I'm Sorry, I Can't Resist Posting This

Here is an email I received this morning from one of my students of this past semester. About the only thing I agree with him about is his conclusion in the second sentence of the first paragraph....but I do appreciate the thoughts. This is one of the nicest letters I've ever received. It's not every day I get called insane (I'm not being facetious about the "one of the nicest letters I've ever received." I appreciated this very much.)

"Professor Lewis,

I gotta be honest with you. When I first heard you lecture on the first class I thought you were a raving psycho. But on the second day you proved me wrong. The more I listened to you the more I found that we have a lot in common, especially the fire and the passion for history. I have never seen a teacher that teaches with so much fire in my life. ON the contrary I do believe that you can predict the future using historical knowledge. The more I went to class the more I was influenced. I was going to to pick you for all of my history class. (even considered teaching, although I have not the tolerance) Hell! I was even considering taking a bible class if you taught it and I'm not even a religious man. But I guess your calling is in the orient in Singapore. I am a musician, amateur screenwriter, and a history aficionado and you have brought great influence in all of those.

Also, there may of been a class where you called yourself crazy, some of the people in the class might agree. But I partially disagree. I believe that you have that spark of insanity that fuels the genius mind. Every genius of his/her calling has that spark of genius that fuels his/her passion. Passion is a fire that keeps us on our toes and keeps us wanting more, craving more, and also keeps us alive. Like above it fuels the genius. Geniuses thru the cords of history has had their run ins with their spark. Da Vinci had a spark, Van Gogh had the spark, Edgar Allen Poe had the spark, S. Hawkings has the spark, Einstein had the spark, Beethoven had the Spark, Jimi Hendrix had the spark, and finally Mark Lewis has the spark. Do not let the spark of insanity consume you; take control of it and use it to kindle your fire.

P.S. ...I hope you had a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!!!!!


(Name withheld in case some other student reads this and wants to kill the guy.)

Trends and History

There are some prognosticators who are opining that 2010 will be a catastrophic year worldwide, but especially for the United States. Perhaps. Predicting the future (unless one is God) is an inexact science, at least in regards to specific events. Yet, historical trends are virtually absolute. When we look back at history, we can detect certain qualities and characteristics that lead to success and certain qualities and characteristics that produce disaster (this, incidentally, is true both individually and collectively, i.e., for nations). With that thought in mind, I want to generically predict the future for the United States. I cannot, and will not, give specific dates. But I can tell you that all of history teaches these events will take place, and they probably aren’t very far off.

1. Economic catastrophe. The United States Congress is absolutely the most irresponsible body of political “leaders” in the world. They have no economic discipline whatsoever; a teenager with a credit card. A country simply cannot borrow its way out of debt or tax its way into prosperity—both of which are cardinal mantras of both political parties, but especially the Democratic. This is one of the offshoots of liberalism, which has been in the ascendancy in this country for at least the past 80 years. Liberalism has no self control economically, no self control morally, no self control intellectually, and no self control spiritually—all of which are absolutely essential for long term success. A day of reckoning is coming, though again, I don’t know specifically when.

2. The failure of democracy. Democracy is a terrible form of government, as most philosophers and political theorists down through history (including the Founding Fathers of this country) have told us. It has never been successful anywhere it has been instituted. In the United States, giving the vote to 300,000,000 people, most of whom have no clue what is necessary to run a thriving, prosperous country, is insanity to the nth degree. A country will always descend to the lowest common denominator among its people—or mediocrity at best because most people are mediocre; if everybody was Einstein then Einstein wouldn’t be Einstein—because democracy, by definition, simply cannot hardly exclude anyone; about the only people in this country we do not let vote are babies, and I suspect they could do just as well as those whom we do allow the privilege. (And, no, RC, I’m sorry, I do not vote. I think it is a complete and utter waste of time. What is one vote in the sea of 300,000,000? Yes, it is people like me who ought to vote because I know what’s going on and have the proper character and historical insight to understand what a country needs—pardon the boast. But for every one of me there are 5,000 who are as ignorant as stones, so why waste my time? And if you ask, “well, what if everybody thought the way you do?”, then I would vote and my candidate would win 1-0. My vote would mean something then.) The best form of government—and the one established by the Founders of America—is an aristocracy of merit with popular support. If you don’t know what that means, then you shouldn’t be voting, either.

