Another Book Started

I started reading “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom this morning. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years along with several others and I’ve finally had the self-control to stop buying new books that draw my eye and read the ones I’ve already got on my “to -read” shelf! As I started to read it I wondered if I really should right now. Will it only depress me? Or will I be inspired to continue my own education further and encourage my sons to do so as well by my example? I’m going to go with inspired for now and see what happens!

The book was written in 1987 and I wondered two things as I read the preface. First of all, I wonder if any of our politicians today have a real “liberal education”. It seems to me that college no longer has the goal of making better people and has become a job training facility. We have children raised in institutions from near birth, completely cut off from the real world, that are now continuing on into college that they believe should be paid for by the government to get good jobs. Few, if any, even ask the question “What is man?” in any serious way. It’s so sad to me because we live in a time when free access to literature and classical writing, along with easy access to conversations with others about those topics is at its height. We don’t really need to spend a ton of money to become liberally educated but yet no one really wants it. Instead, they want free job training, which they could have gotten for free by just picking a career and interning while they learn it.

It all seems so backward. Will this book help me to learn how it got that way? Or whether or not we can change it?

Notes on “Mr. Midshipman Hornblower” by C.S. Forester

I got this book because I heard Patrick Stewart say he based his Picard character on Hornblower. The book was awesome. I can see why someone would want to read every book in the series. It does read just like a line of Star Trek episodes. Every chapter presents a problem, that is eventually solved by our heroic Hornblower. Great fun to read!

I had few notes in this book, mostly because it was just fun to read fiction. I really enjoyed the book and I’d probably read more of them if I came across them somewhere. Unfortunately, my “to-read” list is a mile long, so I probably won’t search them out. I would, however, buy them and give them as gifts to kids!

There was one chapter about the French. This book is set during the Napoleonic wars and in one chapter Hornblower was assigned to help some French battle. I didn’t catch why. I thought the English were against the French, but I think it had something to do with helping the French regulars against the revolutionaries.

No doubt they are describing the ancestry of the infidels,” said Tapling. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me, especially when I do not understand them.” I thought this was hilarious because apparently today you can be hurt by names and can be prosecuted for “hate crime”. What a world we live in.

That’s it!

Notes on “How Proust Can Change Your Life” by Alain De Botton

Another book I bought because I heard the author interviewed on a podcast, most likely “School Sucks” or Isaac Morehouse.

Page 6 “our dissatisfactions were more the result of a certain way of living than of anything irrevocably morose about human experience.” It’s all in how you look at it, right?

Page 9 “In Search of Lost Time” written at the turn of the century, was really a “universally applicable story about how to stop wasting time and start to appreciate life.” I’m sensing a theme in my reading and listening lately, things never change!

Page 19 “one might ask whether any novel could genuinely be expected to contain therapeutic qualities, whether the genre could in itself offer any more relief than could be gained from an aspirin, a country walk, or a dry martini.” All of which are “therapeutic” in my mind!

Page 22 “Aesthetically, the number of human types is so restricted that we must constantly, wherever we may be, have the pleasure of seeing people we know.” In the world there are only a certain number of “types” of people. When we read (or watch) we generally see people we “know” and it brings comfort and understanding to our lives. Novels are a cure for loneliness. They show us humanity.

Page 36 “That abominable and sensual act called “reading the newspaper’, wrote Proust, “thanks to which all the misfortunes and cataclysms in the universe over the last twenty-four hours, the battles which cost the lives of fifty-thousand men, the murders, the strikes, the bankruptcies, the fires, the poisonings, the suicides, the divorces, the cruel emotions of statesmen and actors, are transformed for us, who don’t even care, into a morning treat, blending in wonderfully, in a particularly exciting and tonic way, with the recommended ingestion of a few sips of cafe au lait.” Wow. What would he think of Facebook or Twitter?! Amazing to think though that this feeling isn’t new. Is anything new?

Page 42 “Pascal’s readers might have been intimidated and silenced by an aristocrat’s elaborate argument that he had a divine right to determine economic policy, even though he had failed to master the upper reaches of the seven-times table, but they would be unlikely to swallow a similar argument from him if he knew nothing of sailing and was proposing to take the wheel on a journey around the Cape of Good Hope.” Still true even though we supposedly don’t have an aristocracy or classes. But for some reason a politician, because he is one and we voted for him, can make decisions regarding everyone’s lives and we must all follow him.

Page 44 Reading about Proust reading the train times table and his imaginings about it. It sounds like an excellent Twilight Zone episode.

Page 46 “an advantage of not going by too fast is that the world has a chance of becoming more interesting in the process.” We’ve really begun to see this first hand, especially driving the bus.

Page 50 “However brilliant, however wise the work, it seems that the lives of artists can be relied upon to exhibit an extraordinary, incongruous range of turmoil, misery, and stupidity.” Why is that?

Page 63 “Faced with someone who curls up in pain after scratching his finger, an alternative to condemning the theatrics is to imagine that this scratch may be experienced by the delicate-skinned creature as no less painful than a machete swing would be for us -” We need to respect other people’s experiences. We don’t all experience the same things, the same way.

