“Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” (Lewis Carroll)

Now that school is back in session, I wanted to exercise my right as Professor of Remedial Philosophy and Stuff that Matters by giving an exam on the first day of class. Don’t worry, it’s only five questions worth 100 points but it is 10% of your semester grade. This is mostly just a simple way for me to determine the philosophical reasoning ability of my students as a starting point for future interactions in this class. The questions were all derived from searching Google and Wikipedia so feel free to utilize those same resources on your phone or tablet. You will be given 30 minutes to complete the test. Please keep your answers brief and to the point. Let’s begin.

Question One: What is Clark’s First Rule of Motion?

 

Question Two: What is The Krueger Formula for achieving critical mass in social gatherings?

 

Question Three: Who won Pascal’s wager?

 

Question Four: What are the ancillary extremes caused by the Google Effect?

 

Question Five: How does deductive reasoning apply to this test?

 

Thanks for participating. That’s all for today. Please check back in a week for the answers and my explanation.

 

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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“People love each other, sure it’s the only way to be.” (Brewer & Shipley)

Lord, it’s me again. Now that You’ve answered my prayers with a great husband for my daughter and an amazing wife for my son, I would like to take a moment to express my thanks. Love is the greatest blessing ever given to mankind and it makes everything we do even more incredible. I just pray that everyone alive today gets to experience true love and the sooner the better.

No doubt You’ve noticed Lord that the world of today is a troubled place. People seem to be less intrigued by the prospect of love and more devoted to the pursuit of selfishness and enmity. We seem to be hell-bent on finding faults in everyone else while we blindly ignore our own failings. I’m 63 years old and I’m still waiting to meet someone who is perfect. On a good day, I still can’t count all my faults on two hands. I do the best I can with my imperfections and I rely on You to help me with my daily leap of faith. Thanks for that too.

Now that I’m a grandfather, I’m really wondering what kind of future my grandchildren will inherit. I hope You have a plan for us but I know You think free will is very important and we should make our own choices, no matter how poorly we might choose. I understand that mankind is a work in progress and we all have a part to play in the outcome but a gentle nudge in the right direction might be a good idea right about now. You can even have my life if you think it would help people appreciate the importance of self-sacrifice. I would gladly give my own life to ensure a better future for my kids and grandkids. You gave a Son for me so I know You’re not asking too much.

Lord, give us peace, love and harmony. Help us find the good in everyone we meet and teach us to be compassionate. We all want a better future but we all need each other to help us get there. The title says it all, “People love each other, sure it’s the only way to be.”

Amen

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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“Love you forever and forever. Love you with all my heart.” (Paul McCartney)

I made it. Tomorrow my son gets married and I will be there to enjoy the occasion with the whole family. In my line of work, I always wonder if I’m going to make it home each night because I drive 70,000 miles a year and this last month has been particularly risky. I see no reason to recount all the hazards I avoided on the road so let’s just say I’m thankful to be here and I am really looking forward to the big day.

Thomas is the best son I could ever hope for and I am eternally grateful that he kept looking until he found Leah. She makes him better in every imaginable way and her daughter Verity has transformed him into a wonderful father, which makes me very happy. It wasn’t that many years ago that I was beginning to think he might go the confirmed bachelor route because babies worried him.

I remember how it felt when he was born and how much I depended on my wife for guidance. I had no clue what to do but she was all over it. My wife was a fantastic mother from day one, which helped make up for my failings as a first-time father. I was working sixty hours a week then so she could stay home full-time and that worked well for both of us. Slowly but surely, I got used to being a dad and by the time he was two I wanted to spend every minute I could with him because he was just that much fun. Thomas has been with Verity for almost her whole life and I can see a similar transformation.

