Tuesday, August 30, 2016

1984 Redux

Kurt Schlicter had a piece at Townhall.com entitled Claims of Racism are the Last Refuge of a Shrill Harridan that echoed my post of 28 August entitled "Orwell's 1984 is a Warning, Not a Manual." But since great literature is taught, and instead the thinking of minor thinkers in third world hell holes is stressed, many liberals have probably never read George Orwell's 1984, and don't know the meaning or the historical context of this book.  It used to be required reading for all students.
It’s the abnormal remedies we should worry about. Once upon a time, presidents did not so blatantly pick and choose among their citizens, dividing them into the favored and disfavored so obviously and so cruelly. They did not openly insist that they would bypass the Congress by executive fiat and through unelected judges to effectively pass laws the people’s representatives rejected. They did not promise to restore unconstitutional laws that made criticizing them a crime. And the media did not openly admit their commitment to supporting their favored president by ignoring blatant corruption. The political coalition currently in power did not openly conspire to effectively exile a huge chunk of the electorate from participation in their own governance.
Abnormal actions spark abnormal reactions; when you throw out the rule book it becomes a very different game. Do they think the disenfranchised, many of whom defended this country in war, are just going to sit back and quietly accept that they no longer have any voice in their own lives, that they must obey the commands of hateful liberal bullies who delight in inflicting petty abuse and insults upon them? Or will there be a reaction? When you ignore the rules and customs and norms and laws, you should not be surprised when your opponents likewise ignore the rules and customs and norms and laws. And then what?
She will try to confiscate guns or attempt to eliminate dissident Christianity by eliminating tax deductions for churches or decide to thrill her pals in San Francisco by ruining the Lone Star state’s economy by banning fracking, and someone like Governor Greg Abbot is going to tell her “No. No, we aren’t doing that here in Texas. Your rules no longer apply here. Not unless you can enforce them. And trying to do that would be a very bad idea.”

See, the problem is that the Left is getting greedy, seeing its new Utopia just around the corner, they can no longer wait while the rest of the world catches up, and us old farts die off.  No, they have to have it now!  Their haste will be their undoing.  The progressive approach has been so successful up until now.  But many revolutionaries are becoming impatient.  In bringing on the chaos now, they will lose.

On a slightly different note, what the heck is the Alt Right?  According to Wikipedia, the Alt Right sounds more like the Left to me.  In any case, I, like Schlicter, have never met anyone espousing the views expressed as being Alt Right, and I suspect the so called movement may be a false flag operations, that is assuming it is an operation, and not a part of George Soro's Astroturf groups.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Orwell's 1984 Is a Warning, Not a Manual

Karin McQuillan has a very powerful post over at the American Thinker.  McQuillan's post derives as much power from the supporting links as it does from McQuillan's writing itself.  The post is entitled Those KKK Republicans. The title is supposed to be sarcastic, but sarcasm doesn't come across in writing. To understand sarcasm one needs to hear the voice of the person making a sarcastic remark. So, how do I know the title is intended to be sarcastic? Because there were no, or exceeding rare KKK Republicans. The KKK was, and remains, a project of the Democrat party, and the racism it represents is a project of the Left.  That the Left has managed to project onto the right, including Christians, conservatives, and Republicans the guilt for slavery, a guilt that the Left actually owns, is maddening,

How this has happened has been an interesting story in its own right, as told by Kevin Williamson of the National Review.  Williamson's article entitled The Party of Civil Rights gives the true history of civil rights in this country from Abraham Lincoln on down. Go read Williamson's article because if you don't know this material, some of what D. C. McAlister writes will not resonate with you. McAlister's article at the Federalist is entitled Conservatism's 'Racism' Isn't What You Think It Is. McAlister:
Conservative intellectuals are saying the Republican Party is doomed because the ideals of conservatism have been inextricably marred by “white nationalism.” Leaders of the conservative movement, they say, must therefore abandon the Republican Party to “cranky old white people” and create a “new conservatism—a political vision that adheres to limited government principles but genuinely appeals to a more diverse America.”
This argument is wrong on two points. It fails to appreciate (1) how the politics of race is not just about race itself but the changing nature of politics since the 1960s (to see race within the frame of the 1960s and not 2016 is a grave error) and (2) how the Left has effectively used social psychology strategies to label, stigmatize, and delegitimize conservatism, principles of liberty, and traditional American values.
McAlister goes on to note that many white Americans' frustration with minority groups is not because of racism, which is a belief in the supremacy of one race over another, but rather with the constant accusations of racism any time some group or another doesn't get their special basket of fee stuff from the Government goody bag.  An example is the recent finding by the 4th Circuit that North Carolina Voter Id law is Unconstitutional. Supposedly it burdens minorities unfairly. But anyone can see that a photo ID is needed for many transactions of considerably lesser importance than voting, but which a minority person is likely to engage.  As anyone who considers the issue even casually can see, minorities are being used a s a beard by the Democrat Left to make our voting laws less secure and allow the Left to more easily engage in voter fraud.  To constantly cry racism only makes people angry when they can see it is purely manufactured rage.