Page 67 “there are two methods by which a person can acquire wisdom, painlessly via a teacher or painfully via life, and he proposes that the painful variety is far superior.” I’m not sure about that, only because what is painful for one may not be for another. For me, sitting there listeing to a teacher may be far more painful than experiencing something for myself and discovering it.

“We cannot be taught wisdom, we have to discover it for ourselves by a journey which no one can undertake for us, an effort which no one can spare us.” YES!

Page 71 “It is not the contented or the glowing who have left many of the profound testimonies of what it means to be alive. It seems that such knowledge has usually been the privileged preserve of , and the only blessing granted to, the violently miserable.” Again. I’m just not sure this is completely true, or maybe I don’t want it to be.

The idea of this chapter title “How to Suffer Successfully”, lots of interesting stuff here.

Page 83 “To respond to the unexpected and hurtful behavior of others with something more than a wipe of the glasses, to see it as a chance to expand our understanding, even if, as Proust warns us, ‘when we discover the true lives of other people, the real world beneath the world of appearance, we get as many surprises as on visiting a house of plan exterior which inside is full of hidden treasures, torture-chambers or skeletons.’” I’d like to acquire that skill! I don’t respond well when I find out others aren’t as great as I had hoped, when they become human. Anger and hurt is what I feel, not deeper interest or understanding.

Page 88 “the way we speak is ultimately linked to the way we feel, because how we describe the world must at some level reflect how we first experience it.” And everyone that talked to me yesterday knows exactly how I experience the world at first glance! Irritated and inconvenience, ending in expletives.

Page 112 “the rhythm of a conversation makes no allowance for dead periods, because the presence of others calls for continuous responses, we are left to regret the inanity of what we have said, and the missed opportunity of what we have not.” I sit here thinking that on a daily basis.

Page 113 “conversation allows us little room to revise our original utterances, which ill suits our tendency not to know what we are trying to say until we have had at least one go at saying it, whereas writing accommodates and is largely made up of rewriting, during which original thoughts – bare, inarticulate strands – are enriched and nuanced over time.” But I’m not much of a writer, more of a talker. I wish people around me could know that I need to talk ideas out to really understand and clarify them. As he writes of writing, I’m thinking of talking.

Page 126 You hear people go on about how insincere polite conversation is but really it’s about friendship, conveying your willingness to allow others their time in the spotlight, to feel loved. “To call such politeness hypocrisy is to neglect that we have lied in a local way not in order to conceal fundamentally malevolent intentions, but rather, to confirm our feeling of affection, which might have been doubted if there had been no gasping and praising, because of the unusual intensity of people’s attachment to their verse and children.”

Page 129 “More interesting than the letters we send our friends may be the ones we finish, then decide not to post after all.” Totally. Maybe I should start responding to people in my journal but not to them. It might clear my conscious, open up my thinking, and retain more friends.

Page 139 “Great painters possess such power to open your eyes because of the unusual receptivity of their own eyes to aspects of visual experience” Do they actually see more than others?

Page 140 “taking a second look…reveals the extent to which our dissatifactions may be the result of failing to look properly at our lives rather than the result of anything inherently deficient about them.” Hmm…that’s a certain truth.

Page 155 “Before meeting aristocrats, Proust could at least trust in the existence of an entire class of superior beings, and could equate meeting them with acquiring a fulfilled social life.” This. It’s one of those things that can really throw you for a loop. There was a time in my life when I believed (or hoped) that those above me, running things, had much more information and smarts that I. Meeting a politician or a movie star and finding out they are just as clueless as I am…mind blowing and not in a good way. I have met very brilliant grocery store workers and stay at home moms!

Page 161 “if the confiserie had a busy line or the connection to the tailor a hum, instead of admiring the technological advances that had frustrated our sophisticated desires, we tended to react with childish in gratitude.” Facebook, texting, online dating is ruining our world!

Page 166 “Proust compares Albertine to a student who visits Dresden after cultivating a desire to see a particular painting, whereas the Duchesse is like a wealthy tourist who travels without any desire or knowledge, and experiences nothing but bewilderment, boredom, and exhaustion when she arrives.” Sounds like my son wanting to go to Paris. By the time he goes, he’ll know all about the place and it’s history. He’ll drag whoever goes with him all over and soak it all in. My friend was the same way but the person she went with was not interested in any of it, probably didn’t even really know where they were.

His whole chapter on “how to be happy in love” seemed very sad to me. I felt like maybe Proust had never been happy or in love. It was all just a work around to get sex.

Page 178 “There is no better way of coming to be aware of what one feels oneself than by trying to recreate in oneself what a master has felt.” Putting on what someone else sees or feels, we can see if it fits and move on.

Page 180 “our own wisdom begins where that of the author leaves off, and we would like him to provide us with answers when all he is able to do is provide us with desires…” This is something I’m supposed to want?! I’ve always been irritated with books that leave me wondering. I guess I’m just not really thinking hard enough. There have been some lately that make me want to get moving on things!

