In 1987 I got out of the Army and took a job as a traveling salesman. I was spending as much as 20 hours a week in a company car, driving all over NY, NJ, PA, MD and DE. It wasn't long before I'd heard every song on the radio and gotten tired of listening to my own cassette tapes (I had a lot of them). On a whim one day I bought a Hohner Marine Band harmonica and started tooting away on it. Within a couple of days I decided I was going to learn to play like Sonny Boy Williamson so I bought a neck rack and played Row Row Row Your Boat for hours on end as I drove around the Northeast doing my job.
I've been playing ever since, though in different times of my life I've put more or less effort into actually learning new techniques or skills. Over the last year or so I've had a lot more time to play and I also started to record the stuff I was playing to see if I could learn from listening to myself. I bought some backing tracks, guys playing no frills guitar, bass, piano, and drums in varying styles and rhythms to play over and got a lot better a lot faster than ever before. Here's an example:
A little over a year ago I started seeing a Chiropractor, Paul Brugger, for back pain. I had known Paul years earlier from our local gym and also from a neighbor of mine with whom he occasionally played guitar. Paul invited me to come to Wednesday night jam sessions at his office with 4-5 other guitar players, a bass player, and drummer. Again, by doing something new and different I learned a lot faster and soon was able to play things I had never dreamed of playing. For months, we wrapped up every session playing Blue Sky by the Allman Brothers and I fell in love with how it felt to play the tune. I tried to record our playing but the volume in a small space (these guys use some BIG amps) overwhelmed the microphone on my iPhone and you couldn't really hear individual instruments...it was all one loud howl. I loved playing the song so much though that I started playing alone in my garage to that actual Allman Brothers track:
I was loading these recordings to Facebook but they have done a couple of things to make that impractical. They don't accept audio files and they stopped accepting the video file format I was using. Also, one time when I posted a version of Santana's Black Magic Woman, another song we play on Wednesday nights, they rejected it because they said it was copyrighted. I'm sure it is, but I hope the band won't mind my fiddling around trying to play it.
I really enjoy the Wednesday night group, and recently one of my best friends, Glenn Thaller, has been coming along to play guitar, making it even more fun (although just that much louder since that's one more amp in a very small space). I believe I will start posting any recordings I make here so that when I am too old to play anymore I will be able to listen to myself and dream of the roadhouse lifestyle that I never had.
Here's a thought experiment:
Imagine that your life circumstances have caused you to decide not to own a car. Radical right? Doesn't everybody have a car? Isn't that part of being an adult...having your own transportation?
Play along with me though. For whatever combination of reasons...where you currently live, your day-to-day routine, your financial situation...you've decided to forgo a car. Now, that doesn't mean you don't still have to go places...you do. Sometimes you pay out of pocket for transportation...you take a bus or a taxi or an Uber to get where you want to go. You don't do this indiscriminately; you only part with that much money when getting somewhere is the most important thing for you to spend it on.
When you don't feel like paying for dedicated transportation you use less convenient but equally effective methods like the local metro bus system or a subway. Sometimes you even have to swallow your pride and ask family or friends for some help getting to an event or carting home the groceries. In the worst case, you might even take advantage of a church van service or a local community organization's ride share service...charity if you really think about it.
But you patch it all together because that's the choice you made and for all the inconvenience, not having a car is the best decision for you right now.
Then, you hear on the news that there is a new law, and you are required to buy a car. If you fail to buy a car, you are going to have to pay a penalty. You start to do the math and realize that you can afford an old clunker that gets you around, but there's more news. The only kind of car you can buy that satisfies the requirement is one that has a high end stereo, A/C, and power locks and window. Each of those features pushes the cost of the car higher, to the point that you simply cannot afford the monthly payment for the car that you now MUST buy. But the news goes on and you learn that you "might" qualify for a government subsidy to buy the car that you don't want and can't afford. Just how much you'll get and whether you will qualify are not really clear, but you're hoping for the best.
So what do you think? There are some compelling reasons why the government decided that everyone needs a car. People buying cars is good for everyone and people buying more expensive cars is really good for some people who make cars. You don't really understand all the details (on the news they said the new law has 10,535 pages) but you shrug your shoulders and start car shopping. You find out that there are only two car dealers in your state that sell the kind of car that meets the requirement of the new law, so that means your price is actually a little higher than you anticipated because of a lack of competition, but what the heck, it's the law right?
