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16 July 2014


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Ali Mirza


This is not just an an American phenomenon, I can see my own countrymen reflected in your writings. In FB Ali's memoir's opening chapter he wrote of a childhood friend, Taufiq, whose inquisitiveness and wonder of life was not reflected or even countenanced by his peers. The ensuing tragedy is one I can recognize easily from my own experience.

Age of mediocrity indeed!

Ali Mirza


Thank you, Mr. Sale, for this most eloquent elaboration on the judgement attributed to Socrates"ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ (ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi)

The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being" (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Socrates). I have frequently heard and seen the Greek given in English without the final qualifying prepositional phrase (for a human being).

My childhood in the 1950s in a small village in the foothills of the Adirondacks was much like yours I believe. We had some structured activities provided by a summer playground program and scouts, but we were quite free to explore many venues on our on, often involving riding our bikes to explore the resources near us, such a an abandoned quarry where several of us would go in good weather to search for fossils or the several cemeteries dating back to the 17th century to read the names and dates, find out who had fought in the French and Indian War or the American Revolution.

I am struck by the lives of many young folks today who are regimented into programs for enrichment often supported by one or two adults under the pressure to learn to jump through the hoops required to get a "good education," often meaning attending a "good" college. Aside from the structured activity, I am bothered by the extent to which age groups are segregated depriving many children and adults of the learning that takes place from interacting across the generations. I have observed this in the United States and also in several European countries in my 36 years of living in Greece and Portugal where the US is considered to be worthy of emulation and increasingly is copied. I am distressed to see folks of all ages in cafes or bars with their own age-group with very little conversation going on, since they are all glued to their their phones or tablets addicted to their social media.


Thanks for an entertaining read!

Seriously, the young today cannot even sit on a bus without fidgeting with their smart phones, desperately hoping to be entertained.

I, too, am guilty of not sitting and reflecting much, though sometimes a good walk provides that opportunity. On the bus, I find those around me to be plenty entertaining. In contrast, the young are so isolated from the present that many do not even notice their surroundings.

I wonder how Hercule Poirot could have possibly solved all those crimes, if his suspects were all oblivious to everything around them.



Thanks for the reading. Today we don't let boys go outside, we feed them Ritalin. Schools now excel in teaching helplessness. The youngest generation has discovered however, that Marx was wrong. Facebook is the opiate of the masses. (soon to be replaced by snapchat, twitter, and the next new, new thing).

The Twisted Genius

Ain't that the truth! One of my favorite sayings from Winnie the Pooh is "Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits." It is a lost art and one that I am doing my best to revive in my retirement. No smart phones for me. Of course, I take frequent breaks from sitting and thinking to remodel bathrooms and kitchens before I get too old to do so.

Richard Sale, I am very familiar with many of the activities of your youth. In the 60s and 70s I was an avid model builder. All those Guillows balsa and tissue airplanes, bought with my own newspaper route money, were a source of immense joy and led to an in-depth study of WW I aircraft and tactics. I also drew plans and constructed WW II tanks and halftracks out of cardboard. More study of armored technology and tactics. When I wasn't building models, I was in the woods... hiking, camping or just wandering about.

My father was a toolmaker at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. One day he deposited a old 2 cycle lawnmower engine on my work table in the barn. He told me if I could get it working, we would build a go-cart. It was my introduction to the internal combustion engine. After much studying and tinkering, I got that baby working. My dad and I then built that go-cart. My grease monkey days didn't end there. Years later, I completely rebuilt my VW engine and still do most of the work on my cars, although far short of rebuilding the engine. Tinkering and learning. What a great way to live!

Charles I

From deep in the Muskokas, couldn't agree more. No watch, no cellphone, no pants. Puttering around doing and fixing stuff, while nature unfolds, what a luxury. I have a mile long view up the river from my point, where the sitting and thinking, and the just sitting really get in the way of concentrating on a book or crossword, not to mention endlessly confounding next chore selection.

Dirt, nature, creative play with nothing but the environment , curiosity, freedom and imagination seem a heritage lost, at least in cities. I recall a sixties suburb of post war bungalows close to Lake Ontario with a great fervour for exploring, digging, excavation and construction. . .a lot of bandaids and sprains and broken bits. And thanks for the memories TWG, of models & go karts. We made rockets and planes, a LOT of homemade explosives. All paved over now. . .

Mark Gaughan posted this cite in the Iron Dome effectiveness thread just below, and imho it makes serendipitous counterpart to the issue of the individual's soul and moral development in the context of power and authority.


And while I can't recommend it, well supported recovery from addiction or mental illness guarantees soem serious self examination.


You nailed it! Thanks from afar!


Well, it's obvious solitude didn't betray you. What a great piece of thinking.

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