Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I've gotta recommend this guy

Dr. Dan Siegel. That's the audio page, you can navigate around from there.

[I figured I'd put this update here: Amusingly, considering that Siegel's work is all about how to make your brain work better, ...well, just look at this mess of a post!]

This is from his "about Dan" page:
Daniel J. Siegel received his medical degree from Harvard University and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. He served as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow at UCLA, studying family interactions with an emphasis on how attachment experiences influence emotions, behavior, autobiographical memory and narrative.

Dr. Siegel’s psychotherapy practice includes children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. An award-winning educator, he is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and recipient of several other honorary fellowships. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization that focuses on how the development of mindsight in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes.

Dr. Siegel has published extensively for the professional audience. He is the co-editor of a handbook of psychiatry and the author of numerous articles, chapters, and the internationally acclaimed text, The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience (Guilford, 1999). This book introduces the idea of interpersonal neurobiology and has been of interest to and utilized by a number of organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice, The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Microsoft and Google, early intervention programs and a range of clinical and research departments worldwide. He has been invited to lecture for the King of Thailand, Pope John Paul II, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

George H. Smith doesn't get quoted enough on the web

So, to rectify that, here are a couple paragraphs from the end (pp. 322-323 of the soft-cover, 1989) of Atheism: The Case Against God, which I'm pretty sure is the best book on the subject:
To be moral, according to Jesus, man must shackle his reason. He must force himself to believe that which he cannot understand. He must suppress, in the name of morality, any doubts that surface in his mind. he must regard as a mark of excellence an unwillingness to subject religious beliefs to critical examination. Less criticism leads to more faith - and faith, Jesus declares, is the hall mark of virtue. Indeed, "unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18.3). Children, after all, will believe almost anything.

The psychological impact of this doctrine is devastating. To divorce morality from truth is to turn man's reason against himself. Reason, as the faculty by with man comprehends reality and exercises control over his environment, is the basic requirement of self-esteem. To the extent tat a man believes that his mind is a potential enemy, that it may lead to the "evils" of question-asking and criticism, he will feel the need for intellectual passivity--to deliberately sabotage his mind in the name of virtue. Reason becomes a vice, something to be feared, and man finds that his worst enemy is his own capacity to think and question. One can scarcely imagine a more effective way to introduce perpetual conflict into man's consciousness and thereby produce a host of neurotic symptoms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I thought of another potential epitaph for me

The Memento Mori of the 21st century:
"You f***ers are gonna pay for your b***s***!"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

But there IS a way to make new people

Train children to have empathy.

Empathy is knowing what others are feeling. Sympathy is agreeing with that feeling. Agreeing is less important. Sometimes it's even dangerous.

The world is perishing because people ignore the feelings - the humanity - of others. We've imbibed too much of the attitudes of wife beaters [and torturers and psycho-killers - not to mention child abusers] from our culture.

One generation, taught kindness and respect by example by their parents, will completely transform the world. DeMause's research shows that those things have been improving at an accelerating pace since the beginning of history. It's not all hopeless.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I like this guy



I like Marc Stevens too. Here he is reading from Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority:

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm not suggesting this sort of thing

The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting

Actually, the backlash is fine. Helicopter parenting is just another form of abuse. Here's the heart of the article:
Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and the founder of the National Institute for Play — who has a treehouse above his office — recalls in a recent book how managers at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) noticed the younger engineers lacked problem-solving skills, though they had top grades and test scores. Realizing the older engineers had more play experience as kids — they'd taken apart clocks, built stereos, made models — JPL eventually incorporated questions about job applicants' play backgrounds into interviews. "If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being" in life, Brown has argued, "play is as fundamental as any other aspect.'' The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that the decrease in free playtime could carry health risks: "For some children, this hurried lifestyle is a source of stress and anxiety and may even contribute to depression." Not to mention the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation of kids who never just go out and play.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1940395-3,00.html#ixzz0Y5xbN4YN

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I think people should read this

Your children ARE DoublePlusHuman

We only crush their wills because we don't want them to show us up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm trying to remember the laws of logic

we learned in Math class in school. I haven't been over them in quite a while. I suppose if I google "contrapositive" I'd find all the correct ways to restate a proposition. For instance, I'd like to verify if this is a proper corollary - or a true restatement (this is an alternative to the previous phrase, not a clarification of it) - of the Golden Rule: you are to be treated as you treat others.

It strikes me as a more useful moral tenet.

Friday, November 06, 2009

You've heard of leg men, butt men...

Foot men, breast men...

Lately I've been getting aroused by beautiful handwriting. There's a couple gals around here who really have it and I'm really enjoying it. I wish I could show you samples, but everything I can get my hands on right at the moment is somebody's address.

I used to hate that crap when I was a kid. I don't get that attitude at all now. I had no idea what a rarity it would be in my life to meet people who took pains to make the world a more beautiful place in little ways.

Ain't none o' that goin' on at home. That's for damn sure.

Oops! Did I say that out loud?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I didn't think of posting Grandma's obit

Here's a link to it in the Muskogee Phoenix.

They spelled our name wrong, but they got hers right, so I guess that's what counts.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I figured I'd show a couple pics of Muskogee

I'll probably put a couple more on the other blog - more of the Halloween/family stuff.

The weather was real nice Saturday. So nice I caught this guy out walking barefoot:

If that convinces you to move there, the house across the street is for sale:




This here is as much as I'll show now of Mom's house. Go ahead and feel free to use this image when you feel like refering to someone or something as a lightning rod.

BTW: in case you didn't catch it, the "guy" up there is my brother. We had a long, deep conversation that I think was pretty productive. I skirted the elephants in the room, but I did enjoy myself.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'll be headed down to OK for Grandma's funeral tomorrow

But I felt I had to point out this incredibly important thing my daughter drew my attention to tonight:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Can any good thing come out of Superior?

First Bud Grant, now this.

Oliver E. Williamson, US citizen. Born in 1932 in Superior, WI, USA. Ph.D. in Economics in 1963 from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Edgar F. Kaiser Professor Emeritus of Business, Economics and Law and Professor of the Graduate School, both at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
www2.haas.berkeley.edu/Faculty/williamson_oliver.aspx

Oliver Williamson has argued that markets and hierarchical organizations, such as firms, represent alternative governance structures which differ in their approaches to resolving conflicts of interest. The drawback of markets is that they often entail haggling and disagreement. The drawback of firms is that authority, which mitigates contention, can be abused. Competitive markets work relatively well because buyers and sellers can turn to other trading partners in case of dissent. But when market competition is limited, firms are better suited for conflict resolution than markets. A key prediction of Williamson's theory, which has also been supported empirically, is therefore that the propensity of economic agents to conduct their transactions inside the boundaries of a firm increases along with the relationship-specific features of their assets.

I like the co-winner better, really.

Whattaya expect from Souptown?

Friday, October 16, 2009

My daughter just made up a word.

"Contrarium." (She meant to say 'aquarium.' I think the word needs a definition.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In my continual effort to cause trouble,

I thought I'd present you all with a little more Lloyd deMause, from The Emotional Life of Nations:
WAR AS A SACRIFICIAL RITUAL

War, then, is a sacrificial ritual designed to defend against fears of individuation and maternal engulfment by restaging our early traumas upon scapegoats. This theory is the exact opposite of the "social stress" theories of all other social scientists, since it is usually successes, freedom and new challenges that are experienced as triggers for wars, not economic distress or political stresses. The war ritual is the final chapter of the rehearsing of early traumas that we all experience as we grow up, from the 18,000 murders the average child sees on TV to the bullying of scapegoats [that] children practice on school playgrounds and the sports we play in which we rehearse the mental mechanisms necessary to dominate other groups and turn them into "enemies" (the truth reflected in the saying that "British wars are won on the Rugby fields").

