Archive for October, 2005
In alcohol and drug recovery, each convention is filled with vast amounts of literature. People in the Twelve Step Recovery program write books about how how, following The Program, they learned the way to make money, the way to be successful in life, the way to be happy, the way to have good “relationships” with the opposite sex.
There are gay recovery groups and I am sure they have books on how to have good relations with the same sex, though I’ve never seen one.
Meanwhile my whole picture of The Program is embodied in times when I had to knock a guy out cold on the way to the emergency room, when I had to take a gun away from a woman who was threatening to shoot herself or anybody else, when a guy was naked and jabbing himself with a needle in his genitals in a bathroom filled with blood screaming, “I can’t find a vein, I can’t find a vein!” , and a number of times when I had to clean the vomit out of my car after taking somebody to detox.
Back to books on “How the Program Made me Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.”
When the average person reads advice of the kind I give he generally expects three subjects: 1) how to healthy, wealthy and wise, 2) how to be moral, and 3) how to think straight.
My advice is only on 3) because 3) is all I really know about.
So let me repeat why my writings are not the sort of thing great columns or best-selling advice books are made of.
A successful advice columnist tells his audience three things:
1) How to be successful;
2) How he should conduct himself personally;
3) How to think straight.
You may find some advice on 1) and 2) SOMEWHERE in the archives of Whitakeronline, Bob’s Blog, my articles or the books I have written.
But you shouldn’t. If I ever told you how you should act personally to be moral paragon, those were the silly writings all us mere humans stoop to.
But I don’t think you will find a word of this preaching about personal behavior in all I have said.
My advice is on how to THINK straight.
Sainthood I leave to saints. I have not achieved sainthood and I never will.
This is not like The Confessions of Saint Augustine where he is talking about the sins he committed BEFORE he saw the light: He kept praying, “Lord make me chaste, but not yet.”
Even when I discuss stupid thinking, I am not talking about things I have overcome. I am talking about things I am still doing.
Some of the people writing the books about that show up on the stands at AA conventions, the ones about to be happy and successful and how to do sex right, are probably also carrying unconscious overdosers into the emergency room.
God bless them if they are. They combine perfect theory with perfect behavior.
But I never checked to see if they practice what they preached. I had my own work to do.
And even if such a perfect peson existed, he couldnot perform one role a sinner like me was perfect for.
Very few people in a Twelve Step Program want to do their fifth step with a saint.
I wrote about the fifth step before. It is where you tell one human being ALL about yourself, I mean ALL, including the sexual stuff, and learn that that person can like you despite the things you are most ashamed of.
The huge number of people who asked to their Fifth Step with me came to me precisely because I am NOT a moral paragon and never claimed to be. If I have one proof that I nonjudgmental it is the number of people who decided, or were even urged by their sponsors, to do their fifth step with me.
You do NOT go to a judgmental person for that one.
BUT, there is always a BUT, I am not good because I am nonjudgmental.
There is a lot to be said for judgement.
All those big name rock stars who tell how they overcame drugs sound great. But they give people, and not just young people, the idea that drugs are OK because you can do them and become a success and then overcome them.
No way. Look at the list of rock stars who died using drugs.
St. Augustine and the Emperor Constantine delayed their baptism because baptism was believed to wash away all sins. So Augustine got baptised after he had done his sinning.
This may be good theology, but it is an AWFUL example.
I have led an AWFUL life. I am now a lonely old man. Nietzsche said that one leads the same life over and over. That is my worse nightmare.
I have a lot to offer. I can tell you how to argue, how to get things done.
Which is all I talk about.
But very often people assume that because what I say is good, I am good.
I have left a trail of very disappointed people behind me all my life. And I’m sick of it, because I don’t deserve that extra burden.
I am one of those who give warnings I do not heed.
I am the one who cleans the vomit out of his car. I am the one people come to to spill their guts out in the fifth step. I am the one who was out there on six continents fighting the fight no one else wanted to dirty their hands with.
I stood up to the enemies of my race while all the people who beat their chests about how Moral they were deserted me the moment the word “racist” was mentioned.
