Tag Archives: wisdom

Resolving resolved issues

The thing about your life flashing before your eyes is the real deal, except it doesn’t flash and it doesn’t wait until the last minute so’s to have to rush around and maybe forget something.  But if you get into your 70s and have any memory left, I can promise you you’ll find yourself re-living all the tiny events of your life you thought nothing about at the time.   Then, a few nights or months or maybe years later, doing it again, and remembering you’ve done it, remembered it before this time.

For instance, I was thinking the other night about an incident on the playground when I was in the fourth grade in grammar school.   It was an incident I’ve written about here involving a kid named Winkie Hodges, and another named Keith Kelt.  [They still call him Winkie – posted July 29, 2014]

But this time I was remembering it all in a different context.   I was thinking about several of us who were around at that time, but who lived to a ripe old age.   One died a few months ago – Eddie Hiner – and I was thinking about how surprised we would have been back then if someone had told us, “Hey kid…..let me flash your life before your eyes [the way it gets flashed backward nowadays but faster] and give you a look at what you think as an old man was valuable about your life.   What was worth doing.   What was worth remembering.

I don’t think it would have changed much about our lives, but we’d probably have shuddered some and figured it was a nightmare.    Everything I thought I wanted out of life back then, everything I thought made life worth living, got replaced and eroded so many times I should have realized a lot sooner how little difference any of it actually made.

The area between this old 1890s house I live in and the next one over is all grass.   We’ve been told they’re going to let us put in a ‘community garden’.   Got my fingers itching to dig them around in some cow manure and soil.    Went out and bought a Roma and a Big Boy each tomatoes to put in the solarium porch… [one’s going to blossom tonight or tomorrow – but stumbling blocks keep showing up for starting to dig that community garden].

But my point is, breaking up a little dirt, putting some seeds down, it’s probably as important ans anything I’ve ever done this lifetime, and that’s just fine.   In fact, I’d count it as important as anything anyone I knew this lifetime ever did, too [at least anything they did that I knew about].

So I’m wondering how everything came to be so complicated back then.   How Winkie, and Eddie Hiner, and Keith, and all those other kids ever came to believe there was something we could do that didn’t involve turning over some dirt, squeezing in some cow manure, and putting some seeds in the ground, that was going to produce something of lasting value.

In those days it was a given that old people were where you’d find wisdom.  By hindsight I tend to think wisdom escaped them, too.

The old men in that photo at the top of this post were out there at that time, doing what they’re doing in the photo.    I’m thinking they probably knew that thing about putting seeds in the ground and cowshit..

But they weren’t telling.

Old Jules

Philosophy by limerick: We never got it

This was first posted with a different title August 6, 2012

A wisdom akin to a curtain
Finds septuagenarians certain
Their egocentristic
Self-seeking, simplistic
Pronouncements could cure all that’s hurtin’.

Old Jules

Oh wisdom, where is your sting?

mr midnight 3

Hi readers.    Thanks for the visit.

Let’s be honest for once.     We’ve spent our entire lives believing that at any given moment we were insightful, wise, generally smarter than the people around us of all ages.     We’ve always been able to look backward at the people we were a decade ago, several decades ago, and recognize our younger folly, know we were wrong back then when we believed we were wise.

But we never manage to take the next step of reasoning or realization to recognize what applies to ourselves in the past still applies.    Yes, even as then, when we believed wrongly in our wisdom, our ‘rightness’, probably a decade from now we’ll again view ourselves more realistically.

So why does this matter?    Because today, more than any time in my lifetime, the population of this country is polarized…. politically, economically, socially, even by age, and our certainties about all sorts of issues drive irreconcilable wedges constantly deeper between us.    A huge, vocal piece of the US population has a death grip on one or another set of beliefs so deliberately diametrically opposed to  non-believers, other viewpoints, that there’s no room left for a loyal opposition.

This is comparatively new…….. I personally believe it is a consequence of a lot of phenomena not the least of which is talk radio on the one side, and television on the other.

Does anyone really believe this country can long survive the kind of scorn and hatred the factions of the population riding one ideology or another, spewing accusations and buzzword defamation at one another?

