How To Have A Realistic View of What Is Happening in the World Today — by Gary S. Smolker

Thomas Jefferson once said that if you expect a people to be ignorant and free you expect what never was and never will be.

A Penetrating Question to Ask Yourself

Once you stop trying to learn, what else is there, have you become mentally dead?

Is It True That You Can’t Underestimate How Misinformed, Uninformed and Dumb People Are?

I believe it is important to have a realistic view of what is going on in the world and that most people don’t.

In a recent “Playboy Interview”, which can be found in the May 2015 issue of Playboy Magazine, Bill Maher said, “You cannot underestimate how dumb people are in this country….It’s why politicians get away with so much bullshit.”

Personally, I rarely watch news programs because of how stupid the reporting is.

Listening to recent CNN commentators and their experts talk about what ISIS is doing [beheading Christians, etc.], Syria, Libya, Yemen, Africa, the Middle East and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea while being smuggled from Libya and Syria to Italy made me cringe.

In his interview in the May 2015 issue of Playboy Magazine, Maher indicates most people are not getting helpful accurate information.

Maher says: “People are either in a bubble, getting only the information they want to see, or they’re on porn or playing Angry Birds or whatever else they are doing.  They’re not getting information.”

In that interview Maher states:

  • “The vast, vast, vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.  But here’s the point people don’t bring up: They’re not terrorists, but they share some very bad ideas with terrorists, and bad ideas lead to bad behavior.
  • “You couldn’t put the Muslim equivalent of The Book of Mormon on Broadway.
  • “You can’t write a book like The Satanic Verses without millions going jihadi on you.
  • “Hundreds of millions of Muslims believe if you leave the religion you should get killed for that.
  • “Islam is absolutely the problem.  Oc course it is.  It’s on every page of the Koran to despise the unbeliever.
  • “Try walking down the street in Muslim areas – even in more tolerant places like Amman, Jordan – wearing shorty shorts or a T-shirt that says HEY, I AM Gay.
  • “…the long-term solution to radical Islam is to let them have the civil war they need to have between themselves. Let the people who want to walk into the 21st century stand up against the people who want to stay in the seventh century.
  • long as we are droning them, it gives everybody an excuse to hate us as the common enemy.
  • “As long as our armed forces are in their countries and in their lives and killing them with drones, they don’t get to have this internecine warfare that intelligent observers agree they need to have.”

With tongue in cheek Maher explains/claims/says, The only thing he doesn’t have tolerance for is intolerance.

For a broader perspective on what is happening in the world today and why it is happening, I recommend that you read the entire Bill Maher interview in the May 2015 issue of Playboy Magazine.

To better understand what is going on in the world today, and what to expect to happen next, I further recommend that you read (i) “Supreme City” by Donald L. Miller which is a history of New York City in the first part of 1900s and also read (ii) “The Greater Journey” by David McCullough which is a history of Paris in the 1800s, and I also recommend (iii) that you watch the recently released movie “Woman in Gold” which is about the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis in Vienna shortly before the start of World War II, one woman’s successful 10 year attempt to reclaim valuable artwork belonging to her family from the Republic of Austria.  It is one hell of an adventure story about an upstart risk taking underdog who won against enormous odds.

In deciding how to spend my time, I ask myself: [A] Are the prominent news commentators I listen to thoughtful? [B] Are they on a quest to find out why things that are relevant to me are happening?  [C] Are they practical, do they think about or research what can realistically and practically be done to make the world a better place? [D] Are the movies I watch about real life? Do they teach me something worth knowing or make me see the world differently?  [E] Are the books I read informative and thought-provoking?  [F] What is the best way to spend my time?

In an attempt to live an intelligent life,

  1. I begin each day with my life as I find it and make it better.
  2. I make every moment count.
  3. I set higher and tougher targets for myself.
  4. I set goals for myself from the time I get up until the time I go to bed.

I strongly believe, the measure of who we are is measured by what we do with what we have.

I have the following recommendation for major news broadcasters.

My recommendation to major “news” broadcasters is : Hire Donald L. Miller (author of “Supreme City”), David McCullough (author of “The Greater Journey”) and Bill Maher (political commentator) (a) to comment on “breaking news” and (b) to ask questions to so-called experts on the most pressing topics of the day.