I am sure there were moral paragons in there side-by-side with me the whole time.
I just didn’t see them.
Maybe I was drunk.
The Romans were absolutely nuts about playing dice.
We wonder why on earth somebody could be so fascinated with a game which involved no skill at all, but was just a matter of random chance?
The answer is that the Romans had no idea that dice was a matter of random chance. The Romans didn’t know there was such a thing as random probability and a bell curve. The took it for granted that dice was a game of SKILL.
The key to understanding history is realizing that other people in other societies and in other times lived in different WORLD from ours. If you follow the Politically Correct dictum that “all people are basically the same,” you cannot begin to understand different peoples.
In Roman times, one only sailed on auspicious dates. A bird crossing overhead was an omen, as were endless numbers of other things. Astrology was a SCIENCE. The oracles were SCIENCE.
Like our modern social siences, the one thing other societies, past and present, never studied was RESULTS.
If you never check the results, astrology is science. If you never check the results, liberal intellectuals are intellectuals.
In Roman times, a person who talked to the dice was literally talking to the dice.
As with every other pagan god, JHWH dwelt on every word a person said. If you will read the context of the Lord’s Prayer, you will see Jesus considered all this absurd: “Let your answer be ‘yes” or “no,” “those who would attain salvation by much saying.”
Every other people lived on a world which was “the firmament” and where the stars were spread above us.
Look at Genesis.
That is not the world we live in.
In ancient times women were born with one less tooth than men because Aistotle said so.
In ancient times dice was a game of skill. They didn’t know there WAS such a thing as random chance.
Now tell me you are not blind in history if you believe that all people think more or less the same.
A man has the instincts of a billy goat. He wants to plant the seed and get the hell out.
I get very, very tired of people getting that True Wisdom look on their faces they always get when they’re about to say something really stupid and say, “Power is all about MONEY.”
Actually the billionaires who spend many millions promoting the leftist agenda have very little power. All they are doing is pushing the agenda some professor taught them in college. The guy with the power was the professor who screwed them in the first place.
I thought I just approved a comment by Peter but I can’t find it.
Peter said, “I agree with Joe. I guess I should lick your hand now.”
No, Peter, you can’t lick my hand but can kiss my ….
Oops, I keep forgetting this is a family publication.
Joe, you have a very exacting sense of humor.
Each of the three comedians you mentioned took a huge chance.
Jim Kerry is a physical comedian, and that is as old as the hills. But he is just incredibly good at it.
Steve Martin is the pitiful comedian. That is also as old as the hills and it takes exacting skill to make the exact balance he makes, the one everybody tries and nobody can do as well as he does.
Chris Farley was the shouting comedian. His was the humor that every Jewish comedian tries and fails at. It has to be JUST right, and the Jews just make it obnoxious.
So, like the cat in the commercial, Joe’s tastes in humor are very simple. He wants the best there is.
My comedic specialty is, like that of the three above, as old as Cro-Magnon man.
It is called, “Injecting humor into serious subjects.”
If you don’t think a new twist on THAT is as hard as Farley’s making loud humor funny, ask any speech-writer.
But I do it GOOD.
In most speeches, you can tell when the “time to add a light touch” has been reached.
My humor is aimed at catching you off guard.
For my readers, reading what I say is like hearing somebody talk about something you had already been working out in your mind, but I have thought about it a lot and express it in a way you wish you had.
So there are you are, sharing my outrage and my disgust, getting right down to the guts of the matter. At that exact point I have the chance to inject the very essence of humor:
No joke is funny if you see the punch line coming.
But when someone is exposing the very thing that disgusts or offends you most, suddenly running into a punch line is like stepping on a land mine. I simply cannot resist an opportunity like that.
There is another element. There is a reason why professional speechwriters cannot take advantage of this opportunity the way I do here is because, for most people, humor on a serious subject is next door to heresy.
So you HAVE to signal your punch. You have to say, in effect, “Now this is a very serious subject, and I recognize that, but at this point I am going to lighten things up by making a joke so don’t take it as making light of this very serious issue that means so much to you.”
