Some Further Ideas On Ben Sasse

    I was impressed by the book, however, to some, that marked me as old.  Senator Sasse is only forty-three years old,  but some reviewers act as though he’s ancient.  I’m sixty, what does that make me?  Ya gotta laugh!  🙂

    What he grew up in rural Nebraska and talked about the jobs that made him, some took it as, well, he’s from a lightly populated rural flyover state, and his experiences have nothing to do with modern society.  

   I didn’t think about this before, but I would have asked, Senator Sasse; Would you have written this book, if you hadn’t been elected to the United States Senate?  Many reviewers, even though the Senator denied it and I believe him, that the book was meant to be the beginnings of position papers, so he could run for President.  

    OK, if Senator Sasse is out of tough, maybe a thirty-five year old, who thinks she knows more can run.  That could almost be a reality show.  The Battle of the Generations.  🙂


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Mom, Your Ancestors Are Central Asian!


Click on 23andme for details.

I’m officially Ashkenazi Jewish.  When you go generation by generation, by my Mom’s Haplogroup, H6a1a1a

   An educated guess tells me Mom’s distant ancestors were converts to Judaism.  The particular haplogroup variation is less than six thousand years old.  Somewhere on the Eurasian Steppes.  More algorithms and research will be needed to narrow it further.  It could be anywhere, from the Don River on the Ukrainian Russian border to Mongolia.  That’s a huge territory.  Ironically, I once belonged to a sister city group with Almaty, Kazakhstan.  Ironically, I just finished a book by Serhii Plokhy called The Gates of Europe about Ukraine.  Gates of Europe hell, the Steppe goes from Eastern Hungary to Manchuria.  The Mongols, under Genghis Khan were the first to conquer the entire thing.  

   I’ve used this line before.  The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Pepper Martin was once asked, “Mr. Martin, why do you run so fast?”  His response?  “Well sir, I grew up in Oklahoma and once you start runnin’ there ain’t nuthin’ to stop you.”

    Well the Eurasian Steppes are a longer version of that.  They tamed and rode horses though.  Still a long way to ride.  

    Ride they did, making trouble wherever they go.  The Chinese built the Great Wall of China for a reason.  To try, (notice I said try) to keep people like me out.  Sometimes the deterrence didn’t work, the Chinese offensive line didn’t hold, and the Chinese quarterback was sacked.  

    Then Attila the Hun had great fun, attacking Europe.  There is a common theme to this.  Different groups, back and forth, sacking places pillaging, taking slaves.  Nice work, if you can get it.  

   Then a youngster named Temujin rose up in Mongolia.  He managed to ride all the way across Eurasia.  You can now ask Life of Brian style, what did the Mongols ever do, other than burn things down.  I read in NBC Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel’s book about the Middle East and how the Arab world decline began, when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258.  

    OK, so what did the Mongols do?  Provided communication between East and West.  They were tolerant of religion and spread Chinese ideas to Europe and European ideas East.  If you played ball, paid your taxes and didn’t make trouble.  

    Is it romantic, the idea of riding across the Steppes on horseback?  No, men are bearded wear the same clothes, ride forever, eat Steak Tartare, and don’t bathe much.  Nothing romantic at all.  I’m glad my ancestors stepped away from the Steppes.  


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Senator Ben Sasse The Vanishing American Adult

I was on the waiting list for the book and looking forward to it.  It’s well worth the wait, and I plan to buy a copy to take more notes.  I was a history minor in college and he’s a historian, so that piqued my interest as well.  

     I don’t want to give anything away, so this is not a book review, other than me saying read it!

    I agree with the book.  There some things I might add here and there.  In some ways, though, I was left with questions:  Questions, sadly, I don’t have answers for.

   I’m sixty years old.  Except for an exceptional few, I see millennials as a disaster.  (Now, I sound like President Trump, I get it, not intended).  They are wrapped up in themselves.  If they are on their phones walking toward you and not looking, they expect you to get out of the way, (Can’t you see I’m on the phone)?!

