Unsolicited spiritual advice
Thanks for all that shared, especially on facebook.
Yes, I think the sayings ascribed to Gandhi, the Buddha, (as far as anyone knows anything about what he said 2,500 years ago) and all the other wise people are interesting. That does not mean everything they opined was either correct or applies to us.
Two recent and frequent items strike me as crazy. Especially irritating is the idea that we should forgive and love ourselves. That is mind masturbation, and maybe the other kind too. How can any of us forgive ourselves for accepting the world we live in. On our watch, people are starving, fighting wars with our tax dollars etc. We should be furious with ourselves! Only anger will drive us to act as best we can. Otherwise, we will be happy and continue with our sybaritic lifestyle that is turning the planet into a polluted trash heap.
Secondly, Those who argue that we should see ourselves as beautiful are nuts. We all start to decay and die before we are born. Our epidermis comprises dead matter and on some of us it really looks like it. If someone thinks you are beautiful you are lucky, but joining them in their delusion is narcissistic crap. That does not mean that some people don't stir one's hormones....a lot.
Read 'The Lotus eaters' by Alfred Lord Tennyson http://www.bartleby.com/42/638.html
Facebook Rant- again.
Comments I don't put on facebook so as not to offend. (But sometimes I do because I am a mad, bad, insensitive bastard!)
1. Your baby looks like all those I've seen. It is likely to grow into an undeserving, narcissist, over privileged brat with a typical western sense of entitlement.
2. Your meal, looks lovely, but hardly worthy of worldwide attention. In twelve hours, it will look like every other meal those who are lucky enough to eat ate.
3. Glad you had fantastic fun at your /someone else's party. It is sad that you feel obliged to boast about it with your selfies and pictures of your tired, boring, ill dressed, and/or wrinkly friends. Drunks are so funny. I have never seen one before.
4. Thanks for the pictures of the tourist attraction you just visited. Why did you obscure the best parts by standing in front of them? Have you thought what you did for your personal carbon footprint using all that jet fuel. That used to be a nice place before you and 50 million others turned into a tourist trap and the locals into a servant nation.
5. Your suggestion as to how we should all vote was most enlightening. The only problem is that your preferred candidate is just another timeserving politician with his/her nose in the tax trough and in the pocket of the establishment elites that fund them.
More Whimsical and Silly Poems
There once was a slender New Yorker
She really was quite a corker
She dined on fast food and I know this is rude, but now she’s a veritable porker.
There was a young priest with no hope, who swallowed a whole bar of soap
He belched green bubbles and because of his troubles, they eventually made him the pope.
There was a young man in Nicoya, who was sad cos he had paranoia
He went to a shrink who called him a fink and now he paints darkly like Goya.
There was a young Tica from Escazu
who told a gringo “I love you”.
She was no honey and now has his money
and he dines every night on bean stew.
3 Haikus in 5 7 5 form
Costa Rica bliss
Mountains, sunset red
The green earth trembles
Far off flickering lightning
Night thunder grumbles
You are me, I you.
Both part of everything
At one with nature
Byron is dead Shelley is too.
So shall I be So shall you.
Gin is good, vodka is too.
I’ll drink anything, how about you?
Shall I compare thee to a Martini dry
I’ll love one of you till the day I die.
Auburn hair lit by evening sun
My wife my life my love my fun
Triplet Or maybe a Tiplet
I like whisky. I like gin
When I’m drunk I’m ready for sin.
It’s me at the door gal. Please let me in.
Enough. As Dr. Johnson said, on hearing that the Scots could read,
'Teaching a Scotsman to read is like teaching a dog to walk on its hind legs. It is not that it is done well that impresses, but that it is done at all.'
Ouch! A further black eye from Ivy.
Challenges to Buddhist Orthodoxy
My books are available in kindle and paper back from amazon.com/author/aaronaalborg
Any profits made by me will go to the charity Oxfam.
Inventing a pen name has three advantages. It enables me to write using my ‘method’ approach, without devastating the relationships and communications and the life that I live under my real name.
It builds me a barrier, flimsy though it may be. The barrier is between the real me and the political nutters, the NSA, CIA, trolls and other low lifes that may want annoy me because of the political views in my books.
Lastly it avoids having my ugly and dissipated features appearing everywhere. I can choose one of a million available masks, according to my mood. Ravana, the demon king of Lanka from the Ramayana is my current choice.
Method writing, like method acting, requires mentally becoming the character. You try to think and behave the way the character does in order to write more effectively.
A side effect appears to be that this causes behavioral changes in the writer. For example since writing ‘Revolution’, I have become more radical in my politics, as I was when young. When writing 'They Deserved it', I became as angry with the suffering caused by the Catholic Church as I was in my youth.
I am curently writing, 'Terminated- the making of a serial killer'. My wife and friends are either contemplating long trips abroad or avoiding my company. They look suspiciously at my every action. Recently, I bought a large axe and noticed several worried looks and meaningful gances between them.
I pointed out that a two handed axe is not good for murdering people, unless you are handy with it like a Viking. It could be usefull for dismembering bodies though. Since then, I have purchased a single handed axe. That would serve the lighter purpose.
My theory is that repetitive thinking in the way of a character forms new neural pathways in the brain or reactivates those long lost. The more one thinks one is that character and the more one writes about him or her, the more embedded and active the neural pathways become.
A consequence of this could be mental afflictions such as Multiple Personality Disorder. Some claim to have noticed many signs of this. Sadly, using the excuse that Aaron broke a cup or spilt the milk has so far gained me no avoidance of dire retribution.
As Aaron writes different characters into each of his books, he will change with each novel. This could lead to increasing numbers of personalities. Maybe I should invent further pennames, to avoid the likely mental stress on Aaron?
As a boy, I wanted to experience every aspect of life, to be everybody and do everything. It was frustrating to think that there is only one life to live and that this was not possible.
Later, I felt less inclined to experience the bad stuff, like crucifixion and pain for example. My libido developed into wanting to do all women for a while, or maybe almost all. Being Aaron offers a partial return to this happy idea of having many lives.
For many years I have been meditating in various Buddhist traditions. Here are some questions that challenge Buddhist orthodoxy.
The tradition of Buddhism exists in many forms and is very old. The 'evidence' for the existence of the historical Buddha is an oral tradition that predates writing by 500 years. Similar oral traditions exist about Robin Hood, Beowulf and many aboriginal creation stories from around the world. Are they equally real?