But, as McQuillan notes, the problems with the constant name calling and the use of the term "enemy" for people the Left has policy disagreements with is more dangerous, and has deeper implications that just winning the latest policy battle:
Now the unthinkable is happening. We are living in a period when Democrats are normalizing the demonizing of conservatives and Christians as evil people beyond the pale. We are all KKK. As predicted, violence follows vilification. Trump supporters have been punched, hit with a crowbar. robbed, spat upon, thrown to the ground, injured by a soda can thrown at the back of the head, and pelted with dog feces. In San Jose and Minneapolis, police have stood by and allowed the violence. A black Trump supporter who voiced his opinion in a bar was shot. Democrats think we deserve it.
Many of us know history, even if our liberal "friends" do not. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we will see Brown Shirts coming after Christians, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians and anyone else the Left decides needs to become the subject of a 2 minute hate. I know the Left doesn't understand this, but until they stop with the demonizing and begin treating conservatives as normal Americans with important principles that should be listened to, not steamrolled over, I think I will keep my guns.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Nothing

Glenn Fairman takes on Stephen Hawking and what he calls "Scientism" in a piece at the American Thinker entitled The Theory of Nothing. I do take a certain exception to what Fairman calls Scientism in that the same things that Hawking claims to show God doesn't exist, I find prove he does. Can I take my proof to court? No, of course not, and neither can Hawking. In the end, one must believe, or not, because of Faith. I have felt the hand of God moving in my life. I am sorry that a great man like Stephen Hawking has not. But that is a small quibble, and Fairman is entitled to his opinions. Fairman:
Indeed, why the intense human desire to "know:” to find meaning, to love, to connect with the transcendent "other?" Yet, if mind and quark are the byproducts of merely sterile molecular bodies in motion, why meaning at all? What prompts the search for origins and astral mechanics when material either exploded into being from nothingness or continues to drone on in cataclysmic cycles with no teleological end or significance? If introspective human lives are accidental absurdities, what relentless existential drive moves us to discern a consistent harmony within the cosmos, a character antithetical to naturalism’s presumption of hostile indifference?
But from the perspective of Scientism, the metaphysical questions are DOA. What cannot be empirically poked or prodded is not only outside the purview of intelligent inquiry, but beneath its sphere of interest. If science is the exhaustive study of causes and mechanics, then why is its program so narrowly focused on the epidermal to the exclusion of a transcendent first cause. Why is an anxious yet aloof science either fearful or unwilling to consider possibilities that might unify and grant coherence to the grand vision? Focused against the backdrop of these questions, this supposed "most intelligent man in the world of science," and those if his ilk, seem trapped in a hall of mirrors -- wrapped in a hermeneutic cocoon of their own construction.
Fairman sees Scientism as he calls it, as somehow antithetical to the Spirit filled life of Faith. Yet that wasn't always so. When Newton propounded his laws of motion, he did not think he was doing anything other that explaining the nature of God's design, Likewise Copernicus, and even Galileo did not view their discoveries as anything more than an explanation of what God had created. Even Einstein had a belief in a rational universe because God is rational.  Science is a only tool, a method, a technique, for understanding the world around us not through anecdote and superstition, but through evidence that is put to the test. A scientists observes a phenomenon, creates a theory to explain it, test the theory by designing appropriate experiments, then publishes his findings. For science to be valid, it must be subject to proof, which means it can be proven false. Indeed, the fact that a theory can be s falsified is the hallmark of true science, and an attitude that everything we think we know is only a theory is the mark of a true scientist.  Circular reasoning and theories that can not be proven false have no place in science.  But then, science can only go so far.  It is a tool, not an ideology.  It is one, and only  one, way of seeing the world.  Indeed, that is what got Galileo into trouble.  He too tried to claim more for his discoveries than could be claimed, and the Church slapped him down.

Around 10 years ago, I stumbled upon a book,entitled The Victory of Reason by Robert Stark that made a case that freedom, capitalism, science and technology all came about because of a Christian belief that the universe was rational, because God is rational.  If God is rational, then it makes sense to interpret the Bible as rational.  Certain social changes occurred as a result of evolving Christian culture that encouraged cooperation, the idea of one gaining profit from his own labor, the growing belief in the dignity of the individual, eventually the end of slavery in the Christian world, and so on that made the development of science and technology possible.

Fairman again:

If science, as understood by Hawking, means the end of philosophy, then it also means the end of ethics: that same ethics that (ideally) battles the destruction of the tender and voiceless for the shortsighted benefit of some misbegotten utilitarian good. Hailing himself as the de facto champion of brute fact over discarded value, Hawking becomes the poster boy of desiccated inquiry that is emblematic of modernity’s mental labyrinth - where deluded raw sensory intelligence, divorced from Right Reason and theistic moral vision and virtue, leads the pursuit of knowledge into a waterless desert of quantitative abstraction. In truth, it is not Scientism’s poverty in apprehending the world that is so objectionable; it is the insistence that its contemptuous methodology has uncovered all that there is to see...
If the truth be known, human science as we know it could not have flourished as the product of a wholly naturalistic mental construct. Indeed, how could an unordered brain come to the conclusion that a magnificent logic, undergirded by an elegant mathematics, was to be the ruling principle erupting from the frenzy of a feeble cosmos? Having been mysteriously spawned as bastards of such cruel chance or necessity, what compelled man to attempt the derivation of physical laws and coherence from naturalism’s subsumed prima facie chaos? Without an a priori intuitive capacity for material transcendence or even the possibility of discerning the complex motifs of pattern and design, are we not as orphans abandoned in a self-contradictory jungle -- where speed, strength, violence, and clever rapacity are the primary “virtues” selected for? Fortunately, for us and for Hawking, naturalism is an untenable theory. It cannot adequately explain the inception and fine-tuning of the universe, and it surely cannot adequately explain the man who values.
What Fairman is noting here, and it is quite true, is without Christianity (and without the gun) the world belongs to the young, the strong, and the most aggressive. Everyone else must either submit, or be killed. In such a world, there is no time for speculation, there is no process for open communication. Indeed, these things are the last thing the local warlord wants. In the end, I don't think it is so much science that is the problem, as it is Hawking's belief that he is his own higher power.   Fairman has hit the nail squarely on the head when he speaks of "These myopic antagonists of an intelligent Designer...?" I pray that before he dies, Steven Hawking, the beneficiary of so much Christian grace, will wake up to the realization that he has been working all along for Him, expounding His great design.