     Senator, I should add this for you.  My father worked at the same place as a college chemistry professor, until he died in 2012.  He was at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York for fifty-six years.  I wish I had a career like that.  Yes, the common element through my working life is customer service and problem solving, but the average stay in a job is four years.  I’m glad I’m as old as I am.  The work world is changing so much.  Senator, you’re right in saying the Digital Age has more change in a shorter time span, than the beginning of Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions combined.  

    I’m not a Luddite.  I understand change.  The changes as time goes on, though are leaving me farther and farther behind.  When I wasn’t in school, I saw my Dad’s workplace and my Mom’s various workplaces.  At Pratt, I was part of a community.  Senator, I had something like what you described growing up, mentors and colleagues who took an interest in me.

    I didn’t end up a college professor, however, in a roundabout way, I understand what was described in the book.  I understood what went on where my parents worked.  Reading was encouraged, I’ve always enjoyed reading.  I’ve become more of a fanatic now, since I discovered Ashkenazi Jews have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s.  Reading and learning helps to expand that, along with exercise.  I’ve had jobs, many I didn’t like, but I always considered it professionalism to put in my best.  

    I mentioned playing games and being on phones.  You can’t blame the inventions.  Every invention has a downside.  Galileo invented the telescope to look at the heavens.  Generals adopted it and hellish battlefields were created.  Firearms make hunting simpler, people were doing  a fine enough job killing each other before firearms.  The Internet has some great stuff and some bad stuff.  Think Yin and Yang:  Positive Negative.

    Senator, I was going to take you to task for not including Chinese philosophers in books, then I thought about it.  I have to think of ways for Confucian thought to work.

    Now for my questions:  Again, I agree with you completely, the young people delay adulthood.  I have twenty something nieces, with no intention of leaving the nest.

    What’s to be done?  The first question I need to ask, is how important is it to the United States to instill what you wrote about?  My reason for asking this are simple.  Will enough parents voluntarily do what you have laid out?  If this is important to the United States, will the country have to find a way to enforce this?  Or will our system of freedom as it is, do us in?  The Founding Fathers didn’t count on what’s happening with vanishing adulthood.  

    One lesson I’ve learned.  Hardship builds resilience.  Again, it is hardship in United States terms.  Something tells me my hardship is nothing like a poor person in the Philippines.  

    We can now make the connection between luxury and not dealing with hardship.  Do we need to cut down on luxuries by government fiat and toughen our people like Ancient Sparta?  These are the questions that roll through my mind.

I have not developed it in more detail, but these are questions I have.  

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Mr. Carson and My Library Visit

I’ve written about Downton Abbey and my favorite character, the butler Mr. Carson, played by Jim Carter.

    Today, I was at my local library, the Wilmot Branch of the Pima County Public Library.  I was going to the front desk of the library, so my friend Karen, who works there, could change a five dollar bill for me so I could use the soda machine.  A young girl, probably about eight was with what looked to be her Grandma, (I certainly didn’t ask, that can cause all kinds of embarrassment).  

I was wearing my red shirt that says Carson’s Butler Service The Way Things Used to Be.  It has a black figure, who is supposed to be Mr. Carson in his black tuxedo to serve dinner.  

    Grandma was reading the writing on my shirt out loud.  She asked what it was.  I asked if she’d seen Downton Abbey on Channel 6, KUAT here in Tucson.  She said, she’d never seen it or heard of it.  I asked what she thought it was.  She thought it was a local catering company where I was employed.  She neglected to read the bottom of the shirt which says Downton, England.

     The little girl then asked me if Mr. Carson is black.  I answered “No, but the one Downton Abbey episode, where the character of Mr. Carson had to deal with a black, it was different.  (I speak of the episode, where the jazz musician, played by Gary Carr, came into the kitchen).  I told the young lady, the character that is Mr. Carson was shocked when a black man walked into HIS servant quarters.  Mr. Carson had to grab the table from the shock.

    I should’ve stopped at no with the young lady.  The two men on line behind me are African-American.  As my London friend Sue said on Facebook.   OOPS.

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The Forest of Brexit

I’m an unashamed Anglophile, however, unlike many Americans, I don’t see Britain as a giant museum, (although the history is great).  My parents through their careers had British friends, and I’ve made many British friends through Michael Palin’s website and my writing.

