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On Equality

One reality of life is that generalization is a necessity. If we cannot compare two things and talk about how they are alike and different, it becomes more than a little difficult to learn “new” things.

That having been said, an important realization is that, while two things may have similarities that make it possible for us to understand that which is new to us using those things about which we already have some knowledge, the old and new compared are pretty much by necessity not “the same.” Put another way, where some attribute or attributes of two persons, places, things or ideas may be the same or similar, that does not make the two “generally equal.”

In fact, even the attributes may not be equal, though they may be equivalent, or sufficiently similar for comparison’s sake.

As an example, are two apples actually equal? In that they are both apples, they can be consider so, but closer inspection and comparison may find them to be quite different. If, for example, one apple is a Jonathan, and one a Granny Smith, there’s actually quite a bit of difference there. If one weighs half what the other does, this likewise creates a great deal of difference in the mind of many.

The fact that two things that are intentionally grouped are different appears to become more significant depending on the complexity of the things compared. So for example, comparing two Hydrogen atoms will result in a great deal of similarity.

Nonetheless, even for Hydrogen atoms, there will be differences. Though knowing, by way of example, the location of the electron “orbiting” a given atom is a more than difficult task (particularly if Heisenberg is to be believed), it may safely be assumed that two Hydrogen atoms will not have their electrons in the same place with regard to the nucleus of the atom at the same time at all times.

Frankly, just the Galilean  coordinates of the two atoms provides significant difference between the two, without even the need to get into the specifics of the given atoms.

Again, the more complex the entities compared, the less the two can likely be considered “the same.” Whether your intent with the words “the same” amounts to equality of equivalence is somewhat irrelevant. This is because neither is likely true.

At about this point, you may well be saying something like, “Well duh! Who thinks such comparisons reasonable for much of anything but gaining an understanding of those things upon which we currently don’t have a sufficient grasp?”

You might be saying that, but the problem is, we have a tendency to try to make things equal that in very few ways, actually are. Don’t believe me? Consider the tendency to make humans equal. Better yet, consider the (obviously incorrect) idea that men and women are equal.

I know what you’re likely to be thinking—granted, one can never speak for all others—you’re probably internally voicing that nobody expects two people to be exactly equal. Allow me to add the proverbial fly to the ointment.

The problem with expressions of equality is, unless you define in what ways things are equal, you will pretty much always have issues with peoples’ expectations. Put another way, if you say something like, “Yep, men and women are equal,” without qualifiers, people will assume you mean they are or are not equal in the ways they account them so, not in the ways you do. Sometimes those expectations will be entirely reasonable, sometimes, not so much.

Regardless their reasonability though, if you mean something different than do I when you make such a statement, the value of the statement is at best questionable. Further, such comparisons are of questionable value.

I can think of no other person who is my equal. And before you assume an inflated ego, know that there is likely no way in which I am the “best” at anything. Further, you should know that for just about everyone I have ever met, in some ways a given person is my superior, in others similar or the same and in yet others, my inferior.

To add “insult to injury,” if you will, not only am I not better than my fellows in every way, but some of the considerations surrounding my superiority are virtually worthless, in that they have at best, questionable value or use.

The point I’m trying to make is really rather simple. Assuming non-specific equality is generally a bad idea but for certain pursuits (like learning about things unknown). Rather, evaluating others, and other things to determine their properties and come to conclusions about their fitness for a given situation, circumstance or activity needs must be the “way of things.”

Sometimes, the answer of whether or not some thing or one fits a given need might be easy to come by. At other times, it may be a substantially more complicated process.

The one thing that is crystal clear, is that two things—regardless how much they appear alike—can pretty much always be assumed to be unique, and maybe in more ways than are readily or easily observable.

In order to determine “fitness,” there is a need for “standards.” Standards essentially being, “A set of criteria used to determine such fitness, based on what appears to be needful for a given situation, circumstance or activity.”

It should be understood that standards change based on a variety of factors. The factors can include things like an improved understanding of the thing for which standards were created, or a recognition that where a particular criterion seemed necessary or unnecessary, the converse proved to be true.

Does the above mean comparison should cease? Obviously not. What it does mean though, is that comparison on a general basis often does more harm than good. Put differently, as a rule, comparison should largely be specific in nature. Vaguely comparing one thing to another, that said, is generally a vain pursuit that typically lacks good purpose and utility.

As such, making generic statements like, “Men and women are equals.” Is not just just unrealistic, it tends in actuality to be harmful.

Okay, at my “limit” so I’ll let this be for the time being.

Have a good day and, as usual, thanks for reading.

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Choice, Where the Rubber Meets the Road

It turns out that some of the most difficult things to discuss are the most worthwhile. Sometimes that’s because of the complexity involved, sometimes not. On the present subject, in truth, though there appears to be the result of a high level of complexity, I don’t believe there really is a great deal of difficulty or complexity at all.

