Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Science Sucks!

Hard to stop watching . . .

(ht: BoingBoing)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Why "Murph" on Memorial Day?

"Every year on Memorial Day weekend, CrossFitters in affiliates across the world perform the Hero workout, ‘Murph’. It is a workout that has become synonymous with CrossFit, not just for its brutal toughness, but for what it represents. ‘Murph’ is not simply another workout we do in a class to increase our fitness before moving on to whatever else we have going on in the day. It is a workout designed to honor and remember the men and women of the armed forces that have lost their lives in defense of our freedom. And as is the case with every Hero workout, it has a story of courage and sacrifice behind it.

‘Murph’ is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. He was 29-years-old. After graduating from Penn State University in 1998, Murphy rejected offers to attend law school and instead accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a SEAL in July 2002. For a man whose nickname was ‘The Protector’, the decision made perfect sense. In fact, when Murphy was in the 8th grade, he was suspended from school for fighting with bullies that were trying to shove a special needs child into a locker. And Gary Williams, author of “Seal of Honor,” a biography of Murphy, recounts a story where Murphy protected a homeless man who was collecting cans from a gang of thugs.

In early 2005 Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan. In June of that year, Murphy was leading a four-man reconnaissance team in Kunar province as part of a counter-insurgent mission (the other men in Murphy’s team were Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson and Marcus Luttrell). During the mission the team encountered a group of local goat herders.

A discussion was held among the four SEALs regarding the rules of engagement and what they should do with the herders, who were being held at gunpoint. Eventually the men decided to release them, but not soon after the SEALs were surrounded and ambushed by an overwhelming Taliban force. Murphy, who was trying to reach HQ via satellite phone, willingly exposed himself to enemy fire by stepping into a clearing where he might get a signal to make the call. Murphy was shot in the back, but still managed to calmly complete the call for reinforcements and return to his position to continue the fight with his men. HQ sent an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to rescue the team, but while attempting to set down in rugged terrain, the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 men on board.

Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were all killed in action. Luttrell was the only survivor and was eventually rescued after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghan village.

The actions and story of the SEALs on June 28th, 2005 are portrayed in the film ‘Lone Survivor’

Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courage and sacrifice that day. All three of his men were awarded the Navy’s second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their actions. The men who were killed in the rescue attempt were also honored. These included Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor and Lt. Michael McGreevy, who were posthumously awarded Bronze Stars for Valor and Purple Hearts. CrossFit HQ’s Russell Berger, who served in the 1st Ranger Battalion, writes of these men: “These men were fathers, husbands and sons. They were brothers to their fellow SEALs. They were also CrossFitters. In their actions, these men embodied the values and spirit of true heroes, and to immortalize their courage, bravery and self-sacrifice, the CrossFit Hero workouts were created.”

Friday, May 26, 2017

True Happiness (part 8): Concluding Thoughts On The Subject

The past few days we have given thought to the subject of "happiness" based on Book 3 of Boethius' "Consolation of Philosophy." At this point one begins to wonder if it is possible for man to find happiness at all. Wealth is powerless to deliver on it's promises; honor and fame not only borrowed but are also not universally recognized; and the only land a man truly possess is his burial plot.

But have all these desires and seem to experience something called, "happiness."

"Waiting For Godot" by Samuel Beckett
If we step back and consider true happiness, we realize we find it at that moment when all things are balanced together, a unified whole. This returns us to the definition of happiness Lady Philosophy offers at the very beginning: "a state which is made perfect by the union of all good things."

Let me illustrate:
  • One person is happy to sit on the couch and drink his tea. 
  • Another person is happy to sneak up and pouring boiling water over the head of the first person. 
  • The second person may think himself to be happy but in fact he is not because there is no unity of good between the two people. 
  • Additionally, think about what kind disunity must have occurred within the second person to think of such a horrible act. 
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? How about Hot Water Challenge which has happened on purpose or as a prank that nearly kills a victim?

This is not a purely theoretical illustration but the principle occur in real life in the forms of how we relate to others daily. The principle shows in the way we drive, in how we wait in line, in how we shop, at our jobs, when we play. Our state of happiness shows in the way we strive for the unity of good things with others. Peace is evidence of happiness.

The telling feature of true happiness centers on UNITY OF ALL GOOD THINGS. The short list we considered these last few days fail at delivering happiness simply because they are fractured from the unity of all good things. They cannot be isolated as the sole source of happiness. There must be a UNITY OF ALL GOOD THINGS.

In closing there might be considered another word here for happiness (I wish I knew the original word translated into English as "happiness" in Boethius): contentment. If one is content, then all good things are kept in balance.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Little More In The Tank

Today's WOD was awesome. Feeling mighty.

4 sets 10 reps of Deadlift (135#, 150#)
AMRAP 10 minutes of
1 Deadlift
1 Power Clean
1 Front Squat
1 Shoulder to Overhead Press

Here's a couple post-WOD lifts cause I had a few more in there:

True Happiness (part 7): Land, Fame, Pleasure

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight Of Glory, 1941)

What brings happiness? In previous posts we've defined happiness and have put many sources of happiness to the test and so far, we're still trying to discover the answer to this age-old question.