Page 182 Symptom of a an overreverent, overreliant reader, “that we mistake writers for oracles”

Page 191 “a picture’s beauty does not depend on the things portrayed in it” We’re not talking just visual art. Books, music, plays, etc. The beauty can be what really moves you to greatness, not what is being portrayed. It may be a novel of terror and inhumanity, but it moves us to not let it happen to us.

Page 196 “a genuine homage to Proust would be to look at our world through his eyes,not to look at his world through our eyes.” Oh my goodness. Isn’t that what we do with any book? I’m reading about the Roman Empire right now and I’m constantly wondering what they would have thought about our world.

Notes on “The Primal Prescription” by Doug McGugg, MD & Robert P. Murphy, PhD

I got this book because I heard one of the author’s speak on one of the podcasts I listen to…not sure which one. Maybe I should keep track of that! These are just notes about the book, not a whole lot of deep thinking or rewriting here. Skip to the end to read what I really got out of the book!

Chapter 1 – How We Got here

“Alarmed by the proliferation of unregulated rivals, the university-trained physicians organized into country and state medical societies and lobbied to enact licensure legislation,”

See. That’s what happens. Why, as a user of medical advice, ask the person I’m going to where they were educated, look at reviews, make up my own mind about whether I believe they are capable? Do I really trust a third party (government) to tell me?

“the stricter standards just as surely harmed patients of modest means who would have preferred to hire the services of a cheaper provider, an option that was now illegal.” And I’d say I poor doctor is better than no doctor at all. It goes for “organic” food too. Pesticide sprayed food is WAY better than no food. You cannot take options away from people “for their own good” and kill them.

“a government intervention into medicine leads to a problem, but rather than repeal the initial measure, the government simply slaps on further interventions.” Yes. That goes for intervention into anything. Food, shelter, health care, education.

My note from the margin, How pervasive was the problem of poor doctors giving bad treatment to warrant laws that made the unintended consequence of fewer doctors all around?

“many influential doctors welcomed the restrictions because they gave them a relative advantage over their competitors.” And I’m sure they had the hubris to believe that they knew what was best for everyone. I mean, you should be going to us and paying X, not that guy and paying less. He’s a lesser doctor! Well, yes, but I can’t afford your X fee and now I have no doctor.

Here’s one you’ll like…”there’s nothing magic about health insurance” and “you don’t use your car insurance to pay for a routine oil change”

And here’s the problem, “In order to provide this much coverage and still keep premiums affordable, the doctors and hospitals sought the help of the government.” It’s a ‘public good’ right?!

“the government never gives out a favor without strings attached.” and taxes.

“Moral hazard refers to the fact that people take on greater risks when they are personally shielded from the negative consequences.”

A note from the margin, when people ask me ‘what about the poor?’ because they think they poor didn’t get medical service before insurance, I’d like to ask ‘are they getting it now?!’

“the doctor-patient bond had been a fiduciary relationship that was mutually beneficial.” and thanks to third party insurance that relationship is dead. Think about it. Why would a doctor not do his best to keep you healthy and happy? Is he going to keep getting paid if he doesn’t? Now he really doesn’t care. You don’t pay him, the insurance company does and thanks to the lovely regulations, there are so few doctors now that if you leave, they are happy to see one less patient.

1942 Stabilization Act (look into that)

“The E&M coding system allows for levels of billing from the most simple to the most complex. In order to bill at higher levels, you have to rack up more elements in each segment of the medical record.” That’s part of why I have to endure so many tests to get birth control. It has nothing to do with good health care.

Some doctors have to hire an extra person do the recording on the computer while they treat a patient. A computer person needs to translate what the doctor is doing into legalese for the insurance and government. Crazy. What if they end up doing something like this in education? Maybe they already have!

HIPAA violations…and “potential” ones! The cost of health care isn’t going up because of greed it’s because of government.

Chapter 2 – The Deadly FDA

A note in the margin…so the answer to “our system works” is to revamp it and make it different?

“According to one estimate for the 1950s and early 1960s, it then cost about half a million dollars and took about twenty-five months to develop a new drug and bring it to market…By 1978, ‘it was costing $54 million and about eight years of effort to bring a drug to market’” The introduction of the FDA has raised the cost of creating new drugs so high that companies can only afford to work on drugs with a large market, or rely on federal funding (taxes) to keep them in business.

A note in the margin…why not have FDA approved drugs and non-FDA approved drugs and let people choose?

“on one occasion US marshals seized and destroyed 12,000 gallons of P&G’s orange juice because it was labeled “Citrus Hill Fresh Choice” (for what it’s worth, the juice had the disclaimer “Made from Concentrate” on the packaging, but FDA officials said the print was too small)” Yay! Saved from the horrors of mislabeled orange juice!