There has been a tendency in circles surrounding things mental and activities resulting from them, to discuss them in terms of “nature and nurture.” I submit that this ignores a principle consideration which cannot be ignored if the discussion is to be complete.

That matter worth pondering is choice. Permit me to explain.

When a person is born, it can be assumed that certain things are innate to that person, that they are, in some fashion, “built in.” Put another way, they fit within the “nature” part of the standard discussion about which we’re speaking.

There are some things, it is argued—and likely reasonably so—that are “learned.” They are the result of what can be argued to be conditioning or “nurture.”

To be clear, nurture is not just a result of what parents or guardians teach their children via whatever means. So a child may “learn” from the actions or words of not just his or her direct caregiver(s), but as a result of normal or abnormal interaction with those around that child.

Further, a child may—in fact likely will—continue to learn from the acts and statements of others around that child. This is so truly the case, that it’s obviously not just true for children, but for people in general. I have long said, and I know I am far from the first to do so, that it is hoped that a person will continue to learn until the day they pass off the planet (and beyond in my view).

From the above comes the argument that the constituent components of the “human psyche” are a matter of those things with which they are born and those things which, through various means, they learn.

I am not in any wise arguing the likelihood that what is said about this is incorrect. It is almost certain that it is the case, in point of fact. What I am saying is that this is not the “end of the discussion” in my mind.

If by nature or nurture, a person is, or “learns” to be a serial killer, barring subsequent action on that person’s part, that state or knowledge is of little consequence. The same applies to any other “considered malady” and to activities that are not in any sense considered to be problematic in nature.

Consider the tendency on the part of the majority of humanity to write with a particular hand. Think about the ability of a given individual to tie laced shoes. Imagine a world where folks could not draw or convey meaning through imagery or text.

Whether the things in the former paragraph are a matter of that which a person is “given” at birth, or things learned is somewhat beside the point. And to be fair, in almost every case (if not in every case), they are likely not a matter of one or the other, but of both.

But there is another consideration for anything a person does or is, that consideration is choice. If a person chooses to stop breathing, inasmuch as he or she is able to do so, he or she will cease to be in his or her current form. At the very least, that individual will be placed in a state where they are caused involuntarily to breath.

Short of certain “mandatory functions” though, people can and do make choices concerning the things upon which they will “follow through.” Even the functions that are seen as involuntary can cease so to be. And, unless action is taken on the part of others, can result in the death of the person no longer able or willing to take those actions.

There are those who argue that there is a “compulsion” on the part of some who behave in certain ways, and I’m not in a position to agree or disagree, except in saying that there are very few if any such things in my existence. Past such a statement though, I cannot argue that others do not feel compelled toward given activities.

It is further true, that folks are “built differently.” My youngest child, for example, has by all appearances an entirely different “view of the world” than do the majority of humans.

Even so, it must be understood that he has the “right and ability” to make choices, just as the rest of us do, albeit from a different perspective. And make them he must.

In case you’re wondering where I’m going with this, let me now provide some clarity.

Simply, whether a person is born a kleptomaniac or made one is beside the point. That person must make choices on what he or she chooses to “do with” what he or she is, is not, has learned, or has not.

Though it can be argued this applies as much to issues of utility as to issues of morality, I see no way to make it not apply to issues of rectitude and the lack thereof. And that is regardless the source of morality or rectitude.

If a society decides that unjustified killing is wrong, serial killers, or frankly, one time killers who kill without justification accepted and allowed by society, must make a choice to kill or not. If they make the choice to kill, they will suffer the consequences of so doing.

The choice by others to excuse—or not—the behavior of those who flout the norms and regulations of society is no less a choice than that of an unjustified killer to unjustifiably kill.

I want to make it plain that, your choice to continue to write with the hand with which you do so, is exactly that. Does it matter largely to society? Not so much.

Equally, your choice to believe in a Higher Power, is a matter of your decisions so to do, or not.

The “final question,” though, is, “How will society react and respond to your choices.” It is not, “Did you, or did you not make a choice or series thereof?”

As I suppose is pretty obvious, I could continue to write on this subject for some time. The “problem” is that I have reached my time and word limit. As such, continuing on this topic must be the matter for another article.

As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is or has been a good one.

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On Disability

It strikes me as highly unlikely that the average human being having done much of anything in his or her life has not experienced the “agony of defeat.” As I said in another post on this site, it is often (if not always) true that the most celebrated and, well, successful people, have also been the worst and most dismal failures.

I would think it would also be obvious that those having managed a great deal of success after failure, would assuredly acknowledge that they would rather have just been successful to begin with and by so doing, skip the immense difficulty of failure.

I suppose many might argue that failure, though a harsh one, is a great teacher, and I don’t suppose I can manage a very strong argument to the contrary. After all, on top of teaching one what doesn’t work, failure also teaches one humility—or at least, that is the hope.