The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy answers that question in his short story published in 1886. Pakhom supposes that if he had enough land, life as a peasant farmer would be over--including his fear of the devil himself. Through a series of moves Pakhom begins to acquire land but he is not satisfied with so little--he wants more! In a business deal that's almost too good to be true, Pakhom pays 1,000 rubles to claim as much land as he can in one day by simply walking around, marking the borders with a shovel, but he must end his walk in the same place he began or he will lose his money and any claimed land. 

He begins as early as possible the next day marking his way as he goes, walking wide and far until he realizes that he has gone too far when he notices the sun going down. He must race as fast as he can back to the starting point, or lose everything! And he does--he makes it and is received with great celebration having acquired such a large plot of land. But he has exhausted himself and dies on the spot. The story concludes with Pakhom's servants burying him. “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”

Land does not bring happiness. 


"Fame, what you like is in the limo
Fame, what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, what you need you have to borrow
Fame, 'Nein! It's mine!' is just his line
To bind your time, it drives you to, crime
Could it be the best, could it be?"  (David Bowie)

1500 years ago, Beothius learned this lesson from Lady Philosophy: it may be attractive to be well known, but there are plenty of places on earth that will never know your name. And one need not travel too far to discover this truth. Besides if your name is famous, the honor really goes to your forefathers because they are the ones people remember when they hear it. 

Fame fails at giving happiness. 


If we find pleasure on impulse, following the course of nature without restraint, what makes us different than animals? If happiness is found on impulse, then the animals must be more happy than we are. Once the body goes, where will we find happiness then? Are those who are ignored happy if they cannot follow through on their impulses? 

Also, if it is said that happiness is found in wife and children, what if a man is tormented by his wife? What if a man is in grief over his children? What if the husband mistreats the wife? Where is happiness then? Those who are without wife or children--why are they happy without family?

I'll say more on this in tomorrow's conclusion.

"[T]hese things cannot grant the good which they promise; they are not made perfect by the union of all good things in them; they do not lead to happiness as a path . . . " ("Consolation of Philosophy," Book 3, Prose VIII)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What's Next?

Enjoyed digging deep today 'cause that's where the gold is. Gold is deep.
Train for greater things. Bigger things.

Pain only hurts for a little while but then you get your head together, feeling mightier than before and you think, "what comes next?" Reflecting on the fact that I just turned a year older (50) and knocking this kind of stuff out just thrills me.

Heard a great thought recently that fits in nicely right here: "be an active participant in your own life." I'm tired of sitting by watching life pass me by. Sitting still hurts more than moving. That's why I train, to get stronger and "go places." And becoming an active participant in life has done just that. We'll all be active participants in our death, but why not live a lottle?

I admit: today's WOD got me like, "woah" but when I think that I'm not staying still, that I'm getting stronger--I get excited. Here's what we did today:

3 sets, 10 reps of Bench Press (115#, 125#, 135#) 

For time
50 wallballs (20#) buy in
3 rounds of
20 knees to elbows
30 HR push ups
40 walking lunges steps
50 wallballs (20#) cash out

I could eat a cow right now. 

True Happiness (part 6): Places Of Honor

A number of years ago I was invited to lecture in Kenya, Africa. I prepared my lectures, got my shots, packed my bags and found myself in a village somewhere between Niarobi and Kisumu speaking to a group that grew larger daily for a week straight. So many were coming that we started a whole separate conference the next week to cover material for people who were still arriving!

My first day began with tea where I was introduced to local dignitaries along with my credentials and
Me with Johann, my driver
qualifications. Being introduced to the main audience, my host announced my credentials I was warmly received, picking my way through the material as the audience took notes. I planned an hour and a half at the end of each day to field questions: the first half dedicated to answering questions related to the topic on which I spoke; and the second half dedicated to answering "open-ended" questions.

The attendees asked questions that revealed a deep desire to learn--very well thought-out, heart-felt questions. As the first day drew to close, a very old man sitting in the back rose to his feet and asked his question. My translator spoke loudly so everyone could hear (though he was translating into English for me). His question floored me--it went something like this:

"We understand you come from America and are University educated. We understand you hold College and Seminary degrees. We understand you are Licensed and Ordained. You can teach; that is obvious--but who are you? We don't know you. Why should we listen to you? Why should we trust what you say is true?"

About 1500 years ago, Boethius suggested that a man was "made" by places of honor and his high rank should bring a man happiness. Lady Philosophy made another suggestion and it sounded very much like this old African man's question. Is the greatest good for a man found in his exaltation above other men? (Book 3, "Consolation of Philosophy")

A recent Time.com article titled, "Donald Trump After Hours"  shows us a snapshot of how a man with higher honor than another might live happily:

"The waiters know well Trump’s personal preferences. As he settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else."

The basis of his high position is given to him by others, but who is "he" and what if he is not around those who gave him the place of honor? How is he recognized when not in his home, his home town, his own country? Someone must announce his status, his credentials--but who is he as a man? What if a man is not worthy of the status given to him?
How can a man be happy when he is not recognized or his credentials have no meaning?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hero WOD: "Jack"

4x15 Back Squat then

AMRAP in 20 minutes of:
10 Push press (115#)
10 KB Swings (40#)
10 Box jumps (20")

[completed 6 rounds, total weight of 4800# lifted--FEELIN' MIGHTY!]

