So Much Stupidity, So Little Time To Educate

Ah, International Woman’s Day is here and here I am reading so many articles of stupidity and ignorance.Why am I not surprised? Could it be that so little science, in particular biological science, and so little in mathematics are taught in all levels of education these days that we so easily fall prey to ideologies that fit our emotions rather than our reasoning? But then I might as well ask: “When was the last time the world was ruled by logic, order, and reason?” Silly me, the enlightenment has only encouraged the growth of ideologies (which are grounded in ignorance, belief, and emotion) that appeal to the ignorant, both professional and amature.

I suppose I should learn to keep my mouth shut but that would make me complicit in the most heinous crime of deliberately spreading ignorance and stupidity. Popularity has never been my strong suit. So when I read some idiot, even if he is a successful idiot, I must call him to task. Since when is intelligence and talent distributed evenly across the world? And how, exactly do you distribute opportunity? Please, show me the data, name your sources, educate me as to how all of this has been discovered. The literature on intelligence shows that there is no equal distribution of it across the entire world. That is, the IQ group averages show differences between groups. You can find that information in the published data, studies, and literature. And there is the problem of within group differences as well. For caucasians in the US, the average IQ is approximately 100 and approximately 68% of that population are within the first standard deviation. The range is 84 to 116 on the Stanford-Binet scale.

So IQ is one of the most intensively studied subjects, the gold standard for research. Talent is a different matter. Why might that be? Well, is there a really good definition for talent? What about its measure? How then might we say that talent is equally distributed across the world without saying that talent is so ordinary a quality or virtue that its description is useless, it describes little or nothing. And what does all this have to do with opportunity? How does one distribute opportunity? Ah, it must be the good fairy of opportunity who has knowingly or unknowingly, willfully or not, distributed opportunity with the inaccurate wave of her wand upon the populations of the world. So it must be either a chance distribution or a contrived distribution. If the latter then we may conclude that opportunity is controlled by some group of humans for nefarious purposes and thus, good laws shall make all opportunity equally distributed.

Of, the shit is getting deep. It all ranks up there with happiness engineering. I shudder to contemplate that academic coursework. Yet, there we are, the new world order of business opportunity. Work from home. I remember those adds in the various magazines I read in the fifties and sixties. Make fabulous money by working from home, just a few hours week. Most were scams, pay your dime and find out the really money was conning people out of their dimes with scams like the one you just paid for. Today we have similar scams about making money from home using your computer or laptop. It is the new twist on multi-level marketing. Make comments on blog replies, send email spam, and otherwise push your web page to sucker dummies into signing up to do the same thing your are doing. Oh, and it’s not even paying minimum wage.

Now I find out from Entrepreneur Magazine in an article written by Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, neither of which I can find on Wikipedia, that the average entrepreneur is a white 30 year old from a wealthy family. The data came from the Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City. That set of a few alarms since I have a degree in business management as well as one in psychology and one in engineering. Back in the mid seventies one of the most useful classes I ever took was one on small business. It was taught not by some professor but by several small businessmen who were successful. No theory, no bullshit, just the facts of life as an owner of a small business. The local dry cleaners, the local auto mechanic shop, even the local pawn shop. Well, life has changed and there are few small businesses in the city anymore. The big money is in social media working from home. Is it really. Do you really want to make big money? Get yourself a KFC franchise. You will work sixty to eighty hours a week for the next five years, but then you will be making the kind of money that allows you the hire assistant managers and cut back to a simple 40 hour work week. And guess what, you better have half a million to put into the business if you don’t own the land.

