Tag Archives: wisdom

Book Review – Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

If any of you are bored, or maybe a bit ashamed hearing yourselves parrot to one another how much you hate Muslims, or Arabs, or one of the numerous other epithets you apply to people of Semitic ancestry without knowing a damned thing about them, you might find this a cleansing read.  [Long sentence, eh?]

I found it in a ‘free’ box in a thrift store held together by rubber bands, but there’s probably another read left in this copy.  If any of you can’t find a copy and want this one I’ll send it to you, rubber bands and all.

Lawrence was a young Englishman assigned early in WWI to go into the desert and try raising a rebellion among the Beduins against the Turkish Empire.  The allies were having an awful time with those Turks, getting themselves made monkeys of, their cannon-fodder reduced to cannon-fodder without seeing any positive results.  Someone got the idea a revolt in the background might help.

So young Lawrence found himself a camel and headed out to make friends of the tribes, to try arranging dissatisfaction among them.  To offer money, weapons, military advisors, explosives to weaken the back door to pesky Turkey.

Lawrence lived among them several years.  Became trusted by them, successfully stirred them into revolt, led them, came to respect and understand them.  Earned their trust, I should have said, to the extent any representative of a European power could be trusted.  And trusted them in a more-or-less realistic way.

These are his memoirs, his exploits, his observations about the people.  The events that came to be important as an influence on the future running right to the present.  And changed his entire perspective about loyalties, betrayals, patriotism and individual responsibility.

In some ways what happened to Lawrence is reminescent of what the Templars were accused of and slaughtered for by the European powers.  Becoming too familiar, dangerously understanding of the fabled, demonized enemy.

Lawrence could probably offer an Eighth Pillar of Wisdom if he’d survived until today and had a chance to offer his thoughts about what he’d see around him.

A worthy read, worth the rubber bands holding it together.  655 pages with introduction and remarks by his friend, George Bernard Shaw.

Old Jules

Philosophy by Limerick – Screw the Hired Help and Hamburger Flippers

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

Old Jules

The Occasional Crisis of Values – Philosophy by Limerick

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

Eavesdropping on a conversation between young adults at a nearby table in a restaurant Thursday led me into a lot of pondering afterward.  All these rosy-cheeked youngsters believed they had long lives ahead of them, believed a human life can be lived performing occupations and activities to give it value and meaning.   They wanted this for themselves and were searching the databases of wisdom available among the young for answers to where it might be found.

They didn’t want to waste their lives, as they believed their parents, other older folks they observed, were doing and have done.  They examined and discarded dozens of avenues of human endeavor as meaningless, having no worth. 

Buying and selling almost anything from automobiles to insurance to consumer products found no home with them.  Lawyering, law enforcement, engineering, health care, drew closer examination, but were found wanting.  They’d had been damned by close observation of these fields as manifested in their own homes and the homes of acquaintances.  

They’d seen the inside of the lives of people who spent their days doing these things, experienced their interactions with their children and other family members.  Judged the professions to be worthless as a way of passing time because the dysfunctional home lives of so many served as a testimony no relationship existed between earning an affluent lifestyle and anything admirable in personal behavior outside work environments. 

But underlying the entire conversation was the assumption some profession, some job, some means of earning a living, could provide value to their lives in ways they’d be able to recognize afterward.  The unspoken determination that when they reached, say, the age of that old cowboy-looking guy over there reading a book, they’d be able to look backward with confidence and satisfaction their lives had been worth the effort of living.

A few years from now they won’t be thinking of those things anymore, most likely.  They’ll become involved in trying to scratch out a living, satisfy a mate’s desire for a new car, trips to Europe, big house.  Keep kids in new clothing and whatever else people buy for their kids these days.  There’ll be no place left, no niche of yearning they’ll be able to allow.  The value of the lives they’re living will be manifested in the cars they drive.  The homes they sleep and entertain themselves inside.

By the time they arrive at the age of that old cowboy-looking guy over there they’ll be so far removed from concepts of life being worth living the default position will be a habit of thinking assigning it intrinsic value.  Worth prolonging at any cost, no matter how it’s been spent, how it’s currently being spent.