Army Staff Sgt. Jack M. Martin III, 26, of Bethany, Oklahoma, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash., died September 29th, 2009, in Jolo Island, Philippines, from the detonation of an improvised explosive device. Martin is survived by his wife Ashley Martin, his parents Jack and Cheryl Martin, and siblings Abe, Mandi, Amber and Abi.

True Happiness (part 5): Money/Wealth

If happiness is the acquisition of the highest good, how do we find happiness in that which is not the highest good? How have we become "far too easily pleased"? As we think about this, let's discover if money can bring happiness.

Here's a song:  

"Money, get away
Get a good job with good pay and you're okay
Money, it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I'll buy me a football team . . . 
Money, it's a crime
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise
It's no surprise that they're giving none away."

Does money buy happiness? Pink Floyd gives us both sides of the proverbial coin in their 1973 hit. Since nothing's new under the sun, Pink Floyd echoes the truth that Lady Philosophy was trying to impart to Beothius nearly 1500 years previous: if you accumulate all you can get and are still lacking good things, then money is a liar, not able to deliver on its promises. Money cannot bring happiness.

Have you ever stopped to think how money is powerless to protect itself? Leave some laying around and watch what it does. Nothing. Until someone helps it disappear. Money is powerless! Sure, money can fill a need, but it creates more need--such as security. In order to keep your piece of mind, one must spend money to hire protection to keep it. Wealth does not eliminate need--it creates need.

Maybe we've got it backwards: less is more. The less one has, the more freedom from want he has. Things that make you go, "hmmmmmmm". 

Pink Floyd teaches the ancient lesson that money is a crime--share all you want, just don't expect to get any of mine. What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine. Try asking for a raise at work and see what happens. You may get one, but you'll have to agree: they don't just give that stuff away. And even if you get that raise, it will never be enough. 

"If wealth cannot remove want, and even creates it's own wants, what reason is there that you should think it affords satisfaction to a man?" (Book 3, Prose 3, Boethius, "Consolation of Philosophy")


I know a guy who began remodeling his home two years ago. His house was only four years old. I'm sure he's done a fine job on the inside of the house, but he's never finished working on it. He recently received two eighteen wheeler loads of bricks to build an outdoor living-room in this back yard. This guy also owns eight cars (that we can see)--although recently, I've only counted six. Always mystified when all the cars are gone but only two people live there . . . anyway he's always washing his cars. His front yard is beautiful, by the way. Mows it twice a week. Stayed green all winter, too.

I think the strangest thing he's done is to build a fence. Don't get me wrong, there was already a fence there--he just had to have his own fence right up against the existing fence--only a couple inches higher so he doesn't have to see the first fence. He likes to look at his own apparently.

I'm sad for him because he's got to pay for all those cars: insure them, secure them, protect them, wash them (by hand), polish them, gas them, oil them . . .

And the house and yard? Like everyone else: insure it, secure it, mow it, edge it, weed it, water it, paint it, exterminate it, heat it, cool it, provide utilities, sewer . . .

And eat.

I'm not sure what he does for a living, but he's not happy. He's often on the phone outside yelling at somebody. Don't know why he can't do that inside. He's also often heard yelling at hired help for whatever reason--and we watch them shake their heads at him when his back is turned. We've never seen him smile. He rarely waves or says "hello."

What makes matters worse is that I know another guy who tries to copy everything the first guy does. But he's rarely ever seen because he's always working. I don't think he's happy either.

Know who's happy? The guy who lives by the rule: "keep what you must, share what you can."
He's the guy who eats to live. Know what I mean? 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Birthday Breakfast!

Eggs, Hash and home-made New Mexico red chili. Yum!

Friday, May 19, 2017

True Happiness (part 4): "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou.

Yesterday we thought about happiness and found that the first state of all things is the highest good of all things. In other words, the first state of all creation is happiness.

When reading and thinking of The Bird for yesterday's post, the following poem came to mind and I feel I would be remiss if I did not stop to allow the poem to elaborate on that picture of the happiness of The Bird. (Side note: might there be more to Skynyrd's "Freebird" than meets the eye ear?).

Caged Bird (by Maya Angelou)

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Earth, Wind and Ozzy

(ht: Boing Boing)

True Happiness (part 3): The First State Of All Living Things

My first pet was a dog named Rusty. I think was three. I may have done something three-years-oldish to the dog, but all I remember is that he bit my face and I never saw him again. Then there was Petey, a parakeet. Had him a long time. One Sunday morning we were walking out the door on the way to church when he fell off his perch, dead as a door-nail. He’s buried in the woods somewhere in Texas. My parents had a dog names “Whiskers.” Drove me nuts.

Now there are three cats in the house: a massive pure white cat named “Runt” (he was the runt of the litter), “Buddy,” a jet black cat who thinks he rules the world, and “Lilly,” the blondest a cat can possibly be. She’s alright. Runt keeps to himself, which is good. And Buddy . . . what can I say? “Get down!” “Stop that!” Things like that, I suppose.