I personally do not.    I believe that that this divisiveness being constantly solidified and enlarged within the population and electorate is conscious and deliberate.   But I suspect those behind it don’t possess any more reliable wisdom than the rest of us.   And the ability of human beings to prognosticate accurately is no better now than it was the day the Germans invaded Poland, or the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  The day LBJ announced the Gulf of Tonkin incident knowing it was false.   The day the Watergate burglars brought down a presidency.   Ad infinitum.

The simple fact is, despite the fact somewhere human beings are capable of designing and manufacturing automobiles, computers, digitized cameras, put men into space, build skyscrapers and drill holes miles deep,  none of us are all that smart.   Almost none of us can do any of those things, nor much of anything else.   Somewhere else, someone else does those things.    Mostly we just shuffle papers, lay carpets, hang sheetrock, sell things to one another, flip hamburgers, do things with money.

But somehow it doesn’t exempt us from believing we, individually [and probably collectively] are smarter than the leaders of Japan when they decided to attack Pearl Harbor.  Or smarter than Lyndon Johnson when he decided to announce to the world that US warships had been attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Know why?   Here’s a hint:    The reason we believe we are smarter than LBJ or the rulers of Japan in 1941 is not the product of our individual wisdom.

Thanks for coming by for a read.

Old Jules

The men at Eva’s Boarding House, Houston, Texas, 1967

metropolitan 2

Hi readers.  There must have been 20 of us staying at Eva’s for $20 a week.  Two meals a day and a bed, usually 2-3 guys to a room.  All the rooms were sectioned off with imaginary boundaries so each renter had a footlocker and place to hang his clothes, shared a shower and john.

We were welders, mechanics, service station attendants, short order cooks, construction workers and day laborers.  Eva made sure we all had jobs, before she’d rent to anyone.  She ran a high quality place and didn’t want any riffraff staying there.  And most of us stayed.  During the year I lived there only a few moved on, only a rare new guy came in.

So we all got to know one another, became a mealtime community of sorts.  Mostly hung out nights at the bar next door called the Buckhorn.  We were almost all veterans, by hindsight I’d say we were headed to an alcoholic future if we kept on the way we were going.  But we were America.  Young guys between 20 and 30 years old, all white, all working hard and assuming that was how a person lives.

Naturally most of us thought about women a lot, tried to pick up women anytime they came into the Buckhorn.  Flirted with Eva when we got a chance.  Told one another stories about women we knew, women where we’d been, women we’d been in the sack with, women we couldn’t get into the sack.

A few of the guys at Eva’s were divorced, and I recall one from Victoria or Wharton who was still married and went off weekends to see his family.  The rest of us mostly hung out in bars or tried to womanize however we could.  Around that time I began dating my [now] ex-wife in Port Lavaca and spending the weekends down the coast.

We guys at Eva’s couldn’t care less about politics.  Lyndon Johnson was president, the Vietnam War was raging, and it was none of our business.  We wanted to drink a lot and we wanted women.

One day during the evening meal someone said a shop had opened further down Alabama Street where the sold dirty books and had machines you could put a quarter into.  He said they actually showed people screwing in those machines.  Movies showing people screwing for a quarter.

Most of us were skeptical.  That sort of thing would get a person in jail, we speculated.  So after supper we all headed down there, walking along Alabama Street, laughing and joking, poking one another in the ribs.  Into the first porn shop in Houston, Texas.

A lot of quarters went into those machines that night.  And on the way home, at
meals for days afterward it was the dominating subject of conversation.
Wondering how those people were getting by with showing that.  Wondering what kind of people the women were, whether they were hookers, strippers, or just regular women.

Most of the guys figured they were strippers and hookers. Figured the place was
run by off-duty cops so’s to allow it to stay open.  Shows how the world has
matured since 1967.

We guys at Eva’s had been around the block, been overseas, most of us.  Served in the military.  Hung around with hookers, drank, gambled and drove too fast.  While drunk sometimes.  We thought we knew a lot.  And we knew nothing.