A note in the margin…Why? What benefit is it to the FDA to have a bad drug out? Do they do it on purpose or is their system so screwed up they really aren’t helping anyone? It’s just as likely that a bad drug would be on the market after the FDA as before.

“in the real world, most patients are on multiple medications for which their side effects are additive” like vaccines, tested individually but never in bulk the way they give them to children.

“we are pointing out that the current system – with the FDA sitting atop a pyramid of control by the power of law – suffers from institutional biases that would be weeded out in a more competitive arena with multiple “authorities” providing expert product review.” I think most people would agree that the system doesn’t work as well as a thinking and reasoning population of humans. But most people don’t believe that actually exists. They think that most people will kill themselves if left to make important decisions on their own when in actuality some will but most will not. A larger portion will not if they are allowed to take care of themselves.

“What you should now be starting to see is a particular pattern that develops when the government is given the power to regulate. There is an immediate alliance that develops between the government and the dominant players in the industry to be regulated. A naïve observer might expect all private companies to adamantly resist government interference with their business. However, the biggest companies in an industry often recognize the advantages of costly new regulations.” This is perfect. I wish everyone could understand that this is what happens when government regulates anything and it is what has caused so many of our problems the past 100 years. Capitalism and liberty do not create it, government does. And giving all the power to the government as in socialism will only create bigger problems.

My note in the margin…people think that if there were no regulations/FDA, companies would kill more people with bad drugs and procedures, but it’s just not true especially with today’s communication. One bad drug and the trust is gone…if we were thinking for ourselves instead of trusting the monopoly on approval and usage, the FDA.

Chapter 3 – The Medicare Ponzi Scheme

“the government taxes current workers in order to pay current retirees” Ponzi Scheme. And you are forced to buy into this one.

“the bulk of those painful projected budget cuts conveniently occur in the future, when other people will be in office”, who will then amend the law to remove those cuts or postpone them to the future again.

“the original “investors” are paid not with the genuine earnings created from the wise investment of their initial contributions, but instead with money flowing in from the next wave of “investors”” Why is this ok when the government does this at the point of gun? Because previous generations voted it to be a good thing to do to their children and grandchildren? Why is it wrong for me to do it by convincing people to “invest” but ok for the government to force you to do it?

Chapter 4 – The Perverse Economics of US Medicine

“the ACA won’t solve the festering problems in the US health care system, but rather, will exacerbate them and hasten the degradation of the private sector.” I think this is the intended idea.

Confusing “care” with “insurance”. It’s not really insurance. And it’s tied to an existing employer.

“Some readers might be tempted to say, “Annual testing – money is no object when it comes to my daughter’s health!” but that ignores reality. If cost really is irrelevant, then why not weekly or daily testing? At some point it is obvious that more frequent testing “isn’t worth it.”” People say this because they aren’t paying for it and most don’t believe they should pay for it. They honestly believe that the rest of the country owes them health care, among other things.

What if we stopped saying “government” owes us and say what it really means, “the people of this country”?

“The public can’t have it both ways. If they want a government strong enough to take care of them, they must be willing to endure a government with the power to kill them.” But I don’t think that’s right. They believe that there is such a thing as a government that can take care of them and there isn’t. No one is more interested in your well-being than you.

Chapter 5 – The Inner “Logic” of the Affordable Care Act

“there is nothing qualitatively different about the ACA; it is simply an extension of trends that have been in motion for many decades.”

“each intervention spawns further problems, which are then cited as the rationale for further encroachment.” How can people not see this? Does everyone think that all the laws that exist now have always existed? That this has been the way things have always been and will always be unless we make one more law?

Chapter 6 – The Fatal Flaws of the ACA

Bastiat “The State is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live a the expense of everyone else.” We will eventually run out of other people’s money because we cannot force them to make more.

“the government doesn’t have any resources” Yes! Few people seem to understand that the only money the government has was taken from someone else. Each year you take from the “rich” there will be less to take and they will take from more and more of what you call “middle class” and then the poor.

If you operate a health insurance like you do any other insurance it’s a viable business, but if you force them to pay for regular care and keep their prices low, they will go out of business. But people think that if the government runs it they will never run out of money. Why? Because they can print it? Or steal it from someone else?

“CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5% to 2% during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor – given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive…The largest declines in labor supply will probably occur among lower-wage workers…”

And that’s good for us all because the un-employment numbers will go down! And people will have more time with their families. That’s actually what people are saying. And this will happen way after the people that made the new law will be leaving office and the people will blame the lower productivity and less jobs on something else, make a new law, etc. This is just nuts.

“But if the employer reduces (or eliminates altogether) spending on the employee’s insurance, and increases monetary compensation instead, then the extra wages are taxable income.” And that is effectively raising taxes on everyone, not just the rich.

Chapter 7 – Paving the way for “Single Payer”

“…eventually it will become clear to the pundits and political officials that the “free market system” is still broken and the government “needs” to intervene yet again.” This is exactly what I said when they passed this dumb thing. It was created to forcibly break the system even more, not fix it, and then the people will be clamoring for the government masters to take over.