Update, 9/11/2016:  I was thinking about this in the shower this morning when I remembered the Infinite Monkey Theorem I hearit years ago during a statistics course (so that is a LONG time ago) and it involved the infinite monkey typing the complete Sonnets of Shakespeare, but the effect is the same. Little noticed, however, is that while the monkey would surely eventually do it, purely by accident, the time it would take would be more than the age of the universe. Similarly, the chance of the accidental development of life, much less self conscious life that can conceive of a transcendent being is so vanishingly small as to sound absurd.  If it were any other topic, Hawking or any other scientist would have cried Occam's Razor and concluded that an Intelligent Designer created the universe and the life we enjoy.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Congratulations to Kim Rhodes

This is a story that I meant to pick up some time ago, but other things intruded. I can become simply flabbergasted at the seemingly incredible abilities of some people. For me, most things are moderately difficult, though I do seem to have reasonably good reflexes and such. But then a truly talented person comes along and shows me what "reasonably good reflexes" means. Such is the story of six times Olympic shooter Kim Rhode.

Congratulations Kim.

It is too bad that so many of our fellow countrymen did not see fit to at least root for Kim, even if they do not agree with her.  I suspect that to watch Annie Oakley shoot was similar to watching Kim.  One has to stand in awe of such a talent.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Its a matter of Trust

If you want to know why I am voting for Trump, even though he was not my choice, and I think he will not be the kind of President to restore our Constitutional Republic, here is one (and only one) of the reasons: Here's How a President Hillary Will Destroy Gun Rights Without Repealing the Second Amendment. Remember that I don't feel that the Second Amendment is necessary to have our gun rights. Those rights were granted by God to all people. At the same time, those and your other rights only practically exist if a) the Government respects them or b) you can defend them. By putting into the Constitution the Bill or Rights, of which the Second Amendment was one, the new United States was demonstrating that the Government trusted the People. It was a strange new thing then. Governments did not before trust the people. The people were always regarded as ready to revolt at any time, and the Government's job was to keep them under its thumb, by divine right, or whatever justification the rulers could plausibly come up with.

Indeed, trust is the basic operating principle of our form of government.  The representatives are to be drawn from the People, to represent the interests of the People, and to return to their former lives as one of the People.  We have lost some of that.  But the principle remains.  Whenever the representatives vote against the will of their constituents, as they did with the imposition of Obamacare, we can rightly say that the representatives have separated themselves from the people, and are no longer representing Us.  They have become at that point an old world ruling class, and it becomes incumbent on us, the People, to vote them out of office.

Obama is currently finding ways around Congress to impose regulations to keep Americans from getting their hands on guns, or if not to disarm them, to subarm them.  Or, his latest, to put your local gunsmith out of business, thereby ensuring your weapons will eventually be worthless.  He, obviously doesn't trust us, so why should we trust him?  But Hillary will do the same, and worse.  she has already shown a great interest in following the Australian model.  Being a criminal herself, she naturally believes that everyone else is just as criminal as she is.  Despite reports like the recent on from the Crime Prevention Research Center, she nonetheless projects onto you and me her own larcenous heart. She literally runs around with her hands clapped over her ears yelling "La la la la, I can't hear you."  But the bottom line is that Hillary doesn't trust you, or me, and indeed looks upon us as the enemy.  That is not only sad, but extremely dangerous.  Like Obama, Hillary will not be the President of all Americans, but only those Americans who agree with her.  Those Americans would be the so called "progressive left."

The so called "progressive left," which as variously also been named Communist, Fascists,  Liberals,  ad nauseaum, do not trust people like you and me.  Indeed they look upon us, their fellow Americans, as the enemy.  Hillary represents these people.  Under these circumstances, I feel I must do everything legally in my power to see that she does not achieve the highest office in the land,   Your mileage, as they say, may very.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Second Amendment is a Warning, Not a Challenge

Personally, I feel no need to compromise on any gun control proposal, no matter how benign it may be.  As the linked report indicates, we already have 20,000 gun laws in these United States, most of which are never used by prosecutors, except as a bargaining chip in getting potential criminals to admit to something and to get their conviction.  Well, with so many to choose from, prosecutors certainly don't need another one.

But, in fact, they do need another one.  They need to rile up their base to get them out on voting day, or any day in the month or so leading up to the election that they can take time out of their busy schedules of watching Dancing With the Stars and American Idol, or chasing after the latest from the Kardashians.

