A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/12/24



Day #267


We make lots of choices in life. Some of us choose to learn and think, some choose to listen, and some choose to do neither. The result of those choices can lead to dire events. Especially when the choice of one or the other is endemic. By endemic I mean, when enough members of a society choose to follow the path of least learning, the impact can be catastrophic. I understand this may be a simplification. When we look at the many democracies that have come and gone in the past, there appears a common thread. When the populous chooses to discard learning and instead listen to one individual, allowing that individual to do their thinking for them, that leads to a fundamental disruption. A disruption that in most cases is the precursor to even worse events.

Our founders believed they had designed a type of democracy that had the institutional strength to resist the sort of tyranny that misguided masses can wreck upon their government. While they came closer than probably any democracy that preceded the one they established, we now know that there is no sure thing that can guarantee the preservation of a government, even one as perfect as our own. The key lies in two things that are never guaranteed. The willingness of the populous to think for themselves and participate in their government, and the willingness of their elected leaders to choose the good of the society over their personal preferences. Whether their preference is for power or whether it is for the imposition of their morals or their religion, in either case the will of the populous being ignored, the government is likely to fall into chaos and corruption.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/11/24



Day #266


I have only 99 entries to go to reach 365 entries in 365 days. It’s an accomplishment of sorts, I suppose. This is what I set out to do. What have I learned so far? I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to go back and read the previous 265, and then hang around for the next 99…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/10/24



Day #265


Ray Bradbury wrote a thousand words a day starting at the age of 9. The first work he felt truly satisfied with he released when he was 25 years old. Given the fact that I write only about 500 words a day and have been at it now for 5 years, I will likely be 98 years old before I have produced a piece of writing that truly satisfies me.

That does not discourage me. I’m not Ray Bradbury. I don’t have his skill with language or his creativity, but that’s okay. We bring to the table what we have to offer. If what we bring is the best that we can produce at the moment, we have done our best. The real point is to keep going. The only goal I have for myself is the channeling of my creative expression. That’s enough. That, and good handwriting.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/09/24



Day #264


As an expansion of the idea expressed in the previous post, I offer the following quote which expresses the idea that fairness and opportunity should be applied to all equally and that to ostentatiously display one’s wealth is not the proper road to happiness: It is “With an ill grace from a man, who parades out streets with a coach and four horses when it is known his exorbitant salary enables him to make this flashy parade, and the money taken to do so comes from the pockets of the industrious part of the community.”

This quote was from an article in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette in 1796 about Supreme Court Justice James Wilson. Justice Wilson was a man deeply in debt and living from loan to loan. This is a situation not unlike a very similar one we see being played out daily today.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/08/24



Day #263


It is unlikely that perpetual happiness will be the fate of more than a few persons. (That’s the unhappy view.) Frugality is the best course of action if happiness is truly desired.

Why?

The less you have to worry about in this life and the more thoughtfully you live your life, the better your chances of obtaining happiness.

So I’ve been told. I’m hoping there’s something to that.


I like this photo…

The Medicine Man


Listen Here



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Journal Entry - Tuesday, May 4, 2024



Lady Liberty


“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Those words, spoken by Thomas Paine united the country behind the idea that freedom and democracy were worth fighting for. Today we face a different sort of trying times, a time when the founders vision of Democracy has been largely forgotten, or at least largely ignored.

Despite this chaos, there can be found reassuring ideas and images. I’m in New York and I had the opportunity to see Lady Liberty first hand yesterday. It reminds me that I must not give up hope that the American people will see their way through to keeping the flame of democracy burning, despite the efforts of many, now in positions of responsibility, to do the opposite.




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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/07/24



Day #262



In a study conducted by Carroll University in Wisconsin, cat owners demonstrated higher intelligence than dog owners. Cat owners also scored higher on the non-conformity scale. On the downside, cat owners demonstrate less “liveliness” than dog owners, but they show more signs of being introverted and sensitive (which I consider a plus). For every 6 “dog fans,” there is only 1 “cat fan.” That roughly corresponds to the “intelligence ratio” found in the general population…

Naturally, I’m a cat owner.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/06/24



Day #261


The Stoic Philosophers asked questions about “the good.” These are classic questions that all stoics contemplated.

  1. What does it mean for something to be good?
  2. What qualities make a person good?
  3. What makes someone’s life a good life?
  4. Does being a good person ensure you will live a good life?
  5. Is being a good person enough to say you have lived a good life, even if that life was filled with adversity?

What follows is my humble attempt to grapple as best I can with answers to these questions…



#1,072
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/05/24



Day #260


Stoic Question #1

What does it mean for something to be good?