I am sick and tired of hearing all the negative news that I hear.  I would like to hear news reports which give a broader perspective on life than who is killing who and/or who is being shot or killed or how sad and unfortunate it is to be “poor.”

By the way, I find it shocking and disgusting that many Americans, who have some money and who live in this world of plenty, spend more of their money at restaurants than at grocery stores.

I would like to hear or read an analytical thoughtful news report on that happenstance.

I know that many people (perhaps myself as well) live a life of excess.  I would like to hear news reports and read about that.

I believe the reason things seem to be so miserable for so many people is because of the way news reporters and commentators choose to report on and comment on what they talk about.

I know a picture changes depending on how you frame it.  The same holds true with the news and when news reporters and commentators discuss the “news.”

Here is what St. Augustine’s had to say about my point of view: “If we live good lives, the times are good.  As we are, such are the times.” – St. Augustine

In other words: an intelligent life is not lived by chance, but by choice.

The Working of the Human Brain

Your brain is wired for prediction.

It is a predictive organ.

Your ideas and actions come from information already in your brain.

Every moment you are awake your brain is consulting your vast store of information and knowledge in your brain and from that information and knowledge creating the ideas and feelings you have at every moment.

Actions that you take are the result of your brain’s predictions.

What you do is the result of predictions made by your brain based on your own experiences.

Everyone understands what is going on because of what they have read, because of who they have talked to, because of who they have listened to, what they have seen and because of what they had “made” of what they have experienced in the past.

What you “read” is very important because what you read is a marker which reflects

  • who you are,
  • what you are,
  • what you know, and also
  • reflects your ability to understand what is going on.

What you have read, what you have heard, what you have seen and what you have experienced is a good predictor of your capacity to anticipate what will happen next.

I Recommend That You Seek To See How Deep the Place Is From which Your Life Flows

I believe Robin Williams had it right: “You’re only given a little spark of madness.  You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams

Many people live in a constant “survival mode” doing what they need to do or what they think they need to do without really deeply thinking about actually putting into action what they personally enjoy doing and who they want to be.

Those people need to go through an awakening.

Those people need to come up with a few things they want to start working on, but need to prioritize their schedule to ensure that they can make that happen.

Those people need to find something else to long for besides mere survival.

I don’t agree with Thornton Wilder’s be satisfied with the status quo advice, “My advice to you is not to inquire why or whether, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.” – Thornton Wilder

I believe in taking risks.

I believe if you risk nothing, you are risking a lot. Have an adventure: Explore. Dream. Discover.

Consider points made in the Viet Nam War speech Robert Kennedy gave on February 19, 1966:

“Democracy is no easy form of government.  Few nations have been able to sustain it.  For it requires that we take the chances of freedom; that the liberating play of reason be brought to bear on events filled with passion; that dissent be allowed to make its appeal for acceptance; that men chance error in their search for truth.”

Reflect upon the reaction of the all-white student body at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, when Bobby Kennedy delivered the following speech to them on May 13, 1968:

“Look around you.  How many black faces do you see here?  How many American Indians?  The fact is, if you look at any regiment or division of paratroopers in Vietnam, forty-five percent of them are black.  How can you accept that?

They booed.

I keep in mind that:

  1. The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism.
  2. There is no such thing as half-trying.

Ancient man survived the more powerful beasts about him because his wisdom, his strategies and his policies – overcame his lack of power.

Dare we to attempt less?

We Are What We Read

Some people never stop learning.

Below is a slightly edited copy of recent email correspondence among three of my men friends.

Each of these friends have been on a quest their entire life [asking questions] to understand the world they live in.

Recently their questions have been focused on how live as intelligently as possible with a focus on understanding human health, as well as understanding human nature and the way things work.

Their correspondence with me (copy below) illustrates the point that people are the product of what they read.

Hopefully reading the correspondence below will help you put the need to be continually learning, continually reading books, in perspective — because once you stop trying to learn, what else is there….