They’ll mercifully be spared asking themselves whether they’ve wasted their lives doing things that didn’t need doing, might well have left the world a better place if they hadn’t been done.

What’s important in life is official
Sign-painters declare, and initial,
“Portfolio sums
When we die, keep the bums
From the ponderous and superficial.”

Old Jules

Advice and Consent

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

Ring

Me:  Wassat?  The damned telephone?  Where the hell is it?  Ahh!  Under that.  Get off there, cat!

Ring. 

Me:  [scowling.  Into the phone.] This better be good.

Telephone:  Old Jules?

Me:  Who’s asking?

Telephone:  This is George Armstrong Custer MacGruder.  I’m calling for the president.

Me:  President of what?

Telephone:  President of the United States.

Me:  What?  The black guy?  Tell him I don’t vote.

Telephone:  He knows you don’t vote.

Me:  Then why the hell are you calling?

Telephone:  He reads your blog.  Hopes you’ll answer some questions.

Me:  I don’t want some president nosing around in my affairs.  I don’t stick my nose into his business.  He needs take care of whatever it is he does up there.

Telephone:  Nothing he’s tried so far is working.  He’s casting around for ideas.  desperate.

Me:  That’s laudable, anyway.  You’ve got the wrong number.  I don’t have any ideas.  Tell him to take up Zen.  Learn to use the I Ching.

Telephone:  I Ching?

Me:  Yeah.  The Book of Changes.  Chinese.  Divination.  Confucius.  All that.  The John Richard Lynn translation of Wang Bi’s the best one I’ve found.  Yarrow stick method.  Damned coins will throw you off.    Tell him to pay close attention to the changing lines.  You still there?

Telephone:  I’m taking notes.  Sorry.

Me:  Anything else you need?  I’ve got things to do here.

Telephone:  So you’re saying the President needs to consult an oracle?

Me:  You said nothing else is working didn’t you?

Telephone:  Can you think of any other advice you’d like to give the President?

Me:  I don’t give advice.  Except I advise you not to call me again.  I get pissed off sometimes when people bother me.

Telephone:  Could he send you an email?

Me:  As long as he’s not trying to sell anything, persuade me to vote, or ask my advice.

Telephone:  Thanks.

Me:  Sure.  Anytime.

Old Jules

About Trust and Knowing Other Humans

Originally posted on another blog Tuesday, October 24, 2006 

Maybe this is all bull, but it’s the most painless way I’ve ever found to view reality and my human co-conspirators here in this lifetime.  Riding the mudball around the star and watching the two-legged critters wade around the muck beside me hasn’t caused me to admire us as a species.

As for knowing other humans, we mostly don’t allow ourselves to ‘know’ anyone. Instead, we construct them as we wish them to be, assign a set of behaviors required of them.  Often the people we’re trying to hammer into our mold haven’t  agreed to try to satisfy these requirements.  Still, we count it a violation of ‘trust’ if they don’t perform according to the rules we created.

But, even if they told us they agreed to be what we wished them to be, (and they might have meant it when they did it) obeying contracts of that sort just aren’t part of the usual human machinery. The flesh is weak and time and circumstance erode the best of intentions.

Trusting human beings based on unrealistic contracts probably leads to more heartache than simply abandoning the concept of ‘trust’ and the demands that go with it, and adopting a consistent readiness to forgive and continue loving them. (With no joint checking accounts or shared credit cards).

Old Jules

Amazing Instant Pain Relief

From a previous blog entry a few years ago:

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Wow!  I just put out my eye with a nail-gun!  Thank you Lord (Universe, Goddess, Higher Self, Coincidence Coordinators, or whatever the person happens to hold sacred)!”

Probably you haven’t.  Not many people know it’s a profoundly effective way of causing pain to diminish or vanish entirely.

I usually don’t even remember to pass it on, though my Y2K and since friend, Jeanne,  has seen it work.  She might use it.

Try it.