I spoke with such an uninformed person last night who honestly believes that you can buy a gun as easily as you can by a candy bar.  I have news for him.  Unless he is known in criminal circles, and they trust him, he can not buy a gun illegally.  Anyone selling guns illegally will either know the person he sells to, or will require the person to be vouched for by someone he does know.  The only way to buy one legally is to go through the process of obtaining a pistol permit, which involves a background check.  Then he has to go to a gun dealer, who will want him to surrender his pistol permit, but will still require that he fill out a form 4473, which will involve another background check, all before he can trade dollars for gun, and take home his chosen gun.  Even so, he now can keep it at his house, but he can not carry it legally anywhere else without going through a State approved course ($150 at last count) and paying a fee of $90 to have yet another background check, not to mention having your fingerprints taken, all so you can carry said gun anywhere the State has not designated as a gun free victim disarmament zone.  Sound as easy as buying a candy bar?

A number of such thoughts went through my head as I read today, at BearingArms.com Dems Want Compromise on Gun Control Legislation? Here it is: For instance I still remember the old Jesse Helms quote:
Compromise, hell! That’s what has happened to us all down the line—and that’s the very cause of our woes. If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at the time?
I will even go so far as to say to those who would interpret our Second Amendment out of existence: You have no right to do so, any more than you have a right to eliminate our First Amendment rights. Those rights were an acknowledgement of rights given by God to all people. They were not put in our Constitution as a challenge to Government to figure out how to take them, but a warning not to try.  You persist at your own peril.  Whether we have a Second Amendment or not, we still have our rights.

Molon Labe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

People stampeding like cattle over a little noise

I had always thought people in North Carolina were a more sensible lot.  And then stuff like this happens and you begin to wonder. I would point out that we have gotten a lot of people coming from New York and points North. One has to wonder, what with them bringing their politics with them, whether they are not also bringing their intolerances as well.

Some years ago, I had some of the neighbors over for July 4th. Now, our property, butts up against a working farm, complete with horse and cattle pastures, and the occasional fox, wolves, and poisonous snakes, mostly copperheads. The guy who lives there shoots at these critters with a 410 gauge shotgun. Evening was approaching, and suddenly we heard a few shots from the shotgun. Well, it is the country after all. One of the "ladies" immediately became upset, and wondered how her children could survive with such goings on so close to where they lived. I told her that if she didn't want to see or hear the activities that happen on farms, perhaps she should go back to living in the city. She left shortly thereafter, and the rest of us had a good time watching the fireworks over the trees.

I remember one gun writer years ago who opined that concealed carry was better because one didn't want to scare the white women.  As I recall, though, he included a lot of pantywaists and other such fools of all colors and both sexes in that term "white women."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Logic and reason have left the building

Trump made a statement giving the elites and the media the vapors:
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.”
Trump's loose language can have many interpretations, and I would take him at his word that what he meant was that the political power of the gun rights movement might make a difference in the vote in November. On the other hand, the other interpretation, as Robert Ibrahim has noted over at the American Thinker in a post entitled The Real Reason Trump's Second Amendment Comment Provoked Outrage is also possible. Trump could be reminding not only the Hillary supporters and progressives, but the media too, that when a fee people are prevented from exercising their free choices, they can, indeed their duty when everything else is exhausted is to revolt.  It is the reason the Second Amendment was put into the Constitution.  When using reason, words, and peaceful protest do not effect change, indeed, when reason and peaceful protest is scoffed at, there remains only to revolt and resist.  (Before you become cynical over recent "peaceful protests" as at Ferguson, MO or Baltimore, MD, please remember the Tea Party protests in Washington, DC, where not only was there no violence whatsoever, but the place was cleaner than when the protesters arrived.)
This is an historical, proven fact, and why liberal media and elite are, if only subconsciously, going crazy against Trump: he dared mention -- and thus legitimize -- the one thing that must never be mentioned, not even as a remote consideration, because it is the one thing guaranteed to overthrow them: rebellion. Hence the media circus of shock, awe, and outrage: it’s all meant to quickly rebury this briefly exhumed and dangerous idea from the public’s eye.
And before someone sics the Secret Service or the FBI on me, let me be clear I am not threatening anyone. I am merely reporting what is known; that if the "progressives" do not back off, they will, at some point, draw a reaction from a people that have held back too long. Even God has his limits. Which brings me to another piece from the American Thinkers by Joanna Rosamond entitled Media Driven Insanity. A quote:
The fact that several months before elections we are constantly told that a candidate has already won, definitely rings an alarm bell. Orwellian “newspeak” morphed today into NewsSpeak, with the mainstream media acting as thought police. While we are being nonchalantly reminded about a long list of observable crimes that go unpunished, the media cheer their authors and try to contaminate us with the “enthusiasm.” One can´t help but notice how visionary Orwell´s writing was: “So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don´t even know that fire is hot.”
Where did ol´ good logic go? The processes used in thinking and reasoning should be natural to homo sapiens, and it´s impossible not to have a brain-ache when you clearly see that it´s not the case.
The emphasis is mine.  Does the emphasized part cause anyone else to think of another document that has a similar phrase: "But when a long train of abuses...pursuing invariably the same object...to reduce them under absolute despotism...?" Perhaps it is just me, and I am becoming to paranoid, but it seems one has to suspect that some hanky panky is going on.  How can the everyday Democrats support a woman who has committed so much crime and mischief?  Indeed, how are everyday Democrats able to stomach Obama, Holder, Lynch, or any of the other un-indicted felons they have put in power?  More and more it boggles the mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Like Everything Else It Destroys, the Left Murdered Art

Bruce Walker brought up a topic I had not thought much about in years.  If you have been around for a while, as I have, you may have noticed that the movie industry isn't producing new movies any more.  Instead, they are recycling old movie scripts with new actors and much better, more thrilling computer generated special effects.  I haven's seen a good, "original" movie in years.  But it goes much deeper than that.  And that is the story the Bruce Walker is trying to tell in his piece at American Thinker today entitled The Left has Murdered Art.

