Sage

While perusing through today’s headlines, I may be reminded of some ancient or recent adage that reflects an appropriate understanding or analysis to the news as shown below:

News HeadlinesWisdom and Analysis
Health officials make their final pleas for holiday caution as coronavirus cases spike. 
Washington Post

Weekend air travel hits pandemic-era record, despite health officials’ pleas to stay home
CNN
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
George Carlin
Man leaves $3K tip for a beer as restaurant closes for virus 
AP
Wishing good, merely, is a lukewarm charity; but doing good is divine. 
James Lendall Basford 
Fresno bishop warns Catholics against stem cell-based COVID vaccines, including Pfizer’s
Fresno Bee
All religions promise a reward for excellence is of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding.
Schopenhauer

Profoundities

Insights, wisdom and thinking from books that I have read that resonate within me…

Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold one to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth. 

Autumn Light by Pico Iyer

Religious and ideological dogmas are still highly attractive in our scientific age precisely because they offer us a safe haven from the frustrating complexity of reality. As we have zero scientific evidence that Eve was tempted by the serpent, that the souls of all infidels burn in hell after they die, or that the creator of the universe doesn’t like it when a Brahmin marries a Dalit—yet billions of people have believed in these stories for thousands of years. Some fake news lasts forever.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

But then again, I know very few people who have grown all the way up. The best most of us can do is manage intermittent maturity.

My Mistake by Daniel Menaker

People take sides in debates not on the basis of evidence or argument but on the basis of the side where they feel more at home.

However, just as you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink, so you can lead a mind to reason but you cannot make it think.

The Edge of Reason: A Rational Skeptic in an Irrational World by Julian Baggini

Somebody once defined the meaning of life as “the interruption of an otherwise peaceful nonexistence.”

Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and, “the Worst Baseball Team in History”—The 1973–1975 Texas Rangers by Mike Shropshire

Where you die, and who is around you at the end, is a strong signal of your success or failure in life.

Invest in experiences over things. Drive a Hyundai, and take your wife to St. Barts.

The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway

If religion makes people more moral, then why is America seemingly so immoral in its lack of concern for its poorest, most troubled citizens, notably its children?

The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Nowadays, science provides better and more consistent answers, but people will always cling to religion, because it gives comfort, and they do not trust or understand science.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

Senescence

My pithy observations on maturity and the art of getting older…

Photo by Trang Pham from Pexels

We open our book of life to see there are not very many pages left.

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A great antidote to depression or melancholy is the comforting smile of a young child.

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As years grow longer, handshakes, hugs and kisses among friends are stronger.

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Those who are truly happy, if offered a chance to enter a time machine and go back to relive their lives, would decline and say, “I would not change a thing.”

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Songs trigger old memories—-some bring a smile, some bring a tear. 

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We wear fatigue like a thin blanket hanging loosely from our slightly stooped shoulders.

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One’s definition of “success’ matures with age. Success becomes not so much what one has but what one did with what one had.

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Past events that seemed so embarrassing and foolish then are accepted with a wry smile and a forgiving heart now.

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Add 20% to the time it usually took you to complete routine duties like taking out the trash, going grocery shopping, finding your keys and climbing the stairs.

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What we miss surpasses what we look forward to…

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Women retain their desirability by their humor, laughter and conversation; men by simply listening.

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Our nightmares are not events that could happen but did happen.

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What often frightens the young, amuses the mature.

Aphorisms for the Trump Era

I have a dislike for most political memes that are so popularly posted on Facebook and other social media. So many are crude, misleading, poorly written and contain doctored and photoshopped images and pictures. These memes are not meant to inform but inflame, frighten and mislead. What’s worse is that these memes are shared and spread like a cancer. An example of such a meme is described below:

If bullshit doesn’t come to a halt, you will see 83 million gun owners walk out of their homes like this. (picture of masked man carying a rifle and dressed in fatigues).

I am a collector of timeless aphorisms. Aphorisms are short, pithy observations, opinions and thoughts created by (mostly) wise and observant people, not by bots and trolls in their cellars.

Here are a few aphorisms that may have been written a century ago are relevant to what we experience today…

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

H.L. Mencken

 “Holders of power, almost inevitably desire their subjects to be emotional rather than rational, since this renders it easier to make those who are victims of an unjust social system contented with their lot.”

Bertrand Russell

“America is a pot that’s melting.”

John Alejandro King

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” 

Bertrand de Jouvenel

“We don’t collect news to inform us. We collect news to affirm us.”

Frank Luntz

“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

H.L. Mencken

A politician thinks about the upcoming elections, a statesman to the next generations.”

James Freeman Clarke

“The man who is always waving the flag usually waives what it stands for.”

Laurence J. Peter

 “Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.”

Oscar Ameringer

“The only valid political system is one that can handle an imbecile in power without suffering from it.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“Democracy the domination of unreflective and timorous men, moved in vast herds by mob conditions.”

H.L. Mencken

“The flag does not identify the nation, it identifies the wind.”

George Murray

Aphorisms for the Pandemic

“The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.” Osho

“When one does not know how to convince, one oppresses.” Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker, Baroness de Staël-Holstein 

“The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence.” —Elbert Hubbard

“No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.” —Edward R. Murrow, of Senator Joseph McCarthy

“Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.” Robert Orben

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  George Orwell

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”  Anne Lamott, 

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”  Voltaire

“The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” H.L Mencken

“God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done.” Harry Emerson Fosdick

What You Don’t Know May Hurt You

Many experts, professionals and officials communicate in two ways. First, they tell you what they want you to know. Second, they don’t tell you or they lie and obfuscate what you need to know. The latter form of non-communication may be the most important as it often hides what is critical information regarding motive, fact and truth so you can respond accordingly.

Aphorisms

I am a collector and writer of aphorisms. Aphorisms are short, pithy sayings that express concisely an observation, opinion, wisdom or truth. Aphorisms, like many ideas, come to me when I’m not sitting at a desk or with pen and notebook. They often spring up as I am walking, taking a shower or daydreaming. Listed below are some of my latest aphorisms:

  • Older people are like older cars without gas gauges. Both have traveled many miles and not sure how much gas or life is left in the tank.
  • If you make the same resolution year after year, it’s no longer a resolution but just wishful thinking. 
  • One can spend 15-20 minutes seeking, finding and purchasing an appropriate birthday or Hallmark card that the recipient skims in 5-10 seconds.
  • We’re always one tear away from joy or tragedy. 
  • What turns a woman from attractive to beautiful is her smile.
  • A woman can lose her youth, her beauty and her figure but as long as she can maintain her arts of making pleasant and interesting conversation and being a good listener, she will never lose her attractiveness.
  • Is there a more uncomfortable question than to be asked by someone to guess their age? Is there a more uncomfortable answer to the question of how we are old we are that estimates us much older than we are?
  • At 70, you are in the homestretch of life with the finishing line in sight.
  • When charity begins at home, it rarely leaves it.
  • At most churches, the faithful pray with their ministers; at some churches, the minister preys on the faithful.
  • The books in one’s library or bookshelf represents the portfolio of their intellectual investments.
  • Sitting quietly in an empty church generally is a more moving spiritual experience than sitting through a church service.
  • The worst personal rejection comes from those who mean so much to you when they show how little you meant to them.
  • Marathon running…times that try men’s soles.