  • Go find a hammer, put your thumb, thumbnail upward, on the front step.
  • Draw the hammer over your shoulder and smash hell out of that thumbnail as hard as you’re able.
  • The moment your vision changes to a nuclear fireball, shift gears mentally and say, “Thank you Lord.”

Doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist or atheist.  You’ll be amazed.

See for yourself.

I don’t know of any better demonstration of the power of gratitude.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules: Ethics and Morals?

Introduction to Being a Hermit

The following is an email that Old Jules wrote several years ago and subsequently posted on a previous blog. I’m posting it after his description of the Peace Corps experience to give continuity to that time period.  ~Jeanne

Old Jules:
This was the most recent of a long line of exchanges with an online friend, a man  who mostly he believes his life is a living hell out of habit, except when he reminds himself he’s blessed, which is only when I remind him to remind himself, thinks I.

Thought I’d share it with you blog readers.  I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned my brief life as a hermit.

Morning Pal:

I suppose you’re right.  You live a complicated life.  It would be complicated, just with your interpersonal relationships, even if you didn’t have a job that would be enough to satisfy most needs for complication.  Even if you didn’t have a piece of real estate that’s located in and part of a subtle war zone.  It’s relatively easy to imagine how you’d have some difficulties focusing, relaxing, or anything else.

A long time ago, when I had a complicated life, I used to wonder whether a stay in the sort of place where you work, an asylum, would do the trick as a means of getting me removed from the system of complications I’d built around myself to help make myself unhappy.  I concluded that it wouldn’t.

 I also gave some thought to whether prison life would do it, but unless it was one of those kinds of Federal prisons all the Watergate folks went to, I don’t think it could.

Thought about a Trappist monastery a bit, even.  That might do it.  I don’t know, but it seemed so otherwise out of sync with my nature that I never tried it.

But I had the advantage over most people, because I knew what I was missing.  When I got booted out of the Peace Corps in 1964, after a bit of time trying to complicate my life in Honolulu the way a person will, I was contacted by the US Army Reserve telling me they wanted to know where I was in case they wanted to reactivate me for Vietnam if they needed people with my particular MOS.  In those early days of 1965 nobody knew where all that was going and reactivating the reserves was considered a real possibility.

My support for US military adventures overseas went away entirely during my tour in the Far East.  I was gonna have nothing to do with Vietnam.  I decided I was going to spend the remainder of my life as a hermit living in the jungle on the big island….. a place called Wiamono Valley on the drainage of the Kohala range…. used to be a village in there but it was wiped out by the tidal wave in 1947 and nobody laid claim on it since.  Nobody in there but a blind mule and me…. for six weeks that mule had company.

That six weeks with nobody to talk to but a blind mule changed my whole life.  It was a pivotal moment for me, one of the greatest blessings of my stay in this reality this time around.  In addition to a book-full of other benefits, it gave me a realization of what’s possible for a human being, mind-wise, if he can succeed in either simplifying his life, or in (I didn’t know then) distancing himself from the web of values, properties, interpersonal relationships and other tangle we do our best to mire ourselves in so we can’t see or hear what we’re trying to keep from seeing and hearing…… the voice of what’s beneath.

I definitely understand what you’re saying, my friend.  Hang in there.

(Old Jules)

Predicting the Future

This post is from a previous blog a few years ago:

With this blog entry I’d like to provide you with my own lead-pipe-cinch view of what you can expect from the future.

Think about the other side of things a while, if you worry about a meteor hitting the earth, terrorists crawling out of the ocean with butcher-knives clamped in their teeth or other doomsday scenarios. My predictions are going to happen. All those others are just unlikely maybe/ maybe nots.  Our track record doesn’t suggest we can be as good at predicting events as we are at, say, engineering. We’ve all been trying for a long time and our failures have been consistent.

My own predictions:

1) If you live long enough you will grow old.

2) You will die.

3) The people you care about and others around you will either die the usual way, scattered out along a timeline, or their deaths will be compressed into a shorter time span through wars, plagues and other disasters.