That war is sacrifical, not utilitarian, and aims at reducing progress and prosperity is shown by the finding that major wars almost always occur after a sustained economic upswing. Not only are there many more wars after periods of prosperity, but they are much longer and bigger, "six to twenty times bigger as indicated by battle fatalities."178 Wars sacrifice youth-symbols of our potency and hopefulness because it is our striving, youthful, independent selves that we blame for getting us into trouble in the first place. Wars are always preemptive attacks on enemies we create-enemies we must find "out there" to relieve the paranoia of having enemies "inside our heads" who resent our good fortunes. Most wars start "for the sake of peace" because we really believe we can have inner peace if we stop our progress and individuation, if we sacrifice our striving self. Only if we can stop growing can we protect ourselves from our most horrible fear-the repetition of our earliest tragedies.

I gotta tell ya, though, getting to those two paragraphs in that book - all of which is online, btw - is like reliving the birth experience.

Next day: let me tack this, from chapter five, on here:
Massive denial of the origin of humanity's problems in the traumatic abuse of children is, then, one and the same as the massive denial of the psychological origins of social behavior. They are two sides of the same historical coin. Both are rooted in the fact that our deepest fears are stored in a separate brain system that remains largely unexplored by science and that is the source of the restaging of these early traumas in social events. Only when the contents and psychodynamics of these dissociated traumatic memories are made fully conscious can we understand the waking nightmare that we call history.

While I'm editing, let me put in the commas that I think are missing from the previous quote. Actually one comma and one '[that]'.

One more thing (which also needs punctuation help):
Revictimization is actually the central cause of anti-social behavior, and addiction to trauma is at its core.104 It is not surprising that prison psychiatrists find violent criminals invariably repeat in their crime the emotional traumas, abuse and humiliation of their childhood,105 or that women who have been sexually abused in childhood are more than twice as likely as others to be raped when they become adults.106 As one prostitute who had been sexually victimized as a child said, "When I do it, I'm in control. I can control them through sex."107 What Freud was puzzled by108 when he coined the term "the repetition compulsion" - puzzled because it violated the pleasure principle - is actually a self-protective device, protective against being helpless against the overwhelming anxiety of unexpected trauma. Traumas are therefore restaged as a defense, with the persecutory self as the stage director.109 Restaging as a defense against dissociated trauma is the crucial flaw in the evolution of the human mind, understandable from the viewpoint of the individual as a way of maintaining sanity, but tragic in its effects upon society, since it means that early traumas will be magnified onto the historical stage into war, domination and self-destructive social behavior. And because we also restage by inflicting our childhood terrors upon our children, generation after generation, our addiction to the slaughterbench of history has been relentless.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

That's what I said

No, really! I did say that!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What the heck is this?

Kissing Hank's @ss. Right at the moment, I'm somewhere where I can't view it, but it sounds interesting.

Happy Birthday to two old friends and a cousin

October tenth was always rather a festive occasion in my gradeschool class. I remember it fondly.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Check out what those crazy muslims are capable of.


I got it here. Just wanderin' around, lookin' at s**t.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Well, I suppose I could spill the beans

on the big "secret mission." I had jury duty for two weeks. Got the boot from both the juries I was in selection for. Actually, the one case settled before they finished jury selection. I didn't hear how. I think the defendant just collapsed under the torture of watching us answer inane questions for hours on end.

The good thing about that deal was, the judge told us to come in at 9:15 the next day, and when we did, we sat around waiting for fifteen minutes until the clerk came out and told us they were negotiating something and we should come back in an hour. So, we wandered around downtown Mpls for a while, came back and they told us to come back again at 2:00. So, I walked from the courthouse to the Barnes & Noble, then I walked down to Loring Park reading the book I mentioned (about a mile and a half from the courthouse).

Pretty nice flower gardens there. In fact, if you walk down Nicollet Mall there are an awful lot of beautiful flower gardens. Something worth doing when they're in bloom and the fountains are all running. I recommend it.

North of the courthouse, there's a sculpture garden with all these funny, cartoony guys doing odd things. That's due north, so a block up and a block over, kitty-corner from the cop-shop. The cop-shop is rather a marvelous old gothic structure that's worth examining inside and out all by itself. I walked up the stairs on either side of the atrium examining the stained-glass windows and all the marble work. The statue out front, that looks for all the world like Vladimir Lenin, is actually supposed to be Hubert Humphrey.

The reason I didn't want to say anything about all that was that I was nervous about ending up on a jury for some mob guy or gangster. I wouldn't want that to be known. Other than the whole public record thing, but that wouldn't be opened until after the trial. Then I'd be screwed.

So, other than that, the kids are back to school, the wife's got a part time teaching job, and big changes are afoot at Super Mega Corp. Life's just lovely.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On my way downtown to my secret mission Wednesday

...Come to think of it, it had to be Tuesday...I'll tell you all about it when the "danger" is past.

Anyway, as I was accelerating from the stop sign on Humboldt Avenue, I caught this flash out my driver's side window, then, a split-second later a bald eagle spreads his wings right in front of my windshield, drops down to the street... I thought he was going to land right there in front of me... I yelled, "Holy crap!" and started to jam on the brakes, but then he snatched something off the road and took off again. I kept up with him as he climbed steadily until he cleared the trees, close enough that I could see that the thing he'd snatched was a squirrel - which I hadn't noticed until he grabbed it, and would have negligently squashed flat - I watched those beautiful, powerful wings pinion him up until he veered off over the housetops back toward the Mississippi.

I looked in my mirror at the couple of cars backed up behind and asked, uselessly, "Did you see that?!" They weren't honking at me, so they must have been as enthralled as I was. I realized how slow I was going then and carried on with my mission.

If he'd landed there for even a second, I'd have schmucked him. I don't know what I'd have done then. Called the DNR, I guess. Luckily, he was only there on business.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to shop

at the Barnes and Noble in downtown Minneapolis. Yes, I took a stroll down by the Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicollet Mall. Yeah, it's a nice statue.

Anyway, I wasn't looking for it, but they had a display of atheist literature - I noticed a couple of Dawkin's books...Sam Harris, that sort of thing... But there was one book there that I've wanted since I first saw it in the Second Renaissance catalog back in the late '90s: George H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God. [Oh, Heck! Here's the whole first chapter!]

So let's get right to the point (last four paragraphs of section VII):
Religion has had the disastrous effect of placing vitally important concepts, such as morality, happiness and love, in a supernatural realm inaccessible to man's mind and knowledge. Morality and religion have become so intertwined that many people cannot conceive of ethics divorced from god, even in principle -- which leads to the assumption that the atheist is out to destroy values.

Atheism, however, is not the destruction of morality; it is the destruction of supernatural morality. Likewise, atheism is not the destruction of happiness and love; it is the destruction of the idea that happiness and love can be achieved only in another world. Atheism brings these ideas down to earth, within the reach of man's mind. What he does with them after this point is a matter of choice. If he discards them in favor of pessimism and nihilism, the responsibility lies with him, not with atheism.

By severing any possible appeal to the supernatural -- which, in terms of human knowledge, means the unknowable -- atheism demands that issues be dealt with through reason and human understanding; they cannot be sloughed-off onto a mysterious god.

If atheism is correct, man is alone. There is no god to think for him, to watch out for him, to guarantee his happiness. These are the sole responsibility of man. If man wants knowledge, he must think for himself. If man wants success, he must work. If man wants happiness, he must strive to achieve it. Some men consider a godless world to be a terrifying prospect; others experience it as a refreshing, exhilarating challenge. How a person will react to atheism depends only on himself -- and the extent to which he is willing to assume responsibility for his own choices and actions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sorry, kids! My modem died.

Long live the modem!