Perhaps you’re beginning to wonder at what point I intend to breach the subject upon which this article was to be written. Let me help you to understand that I already have.

You see, disability is not limited to those with physical maladies or disfigurements, nor is it strictly for those with mental problems of various kinds. Putting things simply, to some degree, the entirety of humanity can be said to suffer from some sort of disability or other. In fact, many of us suffer from multiple forms of disability by comparison to those ostensibly determined to be our peers.

Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to say that there are not types of disability that are more severe (some substantially so) than are others. The challenge, of blindness, being deaf, losing or not having limbs and paralysis being pretty obvious examples; and certain mental issues (whether a result of chemical imbalance, trauma, or many other things, aside) certainly do not simplify one’s life.

That being said, one need not experience any of these to be disabled by comparison to others. Just being five feet, eight inches tends to present a serious issue to somebody playing basketball against someone who is over seven feet in height. That doesn’t mean the height disadvantage (handicap or disability) never has been, or cannot be, overcome. That it is or is not overcome though, does not change whether or not it is a disability to the person dealing with it.

My rather simple point though, is that if we can all claim disability, it becomes much harder for people to make a case for that disability being sufficiently severe to keep one from being a productive member of society.

The fact is, I have friends and family members, who though disabled to a degree or extent that is far beyond any I can claim—and the truth is, I’m far from alone in that—are not just productive members of society, but can be and are, considered all but (if not) “model citizens.”

I’m not saying that the folks about whom I’m speaking have never had periods where they counted on some sort of payments or other support for their disability or disabilities (whether governmental in nature, or private). What I am saying though, is that for the most part, those individuals did not count themselves consigned to forever be beholden to society at large for their sustenance, much less pleasurable activities and pursuits that had need of “financing.”

And lest you decide to challenge the level of disability about which I’m speaking, you need to be entirely aware that I have known multiple people who ended up at some point firm in the understanding they would spend the rest of their natural lives moving about in some sort of wheel chair, rather than being able to walk.

I have known more than one person who had to work a great deal harder than all but a very few of their peers to accomplish that which you and I take for granted as barely worth worrying over.

I have been acquainted with blind and deaf people (and we’re not talking about people whose sight or hearing could be “corrected” here either).

I have had the pleasure of knowing folks who had comparatively quite low levels of intelligence, whether as a natural thing, or as a result of some malady or accident.

I could continue down this course, but I think you grasp what I’m trying to say by now. If not, maybe I just can’t get what I’m trying to convey across to you.

Out of all of these people a scant few decided they needed to be supported by society without doing anything to add value to it—and that in ways society, not the people themselves counted valuable.

In some cases, they continued to receive assistance of one form or another, in others they entirely ceased doing so. The point though, is that they did things they knew would be valuable to others around them, even though it was difficult so to do.

Equally, even if such a one had need of additional assistance, the fact that they were, by and large, compensated for those things they took the time and effort to do for their fellows, their needed assistance was almost certainly substantially less than had they not done so.

And I should point out that they are far from alone. Mr (Dr?) Stephen Hawking has a great deal of trouble even communicating with those around him, yet (though I may not agree with nearly everything he posits) he is world renowned for his work in astrophysics and cosmology (among other fields). And I’m pretty sure he’s not a poor man by any stretch of the imagination either.

I want to say one more thing, then I’ll get back to other important activities. Assume for a moment there are people who are generous enough to work to help folks who are unable to support themselves as a result of some disability or other.

Now assume, as is almost certainly the case, that the folks in question have limited resources. The more folks taking from the “pot” they have created, mean the less available resources for those in need.

If you happen to be a person who could live without those resources (by doing productive things and being compensated therefor), does it not seem reasonable to you that you ought to do so? For in so doing, others who have not such abilities can take from that resource.

Suffice it to say that certainly seems sound to me.

Okay, over time and words, so time to call it good for now.

As usual, thanks for reading and have an excellent day.

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On the Ills of Social Media

Do these pants make me look fat? Wait! That wasn’t what I intended to ask. Sorry, the question I intended to ask is, “Do I seem long-winded to you?”

Both questions are about appearances, but the first doesn’t really bother or concern me; and because it’s not a real concern for me, I don’t have an answer for it.

The other, on the other hand, I can and will “answer” for your benefit. By comparison to a good many people posting things on the Internet, writing articles in print and otherwise opining, not only do I seem long-winded, I am long-winded.

A good followup question would be, “Doesn’t that bother you?” Funnily, the “short and sweet” answer is, “Not at all.”

The next obvious question would seem to be, “Why not?” The answer is what I intend to detail in this article.

There are certainly myriad things “wrong with” modern day communication, to name just a few:

  1. Lack of research
  2. Lack of depth of research when research has been done
  3. The sacrifice of clarity on the altar of brevity
  4. Too great a desire to “sound” good
  5. Not enough desire to do or be good
  6. Desire to resonate with others rather than be truthful—even when it’s difficult to be truthful

You can be assured I could easily come up with more such things; and maybe if I edit this article at some point, I’ll do exactly that. At present though, I just want to quickly address each of the above, considering them to be among the more important needing discussed.