The first correspondent (Jorge) is an extremely well-read attentive person who relaxes by reading a scholarly book, listening to good music, going to a play, going to a symphony and/or going to a lecture at Cal Tech or going to a lecture at the Huntington Hartford Museum/Library/Gardens.

Jorge listens with the intent to understand.

Jorge has frequently been in dangerous high pressure situations.

On one of Jorge’s business trips to a foreign country (a country which at the time was on the U.S. State Department’s watch list) Jorge asked his taxi cab driver – as Jorge was being taken to a meeting – if it would be okay for Jorge to roll up the window of the driver’s cab.

The taxi cab driver [who was the owner of the taxi-cab] replied: “Only if you pay to replace the window if someone throws a rock through it.”

Jorge has gone to places where most of us will never go and has done and does things on a regular basis that most of us will never do.

  1. More than once, Jorge has negotiated business deals with armed dictators in rooms full of a dictator’s armed men.
  2. When Jorge is “in town” (Los Angeles), Jorge dresses formally for dinner with his wife.
  3. Jorge and his wife have candle lit dinners when they dine together at home.

Jorge loves words and seems to have a photographic memory.

If I remember correctly, Jorge speaks seven languages fluently.


Original Correspondence – Email from Jorge Plus Follow-Up Correction


In a book that I recently began to read, and which I will recommend to you if it proves to be as fascinating as the first twenty-five pages would suggest, I read:

“We are verbibores, a species that lives on words, and the meaning and use of language are bound to be among the major things we ponder, share and dispute.”








Anent my recent e-mail about verbivores, I remembered Hamlet:



—What do you read, my Lord?


Words, words, words.




Incidentally, I have only this morning noted the spelling error of verbibore rather than verbivore.  But I now think the “bore” just as amusing—and probably more useful—than the vore.



Second Email (my response to first email from Jorge)

Verbibores is a great word.  So is verbivores.

I enjoy the company of people, such as yourself, who have a vibrant interest in life and conversation and good books.

Yesterday, I went to the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Calabasas — with the concrete intention and a strong resolve to not buy any books.

As you might guess, I did buy some books.

In fact, I purchased four books.

I will send you the correct titles later and a longer description of each book.

  1. The title of one of the four books I purchased is something like “Bon Attempt.” [The actual title is “Bon Appetempt – A Coming of Age Story (with Recipes!)” – it celebrates people who try things that don’t quite work out as planned.]
  2. The title of another one of the books I purchased is something like “How to Become An Adult in 428 Easy Steps.” [The actual title is “Adulting – How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps” – this is a self-help book for people whose actions do not always reflect the fact that chronologically, they are absolutely, completely and undeniably an adult.  Here is a piece of the author’s advice: “Intentions are nice, but ultimately intentions don’t really matter because they only exist inside you.  Meaning to send a thank-you note but then not doing it is exactly the same as never thinking to send one – the person is still receiving zero thank-you notes.  So, yes. Actions are greater than intentions.”]  By the way, it’s the author’s position that being adult is something you do.  In that sense, adult is a verb, not a noun, and you can act like an adult even if you don’t feel like doing so.
  3. The title of another book I purchased yesterday is “My Grandfather’s Gallery.”  This book is about a famous gallery in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s (Galerie Rosenberg) that was looted by the Nazis.  It is about Paul Rosenberg’s elegant skylit gallery at 21 rue La Boetie – which was arguably the epicenter of the Parisian avant-garde – a place where painters such as Picasso, Braque, Matisse, and Leger were routinely exhibited and the personal and economic circumstances that compelled such painters to join Rosenberg’s exclusive stable and the Rosenberg family’s ongoing efforts to recover his paintings.
  4. Rosenberg and his family managed to flee Paris just ahead of the deportation of the French Jews by the Nazis during World War II.  In his absence, his beloved paintings were looted and scattered across the continent.
  5. The author, Anne Sinclair, is Paul Rosenberg’s granddaughter and one of France’s best known journalists.
  6. I was attracted to that book because I had recently seen the movie “Woman in Gold.”
  7. “Woman in Gold” powerfully teaches us about the core of human nature.
  8. Anyone who doesn’t understand what ISIS is doing or why ISIS is doing what ISIS is currently doing ought to watch “Woman in Gold.”
  9. “Woman in Gold”