Chapter 10 – Choosing Your Doctor

Thinking of a doctor as a sherpa. “Despite his superior knowledge, conditioning, and familiarity with the environment, the sherpa knows he is your servant. His authority is always delivered in a subservient fashion, because he knows you are the one paying him. He lets you set the goals and agenda and tired to accomplish them within the constraints of reality.” I really don’t think this type of doctor exists, especially out here. It sure sounds nice though.

“You do not need a doctor to be well.” And they insist that you do!

“When testing is done just for the appearance of thoroughness in order to decrease malpractice risk, you face a greater chance of false positives.”

“Alternative Providers” People like nutritionists and homeopaths are “wellness care”.

Chapter 11 – Getting off your meds

This part really hit home. When my sons were young I went to the doctor about anxiety. She gave me a heavy dose of anti-anxiety meds. It helped a lot, but I could never find the real help I needed. The meds healed a symptom, not the disease, and it took me 8 years to get off of them and find real help elsewhere. I never really did. I read and thought and discovered on my own to try and get off the meds. It might not have taken so long if I had found help.

Chapter 12 – Surviving the hospital

“Have an advocate” That’s what I took from this chapter. You are too sick to question and search for answers. Have someone there all the time that knows what you want and is willing to work for it.

Chapter 13 – Medical Screening & Elective Procedures: Worth the Risk?

“…find yourself at risk for type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s dementia. What should you do?” Eat better, get exercise, and stay fit, but it won’t stop it from happening, it just reduces your risk of becoming ill. You can do that anyway, without the tests and worry.

“What seems like a matter of necessity is really a matter of our unwillingness to endure the pain and suffering for the period of time it takes Mother Nature to heal the injury.” So many times I’ve wondered if I should go to the doctor for something, put it off, and found that the problem corrected itself.

Chapter 15 – Living Health and Free

I just like that title. And here’s the real take away from this book, “…it’s about reducing stress and embracing independence as a way of life. Benefits will spill over into other areas of life, including your career and personal relationships.” and “there are always going to true experts in every walk of life who know more than you, but you must develop the ability and confidence to identify sincerity and reject charlatans.” Yep. This is something I found by leaving the education system completely behind. Greatness is still achieved and at a much higher rate without trying to conform myself and my family to their standard of living and learning. And it spilled over into my relationship with Jesus when I left the idea of the church as authority and gave it back to Him. It’s spilled into my relationship with family and friends. And now…into health care. If only I had this information from my youth, where would I be now? Raising my children to be confident and independent thinkers gives me some hope that there will be change in the future.

Notes on “Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America” by Stephen Palmer

It’s funny the things I find and how they are connected. I didn’t realize that the author was a part of the “leadership education” ideas and Oliver DeMille.

Let me start by saying I enjoyed the book. It isn’t a difficult book to read. It took me about a week, but it is inspiring. It’s encouraging to read something that tells people to educate themselves instead of make someone else do something for you.

Chapter 1 – Education Before Activism

“turning inward is the beginning of wisdom”

To change the world, we must first change ourselves. We need to understand ourselves, our families, and then our communities before we can affect change in the wider world. My note in the book here was “to throw off one tyrant now would only end in a new tyrant taking it’s place” because we don’t know ourselves.

He also quotes from Confucius.

At the end of the chapter I wrote, “This is exactly what I need to hear right now. I’ve started to lose focus lately.” More to the point, I’ve begun to wonder what was the mission I set out to do in the first place. Like walking into the kitchen and forgetting what you came in for, I’ve lost sight of the reasons I was reading.

Chapter 2 – America’s Leverage Point

“We the People can have profound impact on our colossal challenges by shifting our focus and our approach.” Sometimes I wonder if that is true. I know I can have a much bigger effect on my own life and those around me if I change my focus, but is that true of a bigger picture?

“Is it easier to change the massive public education bureaucracy, or to simply take responsibility for your own education and that of your children?” And I’d add “encourage others to do the same.”

“Government is an effect, not a cause.” Yep. We have a big problem here in the US, not because government isn’t doing things the right way, but because we have let it go for so long. We’ve become ripe for masters of one kind or another. It’s only cause and effect.

Chapter 5 – Becoming One Who Goes Before

This chapter went on about our Founding Fathers, pioneering and destroying tyrannical enemies. I’m not sure they all were really for that. Some of the leaders may have been thinking of a bigger picture, creating something new and amazing for future generations, but I believe most just wanted to be left alone to live their lives. The chapter idolizes leaders of that past as if they were god-like.

I did like this quote “It’s leaving things better than how we found them.” That’s something our family lives by. We try to leave every place, every day, better than when we found it.

“How will we be remembered by future generations?” I SO hope my great-grandchildren can read my journals, calendar, blogs, and notes. I wonder what they will think of them.

Chapter 6 – Vision:The Seed of America’s Rebirth

“Until individual vision is attained, national vision can only be imposed.” Ain’t that the truth?!

“The first step we must all take to improve America is to create a vision of our ideal selves and lives.”