Everything that happens is caused by preceding conditions. That is called Karma.
If everything about the world and us, including our ideas, thinking and decision making patterns depend on preceding events, how can Buddhists claim we have free will?
If there were no free will then life would have no point. Why should life have a point? Maybe it just is.
If there is no separate self and no transmutable soul, then how can reincarnation, other than in the sense of recycling our matter into the universe, be logical?
If Karma determines a next life, where is the point in that, if there is no memory of previous lives?
The responses of Buddhist teachers to such questions seem similar in type to those defending religious orthodoxies. "You need to meditate more." "You need to accept that the traditions have studied these things."
On being Aaron Aalborg
In the UK there is controversy over whether the Britain needs a replacement for its aging Trident submarine launched ballistic missile system with multiple nuclear war heads.
It is primarily sourced from the US and therefore is not independent. Its major purpose seems to be to allow the UK to claim that it can still start WW3 or at least participate honourably in the ensuing nuclear holocaust. Alternatively, it is there to keep the UK arms industry and military wing nuts happy.
The Scots Nationalists want to end this farce. The Tories want voters to see it as a 'Great' Britain thing.
The US pats the UK on the head and allows such dangerous toys in return for its UK poodle joining in in its murderous overseas adventures. Its arms industry salivates.
The Falkland Islands next war?
Keeping the Falklands pot boiling
It is election time again in the UK and Argentina. The governments of both countries are crap and desperate for votes. Each is raising the Falklands/ Malvinas Islands issue.
The Brits fought Argentina in a brief, but hard fought war there in 1982. There are 2500 people there. All except 3 want to stay part of the UK. There are many sheep who all say 'Baa'.
Argentina claims to be sourcing Chinese and Russian planes 'capable of bombing' the islands. (This is also meant to blackmail the US into supporting them.)
The Tory led government in the UK is staging various military exercises in the Falklands and arguing for more defense spending. Major off-shore oil discoveries have just been announced there, with suspicious timing.
Another possibility is that this whole gallimaufry is organized by me to promote my next novel.
'Terminated- the making of a serial killer', will be in 2 parts.
Book 1 is due out before mid year and is titled 'Terminated- From the Slums to the Falklands War.'
Bored- so I wrote a few poems
I decided to play with a few traditional formats and write about Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Haikus
Deep blue-black darkness
Lights twinkle in the valley
Pink dawn paints the ridge
A jaguar pads by
Parrots squawk feasting on figs
Ants carry cut leaves
Costa Rica Couplets
Storms roar through the pines.
The Tico smiles the expat whines.
Our setting sun lights her auburn hair.
My joy in the eve of the life we share.
Oh Tica with flashing smile and sun kissed skin
That beer gut old expat is intent on sin
The ladrone breaks into the gringo’s house.
who exploits the country, which is the louse?
Costa Rica Limericks
There was an old man in distress, on the run from the IRS,
Now he has sunburned skin, drinks lots of gin
and eats beans pork and rice with finesse.
There was an old woman who fell out with you.
She had so little money she didn’t know what to do.
So she rented a house in Costa Rica
And all her housework is now done by a Tica.
There was a young dog in El Cahone
An old gringa often gave him a bone.
He thought her a friend and came to her calls,
Till she had the vet cut off his balls.
Rant against social media
Facebook and other social media are populated by:
1. Trolls who try to offend, maybe to challenge the smug complacency of the next groups.
2. Multitudes with schmalzy and cutsy, unrealistic world views;
3. Those pushing their own political or religious ideology;
4. Inadequates and social climbers who want to impress others with their number of friends and social events;
5. Those who think their children, grandchildren pets or art is of gripping interest to the rest of the world.
6. Total narcissists who thing their consumption and opinion on a burger are of general interest.
7. People who have nothing to say, but run round with cameras.
I guess this post makes me a 1.
I fall into several of these catagories, how many can you own up to?
Character development and philosophy
Developing Characters helps develop your personal philosophy
Writing about characters causes the writer to think through and research what philosophy, religious beliefs and political views each character might have. Obviously, an author starts with a bias towards his or her own ideas, beliefs and thoughts. Exploring those of various fictional characters results in changes to one’s own ideas.
Religion- Due to personal interest and in some cases career needs, Aaron investigated, the main current and historic world religious beliefs. Brought up as a Christian in largely Christian countries, he rejected that religion, for reasons similar to those incorporated in his book, ‘They deserved it.’
To live and work effectively in Asia, required a basic knowledge of Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Islam. Living in Westchester County New York, brought many Jewish friends and some small windows into Judaism.
Aaron was astonished by the diversity of cults, sects and splinter groups within each of these, as well as by other less well known faiths like Zoroastrianism and Jainism.
Buddhism, without belief in reincarnation, is where Aaron is personally at this time. Buddhism is an important philosophy for the protagonist in his forthcoming, ‘Terminated- the evolution of a serial killer.’ In a further novel under construction. A Tibetan monk will be the protagonist in a future plot.
Science of the mind- Aaron needed to understand aspects of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience for business reasons. This led to a deep interest in both Evolutionary and Behavioral Psychology and especially the intersections of these disciplines, with each other and with Buddhism. The Mind Life Science research and events at MIT are fascinating areas to peruse on youtube.
Exploring the dark side- Any modern novel is likely to have complex characters, as well as thoroughly nasty ones. Forgetting simplistic ideas of good and evil, of god and the devil, what causes deviant and disruptive behavior?
Reading about narcissism and sociopathy is essential for anyone wanting to writ about business leaders, criminals or politicians. There are many books and papers on these subjects worthy of study.
Another thread is to ask why evolution allows these traits to exist? Could they be useful to society at certain times?
There are at least three theories as to why sociopathic behavior persists. The first is that these people lie to get sexual gratification and are thus able to spread the relevant genes. (Many who do that are not sociopaths.)
The second is that ruthlessness or not having empathy to others' feelings, offers a Darwinian advantage at certain times or in some professions. Examples include: conducting high-risk surgery; trading in the financial markets and to leaders in war. There is evidence that the roles mentioned above have more than the normal percentage of sociopaths. Many become rich and famous and never commit crimes.
The third theory is that sociopathy has nothing to do with genes. Research shows that many sociopaths suffered head trauma, which caused their behavior. Famously bad, Henry the VIII, King of England, was apparently a sweet prince, before a severe blow to his head during a joust caused a complete change of personality.