Here's the second step in the thought experiment.
Reread the post with some word replacements and see if it still makes sense:
Imagine that your life circumstances have caused you to decide not to own have health insurance. Radical right? Doesn't everybody have insurance? Isn't that part of being an adult...making sure you can pay for health care?
Play along with me though. For whatever combination of reasons...your age, your healthy life style and exercise routine, your financial situation...you've decided to forgo health insurance. Now, that doesn't mean you don't still have to get medical care...you do. Sometimes you pay out of pocket for care...you visit a local urgent care facility or go to your old doctor to get the care you need. You don't do this indiscriminately; you only part with that much money when getting care is the most important thing for you to spend it on.
When you don't feel like paying for care you use less convenient but somewhat effective methods like consulting an online source such as WebMD. Sometimes you even have to swallow your pride and ask family or friends for some help getting paying for a doctor's visit or prescription. In the worst case, you might even take advantage of a local free clinic or a health day set up by a local church...charity if you really think about it.
But you patch it all together because that's the choice you made and for all the inconvenience, not having health insurance is the best decision for you right now.
Then, you hear on the news that there is a new law, and you are required to buy health insurance. If you fail to buy a policy, you are going to have to pay a penalty. You start to do the math and realize that you can afford a catastrophic care policy with a high deductible, but there's more news. The only kind of policy you can buy that satisfies the requirement is one that has a a specified list of services that must be covered, like preventive care and certain prescriptions and tests you are either unlikely to ever need or that are simply impossible for you (pregnancy test for guys; prostate exams for women). Each of those features pushes the cost of the policy higher, to the point that you simply cannot afford the monthly premium for the one that you now MUST buy. But the news goes on and you learn that you "might" qualify for a government subsidy to buy the policy that you don't want and can't afford. Just how much you'll get and whether you will qualify are not really clear, but you're hoping for the best.
So what do you think? There are some compelling reasons why the government decided that everyone needs a policy. People buying health insurance is good for everyone and people buying more expensive policies is really good for some people who sell them. You don't really understand all the details (on the news they said the new law has 10,535 pages) but you shrug your shoulders and start shopping for a policy. You find out that there are only two insurers in your state that sell the kind of policy that meets the requirement of the new law, so that means your price is actually a little higher than you anticipated because of a lack of competition, but what the heck, it's the law right?
Neither version sits well with me. I recall a time when decisions like whether to buy a car or health insurance were mine to make. It feels like I am giving up some freedom, becoming less autonomous. The whole thing rankles. I really feel I should be free to not buy either a car or a health insurance policy. My transportation and my health care are my responsibility, and thus should be a matter for my choosing.
This evening I was on social media a lot. I do that more these days...spend 3-4 hours switching from Twitter to Facebook to RealClear to Apple News to Reddit...you get the point. When I took a break I sat on the front stoop of my house and thought of myself as I would appear in an overhead Google Earth shot...and then just pulled the zoom lens back. There was a Kevin Costner movie that did that as an opening and closing shot. No Way Out. Good flick.
When I was a kid I didn't have a sense of a world so big that could be made to look so small. I was well schooled and genuinely inquisitive, but I couldn't imagine much more than I could see most of the time. To the extent that there were no real boundaries keeping me from from expanding my "bubble", there weren't a whole lot of streams of information flowing into it either. Now, I routinely log in and out of 14 or 15 apps on three or four different devices every day.
Not only can I do my job for a major bank without ever leaving my home, I can run a small business from there on the side. My location is no longer a factor, let alone a limiting one, in my ability to do almost anything. At the same time, while I am at home, saddled with two jobs, I can be carrying on three different conversations with people in far flung homes and offices of their own...and we are actually getting stuff done.
This blog, my business and personal email traffic, my Facebook posts, my Tweets...they are a journal of my life now. It all persists ***in the cloud*** and my biographer will have more to work with than the most prolific minds of history. Were someone so inclined, they could recover almost every moment of my life since the mid-'90s.
I wonder about the trade-offs. Privacy for mobility? Yeah, to a point. I don't think I've come up on any limit that I am not willing to cross. I like that I can see, in near real time that my Florida relatives are visiting my niece in Colorado and order pizza from my phone while I am out and then gamble on whether I will beat the delivery guy to my house. I like that I can get a picture of my granddaughter in Oaxaca, Mexico every morning before I've finished my morning coffee. And I really like arguing politics on Twitter with people who could be anywhere!
