Forget About The Known Unknowns, It’s The Unknown Unknowns That Get You Every Time

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There’s an old adage that stipulates “generals are always fighting the last war.” This says more about the stultifying effects of age and experience than it does about military acumen.

As we live our lives, we accumulate knowledge. We use this knowledge to provide convenient short-cuts when we make decisions. That’s a good thing.

But those short-cuts assume a certain kind of status quo that cannot exist. That’s a bad thing.

Since we’re on the subject of old adages, there’s one from ancient Greece which warns “you can never step foot in the same river twice.”

At first that makes no sense. Why, just about any GPS will lead you to the same river time and time again. You can even dip your toe in each and every occasion.

Ah, but is it really the same river? Has not the water you touched that very first instance traveled far down the river and probably emptied itself into some larger body of water?

You see, a river is like time. It is constantly moving. The only way to make it stand still is to Continue Reading “Forget About The Known Unknowns, It’s The Unknown Unknowns That Get You Every Time”

Blackballed Again: Are You Prepared?

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Be honest. If the title had been “Are you prepared to be cancelled?” would you be reading this first sentence? Or how about “Are you prepared to be de-platformed?”? Would that have lured you in? Or does it sound too geeky?

The fact is, those modern-day synonyms merely reflect an awful tradition that dates back centuries, if not to the beginning of man’s time on Earth.

Indeed, there’s a really bad 1986 movie called The Clan of the Cave Bear. It stars Daryl Hannah, whose main character is ostracized from her Neanderthal family. As far as I can tell, they blackballed her because, unlike all the brunettes in the clan, she had blonde hair. (Of course, being caveman times and the lack of adequate shower facilities, perhaps it would be more accurate to describe her as a “dirty blonde.”)

In terms of good cinema, there’s always Looney Tunes’ 1953 cartoon “Bell Hoppy,” featuring Sylvester the Cat voicing the phrase “Blackballed again” when the Loyal Order of Alley Catz Mouse and Chowder Club declines his membership.

Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of being left out. It usually happens when Continue Reading “Blackballed Again: Are You Prepared?”

Criminal Hubris: It Gets Them Every TIME

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Search for the term “criminal hubris” and chances are you won’t find anything (except, hopefully, this woeful column). We know what a criminal is. We know what hubris is. But there is no definition of “criminal hubris.”

Yet there is, and it’s staring at us right in the face. Metaphorically, it’s all around us. Cinematographically, it resides on the screens we watch. Its roots, however, lie within the body of literature – both philosophical and dramatic – we ought to be most familiar with.

Whether as a metaphor for real-life, a character in a story, or an actual crime, “criminal hubris” is easy to spot (if you’ve got a trained eye), hard to avoid (if you’re arrogant), and, best of all, wonderful to watch (because it hoists offenders with their own petard quite regularly).

Before I reveal the “7 Steps of Criminal Hubris” let’s explore the origins of “hubris” and Continue Reading “Criminal Hubris: It Gets Them Every TIME

OK, I’m Ready To Admit It…

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I’m finally confused.

What day is it?

Maybe it was the Holidays. Maybe it was non-stop football. Whatever it was, my internal chronometer, once an adept timepiece, can’t tell whether Monday, or Thursday, Tuesday or Saturday, Wednesday or Friday.

And Sundays? Isn’t every day Sunday now?

Lest you think this represents a sudden onset of temporal disorder, bear in mind that, for a few years now, my question has been “What week is it?”

You see, when you write for publication, you write for a deadline. That deadline rarely is Continue Reading “OK, I’m Ready To Admit It…”

What 2020 Revealed About Us (And Maybe You, Too)

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“The Sea Rises,” 1894, an engraving in The Writings of Charles Dickens, volume 20, A Tale of Two Cities

It began as the best of years and ended as the worst of years. Did it?

Or perhaps it was the best of years and it was the worst of years.