Crime and Punishment- Aaron is now sympathetic to the possibility that criminal sociopaths should not be punished. They have no free will to control their actions. They should simply be separated from society at large. Some argue that killing them is the only sure way to end their threat.
Do we really have free will? At various times in our lives each of us feels we have some control over our own destiny. Which of three job offers should I accept? Should I drink water, vodka or whisky? Do I work over the weekend or go to the beach?
Mostly, we accept that vast forces outside out control can limit or eliminate our freedom choice. Forces of nature such as droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires, as well as wars can impoverish, kill or maim us without warning. Lower order events such as recessions, illnesses and bereavement can heavily impact the individual, who has little control over their occurrence.
Religious study raises interesting questions. If there were an omniscient creator, how is free will possible? By definition an omniscient being would know any choices a human would make. This would make creation rather dull, so why bother?
Calvin and Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among many others, focused on this religious determinism. Believers are the chosen and the rest of us will fry. Sizzle sizzle, see you on the griddle.
Of more interest to free thinkers are discussions and experimental results from neuroscience. Experiments show that most of what we think are cognitive decisions are already taken, before the conscious part of the brain decides.
Neuroscientists then divide into two groups. One faction thinks this applies to all our decisions, because there is a free will over-ride time of a fraction of a second to allow a change to the automatic decision. Others disagree and conclude that there is no free will.
In Buddhism and other eastern religions, there is a version of determinism called Karma. The idea is that everything that occurs determines everything that follows. So parentage, genes, location upbringing and prior experience and behavior form one’s Karma.
The issue of free will arises. Most Buddhists believe we have it. Religious Buddhists think one's previous worthy or unworthy choices determine reincarnation at a higher level of development or not.
Political implications of all the above- If the major determination of intelligence, opportunity and personality are all predetermined, then the idea of deserving great wealth or higher position in society is baseless. If there were no free will, then the idea of punishment for crime goes out of the window too.
Aaron is very close to concluding that there is no free will. Friends argue that we need free will to have a purpose in life. Aaron responds, "Why does life have to have a purpose? We could all be part of a giant and inexorable celestial clock."
Some quantum physicists claim we exist as a computer program on a hologram. These things are ultimately unknowable and debate comes to an end.
Time for a stiff drink! There is no freedom of choice in that decision.
On Formulaic Writing
Ditch that straightjacket!
Some people spend a lifetime studying English literature and creative writing. Writers have much to learn from successful and prize winning authors.
The danger is that formulas for success become straightjackets. Leonardo, Picasso and other great artists, studied formally, Their style and execution became distinctively their own.
There are many people who hold up famously successful authors and propose we write to their formulae. In the first place, that will not make you a Follett, a JK Rowling or a Hemingway. In the second place, trying to do that, may improve technique and style, but may not achieve what you want from your writing.
Some top selling authors employ an army of researchers, ghost writers, editors etc and do little of the work themselves. They may be analogous to Leonardo or Andy Warhol in running an art factory, but that is not for Penman House Publishing.
Some write to a formula, hoping to turn the dollar printer. Some write trash that appeals to the prurient or undiscerning reader. Becoming really 'successful', i.e. selling hundreds of thousands or even millions, is as likely as the teenager wanting to be a pop star or a top soccer player. Some make it, but buy a lottery ticket just in case you do not.
Aaron writes to make people think, to challenge the political status quo or just because he cannot get an idea out of his head. Many think he should be in a straightjacket. He wants to be a better author but not to write as someone else tells him to.
Aaron wishes he were a coral
A Brain Coral of Course
I am Aaron's brother Aarial. Aaron has been reading about neuroscience. From his recent remarks, it seems he has an addictive personality.
In the bar I asked him "What will you have?"
" A bottle of scotch and a juicy whore"
After were thrown out , quite rightly, by some outraged feminists, we made it to another bar and another. He opined.
"Bears can eat 90lbs of salmon a day. I wanna be a bear.... but you have to fight for the best fishing spots."
"Lions copulate 400 times a day. I wish I was a Lion. Buckets of dopamine!!... but it's only for a few days a year."
"Maybe being a dragonfly would work for me? Like ski divers, they do it in the air. But they have to spend all that time underwater eating bugs, yuk!"
"I'd like to be a bonobo. They bonk instead of saying hello. Except, I never fancied my youngest sister and uncle Billy is on the ugly side, compared to the cute ewe in the field next door."
"Opossums have two pricks. I wish I was a possum...but they look like big rats."
"Whales have the biggest members on the planet. I wanna be a whale. Except the arctic ice might cool the ardor and those Japanese whalers are worrisome."
"I wanna be a Rhino. They must fire armor piercing rounds. But maybe they're short sighted for a good reason."
"Fireflies light up. They have so much sexual excitement. But what about the bats and hawk moths?"
"The problem with being human is the childcare. Children focus on their own offspring and fail to appreciate the superior wisdom and insights of their elders."
"OK, It's decided. I wanna be a coral. Once a year, we ejaculate in a mass orgy of oceanic proportions. Our eggs or sperm form billowing clouds of sexuality. Life is just one dopamenic, collective and ginormous orgasm. It is worth waiting till the following year for more of the same. The added bonus is that the kids just float off and who cares.
Yes! I wanna be a Coral."
"Pass the whisky!"
Lost poem discovered!
William McGonagall was Scotland's worst poet of the 19th Century and possibly the World's worst ever.
Of course, today anyone thinks that they can write poetry, including me. Some have enough Facebook friends to tell them they are brilliant. This brings forward many new contenders for the worst ever.
Here is a recently discovered poem by McGonagall about Costa Rica.
Seeking the Indies without a clue
Columbus landed here in 1502
People are very lucky to be able to visit here today
at least that's what folk at the Tourist Ministry say
It is beyond doubt true
that snakes, crocs and jaguars would like to chew on you
Of bugs, wasps and mosquitoes there are more than a few.
But the real danger is from great earthquakes
When I think of the volcanoes my body really shakes
It's no a good place if you're a Scottish dancer
But it's the greatest place if you want skin cancer.
When Aaron rules the world
They told me that a necessary part of being a successful writer is ego mania. This idea is appealing, so I decided to set out my manifesto for when I rule the world. No doubt this is an imminent occurrence.
Inequality is one of the first things on my list. A good place to start is by making the toys of the rich less attractive. Why not start with cars?