I’ve been following Brexit.  It’s not my place to judge if the vote was a mistake or not.  I’ve spoken with my British friends and have concerns about where this is going.

Why the title is “The Forest of Brexit.”  For it is a forest.  The clearing is nowhere in sight.  For those Monty Python fans out there, not quite the Knights Who Say Ni, but could be as scary.

I’ve read many of the results may not be seen for a decade or two.  I’m stating the obvious, when I say, some can’t wait that long.  It’s like Daniel Boone exploring past the Cumberland Gap.  Not sure what was out there.  (His son was killed by a Shawnee war party twenty miles West of the Gap).  Columbus thought he was going to Asia.  Wonder what Caesar thought was West of Ireland.

I tend not to take much stock in futurist predictions.  One invention, assassination, decision can change the course.  Brexit could happen or not happen, be pure genius or a disaster.

All  I can say for my British mates is; I’m rooting for y’all.  I hope you can get past the forest to a good clearing.

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I Need One Million Hotel Rooms.

I’ve been watching Prof. Michael Wood’s series, The Story of China on Public Broadcasting.

Many years ago, I was a Political Science major, specializing in China.   I’m enjoying the series and learning many new things.

I read an article separately, that 400 million Chinese, one third of the population can be shown through DNA to be descended from three men, who lived 5000 yrs. ago, the time of the Yellow Emperor.  You can see the continuity in Chinese history.  It’s one of the things I enjoy studying about it.

Then I read the Kung family has three million descendants.  Who are the Kung’s?  If you’ve heard of some dude named Confucius, that is his family.  Confucius is a Latinized form of Kung Tzu.  Master Kung.  Between meticulous Chinese history records and DNA, you can spot these descendants.  There are six branches of the Kung family.  The majority are in Shandong Province, especially the city of Qufu.  Confucius was allegedly born on nearby Mount Ni.  So now you know where Monty Python’s Knights Who Say Ni, come from, though Graham Chapman would say silly just silly.  There are six branches of the family.  One on Taiwan, and one in South Korea.  There is a branch in a city in Zhejiang province, and two Muslim branches, one in Yunnan, one in Gansu, that has produced Muslim scholars.

Click on Qufu for Wikipedia article with pictures of the family mansion and tombs.

Imagine, the youth in Qufu, who had been protesting against Koreans.  You leave off those protests, your Korean cousins are coming.

Mother, I have Korean cousins?  You get the gist.

So how do you have a family reunion and rent a million hotel rooms and houses?  I’m sure the Chinese database Weibo can come up with a version of  Airbnb.


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Prof. Bettany Hughes Marx Nietzsche Freud

I enjoy watching Professor Bettany Hughes.  She normally covers the ancient world, but in this case she did three episodes in the 19th Century.  The common element?  All three were German speakers, Karl Marx, Freidrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud.  

    The first episode was Karl Marx.  Marx learned his agitating from his father, who idolized Napoleon.  The main thing Marx seemed to learn was being an agitator, when he went to University, where, this being Prussia, he got himself into a duel.  Marx was well off, but not part of the Prussian Juncker Aristocracy.  He was going to get in trouble in Prussia sooner or later.  He eventually fled to Paris, with his family, where he got in trouble, then to Brussels, where he had to sign papers saying he wouldn’t agitate, though he didn’t keep to it, then eventually to England, with his new lifelong friend who he met in Paris Freidrich Engels.  Engels was from a family owning mills in Manchester.  I enjoyed the description of Engels in the Wikipedia article.  A radical, who liked his fox hunting and parties.  I wondered if Theresa May could be friends with him.  Today, you would call him a “Champagne Socialist,” or “Limousine Liberal.”  

     Watching this, as a Political Science major, I learned several things:

Both Marx and Engels were professional agitators.  It made me think back to my days at City College of New York, with the Marxist agitators.  I never paid attention to the connection before.  This is how Marxist nations had cadres.  The system was dependent on having professional agitators.  I realized Marx was really a bum, who could write, mainly supported by Engels, who combined his care for the poor with still wanting the life of the rich.  I wonder what would’ve happened to him, if he was in Russia for the Boleshevik victory.  Think Dr. Zhivago, when he returns to the family home from World War I.  There would have been a party in the house, but not the type Engels enjoyed.  Fox hunting would’ve been out.  