I know that large and mysterious entities are capturing digital traces of every aspect of my life. I also have a pretty good sense that the only reason they could possibly want to know that much about that many people is because it will increase their ability to influence me. But as my instructor pilot told me when I asked him about flying in Viet Nam, "big sky, little bullet". While I could never display Jose's insouciance about death, I agree with the thrust of his response.
July 8th was the 6-year anniversary of the day I bought a used Ford Escape. Over the years I have really enjoyed driving that car...in many ways it is my favorite of the 15 or so vehicles I have driven regularly since getting my license in 1974. Lately I've been thinking about swapping that good SUV for a truck. A couple of Saturdays ago I decided to go ahead and do that and two hours later I had found and bought the truck I wanted. It was both the simplest and most impulsive car search I've ever done. I even declined to test drive the vehicle. I couldn't be happier with the choice. I got a great truck at a good price.
Thinking back on the experience while driving today I noticed that I have no stress about it. My life is only about quarter as stressful as it was as recently as 2-3 years ago. One of the features on this new truck is a "right now" gas mileage gauge that gives near instantaneous feedback on your fuel economy. When I bought my old Escape, it had an "average mileage" readout that was at 22.4 on the day I started driving the car and 26.4 the week I put it out for sale. I drove that thing for 6 years, almost to the day, and just watching that number caused me to become a much calmer driver.
I don't jump on the gas when the light turns green anymore. I don't race up to red lights and jam on the breaks. Basically, I made a mental commitment to not exceed 2,500 RPM on the tachometer, and that led me to drive a lot slower, more smoothly, and I hope safely. I also arrive where I am going without a stiff neck and a headache. The more refined feedback available in the new truck has me even more conscious of my driving behavior. In 300 miles of driving I have already increased the average mileage from 17.8 MPG to 18.3 MPG. I like that every day or two since I got the truck, that number has been a little bit higher. The combination of real time feedback and periodic rewards has me feeling good about driving the truck, which in turn may lead to me feeling better about my day as a whole.
Or maybe the cause and effect are in the other direction. Maybe the overall reduction in my stress level is causing me to be less anxious when I drive, which in turn makes driving less onerous, and maybe even pleasant. Either way, the net result is less stress in the moment and less stress over time. Now if I can just sell this Escape...
Happy 4/20. As has been my wont recently I am sitting around; thinkin' about thinkin'. I had lunch with my pastor this afternoon and our conversations always inspire me to contemplate big capital letter ideas, like: Trust and Confidence. We talked today about how the people in my life whom I respect the most, for their intelligence and integrity, can be divided into two groups: those who have strong relationships with God and those who don't. As on any question, the opinions of this group on this subject have a large influence on me. As an "evidence" guy, one who likes to see some empirical evidence of a fact's validity, I'm keeping count. The believers are holding a strong lead. I'll get back to you on the final count once I think all precincts have reported.
So back to my capital letter ideas for the day. My lunch conversation with Tim Riddle started me thinking of the people whose opinions matter to me. I decided to explore what they have in common. If I figure out why their opinions matter to me (aside to those who don't know me well…most opinions don't) then I may be able to apply those criteria to find some more people to learn from (from whom to learn?). The first thing that came to mind was that I trusted their opinions were genuine and not contrived simply to appease others…like me. But that was lower case trust…capital T-Trust meant to me that I trusted that no matter what those opinions were, my relationship with that person would not change. If you are a casual acquaintance and for some reason we embark on a serious discussion and I completely disagree with every word you say, I am unlikely to seek out your company in the future. Our "relationship" is going to change rapidly and the word "distant" is going to figure into it.
But my wife…my kids or grand-kids…my brothers and sisters?
I cannot imagine any issue that we could disagree on that would cause me to distance myself or forget what our priorities are. That feeling extends to a small circle of friends as well. For example, Roni Flanders, the woman who runs the small business our family owns, can infuriate me with her opinions on some things, but she is always going to be my partner in that business. I have a former boss, Jim Scalise, with whom I argued at least twice a day for the whole time we worked together. But I am forever going to be in his debt for the mentoring and leadership he's shown me over two decades. To have that kind of Trust frees me not only to be candid and forthcoming myself, but also to really focus on the ideas my family or friends convey to me because I don't have to probe for their motive in sharing them. The motives don't matter.