I spend every day working with children and most of the time I truly enjoy the experience. I get lots of hugs, a few tears and more than a little childish behavior but all of it is meaningful and worthwhile. To see my son become a dad is one of the highlights of my life. Every man should be so lucky. Tomorrow, I get to give the message at their wedding ceremony and I have a very special one in mind. My speaking skills are not equal to my writing skills so please pray for me tomorrow around 5 o’clock. The good news is he has already learned everything I needed to teach him so now I get to revel in the moment. I can’t possibly say it any better than Paul McCartney did when he wrote his great song I Will, “Love you forever and forever. Love you with all my heart. Love you whenever we’re together. Love you when we’re apart.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” (Jesus)

My wife, Carol, is one of the few people I know who faithfully decorates graves on Memorial Day. She loves flowers and she does a wonderful job of paying her respects. I struggle with that responsibility so I’m thankful she does it so well. I get too emotional when I visit a cemetery and see all those American flags on the graves of veterans. In the history of the United States, more than a million Americans have sacrificed their lives for the love of their country. Their willingness to lay down their lives for the rest of us is truly amazing and I often wonder what this country would be like without them.

The freedom we enjoy today cost a million lives. Maybe we should all take a moment to let that sink in…………. A few minutes of respect isn’t much to ask for the blessings of liberty that we all possess as Americans. Freedom really isn’t free. In fact, it’s the most expensive possession anyone will ever have. When a million people willingly give their lives to perpetuate freedom for others, you know it’s priceless. It’s also why so many people die just trying to get here. The possibility of a place where freedom truly exists drives people to risk all, no matter how hard the journey or how great the sacrifice.

I think Jesus was talking about freedom when he made this statement, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” He knew that mankind needed to be free and that the struggle to achieve this great goal would require immense sacrifice. It took 1700 more years of human endeavor before freedom was realized and the cost was extremely high but worth every sacrifice. I think he was also talking about the Kingdom of Heaven and the price of admission there. If we are willing to give everything we have, we will get everything we need. That’s the grand bargain that he is offering to all who believe.

Self-sacrifice is absolutely essential for freedom to reign here and in the hereafter. Life has no value without freedom and death will have no meaning without sacrifice. These two principles are inextricably connected. A million people have given testimony to this cause and given us a clear direction to follow. Jesus was clearly stating this expectation 2000 years ago and then He gave his life to prove Himself worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. We all have the same opportunity to live as He did, freely devoted to all of mankind and willing to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good. Memorial Day is a powerful reminder of why we should always be grateful to those who gave us our freedom and showed us the way to Heaven.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“We start sh*t all the time.” (Unknown)

As epiphanies go this one won’t win me any awards but it was kind of funny so I’m going to share it anyway. I took my chain saw to Nuts n Bolts Hardware today to get it worked on so I can use it to destroy three overgrown bushes in the front of my house. It turned out that the only problem it had, was me. I forgot how to tighten the blade. Luckily the man at the service desk wasn’t that busy and he took the time to explain this simple procedure. After he was done giving me a refresher course in chain saw maintenance he asked if he could fire it up, because well, who doesn’t want to hear a chain saw running? I said, “Sure thing as long as it doesn’t scare anybody in the store.” He replied, “That’s OK. We start sh*t all the time.” To which I said, “You should get a sign and make that your motto.” And then it hit me – that’s my motto.

When I was just a little tyke I was very contrary. If the teacher told the class to go stand by the wall and all the other kids chose the east wall, I walked across the room and stood by the west wall, all by myself just to be different. When my Sunday School teacher was sharing her message about the greatness of being with God every Sunday morning, I raised my hand and asked, “What about Superman? He’s pretty great too.” For some reason I can’t possibly explain, my brain always had the opposite thought. Lucky for me, I was cute and funny and nobody ever took my reaction the wrong way. They just laughed and reminded me that when I got bigger I could do it my way.

Now I’m as big as I’ll ever be and it’s still hard to be a contrarian. Yesterday was just one more episode in a long line of times I have gone against the grain and gotten splinters. In my work with foster children I get my schedule a week in advance. I get told who, what, when and where but not much about how or why. I get to fill in the blanks and I spend a lot of time pondering how and why. I can’t give a detailed explanation of the latest crisis because it could get me in more trouble if my boss ever discovered this blog but let’s just say it was monumentally ignorant and I was not willing to risk the lives or limbs of four kids to do the job the way it was assigned.