That happened last Thursday, shortly after I posted that last post. I thought we'd forgotten to pay the bill, so I waited until that night to ask Laurie what was up, called the ISP Friday, and then we hit the road to Rendezvous as soon as the wife and kids got home.

I refrained from joining in any youthful hijinx, since I'm a geezer now. The younger kid and I walked all over the place.

I saw my old buddy Steve O. there! That was great!

We've been dealing with other matters since Sunday night. I might even tell you about them someday. Figuring out what was wrong with the internet connection has been on the back burner though.

Now let's go see what my friends have been up to.

---------

Later: hm. Glad I missed it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm on vacation this week

I've been helping get the kids off to school, then coming back home and doing some small tasks that have been left undone for quite some time. I won't go into all that. We seem to have the mouse infestation under control, though. No more disturbing skittering noises in the ceiling. And the yard work's all done and the living room is clean. More or less; I piled junk from another room all over the furniture, so I won't be taking any pictures of it right now.

Yesterday we took our tent up to Pine City and set it up for this weekend's Rendezvous. Stuffed all the heavy junk in it. Nice to get that done early. Now I'm going to listen to a few podcasts and think about doing more housework.

I checked in on Ron this morning

He's got a couple of interesting posts, one about The Flood, And then it rained for forty days and forty nights, which links to a Wikipedia article about Burckle Crater, off the shore of Madagascar, which seems to me to be quite a plausible natural explanation of the world's flood myths. In the other post, Pingualuit, Ron connects the effects of the formation of a crater in extreme northern Quebec, to his belief that Biblical prophecy will be fulfilled by a giant meteorite strike by 2076 or so.

Such a strike is well within the realm of possibility.

Read all those articles, they're pretty interesting. The Deluge Myth article has plenty that I wish Ron would "get," as well as a number of things he wishes I would get.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our job as parents is to make life safe and secure

for our children so they can... Well, here:
If you have a strategy of having these very finely shaped innate modules just designed for a particular evolutionary niche, it makes sense to have those in place from the time you're born. But you might have a more powerful strategy. You might not be very well-designed for any particular niche, but instead be able to learn about all the different environments in which you can find yourself, including being able to imagine new environments and create them. That's the human strategy.

But that strategy has one big disadvantage, which is that while you're doing all that learning, you are going to be helpless. You're better off being able to consider, for example, should I attack this mastodon with this kind of tool or that kind of tool? But you don't want to be sitting and considering those possibilities when the mastodon is coming at you.

The way that evolution seems to have solved that problem is to have this kind of cognitive division of labor, so the babies and kids are really the R&D department of the human species. They're the ones that get to do the blue-sky learning, imagining thinking. And the adults are production and marketing. We can not only function effectively but we can continue to function in all these amazing new environments, totally unlike the environment in which we evolved. And we can do so just because we have this protected period when we're children and babies in which we can do all of the learning and imagining. There's really a kind of metamorphosis. It's like the difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly except it's more like the babies are the butterflies that get to flitter around and explore, and we're the caterpillars who are just humping along on our narrow adult path.

Link. Watch the video, too.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More than just a wild ass

My kid - the older boy - called me up tonight and asked me for a synonym for catapult. Damned if the word 'onager' wasn't listed. I'm like, "What?" Now, I know that an onager is like a donkey - I think I learned that from my Grandpa, who brought it up God-knows-why. Maybe he owned one once or something. Anyway, here's the explanation from Wikipedia:
The onager was a post-classical Roman siege engine, which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine, similar to that of an onager (wild ass). It is a type of catapult that uses torsional pressure, generally from twisted rope, to store energy for the shot.

Twisted rope? Now I've gotta read the rest of the article.

Oh, I forgot to tell you why he asked.

He's a tree trimmer, you know, and he was removing a big maple today, cutting all the branches off and dropping them to the ground. When he cut off the last and biggest "lead" (think of a lead as a sub-trunk), a branch hit the ground funny and shattered, shooting a yard-long, five-inch thick, jagged log at a neighboring house. Luckily, she, the neighbor, had a big maple tree of her own that stopped the log before it sailed right through her picture window.

He said it all happened in slow-motion, but it didn't get a good description of his feelings. He went off on a tangent about what an SOB his father-in-law is.

He probably tells his father-in-law what an SOB his stepdad is. I know I can be an SOB. I don't know anything about the other guy but what my stepson tells me. I stepped into this situation with no clue of what I was getting into, thus modeling the lifestyle I obviously favored. The Older Boy has gone and done likewise.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's been a long time

since I said this: Der dicke Dichter dichtet das dichte Gedicht in dem Dickicht.

Hard to believe I wrote 148 posts that month, March 2004.

Molyneux:

People will do anything to believe that they are good.

Men will die and kill for the State, if they believe that a good man fights for his country. People will surrender more than half their income to the State, if they believe that the State is helping the poor, housing the homeless, healing the sick, or other such nonsense. They will cheer blank-eyed murderers if they are convinced that a good person "supports the troops." They will give up their liberties if they believe that doing so is "patriotic."

The lesson – and our potential salvation – is that morality rules the world. Whoever controls morality controls the hearts, minds and future of mankind. Morality is the invisible physics that rules all our fundamental choices. Why do thousands of Muslims kneel together? Because they believe that they are good for doing so. Why do parents still herd their children into the vicious pens of government-run schools? Because they believe that education is essential, and without the State, poor people would be a trapped, ignorant underclass. Why do they support spiraling taxes and murderous waiting times in state-run health care systems? Because they don’t want poor people dying in the streets.

Our enemies, the statists, know this well. Look at their language. ‘The Patriot Act.’ Who doesn’t want to be a patriot? Social Security. Health and Welfare. Who wants to be against those things? Medicare. Who’s against medical care?

Staring at their pillaged paychecks and property taxes, people hate the State in their hearts, but they feel guilty for it, because the State owns the moral discourse (which is, incidentally, why the State had to take control of the schools first). As they say, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. The same is true for morality. Once a statist, always a statist. We can fight all we want, but if we don’t utterly condemn the morality of the statist argument, we will always lose.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I got a great sentence today

from Dutch-Flashcards.com (they may make you sign up):

Hou alsjeblieft op met zeuren.
Please stop whining.


I'm going to make that into a bumper sticker.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An old friend, who shall remain nameless

has resumed blogging. I wish him success.

What was it Hemingway said?

When you get writers block, just sit down and write the truest thing you can think of. Something like that.

Last Wednesday I went to a Secular Organizations for Sobriety meeting. The internet misinformed me about their start time, so I got there after the festivities were over. So we just introduced ourselves and I listened to them talk about the local drugstores and boating on the Mississippi.

It was worth it. They seem like a helluva group of guys. I'll be going back tomorrow.

I just kind of lost patience with the Christian bias of AA. I love the people there - they're loving, caring and wise - but I don't agree with them on a couple of fundamental points. 1. I don't believe in the supernatural, and 2. I don't believe in selflessness.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No, I haven't been celebrating continuously since Friday night.

Be darned if I remember what we did, but it wasn't due to the consumption of inebriants (I almost said inebriates). Here's what I've been up to:
Friday - turned 46.
Saturday - got bifocals.
Sunday - went to Walmart.
Monday - sawed up a small tree that fell over in my yard.

Don't need the Metamucil yet, but there are rumblings.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Invisible Hand

"Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse."
Adam Smith

Whoops! Wrong quote. But I think that's brilliant. Must be from The Theory of Moral Sentiments, but I got it from BrainyQuote and they never footnote anything.

Here's the one I meant:
[An individual is] led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.

People who quote that (including me) like this one, too:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.

That Wikipedia article is well worth reading.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cool! I just did my first Skype call

with my sister and brother-in-law in Germany. They had their webcam going, but the one I have isn't compatible with the new computer. I'll have to spring for a new one, I guess.