On the other hand there are plenty of individuals who start their own businesses every year, although 9 out of 10 will fail within the first two years. These people aren’t sitting at home doing social media, either. Auto mechanics who have the various certifications trying to find their niche in the market of auto repair. Some do only mufflers or breaks while other specialize in the older vehicles and patrons who can’t afford the dealers repair scams. Some are welders, pipe, production, repair services, while there are plumbers and electricians. Machine shops are always opening up doing the various computerized machining jobs while copy shops open here and there. You know, there are so many opportunities to open small businesses, well, it just boggles the mind. And yet most of them fail within two years, why is that? Poor planning. When you don’t own the property where your business is sited, rental rates squeeze every last penny out of your profits and you need a profit to stay in business. When you fail to secure enough capital or operating expenses to last at least two years, you run out of operating capital or expense money. Then you may have picked the wrong location where there is too much competition or not enough foot traffic or increasing city and county and state regulations that bleed your business dry. This is basic entrepreneurship, not the high tech stuff. The funny thing about going high tech is that it is a lot like winning the lottery. For every start up idea, one in a thousand or so ever make it and the entrepreneur sells out early for far less that the multiple millions that his startup will actually command. And social media is still the big con game that the work from home scans were in my youth.

You see, social media, in order to make any “profit” from it, must sell something and that something is advertising. True, WordPress is a social media site per se, but I had to option to exclude advertising from my content, hence, I do not make a penny from this site. But let us say for the moment I am like many others here and I add the advertising and perhaps I sell coffee mugs and tee-shirts and such. I still need “foot traffic” as they say in retail. I need to generate “view statistics”, paying viewers, if you will. That means I now have to design and write the type of copy that attracts viewers, loyar viewers. I need subscribers, too. Ain’t nobody gonna pay me a dime if I can’t show that large numbers of people come to my site and perhaps spend their money buying my advertisers stuff. And you know what? That would require me to work for less than minimum wage. So dear viewer, whoever you are, no advertising for you.

Advertisements

♦Motivation For Reading

I stumbled on to a couple of blog sites that were discussing the apparent problem of men, and in particular, young men, not reading as much as the authors thought young men should read.

Now that is a bit of a stretch considering that both blog authors saw that they are fiction writers and have written books, albeit self published  on their respective blogs.  One might remark that from the comments, neither one of the authors knows how to use spell check, pity.  Yet each condemn the attachment to twitter and texting and all manner of social media as if blogging wasn’t a member of that set.  Ignorance to the left of me, stupidity to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with your blog, sorry Stealers Wheel.  Of course the assumption is that if young men do not read they they are not likely to go to college and will not become educated.  The second assumptions is that anyone who attends college or university will become, upon the earning of a degree, an educated individual with a piece of paper that attests to such a fact.  Somehow that assumption that one cannot become an educated individual without having attended college or university and obtained a degree must be relevant to becoming educated.  Can’t say that I agree with such an assertion, no, it must be argued that the possession of a piece of paper or parchment and lambskin is the least likely evidence of an educated individual.  I can buy a Macaw to parrot every professors cant and score an “A” in every class.  It will not make my Macaw the least bit “educated” a;though he may look and sound the part.  Obtaining a PhD in Sociology would be the easiest for “Polly” the parrot since she would be a female and thus under-represented in the universe of sociologists, or some such rubbish.  A PhD in Physics might be a tad bit harder since the standards are a bit tougher.

 

But all that aside, the real question is why boys, young men, and men read so little fiction.  I can only offer my own experiences as a source of reasoning.  I read very little fiction, outside of the short stories I found in men’s magazines.  For the most part, novels were uninteresting, had nothing to say to me, could not speak to my desire to educate myself in the realm of non fiction writing.  I’m a man, damn it!  I like things, I want to know how stuff works.  I don’t care about personal relationships or people.  Yes, I wanted to get married because that is what young men do.  It is how we play the competitive game.  It shows that we have the basic social competence to succeed.  Who the hell worries about the details?  One is suppose to get some education, either formal or informal, find a job that makes a bit of money, and then apply oneself to advancing on the job and in the company.  It’s a basic male competition thing.  And if you are good enough, you find that female that believes you are a good competitor and provider and you make a home and have children.  I’m sorry, but where is the fiction in that and why should I care to read it?

