We're going to shake things up a bit over here, starting with the name of our newsletter, which has gone through many incarnations: The Upshot, MO' Better, and O' News to name a few.

It's now going to be called Wiseacreage. As you're probably aware, we are in the process of founding the Old's Cool Academy, which you can read all about here, and our nickname is going to be Wiseacres. Our mascot will be "Smart Aleck" – you can imagine.

Over the past few years we've written monographs, handbooks, and also published a collection of essays, Oedipus Wrecks, to very limited acclaim and even meagre-er success. Seriously, since our literary efforts have sold surprisingly well, and folks seem to love our foibles, failures and underdogged determination to education ourselves, the hard way, we've decided to start a podcast called "Old's Cool."

This weekly sit-down will feature the same type of people, places, and things which embody our ideals of beauty, simplicity and use that we've been writing about all along. Wit'll figure in too.

This week's broadcast is about a true American hero and old's cool friend Mike Lerario, introduced, briefly, below.


Whenever I'm asked what I do for a living I say I'm an unshaven "scrimshanker." Which is not to be confused with a shaven "scrimshander."

Brian Kiracofe is one of the best in the business, operating out of a small space on Bowen's Wharf that looks like a miniature natural history museum, complete with prehistoric woolly mammoth tusks and walrus oosiks, shark's teeth and rare mother-of-pearl jewelry. His store is called "Scrimshanders" and their cheeky tagline is: "Two Hundred Years Behind The Times." Absolute classic.

You can read all about him and his unique adventure in the amazing craft of scrimshaw–designs etched and sculpted on/from whalebone and ivory–and how cultural changes and attitudes, as well as federal laws have changed his business drastically in the past few years.

We'll also throw the Nantucket Quakers, George Washington, Moby Dick and my own great(9) grandfather Thomas Macy into the equation to give his historically-important art carving an interesting flavor, full of Loyalists, pacifists, environmentalists, novelists and monopolists.

We're working on etching this fascinating interview onto bone now. Stay tuned.


Be the Fulcrum

Our first "Old's Cool" podcast features Mike Lerario, an old's cool friend, and real-life Captain America, who dropped his second book yesterday, Management in Balance – The Fulcrum-Centric Plan for New and Reluctant Managers, which is a follow-up to his successful Leadership in Balance – Be the Fulcrum.

You can buy his books on Amazon by clicking here.

He's a West Point grad who saw combat in Iraq, and is now President and Principal Consultant for Crispian Consulting Inc., a firm that provides specialized training and coaching in leadership development and organizational effectiveness, based in Fayetteville, NC.

We covered a lot of ground during our conversation yesterday, with many digressions and side salads, but the main topic was, um, actually, the digressions and side salads. I'm kidding. I'd say the biggest takeaway was the primary importance of character, which is essentially courage and integrity, in any leadership discussion, and how to manifest that in the real world.

I brought up the following monograph I wrote recently, and Mike and I discussed it at length:

Did we go to war to kill little girls?

You might be surprised at the answer.

I was listening to a podcast recently where Jeffrey Prather tells the story of one of his buddies in Afghanistan, a special ops squad leader, who was dropped behind enemy lines with his men for some sort of deadly mission. They found themselves in a drainage ditch beside a road in the middle of a field where a shepherd and his daughter were bringing their goats back from a day of grazing. As the herd of goats came down the hill they realized the little girl was going to see them, and then tell her father, who would sound the alarm. The squad would then almost surely be surrounded, captured, and tortured to death.

As she got closer and closer to discovering them in that culvert, the Captain had to make a decision–to sacrifice the child and save his men, or risk having all of them, including himself, suffer a grisly end.What do you think he did? What would you have done? Before you read any further, take the time to make up your mind–you've got five seconds until you're spotted..Since the consequences of the choices we make in life, mostly spontaneously and subconsciously, or at least casually and in good faith are harmless for the most part, or cannot immediately, or ever, by us anyway, be seen or felt, we can easily disregard them, abdicate any sense of responsibility for them since, how could we otherwise keep track of the immense, inter-connected mesh of desires and pain in the world around us?

But we also have to be intellectually honest about words, definitions, morality and circumstance. Intent and culture, personal responsibility and blanket condemnation or praise must all be seriously considered too–forthrightly discussed, judiciously forgiven/condemned. How can we know?In answer to the question above–a lot of you will probably say that you would kill her to save your men and complete the mission. The ends justify the means, essentially, and ethics in war is relative. I’m convinced the only right answer has to be an absolute no–we didn’t go to Afghanistan to kill little girls. Think about it.

How can we ever know our effect on the world? We can only guess, and with sincere difficulty and doubt. What about the utilitarian principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number?” It’s dangerously subjective hogwash, in my experience, to be avoided at all costs–invalidated immediately and finally by the simple question: who decides?

I’ll bet sadists will have a different answer than masochists, and I’m not even being facetious. I think what’s most important is attention, the greatest compliment you can pay. To stay conscious and alive, aware, every day, to live in the present with virtue, valor, and vision, resolutely, since we can’t know our ultimate outcomes or predict much into a future which we certainly can’t control, is the right and only goal.

Dynamite discussion, for sure. I'm working on the logistics and finesse of uploading the Old's Cool Podcast #1 featuring Mike Lerario to our website now, and will provide a link in next week's Wiseacreage.

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