Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Results and Roses


The man who wants a garden fair,
or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
Whate'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek,
It's secret here reposes:
You've got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses.”

- Edgar Guest (1881-1959)



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On Incivility

We are facing a grave crisis of incivility.

"Civility:  Civilized conduct, especially courtesy, politeness" (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.com)

Civility, in other words, is the ability to conduct ourselves as a civilization.  To manage ourselves with courtesy towards one another, especially towards those with whom we disagree with.  To be polite even when we fundamentally feel like the other person is wrong.

That has been tossed by the wayside in large part, it seems.  People that we disagree with are no longer wrong, they are evil. They are not misinformed, they are willing believing and acting on the worst intentions. 

In other words, they are no longer our fellow citizens.  They are the enemy.

A society cannot long stand this sort of stress, of course.  Incivility picks away at every bond that binds a culture together.  It is the opposite of civilized of course, and given long enough, incivility gives way to uncivilized.  People choose sides.  And suddenly the side that started the incivility finds that the other side has adopted the same behavior and is acting just the same way.  And the cycle increases in intensity and speed.

How long can such things last?  I do not have a timer to tell this, of course.  I do know that from the time of the first revolution of the Gracchi to the victory of Caesar it was approximately 85 years or so, and 19 years to go from the 1905 disturbances in Russia to the rise of Stalin and that it only took 14 for Germany to go from defeat in WWI to Hitler taking power in 1932.  So things tend accelerate.

The difficulty with civilization, of course, is that everyone misses it after it is gone - especially those who enjoyed its benefits as they tore at its vitals.  For the natural, uncivilized world is a very deadly and dangerous place indeed.

Monday, July 16, 2018

"I Feel Like...."

Of all the phrases to emerge in the last 10 years, the one I cannot stand more than any other is "I feel like.."

It typically is used in the context where previously one would have used such phrases as "I believe" or "I think" or "I theorize" - in other words, where there is a sense that something is known or occurred but it is not definitively recalled as such.

But "I feel" indicates, more than anything else I can think of, the degradation of our ability to think and reason in our society.

Feelings are personal.  Feelings are also something that one cannot argue against:  my feelings are my feelings and therefore (in this current age) legitimate.  "I feel like"  often means I am intuiting that something happened although I cannot produce a more firm knowledge base

It means that feelings have reached the point where they have the same value and currency as knowledge.  " I know" almost sounds too harsh now, too definitive.  "I feel like" has a softer sound, allowing me to withdraw from an incorrect fact or understanding simply by realizing that my feeling was not real, either through mis-remembering or just having the wrong "feeling".

"I know", "I believe", and "My understanding was" are all phrases that point to a determination of mind and spirit that knows things as they are presented, not intuited.  They sound harsh and decisive simply because they are.  They deal in the world of facts.  Feelings, by contrast, live in the realm of the theoretical.

Be strong.  Be decisive.  Know.  Believe.  Understand.  But keep your "feelings" for the actual exercise of emotions, not facts.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

On Caring For One's Self

"You are under obligation to the wise and to the foolish; are you the only one to whom you deny yourself?  Fool and sage, salve and free man, rich and poor, male and female, old and young, clerk and lay, just and wicked:  all have a like share in you, all drink at the public fountain of your heart, and will stand apart and thirst?  If the man who squanders his portion is accursed, what of the one who wholly renders himself destitute?  Certainly let your streams of water flow in the public squares; let men and beasts of burden and cattle slake their thirst; by all means water even the camels of Abraham's servant; but make sure you drink with the rest the water from your own well.  The stranger, says Scripture, is not to drink from it. Well, are you a stranger?  To whom are you not a stranger if you are a stranger to yourself?  In a word, if someone treats himself badly, whom will he treat well?" - Bernard of Clairvaux to Pope Eugenius III

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Few Words From...Robert Heinlein

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Visit to Home: Sutter's Fort

Sutter's Fort, located in Sacramento, CA, was the residence of Captain John (Johannes) Sutter, a native of Switzerland, from 1839-1849.  He had received a land grant of 48,000 acres from the Mexican officials and worked diligently to found a completely self-sufficient community.  His fort became the ending point for a number of wagon trains to California.

Approach to the Fort:


Inside the Fort:


Typical room for a pioneer family:



Cannon in a blockhouse:



The walls are 2.5 ft thick and 15-18 ft high (for an attack that never came)



Another shot for Reverend Paul and Glen:




Hoist for servicing and removing cannons from their carriages:


Kitchen:






Sutter had loom imported from Europe and had a rather good blanket manufacturing business going:


Sutter's other claim to fame, of course, is Sutter's Mill in Coloma California, where gold was discovered in the tail race of his mill in 1848.  Sadly, he was essentially wiped out in the ensuing Gold Rush and spent his declining years trying to receive restitution from the US Federal government for the loss of his lands (it never came).