The Flutter 

The SFMPB Newsletter, Issue 3

A THOUSAND APOLOGIES! I hadn't realized that so much time has slipped by since I sent out the last Society For Making People Better newsletter. Way last April, it was. I know how dedicated many of you are to our noble cause and I am ashamed to have let you down. All I can say in my defense is that there was that election thing going on with all those primaries and debates and conventions and Sarah Palin and such, and then comes that total economic collapse thing, followed by the holidays and then Inauguration Day, all mixed in with some pretty big changes in our little family, and ... well ... I forgot. That's the nut of it. I remain as committed as ever to changing the world through the auspices of SFMPB, but it makes the mission that much more challenging when I keep forgetting there is an SFMPB.

Despair not, though, loyal SFMPBers. I believe I have solved the problem. Using giant letters, I have written myself a note—"Don't forget to put out the SFMPB newsletter," followed by maybe two dozen exclamation marks (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)—and with the assistance of a magnetic butterfly, that note is now firmly fixated to the side of the SFMPB Headquarters refrigerator. Every time I answer the kitchen phone or empty the trash, I will see it. There is no possible way I can forget I have a newsletter to put out. One problem solved. Man's inhumanity to man, comin' up.

NOTICE PLEASE! I have renamed the SFMPB newsletter. Before, as you remember, the name was "The SFMPB Newsletter," which is a perfectly sensible name. But I'm afraid that "sensible" does not conform well with the fast-paced lifestyles of modern hep cats, especially when they can so readily hook up with snappy and zingy blogificating sites on their Internetting machines.

Believe you me, I tried out a lot of snappy names before I settled on The Flutter. Unhappily, nearly every other interesting word in the English language has already been used, either to name a blogificating site, an arts and crafts shop, or a rock and roll band. And the last thing we need is for this essential chronicle of the Society For Making People Better to be confused with a bunch of teenage guitar players, some place that sells scrapbooking supplies, or a blogificator.

I can't exactly tell you what led me to choose The Flutter. It just came to me when I was fixating the aforementioned note to the aforementioned refrigerator. But I think it has a good and zippy ring to it, yes? And in some inspired and mysterious way, it reflects exactly what I hope to achieve with this club of ours. Just don't ask me how.

NEW RULE! Dig out the old SFMPB Rulebook, honored members, and get ready to cut and paste. I have come up with something else to not do if you have any hopes of becoming a better person.

But before I unveil the newest rule, you might be interested to know how it came to be. I invented it after watching the antics of our ex-congressman Bill Sali and any number of elected officials—many of whom are no longer around to be watched, owing in large part (I am sure of it) to the fact they broke the rule. In that sense, I didn't invent this rule (or any of the other rules in the SFMPB Rulebook) as much as discover it, in that the rules I try to pick are a real deal whether or not they have been discovered yet. This also means they can be broken, even if no one knows they are around to be broken. Savvy?

Let me put it another way. See, it would be a simple matter to fill the SFMPB Rulebook up to over-flowing if I were just pulling rules out of my heinie. Like, I could make it a rule to ... say ... never wear brown shoes with blue pants, or never eat meat on Fridays, or never interfere with the free market. But those rules are nothing more than rules, get it? There would be no reason for them to exist other than somebody called them a rule.

What I am hoping to do is stock the SFMPB Rulebook with nothing but rules that make sense whether they have been discovered or not. Discovering such natural and organic rules cannot be rushed because it takes a certain amount of experience, observation and actual thinking to uncover them. And for that reason, I am only up to "Rule No. 9." I am also hoping that the older I get—meaning, the more experience, observation and actual thinking I stack up—the easier it will be to discover natural and organic rules. But who knows? I may discover that "Rule No. 10" is "There are nine and only nine rules to becoming a better person."

Anyway, here is the new rule.

Rule No. 9: Ideology is no substitute for actual thinking.

Now, there will undoubtedly be those so ensconced in their particular ideologies that they can't imagine what Rule No. 9 means, so allow me to explain. Ideology, you see, is to the overall human intellect what cheeseburgers are to the overall need to feed yourself. Said another way, ideology is just something handy to cram into an empty spot instead of expending the effort to develop a personal worldview, just like Wendy's is there so you don't have to cook.

As you might suppose, this is why Bill Sali and so many other Republican politicians are no longer around. Throughout their political careers, they depended entirely on that musty old Reaganish ideology of "government is the problem" governance, which only works up until those times when it doesn't work anymore. Only, Sali and the others can't see that. Rather than actually thinking about it, they continued to insist it works even when it stopped working. They broke the rule at the worst possible time in American history, as Americans had come to recognize that it was going to take some bona fide brain work to get us out of the muddle their ideology got us into. I do hope Mr. Sali has learned his lesson, but it's entirely possible that Rule No. 10 will turn out to be "Never be so naive as to expect some people will ever, ever learn their lesson."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: In closing, I offer you a quote from my favorite living old crabby guy, Andy Rooney. I believe that in some inspired and mysterious way, Mr. Rooney's statement reflects exactly what I have been hoping to achieve in this newsletter. Just don't ask me how.

"In a conversation, remember that you're more interested in what you're saying than anyone else is."

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