Do You Believe?

I am a fan of politics, and a bigger fan of political philosophy. I know that doesn't describe most of you...so please skip to the cute animal video that is only a few posts away...I get it.

There is so much anger, hate, turmoil, violence in our news feeds that I feel like we are drinking from a poisoned well. We live in a society of Orks. We are surrounded by the hyena horde of the Lion King.

The answer seems to be "escape." This week escape means to find your Pokemon Go gym; cuddle around the endorphin of exercise and a high score. Or, you can escape further still. Just unplug. Wear your cap low or your hoodie high. Maybe its time for a Netflix marathon month.

For some the answer seems an unending stream of platitudes, preachy themes, screen saver memes. "Fill In the Blank" Lives Matter.

Isn't it exhausting to stay up to date with the politically correct theme of the day? Should I put a flag over my profile pic or not? Should I "like" every meme or not? Should I be like Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty confronted by overwhelming prayers; first try Post-Its, then just say "Yes" to everything.

Can we STOP?

What do you BELIEVE?

What is TRUE?

What matters THE MOST?

Has anyone read the "The 5000 Year Leap" by Cleon Skousen? If not, please scan pages 4-6, and the Table of Contents. The Amazon link is below.

I was having a chat with a friend about politics and the objective of fighting for true freedom. I said, few if any of our institutions today reflect the ideals of freedom; but, the answer isn't to steamroll the world with a strong man, just as it is not to capitulate to global power brokers, divide the pie and give everyone just a little slice of freedom.

To break free, to live life purposefully, to experience happiness and fulfillment, we must begin by acknowledging and celebrating together the principles and values that yield freedom. We must declare what we believe, what we know is true, and what matters the most.

You do not have to look far to see what complete lack of freedom looks like. The fear of gun violence on children's faces in inner city Chicago; the eyes of young women in Syria raped repeatedly by ISIS; the hungry masses in Venezuela waiting for food on empty shelves. What do they believe? What do they know is true? What matters the most to them?

We are all surrounded by the Orks and the Hyenas and the answer to the question is not what team are you on? Its not who you paid for protection today? Its not what program delivered you a loaf and a bottle of water?

The answer begins by knowing what you are, how you fit in, what is your purpose, and what are the principles and values that propel you to take step after step after step every day.

I believe we have enjoyed a period of unprecedented freedom and prosperity in America because we were rooted in the same core principles and values. But read the comments of any forum today and you will find the soul-less tripe of an Ork or Hyena scoffing at principles and values, gouging out love and hope and leaving a polluted vapor trail of hate, discord and swirls of sarcasm.

Chaos and mayhem have no political party and no loyalty to any one point of view. The Ork and the Hyena are anarchist. They are utilitarian, they are egotistical, they are self-centered, they are opportunist, they are the spawn of demons. They are our common enemy and they bring us fear, anger, hate and death.

How do we fight a common enemy? First we look in the mirror. Second we declare who is the enemy. Third we bind ourselves to our fellow man, we doff our caps, pull back our hoodies, we agree in public to declare our principles and values, and form an alliance to defend and promote the values we share in common.

I am not naive. America began as an idea among dissidents, philosophers and monks centuries before 1776. The Orks and Hyenas will die of old age before they will permit good people to live in peace. It may take more than a generation to extinguish the flames.

But the responsibility to fight for those principles regardless of the personal outcome is the right answer.

In my chat, I was asked about the term "endorsement." In my view, we must guard against binding ourselves to parties and institutions whose brand is a reaction but not a solution. I can support policy whose outcome is consistent with my values, such as enforcing law, defending our borders; but I cannot endorse leadership that has the wrong philosophy. Support is about agreement. Endorsement is about belief.

I read "The Five Thousand Year Leap" again. Unless you loathe history, or prefer revisionist versions of it, you will find this book to be a straight arrow of reflection on the principles and values that we as countrymen once agreed upon. They are the principles and values I firmly believe.

I am seeking a community of friends, family and acquaintances with whom I can agree and declare without reservation our basic beliefs, truths and what is most important, so that we may live in freedom again. Yes, so we can make America great again.

I am not looking for "likes" unless you know about the 28 Great Ideas that changed the world and are willing to set aside party and political correctness to stand for what you believe to be true.

God Bless.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Overcoming the Obstacles to Business Ownership

The following interview in Forbes reveals some of the reasons why the leading direct selling company in global sales is performing so well.

