One of my golfing pals responded to my commentary on Locard’s Exchange Principle with one word. “Divots.” Meaning – divots on the golf course bear silent witness to the golf shots of times past. Every fairway and green is littered with “traces” of those that pass.  Divots.  Impact marks.  Broken tees.  Balls in the water.  Beer bottles.  Snickers wrappers.  My 5 iron wrapped around a tree. . . . . Which reminds me of my post of November 9, 2014, titled “Mulligans.”      

When I’m with my buds on the golf course and we tee off on the first hole, a “Mulligan” is frequently offered for an errant tee shot. It often happens on the first tee. On the drive. We call it a “breakfast ball.” It’s a do-over.  Even if we’re playing for a few coins it’s “hit another – nobody saw that first one.”  During the round – a Mulligan may also be given (except on the green). A do-over. . . . .

Wouldn’t it be nice if in life we had do-overs? Mulligans? For errant words or deeds.  Or behavior.  We do in a way though the granting of a do-over lies in the province of the recipient – or arbiter – of the errant words or deeds. In a way, it might be called “forgiveness.”  I am confident that we all have things we’d like to do over.  And we’re all grateful for the granting of forgiveness (or lack of ill consequence).  I’m sorry . . . . It’s okay.  No worries.  I know I’ve said some hurtful (and dumb) things and done some even dumber ones that I’d like to call back.  But in the words of the great poet Omar Khayyam:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Our futures are for the most part in our own hands.  The “moving finger” business is probably a good reason to think before we act — or speak.  And knowing of our own fallibility – and frailty – better reason to be generous with the granting of Mulligans to others.  It’s okay.  No worries.   

Locard’s Exchange Principle

A crime. No leads. Police and investigators pick through the scene. Ask questions. Examine the scene again.  Look.  Study.  Listen.  Sniff.  Search. And solve. Often thanks to Dr. Edmond Locard (1877-1966) – a pioneer in forensic science.  Dr. Locard (known as the French Sherlock Holmes) developed a basic principle of forensics that “every contact leaves a trace.”  Writer Paul Kirk in 1953 described Locard’s Exchange Principle as: “Wherever he steps [or] whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, will serve as a silent witness against him. . . . .”  In other words, the occasion of every crime – leaves behind traces of the criminal.  And thus a means for solving the case. . . . .

Locard’s Exchange Principle applies to life in general.  As we wander through our daily lives, wherever we walk, stand, sit or set foot, we leave behind a part of us.  Whoever we talk to, cross paths with or acknowledge, we leave a trace.   Of our presence.  The trace can be positive or negative.  A sharing of concern, love or sympathy.  Or it might be anger, distraction or inattention.  But as we move on this journey, whether we like it or not, there is a forensic trail.  That bears witness.   The traces we leave behind as we shuffle from one day to the next may not mean much to us.  But they could mean everything to someone else.   

Mother Teresa once said “Kind words can be short and easy to speak.  But their echoes are truly endless.”  Actions leave echoes too.  And attitudes.  What traces are you leaving behind?        

Rocket Man. . . . .

Kim Jong Un will never be a “hero.”  Kim Jong Un and his two forebears have been monsters that have fed off the lifeblood of their people.  North Korea is little more than a brutal and dehumanizing gulag posing as a nation.   The poor souls of North Korea are dying like flies.  Starvation.  Illness.  Abuse.  With no care, no concern, no sympathy from the Rocket Man.  Who lives like a god. . . . .

If you want to get a feel for the abyss that is North Korea (beyond The Orphan Master’s Son) there are three TED Talks (12 minutes each) that I would suggest you watch.  Two are offered by Korean women who lived in the North.  One escaped (her tale is captivating).  The other was brought in as a teacher to sons of the elite.   The third is a young man who was orphaned at 13.  And he escaped to China. https://www.ted.com/talks/joseph_kim_the_family_i_lost_in_north_korea_and_the_family_i_gained  and 
https://www.ted.com/talks/suki_kim_this_is_what_it_s_like_to_go_undercover_in_north_korea  and 
https://www.ted.com/talks/hyeonseo_lee_my_escape_from_north_korea  These TED Talks are powerful, incisive and compelling.  They should make you angry . . . .    

How do you deal with incarnate evil that is Kim Jong Un?  It would be nice if China would encourage refugees to cross the river and allow resettlement.  But presently, China captures refugees and sends them back to North Korea where most are then killed.  If China changed this policy, maybe they could be a hero. . . . .    


Be a Hero

Do you respect the bully? Or the nice guy/gal? The character who pushes you around, threatens you and gives you a punch now and then? Or the one who comes to your aid. Who helps you when the chips are down?   

Kim Jong Un wants respect for North Korea.  And yet he has no clue on how to get it.  He thinks that by threatening, killing and abusing — by bullying — he will be “respected.”  And that he will insulate his country from encroachment.   Duhhhhh (cue the drool).       

Ponder this. . . .  the 2004 tsunami in Sumatra/Indonesia.  The tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 killing 18,000.  Most nations of the world rallied to help the victims.  But not North Korea.  After Hurricane Katrina, 150 countries offered to help America.  But not North Korea.  The hurricanes of Houston and Florida have prompted worldwide concern and offers of assistance.  But . . .  you know.   

Just think if Kim Jong Un had told America – “We don’t have much but I will send you people. . . . to help with the recovery from your terrible tragedies.”  You tell me.  What would happen to North Korea’s (and Kim Jong Un’s) reputation?  It would launch like an ICBM.  And take the world off guard.   Kim Jong Un might even become something of a hero in our (allegedly though everyone knows it’s not) “mainstream” media. I’m keenly aware that there are cultural differences, economic limitations and foreign policy impediments that guide Kim Jong Un and his Hermit Kingdom.  But those differences and concerns are similar to those that guide the 150 countries that did offer their help.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Kim Jong Un would think outside his tiny little box.  I’m not gonna hold my breath . . . . .  (see post of July 10, 2014).