  10. “Woman in Gold” is the story of the late Maria Altman’s almost ten-year legal struggle against the government of the Republic of Austria to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” which was confiscated from her relatives by Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II.  Scenes in this movie dramatically portray how the Jews were unable to escape Vienna after the Nazi invasion of Vienna shortly before the start of World War II.  In addition to being  a story about looted art, this movie is a story about how badly/terrifically the Jews were treated by both the Nazis and the Austrians in Vienna and throughout Austria.
  11. This movie tells the story of Altman’s quest to obtain the return of her family’s looted artwork.
  12. This movie tells the story of what happened as Altman and her “contingency fee attorney” E. Randol Schoenberg took her case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
  13. The government of the United States was on the side of the Republic of Austria and filed a brief in which it urged the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of the Republic of Austria.
  14. The United States Supreme Court ruled in her favor in Republic of Austria v. Altman (2004).
  15. “Woman in Gold” is a fantastically well done “should see” movie.
  16. Other movie critic reviewers have given “Woman in Gold” mixed reviews varying from 5.8/10 to 52/100.
  17. I give “Woman in Gold” a 94/100.
  18. I give “Woman in Gold” a rating of 94/100 because “Woman in Gold” teaches (a) how unvarnished intolerance creates a cadre of despicable people and  (b) that contingency fee attorneys are essential components of the American legal system in their role of seeking to “make” the American legal system work for just causes.  “Woman and Gold” portrays contingency fee attorneys in a good light.
  19. This movie shows the courage and singular achievement against all odds achieved by Ms. Altman’s upstart risk taking underdog contingency fee attorney through his individual effort.
  20. The despicable actions portrayed in “Woman in Gold” are tastefully portrayed.
  21. Austrians are shown greeting the invading Nazis by throwing flowers at them, welcoming them with open arms and cheerfully looking on as Orthodox Jews are being disgraced by having their hair cut by Nazis and being forced to scrub sidewalks.
  22. The modern Austrian government charged with reviewing claims to stolen art work by their Jewish owners acted just as despicably as the Austrians who had thrown flowers at the Nazis when the Nazis invaded Austria just before the beginning of World War II.
  23. Little did the government of the Republic of Australia or the Agency/Committee in charge of reviewing claims to art work stolen by the Nazis realize in their dealings with elderly octogenarian refugee Ms. Altman in her attempt to recover artwork she believes/believed rightfully belongs/belonged to her family they were dealing with a woman who was fighting for justice with the strength of a volcano.
  24. Go see “Woman in Gold” if you think ISIS is doing or has done anything new.
  25. “Woman in Gold” teaches that modern-day European people should/can be expected to do horrible things as a matter of course.
  26. If you think what ISIS is doing currently is conduct characteristic of the seventh century and not conduct characteristic of the nineteenth century, read the description of the battles between the government troops of the French government at Versailles and the mobs of the Communards in 1871 in “The Greater Journey – Americans in Paris” by David McCullough.
  27. If you think current conditions in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, or in Syria are conditions that can only be prevalent in failed states read about conditions in the roaring 20s in Hell’s Kitchen section of the City of New York in “Supreme City” by Donald Miller.
  28. “THE GREATER JOURNEY – Americans in Paris”