Lack of Research

Far too many folks put things out there, not having done any work to verify the rectitude of what they’re saying. They “go with their gut,” and ignore the facts. Where I could say more about this, I think my fairly simple statement speaks for itself.

Lack of Depth of Research When Research has been Done

More often than not, those claiming to have done research on a given subject or idea, have barely skimmed the surface. They think of the more immediate results or consequences of implementing various concepts or when considering diverse situations and occurrences, without taking the time to look at or consider long term or far reaching results, or in-depth issues of concern or “deeper facts.”

The result is that what they put out there sounds and looks good, but if you take the time to dig (often just even a tiny bit) deeper, you will see that the thing or things being said are not so wonderful or correct after all.

One of the worst contributors to the not-so-greatness of what folks are saying is the “law of unintended consequences.” An excellent example is that, whatever people want to believe, if you give people things “no strings” attached—things like food and shelter—contrary to popular misconception, they will likely not take them as a “hand up,” but as the proverbial “hand out” instead.

Further, many will not just not be grateful, they will expect more.

Okay, enough on this, time to move on.

The sacrifice of Clarity on the Altar of Brevity

Too much of the time, people will say things with either no consideration of how they might be taken, or knowing fully people will take them in one way and clear the way for a later misinterpretation or misrepresentation.

Sometimes though, they just don’t really consider what it is they’re saying.

Other times, people think “consider your audience,” means catering your writing to the supposed audience’s attention span or intelligence (or lack thereof).

These ideas and others, often end in the same malady, lingual imprecision. You may well think people will “understand what you’re saying,” and some even may understand what you’ve said according to your intended meaning. On the other hand, many will take from what you say things they want to hear. If you’re imprecise in your language, your lack of clarity will result in people believing you do or do not support things incorrectly.

Let’s face it, even if you are lingually precise, there will be those who will seek to corrupt, or just who genuinely misunderstand your intent and subsequent meaning.

Too Great a Desire to Sound Good

I have to admit, on this I am often “guilty as charged.” I will work to carefully craft whatever I say, with the intent of sounding good so I can engage my “audience” and not come off as boring.

That having been said, the important consideration—the thing that sets me apart from those about whom I am speaking—is that I “acquit myself” as much as possible by not doing the next thing(s).

The well crafted work of a serious, solid wordsmith is often a joy to read (even when what is written is total rot where content is concerned). That in itself does not make his or her writing or speech worthy of your attention.

Not Enough Desire to Do or Be Good

As stated in the former point, how you sound can be an important part of how you will be received by your “audience.” Though this is the case, the far more important thing is to say things of consequence and substance.

I can sound pretty good more or less just blathering. That doesn’t mean that’s how I ought to spend my time.

On the other hand, I can sound horrible whilst writing solid and significant content.

I urge those reading to be more concerned about substance than form. And to those writing, do not disappoint your readers by writing fine sounding rubbish.

Desire to Resonate with Others Rather than be Truthful—Even When It’s Difficult to be Truthful

The vast majority of folks desire to be liked and accepted. Often this leads to people saying and doing things that they know to be incorrect or untruthful in order to achieve popularity.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as choosing an improper venue for your work. Sometimes it can just be “bending the truth.”

In other cases, it can be outright lying, or saying things that indicate a lack or discretion or decorum.

Does what you say on social media—or for that matter pretty much anywhere and everywhere—meet the “test of time?”

“What,” you may be asking, “is the test of time?” Well, in current context, I would define it in a way that answers this question with a resounding, “Yes!” The question being, “If I look back on what I have said or done twenty years hence, will I be able to do so in a way that is not to my future self’s shame?”

It is a hoped for thing, that we will all continue to grow and change. Stagnancy is not a desirable trait in the mind of most folks you will ever meet. As such, the “younger us,” can hope and aim to be more like the “elder us” in our communication and conversation (an interesting word, worthy of word study if you have not done so).

I urge you—nay, I beg you—to consider the things I have said here. How will what you say, and yes that includes “sharing” the words and images of others, look to your future self? Are you seeking to be truthful above popularity? Do you seek to be solid in your substance before concerning yourself with your form?

Please, at least consider, and at best, take strongly to heart what I am saying here. As time goes on, even more than before, your statements and actions past can and will affect your opportunities and more importantly credibility at present and in future.

I know I’m a little over my self-imposed limit word-wise, but I think it important to stress those things herein said. I ask you to forgive me my wordiness.

Thanks, and, as always, have a wonderful day.

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More on Success and Failure

I’ll be the first to admit that I have found myself to be wrong on more than a few counts over the course of my life. As one might expect, some of the errant perspectives I have held have been entirely minor, some more major, and some life changing when internalized and understood.