What makes an animal happy? For Buddy, it’s food in all three bowls (he’ll clink them together with his paw if low or empty). A dog? Whatever makes his tail wag perhaps. Fish? No clue. Just feed ‘em and change their water. Our Son has a turtle upstairs. Can’t tell what makes him happy--maybe being inside his shell makes him happy. He’s in there a lot. Netflix or something.

There’s a beauty to animals, in the house or in the wild. But deep inside even the most domesticated animal is this burning desire to get out. Outside is too big for Buddy--scares him-- but he has gotten out a time or two and sits and the door meowing because he wants to try again. Runt gets out but he’s too fat to jump the fence, but Buddy could go right over.

Reminds me of the bass my dad caught and kept alive in a fish-tank at home (I was very young but remember this distinctly). Can’t have normal fish. Gotta have a bass. I think he was going to try to grow him to good “eating” size. One night we had some people over for games or dinner or something and the fish decided he wanted out. So he got out. Jumped right out of the tank straight down onto my mother’s hair and did his fishy, “Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapnotagoodidea” dance all the way down to her lap. He wanted to be out of that tank because by nature, he did not belong in a tank.

But I digress: Lady Philosophy considers happiness as the first state in all living things (Book 3, Met. 2).


Caged and chained, living in fear of his master and eating from his hand but still a sight to behold. Let him taste fresh blood and “their latent will returns; with deep roaring they remember their old selves.”


Watch him fly, listen to him sing, catch and cage him, feed and water him and keep him. “[Y]et it he fly to the roof of his cage and see the shady trees he loves . . . the woods are all his sorrow calls for, for the woods he sings with his sweet tones.”


No matter what bends a branch down, soon as that weight is gone, does it not spring up again?


“Phœbus sinks into the western waves, but by his unknown track he turns his car once more to his rising in the east.”

Conclusion: “All things must find their own peculiar course again, and each rejoices in his own return. Not one can keep the order handed down to it, unless in some way it unites its rising to its end, and so makes firm, immutable, its own encircling course. And you too, creatures of the earth, do dream of your first state, though with a dim idea. With whatsoever thinking it may be, you look to that goal of happiness . . .”
(Read Part 1, Part 2)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny, Tiny Little

death-trap of spidery . . . death.
I nearly stepped into it!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

True Happiness (part 2): "What Is Happiness, Anyway?"

We talk and hear much about happiness today but what is happiness that so many are eager to pursue it? What is unhappiness? How does one know if he or she is unhappy if one does not know what happiness is? What words or terms come to mind when thinking of happiness? Delight. Joy. Freedom from care, pain, sorrow, want. Contentment. I don’t like how the dictionary defines happiness: “the state of being happy.” That doesn’t tell me what happiness is.
  • Is happiness a destination or a by-product? 
  • Is happiness a choice?
  • Is happiness good health? 
  • Is happiness a person? or people? 
  • Is happiness a warm donut? A warm puppy? A Warm Gun?
[Original song from The Beatles' White Album]

In Book 3, Prose 2 of Boethius’ “Consolation of Philosophy,” The Love of Wisdom (“philosophy”, personified as a lady in white) defines happiness as “a state which is made perfect by the union of all good things.” A much better definition. In other words, happiness is attaining the highest good. Written in the 400’s AD, Boethius reveals the question of happiness is an ancient one. Mankind across time in every culture has been pursuing happiness, each one on his or her own path to find it.

If The Love of Wisdom ("philosophy") is correct, then it would be right to say that mankind has a built-in desire acquire happiness, apprehend of that which is truly good. The problem is that man gets lost when he considers the many possible paths. Which should he choose?
  • Does money bring happiness? 
  • Or admiration or perhaps places honor? 
  • Maybe happiness is found in power. 
  • Or in fame, glory.
  • Or in pleasure. 
Whatever happiness is, mankind has been looking for ages and each man or woman has his or her own desire, their own reason for wanting it. Whatever happiness is, that pull that makes us hunt it down is powerful. It is a force of nature. We may disagree on what happiness is and we may disagree on how happiness may be secured, but we all agree that happiness must be so incredibly good, some kind of "highest good," that every person should have it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

On Happiness and Possessions. Introductory Thoughts On The Subject of True Happiness (part 1)

“Is this your first entrance upon the stage of life? Are you come here unprepared and a stranger to the scene? Think you that there is any certainty in the affairs of mankind, when you know that often on swift hour can utterly destroy a man?” (Beothius, "Consolation of Philosophy," Book 2, Prose III)*

The allegorical “Lady Philosophy” sitting on the edge of despairing Boethius’ bed asks if he just fell off the proverbial turnip wagon. He’s not a young man (most likely middle-aged) who has been digging himself an emotional hole from which “the love of wisdom” is trying to raise him. He’s up to his proverbial eyeballs in a veritable “slough of despond,”** the quicksand of despair, worrying over his loss of fortune. Truth be told, that’s the way the big wheel spins when it comes to fortune.