 As a young man, I enjoyed poetry. I especially enjoyed Robert Frost, T.S. Elliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens and of course the 19th century poets. But I studied all sorts of poetry and literature at the time. You may think that being an engineer, a carrier of guns, and a poet was just to much for one person, but Williams was a physician in his day job, and Stevens sold insurance. In fact, few poets made their money on poetry. It is a labor of love. It turns out I came by my poetic leanings naturally, as my paternal grandfather published a small volume of poems.  But my grandfather was a brick layer by trade.  And of course, as you might expect, I love pens and writing because it is these things that make poetry possible.

I published several poems in college.  After graduation, I tried publishing in the literary journals and magazines of the day, only to be constantly rejected.  My material was not "fresh" or "original."  And I have to admit that some of it was indeed crap.  Eventually, I just sort of gave up, perusing other things.  Later, though, I learned that my problem was not lack of originality, but rather that I had not attended the "right" poetry symposia, the "correct" writing conferences where the resident poet or writer would properly impress upon the struggling young skulls filled with mush the leftist dogma,  As a struggling artist yourself, you should empathize with the struggle of the masses against the great oppressor class, don't you know.  What poppycock.

If originality and freshness were truly the criteria, no one would publish anything new.  The fact is that every thought a man can have has already been thought. There are no new poems, only an endless rehashing of the previous generations poems.  Neither Emily Dickenson, nor Elizabeth Browning wrote anything new.  As noted in Ecclesiates, there is nothing new under the sun.  I sing in the choir at church, and here again, the choir director often picks hymns nobody recognizes because they are used to the older hymns.  Our choir director points out that the new writers deserve to be heard.  But of course, the new writers do not bring anything new to table.  How could they?  Do they really deserve to be heard?  Not if original and fresh are the criteria.

My mother had a set of three volumes of a book called Master Plots, that showed all the plots ever devised.  Every story you read, every movie you see, every television show, has a plot that can be found among the master plots.  I have seen Romeo and Juliet countless times, and will probably see it several more before I pass on.  Oh, the story line varies, the characters have different names, and there are different twists to the basic plot, but all of these shows are basically Romeo and Juliet, the star crossed lovers, whose love can never be.

Good art speaks directly to our subconscious mind.  A good poem or a good song will settle in to our subconscious, and we may not realize what it is saying to us until years later when a thought, a memory, a smell, or something else will trigger it, and all of sudden we will be struck by the poem or song.  Good paintings and sculpture can have a similarly haunting effect.  But the Left has truly murdered art, giving us  Piss Christ while denigrating Maddona and Child. The fact is that good art is being produced only in isolated corners of the world today, gets no funding or respect, and if those in control have anything to say about it, it will remain hidden for all eternity.

Update:  On a different note, I see that Mike Vanderboegh has passed away.  The world will not see his kind again for at least a generation.  I knew him but little, but admired what I saw.  May the Creator of the Universe keep him safely in his arms.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Writing With a Pen...On Paper...Makes You Smarter

The piece on the Fountain Pen wasn't complete because, because the purpose of pens, inks, and papers is to write. One writes ones thoughts, which if the paper itself survives, may tell future generations your thoughts.  Reading what the great thinkers of yesterday had to say informs me that man has not changed since man first recorded his thought on clay tablets.  Writing a letter telling someone else about what goes on in your life, and getting a response keeps people in touch in ways e-mail does not.  I found a bunch of letters home to my Mom, on her death, that I had written and she had kept.  Oh, the sophomoric confidence of youth!. Or you could write a novel, or....just a list of things you need at the grocery store. Writing can be as prosaic as a business letter, of as complicated as a T. S Elliott poem. Nancy Olsen's piece Three Ways Writing with a Pen Affects Your Brain at Forbes Magazine notes that writing with a pen on paper positively affects your brain. Writing increases neural activity in the brain and sharpens your thought processes. But it also slows the brain down, giving time to think more thoroughly.

So, while I am an old curmudgeon who wants to see future generations still know how to add and subtract in their heads, use a slide rule, use logarithms, and other archaic techniques, this article points out that hand writing does indeed make us better thinkers.  And isn't thinking better the essence of being smarter?  Knowing facts is important, to be sure, but to then go beyond the facts to synthesizing a philosophy from these is what truly makes us human.  A pen (preferably a fountain pen) ink, and paper make that possible.