 

Oh, but the postmodernist progressive liberal says I’ve got it wrong and by the way, I am anti-social in all manners of my thinking.  Humm….I must be missing something.  The new social hierarchy is not about competition and competence but about non competition and non male hierarchy or patriarchy.  Right, yeah, mean and women are exactly alike and that means I should not compete with other males for the hand of a woman because that is degrading to her.  So how are we supposed to distinguish ourselves from others? and we should see women not as prospective mothers of our children for it is not our place, but as our equals in life.  So tell me again, then, what would I need a woman for?  If I’m just a fifth wheel then what’s so great about fatherhood?

 

And yet, to be an educated man I must take the time to read not just one or two novels a year, but a dozen or better if I wish to call myself educated.  Tell me again, why, in this society, would I want to be know as an educated man?  What, exactly does it get me, bragging rights.  Oh right, that is a bad masculine value and must be stamped out as toxic masculinity.  So tell me just what is this sense of motivation that will psychologically compel me to read more fiction for my own good?

Two Drinks of Whine, One Drink of Gin, And I’m Lost in the Ozone Again

It’s Wednesday morning and the house is quiet save for the squeaks and beeps I cannot seem to find. I have only one ear that works so sound ranging and directional finding are at a grave disadvantage. But turn on the television or stereo and they all disappear in a haze of new sounds, all competing for my attention. Perhaps I should be grateful to be the center of attention, experience tells me I’m not so sure. What’s that we used to say in Uncle Sam’s merry band of miscreants? The sound gets loudest just before the projectile hits, or something like that. War turns us all into instant philosophers discussing the existence of god and the meaning of death. So why study philosophy, to relive my youth, which wasn’t all that great? Warp factor negative ten Mr Sulu, let us all return to the womb. Then came the reset button, the control-alt-delete keys, and never have so many confused science fiction with scientism. Ah, but I prattle on.

The punched card read: “Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate.” I’m fairly sure that the directions were written by a programmer so that we would not confuse the “or” function with the “nor” function, the two being entirely different logic operations. Well, what’s a language for if not to obfuscate? Maybe that is why we so so many angels dancing around the point on the head of a pin. Theology is a useful science for determining such first principles. The Greeks gave Western Civilization the first tools of philosophy. Now I have read a bit of Chinese and Hindu philosophies but I am educated in their distinctions of life, death, and the hereafter. Like that old joke about the dirty old man who asks the sweet young thing if she believes in the “hereafter”. She replies: “Yes, I do.” He then says: “Then you know what I am here after.” A little mendacity goes a long way, Big Daddy.

The Greeks asked the big questions. What is beauty, what is the good, how should a man or woman conduct him or herself? The God and gods (major and minor ones) were a given. If man hate a fate by which he lived his life then it was up to the gods to give him that fate. Fate could be an ordinary and uneventful life or it could be filled with adventure and tragedy. Sort of if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, but given a quick end, I’ll think I’ll walk just to prolong my fateful life and long as possible. The reality of wishful thinking is a bitch on steroids. Ride that oximoron to market. But the fun of Greek philosophy could not last long. Once you invent forms then someone invents formal religion, and the christians did with great glee. Now if you think about it, any religion may be the creation of a god, but its formulization is built by and on the committee process. And lord how that christian committee has been building that religion ever since. I don’t think God would even recognize what has been done in his name. Well, it is the natural human progress to screw up every good idea given to them over the millenia, from evolution to whirled peas.

So the church convened many scholars over many centuries and started the science of god, metaphysics. Ah, those good old first principles. What is god, who is god, how can we detect and prove that god exists? Once we have done that then maybe we’ll find a place for mankind and the rest of the earth, as flat as it is. But remember, it’s turtles all the way down. This great scholarship went on for a millenia and a half, then some scholar got the bright idea to short cut the process and go for the throat. I mean, if the purpose of metaphysics was the programer’s attempt to find the correct algorithm that would make mankind work then let’s see what nature has to say on that subject. After all, god created nature, meaning the world without mankind, and it works quite well, save the odd disaster or two every now and again. Well study physics and find the answer to relativity, or at least our relatives. We will find the secret of life by atomizing everything. Reduce everything to its lowest common denominator, And while we’re at it, maybe divide by zero because we are so smart. It’s only been five or six hundred years, it’s not like the world was made in six days, you know. Science marches on in the jack boots of the new technologies of death disguised as progress and the salvation of humankind. “Barkeep, two more wines and another gin. oh god, it’s AOC, just bring me the bottle and let me get permanently lost in the ozone again. I can’t remember, it is republican or democrat? Oh shit, it’s a purple haze…..