  29. Anyone who thinks what ISIS did or is doing in Syria — i.e., destroying priceless antiquities, beheading people, etc. – is beyond imagination should read about “La Semaine Sanglante,” the Bloody Week in Paris during the fights between the French government at Versailles and the mobs of the Communards in 1871 –  described in “THE GREATER JOURNEY – Americans in Paris” by David McCullough.
    McCullough quotes the journal and diary of American Foreign Minister Elihu Washburne, who was posted in Paris at that time.  According to Minister Washburne: every day seemed worse than the one before.
    “There has been nothing but general butchery.”
    Elihu Washburne (the American Foreign Minister [Ambassador] in Paris) wrote in his diary:
    “The rage of the soldiers and the people knows no bounds.  No punishment is too great, or too speedy, for the guilty, but there is no discrimination.  Let a person utter a word of sympathy, or even let a man be pointed out to a crowd as a sympathizer and his life is gone…. A well-dressed respectable looking man was torn into a hundred pieces…for expressing a word of sympathy who was a prisoner being beaten almost to death.
    “The vandalism of the dark ages pales into insignificance before the monstrous crimes perpetrated in this great center of civilization.
    “The incredible enormities of the Commune, their massacre of the Archbishop of Paris and other hostages, their countless murders of other persons who refused to join them in their fiendish work, their horrid and well-organized plans of incendiary intended to destroy almost the entire city…. are crimes which will never die.  I regret to say that to these unparalleled atrocities of the Commune are to be joined the awful vengeances inflicted by the Versailles troops…The killing, tearing to pieces, stabbing, beating, and burning of men, women, and children, innocent and guilty alike, by the government troop[s] will stain to the last ages the history of France, and the execrations of mankind will be heaped upon the names who shall be found responsible for acts which disgrace human nature.”
    According to McCullough, at one point the Seine literally ran red with blood.
    The value of the architectural landmarks and other treasures destroyed was inestimable.
    It seemed the culmination of every horror to Washburne.
    It seems apt to me to make the comparison of ISIS and the barbarity of the French in the French Commune. That type of barbarity could happen anywhere, even here, if restraints were removed or fell away.
    Consider the history of violence in the “modern” United States from 1900 to today.

    “Supreme City” 

    According to Donald L. Miller: In the early 1900s, the mostly second generation German and Irish residents of Hell’s Kitchen – whose eastern border was a few blocks from the Fifth Avenue mansions of the Vanderbilts – had been so beaten down by misfortunes they had “forgotten to be dissatisfied with their poverty.”

    However, Hell’s Kitchen’s  outstanding characteristic was its anarchic lawlessness, not its poverty induced lethargy.

    “In West Side Studies, a sociological report published in 1914 by the philanthropic Russell Sage Foundation, the authors described the neighborhood boys as ‘incredibly vicious.’ Stabbings, assaults, and drunken street brawls were daily occurrences; ‘every crime, every villainy, every form of sexual indulgence and perversion is practiced in the district.’

    Hell’s Kitchen was a whirlpool of crime and mayhem.

    Gang life offered energy, excitement, and the prospect of advancement, if only by theft and thuggery.

    Joining a gang was irresistibly attractive to young folk eager to escape their constricting surroundings.

    In “Supreme City”, Donald L. Miller tells the following story:

    “On November 6, 1912….Owney Madden nearly met his creator.  That evening he attended a ‘racket’ at the Arbor Dance Hall on Fifty-second Street and Seventh Avenue….He made a reckless public entrance, striding to the middle of the dance floor, calling for the music to be stopped, and announcing with arms folded, that he had come in peace and wouldn’t “bump anyone off.’  He then retired to a table on the balcony, where he had a commanding view of the women on the dance floor. Sitting alone, sipping a whiskey, he was soon surrounded by eleven members of a rival gang.  Rising to the challenge, Madden dared them to shoot.  All eleven opened fire.  Madden was rushed to Flower Hospital, where surgeons removed six slugs from his stomach; another five were buried too deep to be removed.  At Madden’s bedside, a detective asked him who had shot him, but the Gopher headman remained true to the code of the street. ‘The boys ‘ll get ’em,’ he whispered.  ‘It’s nobody’s business but mine who put these slugs into me.’  Within days, three of the eleven assailants were in the municipal morgue.

    In “Supreme City”, Miller tells stories about methods used by the U.S. government to put liquor smugglers out of business in New York during Prohibition under the direction of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Emory Roy Buckner, special investigator A. Bruce Bielaski, Assistant Prohibition Administrator for the New York region Augustus Heise, and his supervisor Major Chester P. Mill, Prohibition Administrator of the New York region, and General Lincoln Andrews, the national “Dry Czar” since 1925.

    According to Miller:

    Bruckner was charged with bringing to justice citizens who had broken a law he considered idiotic and unenforceable. “The zealots who created prohibition think the mere writing of the law on the statute books makes it a fait accompli….They decline to know the truth.