Any car over $55,000 is clearly unnecessarily luxurious. I am toying with various policy options. Maybe you can help me choose? World rulers ought to be democratic after all.
1. Unattractive branding - Those annoying and completely unneceassary sporty cars that reach 60mph from a standing start in 3 seconds are a particular target. There could be a committee of the poor to approve all brand names. These would be written in foot high orange letters on all four vertical surfaces of the cars, which would universally be painted battleship grey.
Suitable names might include:
- The Ford Sludge
- The Ferrari Vomit
- The Tesla Arrogant Bastard
- The Porsche Herniated Rectum
2. Another way to resolve the same problem might be to tamper with the specifications by requiring:
- All airbags and padding to be replaced by inward facing,foot long, razor sharp spikes.
- Speed governers to a maximum of 15 mph
- Uncomfortable seats incorporating drawing pins
- Signs saying 'Spray paint your grafitti here.' and 'Test your hammer on this glass.'
3. Other thoughts include:
- Taxation at 5,000%
- Ban them from all populated areas
- Incorporate a sewage smell into the air conditioning
- Make the cars unlockable and the ignition keys irremovable.
Now for mega Yachts......
Why is capitalism not working well
For some time I have been puzzling over what is wrong with modern capitalism. There are reasons to feel that there are issues and problems. Here are just three:
1. There are serious levels of unemployment, especially among young people. Politicians obfuscate the true numbers, changing the metrics to make things look better. People drop out of the work force due to inability to find work. Many people who would like to work full time are in part-time work. Anyone on work training is also excluded. There are many tricks
2. Economic growth remains slow. Environmentalists might think this is a good thing. But there is such a thing as clean growth. Growth does not necessarily mean more pollution. It can mean less.
At this point I will digress because growth data has been grossly overestimated for years. The argument is simple. Growth data attempts to measure the change in the output of an economy from one year to the next. It takes no account of the depletion of resources in an economy. For example, the US pumps oil; depletes woodland and uses up long-term capital assets like power plants and bridges. In modern economic measurement no timely and accurate account is taken of changes in the national balance sheet. This means that growth is overestimated in so far as it does not account for depletion of resources and long-term assets.
3. The so called middle classes, i.e. the majority of folks in developed economies, have less income, when inflation is taken into account, than before the last recession and their wealth relative to that of the top 10% of the population is declining. The rich are getting richer, whilst most people are becoming poorer. There also remain significant levels of poverty and social deprivation to the shame some of the richest economies.
Some argue, especially those on the right, that the main problem is that the overbearing state is interfering with market forces. Four supporting points are:
- State ownership and operation of businesses is widespread and extremely inefficient. The collapse of the former Soviet industrial sector is compelling evidence. The US postal service is a good example of a massive enterprise in competition with private services, protected and overstaffed, by feather bedded employees with little need to provide good service. In the so called 'capitalist' US Federal, State and Municipal enterprises conduct much work that could be operated by private enterprise.
- There is enormous expenditure on subsidies and tax breaks to businesses and industries with powerful lobbies. In addition there are many laws to control free markets be they for factors of production, or for outputs. These laws are also influenced by lobbies from special interest groups.
- International trade agreements and so called "free trade' are full of loopholes and protection for specialist interests. It is not that free-trade is not working, it is not in operation.
- What Eisenhower called the military industrial complex is a hugely costly millstone around the civilian economy's neck in many countries. It diverts resources and people away from wealth creation. The output of weapons, including those of of mass destruction, is included in national growth figures and military personnel are included in employment data. When the military is used in war, it destroys wealth on a massive scale. Iraq and Syria are two of too many examples. The counter-argument is that these things are necessary to protect people and economies. Many feel that what is spent goes well beyond what is necessary. Interestingly, those on the right who hate the inefficiency of state expenditure in every other sector, often support inefficient weapons procurement etc etc in this sector.
All I have done so far is moan about gross inefficiencies and problems in the status quo. In my admittedly cynical view there are two major changes that are needed. Both are equally unlikely to happen, except in fiction writing. They are:
1. A revolution to replace the governing elites intent on promoting their continuity and the status quo. This revolution must be in a form that prevents new permanent elites replacing those deposed.
2, A radical change in every one's attitude to the distributive side of economics.
I addressed 1. in my novel 'Revolution'. Let us now focus on 2.
Supporters of the status quo in wealth distribution argue that without low taxes on billionaires and freedom from constraints on individual wealth there will be no innovation or entrepreneurialism. Therefore, the economy will suffer. Furthermore, they say that the top tier in society creates the work opportunities and pays most of the taxes to support everyone else including the vast majority of government expenditure.
The very rich and their political allies control most of the world. We should expect them to argue this way. They further propose that it is their right to pass on such wealth to their descendants. So far they have circumvented all attempts to prevent this.
I watched an interview between Pop Superstar Bono and Fareed Zakaria. Bono struck a chord, as a musician should. He spoke about the arrogance of superstar artistes. His words could apply equally well to athletes, entrepreneurs, businessmen and indeed everyone.
He said that he was born with innate talents that exceeded those of most others in his chosen field. Some people inherit talents, just as others inherit wealth and privileged starts to their lives. He accepted that he developed the talents, but that his most productive ideas and successes bore little relationship to that. They popped into his head.
Bono did not go on to address the question of wealth distribution. Let us do that. The corollary of the arrogance that Bono speaks of, is the concept of 'deserving' a reward commensurate with the innate talent that we inherit. Some will argue that it is the application of the talent within the capitalist system that creates wealth and that it is necessary to keep the machine turning. We will come back to the need for incentives. For now, we can argue that the desires to achieve, to work hard and to succeed are also characteristics that we inherit from either our genes or upbringing or in some cases because of a reaction against our upbringing.
The role of luck also needs to be considered. Paul Getty once said that the secret of success was, 'Start early. Work late. Strike oil.’ Some rich people win the lottery and others win the business lottery. Apologists for the current system argue that they took the risk so they have to have the rewards.
Studies of our relatives among our fellow primates show that they too develop hierarchies and elites. They form coalitions to win and retain their dominance and seek to pass on the benefits that they win to their offspring. We should assume that these behaviours are part of human nature and therefore will be hard to change. Only through using our higher reasoning skills can we hope to begin the process. It will be an uphill battle, because most people feel that they deserve what they have and most want to pass on whatever advantages they can seize for their children.
