Why Bertrand’s Pensees?


This introduction to my blog is not a biography.  That will be a separate article.  Here, I want you to know why I wanted to create this outlet for my thoughts.

Since my retirement in January 2008, I have researched a variety of topics—subjects that have interested me for most of my adult life.  I would like to claim simple curiosity as my only motivation, but I have to admit that being a lawyer almost forces one to seek answers, particularly when one has some training in researching topics and understanding what is accurate or false.  I began to accept my life as a lawyer working for the State of Texas many years ago when I realized that it could pay my bills and offer me the time to pursue those things I enjoyed. So, even in retirement, I find my legal training and experience useful and motivating.

With a click of a mouse, research, as well, has become available at my fingertips.  Search engines provide a powerful resource, although when it comes to many topics, particularly controversial ones, caution and discernment are the primary watchwords.  A web site that has information that I find agreeable can be dangerous, if it lacks sources of proof.  Even with the Internet as a resource (and it is incredible when doing legal research), “real” publications (books, magazines, and newspapers) still provide substantial information.

Although retirement gave me the time to engage in research, the subjects I have studied were borne of a curiosity about many important questions in my youth.  I call it the struggle to understand life and how to live a life worth living.  I sometimes look at my thoughts as being a farmer digs in the soil to plant crops and provide something useful for oneself and others.  I have been a prolific reader, although not necessarily books.  Before I retired, I probably averaged reading three to four books a year.  Since retirement, the number of books read annually has doubled.  Much of my daily reading concerns news, but it includes any magazine article on a subject that interests me, whether or not current events.  I do read fiction (much more so in my younger years, partially due to a fantasy that I might write a novel of my own).

Most of my writings in this blog will probably concern one or more of the following subjects:  history, law, politics, economics, religion, philosophy, and language (probably the subject I find most intriguing).  I want to know about where we came from, why we have believed, or disbelieved.  Language plays an important role, because we must use it to communicate.  Yet, it also becomes a roadblock because words are not always clear from one person to another, making language a bit mysterious.

I will not try to write much about mathematics or the sciences, as I do not consider myself competent to engage in detailed discourse on those subjects, although I enjoy those subjects as well and respect people who are engaged in those subjects.  I have a fairly good knowledge of mathematics to a certain level (having taken about ten courses in mathematics as an undergraduate).  I appreciate and respect the scientific process and believe one should move cautiously when making factual claims.

The title of the blog is a homage to Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher.  His most known writing, Pascal’s Pensées (Pascal’s thoughts) is a collection of thoughts on philosophy and religion, primarily his apology for a very orthodox form of Catholicism.  If you want to know about his prowess as a mathematician and physicist, you will not find it in the Pensees.  (Pascal discovered important principles of probability, thus becoming somewhat the founder of the math behind political polls.  In Physics, he is known for researching and uncovering principles of hydraulics.)  I will reserve any discussion about his book for a possible blog much later.

This blog, also a collection of thoughts, will mainly be on the topics mentioned above, but I plan to write on a variety of “lighter” subjects, something that Il call informally my perks and peeves.  Whether it is a matter that I find annoying or pleasing, I want these writings to be humorous and enjoyable.

Writing has never come easily to me.  So, please do not grade me on my grammar and writing style.  My grades in English in high school were “okay” but never as good as my grades in other subjects.  Still, words and their meanings fascinate me.  I first began to enjoy language when I took French as an undergraduate.  Nearly ten years later, upon my first trip to France, I realized how much I wanted to extend my language fluency to a second language.  A few years later, I pursued a Master’s Degree in Foreign Language Studies, primarily with the hope of transitioning from being a lawyer to being a teacher of language.  While I never made the transition, the courses I took and the research I did brought me closer to seeing the beauty, and the limitations, of human language.  My decision to remain in my job with the State of Texas as a lawyer also provided me with a gift by requiring me to write daily.  Although it was mundane and dry legal writing, trying to put something together that made sense to the reader forced me to train myself as a writer.  When I began to appreciate what the daily writing required of me, it also made me appreciate one of my English teachers from middle school and high school, Louise Knight, who worked hard with me to improve my grammar.

So, I hope to share with whoever reads this blog, a lot of thoughts, some serious, some sad and hope many intriguing and enjoyable.  I am fortunate to have the time in retirement, despite some of the health issues that come with aging, to do this research and write about it.  I hope and pray that I will have a number of years to share many thoughts with you, the readers.