In Pursuit of Happiness

Florida needs significant emergency aid to begin recovering from Hurricane Ian. I am confident aid will come, soon, from the federal government. I wish there could be a way to ensure that DeSantis does not get credit for the assistance the feds will provide. Regardless, the assistance must be given right away. Recovery from a storm as monstrous and powerful as Ian will take a very long time and a very large infusion of financial aid. Even if DeSantis screws up and does not follow the bureaucratic process of requesting federal aid, Biden must order the aid to be deployed; he cannot allow the speed of assistance (or lack thereof) to be influenced by political grandstanding. I hate that I have to be concerned that our political leaders might be so despicable and grotesque as to play political football with people in crisis. But I am. More about DeSantis than Biden, but I am not so naïve as to think Democrats cannot be just as malevolent. I just hope both ends of the political spectrum surprise me by coming together to address a critical, common need.


The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

~ William Shakespeare ~


I have not made a habit of watching The Daily Show; I do not have cable, so it would have been impossible lately, even if I wanted to watch it. But when I was able to watch it when Jon Stewart hosted, I liked it. And when I watched it with Trevor Noah as host, I liked it.  Trevor Noah has announced his departure, which will come at an unannounced time in what I understand is the not-too-distant future, recently. I wonder whether the show will continue and, if so, who will host?


Occam’s Razor. Or Ockham’s Razor. Or Ocham’s Razor. The principle of parsimony. The law of parsimony. Whatever one calls it, it is the principle that “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” Translated into less abstract form: the simplest explanation of a phenomenon is that, when presented with competing hypotheses about the same prediction, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. In the vulgar vernacular, “keep it simple, stupid.” KISS. I try to adhere to the principle, but it is so easy to drift into convoluted explanations whose very complexity distracts from the phenomenon one is attempting to explain. The same is true of my writing. While there is nothing wrong with my tendency to write long, elaborate, sometimes overly involved sentences, the longer the sentence, the more likely the receiver of the information presented in that sentence will fail to fully understand the message sent and may, in fact, completely misinterpret the message. It might be best to avoid such lengthy communications when involved in a heated argument with one’s enemy, the outcome of said argument which could lead to nuclear holocaust.

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

~ Dōgen Zenji,  Zen Buddhist Teacher/Master ~


I am in the mood for seafood. Fresh-caught halibut, preferably. Fish that was swimming happily until hours before it was put on a plate in front of me. And then, as I consider this, I feel guilt; responsibility for causing the death of a living creature. But, micro-seconds later, I try to dismiss the guilt by envisioning the natural order in front of me, as a lion takes down a zebra and drags the corpse of the dead animal back to the lion’s den for a family feast. At what point on the food chain does killing and consuming the remains of dead animals become morally repugnant? Or, going in the other direction, at what point does the horror of living creatures killing other living creatures become an acceptable and fascinating fact of nature? One does not assign the label “immoral” to bears catching salmon in their teeth in the rapids of a river. One does not call the eagle that swoops down to catch a mouse in its claws a murderer. Does the fact that the bear and the eagle are killing for food absolve them of “sin?” And, so, if I were to catch the halibut, it’s okay for me to arrange for its demise? And, if I were to pay a grocery store for a chicken that I will eat, is that acceptable? Or, because my mind and body are both capable of surviving without killing of animals for food, does my consumption of the chicken or the halibut validate assigning a label of “morally repugnant” to me? The morality of survival, at one end of the spectrum, versus decadence at the other end, is a complex matter. One which tends to arouse emotions much more quickly than it sparks dispassionate debate. I do not attach derogatory labels to vegetarians or vegans, but some of them tend to attach extremely derogatory labels to human omnivores. I feel a hint of bias rising up in me, so I should back away from an argument I am having with myself. This topic merits serious discussion: not for the purpose of changing my behavior or for someone else changing theirs, but for the purpose of enhancing my understanding of the world in which I live. I would like to have a conversation about this very wide-ranging topic with people who may feel passionately about it but who can discuss it without letting that passion consume the conversation, burning it to embers and then ashes. Were that to happen, the value of the conversation would be no more than smoke.


The wishes and dreams that feed on the soul are relentless, obdurately ravenous beasts that will stop at nothing until their hunger is sated; when the flesh is gone and all that remains is gristle and bone.

~ John Swinburn ~

It’s late. Time to engage with the day, with the objective of extracting from it every ounce of happiness it can provide. I wish good luck, to you and to me, in the pursuit of joy, today and every day.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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