Posted on February 10, 2013


Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

–Proverbs 13:20

Man, I am really bad at this blogging thing. I go on hyperactive writing sprees where my sole motivation is coffee and the self-delusional assurance that I’m accomplishing something. Somehow. I’m not sure what. But that’s where the coffee comes in, I think: whenever I think that this might be a waste of time, I consume another cup and wait for the shakes to reach a manageable level. Then I write.

Arete (pron.: /ˈærət/; Ancient Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means excellence of any kind.


This is in keeping with what I learned in school. I’ve since adopted it as a personal philosophy. It’s one of the driving forces in my life: it’s the desire to be the best that I can that keeps me going. Plus my love for my family. And God. Each of these things, though, blends together under the same heading: arete.

Obviously, I don’t always succeed at my goals. I made a resolution to write 31 posts in as many days in January, and that didn’t happen. I promised myself that I would regularly update this blog, and that doesn’t happen. I’m still working on my board game but I haven’t moved past the development/testing phases. I’m not giving up, but I recognize that I need to constantly motivate myself or refocus my attention. One of my techniques is to surround myself with excellent people.

Here’s a small list:

Ken Watts at the Daily Mull: Ken shares this blog with Virginia Watts and between them I’m assured of getting either 1) excellent political discussion or 2) excellent fiction/poetry. I don’t always agree with their politics (actually, I mostly disagree) but it keeps me thinking.

Spritzophrenia: Likewise, this blog is a dense exploration of philosophical issues that leaves me… fuming, I think, most of the time. But I read it because I want my worldview challenged. If I wanted to live a comfortable life I could. Most people, in my experience, do just that and I think it’s a shame.

Josef Gustafsson at Freestyle Christianity: I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ and the relationship between man, God and Jesus. I believe in the Bible. But I’ve always had problems with organized religion. (And I’ll detail those problems, and my solution, in a future post.) Where Josef helps is his writing about Christianity and Catholicism. I question the legitimacy of the Catholic church, especially concerning things like the infallibility of the Pope or the need for priests to talk to God. Josef brings some of this down to earth by showing me how Catholicism isn’t much different from my view of Christianity.

Jaxion at Welcome to My Mind-Mare: I personally know Jaxion, but that’s not the reason I include his blog as an example of excellence. It’s his tenacity and dedication. He, like myself, pursues many projects at once. He doesn’t always succeed and often has to set aside one task in favor of handling another. But he always seems to come back. This blog is one of his latest endeavors and I applaud him; it’s inspirational to see someone pouring their thoughts onto the page, subject to the whims of anonymous commentors.

Alexis at the Tao of D&D: I love D&D. I don’t play (and haven’t for a few years) because I don’t have the time and I’m not part of a group right now. But I like to read about it. Alexis’ blog is fantastic inspiration for the hobby for two reasons: 1) he’s always writing about some new angle I hadn’t considered before and 2) he demands excellence from himself and others in pursuit of the game. His philosophy, as I understand it, is that a person should always want to improve themselves, regardless of the activity. So if you like football or baseball, you should do more than just watch the sport on TV. Join a fantasy or amateur league. Practice with your kids. Read books and discuss them with friends. Anything that improves you as a person.

I think that’s the main reason I’m writing this post: each of these blogs (and several others, but these are the ones I’ve been following lately) suggests a certain dedication from their authors. It’s admirable. It’s something I should be doing, this writing frequently and challenging the way I think about the world. And it’s something I believe everyone should do.

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