I never saw any of those guys again after I got married in August that year for the next 25 years.  I’m betting they all went right on through life thinking they knew a lot, same as we’d thought back at Eva’s.  I certainly did.  A lot of what I knew I learned from those guys at Eva’s.  Or at least a piece of it.  And none of us knew anything for me to learn from.  We wee a bunch of ignorant normal people.

We thought the women in those porn videos were different from other women.  Different from the women we knew, except maybe hookers we knew.  There was no way we could have guesseed they were probably just regular women who decided they wanted to give that a try and weren’t ashamed, browbeaten, frightened by public opinion into not doing it.

Likely some were fair to middling good people.

But we guys down at Eva’s Boarding House hadn’t lived long enough to understand this world is a complicated place for human beings.  It’s bad about keeping the cards close to the cuff.

Old Jules

Jesse Winchester – The courage to do what’s right

Hi readers:

Probably most of you don’t remember Jesse Winchester.  He was a somewhat obscure singer and guitar picker who had the courage, savvy and ethical commitment to go to Canada when he got called to be drafted instead of serving in a war he knew was wrong.

The Learn to Love It album was the best he ever did and it came at a time when neanderthals were waving flags and banners saying, America – Love it or Leave it!

Jesse never whined about the consequences of his patriotism.

He’s dead from cancer of the goozle today.

Thank you for your service, Jesse.


Pondering the dearth of cumulative human wisdom

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read. 

I’m still muddling along with God Knows, by Joseph Heller, but he’s got me thinking about a lot of things somewhat unrelated to his own theme.  So what’s below inevitably has roots, both in the OT, and in Heller’s recreation of Hebrew history and the Bible through the eyes of King David.

So this is going to be me, Old Jules aka wossname, Jack, mulling this over.  Not King David, not Heller, not even God in the sense you’re most likely to define the concept.

I’ll get into this thing about cumulative human wisdom, but first I’d just like to confide to you how much better I’d feel if God weren’t so sneaky and cagey about his real name in his dealings with those old time Hebrews.  What the hell is that all about?  Who is He afraid they’ll find out he really is?

I'm not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

I’m not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

And if they did know who God really is, how’s He scared they’d think less of Him in the knowing of it?  After all, it ain’t as though God was putting on any airs in his dealings with them.  Never makes any attempt to explain himself, elevate himself in the eyes of his Chosen People. 

Just go back and read the OT.  How he treats Moses, sheeze, Job,  King David, Adam and Eve, even Cain and Abel.  And inconsistent, uneven-handed so consistently as to assure nobody’s going to acquire any wisdom from any of it.

Call me paranoid, but I think there’s more to this side stepping and dodging the true identity with a name stamped into the dogtags than those ancient Hebrews imagined, that anyone since has explained sufficiently to argue He might have been Anyone, but particularly some located in the vicinity of Greece and Rome before too much more time passed.

So you end up with an ancient religion and storybook to accompany it preserved from a language with a vocabulary of 88 words, 17 of which are pseudonyms for the name of God, and not one of those 17 believed by those using them in spoken words to be the actual name of the party of the first part.

But I’ve digressed. 

I was going to muse on why human beings are unable to acquire cumulative wisdom similarly to the way technical knowledge assimilates.  About how it happens all these centuries have sneaked by and the King Davids are still capable of becoming so captured by passion as to compromise, destroy themselves.  About how Adonijahs then until now, rhetorically next in line for their thrones, their power, their wealth, still rape their sister Tamars and [at least] risk destroying themselves in the doing of it.  About how the Joabs all these centuries have coldly murdered in the name of governmental authority anyone standing in the way of their ambitions, always maintaining the moral high ground.

But I’ll have to save all that for another time, I reckons.

Old Jules aka Frank C. Riley

Bummer if that thing went off (from the drafts)

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Ever noticed how many people hang around discussion boards of every description watching for things they can tell other people NEVER to do?

NEVER play with matches! NEVER ride a bicycle with no brakes! NEVER point an acetylene torch at your face when you light it! NEVER try to get inside a tree shredder while it’s running!

I think there must be something about typing a command about never that feels validating, self-affirming. Telling people what they’ll either have better sense than to do anyway, or who will pay no attention and will do it anyway.