We talked about getting together in Upper Cheeseheadia when they get back. Oh, I'd show you my picture of them, but my sister had just got out of the shower and my brother-in-law still had a case of bedhead.

Yeah, it's only fair that I get a webcam and reciprocate.

These are the thoughts we parents need to integrate

Monday, August 10, 2009

Here's an interesting, new way to view history

from the point of view of child-rearing methods. Here's a bit from the first article "The History of Child Abuse":
Indeed, my conclusion from a lifetime of psychohistorical study of childhood and society is that the history of humanity is founded upon the abuse of children. Just as family therapists today find that child abuse often functions to hold families together as a way of solving their emotional problems, so, too, the routine assault of children has been society's most effective way of maintaining its collective emotional homeostasis. Most historical families once practiced infanticide, erotic beating and incest. Most states sacrificed and mutilated their children to relieve the guilt of adults. Even today, we continue to arrange the daily killing, maiming, molestation and starvation of children through our social, military and economic activities. I would like to summarize here some of the evidence I have found as to why child abuse has been humanity's most powerful and most successful ritual, why it has been the cause of war and social violence, and why the eradication of child abuse and neglect is the most important social task we face today.

It's quite a disturbing article so I hope Dr. deMause doesn't mind if I summarize the historical development here, with help from this guy.
From Prehistory to the spread of Christianity deMause theorizes we have the Infanticidal phase.
From, say AD 300 to 1300 there is the Abandoning phase;
C. 1300 to c. 1700, the Ambivalent phase;
C. 1700 to c. 1850, the Intrusive phase;
1850-1950, the Socializing phase;
1950-the present, the Helping phase.

The dates apply in European history only.
I'm the one calling them phases because I'm a weeny. DeMause's term is "psychoclasses." The good thing about that term is that it doesn't imply that the the timeline is absolute. All later phases are infected with remnants of all earlier phases, however large or small.

Indeed, I'd have to say that most parents, especially if they fetishize ancient religious texts, are mish-mashes of most of them, but having not studied more than this few that I've already quoted (and linked), I won't presume to speculate further.

Christianity was a better religion

once upon a time.

Of course I've already talked about William Wilberforce.

Those were some ministers of the Gospel of Peace.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sorry, I bailed out of town on vacation.

We went up to the White Oak Rendezvous in Deer River. As soon as I find my darn camera, I'll show you the pix.

Today I was catching up on yard work. The we went and bought Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in preparation for seeing the sixth movie.

Oh! Here are a couple of pix.

I stepped across the road and took a shot of the neighbors here.





They tell me those horses are percherons. I have no idea. I've seen bigger ones, but these are pretty good sized.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Here's a graffito I'd like to see all over: Disobey Wisely

(Yes, graffiti is the plural of graffito.)

What does it mean to disobey wisely? And why do it?

I'll work on this today, but knowing me, I'll lose interest in the project before I get very far. One thing I'll say right now is that by practising wise disobedience, you're doing two things: practising wisdom and practising courage. Both of which are in short supply.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I had another interesting dream last night.

Let's see what I can remember of it. I was reminded of it by another blogger who'll get credit for it if he wants it, but I don't yet feel free to reveal him here. If he looks here, he needs to check the place out for a bit and read the comments.

Anyway...

I was wandering around a park in a city somewhere. The place was secluded, but it seemed like there were houses beyond the trees. I can't remember how we came to set up our tent inside this enclosure (a wood frame around the bottom, plastic pipes rising from the corners which held clear plastic sheeting), but we were preparing to spend the night. The park was not crowded, but there were plenty of people around. I went to do something and when I came back the tent was not mine, or ours, or whatever. It was a big thing with flyes (not bugs; open flaps - there were no bugs and the weather was breezy and warm) and some guy that I knew I liked (meaning he was a friendly, cheerful guy, not that I had the hots for him) was lying on the floor. I didn't feel excluded from the place, but I didn't feel quite like I could make myself at home either.

Again I went to get something, probably something to sit on, and when I came back the place was as big as a small circus tent and people were putting a wooden floor under it. The guy - I think he was a light-toned black man, btw - was sitting up and getting ready to do some of the work. He did so. The place was becoming a center of activity.

Pretty soon it was a large barn with light gray-green walls and there was some sort of activity starting in it. Then there were no walls and all the people were putting in plumbing and installing appliances and wiring and such. Then my Dad, my Grandpa, my brother and some uncles started leveling the floor and I realized with some guilt that the thing had just been laid on the ground.

I got down in the excavation (I'm trying not to express any surprise, because I didn't feel any in the dream, but it hadn't been there before and I knew it - I kept going over all that as each phase of the dream proceeded) and I was helping with the jacks they were using; there was a scissor-jack and an electric hydraulic jack and another one that I never got a chance to look over. Dad, Grandpa and one or the other of my uncles or my brother were handling whichever jack I wasn't at the moment and discussing what needed to be done. I was doing my part wordlessly - I wasn't being ordered around. The knowledgable people just advised me.

Suddenly the floor started to shift and buckle. We all realized at the same moment that nobody had thought to put shoring timbers under the middle of the building. Everybody working inside bailed out and the whole thing turned into a pile of kindling. On the far end the ground looked kind of like a river had eroded away its bank under the building, but there was no river.

I was wondering how we were going to clean up the mess and start over - I was viewing the wreckage from above, floating over it - when I woke up.

BTW, I woke up alert and lively before the alarm went off. I'm told that that's a significant message from the unconscious in itself. So I went to start my day while trying to fix the details of the dream in my mind.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rerun time: December 15th, 2004

BILL OF RIGHTS DAY!

So, I don't know... Read the Bill of Rights aloud to someone you love.

Addendum: Things To Do Today

1. Worship, speak, publish, assemble as you wish. Petition the government.

2. Bear arms. (A sword or knife would be fine, if you hate guns. Or bare arms.)

3. Refuse to quarter a soldier in your home.

4. Rebuff an unwaranted search.

5. Don't let anyone execute you, especially not twice, and for God's sake, don't help them do it by testifying against yourself! Insist on a trial. Get payment for that car they seized.

6. Make sure your arrest and trial follows all the prescriptions of the 6th Amendment.

7. Insist on a jury trial of your civil case.

8. Watch out for that excessive bail and fine, and make sure you're not cruelly nor unusually punished.

9. Assert other rights you retain.

10. Take back your power from the government.

Probably my best original work.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

But here's the real deal

See what you can say about this:
The difference that atheism makes to the world is it requires an acceptance of this world as all there is. It requires a rejection of all beliefs that if we commit moral crimes we can be forgiven by accepting a Jewish zombie on our death bed or holding a belief in a circle of endless rebirth that will give us a second chance. It requires compassion for humanity in the here and now because there is no belief in an abstract entity that will provide compassion for us. (Notice that this does not occur in the current world because the compassion of gods have been passed on to the compassion of the state, and it did not happen in past worlds because child-raising was so brutal the compassion was crushed out of the culture before anyone reached adulthood.)

But most of all, it is important because it is a rejection of belief structures that require lying to and terrifying children for the sake of abstract entities. Only with this fundamental rejection of violence against children will we have a world with peace.


Tha'ts the last comment, by Paul C., on this page.

Anybody who watches this and doesn't bitch about it

is going straight to Hell!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Forts Folle Avoine Rendezvous in Danbury, WI this weekend

Call it fantasy camp, if you will.

It would have been nice to have today off, so we wouldn't have to hustle our butts up there tonight and pack our crap in. We need to remember to leave offerings out for the brownies who'll come clean up the house while we're out. I've heard they're really good.

Google doesn't seem to have any pictures of the place, which is north of Yellow Lake, a mile or two west of Wisconsin 35. This map'll get you there.