Chapter 8 – An Army of White Knights

“In America, we’re about 300 million strong. And how many of us are sitting on our butts waiting for Barack Obama/Congress/corporations/institutions/whatever to save us?” So, so true. A perfect example is our dirt road. The county is supposed to grade it every few years. They don’t. So we complain and drive on it anyway. Why not just get together and fix ourselves?

“What if the “good” guys ran for political office, then did what was right regardless of what the people told them through polling data?” I doubt they would stay in office. I really don’t think there are enough thinking/educated citizens at this time to do this.

Chapter 10 – Who is to Blame?

“Who elects those 545 people? Who is truly responsible?” Well that pretty much sums it up.

Chapter 11 – William Tyndale and the Essence of Social Leadership

Jailed, strangled, and burned at the stake for what? He translated and published the Bible in English.

“…the essence of social leadership: the belief in the common man. It is the antithesis of all forms of aristocracy.” This is how I feel about ending mandatory public education. I believe in the common man. We may screw it up pretty royally, but that is our prerogative. Ultimately, freedom brings the best of what man can do.

“It’s one thing to have education available to us – it’s quite another to actually obtain that education.” You have pretty much all the information in the world available at your finger tips, practically free. Yet we do not use it. We really don’t even try. Are we overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start?

Chapter 12 – The Founding Fathers Weren’t that Great

“Yet I fear that too often this reverie translates into the subconscious, limiting feeling of, “I could never be like them. I could never know as much as them and do as much as them.” This is a feeling I get fairly often from a number of sources. Reading biographies, especially autobiographies and personal papers helps that feeling a lot. Most people who have changed the world probably felt the same about their heroes.

Sometimes I worry that I’m not passing on my love of books to my sons but then I think they are just too young to be interested in learning much from the distant past. Their eyes are on the future right now.

Chapter 13 – The Uncomfortable Mirror

“Our actions may be different from one another but we all act for the same reasons.”

“the purpose of studying history is to learn about ourselves as individual human beings.”

“technology does nothing to change human nature”

“…give(s) us unprecedented opportunities to bring more light, truth, and goodness into the world and to uplift humanity.” And the opposite as well. The internet is not evil. It is humanity magnified.

“We must study history in order that we might never deceive ourselves into believing that technology gives us the luxury of relaxation from our duties to maintain freedom.” The more I study history, the more I see how similar humans are throughout time.

“Socrates wisely said, “If you think by killing men you can prevent someone from censuring your evil lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and noblest way is not to be disabling others, but to be improving yourselves.” Yep. Look at the mobs of people destroying a person they do not agree with on social media. Does that make life better? Do we all think, wow that person obviously has done something terrible and I should avoid that. Or would it be more noble and beneficial to society to live better lives, be an example of greatness and peace, and leave others alone?

“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

“Every individual was born for greatness.”

We each need to find that genius in us and use it to better the world around us. From engineering and invention, to parenting and pie making, it’s all genius and can be used.

My favorite from this chapter was, “Studying and applying history to our lives is like sculpture, which is, in the words of Irving Stone, ‘an art which, by removing all that is superfluous from the material under treatment, reduces it to that form designed in the artist’s mind.’” That’s what we are, the stone within which is a masterpiece.

Chapter 16 – The Good News

“At their core, depressions represent change, and education is the lasso for the wild steer of change.”

Economic depressions mean something in the world isn’t working anymore, the only thing that can turn it around is people that can change with it, the one’s with a real education.

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

Make ourselves “life long learners”.

Chapter 17 – Rockin’ to the Fourth Turning Blues

I’m not sure really believe in the philosophy of “The Fourth Turning” by Strauss and Howe.

“Find Your Core” I believe I’ve found this in my life and am in the beginning of making it work for me. Empowering others to home education without government oversight.

“Leadership education fosters innovation, ingenuity, adaptability, confidence, resilience and courage – the necessary attributes and skills needed in times of overwhelming change.”

Chapter 18 – Who’s Your Daddy?

“owners of the means of production”, I’m not sure what that means. Does he mean the US used to own most of the tools and factories and now we don’t? What do we own now? Does he mean to imply that producing physical goods are the only positive? Could service and technology advancement be the “production”?

“One can work for a corporation yet still be an entrepreneur – by thinking and acting like one.” He goes on about this a bit and I’d agree.

Chapter 19 – Everything is Risky

“The vast majority of us barely scratch the surface of our potential. Here’s why: We’re scared to death. We’re imprisoned by our own fears.” That’s me in a nutshell. And what am I afraid of? What if I fail? What if I look like a fool? What if I make a mistake?

Chapter 20 – The New Liberalism

“The proper role of a free enterprise-promoting government is to simply protect unalienable rights – not to favor one man over another through benefits and entitlements.” Or one company over another. We project ourselves as racists if we offer “help” to someone with a different skin color and it gets neither of us anywhere.