    I read something recently, it might have been BBC Future, and it spoke about Das Kapital, which I had to read in college.  What Marx got right was it depended on who controlled the means of production.  Engels in his factory controlled the means of production.  

Yes, in my life would I like to be paid more.  Having said that, I also know at a certain point as a worker, I will price myself out of a job.  If Engels was generous with his workers, how far could he go, without going out of business?  Also, he should be able to enjoy ownership, after all, he provided the means and put his all into it.  What Marxism seems to be saying is “Congratulations, to your enterpreneurship, now hand it over to the people,” the people being whoever the leadership designates.  The article stated that in some ways your “Marxist” states were capitalism run by bureaucrats.  Probably your remaining Marxist university professors would say the same thing.  

     Social class took hold for Marx in the University of Bonn, him against the Prussian Junkers.  So class was everything.  The lower classes could be uppity to their betters.   When the Prussian authorities shut down Marx’s newspaper, it was like the movie Robin Hood, when the Sheriff of Nottingham says, “You’ve come to Nottingham Castle once too often.”

When Marx gets to Paris, Prof. Hughes discusses the ideas, of property being theft, workers cooperatives, etc.  Marx is a journalist, but also a professional agitator.  Religion as the opiate of the masses?  I just finished binge watching House of Cards.  The Kevin Spacey character Frank Underwood, knows how to give tidbits to the masses.  Speaking with the older ladies in my apartment complex, I realized all I would have to do as a sleazy politician would be protect Social Security & Medicaid, have cookouts and scare people to death by running Fox all the time.

    Some of the kids at work, I might have a different campaign.  In other words, payoffs.

   When she speaks to Professor Angie Hobbs, Professor Hobbs, talks about how Marx saw, the arts, law etc. as weapons of the powerful.  Why later Marxist states worked to control the arts.  Marx praises the “bourgeoisie for creating the advances, but then they are supposed to hand it over.  Again, yeah sure, I say in a sarcastic Brooklyn voice.  To keep your power, you have to provide certain members of the proletariat, with just a touch more power.  Police officers, your army, Ceaucescu in Romania at the end used miners to put down protests, gave them a little more food and better apartments.  I liked the part of Marx moving to the suburbs, bourgeois lifestyle, including dance lessons for the girls.  Can’t forget the niceties for the party theoreticians, lol!  

    The opening of the British Museum Reading Room provided statistics for Marx to use.  

When Professor Hughes states Das Kapital didn’t have the impact Marx had hoped for, I remember reading Das Kapital.  It’s dense, then again, it was translated from German.  Also, the workers he was aiming for, would have had a hard time with it.  Why you needed the agitators to speak to crowds.  As Prof. Hughes stated, Stalin would have sent Marx to the gulag.  My Dad always said, Marxism was like a religious cult in some ways.  Certain people had the word of Marx, and we are going to teach it to you poor benighted workers.  

I grew up knowing people from the Eastern Bloc.  I didn’t need help in disliking the Communist world.  You were always going to have a small corps of activists with the word from above, foisting it on the rest of us.  There’s no way it can not become dogmatic.  Marxist professors can keep saying the Communist states weren’t really Communist, but there is no way for their theoretical Messianic Marxism to come to pass.

    Especially not in the digital age.  I don’t see how.  People who develop digital businesses have power the Manchester mill owner couldn’t even begin to imagine.

    Say for the sake of argument someone leads a group of people and forces Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos from running their companies.  (Seattle would never be the same).  Who among the mob will have the skills to run those companies?  Do you have the “Red vs. Expert,” where the skilled person running the company will constantly have an unskilled Party hack making the decisions?  A Communist takeover in that case can only be violent.  The leaders would have their personal issues, that affect people now.   



  By declaring God dead, everyone could have their own morals, and the freedom comes with a price.  I hated reading Nietzsche in school.  I can see why the Nazis cherry picked his ideas.