Ooh! If your map turns out like mine, those pointers are off. It's that area by the Historical Society marker east of the river and the entrance is about half a mile east of that; the next right after Trading Post Road coming west from WI 35.

But they do have a good website. Note that there are two forts there. Find out why. Or is this link better?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is pretty much the God I've been worshipping

for the last ten years or so, as defined by George H. Smith in a speech originally titled "The Case Against God," but retitled "How to Defend Atheism" for the website so as not to confuse search engines, since Smith's book carries the former title:
Let's suppose that God exists and He is concerned with human affairs -- He's a personal god -- but that He is a just god. He's concerned with justice. If you have a just god, he could not possibly punish an honest error of belief where there is no moral turpitude or no wrongdoing involved. If this god is a creator god and He gave us reason as the basic means of understanding our world, then He would take pride in the conscientious and scrupulous use of reason the part of His creatures, even if they committed errors from time to time, in the same way a benevolent father would take pride in the accomplishments of his son, even if the son committed errors from time to time. Therefore, if there exists a just god, we have absolutely nothing to fear from such a god. Such a god could not conceivably punish us for an honest error of belief.

See, I was pretty much a Randian atheist when I joined the Lutheran Church back when my daughter was a baby. I did that because I wanted my daughter to receive moral instruction (and my wife insisted that she needed to be baptized). And there aren't a whole lot of Randian churches around here. And you know they're not teaching much in the way of morality in the government schools...

Crud, breaktime's over.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'll just cut and paste this for now

And figure out what to say later.

Update - here we go - new intro (thanks to Tef for sparking this): Libertarians are always being hit with dumb, unlikely situations like these to argue against the universal validity of property rights. I think Molyneux answers them marvelously here.

The two scenes begin 1. with a guy hanging from a flagpole outside my window. He kicks in my window to escape from his predicament; and 2. I see a guy in the water drowning and I grab your lifesaver.

From the FDR Blog:
...[W]e can see that the man who kicks in my window would be doing so with a reasonable expectation that I would prefer him to do so rather than fall to his death – just as a surgeon who cuts into my throat while I am choking reasonably assumes that I would prefer him to do so rather than allow me to die.

If permission cannot be reasonably gained about the use of property ahead of time, then it can always be sought after the fact. If I grab a lifesaver from your boat in order to throw it to a drowning man, it scarcely seems reasonable for me to imagine that you would prefer that I let the man drown rather than “steal” your property.

...

...[I]f you would have preferred that I fall to death my rather than kick in your window, then of course I am liable for the property damage that I have incurred. My “guess” as to how you would want your property to be used has turned out to be false, just as if I had taken your car thinking that you wanted me to, when it turns out that you considered my action to be rank theft.

Naturally, for any of this to occur, a man must be hanging from a flagpole, have no other option than kicking in a window, and the man whose window is kicked in must have preferred that the hanging man fall to his death – and the man who has saved his life by kicking in a window must refuse to pay any and all restitution for the window he has broken.

Such a circumstance will never arise in this or any other universe. The endless pursuit of these topics tells us much more about the limitations of ethicists than it does the limitations of ethics.

Monday, July 13, 2009

OK. The twelvth chapter of Romans

has an awful lot to believe in.

OTOH: OMG! Take Deuteronomy 23:1 and apply it to your life:
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

In case you don't get the euphemisms, the other versions available there will make it clear for you.

I suppose you're wondering what's got me bouncing around the Holy Scriptures this evening. Well, tonight it's this guy.

My problem with God is

he wrote a crappy book. No matter which book you think he wrote, it sucks. The Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita...if you don't cherry pick what you think is good out of them you'll be paralyzed with indecision trying to follow all of their respective commandments. Those are the books I've read the most of; the first and last I read cover to cover. The Surangama Sutra didn't seem to be going anywhere as far as "What should I do?" The same with the Koran.

I think what this guy says is pretty telling, and applies to the lot:
Ask yourself this simple question: Why, when you read the Bible, are you not left in awe? Why doesn't a book written by an omniscient being leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement? If you are reading a book written by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe, wouldn't you expect to be stunned by the brilliance, the clarity and the wisdom of the author? Would you not expect each new page to intoxicate you with its incredible prose and its spectacular insight? Wouldn't you expect the author to tell us things that scientists have not been able to discover yet?

Yet, when we open the Bible and actually read it, we find it is nothing like that at all. Instead of leaving us in awe, it leaves us dumbfounded by all of the nonsense and backwardness that it contains. If you read what the Bible actually says, you find that the Bible is ridiculous. The examples shown above barely scratch the surface of the Bible's numerous problems. If we are honest with ourselves, it is obvious that an "all-knowing" God had absolutely nothing to do with this book.

The reason why the Bible contains so much nonsense is because God is imaginary. The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by primitive men. A book that advocates senseless murder, slavery and the oppression of women has no place in our society today.

Update: I should say that I've only glanced at the Book of Mormon. That's why I didn't answer your last comment here, T.F. I didn't mean to ignore you.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yeah, I've heard that one too...

[This is a fun site]
You can find many believers who will say, "The reason why scientific experiments fail to detect God is because God must remain hidden. He does not answer prayers if he knows that he will be detected."

In order to see the truth, you need to accept that this explanation is silly. If God must remain hidden, then he cannot answer any prayers. Any "answered prayer" would expose God.

The whole notion that "God" must remain "hidden" is a total cross-threading of religious doctrine. On the one hand, believers will say that "God wrote the Bible, God incarnated himself and died on the cross for us, and God answers millions of prayers on earth every day." Then in the next breath they will say, "God must remain hidden." God obviously cannot "remain hidden" and "incarnate himself." These two items are mutually exclusive. Therefore, the explanation that "God must remain hidden" is impossible. As soon as you accept how impossible it is, you can begin to see see that God is imaginary.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From the same author

as the blog from which I clipped a comment in the previous post: "Ecclesiastes is by far the best book in the Bible. Of course most of the good stuff contradicts what the Bible says elsewhere."

His lists of "good stuff" are very well chosen.

Btw, this isn't on one of those lists, but if I'd noticed this verse months ago I wonder where I'd be now:
Galatians 23:13 And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

Here's something interesting

In a comment on this article
Paul said...
What I find strange, is that it seems fashionable now for athiests [sic] to pronounce moral judgements on Bible events. Strange because these debates predominate in cultures which have been built on the Judeo Christian ethic in the first place. In other words, the origin of the morals used to judge the Bible came from the Bible in the first place.

As a christian - am I concerned about the 42 "children" ripped apart by bears and seemingly justified by God? Well, put it this way - as my tiny nation (NZ) rapidly departs from its biblical belief system 18 thousand tiny, defenceless children were ripped apart in their mothers' wombs last year (up from 11,000 in 1990). Which do you think I'd be more concerned about? 42 dead "children" justified by God or 18,000 justified by athiests?

You tell me - as my country rids itself of the shackles of what you think is such a barbaric book, shouldn't it become less barbaric? Believe me - all the statistics (including violence against and murder of children) are running the other way. How do you explain that? Look at countries that ban(ned) the Bible... notice an increase in justice and equity as they did? No. Actually the opposite is true. Two or three from last century come to mind.

If you gut the Bible of its major theme, yes, many incidents appear barbaric and make for great blog reading for those who don't want to digest the actual book. But doesn't any book deserve to be read in its context?

The Bible reveals a titanic struggle between good and evil for the stupendously precious souls of men and women. From the Bible's viewpoint the eternal destiny of every soul, loved by God, hangs in the balance.

The Bible contains many warnings (Matt 10:28). How loving would God be if He wrote a book which demonstrated no consequences for disobedience or wilful choice to defy Him, when such disobedience and defiance, if not turned from, would result in the eternal destruction of the soul?