When Fools Rush In

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction

By 

 

I read this article by Ms Staid, written on an article or ideas expressed by a Sven Birkerts, he of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age.   And I thought, has it all come to this?  Are writers of essays just too lazy to do the research for their subject?  Has it become the rage to howl at electronic media as if it were born yesterday and now we are noticing its effects?  Go to YouTube and find

Howard Beale: Turn off your TVs

 

Here, I’ve made it easy for you.  Paddy Chayefsky’s character from his film play, Network, also known as Network 76.  This film was made in 1976 and foretells the coming of our internat age.  Yes, we did not know what the internet would become back then.  Hell, we didn’t even know that there would be personal computers in such wide use, let alone be connected in such a manner as to allow instant communication anytime during the day or night.  True, one could have obtained a TRS 2000 (Tandy Radio Shack) 8-bit personal computer and for a few dollars more a modem to use over telephone voice lines to connect to local bulletin boards.  But inflation was greatly on the rise and the cost of this personal luxury was pricey and besides, most people, including teenagers were still looking to play Pong and other very simple computer generated games.  But watch the film clip, watch Chayefsky nail, as precipitously as was possible then, our cultural degeneration.  Watch the movie.  Hell, make it an annual April 1st even in your household if nothing else but to remind you the difference between what is reality and what is drivel driven cultural crap.

So go to your windows and stick your head out and yell: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to subscribe to Twitter any more!”  Turn you smart phones off and cancel your accounts, stop paying corporatist brainsuckers to such all your intelligence out of your brains and inset banal drivel and a longing to spend more and more so that your pathetic desperation to be someone is never answered.  You think that a bit harsh?  I don’t have a cell phone.  Yet when I recently flew on an airline the company wanted me to have the experience of checking in easily by downloading an app for a n electronic boarding pass.  They told me it was for my convenience.  Tell me again, why is it convenient for me to spend a hundred dollars a month just so I can download an electronic boarding pass?  I can see the convenience for the airline company, reduced headcount and saves them salaries and benefits.  But now I am paying for the company’s convenience if I get my self a smart phone (costs a hundred or so) and service (another hundred or so each month).  Where was Ms Staid’s analysis on this portion of cultural degradation?

But to talk about the passivity of reading Tweeter, of being tied twenty four by seven, three hundred and sixty five days a year to an electronic device that we feel we cannot put down, cannot ignore, lest we miss some text or inane comment, and to do this in front of others, with whom we are suppose to be giving our attention, well, what can one say?  Is that the future of Western Civilization, the great leap in divided attention, the great adherence to that myth of multitasking personal and impersonal relationships, all the while feeling technologically superior to third wold inhabitants  because they have neither the infrastructure nor the bad manners to want to use such devices?  No, we re worried that we may be giving only passive attention and learning too little from such encounters.  So what will the Paris Review teach us?  What important revelation will Ms Staid impart to our collective wisdom?  Electronic media is okay but read more books?  This sounds more like cultural as usual, except we fail to understand just what as usual means.

Telling Stories After School

February is almost at an end and the wild March Hare is at the door, ready to come on through. The weather changes, the country changes, and life changes, often destroying that illusion that we can hold on to today or yesterday when we are already several tomorrows ahead. If one is writing Utopian fiction then a month of tomorrows have already passed leaving the new world unchangeable to those who finally arrive. But the rest of fiction always deals with, in some small part, today and in a larger sense, yesterday.