But Trust is not my only scale when weighing someone's opinion. An equally important measure is confidence. I am more likely to be swayed if I think an hypothesis or idea has been reached via valid means. There are lots of valid means: reason, calculation, measurement. Even emotion can be a valid means of forming some ideas. So lowercase confidence is my narrow acceptance that the way you reached "this" idea was valid. Capital C-Confidence means that I believe "all" your ideas are reached in a valid way.
I am Confident enough in some people that I believe they always take the time to think things through. There are some people whom I Love and Trust, but I am not Confident in them. My two sons could not be more different in the way they think about things…one fanatically disciplined and the other impulsive and scattered. Those differences mean I have different levels of Confidence in them, but not that their ideas or behaviors will ever matter to me as much as that they are my sons. My daughter and son-in-law, having been raised in vastly different parts of Mexico, think very differently from each other, but each even more differently than I do. In the years since Lorena came into my life and Alfredo into hers, we have each learned more about the others' priorities, and that insight is giving me more Confidence that their ideas and plans have a sound basis (frankly, early on I wasn't so sure). I guess that the thing I am most Confident in is that the ideas of my inner circle will broaden and enrich my understanding. Considering them is always worth my while.
Unless you are a nudist, you are at the end of a long history of clothing. From Adam and Eve in the garden, clothes have gone from the elegant simplicity of a fig leaf to the wonders of the blend of colors and fabrics on display in any church or suburban office building. Fiber becomes thread, spun into yarn, woven into cloth. Which end of that sequence holds the truth? A Persian rug or a Navajo tapestry can be traced back to the plant in the ground or the silkworm laying eggs. Are the flora and fauna the truth or is truth found in the richer blend of organic sources and human contemplation?
I originally titled this post "There are Truths". The further into the text I got, the more I realized that I had two concerns with that title. First, the plural belies a weak spirit. I want to believe that any number of accepted truths can be reconciled into more coherent and cohesive understanding, so I've decided that I'm looking for truth; singular. But if I seek that unitary vision, I am going to shift from the declarative to the interrogatory voice. If truth exists, where is it?
Start by accepting that, no matter what dimension of our shared human experience interests you, the further back you go in our recorded history the less you know. In the most recent decades of our history we have produced prodigious volumes of empirical observations, and both salient and spurious commentary; more than in all of recorded history before them. But as the volume of things to concern oneself with diminishes, our retreat over the years yields the information most valuable to any era's contemporaneous thinkers and communicators. Interested in economics? The schools of economic thought that exist today can be traced back through history until the differences between them disappear. Science, as we know it today, emerges from the discovery over time of empirical truths and the development of methods to test and measure. Even the world's great religions converge on a very common set of fundamental beliefs. (Note: did you see what I just did there?).
There have been inflection points in the curve that traces the balance between the "fact-based" and the "faith-based" views of the world. Each world view uses the argument of the other when it is convenient. Religious leaders are not above deploying an accepted fact as part of their message to believers. Nor are scientists above requiring your acceptance of an article of their faith to plug the holes in their own rhetoric (see my plea for acceptance above…did you miss that?).
I am only one in a large audience at the confluence of something that should be said, and the mastery of the language necessary to say it. I know people who have those two things. I invite them to write something that will help me understand something I don't know or agree with them on today. I want this for two reasons: the pleasure of reading their considered thoughts in their unique voice, and the chance to collect those thoughts in one place to savor and absorb for years to come.
Do we know more today than ever before - as today's scientific, political, and business leaders would have you believe - or have we drifted further and further from the truths that allowed us to thrive in the first place? To answer such a question I want to consult any new source of communication that I value. Will it contain a new piece of the puzzle that will change my mind on anything I previously had marked down in the "sure thing" column?
So, whether it is Randy or Tim on spirituality and belief, Duncan on rationality. Alana on the arts and anthropology, or Randall on economics. Jesse and Kate on fitness and family, Jim and Glenn on leadership or business or sports or politics, or anyone else on any subject at all, please send me links to or copies of your writing so that I can collect them. If you aren't writing anything, take it from me that you should. When I talk to you I learn things and I'll bet others will as well.