“Wheel goes round, landing on a leap of fate
Life redirected in ways unexpected
Sometimes the odd number wins
The way the big wheel spins”

(Rush, “The Big Wheel”)

Lady Philosophy tells Boethius truthfully why he’s not happy as he is “paying the penalty for your mistaken expectations.” He has not lost his fortune at all! His wife’s father is distraught over his son-in-law’s unjust captivity, his wife longs for her husband and his sons are successful! “Fortune’s hatred has not yet been so great as to destroy all your holds upon happiness: the tempest that is fallen upon you is not too great for you: your anchors hold yet firm and they they should keep ever nigh to you confidence in the present and hope for future time.” (Prose IV)

Yet Lady Philosophy reveals an inescapable fact regarding happiness: “either its completeness never appears, or it never remains.” (Prose IV) One man has abundant wealth but his birth or breeding give him shame; Another man is famous for being nobly born but is without abundant wealth. A third man has wealth and good breeding but is without wife. A fourth man is happily married but is without children and has no heir. A fifth man has children but they bring him shame. “So none is readily at peace with the lost his fortune sends him . . the feelings of the most fortunate men are the most easily affected . . . so small are the troubles which can rob them of complete happiness.” Does this mean happiness is impossible? Or is man to simply be content with misery?

Man is given one possession that is key to his happiness: “If then you are master of yourself, you will be in possession of that which you will never wish to lose, and which Fortune will never be able to take from you.” In other words, happiness comes from a made-up mind and not from the supposed randomness found in the mechanics of the Universe. No, the machine grinds and the Fortune will never be attained due to uncertainty, as it exists outside the person.

Riches merely change hands, especially after one is dead, so riches cannot bring happiness. Riches wear out the man who accumulates. Precious stones are attractive, but they do not need a man in order to be brilliant. All of creation is beautiful and does not require man to view it; besides, “Fortune will never make yours what Nature has made to belong to other things.” Of all that man reckons would bring him happiness, not a single one actually belong to him. Like the saying goes: “you can’t take it with you.”

So what does a man have to bring happiness? “Cease then to seek the wealth you have lost. You have found your friends, and they are the most precious of all riches.”

Chris understood this.

End Part 1

*All quotes are from Boethius, Book 2.

** to borrow from Bunyan--or does Bunyan borrow from Boethius, as the latter precedes the former by nearly 1000 years?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Only From The World of Pure Imagination

I don't know about you, but I'll never watch this scene the same way again. How musical! How lyrical! The rhythm of the scene! What genius!

(ht: Boing Boing)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Distractions From Consolation

The Consolation Of Philosophy” is in some ways a familiar story: an innocent man is unjustly convicted and executed. What makes his story unlike so many other is that, among other writings, he gives us a kind of journal of how he received consolation while waiting to die. Written in the 6th Century AD, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius left a legacy of instruction fit for the life-long learner.

Encyclopedia Britannica
Face a-dew with tears, Boethius lamented his condition--he lost everything and was awaiting execution. As nothing could save him from his situation, was there any hope for his languishing spirit? Philosophy appears to him in a vision in the form of a nurse and sitting on the end of his bed, applies a healing balm to his weary soul by helping him remember foundational truths he appears to have forgotten. Like the farmer expecting a crop, he may have to find another means of sustenance, as it were, as lamenting will not help a fallow ground to grow a crop. As if collecting flowers and herbs, one does not search for the blooms of the field under the cover of the woods should he? Everything has a season, in it’s time. There’s an order to follow and sometimes one must wait, try again, or look somewhere else. But if a plant is growing and the hope of a harvest is plain to see, why would one cut if off? This is principally what Boethius was doing. No wonder he was depressed.

Philosophy (personified as a woman) was a brilliant psychologist for the lover of wisdom (the true philosopher) must nurture his soul. Boethius had not been doing that (what did Socrates say about the unexamined life?). The allegorical Lady Philosophy points out that Boethius has forgotten who he was so it should come as no surprise that he should sit in the proverbial darkness staring at the proverbial ground. “You are overwhelmed by this variety of mutinous passions: grief, rage, and gloom tear your mind asunder, and so in this present mood stronger measures cannot yet come night to heal you,” she says. He is distracted and deceived by his emotions and by a dream of things he cannot have (“fortune”). When she arrived, he was sitting with the muse of Poetry in tears; in effect, he maintained his own emotional wreckage by feeding his distress with dark and misguided feelings, thinking this would be the best for himself. Lady Philosophy observes, “How much I wonder how it is that you can be so sick though you are set in such a health-giving state of mind!”

There are only hints that the writer substituted the virtues of wisdom for the wealth of knowledge, replacing soundness of mind with the teachings of Epicurus and the Stoics, whose ideas still thrive to this day. The Epicureans believe we should “live by chance,” doing anything and everything that feels good. Just pursue happiness and be happy in that pursuit. Do your own thing, just don’t hurt anyone or interfere with someone else’s happiness. The Stoics thought we should “live by luck” by accepting things as they are--don’t fight your circumstances but pay attention to where they take you. Trust your feelings.