Forbes Magazine Highlights A Leading Entrepreneur Opportunity

In my experience, the ability to create an independent source of income outside of the traditional 9-5 job, is what separates the financially successful from those who may admit they are falling behind.

The gap between business owner and non-business owner is not insurmountable.

Most start-up businesses encounter 4 main obstacles: Capital Costs, Risk, Time, and Expertise.

All four concerns are addressed and overcome by the business model presented by Steve Van Andel in Forbes.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fascinating Analysis of the Brady versus Manning Era

Photo of November 2007 SI Cover by J M Gadoury

 What follows is hands-down, the most comprehensive, insightful, intuitive article about the Brady-Manning era I have ever read.

Are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning Cheating? by Bill Simmons, Grantland.com

My only criticism is the title, which was at least half-admittedly, an effort at search engine optimization.  In my view, the title is unnecessary and distracting, if not effective in getting a large audience to read an otherwise masterful article.

I enjoy articles that create spinoff sports debate and discussion.  This one frames years of debate, both past, present and future.

There are several points of particular interest to me. One, is Mr. Simmons theory about sibling rivalry and the influence of place in the pecking order. Second, the leadership versus success dynamic when contrasted with a "take charge" personality compared with a "let live" personality.  Third, the entire analysis of the Patriots versus the Colts/Broncos approach to team building around a leader.

There is so much to study and discuss here.  I think Bill Simmons said it all very well.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Can We Just Talk?

Fights at Little League games.  Road rage fisticuffs at intersections. Looting at street rallies.

Fortunately, in public areas like ball fields, roadways and sidewalks, examples of confrontation between Americans remains the exception rather than the rule. Taverns, ballparks and local festivals remain peaceful places of social engagement where our banter and bustle is mostly congenial.

In stark contrast, witness the public comments section of virtually any online news publication.  Rife with verbal beheadings, oratorical stabbings and conjugational drive-by shootings, the rhetoric of America resembles the crossing of bayonets at Gettysburg. Slaying by comment seems to be the rule and not the exception.

Politics and religion have always been the third-rail of civil discourse.  If political speech were sheet music, we would find that disagreeable chords lie not far beyond the first stanza and always have.  But customarily we permit ourselves to hear a few bars before coming to blows.  An opening tune, in recognition of our free speech heritage, has traditionally been welcomed as an opportunity to seek agreement, or to clarify our differences, before we choose weapons and commence paces.

Not so in 2014. Hash tags, labels and keyword browsing give us sufficient evidence to draw and quarter a fellow citizen before his tweet resonates in his vocal chords. American discourse evokes images of  the angry horde of hyenas depicted in the motion picture Lion King.

As an example, review the following comment exchange and witness the demise of rational discussion that typifies how frustratingly coarse our conversation has become:

Comments in response to a Washington Post opinion column by Mitt Romney --
9/4/2014 9:10 PM EST
America is a net exporter of global security. Allies and trading partners depend on us and we receive and demand favorable treatment in return. Exporting Security serves our national interest by protecting our borders, our commerce and foreign policy. Security serves our foreign economic interest by maintaining free, fair and open markets and avenues for trade with willing trading partners. Our security complex serves our domestic economic interest by creating jobs, technology development, tax revenues and by projecting our economic strength to a global theater. None of these interests detract from our humanity, our engagement in social issues, or our national values as expressed for nearly 100 years. The question I have is this...can a majority of Americans agree that a strong military strengthens both our economy and our national interest?

9/4/2014 9:23 PM EST
America is a net exporter of arms and mayhem you idiot, we make a lot of money off of global warfare and unrest. our security complex is sucking the life out of our economy, pigs at the trough, not productive jobs, a majority of Americans can agree we are being ripped off by the MIA. get a brain united

4:08 PM EST
Hoystephen - you replied to my statements of fact, policy and prescriptions with an emotion-laden broad-sided rant devoid of a counter theory. I hope the effort relieved you in some way. Are you really so angry, or is that the anonymity talking? I am not a neophyte, however I fail to understand how our society seems united at the bar, at the ballgame, at the local festival and yet so contrary in politics and policy. A disagreement without a conversation is a fight. Is that what you really want?

This exchange was quite mild by modern standards. But the pattern is set. Intellectual points, followed by unsupported insults and condescension, followed by the proverbial "last word."