After an intro like that it’s a little hard to catch the crowd by surprise.
I need readers who trust me. That split second of surprise is precious. If you throw it away by asking yourself, “Should I laugh at this or is it heresy?” you lose it.
My humor is for people who can ride with the tide.
“I can’t believe it. Very few people can make me laugh. Jim Carrey, Steve Martin and Chris Farley. Now you. What are the chances? A guy that knows all the stuff that you know also turns out to be able to make me laugh. I think it’s the way you put things sometimes. I read you for a serious purpose. I never look to be entertained. And here it is. I can’t believe it. I’ll bet you’ve got a lot of friends. You should have. No, this is not sychophancy. Just plain straight talk.”
Comment by joe rorke — 10/18/2005 @
One of my definitions of luxury is, “the ability to take trivia seriously.”
Partly from teaching international law and also my lifelong ingterest in geography, I have developed a fascination with the political status of what I refer to technically as “tee tiny little countries.”
Does anybody else know anything about a country which exists called San Marino?
It sits there landlocked inside Italy. San Marino consists of about 12,000 acres.
It is not like one of the recent pieces of a colonial empire that gets a seat in the United Nations. San Marino has been an independent state since the fourth century.
For years it had the only popularly elected Communist government on earth. When Mousolini’s ally Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June of 1941 San Marino declared war on Germany.
This left Il Duce in a bit of a quandary. He couldn’t just stomp on San Marino and San Marino hadn’t declared war on HIM. So he gave Germany the right to send troops across its territory and until the Americans got there they occupied the place, way the out inthe middle of Italy.
I wish I could find out more about that very strange occupation.
San Marino has turned its foreign relations over to Italy, so it has no UN seat.
But SMOM DOES a UN seat, and I’ll bet Elizabeth has information on that huge country.
The Sovereign and Military Order of Malta, though the origins of SMOM are disputed, is a worldwide Catholic organization that once ruled Malta, as the name indicates. Its size was reduced somewhat
after Rhodes was taken away from them.
SMOM now occupies no ground at all. It is located in an upper story of a bulding in Rome.
SMOM has a seat inthe United Nations and has independent relations with 70 countries. It exchanges ambassadots with them!
Elizabeth, wherfe in the HELL do those ambassadors LIVE? Somehow I can’t picture seventy legations in the upper stories of an Italian office building.
Compared to SMOM Vatican City is a giant. It has 106 acres of actual ground.
I don’t understand why Vatican City is constantly referred to as the second smallest indepandent country on earth, next to Monaco, since the Vatican recognizes SMOM.
Compared to the three independent countries inside Italy, Leichtenstein is a sprawling giant. It is about the size of Washington, DC which is 40,000 acres, but Leichtenstein has long since turned all of its foreign relations over to Switzerland.
I have heard too much about Monaco to care about it. I have heard plenty about the Vatican, but precisely because it is so important religiously its political existence has been largely ignored.
Like SMOM what is now Vatican City once occupied a lot more territory. The Papal States covered some forty thousand square miles of central Italy for many centuries. Like SMOM, the Pope’s empire contracted a bit when its original area was conquered.
The smallest REAL country in Europe is Luxembourg. I say REAL because it did ALL the things a sovereign country does. It printed its own money, though Belgian currency was also an official currency there until the Euro. I believe that is the only example on earth of a country OFFICIALLY accepting another country’s money as official and yet printing its own at the same time.
Luxembourg actually had its own army and used it as a member of NATO, to which it contributed on regiment. Luxembourg was exactly 999 square miles in size, which always made me want them to take another square mile when I was nine years old and studying my little red ge0graphy book all the time.
I believe Andorra is the only country on earth whose main industry, officially, was smuggling.
Throughout the 1950s Andorra’s official, appropriated military budget was exactly twenty four dollars and sixty five cents per annum.
The Channel Islands Britain had their own sovereignty. They were the only English-speaking areas occupied by Germany during World War II.
When I said that Luxembourg was eh only country that OFFICIALLY recognized a foreign currency and yet printed its own, I forgot that Scotland printed its own currency and may still do so but mainly uses the British pound.