Lady Philosophy speaks truth: there is no light when stars are hidden by black clouds. Still water is clear like glass, but blow the wind and it becomes impenetrable and dark. Don’t let your joy die, put away your fear, let false hope go and stop grieving! “Where these distractions reign, the mind is clouded o’er, the soul is bound in chains.” The Universe is not randomly guided nor does it operate by chance. Enjoying the harvest of crops requires the order of seasons, so there is an order and a time for everything and a great designer behind it all.

There is a time and place for feelings and every man's fortune is his own but they must be coupled with wisdom. Wisdom keeps the emotions from wandering aimlessly and getting lost in the vast territory of the unknown. Fortune, that is, that which becomes the purpose of life is not without a guide otherwise fate would be cruel and unfair. Wisdom is the foundation of contentment and good judgment.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Burpee Fields

Look carefully and you can see where the bodies fell . . .
and got back up again . . . and again .  . . and again

MARSOC Short Card (modified)

15 Push-ups
30 Air squats
30 Sit-ups
10 Burpees
10 Windmills
15 Push-ups
30 Mountain climbers (2-count)
30 Flutter kicks
10 Burpees
10 Cherry pickers (4-count)
15 Push-ups
30 Star jumpers (or jumping jacks)
30 Back Extensions ("Supermans")
10 Burpees
10 Chain breakers
15 Push-ups
30 Walking Lunge Steps
30 "Hello dollies"
10 Burpees
10 Trunk twists


I'll just leave this here.

ht: Open Culture

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Plato's "Crito" (or "To Do Or Die?")

While imprisoned and awaiting execution for curiosity, for teaching and for not believing the same gods as other Greeks, Socrates was visited by Crito early one morning and Crito had an offer: bribe the guards and escape! One wonders how long the 70 year-old man had to think it over because in the end, he went on to his execution. This is important because if he took Crito’s offer and escaped, a domino effect would have started and the world as we know it would not exist in the form of the absence of Plato. Socrates had to die and the reasons he gives are worth investigating. Plato's "Crito" is a short read.


First, Socrates discourages the bribing of the guards on the grounds that two wrongs don’t make a right. “[W]e ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone, whatever evil we may have suffered from him.” Yes, there are problems in that an innocent man is condemned to death, but what happens to the integrity of a man if when he disagrees with an evil that he responds with an evil? This principle is so absolute these very words appear almost verbatim nearly 500 years later in the writings of The Apostle Paul and Peter (Romans 12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9*). Crito felt his reputation was at stake if he stood by and let Socrates be executed, but Socrates saw the bigger picture and by going ahead with his death, saved Crito from compromising his integrity by making the bribes.


Second, Socrates provides three reasons as to why he should remain in prison, the first being a metaphor of the State acting as his parent. His actual parents were legally wed by the laws of the State, he was born into the State and educated by the State. In effect, the State gives him identity, so if he were to escape, he would be disobeying his parent, the State. The second reason to stay in prison and go on to death is that the State has been generous, so what gratitude does he show by running away? The final reason is that by receiving the sentence of death, Socrates entered into an agreement with the State--and everyone should keep their agreements. Escape would be in violation to the agreement. Besides, what power remains in the State if he flees his prison?


Socrates not only wants Crito to maintain integrity by making the right actions and right decisions, but also wants the show the citizens of Athens the picture of an upstanding citizen. There may be issues regarding laws, but Socrates’ point (which may lead to another entry on the subsequent debate) is simply this: respect for the law ensures that everyone does their part for the state.

One wonders if this was a common teaching, of not repaying evil for evil, for it pre-dates King Solomon who lived roughly 500 years before Socrates. Solomon included this saying in his collection of Proverbs.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Balance Of The Arts

January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated the 35th President of the United States. At the inauguration, poet Robert Frost read his poem, "The Gift Outright"

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

January 29, 1963, Robert Frost died. The impact "The Gift Outright" made on JFK was so significant that on October 26, 1963, Kennedy delivered a speech at Amherst College at an event held in honor of Frost. While on the surface one may hear Kennedy underscore the role of the arts in regards to a nation. But don't miss the fact that here is a world leader embodying the very subject on which he spoke. The poet-statesmen are gone. 

Gone are the days when our leaders prove they understand the human spirit by how they embody, even enjoy the arts. The arts provide balance to the business of man whether his business be as grand as government or as small as the rule of the home. Kennedy explains how.

Here are Kennedy's remarks again, describing the role of poetry and the arts in government, or all that man puts his hand to do, for that matter:

"Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment . . . And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having 'nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.'”

All this sounds very familiar when considers the role of the philosopher regarding society.

(ht: Open Culture)

Monday, May 08, 2017

True Philosophy

“Philosophy” literally means, “love of wisdom” (philos = love; sophos = wisdom) and all the true philosopher wants to do is accomplish the mission set before him: to see others love wisdom too. He must speak truth. That “philosophy” has come to mean “the nature of knowledge” (as now defined in our textbooks) indicates an extraordinary shift away from the essence of what true philosophy is. Those who study the nature of knowledge actually practice “philognosis” and are hardly philosophers at all.