If inherited and environmentally learned talents and behaviours generate an innate opportunity for success, then the concept of deserving greater rewards is ridiculous and arrogant. This leaves the question of the need for incentives to generate economic performance in a capitalist or partly capitalist system.
Keynes felt that there were limits to human want and excess. Ever bigger mega yachts, private jets, private islands and conspicuous consumption suggest otherwise. It seems that billionaires want more or maybe they just like winning the wealth race. It seems that the question "How much is enough?" for some elicits the answer, "There is never enough".
Fortunately, there are many examples of successful people, who are driven by non financial rewards. Fame, desire for respect and concern for others are common human motives. Relative positioning in the success stakes is also a big motivator for some. Similarly, contempt and fear of censure deter some human actions. Would Bill Gates still have built Microsoft, if he only received half of the personal wealth it generated for him? Would he have given so much wealth away if he had no other motives?
For now I propose to spread the thought that no one 'deserves' great wealth.
Capitalism and quasi capitalism do need some to have higher rewards than others. However, it is time to put the brakes on the ridiculous proportion of wealth taken by the elites in our society. Confiscatory taxation, steeply progressive taxation and abolition of inherited wealth over a small threshold should all be considered.
Aaron is a horrible cynic
As mother told it
As life taught it
Carpe diem, seize the day.
Hell with the day, enjoy the nightlife.
Behind every great man there is a great woman
and several mistresses.
Cheats never prosper.
Except on Planet Earth
Handsome is as handsome does
Or spends a lot on plastic surgery.
If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly,
Or worth delegating to someone else.
Do as you would be done by
but get your retaliation in first.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Er no it does not
The early bird catches the worm
The early bird catches the 0635 train
Hard work never killed anyone
Ever see 'Bridge over the River Kwai'?
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
But not as well as having no money
Faint heart never won a fair maid
Not as well as a Ferrari anyway
Hell is horrible place
But its where friends and the fun people go.
All that glisters is not gold
Why waste money on gold then? Buy her plated.
A fool and his money are quickly parted
Let’s go prey on some fools.
A dog is a man’s best friend
Until it bites you or until you remove his nuts.
Hear no evil. See no Evil. Speak no evil.
Just do it and enjoy!
The bigger they are the harder they fall
Only if you have a gun.
Virtue is its own reward
But it's no fun and very boring
The pen is mightier than the sword
Take the pen. I'll have the Kalashnikov
Love is everlasting.
Love and herpes? One of them lasts forever.
Anyone can be a poet, but most people should show self restraint
What is Poetry?
Young minds ran wild, stimulated by learning, alcohol, drugs and feelings of self-importance. Prose was long-winded and difficult, when we were under the influence of learning, alcohol, drugs etc.
So we all became poets and declared our efforts brilliant, when under the influence of learning, alcohol etc. Our friends were in the same state and told us how clever we all were.
In retirement there is a second youth or childhood. Many seem to think they are poets. Are they or are they just too lazy to write more clearly?
“Poetry-A literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature."
'Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.’
That seems to cover anything and everything and gives a license to write crap.
OK then, what is good poetry, other than something which the author, the author's mutual admiration crony's or the critics claim that they like?
'The answer ultimately lies with the reader of the poem, but there is a certain consensus as to what makes a poem “good” or “bad.”
According to the critic Coleridge, prose is “words in their best order,” while poetry is “the best words in their best order.
Poetry demands precision. The novelist can get away with less than precise expression from time to time because the story will pull the reader along. The job of the poet is to create a picture in the mind and an emotion in the heart. Every single word counts. The wrong choice–a word with the wrong connotation or the wrong number of syllables or an unlovely combination of consonant sounds–spoils all.’
So good poetry is a subjective issue. This is like music. In the days before modern media, every village had its musicians and they were the best available. Vinyl and later the CD and the MP3 player put the locals either out of business or confined to playing to drunks in the pub or in friends' basements.
This was probably a good thing. We can hear the best of the best, cheaply and worldwide.
So what about the wannabe poets? They can have fun, self publish and enjoy the admiration of friends. For readers maybe it is better to stick with the likes of Burns, Shakespeare, the Rumi poets and Mary Oliver.
The same is likely true of novelists. Anyone for suicide?
Freedom for Scotland
Ivy is from Dundee, one of only two cities that voted for independence in the recent referendum. She was fair scunnered by the result.
Westminster politicians cowed and scared the voters with tales of dire consequences, if the vote were 'yes' for independence. They promised much and have delivered little since.
The good news is that, now that their lies have been exposed, opinion polls show the English parties are likely to lose their Scottish seats in the Westminster Parliament. This means that in the coming election the Scottish Nationalists in Westminster will be needed by any English party hoping to form a government. To agree to that, they will seek another referendum. One day Scotland will be free.
Many small countries do perfectly well on their own. One does not see the Irish queue up to rejoin the UK, with its old fashioned self image and desire to play world policeman alongside imperial USA.
Aaron campaigned vigorously for Scottish independence. He dislikes centralised and corrupt governments, like that of the UK. Besides which, he has no time for a monarchy based on George the I, who was 52nd in line for the throne before his accession.
Aaron is proud to be one eighth Scots and loves whisky.
Napoleon Was A Wanker
Writers are curious beings. They keep an eye out for interesting factoids. These set the little grey cells to work.
From recent reading, I learned that Napoleon claimed it was essential that he masturbate before any major battle. Perhaps he just did this before breakfast every day anyway?
Maybe this explains recent lack of US success in the Middle East and Afghanistan. New military ‘hand’ books must be in order.
This also raises questions such as, ‘Do the special forces get extra practice?’ The biggest question is that if this helps, how come the legislators and governments of the world perform so badly. They are all ‘merchant bankers’ in Cockney rhyming slang.
They can be useful but......
Aaron is a member of 3 writers' groups. In many ways they have the same problems as book clubs.
When they work- they have tremendous value.
You need to be open to criticism and to learn from those with different or more writing experience.
Constructive criticism of plot continuity and credibility; character descriptions; pace; hooks and much more can help improve drafts.
Ideas and experience on all aspects of publishing and marketing can be extremely helpful.
Subsequent, email correspondence can pass on tips from great writers and much else.
In many ways, the problems reflect those that occur in book clubs. A dominant individual may want to decide everything and hog the time telling you about their wonderful writing. They are usually thick skinned, non empathetic to the needs of others and the least likely to accept any constructive criticism.