Update: The author of this blog apparently went through the same process I did late in life, when he realized his handwriting technique, never good, hand become crappy. The blog is Write Analog While a lot of the information presented here is interesting and worthwhile, the most interesting is the youtube piece embedded entitled "Why Write: Penmanship for the 21st Century.  The speaker is a Master Penman and an artist, and uses his penmanship in his art.  But you and I, the lowly penmen who just want to write a letter don't have to achieve Master Penmanship levels to get the benefits of writing.  Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of people to write to anymore, but I do keep a journal that keeps me practicing writing each and ever day.

It is possible to get too much into fountain pens in the search for the "perfect pen," which of course doesn't exist, and spend way to much money on pens.  So here's a few I have found to be worthy pens at a cheap price.  For carrying in the field, the Lamy Safari. You can change nibs on Lamy pens, which makes them very versatile.  Lamy pens do not have the most buttery smooth nibs on the planet, but can be tamed down with a little writing on a piece of leather.  Not too much.  It is basically like a strop.  For a more flexible nib, may I suggest the Noodler's Ahab. I just got one of these to replace a beloved Sensa Meridian that had broken. The pen is fantastic, smooth, durable, and fits my hand perfectly.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Fountain Pen.

I have been a fountain pen aficionado for a number of years, and today I use a ball point or roller ball pen but rarely.  I mentioned yesterday that I was going to a pen club meeting in a couple of weeks, and my co-worker asked incredulously how I came to be interested in pens.  Fountain pens reached their pinnacle around 1950, and thereafter the ball point began to take over.  In school I used a Bic stick pen, and my penmanship was atrocious.  But by then teachers were counting less for one's penmanship so I skated through.  But fountain pens are still made, and a surprising underground of people use them on a daily basis.

How I came to be a fountain pen aficionado may be a story for another day.  But why I am attached to fountain pens may be shorter.  The pros of fountain pens are:

Your choice of nib style is broad  You can choose those nibs that produce a single line width from spidery extra fine, through bold broad, Then there are italic nibs that produce a wide line when the stroke is vertical to a thin line when the stroke is horizontal.  these nibs are often called stub nibs, and when used with nuanced grace, produce everyday writing that is extremely legible but also appears neat and graceful. Italic is a mans hand. Then, for the florid penman, there are the flex nibs, that produce variation in line width through greater or lesser pressure.  Spencerian penmen (and especially women) appreciate a flexible nib.  My grandmother had an outstanding Spencerian hand, though it was sometimes hard to read for all the fancy curlicues placed throughout.

Your chose of inks is enormous.  I am sure with just the inks I have that they will last for my lifetime, and yet the ink companies are always developing new inks, in new colors and shades.  Some inks have become standards such as Waterman blue black.  I usually mix Waterman black with the blue black to improve the intensity of the color on the page, but it is an undistinguished ink that nonetheless fits many occasions well and so has become a standard. Then there are inks like Noodler's Bulletproof black, or their Legal Lapis, also bulletproof, that can not be removed without destroying the paper on which it is written. These inks are good for check writing, or any application that demands a guarantee that the written word has not been altered.  Other inks are used for artistic purposes, and the occasional letter.  Many men like an ink line Waterman Havana Brown or Montblanc Toffee.

Most of all, though, fountain pens demand very little pressure to produce a line.  Indeed, too much pressure will destroy your pen.  The lack of pressure though, frees you to manipulate the pen to produce good penmanship.  Good penmanship fulfills the basic requirement for any writing, namely that each letter be different enough from every other letter that legibility is enhanced, and the message you are trying to send can be read easily without misunderstanding.

You can basically say that the cons of the ball point pen are the opposite of the pros above for the fountain pen.  But the ball point does have some, (very few) virtues.  For one thing, the self contained ball point system is pressurized, so that a ball point will write at any angle..  You can write on the ceiling with a ball point.  Your fountain pen will fail you there.  The biggest con of a ball point is the pressure required to get a decent line, and the fact that even with that pressure, ball points often skip, refusing to start without multiple swirls.  My fountain pens write first time every time as long as they have ink.  In addition to needing more pressure, many ball points are poorly made in terms of ergonomics.  Thing of the ubiquitous Bic stick pen, or one of its many copies.  Then think about the habits children acquire trying to hold onto these pens.  You see their hands all bunched up with the pen held in an unnatural position between every other finger finally coming out between the ring finger and the pinky.  Is it any wonder these people can not write?

I have very expensive fountain pens, purchased years ago when I thought that the type of pen in my shirt pocket conferred on me a certain status which turned out not to be worth anything anyhow.  Today, though, I carry and like inexpensive fountain pens such as the Lamy Safari.  These pens are rugged, and write as well, if not necessarily as smoothly, as more expensive pens.  The nib is easily changed.  Indeed, the whole pen is easily maintained, and if they do break, or are lost, only cost around $20 to replace.  I have also purchased a Noodler's Ahab, again a cheap pen but the description sounds like something I would like.

It is commonly thought that people in ages past were largely illiterate.  This was not necessarily true. The Roman upper class, and a large chunk of the middle classes were able read, write, knew history, arithmetic and such mathematics as may have been available and fit what they might have needed.  The same for the Greeks.  The Hebrews were also quite literate.  The Roman army was of course literate, and depended on written orders throughout to keep  all levels of command informed.  The middle classes needed at least to know the 3Rs as they used to be referred to in order to conduct business, compute taxes, and determine whether or not they were making a profit.