And if you are one of those who think democracy is so great, try it next time you get on an airplane. Elect the pilot from among the passengers. Yeah. But as disastrous as “electing” a pilot would be, who can do more damage to a people—a pilot or a politician? Why in the world would we think electing our leaders will bring more success than electing an airplane pilot, or plumber, or horse trainer or anything else?

Actually, democracy is the very reason for point number one above—economic catastrophe.

3. If not America as world leader, then whom? I don’t know, but I suspect the Russians and Chinese will assume world dominance. Not the Muslims, they are too divided, and the radical element is too small. The Chinese have intelligence and drive and the Russians have a massive amount of natural resources. And both of them have sense enough to avoid democracy. If they don’t, then their ascendancy will be short-lived.

4. What will happen to the United States? At best, we will end up like Europe, with high unemployment, a stagnant economy, and a dependent people. At worst, we’ll end up like Rome, overrun by barbarians. I’ll let the reader predict where they are coming/will come into this country from.

Again, I will predict no dates. But given history, the above are sure to happen in the future. Frankly, I hope I don’t live to see it.

I do want to say a note about my health. I’ve had several write to me, expressing their best wishes and offer prayers on my behalf, and for this I am extremely grateful. My health issue is clinical, chemical depression, diagnosed by one psychiatrist as bipolar 2, though I’m not convinced of that from my reading—I never have any “highs,” though I can get an adrenalin kick when teaching. The same psychiatrist suggested that I might also be hooked on adrenalin—“adrenalin addiction,” which can, indeed, happen. But, regardless of my exact diagnosis, all I know is that, unless you have suffered from this sort of depression, it is absolutely impossible for you to understand it. This is not down-in-the-dump, “oh, shucks, I lost my job” depression; everybody goes through that. This is rolling in the floor torment, uncontrollable crying, the tortures of hell burning inside you. At times, it is so painful that I can literally hardly move. And it can be incapacitating. There is no escape except sleep, which isn’t always easy. The “fires” sometimes rage out of control, sometimes they are milder—but they are nearly always there, and recently they have been burning uncontrollably. As I write this—and the only reason I am able to—is that, at the moment, the fires are only simmering inside me. Hopefully, they won’t erupt in fury again, but I am not optimistic as I sit here.

Incidentally, Edgar Allen Poe, one of the greatest writers in history, was obviously plagued with serious depression—a main reason so much of his literature is so morbid. But he was brilliant, and, at times, depression can create that. Any extreme can be dazzling; I only wish it would influence my writing.

But then, perhaps my current mental state is why is post is so negative.

Thank you all for your concern. I will keep you informed.

Some Thoughts on the "Health Care" Debate

I’ve written posts earlier on this blog regarding the current “health care” debate, and some of this will be a repeat, but I think it is worth doing so. First of all, let me say that the term “health care” debate, as framed by the current national discussion, is a misnomer; it’s a “medical care” argument, not health care. If you want good health, eat right and get some exercise, and it won’t cost you very much. If you want medical care, go to a doctor. That’s what this is about.

But it’s also a shame that the Democrats in Congress and the major media have framed this question by implying that the government must have a massive input into it, and that no other options are readily available. There are plenty of other suggestions out there as to how to control rising medical care costs, but they are rarely heard, simply because liberalism dominates our government, media, and academia.

Well, I’m going to give you some of those other ideas as to how costs can be controlled. They aren’t original with me (except, perhaps, with one or two exceptions), but hopefully I can sum them up succinctly for my readers. So, here are some proposals to pursue before we let Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid take over one-sixth of the American economy (mom, it’s another reason I’m thinking of moving to Singapore).

1. Tort reform. Or, put another way, shoot all the lawyers. I knew a doctor in California who had to quit her practice because she couldn’t afford the malpractice insurance. If we’d put about 90% of the country’s lawyers six feet underground, we’d solve about 90% of the country’s problems. Let the AMA handle malpractice issues.