According to Socrates, the task of the philosopher in speaking the truth is to examine life, questioning the answers (not answer the questions); in other words, test the presuppositions. The differences are staggering. The philosopher wants to see people improved so that society is improved, in turn. This means “philosophy” is much more than a subject to study or a technique of clarification. The philosopher is concerned for mankind and struggles to find meaning.

“Apology” can be a complicated word, for one use communicates realization of inadequacy, regret by acknowledging a failure, repentance. One hears in “Socrates’s Apology,” the emphatic “I do not repent concerning my defense”--so why does Plato title this “Socrates’s Apology” if he is not sorry for anything? Socrates communicates to his judges that should they decide to put him to death, they are the ones who will be sorry. There’s a play on words in Socrates's statement which sets the tone for the entirety of the “Apology” for this is not a translated word, but a transliterated word meaning “a defense.” Literally defined, an “apology” is a speech of “putting off” (apo = away; logos = words/logic). So, what’s going on? 

"La Mort de Socrate" by French painter Jacques-Louis David in 1787
Socrates is accused of crimes punishable by death: misleading young people and inciting ungodliness, atheism, which in his case means “denying the state deities.” What Socrates gives in his defense is not only proof of innocence of any crime but also a demonstration of what a person or people will do to escape truth, which in this case means “kill the truth-teller, the lover of wisdom.” In this proof, Socrates indirectly exposes his judges along with everyone who consents and participates, lovers of foolishness.

But why? Why would anyone be so zealous for wisdom that he would die? What is wisdom? One might say wisdom is simply the discerning way of life.

In this defense, Socrates recalls how he heard that a certain individual asked the Oracle at Delphi if there was any man wiser than Socrates. When word got back to Socrates of this revelation, he put the proclamation to the test since he does not consider himself to be wise. He searched for someone wiser amongst the politicians, artists and poets and found none. But God (whoever that is to Socrates) has spoken through the Oracle, so the statement must be true. He calls his prosecutors to consider “the word of God . . . [for] God [whoever that is to Socrates] who cannot lie . . only is wise.” If there is any person wiser than he, then it must be a divine person. This becomes important when he defends himself against atheism, proving he believes “in a higher sense than that in which any of my accusers believe in them.”

Socrates plainly states that, “God [whoever that is to Socrates] orders me to fulfill the philosopher’s mission of searching into myself and other men, [if] I were to desert my post through fear of death or any other fear, that would be strange . . . “ As much as he loves his fellow Athenians, he chooses to obey God (whoever that is to Socrates) and “shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy . . . and I believe that to this day no greater good has ever happened in the state than my service to the God.” He will come right out and say it: Socrates sees himself as God’s gift to the state to prevent his fellow man from becoming apathetic and complacent, like a stinging fly. And what does anyone do when bitten by a bug, but swat at it.

Loving knowledge is much different than loving wisdom. The wise man keeps his mind open, to learn, to “entertain a thought without accepting it” as Aristotle would later say. Wisdom is discerning, leading to what is right and excellent and good for all. Yet history records many incidents of those who surrendered their lives for truth at the hands of people who cannot and will not tolerate truth, making themselves out to be fools.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Time Is . . .

Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not.

(Henry Van Dyke, 1852 - 1933)

photo: Columbia Metropolitan Airport, 5/3/2017

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Highest Love

The beauty of poetry is deep expression in ways that simple narrative does not permit. As simple as a haiku or elaborate as the heroic epic, poetry speaks to the heart in a language only the inner-most being can understand. Stories merely fill the ear (in the oral tradition) or strain the eye (in the written mode). 

A 16th Century Spanish mystic wrote a series of poems, one of which was so beautiful, so sensual, so simple that he was pressed to explain his work. He wrote two entire books (over three hundred pages, translated into English) clarifying, even teaching, from his poem. 

I make no attempt to explain "The Dark Night Of The Soul" (if the author had to write entire books, then a paragraph won't suffice) except to say that is perhaps the most human of any spiritual work, drawing a picture of desire found in the expression of the purest love imaginable. The range of emotion includes desire, excitement, happiness, hope, rapture, ecstasy, gentleness, and surrender. Thomas Moore observes a kind of pain hidden behind all these emotions and suggests that the main voice--The Lover--craves union with The Beloved over healing and deliverance from that pain. 

Since it's publication in the mid-1500's, many have dedicated their lives to studying the writings of St. John Of The Cross, seeking this mystical experience of love so divine that one feels they could lift to the Heavens and finally know what is unknown on earth. 

Here is a translation of "Dark Night Of The Soul":

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

Since poetry and music enjoy their own mystical union, here is the poem set to music. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Happy Cinco De Mayo

Since Cinco De Mayo always follows May the Fourth . . .
Have a good one!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Bucket List: Pacific Crest Trail

Not many items on my Bucket List, but here's a peek at one of them: hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Or any portion of it (mostly the northern).

Described as "the wild and scenic path from Mexico to Canada" this 2,659 mile trail starts in the California desert, moves over a grand total elevation change of 420,880 feet through Oregon and ends in E.C. Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada. The highest point is over 13,000 feet.

This guy did it and put together a nice seven-minute video of 2600 miles. What an amazing contrast from beginning to end.