When I pointed out the fly in the ointment by way of an email on Monday of this week, I got no response, which is par for the course. I always have to ask more than once for help. The tipping point came when I filled out my annual review online and I got to the very first question, “How well do you communicate with others in the company about potential problems and do you always seek better solutions?” Well now I was stuck. I couldn’t answer this truthfully without following through on my immediate problem. So I called again and set off a huge conflagration in my department. I wasn’t there so I only have second-hand accounts of the finger-pointing that went on when the truth came out but knowing the players like I do, I’m sure it was epic and ugly for all concerned.

Here’s my takeaway from my latest epiphany. Nothing in life will ever get better if we don’t start sh*t all the time. It’s as simple as that. Someone has to stand up and say, “I have a question. Why are we doing it that way?” I say this because of what I learned back in church. Jesus was the archetype for all contrarians. He raised questions and gave better answers throughout His whole life. He pointed out the error of our ways with a sense of compassion and an unerring devotion to finding the truth. He challenged every one of the tenets of His Jewish faith and gave us something better to believe in, salvation through redemption. For His good works, He was crucified and died. Then He did the most contrarian thing ever and came back from the dead just to prove His point. His absolute faith, dignity, love and courage changed the world forever.

As my epiphanies go, this one is right up there. Let’s all try to start sh*t all the time and then ask for forgiveness. It works for me but then again I’m cute and funny.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“The secret of all those who make discoveries is that they regard nothing as impossible.” (Justus Liebig)

I have always been a bit of a loner. I like people but I really like being alone with my thoughts. There is a unique single-mindedness to the way my brain works and it needs peace and quiet to function properly. Even in college, when my friends all wanted to hit the bars, I stayed home by myself more often than not. When I wasn’t in class, I went to the library and found the most remote corner possible and did my work. During the early years of my career in graphic arts, I spent most of my day in the darkroom experimenting with photography and conjuring up techniques no one had tried before. The darkness really helped me focus my thought process and block out the distractions.

It was about 1980 when I read Carl Sagan’s book titled, Broca’s Brain. It was a turning point in my life, especially the parts about Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. In Einstein’s case, he spent years working out the special theory of relativity while employed at the patent office in Switzerland. The work wasn’t very taxing and it gave him plenty of time to think. In Newton’s time he spent months in a remote location working on his laws of motion because in 1666 the bubonic plague was ravaging most of the cities in Europe. He chose solitude out of necessity but it helped him devote all of his intellect toward his theories. Sagan even wrote about the brain as a muscle that must be used to be developed and how thinking is actually a pleasurable activity for humans. That’s probably why Archimedes yelled “Eureka” when he proved his theory.

I’m not foolish enough to think I belong in any conversation that includes Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton or Archimedes but I think I understand their phenomenal ability to focus and think. The world is a fascinating place, full of natural wonders and endless questions that I need to ask. The larger point that Sagan made in his book was that all of us have brains that are far more capable than we might ever imagine. What I read into that idea was the realization that my existence is a product of my thoughts. Every characteristic that makes me unique is in my head and whatever I want my life to be is up to me to decide and achieve. That was my eureka moment but it also gave me a great deal of peace. I wasn’t bound by the rules of the physical world any longer if my brain could imagine more. The end result was the desire to spend as much time thinking as possible and to ask as many questions as my brain could compose.

Of course, in those days most of what I thought about was my business. It’s only been the last ten years or so that my mind has gone off the philosophical deep end. That’s probably my coping mechanism for the dystopian world of foster care that I have worked in for nine long years now. Reality is painful but thinking is bliss. It has also reinforced my faith in God because I believe He created a world that is meant to be explored and understood, if we’re willing to ask the tough questions and accept the answers, no matter how difficult they might be to understand. Revelation is hard for humans because it always includes a fair amount of self-reflection brought on by undeniable truth. Every new truth forces me to give up an old truth and adapt my awareness to new information that is strange to me. Without faith, the search for truth would be unnecessary. Why would we ever bother to learn anything new, if we didn’t believe in all the possibilities of the unknown? Why would we ever choose to make new friends if we didn’t believe in their potential goodness? Anything is possible if we have enough faith.