If that second phrase sounds familiar, you’re either an astute historical observer or you’re well versed in Victorian literature (or both).

In 1859, Charles Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities. The novel opened with the following:Continue Reading “What 2020 Revealed About Us (And Maybe You, Too)”

Would You Rather Experience Joy or Satisfaction?

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Now that you’ve exploded your stomach celebrating Thanksgiving, here’s something that will explode your mind.

Don’t be afraid. This is a good thing, for what grows back will be stronger. You’ll be stronger. There’s a reason for this. After you discombobulate your brain, things settle in a way that reveals greater understanding about you and about life in general.

Let’s start with a couple of simple definitions.

Definition #1: Joy. According to Merriam-Webster, joy is defined as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” It is akin to such words as “delight,” “gaiety,” and “bliss.”

Definition #2: Satisfaction. Merriam-Webster defines satisfaction as a “fulfillment of a need or want.” It is reflected in words like “contentment” and “gratification.”

These two definitions sound very familiar, don’t they?Continue Reading “Would You Rather Experience Joy or Satisfaction?”

1620 – A Quadrennial That Defines America

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Without 1620, there would be no 1776. There would be no United States. There would be no us.

As we sit down at our Thanksgiving Day tables – which this year includes grandma and grandpa joining us via Zoom – we should consider not just what we are thankful for, but what it took to get us here.

We can turn to the Pilgrims for inspiration.

Long persecuted for their beliefs, they put their trust in their faith and ventured into the Continue Reading “1620 – A Quadrennial That Defines America”

Thoughts on Andy Griffith, Mayberry, and Our Wonderful Community

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If you’re of a certain age, you grew up watching certain TV shows. Sure, the same thing happens today, but back when there were just three primetime networks, everyone watched the same shows.

Those weekly episodes defined your youth, your community, and our nation. For better or worse, we were all one.

It was a great feeling. To be part of one united community, no matter where our ancestors came from, no matter our differences, no matter our race, color, or creed.

It was an era when E Pluribus Unum wasn’t just an archaic phrase on our money. It was more than a mere motto; it was our unabashed philosophy.

We were all one.

And that meant something.

Something important.Continue Reading “Thoughts on Andy Griffith, Mayberry, and Our Wonderful Community”

Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)

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We’re building a detached garage. Since the time I bought my home, I had dreamed of building a detached garage. It was a dream Betsy quickly adopted, if only to create a massive storage vehicle for a lifetime of research, source material, and memories that have consumed much of the living space in our house. Soon, we will have a living room again. And a dining room. And maybe a couple of other rooms (and closets), too.

While the garage isn’t yet complete, we do have a roof and the building is adequately enclosed. A few weeks ago, we had Catarina’s birthday party in it. This weekend, we held Cesidia’s birthday party there.

Both parties were excellent. And instructive.

We had bare studs-and-plywood walls for Catarina’s party. By Cesidia’s party, the insulation had been installed (but not the drywall).

For Cesidia’s party, the garage was a nearly perfect sound room. The paper backing of the insulation absorbed all ambient noise. That didn’t mean it muffled our voices. No. When everyone was talking, it sounded like everyone was talking. You could hear each voice very clearly, but when the voices stopped, there was a dead silence.

It really perked up your attention. It also made you quite aware of everything around you. It was a full-bodied experience. Ironically, at the same time you were more attentive, you Continue Reading “Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)”

Two Wrongs Still Don’t Make A Right

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I weep for my city. I weep for my country. I weep for our ancestors who worked so hard to overcome the obvious frailty that is all humanity.

I cry for those swept aside by events. My heart bleeds for the bystanders who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. I grow sullen, knowing the damage done cannot be quickly repaired.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our citizenry that a noble cause has devolved into a self-inflicted chaos. Surely, no one believes it’s fair to punish innocents. Yet, clearly, we enable those who feel justified in doing precisely that.

None of this should have ever been allowed to happen.Continue Reading “Two Wrongs Still Don’t Make A Right”