4) Death’s such an individual and inevitable experience it won’t matter much whether the entire planet goes with you, or you just lie down alone somewhere and do it. Cancer, a terrorist attack, plague, a giant meteor, getting whacked by a drunk driver, or just dying of old age all work out the same in the end.

The method and moment we exit the vehicle probably doesn’t have much to do with life’s purposes. I might even conjecture that frantic preoccupation with the number of times we ride this mudball around the sun distracts us from what’s important.

Life is the only route we’ve discovered to allow us to arrive at death on time.

The Bard said it best: “Cowards die a thousand times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.”

Don’t spend too much time gazing into the abyss. I said that.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules: Watching the Dumb to Become Smart?

 

Concerning Zealotry

Originally posted on another blog site Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What’s wrong with zealotry?

Probably no human trait has caused more misery, bloodshed, pain and general deviltry in history than political or religious zealotry.

Political or religious zealotry.  The deadly twins.  They aren’t two separate traits.  Political, or religious zealotry are just one trait following two different paths to create ugly.

Think about it.  One of the reasons political and religious zealots tend to be found in the same human being lies in the fact that religious zealots have already graduated with honors from the school of blind faith.

Communism?  3/4 century of human misery caused by political zealotry.  Cambodia?  The Inquisition?  The Mormons having to flee to Utah?  The 3rd Reich?  Jim Jones?  Wossname Christian/Patriot bossman wanting to assassinate wossnamisimo prez of Venezuela?  The Kennedy bros. ordering the assassination of Prez Diem, was it, our ally, South Vietnam?  The Kennedy bros., themselves getting assassinated?

Political, or religious zealotry.

Today it isn’t getting better, as a person might have expected, because of the collapse of Communism world-wide.  It’s gotten a lot worse.  We’ve got Muslim zealots, Christian zealots, Prez step-two Bush Dynasty and ex-prez BlowJob wives all in the game of zealous one-upsmanship.  Zionist zealots wanting to snag every piece of real estate in the Middle East they can drum up an excuse to play for US support, which doesn’t take much.  Hispanic zealots in the US southwest wanting to take it away from the white zealots who took it away from them.  Environmentalist zealots trying to spike trees to injure the workmen cutting down trees while they listen to Joseph Rush Goebbels on the radio to help them remember what to think about rad-libs, Arabs, and whomever it is we’re bombing the bejesus out of this week.

This ain’t cutting it.  It’s not making your lives happier, and it’s sure as hell not making them better.

One of the things I like best about the teachings of the Buddha is the emphasis on moderation, the cautions against zealotry.

Religious moderates have never burned one another at the stake.  Political moderates have never dragged out the guillotine to punish the opposition.  They never built any gas chambers and ovens.  No political or religious moderate ever pulled the trigger on anyone, ever dropped a bomb on anyone except in self-defense.

Political, or religious zealotry.  Human traits worth hating, but they usually only hate one another.  Moderates never bother to hate anyone.

Moderates.  Nice, easy living sort of term.

Old Jules

Something fun from the Recovering fine and Micron Gold Group Newsletter

Messages In This Digest (2 Messages)

1a.

Got some ore soaking in warm NH3Cl and NH3NO3

Posted by: “james” james122964@yahoo.com   james122964

Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:04 pm (PST)

Got the old “new” leach thing working on some ore, this is real ore to test its ability to handle mixed compounds in in the leach.

I am running it at 145 degrees temp controlled for long slow soak as this solution is not going to be a aggressive type of leach.

Jim

1b.

Re: Got some ore soaking in warm NH3Cl and NH3NO3

Posted by: “scottt” Scotttygett@juno.com   scotttygett

Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:51 pm (PST)

Almost no one here is qualified to tell you how not to blow yourself up, but one of our favorite members and one of the Group’s founders, Art Corbitt, would rail about ammonia in lraches being explosive. Keyword fulminate.

Cyanide tailings are the wirst offenders, so one really has to process that out before extraction.

Geology degrees I am told could have morr chemistry and mechanical engineering, so this may be normal for the industry.