You, the reader, might ask why that must be so and I will tell you. We writers of fiction and that includes anyone who has written anything fanciable or humorous or even personal to others, even in passing, have become tellers of tales or stories after school. If I am to write a love story then I am basing my story on past events, experiences I know directly or indirectly. I create a little world of my own based on truth and falsehoods, perceptions and expectations, and what I, the artist with my artist’s eye, can see. It is that power of imagination and the skill of construction sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into pages that finally convey a story to the reader. It’s basic and anyone can do it. Yes, it’s true, anyone can do it. You see, we all tell our stories to others in everyday conversation. Of course some of us are better at that than others. Some of us are better at stringing nouns and verbs and adverbs and adjectives and direct objects and indirect objects together in a narrative than others. Much of that has to do with practice, some of it is imagination, and some of it is innate.

All writing is story telling, even non-fiction, for the facts must be placed in a certain order for easy understanding. Nothing is worse that a non-fiction tome that uses unwanted embellishment and frills, just cut to the exact narrative, if you please. But fiction embraces a certain amount of embellishment. Beware though, fluff and fill are not embellishment. They are the boulders and quicksand that stand in the way of the narrative. Telling stories is something of a craft, we learn from a very early age how to tell stories. Ever listen to a child of five trying to tell a story? Watch that child grow up and see how the ability improves. But few of us ever really master that ability, that sense of craft that can leave the listener spellbound. So it is with the written word, only so much harder because the writer cannot make use of sound effects and bodily gestures.

Now for the pitch, as they say in marketing. I’ve been busy renovating a house these past few years, distracted by the political and social problems facing our counbtry and the rest of the world, and doing a lot of research for a possible dystopian novel that I hope to write and complete in two years. Short stories are easy to write but a good deal harder to write well as you may have noticed from reading my site. All of them are in rough shape, in need of various forms of editing. This week I did my first edit on the story “Wave”, which needs further refinement. So as I read more books, read through my note, and go from a very broad and general outline of the new novel (and yes, because of the complexity of the story lines I will need to “storyboard” it just to keep tract of everything), editing past stories gets me back into the habit of writing fiction effectively. Who knows, I may end up with a dozen or two short stories ready for publication. As for Wave, there are problems with word usage, phrasing, description, and the need for a bit more dialogue. And I might even toss in an essay or two for good measure.

Wave

Times were different when I was a young man.  My generation had different expectations of life than our parents and a few of us were different in outlook as well.  I had graduated university as a structural engineer and needed, I thought, to make my mark on the world.  Now I could have joined a large engineering firm and become lost in the crowd, but I figured that if I could do some work overseas I could become a standout from that crowd.  True, I was young and egotistical and full of confidence that I could engineer the world to perfection, but a young man has to have ambition or else settle for a tract house in the suburbs and collect the usual accouterments of wife, children (two mind you, one a girl and the other a boy), the family station wagon (oh dear, I reveal my age), and the hot little sports car that says “I have arrived.”  All very well for the middle class minded, but too plebeian for my blood.  Being unconventional according to the crowd and not wanting to be chained to an oar in the trireme of society I saw my future differently, the need to excel on my terms.  Besides, being an engineer was a craft, an ends to the means, as one might say.  I fancied myself a possible artist, a painter in oils creating great works of art.  Well, one must have a dream in any case.

So I did contract work and gained the experience would place me in good standing with the rest of the structural engineers of the world.  Oh the assignments were varied, the design of small bridges here and there in third world countries, some teamwork on a couple of dams, and the ever present facilities engineering for docks and other logistical facilities.  One learns by doing, the essential attitude of the engineer.  Of course my social life wasn’t much.  Many of the countries in which I worked I could not speak the language and for the most part I was too busy to bother with social expectations.   A wife would be an encumbrance and girlfriends take up too much time and resources.  So I stayed single and and forgot about companionship.  At best it was an interference and at worst it was a total distraction.  Besides, I still dabbled in art by creating drawings and a few watercolors (oils are messy to lug from job to job).  Not quite the bohemian life but a bit off the mark of a conventional one.