And the fact is, it could as easily be said in ways people might listen to because it wasn’t so offensive and presumptuously downtalking. How about, “Sure would be a big bummer for a person to get his hair caught in that fanbelt.” Something along those lines.

About the only response I can think of appropriate to the NEVER command is “NEVER say NEVER!”

Old Jules
Hi folks, Jeanne here.  That was from the unpublished drafts files…although it’s still possible that it was published and I just didn’t find it. So if it sounds familiar, let me know and I’ll be more careful pulling things out this way. There are 945 published posts on this blog, so I suppose you could just hit “random” and find something entertaining.

Fact is, Old Jules has an unstable phone line right now and can’t keep a connection long enough for the internet. It’s difficult to talk to him for more than a few minutes, although the breaks in the connection get fairly predictable. There’s a lot of repeating and frustration involved with a five minute conversation. But he did approve my putting up this old draft and an update.

Yes, but how is he, you ask.  Well…he’s not in the hospital. He sounds real good.  He’s got almost zero energy.  Drinking Caisse’s tea. Blood oxygen level normal. Blood pressure fluctuating. Reading a lot, generally staying warm and fed. Trying not to get dehydrated or winded. Although he’s isolated, Gale and his neighbor check on him from time to time and some others of us call him frequently and freak out (me)  if for some reason he doesn’t answer the phone (usually it’s on the charger).
I suspect it was pneumonia that caused things to deteriorate to the point where he went to the hospital. While treating him for that, they found other stuff to alert him about, and he’s tackling those in order of importance as he sees it.
A couple of us are standing by to take care of the cats if he decides to, or needs to, go back in for the rest of the recommended testing. Gale is out of town on a fairly frequent basis, so we are trying to make sure some satisfactory solution is found for them. I would just drive down there and get them, but 800 miles doesn’t allow for him to get them back easily when things settle down, so that’s not the first choice.
So basically, he’s resting a lot and trying to get his energy back, and I’m preoccupied with keeping tabs on him and passing on updates as needed.
When I can keep my head on straight, I’ll see if I can’t pull some posts out of the drafts from time to time, but I think my own blog is on hiatus for now.
Thanks, C.P., for sending the photo from last week.
And thanks again, everyone,  for all your kind thoughts.

Greenpeace, Sierra Club et al discovering world-shaking environmental crises as far as possible from Japan


Sign the petition.

Sign the petition.

Had you noticed that?  The dead silence until they could figure out something badbadbad happening they could yell about and pretend to investigate where the Japanese radiation wouldn’t fry their grandkids?

I’d wondered where they were on all this north Pacific stuff, them not uttering a word.  But it turned out they were following their Geiger counters to the point of diminishing returns, finding something threatening the environment where it’s safe to find it.

Old Jules

I’d love to have this guy for a neighbor

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming bvy for a read this morning.

I don’t have anything much to report, other than cat news, weather news, and various skeletons beating on the doors of the closets of my past life.  All of which are causes for unsettling consternation on my own part, but better left hanging out to dry until the moisture’s dripped out of them enough to allow me to make emotional sense of them.

So I’m going to introduce you to someone you mightn’t have encountered, might feel, as I do, you’d like to have him for a neighbor.  My personal experience with neighbors is that they’re mostly uninterested in anything I might have to say, except as it serves as a lead-in for something they wish to say.  Fred doesn’t appear to be much different in that respect.  You won’t get to say anything much back to him, which is typical of neighbors.

However, Fred differs, in that what he says is always interesting, thought provoking, almost never venal.  He doesn’t need anything I might say to lead in directions I find mind expanding and challenging.  Never inane and never boring:

Fred On Everything —
Scurrilous Commentary by Fred Reed

Making SenseA Guide to Our Times July 8, 2013
For reasons of voume and poor vision I cannot answer much of my email. I know that it is offensive to write and not get a response, but I can’t help it. My apologies.