    When Special Investigator A. Bruce Bielaski set up covert operations in the summer of 1925, Bielaski’s methods were emphatically straightforward: track down suspects and get them to talk, using cash and legal immunity as inducements.  If this failed, torture them.

    In June of 1927 the issue of torturing suspects came to a head “when Augustus Heise, Assistant Prohibition Administrator for the New York region, casually admitted in federal court that he had resorted to what he called a ‘Chinese method of torture’ to obtain a confession from a Harlem bootlegger, winding a towel around his head and twisting it tighter and tighter, painfully reducing the flow of blood to the brain.  Heise also admitted that his agents had ‘accidentally’ shoved another suspect through an upper story window at Prohibition headquarters in downtown Manhattan.

    “Two days later, Heise and his superior, Major Chester P. Mills, Prohibition Administrator of the New York region, were forces to resign.  Later than summer, the axe fell on General Lincoln Andrews, the national ‘Dry Czar’ since 1925.  His replacement former New York lieutenant governor Seymour Lowman, announce that his office would no longer countenance torture as a means of eliciting confessions.  ‘Enforcement fanaticism’ must cease, declared Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon.

    “As part of the purge, Mellon fired A. Bruce Bielaski and disbanded his undercover service.  Bielaski joined nearly one thousand other Prohibition enforcement agents, nationwide, that had been dismissed from the federal service since 1920 for, among other things, bribery, extortion, embezzlement, perjury, and robbery.”

  30. The fourth book, and last book, I purchased yesterday is titled “The Last Lecture.”  It is a lecture given by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, who gave his “last lecture” shortly after he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
  31. “The Last Lecture” is a book  about the lecture Professor Pausch gave, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”, the last lecture he gave.
  32. Professor Pausch’s lecture wasn’t about dying.  It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others.  It was about seizing every moment – because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think.

Third Email

[BOOK] To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design by H. Petroski.

Perhaps the ironic (or iconic) jewel of this book on engineering failures is the one that should have failed but didn’t: the Crystal Palace.  The moral, of this book as well, is that the object of engineering design is to obviate failure, but the truly fail-proof design is chimerical.


Fourth Email

I’m reading “Liar’s Ball,” which is about an insider’s view of top-level real estate in New York, mostly a short walk from my apartment.  I recommend this book as entertaining and informative and not too long.


Fifth Email

Some say: “A man is what he eats.”

I say: “A man is what he reads.”

I recently had the delightful experience of having dinner at a candle lit table in a small chic restaurant with a charming and beautiful woman with whom I was going to see a musical (NEWSIES) at the Pantages Theatre, in Hollywood, California.

Because our dinner table conversation was so enjoyable we stayed in the restaurant too long and had to literally run to the Pantages Theatre, located a few blocks away, in order to see NEWSIES before the performance was over.

As much as I enjoyed the food and atmosphere of the restaurant, and as much as I enjoyed watching the Tony Award wining musical NEWSIES,  I relished the sublimity of talking with that woman even more.

She was the most stunning woman in the entire Pantages Theatre that evening. L’Oreal would do well to hire her as a beauty model.

Like all truly beautiful women, she seems to be totally oblivious to the fact that she is gorgeous to look at and the most agreeable companion.

It was a magical evening.

We were both in the frame of mind best suited for intellectual and social pleasure.

I like the idea of being better off when things don’t work out as planned.

I once read that the only people who have fun are people who get lost.

I had “the joys of getting lost” in mind when I purchased “Bon Appetempt – A Coming of Age Story (with recipes!)”

According to its book cover, “Bon Appetempt – A Coming of Age Story (with recipes!)”, is full of hilarious observations about food, family, unemployment, and the extremes of modern day-LA, and features recipes as basic as Toasted Cheerios and as advanced as Gateau de Crepes.

Looking at the book cover of Bon Appetempt reminded me of the day (my birthday) when I tried to make a chocolate souffle with my [former] wife Susan.

What a disaster that was.

About Those Correspondents

I met Jorge over forty years ago when Jorge was a trial lawyer representing First Pennsylvania Trust in a foreclosure action brought against my clients who had borrowed money to purchase a high-rise office building on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, CA.