In this post, I’d like to talk about one of the more important things I have had entirely incorrect in my past, that being the accounting responsibility—and equally importantly, authority—for successes and failures in my life.

As a young man I, like so very many others when in youth, tried to place the blame for my failure and the “glory” of my success in a variety of places other than myself.

In doing this, it would have been quite difficult for me to have been more wrong. The “shift” in my view has “placed the blame” for both my failures and my successes squarely upon my own shoulders.

I don’t know when certain realizations regarding success and failure came solidly into focus, just that now, in focus they are.

One extremely significant realization is, unless others are somehow magically aware of what counts as a success or a failure on a given front looks for me, their ability to influence that  success or failure is at best, quite limited.

Another important consideration is that, where one can look at the world as a set of adversarial transactions and activities, in truth, almost everybody actually ends up better off only of those around them do likewise. Put simply, a person attempting to amass wealth or power to him or her self will do a poor job indeed unless he or she has help, and where that help can be coerced, in general, that person is much better off if instead, he or she can elicit that aid willingly. What’s the best way to get people to cooperate in your activities happily? To offer them some benefit they wouldn’t attain outside of working with you, or at least not as easily or quickly.

That doesn’t mean others will ever be pleased to do as you would have them, or that they will get all that they need from such an interaction. It does, though, mean they will attain benefit of some sort that is desirable to them.

Because this is the case, others will likewise seek to gain your aid, and in the process, offer you things they believe you will find useful or beneficial as a reward for your compliance. Is it a requirement (as a rule) that you work with the people in question? Not at all. Nor—unless you make it so—is it a requirement for them to do likewise where you are concerned or involved.

So, except in societies where free transactions (in the sense of their being allowed so long as the parties are willing and the acts not illegal) are not allowed, one may benefit by his or her interactions with others in society. Of course, it is possible to not benefit, and even to have entirely unprofitable transactions with those around one, but as a rule, those too are a matter of choice.

The error made by my younger self was manifold. Certainly, by way of example, I made the assumption that my success or failure was not a matter of my own choice. It was an easy way to excuse may failure, or in some cases, just my not succeeding to the level that should have been possible.

Don’t get me wrong, others will have an effect on your success or failure inasmuch as it counts on them taking or not taking specific actions, but if you’re as I was, you assume more than this. You assume that others are actively seeking to thwart you—as it were, to keep you from succeeding. I’ll not say that never happens just that, in general, it tends to be a rare thing as the average person hasn’t the time or energy to worry about what you may or may not be doing—much less to attempt to keep you from doing it.

This is so true, that people speed down the roadways in the United States without any but the most meager of concerns of being caught, and even less concern of real or lasting punishment for so doing.

Another flaw in my logic can be expressed as follows. If someone else has control over your success or your failure, then it basically makes little sense to get up in the morning unless they’re more likely to let you succeed than to cause you to fail. The point here, is that it’s pretty much of little to no consequence whether or not others can cause you to succeed or fail unless they work towards that end. And since most of the time, others are too busy in their own little bubble to even look at you, chances are good that will not happen.

Too, even today, I “fight the monster” that says, “Don’t do that, it will result in failure.” Even though I have no real reason to believe that will likely be the case. I doubt I’m anything like alone in that.

I know full well, that there are simple things I can do to better myself in some regard, yet I fail to act because there is a sometimes even crushing fear of failure.

Maybe I will fail, but often, the only way to know with any certainty, is to try. And I would imagine more often than not, failure is not even likely, but even when it’s possible, I think it likely that it can be averted by appropriate action on my part.

Are you like me? Do you fail to try because you feel others are working against you (who generally are not)? Do you fail to try because you believe you are destined to fail?

If you are, consider that it’s more than a little unlikely that anyone is actually standing against you most of the time. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that if you never try where you never fail, you will assuredly also rarely succeed.

As usual, thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

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On Freedom of Speech in the United States

Perhaps one of the most enduring things where the United States is concerned is its founding documents.

Many have called, for example, the United States Constitution all but—if not—a miraculous document.

I’m not entirely sure I would go that far. What I would say, however, is that the Constitution is in many ways a marvelous work, worthy of study and consideration.

This includes most certainly, the Bill of Rights (though in my view, not necessarily all of the amendments that followed). Take the First Amendment as an example. I would venture that many don’t realize just how concise it is. In its entirety, that enumerated right says:

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Overall, it’s literally amazing how concise and to the point was the penning of this text. It probably shouldn’t be so amazing, but in the modern day, so many people run about doing and saying things without giving them the time and consideration they deserve. The result is obvious, besides that many perpetually trot about with egg on their collective faces, many corrections and retractions must occur.

You might’ve guessed that I brought up this amendment to the Constitution for another cause. If you did, you can count yourself either sufficiently astute to have picked up on what I was doing, or perhaps somebody who knows my writing style well enough to realize this is the case. Obviously, there are other possibilities, but those seem to me to be the most likely.