It’s the mystery of life and the chance of discovery that keeps me going. I never get tired of asking questions and working out problems. My life has meaning because I faithfully exercise my God-given talents every day in ways that benefit the world around me. I know, unequivocally, that there is a purpose to my life and my job is to never stop trying. As long as I keep trying, God will keep revealing the answers to my questions. I just have to have faith that every new revelation will make my life even better. The possibilities are endless for those whose faith is strongest and who make every effort to live their lives seeking the greater good of compassion and understanding. A faith-filled life is the most significant achievement most of us will ever know and it will bring more peace and joy to us than any other endeavor we could ever undertake. I’ve said it before so I will say it again ……….

I will never have all the answers, I just hope I never run out of questions.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“Life ain’t fair and the world is mean.” (Sturgill Simpson)

I saw a commercial recently that made me shake my head in derision. The ad was obviously aimed at the younger generation because it was full of clips of young people doing amazing stunts and recording them on their phones. At the end, the narrator concluded that young people with the right phone could do anything, especially if someone told them they couldn’t do it. Wow, I wonder how the world made it this far before the smart phone was invented?

I started my first business in 1978, long before I bought my first cell phone in 1984. I had to go to work every day and figure stuff out without any WiFi connection or the internet or Google to answer my questions. It was tough and I frequently heard people say that I would never succeed in my quest. I was attempting to perfect a photographic process for reproducing printed circuits so that the design could be accurately reduced to a fraction of design size and both sides of the PC board would line up within .005″. The harder I worked at it, the more people showed up at my door asking me to try their designs and one improvement led to another. Eventually, I was recognized as one of the best in my field by everybody who hired me to do their work. Instead of likes on Facebook, I got paid well and many clients referred me to others. I made a nice living all through the 80’s and then we made the leap to computer generated design in the 90’s, when the internet finally made it’s appearance. The smart phone didn’t arrive until the turn of the century.

Here’s my question to the younger generation, who are so devoted to their phones. What can you do without your phone? Can you find your way from Point A to Point B by reading road signs and a map? Can you cook dinner by yourself? Can you get a date with someone interesting? If not, why not? What’s holding you back from the adventure of life? Millions of people throughout the history of the world achieved amazing things without the benefit of WiFi. Most of them did it by just trying harder than anyone else. Do you know how many times Edison failed in his experiments? He failed way more often than he succeeded. I’m sure his family and friends told him to “Give it a rest, Tom”.

So let’s think about this objectively. Which would you rather have – the light bulb or cat videos? –  electrical power or fashion advice from J Lo? – organ transplants or Apps? – true friends who care about you or likes on Facebook? Go ahead, think about it for a minute, I’m sure this is going to be a quandary. You might even need to Google the meaning of quandary…………………….

OK, time’s up. What’s it going to be for your generation? What are you going to contribute to the world at large and when are you going to start? Here’s my challenge for all of you. Do something that helps someone you don’t even know. I know for a fact that there are thousands of foster kids who need a home. I know for a fact that there are thousands of people in Third World countries who don’t have enough clean drinking water. I know for a fact that malaria still kills more people each year than any other illness. I know for a fact that sitting in a car waiting in line at Starbucks is contributing to global warming. I know for a fact that unless we start caring about the person who lives next door, none of us is going to have a bright future because selfishness is the root of all evil. I dare you to make a difference for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.

Yes, that’s right, I just made a clearly moral declaration. It’s not a moral dilemma either. It’s an absolute truth. If we don’t figure out a way for everybody, everywhere to live together as one, then each of us is to blame for the horrible fate that awaits us in the not too distant future. The younger generation has more ability and more tools at their fingertips than any other generation in the history of the world. So let’s see what you’ve got. It sounds to me like you just need to be challenged. To help you get started, here’s some good advice from one of your own generation. According to Sturgill Simpson “Life ain’t fair and the world is mean.” Consider yourselves challenged.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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