Fate, be it what you will and question its existence, it is the one human activity that cannot be engineered.  I don’t understand it but I don’t distrust it either.  As the lyrics go: “So close your eyes, for that’s a lovely way to see”, South America was one of those last bastions of contract engineers in the seventies.  Brasilia was the new capital of Brasil and was being carve out of the jungle, literally.  Of course the Bossa Nova and other jazz forms were commanding world wide attention.  Rio was the place to be if one moved in musical circles but rather far from the interior and only accessible by plane.  On the other hand Brasilia was attracting population when none had been before. and those various components of the new city society brought their different cultures with them, music was one of the many.  It was a most exhilarating time in my life, the girl from Ipanema was in her mid twenties by now and that form of Brazilian Jazz had taken new directions.  It was exciting times if one were in the social scene, but too many cost overruns, too many botched plans, time was of the essence and you can’t build cities sitting in sidewalk cafes, so you let the social scene slide.

Aware of things your heart alone was meant to see.  Even Brazil extracted  the need for socialization among us contractors.  It is the rhythm of the work and the social life that makes the difference.  By the seventies the danger of revolutionary groups had disappeared and we could get on with the work that would make Brazil one of the economic successes of the world.  I was making   a reputation for excellence of work and swift completion or he work.  Still, there was something missing, something of a most civilizing nature.  Man does not live by bread alone and there is usually a companion in the makings that marks the difference.  Work associates are good to have but they are rarely ever good personal friends, you know, the kind you grew up with from childhood into manhood.  Looking back over my journals I see that I had been merely existing for the last few years.  Even my attempts at art screamed loneliness.  Funny thing about art, either it’s your mistress, your one true love, or it’s another faithless lover.  You can’t flirt with it and expect to be taken seriously by it.

I was between contracts and had a great deal of money saved for an extended holiday so I took a small villa in Bahia three months, I figured I owed myself a long break, time to decide where I wanted my life to be in the coming years. Over two years of working in Brasilia served to teach me the rudiments of the Portuguese language and I figured three months in Bahia would  give it that polish that only comes from immersion.  The villa was a modest affair, two bedrooms, a large bath, a modest kitchen, and an open living room.  The beach was an easy mile’s walk while the shopping and business area was two miles to the north.  Music was a constant companion in the streets and life in the neighborhood was friendly, easy going for the most part, it could beguile a man into settling, put down roots.  Astrud was sitting on the beach when I chanced to meet her the second week of my stay.  She ignored my initial greetings but by the end of the week she chose to return the salutations with that quiet smile that could flash into a flirting grin in the blink of my eyes.  Ah, to be twenty something and youthful again.  I’m afraid I looked all of my thirty two years while she seemed to be barely twenty.  Blond, of medium height, and on the thin side, this pretty woman surely had no lack of suitors.  Like most men I felt awkward around beautiful women and she was beautiful.  I’m afraid I do not have to power of the poet in me to render a great portrait of words to capture her beauty, Byron might but not me.  No, I’m an engineer and could take slide rule and pencil and render her on a blueprint like a beautifully designed bridge or modern high rise apartment tower.  But Bahia has that strange power over life, it starts to change you in many significant ways,  hear the moon and stars singing as the night sky grows dark and the birds talk of love.  Local legend says that if one stays long enough in Bahia one can feel the rhythms of love intertwine one’s heart and bind it to the city.

By the end of the month Astrud had taken a passing interest in my presence and guided me in conversation with a loving patience.   I felt my confidence gaining in speaking Portuguese and I was more comfortable speaking with her.  We would talk about some of the clubs I found where local performers put on good shows.  Funny thing was that I was beginning to feel my feet move to those local rhythms and she laughed when I confessed such a thought to her.  Slowly the distance between us closed and I could almost feel her spirit beside me.  Finally she asked me to meet her at her favorite club that night and I was thrilled.  My only regret was that I would be leaving in another month and I would miss seeing her every day.  But we could dance and hold each other close under the moon and stars. You can’t deny the stars, don’t try to fight the rising sea.  Don’t fight the moon, the stars above, and don’t fight me.  There was a dream growing in my heart.  I saw there were more stars in the night sky to count and wished to cont them with her.  Most of all I was starting to see with the artist’s eye that natural love of beauty.  Perhaps I was only fooling myself.