With that being said though, let’s get on with it!

It doesn’t take a genius to look at the First Amendment’s text and come to certain conclusions about its intent. To begin with, the first words of this wonderful gem are “Congress shall make no laws…” So the intent of this text, was not to place any restriction on any entity but Congress, and that by the way, the Federal Congress. Anybody making the assumption or coming to the conclusion that this text was intended to place restrictions on any entity but the Federal Congress, would be incorrect.

I like to think that, though this is the case, both “subordinate” governmental entities (I quote subordinate because that is not a true or fair description of the entities in question, but that is a matter for another article), and the people of the United States in general hold similar values where it’s reasonable for them so to do. Though I like to believe that such is the case, there is no requirement in the United States Constitution for them to do so.

Further, there are more than a few instances where governments, companies and other bodies, and individuals do not support the idea of freedom of speech.

You want an example? As a former member of the United States Air Force I, like many of my peers, superiors and subordinates, had a security clearance. I’ll not go into detail on the level of that clearance or the extent to which I “used” it. What I will do, is make something crystal clear to those never having had a clearance, and reiterate to those who did or do, something considered of grave importance with regard to it.

At some point along the way (in actuality at multiple points), it was made very well understood by me, that I was not to divulge information gained as that was marked as classified in some manner after having been allowed access to it. There were limitations in place that made it so I and others like me, could pass the information in question only to those authorized to receive it, who could be positively identified, and who had a need to know. You may not like that or agree with it, but that is the reality of the agreement I—and if you had or have a clearance—you made.

Were I to choose to release any of that information without approval, I should be aware—as should others—that the result of such a release may be consequences that are far from desirable. Like it or not, that is a restriction on my (and your) freedom of speech.

Want an example that is likely more meaningful to more people? If, like me, you work in a field where information is a commodity that cannot always be shared without damage occurring to the entity for whom I work, you likely signed a “non-disclosure, non-compete agreement” with that entity. In so doing, you indicated that you would keep certain proprietary information, well proprietary, not to put too fine a point on it.

Keep in mind too, that as a former member of the U.S. Military, I was forbidden to do things like, protest while in uniform. And many businesses and other entities have similar requirements as conditions of continued employment.

It’s not so much that you cannot breach confidentiality agreements or codes of conduct, it’s more that in doing so, there will almost certainly be consequences.

One of the “hot topics” of the present day, is whether National Football League players have the “right to” protest, by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem of the United States.

The first and foremost thing that must be said about this is, “It is not a ‘First Amendment issue.’” Wether they do or do not choose to protest during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner has not one blessed thing to do with the Government (really at any level).

It does, however, have to do with the contractual obligations to which players have obliged themselves. As I understand it, as players in the NFL, those individuals are obliged to:

  1. Be on the field at the playing of the National Anthem
  2. Be standing as a sign of respect when it is played

I’m sure there are exceptions to these “rules.” I’m equally sure most of the “protestors” are likely not excepted individuals.

To be clear, this is about meeting the expectations of agreements to which players have assented, not the First Amendment to the Constitution.

As for me? I have no “dog in this fight.” I pay as little attention to professional sports as I’m able to. They neither interest me, nor do I find a compelling reason to support them.

Far too much of the time, a bunch of entitled brats go out and throw around balls like they’re something special. Then sadly, their stars “fade into the distance.” The result is a lot of often broke, entitled individuals who think I should be paying them mind for some reason. Forgive me for refusing to support that.

That’s my “two cents” and you’re welcome to it.

Okay, having slightly exceeded my “desired word count.” Permit me now to wish you the best of days, and thank you for your attention to my drivel.

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My Own of Course — Whose Ideas Do You Support?

I have to be entirely honest, I have zero idea how much of the time I sound big headed, conceited, whatever you choose to call it.

It’s not so much that I don’t care, as that:

  1. I’m pretty well convinced that people will assume you’re conceited for nothing more than that you disagree with their “obviously correct” premise(s).
  2. I try to do regular self-examination, to ensure that I am where I feel I need to be. Where the places I feel I need to find myself, may appear to be big headed ones to others can not be a matter of great concern to me.

I not super recently, but recently nonetheless responded to a family member, that one of the most important things I can imagine keeping as a “basis for life,” is being true to your beliefs and understandings. That’s not to say you’re always correct, but that until you’re shown to be wrong about something, it’s rather silly to not continue to hold with that something.

One of the better parts of this approach to life is, though it’s not always the case, most of the time, if you hold to things that are not true and live according to those things, you will be shown—often in quite short order—the error in your perspective.

One of the results of this, is that I have “crashed and burned” enough to make it so I am very careful about what I will and will not support.

The above is really intended as an “introduction” to that which this article actually addresses.

