Love is a lawless thing, subversive of every tradition and custom on earth. Do you think people don’t sentimentalize it? Anyone who fails to grasp how lawless, how subversive love can be is sentimentalizing it. Love is a lawless thing and yet, paradoxically, love knows of laws the Law itself does not know.
(About a 1 minute read)
I profoundly regret I am unable to accept
Your apology, your olive branch,
Your redress, your atonement
for the insult
You hurled at me today.
Alas! I find myself unable to accept your apology
On a mere legal technicality,
No more than a mere legal technicality.
The mere legal technicality
That you did not offer one.
In the over 20 years I’ve known her, Suzanne has routinely done the most improbable, astonishing things — without herself even beginning to think how astonishing they are.
For instance, she was out in Boston one Sunday afternoon, driving through the Harvard area, when she saw the famous law school’s sign. Not at all knowing how prestigious the school was (Suzanne doesn’t concern herself with such trivia as which universities are notably good universities), she decided on the spot she needed legal advice about something.
So, she parked her car, marched into the offices of Harvard Law School, searched around for someone to talk to. Finally, she found a man alone in his office, working on that Sunday afternoon. She actually managed to get the man to give her free legal advice.
After she thanked him for it, she got curious. “So what do you do here, sir?”
He told her his position.
A day or two later, she called me up to tell me how she was doing. She mentioned the incident in passing, told me the man’s name, and then asked, “So Paul, is a dean, like, the head guy, the guy who runs things? I think that might be what a dean is, but I’m not sure.”
Later I googled the name she’d given me. Sure enough. Suzanne had gotten free legal advice from the dean of Harvard Law School — arguably the best law school in America.
(About a 5 minute read)
Some years ago, an enraged husband shot and killed a young man in my hometown who had been cheating on the husband with his wife. To aggravate matters, the young man had thought it wise to write several letters to the husband mocking him in nearly every imaginable way.
The husband was a private in the army — stationed at a distant base — and quite unable to afford a lawyer. His public defender was one of the best lawyers in town, albeit young, and this was his first murder case.
(About a 3 minute read)
Josh was lean as a wolf that fall
And strong as a hawk’s wings.
That October when the comet
Hung over the San Luis in the night.
And the coyotes called out in the night.
The coyotes yearned in the night.
Jackie heard the coyotes call
And wanted Josh but didn’t know
At seventeen how to overcome
Her ancient fears (born before the first gods)
For the sake of her ancient desires.
(Fire and ice
Ice on fire
Which will win?)
Jackie, then Josh, asked your advice
Back when you didn’t like
Too much responsibility,
Too little wisdom to know
Which way to turn a young life.
Someone else that summer
Offered herself to you.
She was as young as Jackie.
As beautiful as Josh.
You pretended not to notice.
And she pretended not to care.
You stayed friends that way.
Josh was lean, but you listened to her.
Josh was strong, but you felt her.
And (let’s get honest here)
She sensed you knew how to love a woman
So that she cared to be loved,
Cared to share her bed with you.
That’s why she turned to you.
But you didn’t see it then.
(How long we must live
Before we see anything!
We’re always half in our graves,
At least half in our graves
Before we know life at all.)
(And why didn’t you see it?
It’s not like you at forty
Were one of those boys,
Those boys, those “pick-up artists”,
Who know more about how to get fucked,
Than they know how to fuck.
You cared for her. She cared for you.)
Today you would have accepted her.
Your fire has rekindled now,
Now it burns green again.
You’re wiser now, less a fool,
And the blood of outlaws
Burns in your veins.
Love moves according
To its own laws.
According to laws
Born when the universe
You can try
To put chains on it,
And cage it, tame it,
Make it acceptable
As a garden plant.
(That’s what they do, you know.
Across the world they do it:
They play the alchemist:
With strange heats and poisons
They turn gold into lead,
But call it lead into gold.
Those guardians of morality.
But love is a weed
And will always grow wild.
A weed with thorns
It will have its revenge
If you try to pluck it.
Deny it and deny life.
Die years before you’re dead.
The busybodies will praise
You for how you sacrificed
To keep their civilization
From crumbling to the sea.
(Yeah they will. They really will.)
I hear their eulogies already.
Their ironic eulogies for you
That they’ll roar from their pulpit
(“Roar” by putting a moral spin on things.)
So even the dead may hear
How Jackie and Josh were lawful
And so were you.
And so were you.
Somewhere the coyotes call.
The savage coyotes call out
In the night to something
Inside you that’s no longer
Yours and is gone anyway.
But you did save civilization.
For you and the girl didn’t fuck.