In 1950 America was conservative, prosperous and, superficially anyway, happy. The war had been won. America had no competition of any kind anywhere. Calm prevailed. The races lived separately with little conflict. Men went to work and women stayed home to raise the kids. The schools saw their job as teaching reading, grammar, spelling, and arithmetic.

Divorce was almost unheard of, bastardy—as it could then be called—close to zero. Drugs, pornography, free love and perversion—as homosexuality was then said to be—were at most distant rumors. Perhaps they could be found in Paris and New York, where such exotics as William Burroughs and Henry Miller abode. These things were mere frissons around the edges.

But change came. Women wearied of substantially empty lives in the suburbs, making peanut butter sandwiches and perhaps secretly drinking themselves silly. They wanted to be lawyers and biologists. It made sense. No moral or legal principle prevented it. Men didn’t want to be Little League slaves, so why should women? The country could use their intelligence. Anyway, it was their business.

So women went wholesale into the workforce. Which meant wholesale out of the home. Thus the latchkeys came into being, unsupervised and wondering whether their parents cared.

Next it was thought desirable to make divorce easier. It was better for all concerned, the thinking ran, to end the union of miserably unhappy couples than to leave them to stew. It made sense. Who wanted to be forever unhappy? Before long, the rate of divorce hit fifty percent.

Pornography became acceptable. It made sense. There was the First Amendment. Besides, what right did a bunch of shriveled prudes in Boston or anywhere else have to tell me that I could not read Tropic of Cancer or The Naked Lunch or The Canterbury Tales? It was a matter of personal conscience. Soon you could see photos on the web of bleeding genitals pierced with fish hooks.

Next it was said that segregation amounted to South African apartheid, which it did, and that it inflicted grave disadvantages on blacks, which it did, and gave America a bad reputation in the world, which it did. So the Supreme Court ended segregation. It made sense. There followed racial hostility and endless problems as the races proved immiscible.

Sexual cohabitation came. Urbanization made it less conspicuous. The Pill made it safe. What was wrong with it? Surely a matter of personal conscience, it was better than leaping into an ill-advised marriage. It made sense. With college and graduate school delaying marriage, living together provided a needed sexual outlet.

Next the divorce courts took cognizance of the propensity of men, who were perverted, brutal, and unconcerned about their children, to wreak havoc if granted custody following the divorce. They had to be controlled. It made sense. Who wanted to sentence kids to that? The description of fathers was credible since it was attested by Lesbian feminists with no interest in either children or men. This ensured objectivity. Soon countless children were growing up without fathers in the care of mothers who couldn’t control them.

Bastardy came, being quickly softened to “illegitimacy.” The perky phrase “single mom” came into style in for whites and “love child” for blacks. It was said, reasonably enough, that nobody had the right to tell women when they could and could not reproduce. It made sense. Anyway, it was a matter of personal conscience. Soon the bastardy rate hit thirty percent among whites and close to eighty among blacks.

Homosexuality then changed from being a perversion to being an orientation, and gays, as they came to be called, came out of the closet. It made sense. Anal sex like any other kind was a question of personal conscience. What business did the government have in the bedroom? Gays were harmless and productive. If Lesbians tended to be disagreeable, they would be as much so in as out of the closet.

What with porn, the celebration of homosexuality, the pill, and relaxation of censorship, society became sexualized to a degree unimaginable in 1950. Scenes of copulation became common in film. But what was wrong with this? Sex, God knows, is natural. Everyone is interested in it. Who wants to live in a prissy atmosphere of Victorian repression? Soon middle-school girls were giving blow jobs to their boyfriends.

Homosexual marriage came. It made sense. Surely people of the same sex can love each other, and what business does society have in telling people who they can marry? It is a matter of personal conscience.

One might ask with an eye to the future, why not polygamy? It makes sense. The same arguments apply as well to it as to homosexual marriage, a point which has not been raised because there are more gays than Mormons. Polygamy is not a perversion, and has a long history in Christianity. Consider the wives of Solomon. Legalizing it makes sense.

Anyway, the schools became feminized, taught by mental dregs since all the smart women were now lawyers and biochemists. Having little interest in learning—the dull never do—they focused on inculcating Appropriate Thought and on turning little boys into little girls. In its way it made sense. Who wanted young Bobby to learn violence from dodge ball and grow up as a rapist and wife-beater?