 So what has transformed our civil society into a downward spiraling intellectual cesspool?

Give me a moment to strap on my medieval armor before venturing my opinion.

[Read in snarky tone of voice] The philosophy of secular egoism combined with the psychosis of narcissism draws swords against natural law and the common law penumbras of the Magna Carta. Resistance to the constraints of existential ideas threatens the self-centered ego and causes eye-popping violence of the mind directed toward Theo-centric world views.

There you have it! Now be off with you. 

I will save the unpacking of my snarkily delivered theory for another post dedicated purely to a study of philosophy and human nature.

Suffice it to say that America is coming unglued at the philosophical seams. Like a raving lunatic swatting invisible flies, an ape chasing a prize, a squirrel protecting a nut; Americans are governing themselves increasingly by instinct, emotions and relativism and less by tradition, logic and principles. The irrational is taking leave of the rational.  What more should we expect if our celebrated origin is an evolutionary primordial amoebic ancestry?  We are nothing more than advanced animals.  The least we can do is act the part.

A philosophical discussion between a man, who is not the center of his own universe, and the equivalent of the lunatic, the ape or the squirrel is senseless.  If only the lunatic, the ape, or the squirrel could pause and reflect on their condition, resist the shackles of their secular humanist, publicly-financed programming, and open their mind to the world outside their Id.

In summation, one might accurately conclude that I have dubbed certain opposition, "close minded".  Funny and ironic that the charge is often leveled equally toward the author.  Fair enough.

Well I guess there is nothing left to discuss then.  Bayonets fixed, resume the flaming!  Let's burn the villages, the crops, and the libraries. Forget about our families' well being! To heck with posterity and peace on earth and good will to men. Lets live in poverty, famine and mortal threat. Lets live like Mad Max meets Burning Man 365/24/7.

Honestly, I don't know an American of any cultural, ethnic or political background that lives for chaos, or truly desires to live among the ruins of America.  I know I don't chose that future.  If we can agree that we prefer peaceful living, prosperous living, and lasting legacies of freedom, can we just talk?

Who cares if the horse is dead, the line of reasoning threadbare.  If the field of study has been plowed to wasteland, is respectfully rehashing it from the beginning worthwhile for the hope of a better future?  An argument without a conversation is a fight.

I just hope that we have not permanently crossed the Rubicon from polite scholarly exchange to endless volleys of damning fireballs from the pits of hell.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify football, beer and fist-pumps with Fred at 7pm, followed by flaming, shaming and politically correct maiming by Fred at 11pm.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Would You Accept Advice from a Self-Made Billionaire?

 A business partner reminded me about a key principle to success this week.  He forwarded an inspiring video that I highly recommend to you.

I frequently reference a book entitled The Slight Edge.  The book demonstrates that success does not suddenly happen to random people.  It proves that randomly, any person that chooses to take small, incremental, daily action steps toward a significant and specific goal will achieve the goal.

The video illustrates the point so succinctly and with great credibility, I offer it with no further fanfare.  Enjoy.

How to Grow From $1.25/hr to $1B?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bless This Mess -- Sneezing May Offend the Constitution?

This month a Tennessee teacher reportedly exhibited another example of state intolerance toward student religious expression.  By suspending a student for uttering "Bless You" in response to a sneeze and publishing a classroom rule banning the phrase, the teacher used her government role to squash the student's constitutional rights and to impose a sectarian silence that is hostile to religion and the freedom of speech.

The Tennessee school teacher's "Bless You" Banishment constitutes a blatant violation of the Constitution's 1st Amendment.  Here, a teacher acting on behalf of the state education system, reportedly imposed a rule that restricted the free exercise and free speech rights of a citizen student.

The United States Supreme Court has granted wide latitude to school officials to administer school discipline and to maintain an effective learning environment.  However, school rules and discipline must be reasonable and neutral toward religion and viewpoint.

It is not hard to imagine the circumstances under which an innocent, polite and natural response ("Bless You") to a sneeze in a school classroom can quickly become a repeated, non-innocent and unnatural disruption of class.  But the reported facts do not suggest a disruption of the class, but rather a disruption of the teacher's personal and tragic interpretation of the constitution.

As American society becomes increasingly secular and agnostic, the decades long social trend in America to separate religious expression from public life results in increasing examples of public shaming of religious people and their views.  Unsurprisingly, the trend now extends to innocuous utterances and phrases such as "Bless You".