2. Health savings accounts. Give significant tax breaks for people to save money to cover minor medical costs. This won’t cover catastrophic illnesses, of course, but it could cut down on insurance costs if we pay for regular doctor’s office visits out of pocket instead of having a third-party (insurance company or government) do so. Also, how about a tax deduction for joining a health club? How about a significant tax deduction for people to donate charitably to hospitals to help cover the costs for the poor who can’t cover the expenses themselves? This is a very generous country, and we have a lot of millionaires. Encourage them, through incentives, to donate some of their wealth to medical care facilities (research as well).

3. Let insurance companies sell their policies across state lines. As it stands now, since I live in Tennessee, I can only buy health insurance in this state. And it’s the same in every state. Throw those laws out. Let’s suppose I could find a cheaper insurance policy in Wyoming. What do you think the insurance companies in Tennessee would do? Yeah, lower their premiums to meet the competition; either that, or go out of business. A little competition here could lower insurance costs significantly.

And while we’re at it, 4. Let doctors compete, too. Now what I’m going to start out saying here is going to sound ridiculous, but understand I’m being partly facetious and let me finish my point before you laugh too loudly. My appendix is hurting and I need an appendectomy. Rather than go to a doctor, I tell my best friend, “Hey, Joe, I need my appendix taken out. I’ll give you $100 to do it.” And Joe says “Sure. Give me a knife. Wheeeee….” So I let him do it. True, I probably wouldn’t survive, but what business is it of government to tell me I have to go to a regular doctor if I don’t want to? If I want to take the risk, it’s my riskk!
It’s called “freedom,” folks. If I want to eat junk, get fat, die young, who is Barack Obama to tell me I can’t do it?

Now, ok, let me finish. I’m being somewhat—but not totally—facetious here. Why must every “medical practitioner” have a medical degree? How many of us have never given anyone medical advice before? This past Monday evening, when I was feeling so horrible with depression (see “A Personal Note” below), I was talking to my mother and she suggested that, along with the sleeping pill the doctor gave me, I drink a glass of warm milk before I go to bed "to help you sleep” (sorry, mom, I didn’t do it. Didn’t want to get up three times in the middle of the night….). We all do that, occasionally, and some get better at it than others. In the 19th century American West, if you got shot by an Indian, chances are it was your buddy, not a doctor, who was going to take the bullet out (it was painful and he would have put a bullet between your teeth to keep you from cracking them with pain—hence, “bite the bullet”). But, your friend would remove the bullet (no, you didn’t always survive), pour some whiskey on the wound to cleanse it, stick a snotty hanky into the hole to cut down the bleeding, wrap it up with part of your shirt, and off you’d go. And I’m not being facetious about that. Home remedies were the rule then, not the exception.

Now, I wouldn’t suggest, in this day and age, that such would always be the best alternative. But why don’t we let people get a modicum of medical knowledge and let them help those who perhaps can’t always afford a professional? I don’t want to be a doctor, but I’d love to study some medicine, get some knowledge, and help people in smaller matters so they wouldn’t have to bother a licensed M.D., and thus leave the latter free to handle more serious cases (most of the time all the doctor is going to do is give you a pill anyway. Many people could learn enough to know what remedies could help with certain ailments. Pharmacists do it all the time.). I’m just simply suggesting here that, just as there are “degrees” of medical problems, why can we not have “degrees” of operatives to help diagnose and treat them? I don’t need to go to a doctor to tell me to drink a glass of warm milk before I go to bed to help me sleep; my mother can do that. Just think about it!

5. Let people work with doctors and hospitals on payment schemes. I had gall bladder surgery in 1996. My wife and I had no health insurance and the total cost was about $14,000. We paid what we could up front (about $900), and I made arrangements with the hospital to pay them $50 a month, which I am doing to this very day. Every month I send a $50 check to a hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, to cover that hospital expense. And I suspect, given the number of people who don’t pay anything, they are happy to get it. I have no idea how much I owe them; still a few thousand dollars, I believe. But I haven’t heard from them in years. And I’m going to keep sending that $50 as long as I’m alive or until I get it paid off. Doctors and hospitals will work with patients on matters like this (and if yours won't, go to a doctor who will, and the first one will, too, before long). And don’t tell me people can’t afford 25 or 50 bucks a month. If they can afford a cell phone, Internet connection, cable TV, booze, cigarettes, and eating out 10 times a month, they can afford a little money to pay for their own medical care.