On the other hand without an agreed agenda and timetable things can ramble on endlessly and without utility. If someone is willing to be the secretary that can be very helpful, or the role can switch for each meeting.
Too many members who are new to writing can unbalance the group and be trying for those who are already published. "Will you spend time reading my draft book?", can be a dreaded question and should be rarely asked. "Yes I'd love to spend my week on your first attempt at writing instead of getting on with my current novel."
Family or personal memoirs are a legitimate genre. Unless someone has especially interesting memories, (interesting to a wider audience), they can become tedious and are best kept within the family. Sadly, some people think that their tedious daily doings and those of their ancestors are astonishingly interesting. This type of self admiration is best kept for facebook.
Another issue is that everyone can become too nice to each other. "Oh that is so moving...well written.....interesting etc." This encourages more of the same and should be avoided. We are there to improve not for praise. Often acid comments are made in the person's absence.
Poetry is another interesting genre. Too often it becomes an opportunity for those who cannot write prose to write bilge.
Over-lengthy readings can take up all the time. Limits on the time for each reader should be set and not too many readers should be allowed at one session either.
Personally, I get more out of comments from other novelists than those writing other things. Penman House has a group that is amazingly helpful. Mike Crump and Kevin Ryan are both experienced, have studied writing much more than I and teach me a lot.
Some writers' groups are more focussed on the social side than on the business of improving writing. That is OK and why I am in more than one.
Lastly, It's your book so you should weigh and evaluate criticism and decide when to act on it or not.
On Guns and Violence
Writing about guns and violence is problematic. Some readers become upset with violence. Like children, they cover their eyes rather than see anything nasty. Others argue that the world is not really as violent as my novels portray.
A different group of readers is accepts the violence or even relishes it. Such readers are frequently extremely picky about any divergence from meticulous detail with regards to weapons and their use.
My theory is that those of us who were weapons trained, especially by the military, are so used to having safety drills and other gun stuff hammered into us, that we just cannot stop ourselves from noting the tiniest deviance from reality in novels.
As a writer, dealing with the aversion to violence is a huge problem. Options are: to omit it, tone it down or simply to accept losing squeamish buyers. The first two lose credibility. The latter, reduces the number of potential readers.
The arguments in this and the paragraph below will not win more readers but they are my views. The world is a violent place. As Trotsky said, “Denying violence is like denying gravity.”
Those who believe that the world is not as violent as I purport might consider the following. If there is peace and little crime in your country, a major reason is usually that the state is armed to the teeth and latent violence is the issue. The other consideration is that even if they were right, novelists try to write about unusual events, rather than the mundane.
Dealing with weapons aficionados is actually easier. There are two options. You can be unspecific. For example, ‘Alex fired two bullets into the back of her head.’ This helps with the violent averse reader, but wins no brownie points, (or maybe Browning points) with the gun aware reader.
They might much prefer. ‘Alex cocked his Mac 10 and fired a burst into the back of her head. Eleven heavy .45 rounds blew it apart like an over ripe water melon. They tore up the couch in front of her, as the bullets passed through her skull and the weapon strayed off target.’
It is easy to write with accuracy about weapons and their destructive impact, as the internet is full of descriptions, videos and tests of every weapon ever created. Despite this it is amazing how many simple mistakes are made in movies and books.
As an example, I could not help noting that a Spitfire IX was used in an episode of the British TV series ‘Foyle’s War’ that was supposed to be set in 1940. That model was not introduced until June 1942. See what a nerd I am. Such mistakes are easily avoided with a little research, but do distract the cognoscenti.
Lastly, the book I am working on at present, features more than a few weapons, but the squeamish will be pleased that there is only one murder in the first 14 chapters. Maybe I’m loosing it?
Peace and Plenty
Recent events in Iraq, the Ukraine, Afgahnistan, Nigeria and elsewhere, remind us that the peace and plenty that Western Europe and the US have enjoyed since WWII is most unusual. Many countries are not in such a comfortable state. They have poverty, disease and conflict. As Malthus put it for their peoples, 'Life is nasty, brutish and short.'
9/11 was a tragedy for those involved, but the death toll was tiny compared to the deaths in many wars that have continued around the world since WWII and from the collateral civilian deaths caused by US bombing and drone attacks.
As in the early Roman Empire, the US and its allies have largely kept the barbarians away from the homelands by encouraging them to fight each other in their own distant territories. There is an increasing sense of foreboding that this approach is falling apart. As in the later Roman Empire, the barbarians will soon be at the gates.
Revolutions happen when confidence in the political system breaks down at the same time as mayhem breaks out. Then, the benefits of the status quo evaporate and the risks of radical change seem more worthwhile.
Peace and plenty are not the natural order. They are absent in much of the world now. They are unlikely to be sustainable in the US and European countries for very long. Revolutions are coming to your locale soon!
On spring autumn relationships
Some readers of ‘They Deserved It’ have remonstrated with me. They feel that there are legitimate reasons for younger people having sexual relationships or marriages to older partners.
Some argue that my novel implied that women who have affairs with or marry older men are gold diggers or virtually prostitutes.
Some older men feel that I have been unfair to them. They feel that their relationship with a younger woman is based on mutual respect and love rather than any lustful or power play on their part.
My initial reaction is to say, ‘Hey it’s a novel, not a learned discourse on all possible relationships. I am not putting myself forward to judge the lives of real people. Well with one or two exceptions.’
Thinking further on this I offer the following comments.
1. Anyone who writes is of course biased or at least influenced by their own experiences and feelings. Call me atypical or worse, but I can see that there are many women of my daughter’s age or younger or even quite a bit older,(she is just turned 30), who are pretty, beautiful or interesting. However, I have yet to be sexually attracted to any. Yes Honestly! If I analyze why that is so there seem to be a number of possible reasons.
a) Maybe I lack the self-confidence to feel that they would be attracted to a man of 64 and therefore I subconsciously tune them out.
b) Perhaps I have an over heightened sense of what comprises pedophilia.
c) I certainly prefer the company of women around my own age, give or take a few years. They have extensive life experiences and seem more interesting to talk to. Maybe young men are less interested in the talking part.
1. Recently, I have observed two male autumns in relationships with female springs. They both seem to be cases where the man has shaped, mentored or helped the woman to grow and fulfill her potential, in her career and other fields. There seems to be a mutually loving relationship in both cases. Of course, one can never really tell what is going on in the lives of others.