Providing constitutional protection for religious speech and viewpoints from hostile state action is essential to the liberty of Americans who continue to practice and speak their beliefs as well as the agnostic who chooses to live free from it.

Since America is founded on the principle that our rights and liberties are "endowed by our Creator" and not merely benevolent licenses from the state, it is also essential to liberty and American Constitutionalism that the state permit and accommodate religious expression.  Why?

Effective self-government is rooted in citizens acting charitably toward others, exercising self-control, respecting others' property, and living according to an understanding that fellow citizens rights are equally endowed.  These principles and values do not emanate from the state.  Rather they are passed by upbringing, tradition and the teachings of religion.

The institutions of family and religion play a critical role in promoting the principles and values that lead to a self-governed society.  By preventing the state from obfuscating the manner and expression of religious expression, the 1st Amendment of the Constitution preserves the liberty essential to the health of family and religion as vital institutions.

Three separate institutions, state, family and religion, must be permitted to function co-equally, according to their functional role, for maximum freedom to be enjoyed by all.  The state should not rule the family or religion.  Religion should not rule the family or the state.  The family should not rule the state and the religion, akin to King George.

While agnostics might prefer to extinguish public religious expression, to do so would eventually extinguish the roots of self-government.  In a theoretical society where social order is conveyed solely by the democratic enactments of the state, self-government is replaced by maximum government.

Under maximum government, even the agnostic's preferred expression "kazoo-tight" is eventually subject to control.  And that is nothing to sneeze at.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Do It Yourself - Pros and Cons

When it comes to handy-man home and auto projects, I am not one of those self-starters that loves to tinker in the garage or the workshop.

The to-do list typically gains no special priority over the annual tax filing, as far as I am concerned.

That being said, I do have a naturally inquisitive mind.  Over the years, I have to admit that I have waded into a variety of projects based on curiosity and what I attribute to neuro-chemical stimulation from solving a complex problem that I previously knew nothing about.

I remember as a child the thrill of announcing to the world, "...and I did it all by myself!"

So this week's unplanned project was the result of an annoyance that has been looking in my face for six months.  Whenever I hop in my Ford Explorer SportTrac and turn the key, the first thing I see on the overhead console is the digital compass and external temperature display.  When the display began to flicker, fade and eventually disappear, I developed a neurotic obsession with finding out why.

Follow this thread to see How I Repaired an Electrical Component on My Explorer SportTrac.

Why did I wait six months to "scratch the itch?"  Glad you asked.  When it comes to handy-man projects, I would much rather pay a professional and take satisfaction that I saved my time and aggravation.  But counter-balancing that preference is my hard-scrabble, DIY, Yankee, practical roots that refuse to pay good money for fixing such a frivolous luxury as a digital compass and temperature display.

I will pay for an oil change, but not a blinky light that tells me my global orientation and environment in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Which leads me to my topic which I will not belabor.  What are the pros and cons of DIY?

  1. Learn something new.
  2. Save labor cost.
  3. Save parts cost markup.
  4. Say "...and I did it all by myself!" to anyone that cares.
  5. Get the job done right...after all, if you want it done right, you must do it yourself....or so the saying goes.
  6. Instant gratification.  Why wait in line for an appointment?
  1. Whatever you might learn is likely to be forgotten or never needed again.  Like school.
  2. Time is arguably more valuable than money or labor cost.  You cannot discount time.
  3. Cutting corners on materials is usually a short term prospect. Quality, guaranties, and product knowledge are built into the markup.  Peace of mind is lost. He who represents himself has hired a foolish attorney.
  4. One could argue that self-absorption in DIY bliss is as productive as fishing, crossword puzzles and fantasy football.
  5. There is a much higher likelihood that at DIY project is inferior to a professional job.  Just think of some examples. Ever pull your own tooth?  Made your own shoes? Fly yourself to your next vacation destination?
  6. When a DIY project emerges from the equivalent of pointing and yelling "squirrel!", and then a day or more is gone, someone or something more important and less interesting just got scuttled.
I guess on balance I am truly not a DIY guy.  But apparently I am not intellectually 100% efficient either.  You only live once.

You know the best of all possible worlds is to own 100% of your time and have enough money to freely decide whether to pay the pro or do-it-yourself if you want to.

Any ideas about that program?  Check this one out... The System