But why should they if Barack Obama is going to force somebody else to pay for it? And to get back to a point I made earlier, if I want to eat junk, get fat, and die young, what business is it of the government? Well, the business is, of course, that the government has stuck its nose into the situation so that other people will have to pay for my sorry health when I get sick. Let me have to cover the cost out of my own pocket and maybe I’ll be a little more responsible in taking care of myself.

I wouldn’t suggest that the above solutions would handle all of the medical care expense problems this country has. But I would like to see what the free market and individual responsibility can do before we turn the best medical care system in the world over to unqualified, nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. who make “one size fits all” decisions for everybody in the country.

Soon-To-Be-Article on the Islamic "Jihad"

As an historian, I have long been grieved at the lack of understanding the "West" has of Islam. I am not a Muslim, and thus not a follower of that religion (I am a Christian, yet, like all believers, far from perfect). But I do believe that Western scholars have not been totally fair to Islam, and I'd like to make a contribution in hopes of a partial correction of this misunderstanding.

At the moment, I am in the middle of final examinations and planning a move--and I am still feeling horrendous most of the time--so extensive blog posts are going to be difficult. I mentioned to my students in my first class today that I intended, shortly, to post an article which I think would be worth their while to read. For any of you students who are reading this, please check back because it may be several days before I can make that post. I am convinced that, if I can explain the material as I wish, some clarification can be produced.

So, to all my readers, I do intend, in as near a future date as I can manage, a post on the Islamic concept of "jihad," and how it is interpreted among various Islamic groups today--and make no mistake, there is no agreement among Muslims regarding the full meaning of this term. "Holy war," which is how Westerners have defined the term, is very insufficient, and I trust I will be able to effectively elucidate that point in my upcoming article. Stay tuned.


Apparently the only person who can beat Tiger Woods with a golf club is his wife.

What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a golf ball 300 yards.

Perhaps Tiger should be using a driver?

Tiger Woods is so rich that he owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.

Tiger crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn't decide between an iron and a wood.

Tiger has a new name--Cheetah.

My All-Time Favorite Quote

This is from a book entitled Out of Chaos, page 109, written in the 1970s by Professor Louis Halle. The book jacket says it is the "crowning achievement of his career," and it was a monthly selection of a major science book club.

"Much of the scientific explanation offered for the origin and development of life appears to entail a haphazard succession of coincidences, representing chaos, that gradually assumes an ever more compelling direction. It is as if a lot of variously shaped stones tumbling down a mountainside, converging in channels as they fall, should come to rest at the bottom, one on top of another, in the shape of the Parthenon. Science must attempt to explain this by the operation of natural laws alone."

You gotta love these evolutionists. Everybody knows that the Parthenon was built by a Greek named Coincidence, borrowing from his buddies Haphazard Succession and Chaos. And that mountains just spontaneously appeared with rocks on the top and channels running down their sides. And no doubt all those rocks just started jumping off the top of the mountain on their own. And all of this is...scientific.

Do I really have to educated to believe that?


Why is everybody so surprised that "scientists" have been lying, fudging data, covering up information, etc. in regards to the so-called man-made global warming? (Well, people who only watch the "mainstream media" may not even know about it.)

There should be no shock that this cover-up is going on. "Scientists" have been lying and distorting information about the theory of evolution for 150 years now. Keep in mind I've worked in academia for a number of years now; I know how they think. Peer-acceptance is a whole lot more important to these people than truth will ever be. And if saying the moon is a piece of blue cheese is what it takes to get accepted into the inner circle of the academic elite, then there aren't going to be many "moon is a piece of blue cheese" deniers out there. And especially if the government will give you money to continue your research into what kind of blue cheese the moon consists of.

The man-made global warming "theory" has been a hoax all along. That should have been obvious from the fact that the left-wing has been so admant in its support. As I've said before on this blog, the environmental movement is where the Marxists went after the fall of the Soviet Union--anti-capitalist, anti-free market, anti-industry, pro-big government socialism. All the Reds did was change colors--to Green.

Tiger Woods

When I was growing up, Jack Nicklaus was the king of golf. I wonder why none of the stuff that's happening to Tiger Woods now ever happened to Jack Nicklaus...

We would have been utterly shocked at even a rumor that Jack Nicklaus was having an affair.

Is anybody really surprised about Tiger Woods? Sad, but I really can't say I'm surprised.