Let this be your eulogy then:
“He denied love,
He kept the law,
Saved us all,
By not fucking,
By not confusing
Good with Evil.
Youth and age.”
Let that be carved in stone.
It’s enough to make a dead man proud,
And pride is more ethical than love.
(About a 7 minute read)
I think it can be said of Alex Jones that he is the poster-child for the “American disease” of tolerating the intolerable. Perhaps out of all major democracies, America’s democracy is the most susceptible to the disease. That’s because we tend to be extremists when it comes to protecting freedom of speech.
To be sure, America does limit free speech somewhat, but the limits are absolutely minimal. You cannot advocate physical violence against someone and/or their property, nor can you “yell fire in a crowded theater” for the mere sport of it, since that might lead to physical injuries.
(About a 5 minute read)
“There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.” — The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, “Notes for a Law Lecture” (July 1, 1850), p. 82.
If you had just met my cousin, Ed, around 1975 or so, when he was at the height of his career, you might easily have formed a first impression of him as a former Boy Scout who had, however, never entirely left the Scouts. In appearances, he had that air to him: An innocent man, if ever there was one.
Of course, in truth, he was among the most morally corrupt men of any professional class that I’ve known. His career was not merely that of a lawyer, but of a political lobbyist on both the state and national levels. Least anyone harbor illusions about the essence of that noble occupation, Cousin Ed’s job was to bribe people, and he excelled at it.
Around age 18 or so, I attended one of Ed’s parties where I witnessed an eye-opening (for me) conversation. Ed was speaking to a small group of his closest friends — a group of at least moderately powerful bureaucrats for the most part: Men who ran departments of the State Government. Naturally, the conversation was mere shop-talk to Ed and them.
On the other hand, I was still naive enough to find it hard to follow. The last thing I expected was to hear how Ed had recently bribed a key US Senator, the head of the Senate’s powerful Finance Committee, to vote to deregulate the Savings and Loan industry. Although the Senator was not only a Democrat, but known as one of the nation’s more liberal Democrats, Ed had persuaded him to go along with Reagan’s eventually disastrous, crisis-causing, deregulation.
Now Ed wasn’t really bragging to his friends that evening. Instead, he was merely alerting them to the news the industry was about to be deregulated, and so they should ASAP get into positions to make their fortunes.
The bribe was, to my mind, ingenious: A huge chunk of it was in the form of stock in a certain S&L — stock that was bound to soar in value if and when the Senator voted to deregulate. His fortune was made — if only he carried through on his promise. And leaving nothing to chance, Ed had also greased the palms of two or three of the Senator’s key aides.
But to me the fascinating thing was Ed’s manner in telling his friends the news. There was not a hint in his voice nor demeanor that he was talking about anything beyond the day’s weather. My shock wasn’t so much from the corruption of bribing a US Senator, but from the casualness of it.
That evening, I formed almost on the spot the hasty and unfortunate opinion that lawyers routinely corrupted the democratic processes. That is, I naively blamed them for it, as if no one would bribe senators were lawyers somehow banished. And for years that was the bottom line for me.
Now I confess to being slow in every way but in bed. In bed, I will proudly defend my impressive life-long record of reliably performing my “services” with lightening-fast efficiency. So it took me a couple decades before I formed a more informed and honest opinion of lawyers. Much before then, I really didn’t look into it.
The change began with my reading an article on the Gaza Strip in which the author pointed out in some detail the consequences of the Strip’s lack of any legal means whereby the people could settle their disputes. Naturally, the disputes just didn’t evaporate simply because there were no courts, no judges, and no lawyers to resolve them.
No, what had actually happened was the people had fallen back on their families and on violence. In effect, they had returned to the vendetta system.
Which makes sense, if you think about it. What other recourse did they have other than to organize into trusted family-based groups, and — at least ultimately — resort to arms to settle things?
The more I thought about it, the more I came to grasp how lawyers, along with the rest of the legal infrastructure, are about all that stands between a civilization and its reversion to anarchy and most likely barbarism — for what family gang is going to stop at merely settling scores when it pays off under those circumstances to not only settle them, but to settle them in cruel and extreme ways designed to warn and intimidate others into not messing with them?
Like most bad ideas, the notion lawyers are necessarily dishonest is a persistent one. It has been around for far longer than Lincoln’s day — Shakespeare makes mention of it when he has “Dick the Butcher” propose to “…kill all the lawyers” in Henry VI, in order of course, to bring about a better country.
But would such a country most likely be better?