Call me crazy, but I have noticed that most folks spend very little time thinking for themselves. Rather, most folks see things with which they resonate and fail to critically analyze what’s being said, to decide for their own benefit (and the benefit and wellbeing of others), whether the things they’re supporting are true or correct.

I have some pretty good ideas why this is the case, but obviously, I can be wrong about such things. Here is a “quick and dirty” list of some of the major reasons I believe folks “let others think for them:”

  1. A perceived lack of intelligence
  2. A perceived lack of ability
  3. A perceived lack of experience
  4. A perceived lack of wisdom
  5. A perceived wealth of any or all of the above on the part of some other individual
  6. Guilt

So what’s the problem with allowing others to tell you what you ought to think without concerning yourself with the rectitude of what that other (or those others) have to say?

Years ago (around seventy, if not more), there were many German soldiers who were given an answer essentially, this very same question. The answer was, “I was just following orders is not a valid defense or excuse.”

Put another way, just because you got your answers for things from someone or some ones, who seemed to be smarter, more able, more experienced or wiser than you; or because you chose an answer that was incorrect—though it helped to assuage or cause somewhat to abate your guilt, does not make your choice correct. To be clear, I’m not saying it makes your choice inherently incorrect either, just that you have no way of being even remotely sure if you don’t take the time to think things through for yourself.

A person can certainly argue for the likely rectitude of the answer of someone who appears more able in some sense, but in doing so, that person has essentially assented to that person’s choices, correct or incorrect. Put another way, your decision that someone is, in some wise, more able to make a choice or come to a conclusion about something, is no less making that choice yourself.

It may be a good place to start—looking at what others have said about a particular thing or situation and using that as a basis for your own consideration—but it is not a good place to end.

Whatever you may think, and whatever you may have been told to the contrary, your choices are yours, and that’s regardless that they’re based on the supposed intelligence or consideration of someone else.

Yes, I know it can be difficult to take the time and effort to really understand things. I know too, that at times, your “research” may not be as good as the work of others.

No, I am not telling you that you must ignore the work of others, in which they have invested time, energy, intelligence, experience, wisdom and potentially so much more.

About now, maybe you’re wondering exactly what it is I am saying. Let me see if I can clarify.

When you blindly accept the statements or considerations of others as valid or correct, you are placing your “personal stamp of approval” on those statements or considerations. Whatever you may think about that, doing so means you are adopting or accepting the ideas behind them.

I urge you to take care to not accept the ideas of others blindly. I ask that, instead, you take the time to consider what it is you’re anticipating accepting. Put it “under the microscope.” Really think about it. Look for flaws in what you’re getting ready to incorporate into your worldview.

In Nazi Germany and the USSR (and China, and Cuba, and North Korea, and Iran among others) things were allowed or accepted as facts by far too many folks that should never have been. Oh, to the folks in question at the time, they sound good and solid. Now ask those folks (or those still around to talk about it, or read what they have said) if they would make the same choices today that they made in the past.

I would be so bold as to venture that many would not do so.

The conclusion of this article can be summed up in a fairly simple way. Think for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by things that sound good. Decide for yourself what is correct and incorrect.

Yet again, I’m just over my “self imposed” word count. That being the case, allow me to wish you a good day and thank you for reading.

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On Failure and Its Relationship to Success

Anybody who has ever spent time scribbling on a pad, or typing at a keyboard in a vain attempt to convey some idea is likely fully aware that what he or she is saying has been said before. It’s even possible that those saying what he or she is saying in his or her current work have been said better than he or she can manage. Even so, some of us continue to litter the world with our statements, hoping that:

  1. We can somehow “bolster” that which has already been said
  2. We are hopeful that our presentation is at least one coming from a “road less traveled” making it so we say things in ways not commonly having been seen.

There’s one other possibility, that being that our audience may not have seen the thing we’re saying before despite its (possibly even ubiquitous) existence.

But this is not the “primary subject of” this piece. It is rather a “sideline” I felt it reasonable to include to make it clear that what I’m saying is likely not one iota of it, new. So if you think you’ve seen the following before, it’s probably because you have, though the form may have been slightly different.

The meat of this article is the discussion of the relationship of failure to success, and I suppose to some lesser degree, why it’s important to recognize the nature of that relationship.

To start out in the most basic of places, when you were but a baby, not long after having spent the majority of your days lying on your back and looking up at the world (when not sleeping soundly), you—if you are at all like the average human being—began one of your most epic sets of failures. That may sound bad, but in reality, it was a pretty important time for you.

You see, all of that failure likely culminated in your ability to walk. I don’t know just how many times the average child tries to walk before succeeding, but based on my experiences with my own children, I would imagine they do so for some reasonably substantial portion of their very young lives.

The important consideration here, is that trying to walk generally results and a number of failures. Along the way, it is hoped those failures become less prominent (even though they likely continue to occur well past the time where the child learns to walk).