Acing as mentor and helping a woman to develop her potential seems a fair reason for a relationship and mutual attraction.
A negative relationship of this type might be of the Svengali type. The man is merely shaping the woman for his own ends.
3. Looking at female autumns and male springs is also interesting. There are gigolos and gold diggers there too. However I feel that if that is what the women want and they know the score that is up to them. I admit that I feel that the schoolboys who are approached by their female teachers are rather lucky and that it is not the same the other way round. Call that irrational, but I know many men feel the same way.
Aaron Loves History. Reading about posioners in 17th Century Italy inspired his first novel, 'They Deserved It'.
There was a recent UK TV documentary about Birth, Marriage and Death in Medieval England. It was based on records from the ecclesiastical courts.
An over enthusiastic PhD student spent 25 years studying one set of court documents, about 300 pages. How sad is that?
Aaron was delighted by the conclusion. The Catholic Church decided that sex outside marriage was sinful and forbidden. Conversely, within marriage it was compulsory.
The only way to escape an unhappy marriage was to get an annulment on the grounds that the wedding was unlawful, i.e. because it contravened church rules against affinity or consanguinity or the man was incapable of the compulsory act.
Delightfully, the Court of the Archbishop of York, determined the latter by sending the husband upstairs in the company of prostitutes, who reported back on his ability or otherwise. No doubt the skills of the latter had to be pre tested by a reliable clergyman.
The Greeks fought the Turks for Independence, then the Italians and Germans. Now, they are in debt to Germany and other EU countries, beyond their means to pay.
It is true that they have over generous social benefits. The rich have avoided paying tax, as in all other countries. Past governments have been utterly corrupt and useless.
These are not reasons why the people should suffer. The poor and unemployed did not sign the debt deals, nor were they asked. It is time for the new Greek government and the people to make those who signed the debt deals in Germany and elsewhere pay. Otherwise, they should leave the EU and if that collapses well and good.
AN EXERCISE FOR WRITERS
One of the writers' groups attended by Aaron, used
an exercise called '55 words', to hone the skills of members. The genre is apparently popular and can be seen on various internet sites.
Aaron found it helpful in improving economy of words, whilst encouraging full use of the number available. It allows succinct expression of ideas as both prose and poetry.
Try it for yourself.
Aaron's efforts below can be somewhat acerbic or pessimistic. Maybe they are cathartic, as Aaron is a happy rascal. He does hold cynical and vitriolic views about, politicians and those who think they are entitled to decide what others do or to vastely more wealth than 'ordinary' people.
Check Aaron's Novel, "They Deserved It", on Amazon. Here.
An internal fight for control
'Every breath, nearer death'. A cheerful, Calvinist Scot's saying.
A great man to some
Churchill and my Grandfather
Grandpa hated Churchill.
At 14, Grampa's father pulled him off a ship to Gallipoli. His pals were killed.
Churchill broke the strikes in the depression. Grandpa was unemployed.
U-boats put Brits on tight rationing. When Churchill came to town, his personal luxury foods came too.
Though a narcissistic aristocrat, I admired Churchill, but I loved Grandpa.
Born too early
Cougars are a recent invention, due to the empowerment of women.
At 15, I would have been desperate to meet a cougar. Before texts or Face Book, we would have been safe back then. I might have felt the same at 40 or even 50
At 62 my cougars might be 90. Misery!
Costa Rica – The power of nature or what they did not tell us when we bought the house.
Each moment different, each moment a joy
Dark slashing, lashing rain
Explosive storms, lightening, flickering, stabbing,
Thunder blasting, rattling the panes
Water rushing, tumbling, foaming
Trees cracking and crashing
Earth trembling, walls shaking
Smoking Volcanoes…suspiciously large rocks in the garden
Musings on the body
400 species of microorganisms live on the forearm, myriads of others elsewhere. Body parts comprise specialized small creatures. Digestion requires a zoo.
Are we mere walking reefs?
Aliens with microscopic vision might see the space between our atoms. Could they tell the separation between a chair and its occupant?
We will return to dust.
The plumber breaks the kitchen cabinet. Tranquilo.
The furniture maker never calls back, Tranquilo.
The Van driver blocks the road, chatting to his friends. Tranquilo.
Axle breaking holes in the road reappear, Tranquilo.
Abandoned dogs are starving, Tranqulio.
We queue round the block for the documents, Tranquilo.
I slit my throat, no more Tranquilo.
Trapped in Costa Rica
“We love it here”, they say through gritted teeth.
We discover that they are still trying to sell in the US and, since four years, here.
They were robbed six times. They find costs high. They have little income.
They want to go home. They cannot afford to. They live hand to mouth.
So why do you live in Costa Rica if you find so much at fault?
There is no earthly paradise and likely none elsewhere. Many delude themselves that they made a perfect choice, living where they do. They need to justify their decisions. 100 pages might list Costa Rica’s problems. The UK requires double that and the US much more. Revolutionaries are never satisfied with the status quo. We whinge.
Further musings on existence
We are born puny and helpless. A neuroscientist tells me that every cell in our body is replaced, sometimes many times. Our attitudes and experience change the way we think.
As we are all different people now, should we prosecute war criminals in their dotage?
Can we ever forgive both left and right for their errors?
Tax evasion is a national sport. Taxation and payment systems are deliberately obscured. Spending is corrupt, lavish and ineffective.
As everywhere, ministers, officials and the rich are champion evaders.
If rich foreigners evade, are we just sensible or depriving poor Ticos of the little that trickles down to them?
What should we do?
Digging a deeper hole
‘Fools rush in’. Risk averse expats rent or buy well within their means. In extremis, they can bail out.
It would be nice to improve the garden; build a pool; install solar heating; build a path; add more security.
Dig too deep and you will be mired here! Is that such a bad thing?
On the Lam in Costa Rica
Forget the lies of the realtors and retirement advisors who inveigled us here. New friends mask their hiding from the IRS, alimony, child support or prosecution.
Others invent colorful pasts, improving on banal reality. This is a game we can all join in.
Did I ever tell of the time I was James Bond?
In pursuit of happiness or the taming of an alpha male
I tried booze.
I tried drugs.
I tried sex.
I danced with death.
Various combinations were all fun, but none quite hit the spot.
Hell, I tried them all, time and again, with the ever diminishing ecstasies.