As for my cousin, he wasn’t all bad. At one point in my life, he gave me some of the wisest advice I’ve ever taken. He pointed out in forceful terms — forceful enough to get me to actually listen even at a young age — that I would never have a chance to be happy in life if I followed through with my plan to go into politics.
“Paul, I hear you say you want to help clean up politics, make it better. That’s a noble goal, and I believe you would do everything you could to stay honest and achieve your goal.
“But you need to realize before you make a huge mistake: Politics is a filthy, dirty business. It won’t ever change from that, no matter what you yourself do to reform it. You will be an ant trying to chew down a mountain.
“In the end, it will only commit your soul to living hell, just like it’s committed to hell almost every soul who has come before you. I know.”
(An 11 minute read)
Yesterday afternoon was bright and crisp. The snow from a couple days before had melted, leaving the grasses verdant, albeit destroying the pink crab apple blossoms. I wondered if their seeds had made it through the cold.
Late in the afternoon, one of my next door neighbors walked past my window, carrying his tiniest child in a car seat. The little one was kicking joyfully — apparently at the sunlight on his legs, perhaps attempting to dislodge it.
A few moments later, the woman appeared, and then the toddler. The man and the woman walked purposely towards their car. The toddler had other ideas, though. Every three to five feet he was stopped in his tracks by the sight of something interesting! Green shoots! Dog poop! More shoots!
Suddenly, his parents were calling to him, demanding he hurry up. Green shoots forgotten, he ran towards them, his legs almost a blur trying to keep up with his head, which — in the manner of a toddler — was improbably far in front of his body.
Some years ago, I was introduced to internet chat rooms by a computer savvy friend. “Here, I have something to show you, Paul.” Mike said, turning towards his desktop computer. A click or two, and suddenly the room was engulfed by the shrieking death throes of the Loch Ness monster.
“Paul? Paul, you can come out of the closet.”
“Is it gone?”
“It’s only my modem, Paul. I’m dialing up the internet.”
“You’re dialing up who?”
“Paul, get the hell out of my closet right now!”
Later that same evening… “Look, Paul! She’s come online! It’s Jolene!”
“Jolene? Do you mean, ‘PussyVentura’?”
“Yes, that’s her username.”
“I’ll explain later. ”
Several minutes later… “What I need from you right now is a poem. Write a poem to her, so I can impress her with it, Paul.”
“I don’t know, Mike, the last time you got romantic about some…”.
“A poem, Paul, that’s all I’m asking for. I’m certainly not asking for a recap of my romantic history!”
“But, Mike, a Russian bride?”
Five minutes later… “Where’s my poem, Paul?”
“I’m still working on it, Mike”
“I need it now! She said she was logging off, so I told her to wait. Give me what you’ve got!”
“Um…try typing this: Your beauty cleanses me of sorrow, my Jolene.”
“Your beauty cleanses me of sorrow, my Jolene.”
“It gives me courage to live for tomorrow, my Jolene.”
“It gives me courage to live for tomorrow, my Jolene. Oh, Paul, this is going to be good, I can tell. See? You can do it! What’s next?”
“You even make me want to face”
“You even make me want to face”
“With grace…That’s pretty good, Paul, I like that. What’s next? Quick! What’s next?”
“Of your morning breath, my Jolene.”
“Of your mornin… Are you kidding me, Paul? Are you kidding me!”
“It’s all I got, Mike.”
I’ve heard that in placental mammals, the number of nipples divided by two strongly correlates with average litter size. A species, like ours, with two nipples typically has one offspring per litter. But a species that has six nipples will on average have three offspring per litter.
Of course, it all gets complicated when you realize that some species have no fixed number of nipples. Pigs, for instance, range from 6 to 32 nipples, depending on the breed.
My second wife, Tomoko, was educated in an elite Japanese school that required her to learn how to read and write classical Chinese, much as some elite Western schools require Latin of their students. She also had a large set of books — each one beautifully bound, printed, and separately encased — that contained the works in Chinese of nearly a hundred ancient authors. Most of them never published in English.
At times, she and I were in the habit of dining out, and I coaxed her into regularly bringing along a volume or two of her set so that she could translate them for me after we’d finished our meals. One of my favorite authors was Kan Chu (circa 600 – 550 B.C.), who — in Tomoko’s translation — once said this, “Clothes, food, shelter: Satisfy these first, then teach people to be human. When people have those things, it will be easier to govern them.”
To put that in context, almost all ancient Chinese wisdom literature is nominally addressed to the rulers, and couched in terms of how to govern the people, regardless of whether it has much to do with governing or not. When you think about it, that made a lot of sense since it was the ruling class for the most part that could read and write. So Kan Chu was probably not being cynical in urging his audience to make sure the people had “clothes, food, and shelter” in order to more easily govern them.