I think that Vatican City is the only tee tiny country that does not have the same official language as its bigger neighbor(s). The official language of that country is still Latin.
Oddly enough, all this seeming trivia can be very useful in an international law lecture, but I was fascinated by it long before I taught that.
Dammit, Peter, I am NOT TOUCHY!!
I get so sick of people calling me touchy!
Excuse me a second while I get my paper bag.
Whew, that’s better!
Something else I am getting tired of is people whispering behind my back about how paranoid I am.
And that cat stomping around next door is getting on my nerves.
Traeger is about the only person on earth I could still consider a friend.
We have known each other forever, so he gots no mercy here and expects none.
I now quote what he says and my replies are marked by ***********
Something much more basic is going on:
Computers make for more refined accounting.
More refined accounting means a better ability to find out which parts of a business are making or losing money.
Computers also mean that engineers can incorporate costs into their design and not have to send designs to top management, which will then get cost from accounting, buyer preferences from marketing, and so on. Top management alone has the information. (Engineers design cars that make them happy, but they cost too much and the public won’t buy them.) All this means that middle-management ranks, those who pass informatation from bottom to top and back down again, are getting delayered.
****** While I am the senile one, you seem to have forgotten that all this was the explanation of why, in the Carter years, everybody thought that business cycles were a thing of the past.
***** Nobody noticed that Europe had computers and one long cycle: Down
*********I do love the irony that Yuppie middle management, back in the 90s where you seem to be stuck, said automation was OK and the low-life working class would have to face losing jobs.
****** Those are the guys who are now asking, “Would you like fries with that?”
Computers also mean that it has become easier to buy outside the firm than make it yourself.
Transactions costs are lowered. Did you ever hear of Ronald Coase and a paper he wrote in 1937, “The Economics of the Firm”? Of course *you* have.
****** You know Ronald Coase was a professor of mine.
All this means more and more creative destruction, shorter product cycles, more jobs in design and marketing, fewer semi-skilled and unskilled jobs (code for IQ, mostly), smaller sized plants and firms both.
*********** What is this “unskilled” nonsense? Anybody who can paint a house can get a job. A super specialist in computers can’t.
*************** Where have you been the last couple of decades?
This means a general increase in the tempo of change. Who now plans ten years ahead?
********** I can’t believe you are parroting this “Inevitable incread in the tempo of change” bit.
********** In political strategy, and I mean REAL politics, you plant ideas. I deal in decades routinely.
It means a greater premium on raw IQ. You’re OLD Bob and not as smart as you used to be and are living on you accumulated wisdom. There’s not much of a demand for “experience.” Peak earning years will go down.
******** Lord, man you are really stuck in the nineties!
******** I can’t get it straight whether you are somehow competing with me or making a point.
******** I am very unhappy that I have to keep saying things that are obvious and neitehr young nor old people can see. You yourself said my big contribution was, and I quote:
******** “Things jump out at you that other people don’t even notice.” It is a very uncomfortable talent, because I keep wondering why the obvious never occurs to anybody lese.
********* In fact, it is very much like the old movie about the pod people, where nobody seemed to notice that people with human brains and emotions were being replaced by pods.
************ I want to be frozen and wake in a world where I will be given lotes of extra frontal lobe and taught by people who have already thought of what I agonizingly try to teach people now.
********** I do NOT like being the only sane one around.
Not as much as it should, since our Stone Age brains tell us that with age comes wisdom. It did, when the oldsters were all of thirty.
It all adds up to no more careers, just jobs in the old sense that you get a very specific task.
Tell me, Bob, what are the last three bits of wisdom you’ve acquired.
********** You seem obsessed with me.
******** If you read the blog, you would know that I am Odinistic. The word “Wisdom” is for charlatans.
********* You know I never let anybody get away with the sort of crap you just asked me. What is this “Wisdom” fertilizer?
********** There are things that work and things that don’t work. There are thoughts one comes up with and insights one finds or learns.
********** But “Wisdom?” In all seriousness, what in the HELL is that?