I can see why he turned from religion after his pastor father died.   Nietzsche meeting Wagner.  Now there is a combination.  Wagner leading toward the Greek God Dionysus.  Loss of control, German philosophy describing individualism, the suffering going to having a good time in a collective experience, like a rock concert.  Good description, but with Wagner’s Anti-Semitism you can see where extreme German nationalism and Nazism came from.  Nietzsche stormed out of the theater when watching The Ring, hating the elite attending the performance.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  A profound statement professor and something we all have to learn, so we can move on.  We need to scars to grow as people.  Something I learned on my own.  

Thank you, Professor Hughes, for the explanation of Uber Mensch.  It is not how the Nazis took it to mean, but the idea of  one’s own goals.  More like having a coach push you to reach your goals, not a master race.  Or better yet, the Master Race has nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity.  Maybe scientists will find there is a genetic element, but it is not determined by artificial things.

   Professor Gemes and Christianity.  Nietzsche felt Christianity catered to the weak, and didn’t like the idea of compassion.  Another place I can see Nazism growing out of this.  Again, Nietzsche would have been appalled by the Nazis, but he still felt Christianity held humanity back.  As with Marx, another case, where the ideology can be made dogmatic for other reasons.  

Nietzsche’s sister Elizabeth published the works Nietzsche did not want published and she became a Nazi supporter in her old age.  “Evil loves nothing better than a void,”  Professor Hughes said and Germany had the void making the Nazis possible.  Even if Nietzsche had been appalled by the Nazis, it happened that way.  Now the overload I feel Nietzsche predicted is happening.  That is for my next essay, Diary of a Grumpy Old Man.






















    I’m dedicating this part to my glamourous psychologist friend Dr. Rita Pettiford.  Professor Hughes starts out, with how it set up using modern advertising to appeal to people, people speaking about their inner demons.  I will get back to whether he is a charlatan or not later.

His childhood?  A bright young man, seems a bit arrogant.  I learned about Breuer, who used “talking therapy” to get people to say whatever came into their minds.  I like the troubleshooting trying to uncover traumas holding people back.  Breuer stated he cured a woman being afraid to drink water to seeing a dog, drinking out of a master’s class.  Well OK.

Why did Freud see sex as the basic issue?  Seems to be no connection how that started.  They would have had no idea of brain chemistry, or DNA and how it effective people.  His first talk about neurosis, went back to sex.  Monty Python routines come to mind, but on a serious side, much of it makes almost all men become perverts,

At least he was willing to do analysis of his own dreams.  He sees himself as a pioneer, and others would follow.  Learned more about the Freudian slip, with the Austrian politician.  To him the past never went away and had something to push.  

Where did he get the theories of penis envy in women and castration fears in men.  He seemed to be leading to, everyone would become neurotic, and without the talking cure for everyone, it will never be solved.  It makes it sound like all men fear being diminished and all women really want to be men.  Prof. Hughes said even with the clinical attitude, Freud’s colleague Fleiss was right and Freud was reading his own thoughts into the sessions.  A bit like an astrologer or fortune teller.

I can’t comment on the shell shock itself, as I can’t even imagine what these men and women go through.  Freud seemed to get it right about the psychology behind shell shock.  

The Death Drive:  Freud suggesting this that people wanted to undo the bonds of life.  It goes against the idea of self survival.

Id:  Unconscious Death Drive Sex.

Super Ego:  Internal Conscience ideals and moral guardian in conflict with the Id.  

Ego:  The way to manage, not cure the other two.

To Freud you are never really cured.  

I have a hesitation about psychology & the world of shrinks.  My Chemist father taught me science would explain it sooner or later.  (We are getting there through chemistry, brain analysis and DNA).  My real hesitation, (which will be explained in a book I plan to write later), is that as a young child, I was diagnosed with autism and the therapist recommended to my parents institutionalizing me.  My father said no.  Again, going back to Marx and politics how individuals can make a big difference on many people.  Therefore, I admit, I have a bias against Freud.  I try to be open minded but you can understand my feelings.

    I still just can’t figure out how he can make the connections.  

Again Professor Hughes, thank you.






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