More likely, I think, he was genuinely concerned with the people’s welfare. But whatever the case, his advice to take care of necessities before teaching people the finer things in life impresses me as good advice even to this day. Especially today, when “clothes, food, and shelter” are once again at risk for larger and larger numbers of people.
I don’t know about modern Chinese, but classical Chinese had about twenty words for “no”, not one of which meant “absolutely no”. The closest you could get to an absolute no — that is, the closest you could get to the Western sense of “no” — was a word that meant, “almost always no”.
This was completely in keeping with the ancient Chinese understanding of yin and yang, the two principles which are the immediate manifestations of the Tao in the world.
Yin and yang are not opposites in the Western sense of “yes and no”, “feminine and masculine”, or “good and evil”. Yin, sometimes called “the feminine principle”, is an aspect of yang, sometimes called “the masculine principle”. Yang, in turn, is an aspect of yin.
So far as I’ve been able to find out, there is no truly dichotomous thinking in ancient Chinese wisdom literature. Instead, even the Chinese equivalent of polar opposites reveal an underlying unity. The most common Western expression that I know of to the Chinese way of thinking is to speak of apparent opposites as “really being two sides of the same coin”.
One day in the 1960s, when Tomoko was about seven years old, her school was called to an unscheduled assembly. There, the principal announced that the students were being dismissed for the day, and that they were to immediately go home. No one should stop to play, loiter, or visit with friends. Straight home and no detours! Your parents have been called. They are expecting you!
Strange as it might sound today, even very young schoolchildren in the 60s typically walked to and from school — if the distance wasn’t far — and even in big cities like Tokyo. But that’s a digression for the benefit of my younger readers, who might never have heard of such a thing!
When Tomoko reached her home, her grandmother was already watching the television to see what had happened. Soon, the news reports started coming in. The police around the country were raiding the Yakuza dens! They were, the reporters said, “attempting to peacefully arrest the bosses, but unfortunately, often finding themselves engaged in gun battles. Several bosses are reported killed with no injuries so far on the police side.”
I don’t know when Tomoko learned the full story of that day’s events but here is what she told me many years later. The Japanese mafia, or Yakuza, had grown out of control. The bosses no longer knew their proper place. Consequently, something had to be done. The schools in major cities across the country were closed in case the situation got out of hand. Then the police, armed with grenades and assault rifles, raided numerous “dens” and slaughtered without warning at least 100 ranking Yakuza and many times that of lower ranking members.
“Did they get them all”, I asked.
Naturally, Tomoko explained, they didn’t even try to kill all of them. That would have left a void in society that some other group would then have to fill, upsetting the nation’s harmony. Instead, the goal was to knock them down to where they were no longer a threat to the social order, and could instead provide their services to the community in peace.
I think it is sometimes hard for Westerners to understand the Eastern concept of opposites. “Good and Evil” belong to the West, “Yin and Yang” (or “In and Yo”, in Japanese) belong to the East. Our good and evil is dichotomous, where the one is, the other is not. But yin and yang are not dichotomous. Where the one is, the other is also.
Because yin and yang are the way of opposites in the East, so often the goal is not to eliminate or annihilate one (or the other), but rather to insure that they remain in harmony or balance with each other. When the Yakuza got out of balance, when it was no longer in harmonious relationship with the rest of society, it became necessary — in the Japanese way of seeing things — to put it back in its proper place. No more, no less.
In the West, no politician could ever get elected promising to conscientiously stop short of annihilating the mafia, the gangs, the cartels. That would be the equivalent of professing to be soft on evil.
Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of somebody or other. — Oliver Wendell Holmes.
It seems most of us at one time or another confuse the map with the terrain when we believe our thoughts about ourselves are ourselves.
That’s to say, the map is our thoughts about ourselves. The terrain is who we are. Yet, so often we think what we think about ourselves is who we are.
I can think of myself any number of ways that are not likely to be borne out by my experience of myself. I can believe all sorts of things about myself that simple observation will disprove.
It seems to me that if one wishes to know who they are, the best place to start is with the non-judgmental observation of oneself in relationship to other things, very much including people. It is key that the observation be as dispassionate, as non-judgmental as possible. This can be exceedingly difficult to do because all your life you have been taught to praise or condemn yourself according to whether or not you measured up to some ideal, some person, some standard.
Yet, without non-judgmental observation, you will not come to know yourself as deeply as possible. Judgments, although useful in many circumstances, are worse than useless here. They are worse than neutral. They actually distort who you really are. To look at yourself through judgmental eyes is like looking at your image in a fun house mirror.