Currently, as a private citizen and as a member of the Board of Directors of the foundation that owns and runs a private high school and as a person active in the admission process of an Ivy League school, Jorge is worried about the disappearance of the intelligentsia.

I met JF over forty-five years ago (in 1967) when both of us were riding together in an elevator in an apartment in Ithaca, New York.

I saw JF’s career progress (rise up) from the first old house he purchased and turned into a boarding house in Ithaca, New York, to his purchase and development of property in Manhattan, Harlem and Toronto.

JF is a boldly imaginative risk-taken, who has cxperienced tremendous business success because he deeply understands how the worlds of commerce and real estate development work and is imaginative enough to turn other people’s neccesities and his necessities into opportunity.

Currently, JF is an owner-builder building a 47 story mixed use high-rise residential building in the nicest part of Toronto, Canada, also dynamically managing buildings in three cities and also building/developing several buildings in Manhattan.

I met Mayer through JF, who Meyer has known for almost 60 years.

JF and Mayer met each other in 1959 when they were both students of civil engineering at Cooper Union School of Engineering in New York City.

Mayer is a transportation engineer who has been involved in the design, planning and operation of airports, railroads, subways, buses and ports, which are the essential arteries through which commerce and the  goods bought and sold which produce prosperity and the good life flow.

Keep in mind that commence is mainly about movement.  Mayer is an expert in the physical “movement” of people and gooods.

Among other things, Mayer acts as my newspaper and magazine article clipping service.  Mayer sends me articles which he thinks should interest me, including articles about health.

Why I Bought Those Four Books

I am motivated by the same thing that motivates people like Carl Sagan, “curiosity.”

I firmly belief that, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

I bought those books to “open my mind.”

I hope by reading each one of these books I would find something “incredible” waiting to be known.

I want to increase my knowledge and understanding of how people think, why people think the way they do, why people do the things they do.  I believe reading those books will help me do that.

I want to better understand human nature, the human condition, and to seize the day by enjoying the joy of living, by increasing the magnitude and degree by which I savor life and the harmony of life.

I believe reading each of those books will help me do that to.

Moving Forward: Be Positive – Listen to Your Heart – Create Memories – Read Well and Live Well

Below are written (as quotes) some ideas to think about which have been expressed by famous people which I recommend you read as “good character building” reading material.

I say that because in my own personal life I have personally experienced the truth contained in the following statements.

“I call architecture frozen truth.” – Goethe

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.” – John Keats

“Architecture makes people happy.  It is a unique art form where the viewer can appreciate both the beauty of the work and the engineering involved with it.  I also enjoy thinking of the amount of capital it took to build it, the vision to plan it, the securing of the property right and the origanization of the labor.  I also consider many hotels to be modern masterpieces.” – Leah Smolker

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of the imagination is boundless.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“The mind determines what’s possible. The heart surpasses it.” – Pilar Coolinta

“If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Idealists,  foolish enough to throw caution to the winds, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.” – Emma Goldman

“Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together.” – Robert Redford

“No pessimists ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” – Helen Keller

“Let nothing dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare

“Right now a moment of time is passing by!  We must become that moment.” – Paul Cezanne

“If you want to keep your memories, you first have to live them.” – Bob Dylan

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards but sometimes playing a poor hand well.” – Jack London

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.  We need men who can dream of things that never were….” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I believe it is important to understand the reality of how the world works.

Asked by a young boy how he got to be a war hero, JFK replied: “It was absolutely involuntary.  They sank my boat.”

It is incredibly important to be a thinker, a dreamer, an idealist, a humorous and a realist.

End Note

I am reminded of the story of the great French Marshal Lyautey, who once asked his gardener to plant a tree.

The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for a hundred years.

The Marshal replied, “in that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon.”

Call to Action

Books and libraries and the will to use them are among the most important tools we have to develop our powers of creative wisdom.

You have no time to lose.

Don’t delay:

  1. Read a good book.
  2. See a great movie.
  3. Plant a tree immediately.




Copyright  © 2015 by Gary S. Smolker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail

Posted on April 11, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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