Drugs? Almost unheard of in 1950, they came to be accepted by all regions of society. Soft drugs, such as grass and Prozac, flowed freely in respectable society. Acid was great fun. Why shouldn’t people use these reality-enhancers if they chose? It made sense. They did less harm than alcohol and tobacco, which were legal. Soon middle-school kids were selling crystal meth.

As it turned out, there were minor downsides to these sensible policies, but nothing serious. Our children are unattended drug-ridden mall rats, often divorce wreckage, our daughters sexually used at thirteen and growing up hating men, our sons drugged by their teachers and shaped into unhappy transgendered puzzloids. Men avoid marriage because of vindictive feminist courts, the young avoid marriage because of assured divorce. The schools and universities have been enstupidated to hide the failures of particular groups and genders, merit has been superseded by group identity, and here come the Chinese.

But it makes sense.

Lookee here what I’ve got! Lookee here what I did!

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Tabby: Lookee here what I’ve got!  Lookee here what I did!”

Me:  “Well, Tabby, whatever the hell it is you’ve got, evidently at least it ain’t rabies.  Which is more than I can say for most of the human species.  As for what you did, I admire the time you spent preparing a hole to do it in.  I’m awed by the cable you laid precisely into that hole.  And I’m impressed by the patience you demonstrated and the trouble you took covering it, afterward.”  More than I can say for the human species.


Humane Society Thrift Store cashier [to the old guy ahead of me wearing a ball cap declaring he was once a US Marine]:    “You were a marine?”

Old guy, standing a bit straighter:  “Yes.”

She: Well.  Thank you.  Thank you for ‘being there’.

Old guy:  “Um.”  To himself:  “Well, shit.  Why do you think I’m wearing the cap?  Never done anything else in my life anyone was likely to thank me for.  But I did shoot at some people nobody remembers once a long time ago.  Never figured out exactly why.  But if someone thinks that’s worth thanking me  for, I’ll try to believe them.”


Restaurant in town, two oldsters talking across a table.

Oldster #1:  “Look what they’re doing!  Voting themselves pay raises, benefits.  Giving everything away to the niggers and Mescins!”

Oldster #2: Sons of bitches.  They multiply like rabbits.  Now they’re getting to be voting age, controlling the government.  Half of them can’t even speak English.”

Oldster #1:  “Yeah, bastard Communists!  They don’t believe in democracy!”


Seems to me the great majority of the oldsters I come across, watch, listen to as they interact and try to maneuver around in life, are lost.  Are fools.  No better, no worse than me.  Fools, knowing they spent their lives chasing the illusion that the more shit they could acquire, the wiser they’d be thought to be by someone, somewhere.

Some aren’t well off, sure as hell nobody cares what they think about anything because they didn’t pass the test.  But then there are the others, walking around in golf shirts, loafers, trying to demonstrate by their cars, their bumper stickers, their personal bearing, that they passed the test.  That they know shit someone should want to hear.

Nobody wants to hear it.  Not the oldsters without anything, because they aren’t taking anymore tests.  Not the youngsters because there’s nothing they see to admire in those richer-than-18-inches-up-a-bull’s-ass oldsters.  Nothing they want to emulate except having more shit sooner than the oldsters got it.


Back before civilization kicked in, tribes and villages supposedly thought oldsters were wise, looked to them for guidance, gave them a role in things.  But all that went away when things got complex.  Politicians, aristocrats, academians and priests were assigned the roles oldsters had when things were simpler.

Probably not because politicians, aristocrats, academians and priests were better equipped with wisdom.  But because the oldsters had demonstrated they weren’t.

No smarter, no wiser than they are today.  Maybe it’s time to find some other cadre of fools to replace the politicians, aristocrats, adademians and priests, who’ve had their chance and come up wanting.

How about rappers?  Ganstas?  How about celebrities?  TeeVee stars and rock-and-rollers?  Bikers?

They might not be any good, but they ain’t going to be any worse.

And what they get mightn’t be rabies.