Not an easy question. The stoics usually answered this question along the lines of “If something is in accord with nature, it is good.” Of course that in itself requires further explanation. My answer is, if a thing is in accord with its intended purpose and doing no harm to anyone or anything else, it is in conformity with what would be considered good.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/04/24



Day #259


Stoic Question #2

What qualities make a person good?


Now we are getting a little more specific. I could list many qualities of course, truth-telling, integrity, consistency, and many others. In my mind, this comes down to harm, or rather doing no harm. If the words you live by and the actions you take are always intended to be in the best interest of others and do no harm either intentionally or unintentionally, it can be said you are a good person. Of course, there is always the chance that unintentional harm can occur. To be practical, all steps necessary to avoid that result must be taken before deciding on a course of action.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/03/24



Day #258


Stoic Question #3

What makes someone’s life a good life?


Abiding as closely as possible with the dictate of Question #2 is a good start. I think there is a bit more to this. I think a person has to continually strive to grow intellectually and emotionally. Study is necessary, but self-reflection is critical to that growth as well. If when you reach the end of your life you sincerely believe you have become a better person than you were when you began your life journey, you have likely achieved a good life.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/02/24



Day #257


Stoic Question #4

Does being a good person ensure you will live a good life?


To put it simply. Yes. If you are successful in your quest to live as a good person and have achieved that goal to the best of your ability, you have lived a good life. (See Question #3.)



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/01/24



Day #256


Stoic Question #5

Is being a good person enough to say you have lived a good life, even if that life was filled with adversity?


Yes, it is enough. There will always be events and consequences that fall outside of your control. The notion that we control everything in the world that may impact us is nonsense. If we live a good life but are beset with adversity, that is our fate, but not our fault. Fate is not a reason to declare we have failed to live a good life.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/31/24



Day #255


I’ve been around long enough to know age is a state of mind.
I’ve seen things come and go,
And come back around again.
Some of life’s lessons have finally started sinking in.
If you don’t do nothin’ you will live to regret,
You won’t have to live with what you can’t forget.
If there is a secret to life,
It’s about staying in the here and now

— Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark


I’ve taken some minor liberties with the lyrics. This is one of my favorite songs. The point of this song for me is the idea that we should live the best life that we can. I suppose in some ways this is a Stoic notion, perhaps that’s why I like it. We should try to avoid doing things that will cause us to have regret. If we do find ourselves with regret, we should make every effort, not to forget what caused the regret, but to put that incident behind us. We will make mistakes, we should try and learn from them. We should keep focused on where we are and what’s in front of us.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/30/24



Day #254


The Benefits of Journaling:

  • Mindfulness
  • Patience
  • Personal Growth
  • Building Consistency
  • Reducing Stress
  • Stimulating Creativity

I suppose you’re wondering, why do I care about this? The answer is, you probably shouldn’t. I use journaling as a means to achieve peace. The rest of the benefits listed above are just frosting.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/29/24



Day #253


I need to quit interrupting people. It’s strange, often when I restrain myself and the conversation proceeds without my interjections, I realize that what I was eager to say had little real relevance. Hopefully that is not case when I wait my turn to speak…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/28/24



Day #252


Is there anything better than the practice of examining one’s entire day? —Seneca


Seneca, a revered Stoic philosopher, likely spent too much time in the court of Rome. Politics did not serve him well. He should have stuck to writing full-time.

Do what you do best, and try to eliminate the temptation of non-essentials.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/27/24



Day #251


If I don’t like eating spaghetti, that’s my choice. That choice does not grant me the right to make it illegal for everyone anyone else to eat spaghetti.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/26/24



Day #250


The fool talks, the wise man writes.

First of all, there is no such thing as a truly wise man. It is also the case that we are all a fool in some way. Given that, it is easy to go through life spouting one opinion after another. It’s impossible to remember everything we have said throughout the day, let alone throughout a lifetime. Writing, when it is done wisely, provides the opportunity to think more clearly and precisely. We learn from a recording of our thoughts and the recorded thoughts of others. There is also the benefit of revision over time as new knowledge is discovered and comprehended. Writing is itself a form of learning, unlike the idle chatter of the foolish.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/25/24



Day #249



I would like to learn Kumiko.

Kumiko is a traditional Japanese woodworking technique that involves intricate patterns and designs assembled from thin strips of wood. The technique does not require power tools or a large space. It can be done completely by hand if desired and typically is done that way. It believe it would be a peaceful and satisfying hobby. Like quilting, only for men. (No sexual preference intended.)