During the middle ages, the merchant class developed a style of writing that used the printed symbols for letters, and connected them to make writing faster and more fluid.  This became known as Italic writing.  Italic has the characteristic of writing one desires.  Each letter is distinct from every other letter, it is neat, yet not fussy, and the connections are logical.  There are no forced rules such as each letter must start on the bottom line.  And once a child learns to print, connecting the letters is a fairly simple task, since one does not need to learn he letters all over again.

My Dad gave me a pen for Christmas one year, a Rotring Fountain pen, and a bottle of Private Reserve Plum.  A strange gift, but I put it to work improving my handwriting by learning the Italic form/  Learning about Italic made me wonder about the style of cursive I learned called the Palmer method.  Palmer, it seems, started not from the middle ages, or even a history of writing, but rather took the Spencerian system, and simplified it to make a business style of writing for the late 20th Century.  But had Palmer looked further back, he would have found that we already had an even simpler and more elegant style in Italic.

My Dad was a wise man, who seemed to increase in wisdom as I got older.  He once noted that writing was the truly greatest development man had made toward civilization, because it allowed one to read the words of the greatest thinkers throughout history.  Too bad some people have forgotten this great benefit in their zeal to acquire power and wealth.  Those old musty documents contain the words of greater thinkers with more erudition than today's grubby politicians.  

Communists disguised as Democrats overturn logic again

I am getting just a little bit tired of Communist groups continuing to sue the State over voter ID laws, and apparently doing a bit of judge shopping as well.  The latest group to sue is the ACLU, with the result that a Federal Appellate judge has overturned it.  From the WaPo:
Voting rights activists scored legal victories in key presidential election states Friday, the most important being a federal appeals court ruling that North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature enacted new voting restrictions in 2013 to intentionally blunt the growing clout of African American voters.
The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was an overwhelming victory for the Justice Department and civil rights groups. Election law experts consider North Carolina’s voter law one of the nation’s most far-reaching.
Now, as it points out here at the American Thinker, one has to wonder if logic still count for anything?
If it is unconstitutional to require an ID to be able to vote, how is it okay to require an ID to cash a check, board an airplane, drive a car, or anything else? If I go up to a bank teller and present a check against Donald Trump's account, what right has the teller to ask me for an ID? Surely such an action would be discriminatory, given the federal court's ruling.
I recently sold some scrap metal to a junkyard. It was a couple of old car batteries and miscellaneous scraps of copper and aluminum I didn't need. They required me to show a government-issued photo ID to receive payment. The reason for this is simple: to help track and discourage people who steal such things and sell them to junkyards. Surely the integrity of our electoral process is more important than keeping tabs on people who sell scrap metal to junkyards.
There is one, and only one reason why requiring a government issued photo ID to vote is not desirable: if you want to make it easier to commit voter fraud. That's it. I am past tired of communists disguised as Democrats overturning common sense laws put in place to ensure one person gets one vote, and no more. Despite what the communists disguised as Democrats think, some animals are not more equal than others.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Trump may be unfit to be President, but we KNOW Hillary should not be elected Dog Catcher

Yesterday, Obama made the fitness of Trump to be President an issue by claiming that Trump "unfit to serve". Is he kidding? The absolute worst President in history, is talking about someone else's fitness to be President. Is this the pot calling the kettle black?

The point is he may indeed be unfit to be President, but we don't know that.  On the other hand, we know Hillary is unfit to hold even the office of dog catcher.  Which is the point being made at the American Thinker in a post by Patricia McCarthy entitled Fitness Test for the Presidency.

 At the time that Obama first ran for office, some voices raised questions about his fitness per the Constitution, but they were quickly shut down and never received much ink. As Alan Korwin has pointed out in the American Handgunner as well as here at AZCentral, the Constitution requires that a president be a "natural born citizen." A natural born citizen is one born to two United States Citizens on United States Soil. McCain was put through the ringer because while both parents were US citizens, he was born at a foreign posting in the Panama Canal Zone. Ted Cruz was questioned quite openly about his father's citizenship at the time, and the fact that he was apparently born in Canada. I have come to agree with Korwin on the point. Ted Cruz is unfit to be President by virtue of his not being a natural born citizen.  McCain, on the other hand, was born on soil that was, at the time, under United States jurisdiction.  So why was Obama, the son of a Kenyan citizen given a free pass?  No one even wanted to know.

In any case, Obama has no ground to stand on in claiming Trump is unfit.  He was also unfit, and remains so.  The Left though has achieved its goal, and precious little can practically be done, short of declaring every action taken in the last 8 years null and void.  Meanwhile,whether they knew the Constitution or not, millions of people have been complicit in committing the crime of misprision of treason.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trump has his faults, but he is not an unindicted crime boss

Selwyn Duke doesn't post often to American Thinker, but his writing is always a treat, and today's post is no different.

Too often one encounters people who believe that "all religions teach the same thing."  I find this sort of thinking reductionist at best, and lacking in spiritual insight.  As an example, Buddhism believes that man becomes god himself if he becomes enlightened enough.  Judaism, on the other hand looks at God as the all powerful creator of everything that exists.  Man can never become God, but God can, if he so chooses, accept certain men, based not on their works, but on their faith.  Christianity proposes that all men may become the sons of the living God if they have faith in Jesus, and truly believe.  Through God's great grace and love for his creature, man, Christians dare to call upon Him as "Father."  This is a profoundly different idea than the religion proposed in the Koran, in which man must submit.  Christianity's "perfect example" is Jesus, who was a servant to all mankind, eventually suffering a torturous death, taking the punishment each man deserves on Himself, for the salvation of mankind.  For this reason Jesus was called the Son of God, and the Christ, the Savior of Mankind. Hence Christians pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ.  Islams "perfect example" is a lusty womanizer, pedophile, warlord, who healed no one, spread his religion by terrorizing anyone who would not immediately accept it.  The Christian God wants us to love him and have a relationship with him.  Islam's Allah demands you submit.  So you perhaps see some slight differences there?