Tell me which end of history is the home of truth.
Earlier today I posted this little nugget on Facebook:
"I believe I have a coherent belief system. I am rarely surprised by my conclusions because the path I take to them seems pretty well worn...familiar...as I wind my way to a position. My problem right now is that I can take two completely opposite ideas and fit them into this framework. God exists and created everything we know and therefore is a divine presence in our lives; or there is an exquisite intricacy to the world in which we live but there is no explanation for it yet - that is just the way it is. I simply cannot crack this nut."
I put it on Facebook while I was sitting in a sauna trying to warm up enough to do some exercise. I got warm, and then, while I was working out I considered that I have other binary conflicts like this. For example I have two models of each of my sons and the same with my wife, and my best friend, whom I've known even longer than my wife. I can resolve them all. When I do, I make a choice about which version I think is the "true" one and I am comfortable with all those choices, even though I made each by violating at least one of the principles (read: rules) that I used to make the others. I am comfortable with ambiguity. Chronology can be all in one instance, and not a factor in the next. The voice of my father guides me sometimes, but other times I find myself explaining to him (in my mind) why I can't (or won't) do what he counsels.
So there are times when I am capable of weighing the full body of evidence put before me, detecting a difference between my choices, and making a firm decision based on that difference. Did I say "there are times"? I probably should have said "there used to be times". Reality is stretching its lead; either events are coming faster or my ability to keep up is slipping. So is the nut I am trying to crack just a harder nut, or have I lost some of the strength I need to crack it?
This seems like an important thing to know. If I am going to get there and it is just a matter of time, then I could save myself a whole lot of angst now. On the other hand, maybe I am running out of time and need to get off the fence. I mean, if I am "good to go", then I wouldn't mind taking a little more time to check my work and make sure I haven't made any errors in my calculations.
So, I'm checking Facebook while I write this (don't you love connectivity) and my friend Randy's son, Randall, just replied to the post that started me on this rant.
"The Western conception of God is a bundle of 1) creative power, but specifically creative power without limit 2) omniscience and 3) interest in us. No convincing reason (to me) why those should all necessarily go together. When I start unpacking it the whole thing falls apart."
I was hoping Randall or his brother or sister would respond. My effort to make this decision is happening because of their father's influence. I have the same problem when I think of him. He was once a comfortable and convincing non-believer and today is among the most devout people I have ever personally known. One person; two entirely different versions; each version equally credible. Was he wrong before and right now? I've seen him go from wrong to right on some things and right to wrong on others. I think I know which version of him is the best one, but I don't know whether he's right or wrong about this question of God's existence. I also don't know whether his skeptical son is the one who is right. Particularly because his argument sounds a lot like his father's did when Randy was that age. Think about that...Randall might be about ready to make the same switch his dad did. Those are the odds I'm trying to figure.
I've recently reread some of the novels of John Russo. He is one of my favorite authors. His Mohawk, The Risk Pool, and Nobody's Fool are three of the books I hear in my head when I want to sound clever but can't quite. All three seem to me thinly veiled memoirs of Russo's childhood in eastern New York, along the Hudson River. Maybe they're not. Maybe I just wish that someone had both that childhood and the wit to write it all down. Another of my favorite authors, John Irving, recently explored the limits of fiction: in his recently published Avenue of Mysteries he questioned whether they were defined by the range of one's personal experience, or the depth and breadth of one's imagination. He settled on the latter, but that would mean Russo's books could all be completely made up...with nothing more substantial than the firing of synapses in his brain to sustain them.
If that is so, then the common features of the morality of Russo's widely varying but all lovingly developed characters would not bear scrutiny. Eventually we could trace those elements back to Russo himself. So, there is at least more detail to be expressed to round out the dichotomy posed by Irving. That is that we have some shared experiences that didn't impact us directly, but come from the environment we pass through in both time and space. We draw lessons from this pool of thought and knowledge indirectly, less by immersion in them, maybe even less than by sipping them through some mental straw. Is the "rule" so firmly etched in our mind something we have created based on our own concrete experience or is it the sum of that and more?
When I think of myself as living a "Christian life" - full of good intentions and kind deeds, but liberally sprinkled with a good serving of sin - am I weighing the evidence properly? I'm pretty sure I am using all of my faculties...marginally sure that I am considering all of the other sources of wisdom that I should...and worried that I am not able to apply enough imagination to my conundrum as I need. For after all, what is imagination but the ability to see something that isn't there, and be able to describe it to someone else in terms able to convince them of it's possibility.