I’ll put that on my list of things to explore (Kumiko).



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/24/24



Day #248


I probably kiss the cat on the top of his head more often than I should, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the things that endears him to me.

Speaking of “pretty sure.” Grammarly would give me a low score on the confidence scale for using “pretty sure” as opposed to simply “sure,” or even better, “positive.” I have no plans to make myself sound more confident than I actually am. (Note: the word “actually” in the previous sentence also lowers my confidence score…)



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/23/24



Day #247


I enjoy the Blues. It’s my favorite musical genre. My favorite artist is Keb’ Mo’ a.k.a. Kevin Roosevelt Moore. He is considered a living throw-back to the Delta Blues, the original Blues genre. I don’t know much about that, I just like his style. To my ear, his sound is a modern blend of different Blues styles. I think he is a very good lyricist and he delivers thoughtful messages. I can also sing along with him — when no one is around…



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Journal Entry - Wednesday, May 22, 2024



2025 Reading List


Not too long ago I posted my 2025 reading list. The list consisted of a number of the best translations of classical texts of literature and philosophy. I’ve decided to replace that list with one that focuses on commentary and scholarly analysis of ancient literature, philosophy and society. I think this will be a more entertaining approach to a year of studying ancient history.



Polis: A New History of the Ancient Greek City-State from the Early Iron Age to the End of Antiquity —John Ma

A definitive new history of the origins, evolution, and scope of the ancient Greek city-state




1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed: Revised and Updated —Eric H Cline

A bold reassessment of what caused the Late Bronze Age collapse




Pox Romana: The Plague That Shook the Roman World —Colin Elliott

A wide-ranging and dramatic account of the Antonine plague, the mysterious disease that struck the Roman Empire at its pinnacle




Pliny’s Roman Economy: Natural History, Innovation, and Growth —Ricard Saller

The first comprehensive study of Pliny the Elder’s economic thought—and its implications for understanding the Roman Empire’s constrained innovation and economic growth




Rome’s Patron: The Lives and Afterlives of Maecenas —Emily Gowers

The story of Maecenas and his role in the evolution and continuing legacy of ancient Roman poetry and culture




Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek Myths for Modern Readers —Sarah Iles Johnston

An entrancing new telling of ancient Greek myths




The Scythian Empire: Central Eurasia and the Birth of the Classical Age from Persia to China —Christopher I Beckwith

A rich, discovery-filled history that tells how a forgotten empire transformed the ancient world




Plato Goes to China: The Greek Classics and Chinese Nationalism —Shadi Bartsch

The surprising story of how Greek classics are being pressed into use in contemporary China to support the regime’s political agenda




Out of One, Many: Ancient Greek Ways of Thought and Culture —Jennifer T. Roberts

A sweeping new account of ancient Greek culture and its remarkable diversity




Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern —Mary Beard

The fascinating story of how images of Roman autocrats have influenced art, culture, and the representation of power for more than 2,000 years




Of Rule and Office: Plato’s Ideas of the Political —Melissa Lane

A constitutionalist reading of Plato’s political thought




The Roman Republic of Letters: Scholarship, Philosophy, and Politics in the Age of Cicero and Caesar —Katharina Volk

An intellectual history of the late Roman Republic—and the senators who fought both scholarly debates and a civil war




Reading the Odyssey: A Guide to Homer’s Narrative —Jonas Grethlein

A fresh and original introduction to the Odyssey—and how it continues to shape literature, film, art and even the ways we make sense of our lives




Encounters with Euclid: How an Ancient Greek Geometry Text Shaped the World —Benjamin Wardhaugh

A sweeping cultural history of one of the most influential mathematical books ever written




The Folds of Olympus: Mountains in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture —Jason König

A cultural and literary history of mountains in classical antiquity




Rehearsals of Manhood: Athenian Drama as Social Practice —John J. Winkler

A bold re-conception of ancient Greek drama by one of the most brilliant and original classical scholars of his generation





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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/22/24



Day #246


I tried to watch two Mel Brooks movies last night. It turns out not to be my deal. I did enjoy a couple of lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

We are the Knights of Camelot.
We eat ham and jam and Spam alot.

Also, the classic:

I fart in your general direction…

(Probably from eating too much Spam.)

I find myself to be more of a Clint Eastwood fan. “High Plains Drifter” is one of my favorite movies. I like the following line, probably the longest line spoken in the entire movie…

It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/21/24



Day #245


I want to be the best 100 year old skier the 70+ Ski Club has ever had.



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