The Chocolate Brain. . . . .

(AP Wilmette IL) Chicago lawyer Scott Petersen has a problem. His brain is slowly turning into chocolate.

After years of overindulging in Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, Hershey’s kisses, Hershey bars, Easter eggs, chocolate rabbits, frogs and sweets, Petersen’s brain is slowly but surely becoming a chocolate mass.  A routine physical exam turned up this unique phenomenon last Tuesday. His doctor said “Mister Petersen’s cerebral cortex has already developed a 1/4″ layer of chocolate. I believe that his cerebellum and occipital area are now crusted with a 60% cocoa.”

In a few years, Petersen’s head will be filled with a commercial grade of bittersweet chocolate.

Petersen was interviewed in a local restaurant where he was dining with his wife Donna. “I think it’s silly. I eat pizza too and you don’t hear that my brain is turning into Mozzarella cheese” he said testily. Petersen then ordered a double “Chocolate Decadence” – the menu’s signature dessert.  For his main course . . . . . 

Once Petersen’s brain has become solid chocolate, his wife is expected to put him on display at a local museum on weekends. “Hey – I might as well get something out of this too” she said.

Petersen is, however, expected to continue practicing law. A solid chocolate brain is not expected to interfere with his duties or knowledge as an attorney . . . . .

It Ain’t Perfect. . . .

I have heard it said that golf is 65% mental and 35% mental. Having played “at” the game for a long time, I believe it.  The game of golf doesn’t happen on the fairway or on the green.  It takes place between the ears.  

I just finished reading (for the third time) Dr. Bob Rotella’s classic work – Golf is Not a Game of Perfect.  I like to feel that I have been steeped in the mental nuance of the game to the point that I should be on the PGA Tour.  Well, maybe the Hooters Tour.  Or the Old Guys with Bad Breath Tour.  But so far, I’m in a holding pattern.  With a 16+ index and an inconsistent short game.  And long game.  And putting game. . . . .

Rotella is a master though at providing positive reinforcement.  At each reading, I have a pen in hand.  Making marginal notes.  Writing on 3″ x 5″ cards.  Scribbling Rotella’s wisdom on the blank pages fore and aft.   You would think that with such diligence, my game would be. . . . never mind.  

Dr. Bob’s mantra is to concentrate on the short game.  Pick the smallest possible target.  Visualize the ball going into the hole.  Negative thinking is almost always successful.   If I were to distill this (really wonderful) tome into one word, it would be “confidence.”   Confidence in club selection.  Setup.  Swing.  And result.  It didn’t work today.  Maybe I need to read the book again.      

So How do we Heal?

Raise your hand if you want to spend the next year as angry and as worried about politics, political parties, liberals, conservatives, global tensions, social trauma, antifa, alt right and “stuff” that you don’t like.  Come on.  Hands up?    

I don’t see any hands. . . . .

In my prior post, I spoke of Jonathan Haidt’s classic book – The Righteous Mind.  It is – in my opinion – an excellent distillation of (as the subtitle says) – why good people are divided by politics and religion.  If you don’t have the time (or will) to read it, I want you to do something.  Please.  I am asking you. . . .   Spend 20 minutes to watch a Ted Talk.  It is an interview with Jonathan Haidt, the author.   The subject is “Can a Divided America Heal.”     http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_can_a_divided_america_heal  

Pew Research shows that our feelings about those on the “other side” of our hardwired beliefs have now morphed from dislike into disgust.  And hatred.  And a belief that the “other side” is a threat to us and to our nation.  Each side is developing its own moral matrix of what is right (or righteous) such that the issues that divide us are now greater than ever before.

This is a Ted Talk worth watching.  Twice.  Or three times.  And worth sending on to others.  I want my grandchildren – and their grandchildren – to grow up in an America that has civil discourse.  And respectful disagreement.  I believe you do too.    

Please.  20 minutes is all I ask. . . . . 


I am Always Right

[A summer repeat from December 23, 2015]

I am always right. On everything.  I am never wrong. My views and opinions are always – always – correct. On politics, religion, social issues, economics, the law, ethnic issues, people, movies and golf courses. If you disagree with me. You are wrong. You may be uneducated (some of the most well-schooled people are hopelessly uneducated) or just stupid. So if you want to know the right path, the right opinion, the right way to believe — just give me a call or send me an email. Because I have a righteous mind. . . . .

The Righteous Mind is a wonderful book by Jonathan Haidt.  It is a New York Times bestseller which explores why people are fundamentally intuitive – and irrational.  The book suggests that our views (whether political, social, religious or whatever) are hardwired into us.  You were never designed to listen to reason — only to respond with your preconceived notions and (often false) beliefs.  When you ask people moral questions and time their responses, you see that they reach conclusions quickly.  And they produce reasons – later – only to justify what they have already decided.  We often acquire morality (theories on right and wrong – and “justice”) the way we acquire food preferences.  If it tastes good, we stick with it.  Interestingly this bestseller suggests that conservatives are more broad-minded than liberals since they receive a more varied diet of information.  And are more receptive to listening.    

Haidt’s comments often sound cynical and yet if you follow the narration, you learn (if you don’t have a closed mind) that Haidt is really seeking enlightenment.  He wants you to open your minds to the moral intuitions of other people.  

If you don’t want to read this book, you may be a lost soul.   But if you do, you might still have hope.  And if you want to know what’s right – and what’s wrong – just let me know.  I can tell you.  And will.  I have a righteous mind.