The end of the month was nigh, the time to pack was only a day or two away.  Yet when I looked into her eyes I saw eternity.  Yes, I know, how corny.  Walking back from the club in the early morning with our arms swinging in an easy motion as her hand squeezed mine, she stopped and looked into my face.  “Just catch the wave.  Don’t be afraid of loving me.  The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together.”  I knew she was right, things would work out.  I knew they would, I would let go.

Stardust

And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart, high up in the sky the little stars climb reminding me that we’re apart. You wander down the land and far away and leaving me with a song that will not die, love is not the stardust of yesterday, the music of years gone by. Hoagy Carmichael, to whom we are all indebted.

I knew Peter in our younger days as a sensitive young man not given to common sentiment or corruption. He was a young lawyer working in the public defender’s office when he met Lilia, a court reporter for the city court system. Peter had gravitated to one the big cities in the Midwest, he had public service on his mind and didn’t mind the low financial rewards of public service. Today is a different story, public service pays more than private practice for the ordinary lawyer. Pete was never cut out for private practice, the thought of joining a law firm and becoming a partner was not something he thought prudent for a man with his moral sense of responsibility. Being over worked is a way of life in the public defender’s office and few last more than five or six years before seeking the safety of private practice, or at least the change to public assistant district attorney.

Pete thought a man was measured by his commitment to principles of law and social justice.  I came to know Pete through a few friends in the legal system.  It sounds strange but the commonality was wine.  In vino veritas, as they say.  In wine, there is truth.  I was a wine connoisseur and one of the activities in which I engaged was the organization and hosting of wine tastings.  I knew many of the winery owners and their wine makers, a number of wholesaler salesmen, and a few of the more important retailers in the trade.  the seventies was an interesting period in California.  French and German wine prices were still relatively cheap compared to today and the California wineries were just starting to make a name for themselves.  so it was not too unusual for me to get to know a variety of individuals who found wine a fascinating hobby.  Judge Mason was a superior court judge to the local county and Judge Adams was a federal court judge.  Peter was one of the few attorneys in our group, the other two were Johnston, a workers’ comp certified lawyer, and Reynolds, a member of a private practice.  The others were local owners of high tech companies that had not made the big time just yet.

I’d say that Peter was a natural when it came to wine.  He had a very good nose for wine.  Peter had champagne tastes and a beer budget.  Maybe that is why I always included him in our tastings.  It was always a pleasure to pour him some of my best bottles out of my cellar.  Lilia was his girlfriend and a very lovely woman to have around.  She was smart and funny.  Now wine is something of a man’s hobby and back then women tended to be in the minority of participants.  But Lilia could hold her own with most of the group members.  Outside of myself, Lilia was almost as good as Pete.  Maybe that is why they hit it off so well in the beginning.  Point and counterpoint in music is the art of intertwining melodies into the structure of composition that that one can always enjoy the music that is common to both.  If point and counter point is not matched, the music descends into noise that is unendurable.

 

The thing was, while Pete had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the university and scored in the top ten of his law school class, Lilia graduated with honors with a BA in English and Literature.  They were two smart people and a common bond through law and wine.  One might have thought it a match made in heaven.  But as with wine and law, one tends to have a prejudice about the two.  In wine, Pete appreciated the French styles, the blend of cabernet, merlot, and other varietals.  where as Lilia was a true burgundy devotee.  The likes of Domain Romanee Conti was her forte.   Well, you might as well discuss whether the public defenders office was any better that the district attorneys office.  So it was bound to happen.  After being an item for about two years, Lilia broke off her relationship with Pete.  I don’t remember Pete saying any harsh word about it.  I mean, he was stunned as the rest of us.  I personally think the incompatibility was more on the order or liberal versus conservative, to tell the truth.  But whatever it was, she moved to another city.

 

Now, ten years later Pete has moved to a private practice.  We were all surprised.  Chalk it up to growing up, or at least what I believe.  In all these years Pete has not looked at another woman.  He remains stuck on Lilia.  I’m not sure I agree but it’s his life, not mine.  Stardust melodies is all it seems to be, yet, perhaps it’s more than that.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s a song that will not die.