Love and Letting Go

Lot’s of people from my generation remember the cliche’, “If you love something, set it free.” Sting wrote a song about it, numerous satires came from it, etc. Well, it is true, but there is more depth to it than a lot of people imagine.

Many years ago, I had a student of whom my wife and I were exceptionally fond, so much so that we asked her to housesit for us and we joked about adopting her if she ever needed it (not a slam on her mother; she’s wonderful, too!) She was one of those students who would come by during lunch or after school to talk philosophy and I was one of her coaches.

I was delighted, then, to find that she had returned to this area after grad school and was in a career that made me very proud. Sadly, she wanted nothing to do with me. With my thick skull, it took a while to realize that trying to find out why she shunned me was only making matters worse and was intruding on her privacy; therefore, I “set this love free.”

However, what doesn’t get mentioned is that a person has to set him or herself free, also. For months, I have been plagued with self-recrimination about what a horrible person I must be to drive this wonderful young woman out of my family’s life, and how stupid I must be that I can’t figure out what I did wrong. Only in the past week have I finally realized that such thinking accomplishes nothing.

In conclusion, the late singer-songwriter Dave Mason wrote, “There ain’t no good guy. There ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.” I may never know what the disagreement is about, but that isn’t important.

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Favorite sports teams

OK, let’s make something perfectly clear:  try as I might to be as rational as possible, there are two areas in which emotions trump rationality. Music is one (and I would argue that it should), and the other is sports.

I have lots of teams I support, but the ones I tend to be most irrationally in love with are the San Francisco Giants and Arsenal. I have followed both clubs for many years; I’ve rooted for SF for as long as I can remember and for Arsenal since I was in high school. So, slamming either one of these teams is going to provoke and Incredible Hulk-like response from me.

Close behind them would be the San Francisco 49ers. What all three share in common is that I happened to fall in love with them when they were in the midst of heartbreaking times, so no one can accuse me of being a fan who jumps on the bandwagon of a team just because they’re successful (like about 80% of Yankees, Cowboys, and Manchester United supporters.)

I also root for my own alma mater and, believe me, they really stunk when I went to college there. But lately, they have become a really popular cultural icon and I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm when I see everybody wearing my college’s replica jerseys, etc. It’s still hard for me to get past the days when winning four football games in a season and beating our biggest rival was a success. Now, I see people who never attended my school get all depressed if it loses a whopping two games in a season. Isn’t life interesting?

Valid arguments versus bad arguments

Here is a concept that I’ve tried to teach:  the difference between a valid argument with which you disagree and a bad argument.

Let me see if I can clarify this. Even though I tend to lean to the left in economics, I still believe that a valid argument can be made for Supply-Side economics. My disagreement with Supply-Side is that, since its advocates tend to be very pro-free market, they tend to reject regulations that would make it effective when used. What good does it do to cut tax rates for job creators if they either sit on the money or create the jobs in other countries? Nevertheless, rejecting Supply-Side theory as a possibility is wrong; at its core, the theory is valid.

A bad argument example is the current insistence by so many that the key to economic recovery is to use Supply-Side theory now.  We are currently living in conditions that are the antithesis of when the theory should be used; Supply-Side tax cuts make sense when we simultaneously have high unemployment and high inflation. We may hear about rising gas prices and conclude that inflation is high, but that is incorrect, largely because of the huge hit this country took in real estate prices. Anyone arguing for tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations is making a bad argument.

It’s subtle, but it’s important to distinguish these. It helps explain why some disagreements become so heated, because people fail to acknowledge that someone else’s argument is valid.

Entertaining vegan friends?

First off, my philosophy on food is to eat healthily, locally if you can (but don’t you dare try to take my coffee away from me!), be an omnivore but, most importantly, don’t be obsessive. Turning down a meal invitation is generally a bad idea because it is rude; even if it “throws you off your diet”, you can compensate later on.

As an omnivore, I still have vegetarian friends, some of whom are vegan. You can imagine I’m not going to be very close to anybody who turns a meal, which should be a celebration of life and love, into a political event, but I want to be able to entertain friends even if they have different dietary standards than I.

The following is my favorite “go to” recipe for entertaining vegans. It is a vegan curry. Omnivores, you’ll still enjoy this even without the meat and dairy:

VEGAN CURRY

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil (preferably peanut oil or something with a high smoke point. I LOVE olive oil, but it tends to burn and scorch in this recipe because of its low smoke point)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 onions, diced

4 tomatoes, chopped or one 12 oz can diced tomatoes

3 carrots, sliced

1 cup peas or lentils

2 potatoes, chopped into one inch pieces

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

Preparation:

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and all the spices and reduce heat to low. Cook for just one minute, stirring once or twice.

Add onions and sautee for 3 minutes, or until onions turn clear. Add tomatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes, salt and water. Cover your pan and allow to cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are done, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice if desired, and enjoy!

The original recipe called for half the amount of vegetable oil and replaced the remainder with margarine. Try it that way if you like, but I’m not keen on the transfats and other aspects of margarine and how they affect your health.

Just what the world needs: another blog.

It is traditional to start a blog by explaining why the author started it. Well, I have all kinds of interests that I want to share, and hope to hear from others how they feel.

My guess is more people want to know why the pseudonym “Publius17” was chosen. First, I have to use a pseudonym because I need to protect my privacy within my working world; the reasons for this will become apparent with time. Next, “Publius 17” was chosen (I couldn’t use just Publius since it was already claimed; the “17” has a personal motivation) for two reasons:  it was the choice of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison for publishing the Federalist Papers (perhaps the greatest collection of English language essays in existence) and because “Publius” means “the people” in Latin. Since my blog will be covering topics as serious as politics and religion and as whimsical as wine and baseball, I think that it will be a fairly representative display of how most of us are. Don’t most of us have issues about which we feel passionate, but also try to keep a balance of fun in our lives?