Sat Nov 10, 06:10:00 AM 2007

And yet the omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent being could change it all with less effort that it takes me to blink.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I get sick and tired of the way

Robert Ringer beats around the bush:
...[U]ndoing the damage that’s been done would entail repealing each and every unconstitutional law that has been passed — not just during the reign of the Duplicitous Despot, but since at least the early part of the 20th century. Just because an immoral law has been on the books for a long time doesn’t make it any less immoral. How long was slavery legal in the U.S.? How long was communism accepted as the norm in the Soviet Union?

Liberty is man’s natural state, tyranny his natural enemy. Natural Law is superior to manmade laws, and the essence of Natural Law is self-evident: Individuals have a right to sovereignty over their own lives. Period.

McCainizing about “cutting waste” and “slowing the growth of benefits” is nothing more than a cowardly surrender. Cutting and slowing only succeed in holding things in place until the progressives regain power and move their agenda still further to the left.

The problem with all forms of welfare is that once a program is on the books, no one has the guts to suggest completely removing it. When progressives manage to push something through, they know very well that the pampered populace will see it as a “right.” They are counting on this free-loader mentality for long-term victory.

If the government behaved like it ought to, nobody'd notice the poor little thing.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I wonder if my daughter would like to go to Camp Quest

They've got this page, titled "Affirmations of Humanism" on their website. Let me go through and see what I think of it:
A Statement of Principles

We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

So far so good.
We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.

Yup.
We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

"Open and pluralistic society" great; I'm cool with that. The last part, though...isn't that why we're fighting in Iraq? Society needs more than just the mechanism of voting.
We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

Good - disarming the churches has done wonders for world peace.
We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

I'm hot for negotiation; kinda cool for compromise. "Live and let live" is about as compromise-y as I think anybody needs to be.
We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

Justice is awesome, fairness is impossible...well, really both are impossible on a collective scale. Groups of people do a crappy job of being just and fair to each other. I'm down with eliminating discrimination and intolerance, but it depends on how you plan to do it.
We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

Of course, but how?
We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

Excellent.
We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

Okey-dokey. Once again, the question is, "how?"
We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

Perfect. Absolutely!
We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

Fantastic!
We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

We're talkin' about a summer camp for kids, right?
We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility.

No probs with 80% of those. Got a problem with altruism - it's kind of a rickety flyer.
Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

All right.
We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

Yup! Me too.
We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

Well, ...good.
We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

Awesome!
We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

Yep.
We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

Anybody got a "theology of despair" or an "ideology of violence?"
We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.

That all sounds good, though I think they said it already.

Here's a thought for the holiday


Why does this make me think of that guy who ran for office in Iowa a while back? Trapp-something...

El Neil:

These were the Eisenhower years, I confess, and even as a fairly naive youngster, I had an intuitive sense that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe when the legislature’s in session,” and that a “do-nothing congress” is a good thing. Also, it occurred to me that, after almost two centuries, the Powers That Be ought to have passed more than enough laws by now. At that point, you understand, I’d spent my entire life — exactly like any other little kid — being told what to do and what not to do. It seemed to me there was enough of that crap already going around to last us for at least a hundred years.

If you need more inflammatory rhetoric ('more' as in both more of it and more inflammatory), that's over here in the rest of the article "Had Enough Yet?".

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Have I mentioned lately that my friend Thomas

F. Stern writes brilliant stuff. Go read it. I won't quote much from it, but this bit that he found somewhere is just genius:
...[w]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,* it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

*“...[T]hat all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Are we running out of celebrities?

Billy Mays yesterday, Michael Jackson, Farrah, Ed McMahon and David Carradine have all died in the last few weeks. David Carradine is the one that hits me hardest, really.

But if we keep losing them at this rate the government will have to step in to solve the Celebrity Crunch.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Berean is talking about Matthew 7:1 this morning.

Matthew 7:1
(1) "Judge not, that you be not judged.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Some cite Matthew 7:1 as proof that we should do no judging whatsoever: "Judge not, that you be not judged." Here, the Greek word for "judge" is krino, meaning to condemn, avenge, damn, sentence, or levy a punishment. Christ plainly says that if we condemn others, we will be condemned ourselves. Dangerous territory indeed!

Though it is certainly hazardous to evaluate the problems or sins of others, the context answers the question of whether we are to do so. We are to judge and in every aspect of life, as other scriptures show. Christ continues His thought, in context, by showing that we are to evaluate the deeds of others, but to be very careful with our judgments. We should consider our weaknesses and sins very carefully, to the point of overcoming them, before we make harsh judgments on others. How can we condemn someone else when we may have even bigger problems? He instructs us to remove the hypocrisy and then we can help our brother with his difficulties.

Focusing on the Greek to show that "condemning" defines judgment better than "justice" really makes no difference. The sense of the context is proper evaluation of our own and others' conduct so that proper justice is done. If we wish to use a harsher definition, such as condemnation or damnation, then Christ is saying He will also evaluate us in that light. Major or minor infraction, light or harsh judgment, the outcome is the same: "As you do unto others, so shall it be done unto you!"

The copyright refers to this here, not the verse, obviously.

The guys in AA talk about GMCs: God Made Coincidences. I assume Mr. Nelson is not reading my blog. I've just been deleting these lately, after reading the verse. The commentary usually takes off in odd directions from my point of view. In fact, to be honest, I usually delete them these days without reading the verse.

But this one is quite apropos, as they say in France.

Here's something else that's apropos, Animal House at 30. Now there's a baleful influence.
In spring 2008, a band covering Otis Day and the Knights played on Alpha Delta's front lawn to an audience of boozers, brawlers and, probably, future U.S. senators.

Yeah, they'll be well-qualified for service as Senators in the new Imperium.
So why do so many college men see Bluto as a model? "People think that behaving like Bluto will win them respect," Mr. Watson says. Bluto has nearly become the archetype of the college man. His poster is found in dorm rooms across the country. He is a binge drinker, physically aggressive and impervious to pain -- especially when he is chugging a fifth of whiskey.

"The time has come for someone to put their foot down. And that foot is me."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Judge and prepare to be judged

That's Ayn Rand's corollary to Jesus' "Judge not that ye be not judged."

So, here's the deal. I believe that, but I've done very little to prepare to be judged. I take it pretty easy; others have paved my path with marshmellows, really. Maybe people mistake my tendency to say, "you don't have to do that" for politeness and that just encourages them to do more, but the fact is that I feel that favors done for me are debts that I'll never be able to repay. I'm getting better at feeling and expressing gratitude, but that sort of thing still goes on in my head. People do get the message eventually, and stop doing the things that usually ingratiate them with others. Unfortunately, they have no idea what to do to ingratiate themselves with me.

It would be good if I had any idea what to tell them. Or how. Hence the shrink. I'm not sure if this one will work out, but that's the way it goes sometimes, I'm told.

Did anyone think I was going to write a brilliant essay today? Why should today be any different? Lol.

I judge myself harshly for not living up to values that I can respect. The temptation there is to judge others equally harshly; to displace my anger at myself onto others who don't live up to my values. I try not to do that, but I'm afraid I too often give the impression that I do. There are people who live up to my values, I think. The younger boy does. The older boy has, and, hopefully is on his way to doing it again. Most business men and women do. As far as I know, all of the ones I've met do, but I'll leave room for any hidden Ken Lays in the bunch.

I fear their judgment. I hide my values, so that people can't judge me by them, but the people who are already living by them... I fear their disapproval.

Saying "F___ 'em!" doesn't cut it as a way to rebuild me self-esteem. I still admire entrepreneurs, inventors, businessmen and builders...creators of beautiful (and/or useful) things...and I know that I'm not one of them.