(ht: Boing Boing)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Thoughts on Plato's "Meno"

Plato’s “Meno” is a fun read. Meno (μένω), whose name means, “abide” or “stay” describes a student who wants to learn, and Socrates seems to enjoy interacting with an open mind. Contrast this against “Euthyphro,” were Socrates plays with an arrogant man like a killer whale plays with his food. Meno is not a terribly long read and should be done with pencil in-hand for it helps to make marginal notes (true for all interactive reading). Two major subjects are treated in this work, with perhaps a third as it relates to “forms,” but we will treat only one here presently, that being the subject of virtue.

Meno wants to know if virtue (Ἀρετή, “arete”-- also translates as “excellence”) can be taught. What is virtue (excellence)? The beauty of Socrates is that when asked a question, he always assumes ignorance and through dialogue intends to search out an answer (in short, the second subject discussed in “Meno” is the subject of learning, where Socrates holds that since the soul is immortal and we already know everything, what we call “learning” is merely “remembering”). So Meno the student becomes Meno the teacher, providing Socrates with a definition that gets put to the test. Meno defines virtue as . .. well, he doesn’t. But they come close and Socrates has fun with the boy (one assumes he’s a boy).  “Even someone who was blindfolded would know from your conversation that you are handsome and still have lovers.” That's rich!

No matter how hard they try (and they do try), they just can’t seem to define virtue (“excellence”). They are able to explore things that are considered virtuous, but the rock-bottom answer they seek is elusive. One fact they can agree on is the answer to their question formed a different way: is virtue acquired (as in by learning) or is it a gift (something given)? You'll have to read to find the answer.

Regardless, this dialogue returns us back to the age-old dilemma regarding trying to discover "what is right" and "what is good." We may disagree on the particulars of what is "right" and what is "good," but we all agree there is this thing called "right" and this thing called "good." We know that leadership or housekeeping can be done with excellence, but what is it exactly? We know . . . but we don't. And that's Socrates' point. We don't fully understand until we sit down and talk it out. The answer is there. Find it. 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Star Wars and Sgt. Peppers Mash-ups. Perfect.

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" turns 50 this year.

This is awesome.

And there are more videos!

(ht: Boing Boing)

Monday, May 01, 2017

Thoughts on Plato's "Euthyphro"

What is “right”? What is “good”? How do you know if what you are doing is right? What is the measure of “good”? Age old problems, age old questions. Nearly four hundred years preceding the birth of Jesus, a Greek priest and a philosopher wrestled with these issues. Specifically, they discussed the matter of piety. What is piety? That’s the beauty of this conversation.

Meeting at Magistrate court, the priest wondered what the philosopher was doing there. The philosopher explains he is being indicted for corrupting the younger generations by rejecting the state gods and replacing them with his own. [I can't resist posting a clip from one of most favorite movies of all time, ever, "Fun With Dick and Jane" . . . I could loop this movie and never tire of it.]

Back to serious. 

What was the priest doing in court? He is prosecuting his father for killing a man who killed another man. How does piety fit into all this? The priest feels he is able to press his case on the grounds that he knows more about divine matters than most men and his prosecution is an act of piety. One can almost picture the philosopher (Socrates) stroking his chin thinking, “oh, really?” Socrates puts Euthyphro (Εὐθύφρω, pronounced “U-thif-ro”) to the test by asking this pompous know-it-all to teach him all he knows about piety, starting with a definition and despite every effort, the priest simply cannot do it.

One feature of the conversation that should not go missed hinges on the reason Socrates is being indicted: he “thinks” and there is no room for this in a pantheon of ancient gods. This is important because Euthyphro is convinced he knows all there is to know about what pleases the gods. First, Socrates rejects Euthyphro’s first definition of piety saying, “you did not teach me adequately . . . but you told me what you that what you are doing now, prosecuting your father for murder, is pious.” There are many pious actions. Next, the priest says, “what is dear to the gods is pious.” Socrates reminds Euthyphro that the gods are known to quarrel with one another, but if they can’t agree on what is beautiful, good and just, then what is dear to them? Zeus may approve of the prosecution, but what if Kronos or Uranus disapprove? The conversation wanders about like a wind-up toy and Socrates (this writer imagines) enjoys watching the man talk himself into revealing his own ignorance. By the way, “Euthyphro” in Greek means, “think in a straight line.”

A major portion of the conversation centers on the question: what do the gods love? If it is the pious, then the gods must not love the impious. Do the gods love the pious because it is something to be loved, or is it being loved because they love it? If sacrifice (giving gifts to gods who already have all they need) and prayer (begging from the gods for what is needed) is piety, then piety is merely a trading skill between gods and men. Euthyphro prosecutes his father for murder because the priest is religious. It’s too bad in the end that the priest literally runs off leaving Socrates ignorant.

What is “right”? What is “good”? How do you know if what you are doing is right? What is the measure of “good”? Socrates gives a hint very early when he begs for an absolute by which to compare all things. We must know what that is because we all agree that something can be called “right” or “good.” We may not agree on what is beautiful, but we all know there exists a thing called “beauty.” I think this measuring tool is connected with the conscience (“con” meaning “with”; and “science” meaning “knowledge”).

Read "Euthyphro" online here.

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