I want to start blogging as I have reached a point in my work life that I have a little more time on my hands to think and write. I am cheating on this first post just to get something on the blog and learn how it works. The below originally appeared in a Facebook post I made in response to an annual message published by the staff at the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR). My son Duncan works there and his writing has been one of the inspirations that has me on this path. Hopefully, I will get the hang of this and keep up a good steady stream of posts.
"So, reading the post above from Duncan's organization I saw the word "reductionism" and looked it up. That started me on a chain of thought about the differences in the way I see the world and the way others (notably my wife) see it.
Some people see "a thing" and infer from it other things that are greater in scale and scope than the thing itself. Alana goes from "thing" to themes such as "beauty" and "grace" and "wit" and "charm". In essence, she reacts to things based on how they make her "feel". I tend to go from "thing" to "source" and "destination" and "significance". I either see "thing" as a part of "bigger thing" or I need to disassemble "thing" into "parts of thing". While Alana is inspired by "thing" I am "intrigued" by it.
That got me thinking of "thing" as "absolute truth"; the source from which interpreted truth springs. My truth and Alana's truth differ yet come from the same source. Next I moved on to the idea of how our truths differed and I concluded that they don't differ in intensity or fidelity to "absolute truth". They differ in some other dimension that is tougher to sum up.
So, I thought of a coin being dropped on edge in a pond. I believe the coin to be absolute truth. There are at least two subsets of truth. The ripples emanating from "absolute truth" as visible from the "heads" side of the coin and as visible from the "tails" side. In reality, there are as many subsets beyond that as there are angles at which the coin might be facing when it hits the water; each as complementary to its partner as the next.
That led me to think of the fact that perceptions of truth can be MECE (mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive) as in the two 180 degree arcs of the ripples. Yet at any given moment, and for any given response to truth (a single "ripple"), each side's view is at the same distance (from absolute truth) and is just as wide in the range of perspectives it encompasses (180 degrees).
The next thing I thought of was "conditioning". In his book Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman describes how the words you hear can actually condition you to accept some related ideas more rapidly and easily than you do conflicting or unrelated ideas. This is when I decided to write all of this down because I think it has given me two new insights into the way I communicate with both my lovely wife, but also my passionate and committed niece, other family members, and even co-workers and friends.
I don' think my view of the world is diametrically opposed to the view that any of them holds. We are not two sides of a coin that see nothing of what the other side sees. Rather our views overlap to differing degrees (some more, for example my views and those of my friend Randy) and some less (my view and say that of a French ballet director on almost any subject). Mine and Alana's probably overlap as much as 120 or 140 degrees out of 180. Mine and my niece's, maybe only 45 or 90 degrees.
Yet, we have equally valid views (distance of the ripple from center) and we each base our views on the same range of inputs (180 degrees). While we share some inputs we each have a subset of unique inputs. Add in that we are each conditioned by the things to which we are exposed to be more accepting of reinforcement of that quadrant of our experience, and we are very likely to have different responses to certain ideas and experiences. So, there are good explanations for why my niece and I see some things relatively the same way, while disagreeing completely (and passionately) on others.
It was here that I layered on the last insight I was able to identify (so far). If the coin, "absolute truth", can be characterized as "signal", then every degree of every ripple, no matter how far removed from "absolute truth" in time and distance, can be considered "noise". My growing doubts about what I "know" versus what I "believe" can be traced to a low level of confidence in my ability to separate signal from noise. I am not always sure where "absolute truth" lies.
My niece is much more certain of her ability to separate out and locate "signal". In a sense, she is exactly like my pastor. Tim has "faith" in the sense of his absolute belief in the existence and divinity of God. Bridget has faith in a different sense; in the accuracy of certain interpretations of "absolute truth" on a range of issues.
And here is what it all boils down to...I have spent most of my adult life trying to learn how not to react to the inputs I receive, the things I experience, the way my niece does; with what I believe to be excessive confidence. I think of that as the natural result of learning that I have often been "quite wrong" while certain that I was "absolutely right".
At the same time, I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to find what Tim has; faith in God. It has proven elusive. I will continue to look."
Fiscally conservative, security minded libertarian