But I could be...if I could just latch onto whatever the hell it is that launches people to great deeds.

You know what? That translates to "if I could figure out how to feel like it."

People smile at me...my daughter! smiles at me... and I think, "You don't know me very well, or you'd know I don't deserve that beautiful gift."

All right, I think I just succumbed to the temptation to write black poetry rather than explore my feelings. That doesn't ring true at all. But I scared something inside me. Is it my true self? Or is it the false self - the defensive mask, created to protect me? From what?

The first betrayal I can remember was in Kindergarten. But... No, come to think of it, though I won every real fight with that kid afterward, I could never best him at slinging insults. And there was a bully before that. Not Ron. But several of us bested that one.

Thank you, doctor. That was helpful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vortigern, Prince of Dumnonium

Smile when you call me that!

A name I ran across reading David Hume's History of England.
We are not exactly informed what species of civil government the Romans on their departure had left among the Britons; but it appears probable, that the great men in, the different districts assumed a kind of regal though precarious authority; and lived in a great measure independent of each other. To this disunion of counsels were also added the disputes of theology; and the disciples of Pelagius, who was himself a native of Britain, having increased to a great multitude, gave alarm to the clergy, who seem to have been more intent on suppressing them, than on opposing the public enemy. Labouring under these domestic evils, and menaced with a foreign invasion, the Britons attended only to the suggestions of their present fears; and following the counsels of Vortigern, Prince of Dumnonium, who, though stained with every vice, possessed the chief authority among them, they sent into Germany a deputation to invite over the Saxons for their protection and assistance.

Yeah, that'll do it. What is he, the proto-type of Mordred?

Crap! Look at this:
The Saxons

Of all the barbarous nations, known either in ancient or modern times, the Germans seem to have been the most distinguished both by their manners and political institutions, and to have carried to the highest pitch the virtues of valour and love of liberty; the only virtues which can have place among an uncivilized people, where justice and humanity are commonly neglected.

I wonder how long that "Germanic Liberties" crap was going on in England. I'm guessing it started around 1714 and ended about 1914.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The things you find googling around!

I was checking out something Spooner said that I thought was inaccurate (get link), when I came across Nazarenus: The Gospel According to Seneca. Very interesting!

Update: from the chapter entitled, "The Physical Abuse," a quote and a little Latin lesson:
The traditional explanation is that the abuse fulfills messianic prophecies: Usually reference is made to a passage of Isaiah (50:6):
I gave my back to the whips, and my cheeks to slaps,
and did not turn away my face from the shame of the spittings.

It can be objected that this passage of Isaiah has nothing to do with Messianic prophecy and that it relates only vaguely to the gospels’ account of Jesus’ abuse. The bias of the gospel writers is perfectly understandable if we keep in mind the purpose for which the gospels were writtento prove to the Romans that the Temple authorities, by their outrageous treatment of the Messiah, had forfeited any claim to official recognition of their religion, and that such recognition should instead be extended to the followers of Jesus.

Seneca, however, had quite different reasons for having his tragic hero suffer abuse. The emphasis put by the gospels on the abuse of Jesus during the procedure before the Jewish authorities can be explained by what Tacitus tells about the procedures for high treason in the reign of Nero. The historian was aling with the trial of Thrasea Paetus, the leader of the philo­sophical upholders of republicanism, who was brought to trial before the Roman Senate in A.D. 66, one year after the Pisonian conspiracy and the death of Seneca.

Tacitus relates that there had been an intense debate among Thrasea and his friends on the question of whether he should appear in the Senate to defend himself or wait for the sentence to be pronounced. In favor of the first alternative there was the argument that it would be an opportu­nity to show how a man can stand by his principles without any fear of death:
The people would see a man defying death, the Senate would hear words
coming from a mouth almost divine and more than human.

But there prevailed the opinion of those who agreed on the advantages
of a show of defiant fortitude, but added that this advantage would be
much less than the disadvantage of exposing Thrasea to the abuse,
mockeries and insults threatened him... there was an abundance of people
who would be likely because of their brutality to dare to use hands and blows.

Even the decent ones are given to fear. He should rather spare the Senate,
of which he had been the greatest ornament, the infamy of such a disgrace...[1]

These remarks, which according to Tacitus were uttered on the eve of the trial of Thrasea, indicate that under Nero it had become the practice of the Senate, in cases of high treason, to subject defendants to physical and verbal abuse. From a Roman point of view this was much worse than a sentence of death. The Romans had come to accept as a necessity of the state system that prominent figures could be asked to forfeit their lives at the request of the Emperor and that the Senate would comply, but they still expected that the dignity of the victim and of the Senate would be preserved.

Tacitus, in listing the abuses to which a person appearing as defendant before the Senate could be subjected lists:
ludibria:mockeries, sports, jests;

contumeliae:insults, invectives;

convicia:reviling, abuse, and also blows;

probria:infamous words or acts;

manus ictusque:manhandling and blows or blows of the hands.

These are the very abuses to which Jesus was subjected according to the gospels. This indicates that Seneca took the opportunity of his presentation of the trial of Jesus to condemn the Roman practice. From the point of view of Seneca it was much more disgraceful that the Jewish Senate had abused Jesus as a defendant than that they had found him guilty of a capital offense.

In Seneca’s play, Jesus played a role not unlike that which Tacitus envisioned for Thrasea. Jesus’ attitude was that of the ideal Stoic, a man in full control of his emotions, unafraid of suffering, unmoved by the prospect of death. That this was Seneca’s ideal as well is shown by one of the choral odes in his Thyestes, where true nobility is ascribed to
...a man who has put aside fear...

Who willingly goes to meet his fate

And makes no complaint of death...

Such nobility each man bestows upon himself.

Now, it should be mentioned, if you haven't looked already, that Seneca's play is mostly evident by its conspicuous absence. The authors of Nazarenus: The Gospel According to Seneca are Seneca scholars who have noted the absence of the - what did they call it? - the praetexta historicum from Seneca's cycle of plays. The one that was published with the rest of the plays is either not Seneca's or it's a farce written to get even with Nero for spurning him. They've noticed similarities in the style of the Gospels to Seneca's style and are speculating that the trial and Passion of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels are taken from Nazarenus.

I looked for critiques of their idea but I couldn't find any. I'd be interested to see some.

Here it is

From Alice Miller's article The Political Consequences of Child Abuse:
Why were there people brave enough to risk their lives to save Jews from Nazi Persecution? Much scientific inquiry has been expended on this question. The usual answers revolve around religious or moral values such as Christian charity or a sense of responsibility instilled in them by parents, teachers and other caregivers. But there is no doubt that the active supporters of the extermination and the passive hangers–on had usually also been given a religious upbringing. So this can hardly furnish a sufficient explanation.

I was convinced that there must have been some special factor in the childhood of the rescuers, in the prevailing atmosphere of their childhood, that made it so fundamentally different from what the war criminals had experienced, but at first I couldn’t prove my hypothesis. For years I sought in vain for a book that would give this subject adequate coverage. Finally, thanks to Lloyd deMause’s help, I found an empirical study by the Oliners, The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, based on interviews with more than 400 witnesses of those dark days. It confirmed my hypothesis. The study concluded that the only factor distinguishing the rescuers from the persecutors and hangers–on was the way they had been brought up by their parents.

Almost all rescuers interviewed reported that their parents had attempted to discipline them with arguments rather than punishment. They were only rarely subjected to corporal punishment, and if they were it was invariably in connection with some misdemeanor and never because their parents had felt the need to discharge some uncontrollable and inexplicable feeling of rage on them. One man recalled that he had once been spanked for taking smaller children out onto a frozen lake and endangering their lives. Another reported that his father had only ever hit him once and apologized afterwards. Many of the statements might be paraphrased thus: “My mother always tried to explain what was wrong about whatever it was I had done. My father also spent a lot of time talking to me. I was impressed by what he had to say.”