For those of you that never learned to walk (were paralyzed or had some other factor that kept you from doing so), not to worry, you too can very likely claim such events in your existence, just different ones.

Whether the thing you most or best remember failing at is reading, speaking, learning basic or advanced mathematics, or catching or kicking a baseball or football (or some other form of ball) is beside the point. The point is, you failed at something. And the reality is, the more successful you are, the more you failed.

Yet again, if I have failed to mention your most notable failure (which hopefully ultimately became a “success story”), rest assured, that was not my intent. My intent was to point out that we all fail.

You could say I have a “secondary agenda” in that I want to point out that where failure doesn’t always result in success (either at all, or to the degree we would have liked), it does so far more often than we like to credit it for. Indeed, out of all of the successes you experience in life, I would venture to say a full ninety percent of them did not occur on your first, nor even a large number of early tries.

Further, I would expect that the average person values the results of many failures culminating in success far more on average, than things that “came relatively easily.”

Don’t take me wrongly, I’m not sitting here saying, “You should like failure more than success.” On the other hand, you can take it for granted that what I am saying is, “In many cases, in order to achieve or attain success, you must first be prepared to fail.”

Sometimes the failure you experience will not be noteworthy. At other times though, you will have to fail big in order to ultimately be successful at something. And at still other times, you will not accomplish the thing you’re “trying for” even after much failure.

That can end up as nothing “more than” a learning experience, something as serious as long term debilitation, or something that produces other desired or undesired results.

But the point of all having been said up to now is very significant to people, and something that at the very least, I know I tend to forget far too much of the time. One of the (very important) potential outcomes of trying and failing is ultimate success.

True, it is only one possibility, but when you think about it, you have likely succeeded at a great deal more than you account after having failed.

Part of the point that needs made here is, if you have something in mind that at present you are unable to successfully do, if it’s important and worthwhile, keep trying. Obviously, there are limitations to everything like it or not.

If you tell me you want to jump from the surface of the Earth and land on the surface of the Moon unaided by any external technology, you need to know your desire is likely never going to come to fruition. Even with this being the case though, never forget that trying and failing is far more often than not a precursor to success. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that there are a good many things at which you all but must fail before you succeed.

Failure can be hard, flunking out of some class or even out of some general course of study (for example, third grade) can seem life-ending. You need to understand though, that as a rule, your failure is not as catastrophic as you might believe when living through it. That doesn’t make it feel better, nor often does it make success any easier, but in the end, if you can get there, you’ll likely look back on even your failure with some measure of fondness.

So to sum this up, remember we all fail. In the end though, the question is, “How do you deal with that? Do you continue to fail until you finally succeed (or learn the thing you’re trying to accomplish is not as important as you thought, or perhaps you’re truly unlikely to succeed at it), or do you give up without even really a fight?”

As I said at the outset, you’ve probably heard all of this before, and you may have heard it presented in much the same way. Nonetheless, it bears repeating often.

Okay, we return you to your day already in progress. As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is a good one.

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…but should I post this to LinkedIn

It’s been said a thousand times before, but I’m going to go ahead and post it here one more time.

Please think before posting to social media.

This is particularly true where LinkedIn is concerned. Let me give LinkedIn posters some “food for thought” concerning why they ought to be careful what they post:

  1. Chances are, your boss (present or future) is watching—Like it or not, an associate on LinkedIn might be or become your boss. When you associate with folks on LinkedIn, one of the most important reasons for your associations ought to be to gain friends, and keep in touch with people with whom you share professional interests. I know a bunch of folks “branch out” and add folks who have nothing to do with what they do. Even so, almost everybody on LinkedIn connects with people who are or might become part of their “professional circle.”
  2. Boss or not, others see what you post—Even if you don’t manage to alienate a future “boss.” You may find that people who would otherwise be happy  to do something like, recommend you for a position or endorse you for skills they know you possess, will be less likely to do so if they come to the conclusion you cannot understand and stick with simple “rules of use” for some particular tool. Maybe that’s important to you, maybe not, but keep in mind, at some point in the future, its importance may change.
  3. Sheer volume of posts—I have commented before, on the idea that I already find many of LinkedIn’s posts to be irrelevant for my uses and purposes. Imagine what it feels like when people post things that don’t match LinkedIn’s “charter” as most understand it to LinkedIn. When folks post things that would be accepted without question on other social media platforms, on LinkedIn, much of the time, they seem to assume it’s acceptable to post them on LinkedIn either as well, or, worse yet, exclusively. LinkedIn in a professional social networking site, it’s not a place for recipes, expressions of faith, or funny anecdotes to make folks chuckle. People are posting things like, job openings or information about their skills for other people to look at. When people post unrelated things, they increase the volume of posts on the platform, making it far more likely that others will miss important data.

I could talk about other things here (like the fact that the Internet does not have unlimited bandwidth, as many seem to suppose), but for now, I’ll leave it at that.

Thanks for reading.