Selwyn Duke's article ttoday at American Thinker is entitled  Why the Establishment Can't Grasp the Nature of Islam . Duke introduces his topic with these paragraphs:
The media and effete powers-that-be have been twisting themselves into Halal pretzels Islamsplainin’, rationalizing how a given Muslim terrorist attack isn’t really “Islamic” or isn’t significant. These contortions can become quite ridiculous, such as suggesting that recent Allahu Akbar-shouting Munich shooter Ali Sonboly might somehow have had “right-wing” motives because, among his violent passions, was an interest in Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.
A more common (un)intellectual contortion is the minimizing tactic of claiming, as is politically correct authorities’ wont, that a given jihadist attacker “has no ties to IS” (the Islamic State), as if there’s nothing to see here if a man doesn’t provide notarized evidence of allegiance to the boogeyman du jour. Yet this is much as if we’d claimed during the Cold War that a Marxist terrorist attack wasn’t really a Marxist™ terrorist attack because we couldn’t find a connection to the Soviet Union. The issue and problem wasn’t primarily the Soviet Union but communism (Marxism birthed the USSR, not the other way around), an evil ideology that wreaks havoc wherever it takes hold. Likewise, the IS didn’t birth Islam; Islam birthed the IS.
Various people have been mislead to believe that since not ALL Muslims are waging violent jihad, that somehow Islam is the "religion of peace."  But anyone who has studied ISIS tactics, or those of the Taliban, will quickly note that fellow Muslims are more often the target of these groups ire than are Christians, Jews, and other assorted religions.  As it turns out:
Yet there’s more to understanding Muslim violence. A comprehensive German study of 45,000 immigrant youths, reported in 2010, found that while increasing religiosity among the Christian youths made them less violent, increasing religiosity among the Muslim youths actually made them more violent. Not more violent “if they join Islamic State” — but more violent, period. And while the study authors had their own, mostly politically correct explanations, I think I know a major reason why.
Becoming serious about a faith and digging into it generally means getting closer to its actual teachings. A lukewarm cradle Catholic may have little knowledge of even the Bible, but a devout one will likely have read that and the Church’s catechism. Likewise, an indifferent nominal Muslim (you know, the kind they call “moderate”) may not know much of the Koran, nine percent of which is devoted to political violence. Yet a pious Muslim may scour that book — and more. He may also imbibe the remaining 84 percent of the Islamic canon, the two books known as the Hadith and Sira.
And, respectively, 21 percent and 67 percent of their texts are devoted to political violence.
That’s what you call a full dose. Also note that while access to these two more obscure Islamic canonical texts was once limited, the Internet age places them at everyone’s fingertips. Couple this with the violent preaching of immigrant Imams, and that Muslims consider violent warlord Mohammed “The Perfect Man” and thus the ultimate role model, and the German study’s findings are no mystery. Speaking of mysteries, though, the true effect of Islam will remain one unless we delve further — and break ourselves of certain misconceptions common to our times.
If one merely reads the newspaper, or listens to the nightly news reports on the television, one gets a disconnected presentation of events. These can seem random, disconnected, events out of the blue.  The value of news magazines is in their more in-depth reporting, tying various pieces of the random events together to form a picture.  One such picture is the one proposed by Eileen F. Toplansky, also at the American Thinker today, in a blog post entitled: Is there a backstory about Khizr Khan and Donald Trump?

 As it turns out, there is.

But is there even more to the story about Khizr Khan? According to Theodore Shoebat and Walid Shoebat, Mr. Khizr Muazzam Khan is a promoter of Islamic sharia law and a co-founder of the Journal of Contemporary Issues in Muslim Law (sharia). In fact, in the past, Khizr Khan has shown "his appreciation for an icon of the Muslim Brotherhood" by the name of Said Ramadan, who "wrote material for the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, an organization that has been promoting Islamic revivalism and indoctrination to recruit young people in Malaysia to jihadism." Mr. Said Ramadan was the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood including Ahmad Bahefzallah, the boss of Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton's aide)[.]"
With the background Toplansky has provided, it looks more and more as if Mr. Khan's performance at the DNC convention was indeed a plant designed to get Mr. Trump to make exactly the sort of statement that he indeed made. But looking at the bigger picture, at least Mr. Trump has shown no tendencies to allow Sharia to supplant the Constitution. The Democrats themselves look more and more like a party of fruits and nuts (for a sampling see the trangendered issues, the gay issue, the planned parenthood abortion issue, the current problem with showing ID for voting, but nothing else), led by a criminal gang, supported by the useful idiots of the press, and looking to prey on the rest of us. How any normal, red blooded American can seriously associate with these people is anyone's guess.

 Mr. Trump has his faults, to be sure, but they don't (so far) extend to actual treason, and he is not an unindicted crime boss.