Then I found true love, or it found me, undeserved and unlooked for.
“Love is all you need”.
Who needs fairy lights?... or romanticism degenerates.
Sunset wreathes deep valleys in mist and the sky in golden clouds.
Pines, bananas and palms are silhouetted.
Bats hunt against the dusk sky.
Night sounds, a cacophony of cicadas and nightjars
A thousand fireflies twinkle sexual messages
“Come and get me! My aedeagus explodes with desire!”
“Oh flashy one, take me now!”
Simone, the Parrot, invents perpetual motion
Ivy buys healthy cereal. Simone spits it on the floor. She gets a tastier brand. My breakfast is the hated, cardboard product. It should be called ‘Horse Mix’.
Simone likes Sun Flower seeds, tossing some from the patio. Sunflowers grow below, to feed Simone with their seeds.
“Let us recycle Simone as Pie”.
The Big Bang
We sit in Adirondack chairs, sipping Dry Martinis, watching the storm.
Flash! Crash! The loudest bang we ever heard smashes down near the house. We are deafened.
A squillion volts enter two pines a hundred feet up, superheating the sap. They explode, hurtling bark and splinters.
Later, still darkness, silent lightening flickers in high clouds.
The Human Race. Cheery thoughts, prompted by the terminal illness of various close friends.
We toddle unaware.
We run, swim, jump and climb. John drowns.
High speed motorcycling. Joe crashes. It cannot happen to us.
Older colleagues die. We take their jobs.
Friends are disappearing fast, cancer or infarction.
Others toddle again, on mechanical joints.
Our turn is coming.
Wrinkled faces, crumbling bodies, accepting inevitability.
Every breath, nearer death.
Rant “Remember remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot.I see no reason why gunpowder, treason Should ever be forgot” An old nursery rhyme celebrating events in 1605.
The capture and execution of thirteen dissidents, attempting to kill the King and Parliament in Westminster, is celebrated annually.
Many wanted to rebel against their inept and corrupt elites in the sixties. Most went on to lead worthy, bourgeois lives. In old age they rant at the TV.
Perhaps Guido Fawkes was right after all?
Aid for a developing country?
Costa Rica receives technology and advice from the IRS. Its government wants to know every penny Ticos spend. Spy drones will reveal those dodging the luxury tax on houses.
1984 finally comes here.
What excellent opportunities such technology provides for greater corruption amongst the police and officials.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Does this aid help?
Schadenfreude in a Fools’ Paradise
Smugly drinking cocktails, we watch yet another tropical sunset, painting the clouds in reds and orange.
“What a mess the world’s in. Our friends, their savings stolen by governments and banks, sit freezing.”
“Terrible, paying for armies and drones to stir up hornets’ nests!”
Poas rumbles. Our scene is obliterated in a pyroclastic flow.
Costa Rica Ennui- The Lotus Eaters
Drifting through the lees of life.
Party-time, same shorts and old T shirt for every party.
So elegant! Mindless of bad legs and fat ass.
Chat about, not addressing the World’s problems.
Leave on the TV.
Boca food is dire, but easier than cooking.
Dozing in the hammock, reading vacuous trash.
Achievements today, nothing.
Ernesto Che Guevara, a retrospective
Che, iconic champion of the proletariat, you acted whilst others talked. Eschewing middle class respectability, you led violent revolutionaries in Africa and Latin America against corrupt elites.
Oh Che, if you had escaped CIA orchestrated execution, would you be proud of poor, decayed Havana.
Your dream was poisoned by communist stifling of freedom and enterprise.
Literary events and Book Fares
Frustrated librarians toil among the musty books, tending brattish kids, pushy moms and indigents, reading magazines to keep warm.
Publishing is dominated by intelligent women.
Books are full of romantic inspiration.
Only now, I hear that literary conventions are hotbeds of rampant sex. Why do I write so late in life, with my wife watching?
The Next Naive Wave or Paradise Lost
New retirees to Costa Rica mingle, full of hope.
“We come from....
“We came because...
“We are renting in....
“I worked in....”
Shoot me, before I say, “You’ll last 6 months”.
Better, shoot the realtors, lying about National Geographic.
The climate sucks.
Social security is insufficient.
The thieves are the cops and the lawyers!
Good Intentions and reality
“Let’s pass a law to become greenest and cleanest.”
The propaganda sounds great.
New taxes pay for enforcement.
The fields burn.
Gold miners are in the parks.
Cops share the turtle eggs.
Few pay taxes.
Corrupt ministers siphon the money into their businesses.
Tourists are being conned!
This is just a delusional developing country.
Droning on about drones
The unasked question,
“Are extra territorial assassination and collateral civilian casualties by robots either legal or morally justifiable?”
If the answer is yes, then it must be OK for other nations to send them to DC, London and Tel Aviv.
This is asymmetric morality. We can deploy nukes, torture and invade, but others must not.
The Church taught so the child thought that:
white or black smoke was a miracle;
the whisky breathed priest’s inappropriate hand was God’s will;
suffering, poverty and exploitation were divine tests;
rewards would come in heaven;
evil would be punished;
this religion was the only true religion.
Some children grew up!
Others chose not to.
What are the old for?
We: passed on our genes; raised kids; retired.
What use are we now?
If the kids don’t need us for babysitting, jobs about the house or funds, their selfish genes focus on the next generation.
The sooner we die and pass on the money, the better.
Flee. Party till we drop in Costa Rica.
Are we really responsible for our actions?
Our genes, upbringings and experiences predestine us to our actions and behaviours in a similar way to Calvin's claim that God had already decided our fate. Religious Buddhists, Taoists and Hindus believe that Karma determines your position in the next reincarnation. Your acts in previous lives determine your future, even though there is no memory of them.
Neuroscientists have discovered that most of our decisions are instinctive.They debate as to whether there is some vestige of free will that allows us to choose how we act.
Why would that be so? The proponents of free will argue that if you drop that concept, then life has no meaning. Who says life has to have a meaning?
Studies of sociopaths show a strong correlation between head trauma and the indicators for the condition. As an example of this, Henry VIII of England was thought to be a sweet prince, until he received head trauma in a joist. Then he became a murderous rotter.
Pulling all this together:
1. If our fate is predetermined, no one can claim the right to great wealth or position
2. Sociopaths and other criminals may need to be restrained, but do not deserve punishment.
3. Life may well have no meaning.
Pass the G and T