Moreover, you should look at yourself in relationship to things. You should not simply introspect because doing so is quite likely to lead you into mistaking the map for the terrain, into mistaking your idea of yourself for yourself. To really understand yourself you need a reality-check, and observing yourself in relationship can provide that reality-check.
Last, it can help immensely to create a journal in which you write down your observations on a daily basis, then review your journal regularly. After a few weeks or months, if you do not discover many new and significant things about yourself, you can sue my lawyer. By the way, I hereby grant all my powers of attorney to Donald Trump.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” — Kong Qui (Confucius). I wonder now what my neighbor, the toddler, thinks of dog poop. Probably thinks it’s beautiful. At his age, I believe, most of us do. Sometimes the only thing that separates a child from a sage is age.
By political correctness, I do not mean the term as it has come to be employed on the right—that is, the expectation of adherence to the norms of basic decency, like refraining from derogatory epithets. I mean its older, intramural denotation: the persistent attempt to suppress the expression of unwelcome beliefs and ideas. — William Deresiewicz
A few days ago, The American Scholar published a revealing article by William Deresiewicz on the political correctness of the regressive left. The article, which is beautifully written, entwines several themes, and one of those themes is that advocates of political correctness on the college and university campuses in the United States are almost exclusively drawn from two social classes: The privileged upper and upper-middle classes.
Those two classes are predominantly comprised of affluent, politically liberal or neoliberal White and Asian professionals. They overwhelmingly attend elite private colleges and universities — the hotbeds of political correctness — and at those institutions, they constitute by far and wide the vast majority of the student body and faculty.
If Deresiewicz is correct, the implications are interesting. Today’s elite students will almost certainly go on to become tomorrow’s elite professionals. I wonder if we’re going to see safe spaces in the corporations, trigger warnings on business memos, and endless cat and mouse games of “Gottcha for being Politically Incorrect!” played out in business offices. Of course, those would be the minor changes. The major changes would be made in politics and law.
Deresiewicz’s article is a long one, but an excellent read.
Ed Darrell is a teacher and gentleman from Texas who has created an award winning blog called, “Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub“. He is also a staunch defender of truth and accuracy in a day and age when both of those things seemed too often scorned.
Ed is knowledgeable in a variety of subjects, including history, economics, geography, and education; and he is scientifically literate. It’s hard not to be impressed by the man.
Have I mentioned yet that Ed’s blog has won the prestigious Golden Primate Award, which is given out exclusively to the very best blogs on the internet? Well it has! And if you check it out, I think you will agree that his blog deserves it too!
Currently, over 1,000 people a day visit Ed’s blog, and it is very close to marking it’s 5,000,000th all time visitor! If you are at all curious what a blog that can attract five million visitors looks like, go right over to Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub and check out Ed’s masterpiece! I hope you will enjoy his blog at least as much I do!
Say you were the U.S. government and you wanted a record of every moment that every American was on the internet: every search, every transaction, every click. Of every American. And just for laughs, you also wanted every credit card number and bank account number an American used on the internet.
What would you call such a law?
* The No More Internet Privacy bill
* The 1984 Really Is Here Big Brother bill
* The Trust Your Government With Your Privacy bill
No, those wouldn’t be very attractive with voters, would they. So instead, the House Judiciary Committee has just passed the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.
The bill would require your ISP to maintain a record of your internet activity for a year. Not because you’ve done anything wrong, but because you might. If that strikes you as, well, exactly the kind of government reasoning that made the Soviet Union such a successful and stress-free place, you’re right.
And if you’re wondering what that has to do with protecting children, get in line.
From “National Security? Protecting Kids? Porn Takes the Rap Again“, posted on Sexual Intelligence, by Dr. Marty Klein. The full article is very much worth reading.
I cannot prove it, but I would not be surprised if the so-called “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act” originated in a concern on the part of our leaders that the internet could be used to promote a rebellion against them.
There is a time when even justice brings harm.
I think a lot of us have been taught to confuse retributive justice with fairness. But fairness is a somewhat different concept, isn’t it? For one thing, retributive justice seems to rest on a notion that punishment is remedy. But is punishment always remedy?
Fairness, on the other hand, seems to imply a broader range of possible remedies than punishment alone. If Johnny steals your apple, and all you want is retributive justice, then all you want is for Johnny to be punished for stealing your apple. But if Johnny steals your apple, and you want fairness, then you might want either the apple back or another in its place.
As a hypothetical: If you had to choose, and you could not choose both, would you prefer to live in a fair society or a just society?