Oh here’s a novel idea! “Those of us who have little capital must employ our mental resources to create wealth.” You can’t force those who have to give to those who do not and expect everyone to keep working. Create a place where everyone knows for sure that they will get to keep what they create and you will have a strong economy.

Chapter 22 – Truth Doesn’t Pick Sides

“There is truth in every perspective.” I recently heard my youngest son tell us that he wanted to read something to see if there was any truth in it. There usually is and we can all learn something from reading and discussing all ideas. It seems that universities have lost that idea.

“As the Nobel prize winning physicist Niels Bohr said, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

“Author Roy H. Williams put it this way: “I’m suggesting you find the electricity that flows when two poles of a duality are brought into close proximity. Electricity is not a compromise. It’s an altogether third, new thing that emerges from two potentials.” Can you imagine if more people worked together like this?

“Freedom is ultimately cultural, not political.” And I believe we’ve killed what cultural freedom we had through 100 years of public school.

Chapter 24 – You Got the Right One, Baby?

“To change hearts and minds and win the freedom war requires us to be artful rather than forceful. In other words, passionate freedom-lovers must take a more right-brain approach to their struggle.”

Well, maybe. Or maybe there is no “freedom war” and we should leave people alone to do what they want to do, and insist that we are left alone to do what we want to do. Maybe living by example would bring more people to our way of thinking, than convincing them we are right.

Chapter 26 – Obama is Here to Stay

“American citizens (have begun) “valuing their privileges above their principles” to quote President Eisenhower” I really don’t think most people have any real set principles at all any more, that is our main problem.

Something I wrote in the margin: It doesn’t matter how much food and water you store to keep you through a disaster, if you lose your humanity by lack of moral preparedness.

Chapter 27 – Problem-Solvers: A New Political Deal

“The next time you’re asked about your political affiliation or leaning, say that you are a problem-solver.” Tom just said that a while back when we were talking about politics. But honestly I’m more interested in solving my own problems by my own means. Most people are still problem solvers. They just think the solution to any problem is a law, or taking money from one person and giving it to another.

Chapter 28 – The Deception of Consumption

“In a free market, our ability to consume is entirely dependent on our ability to produce value for others. Free markets award those who produce according to their level of production; were it not so we would have no incentive to produce.” And someone HAS to produce. We haven’t had a real free market in the US for a long time.

“Consumption removed from production leads to nothing but bankruptcy and insolvency.” But to most people today that would be someone else’s fault.

Chapter 31 – Obama’s Inconsistency: The Blindspot of Modern Liberalism

“It sounds nice, but there’s a fundamental difference between churches, communities, businesses and families and the government. The former institutions are based on voluntarism, while the latter is based on force.”

“one group of people imposing their subjective views and values upon others through the force of government. This is the classic intellectual tyrant fallacy – thinking that your values are the right ones, the values that can rightfully be imposed upon society.” And this goes for wealth redistribution as well. You may believe it be morally right to do so, but (as many liberals say) morality is subjective, right? And we shouldn’t base laws on value judgments. The problem people believe economics is a science not a philosophy, that it is not a value judgment at all but proven fact.

Chapter 33 – Reclaiming the Word “Progressive”

“Despite having good intentions an doing much actual good (e.g. Universal Suffrage), the hallmark of progressivism is the age-old, predictable, and worn-out belief that the People need benevolent caretakers to ensure their security and well-being.” Yep.

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

“True progressivism is the novel and still-revolutionary idea that the proper role of government is to protect unalienable rights…the inspiring hope that mankind can progress through voluntary virtue, not forced and resentment-inducing wealth redistribution.”

Chapter 34 – The True Price We Pay For Civilization

“this insane notion that the price to pay for civilization is high taxes and being forced to pay for programs and policies that we object to”

Here’s something I can really get behind. “The price we pay for civilization is be civilized!” Seriously. It goes right along with “Veterans have paid the cost of freedom.” The cost of freedom is not war. The cost of civilization is not wasteful, ineffective wealth redistribution.

Chapter 25 – Libertarianism: The Threat and The Opportunity

I’m not going to quote this chapter. There was just too much. The bottom line is that I completely disagree with him about what Libertarianism is. He wants to steer the country in the “right direction” and that is a Christian direction to this author. He says that it “emphasizes individualism; downplays family, community, and religion”. I think he is sorely mistaken. As a libertarian I am interested in my self and by extension my family, community, and religion. I’m more interested in protecting those things as a member of community and I am not interested in handing over the protection of these things to a government. I’m not interested in forcing you, fellow citizen, to pay for my ideal and well-being.

He also says, “An overly individualistic society is a fragmented, unsustainable society, lacking in forms to perpetuate itself.” This is also utterly false. Human beings are naturally social creatures. Some more so than others. Each individual will, to some degree or another, live communally with others and they should be left alone to make these connections in the way they see fit, individually.

One more here (although I have a lot and I’m having a hard time putting it down on paper), “The foundation of libertarianism must be much more than wanting to be left alone; it must be based on a desire to serve, to contribute in meaningful and lasting ways to society.” Libertarianism is not “leave me alone”. It’s government control we want to be left alone by. We will make our own voluntary associations to take care of the community around us.