So Schindler, Wallenberg and others weren't raised in the standard Prussian way (described earlier in the article).
Similar cases are discussed by Philip Greven in his highly informative book, Spare the Child. He quotes various American men and women of the church recommending cruel beatings for infants in the first few months of life as a way of ensuring that the lesson thus learnt remains indelibly impressed on them for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately they were only too right. These terrible destructive texts which have misled so many parents are the conclusive proof of the long–lasting effect of beating. They could only have been written by people who were exposed to merciless beatings as children and later glorified what they had been through. Fortunately, these books were not published in 40 editions in the USA.

The last sentence refers to Schreber's book on what I just called "Prussian" child-rearing. I call it that, not to deride that strain of the Germans, but because, to me at least, the term conveys the image of a monacled, German officer clicking his heels as he snaps to attention before a superior.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I've been fond of the Deists for quite some time.

Tom Paine's The Age of Reason is probably the most readable text of theirs. I found it most entertaining. As, I'm sure, did Lysander Spooner, who actually goes him one better with The Deist's Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity. Unfortunately the typists who transcribed to the work to the web didn't check their work. I plugged it into Word and fixed up some of it:


Let us then inquire into the causes of the success of the Apostles, and see whether they were not natural ones.

One of the most efficient of these causes was the manner in which they preached. That alone was calculated to make very strong impressions upon the minds of such as were too ignorant or simple, (and such the first converts will hereafter appear generally to have been,) to judge rationally the truth of the statements they heard, and the soundness of the religious doctrines, that were taught. The manner of all the Apostles must have exhibited a great deal of sincerity and zeal, (for they were undoubtedly honest in their faith,) and nothing makes so favorable an impression upon the minds of men in general, in favor of those, who advocate new doctrines; nothing inclines them so much to listen willingly to all they have to say, as an appearance, on their part, of perfect sincerity and simplicity.

Another trait in the manner of some of them, particularly of Paul, who appears to have been by far the most efficient apostle, was boldness. The exhibition of this quality was always powerfully affects the imaginations of the weak and ignorant, of whom the early converts were evidently composed.

The question, is often asked, how is the boldness and zeal of the Apostles to be accounted for, when they knew they had no worldly honors to expect, but, on the contrary, persecution, and the contempt of a large portion of the community, where ever they should go? To answer this question, it is necessary to refer to what was the condition of these men, (with the exception of Paul) when they first became the disciples of Jesus. They were obscure, illiterate, simple and superstitious men- men of no importance as citizens either in their own eyes or the eyes of others. They had never looked to the worldly honors or promotions; but evidently had expected from their youth up, to pass their days in the obscurest paths and humblest walks of life. The contempt of those above them had no terrors for such men as these- the had never aspired to be their equal, and they were willing, because, in whatever situation they might be, they had always expected, to be despised, as a matter of course, on account of their degraded conditions of mind and fortune. Still, at the same time, to be at the head of little sects and bands of those, who had once been their equals, and to be looked up by them as guides, was a distinction adapted to excite most powerfully the ambition of these men, however much they be despised by all but their followers. They, by becoming and being acknowledged as, the teachers of others, acquired an importance, of which a few years before they had never dreamed. They owed whatever of worldly consequence they possessed entirely to the fact of their being esteemed leader by their proselytes. Simple, artless, and sincere as these men were, such circumstances were calculated to attach them strongly to the cause in which they were engaged, although they might not be aware of being so influenced.

So there, says I!

Monday, June 15, 2009

So, how can I be all doom and gloom

with these girls in my life?





Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rush: “Freewill”

Permanent Waves (1980)
Words by Neil Peart, music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
With a host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars aren’t aligned —
Or the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

There are those who think that theyve been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them —
They weren’t born in lotus-land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can’t pray for a place
In heavens unearthly estate

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That’s far too fleet…

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

H/T: Stephen Littau

I'm going to be adding this link to

Lost Liberty Cafe pretty soon (ideally tomorrow, it's way too late tonight).

Friday, June 12, 2009

But, seriously, folks...

Here's the very first change I'd make to the government: repeal the law that makes it illegal for anyone but the USPS to deliver First Class Mail. It might kill the Post Office, but who cares? As long as letters get where we want them to go.

Hey, it's morning, I've had a good breakfast

and time to recover from all that forgive and forget BS they preach in the AA meetings.

If there's a God (one who's worth worshipping), you can have faith that he'll do as you ask. Your anger shows a lack of faith and an impatience with God's methods. If there aren't any gods, then no one's listening.

And, btw, how did monotheism defeat polytheism? Or did it? You reason from creation to the Trinity; why not to polytheism or pantheism?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm sorry, Ron. I am communicating poorly.

I am not the person to defend atheism or anarchy. I must back down because I don't know enough about either to make the case for them.

What I need to be preaching is Love. Just as I said on the other blog. What I want people to do is love one another. I don't understand that subject any better, but it seems a lot more promising than arguing about religion or politics.

And it has the advantage of being something that I can do right now, here in my home and tomorrow at work.

And on the blog here, I have to say that I've said things to hurt Ron. Not all here. Not most here. But it's important enough for me to publicly apologize here.

There is, unfortunately a "but" that I can't ignore without sacrificing complete sincerity. I'm in therapy. Some of what has been said here is part of that process and I don't want to do anything to queer that. Rather, it's an outcome of that process. No, my therapist hasn't told me to say any of this - neither this apology nor the fight I started to necessitate it. He'd probably be appalled if I told him I was going to, or had. Actually, I have no idea what he'd say about it. I haven't let him get a word in edgewise; I've just been spewing out everything that has occurred to me over the past twenty-some years.

My Defenses are telling me to protect myself here, by making my stomach churn. I don't know if they're right or not. I've been listening to nothing but them for a helluva long time. And I'm not sure what they mean.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh, Man! What a great article!

Wilt Alston's Do You Really Want Freedom, Or Are You Just Kidding Yourself?, about freeing yourself contains this bit (I think I'll put in his links):
...I came across a fascinating post from a woman who “escaped” from her Amish sect. In the comments of response to her story one can find, among several interesting musings, a discussion of this supposedly Biblically-derived phrase which is generally used to justify physical punishment of children. The fascinating tidbit was this: The Bible doesn’t actually contain that phrase. The sentiment is apparently a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:24, which says:
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

While I’m certainly no Biblical scholar, it seems to me a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy to use that single verse as a justification for physical abuse. Back on Ferriss’s blog, a poster simply shown as “Betsy” offered what I believe is the most humane (and libertarian) translation of that verse:
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is actually analogous to the rod of the shepherd. It’s really a beautiful, sentimental teaching that has been totally perverted by some.

The poster went on:
A good shepherd never beats the sheep, but uses the rod to guide them with a gentle touch. That this homily should justify child abuse is the exact opposite of its intended meaning, which is “by failing to guide your child with love and instilling discipline (not punishment) in a consistent and gentle way, you ruin the child’s chances of successfully functioning in relationships and society as a whole.”

Indeed! This sentiment seems to resonate with the non-aggression axiom. How can the thugs with whom so many of us deal claim to be protecting anyone from anything? (They certainly aren’t gently guiding anyone, either.)

I think everybody who knows me would find it incomprehensible that I'd convert to this philosophy, but this guy's got me pegged. Nietzsche's "What does not kill us, makes us stonger" has been more my style... S**t! It's been pretty much my motto until about a month ago.

Once again, let me say that since my older daughter was born I've been trying to figure out how to make the world the kind of place she'd be happy in. I think Alston and Molyneux and Alice Miller have the answer: knock it off with the humiliating!