The things he talks about in this chapter will only bring us right back where we are now if we follow it.

Chapter 36 – The Truth About Conspiracies

“I do know that strong families and communities are the backbone of all free nations and that you and I must do all in our power to build them.” The first part, yes. We should be encouraging each other to build strong families and communities, voluntarily and by your own moral code and ethics. But the second part? “do all in our power to build them.”? What does that mean? If I believe you aren’t building a strong family, do I have the right to make you do so? Should I take those children from you and do what is right? Should I take your money by force and give it to those with less so that they have better opportunities to create a strong community? This is how we got here in the first place. This assumes that there is a right and wrong way to do something and that one group of people in the world that are doing things the right way, should be taking care to make sure the others do the same.

Chapter 37 – People Who Disagree With Us Aren’t Stupid

Whole chapter, great. Summed up in the title and I needed say more.

This book has a lot of truth in it. I agree with much of his sentiment, but some of his reasoning causes me to think he is idolizing the past and the founding generation a little too much. I believe there is much to learn from the past and doing things (especially the model of education) like they did. But there has been a lot of beneficial change in the past century that I think can make the world a better place. I believe humans are capable of taking care of themselves without an authority to rule us. We need to start encouraging others to take back the reigns and education themselves and their own children. We need to work together voluntarily to build communities. And we need to let people make their own decisions and fail if they must. Sometimes one person’s “fail” is another person’s “victory”. Don’t take it away just because you don’t see its purpose.


The book by Laura Hillenbrand. I haven’t seen the movie.

I’m putting this book down half way through. I feel bad to have to do it because my sweet Mother in Law, Ann, got it for me for my birthday. She loved the movie and thought I might like the book. She was right. I’m always happy to have a new book and I jumped into it with both feet. The problem is that it has been giving me anxiety nightmares! I’m so affected by what I read. The movie would be better for me to see because you can sit and watch the whole horrific story and get to the redemption in two hours. The book is different. There is no where to stop reading for the day that doesn’t make you feel terrified, lost, and alone. It’s just terribly sad. I know it ends well, but I can’t see that in each chapter I read. I dream of being lost, trying to get away, things being taken from me all night long. So, with reluctance, I’m putting this book down for the time being.

It is a great story though. It has a lot of history about World War II and the Japanese. I’m not sure how much of it is propaganda though. There is a lot of “We bombed the shit out of that Japanese island!” and then the very next chapter is “They bombed the shit out of us! Without regard for human life! How dare they!?” War. It is what it is.


Whenever I stop reading a book before it’s finished, I always think of Alice in Wonderland when the Mad Hatter yells, “Clean cup! Move down!” in the middle of the tea party.

I’ve put aside the book “What is Islam?” by Shahab Ahmed. I’ve only read about half way through and I’ve got some good insight from the first half, but it’s just too academic for me right now. I have no other experience with Islam besides this book and what I’ve heard. I need something more basic to get a better understanding of what he’s talking about. 90% of the book is going right over my head.

What I did get was pretty interesting. He says he is trying to reconcile inconsistencies in what we perceive as “Islamic” in the world, things like Islamic art, the drinking of wine by some, and other things.

Here are some things I found interesting. “There are at least three hundred ethnic groups in the world today whose populations are wholly or partly Muslim.” Islam has been practiced differently across time and cultures, much like Christianity. I didn’t know there were sects of Islam like denominations of Christians. I learned that there are Islam philosophers. I learned that before the Western Enlightenment period, we didn’t separate religion and secular as we do today and that the Islamic world doesn’t separate it at all like we do. If we describe their practices in our terms, it doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t tell if the author is a Muslim in the sense that Middle Eastern people are. I didn’t read into the authors background at all. Are Western Muslims different than Eastern ones? Are Muslims in our country different than the ones over there? Would devout Eastern Muslim’s roll their eyes at this explanation as a Born Again Christian would at someone’s explanation of the Bible? And then there is this quote, “if we set upon our noses the conceptual premise that Islam is a complex cultural synthesis “like Christianity”, then we are peering forth dimly through the wrong glass.” Can I ever really understand Islam? Or can I learn enough to not be afraid of another culture and encourage others to leave them be?

I’m reading this because I want to understand more about what our people seem to be so afraid of. There are few people I’ve met that don’t want to just kill all the Muslims because it would make the world safer. What really bothers me is how many Christians I know that are happy to help the government destroy a group of people. Everyone thinks we are fighting some kind of evil in the middle east, some devil instead of a human group or other government. Do we do that for all our enemies? Why are they the enemy? What makes them so different that we can’t get along? Or is there something else hidden? I’m on the side of the idea of something hidden. I think Islam is just the excuse, the thing that the government is trying to set up as our enemy instead of what is really happening. If THEY told you what they were really fighting over, I believe fewer people would be so gung ho about joining up or sending their children to fight.