Sunday, January 12, 2014

Confessions of Faith

Here’s a couple of very interesting reads, sort of confessions of faith, if you’re interested.

First, a piece by Malcolm Gladwell, titled How I Re-discovered Faith.

Second, a piece by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, who described herself as a leftist lesbian professor who despised Christians, on discovering faith, titled My Train Wreck Conversion.

Link to Gladwell piece via InstaPundit.

UPDATE 01.12.2104:  May as well make it a trinity of confessions.  A Robert Duvall piece titled In My Search for the ‘Apostle’, I Found My Faith, linked via American Digest.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/12 at 03:10 PM
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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Check Your Freedom Premises Quiz

Aligning yourself with one political party or another, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc., quite often leads to the loss of your individuality due to the fact that when one aligns themselves within a group, your individuality is subsumed by the collective aspect of the group, resulting in almost a tacit approval of coercion by the group, i.e. what you, as an individual, would not necessarily consider forcing another individual to do, or prevent another individual from doing, becomes allowed by the collectiveness of the group, with the end result being the loss of individual freedom supposedly in the name of social cohesion.

This is the way our democratic system works, unfortunately, and most individuals line up to join either the Republican group or the Democrat group because they feel that these two groups best represent their individual interests, without understanding that their individual interests are in large part lost once they join the group.

One way to check your freedom premises, and to gauge how subsumed your individuality has succumbed to the group, is to take one of those quizzes, which appear from time to time on the internet, alleging to determine which group you as an individual supposedly belong.

One such quiz now available is titled What Kind of Libertarian Are You?  It’s an interesting quiz, and one does not need to consider themselves a libertarian in order to gain some insights into their individual thinking on freedom.  In fact, I think the most interesting results to be garnered from the quiz will probably come from those individuals professing themselves as Republicans or Democrats.

Give it a go, and post your results in comments, if you so desire, or dare.  At the end of the day, I’ll post my results.

Hattip to Free The Animal.

UPDATE 01.12.2014:  My results; and some added commentary; and I apologize for not posting these yesterday, as I intimated I would, but I became otherwise occupied.  Not unenjoyably.

The quiz rated me as an Agorist, which the quiz crafters described as follows.

Agorists are market anarchists or anarcho-capitalists (often former anarcho-capitalists) who have moved in the direction of rejecting participation in the political process in favor of more direct action in the form of economic secession and civil disobedience in general, with particular emphasis on making use of black or grey markets. Agorism could be viewed as a radicalized version of anarcho-capitalism, or a radicalized outcome of taking it in new directions. Agorists tend to be more closely associated with the traditional anarchist left than many anarcho-capitalists.

While the quiz crafter’s description does include some of the principles of agorism, this description reads a bit like a horoscope, or a verbose Chinese fortune cookie.  Specific enough to seem legitimate, and generalized just enough to cover a wide swath of populations and intelligences unable to call upon their own rationality and reasoning abilities in order to understand the complexities of our ability to live as a society.

Of interest, also, in the quiz results was the graphing provided which displayed various percentages allegedly graphing my responses and weighting said responses to various other possible political leanings latent within my thinking.  These were as follows.

Agorist - 100%
Anarcho-capitalist - 100%
Small “L” Libertarian - 83%
Left-libertarian - 83%
Paleo-libertarian - 50%
Minarchist - 50%
Geo-libertarian - 17%
Neo-libertarian - 17%
Libertarian-socialist - 0%

These percentage graphings associated with my individual responses are not without contradictions, which I will allow these quotes address.

We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.

Blaise Pascal

Everything about me is a contradiction, and so is everything about everybody else.  We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles.  There’s a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint.  You don’t reconcile the poles.  You just recognize them.

Orson Welles

Posted by John Venlet on 01/11 at 10:18 AM
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Kentucky Democrat Handgun Thought Imbecilities

Erin O’Brien links over to a news story regarding one Leslie Combs, a Democrat, representing the people of Kentucky’s House District 94, who accidentally discharged her handgun in Kentucky’s capitol building this past Tuesday.

Combs willingly acknowledged the accidental discharge, which occurred as she was unloading the weapon, stating, “It happens.”  Indeed, accidental discharges do happen, but it is not the accidental discharge which necessarily disturbs me in regards to this recent incident, rather, it is Combs’ stated reason for feeling the need to unload her handgun at that particular point and time.

I was purposely disarming it to put it up because I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to use it anymore…

This bit of reasoning by Ms. Combs, as to why she was disarming her handgun in Kentucky’s capitol building, displays a certain imbecility, though of course Combs is generally capable of some degree of communication and performance of simple tasks under supervision, as is evidenced by her pursuit of a political career.

Not to be outdone by Ms. Combs’ imbecility, Combs’ erstwhile political colleague, Representative Mary Lou Marzian (D), Kentucky House District 34, offers up this bit of advice as a possible means to prevent such an accidental gun discharge in the future.

I’m certainly not wanting to take guns away from people, but maybe keep them in our cars if people have them to not bring them around to where there are going to be children walking up around the halls.

Just brilliant.

Ky. lawmaker’s gun fires in Capitol office

Posted by John Venlet on 01/11 at 08:46 AM
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Friday, January 10, 2014

504 examples of Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc.

Dan from Squirrel Hill provides 504 examples of Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc..

I think the list is actually much longer than 504, but the necessary documentation may currently be lacking, at least at the moment.

Hattip to Curmudgeonly & Skeptical.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/10 at 04:24 PM
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Thoughts on Philanthropy

Give to everyone that asks thee, and do not refuse, for the Father’s will is that we give to all from the gifts we have received. Blessed is he that gives according to the mandate; for he is innocent; but he who receives it without need shall be tried as to why he took and for what, and being in prison he shall be examined as to his deeds, and “he shall not come out thence until he pay the last farthing.”

But concerning this it was also said, “Let thine alms sweat into thine hands until thou knowest to whom thou art giving.” (bold by ed.)

The Didache.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/10 at 08:54 AM
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Thursday, January 09, 2014

21st Century Alchemy or Ponzi Scheme?

In medieval times, alchemy was an accepted science, a science whose goal was to transform an ordinary metal into gold.  In actuality, alchemy was simply a type of a scheme, a sort of gold fever, separating wealthy individuals from their money, and gold fever still afflicts individuals today.

In these days and times, most individuals consider the medieval art of alchemy an oddity, but, is there a type of 21st century alchemy ongoing in the world?

I ask the question after spending some time reading a post by The Silicon Graybeard titled The Curious Case of the German Gold, wherein we read this.

Late in 2012, Germany made an unprecedented request of the US Federal Reserve Bank.  Germany, like most of the world, had stored as much as 50% of its gold in the US Fed’s vaults as part of the agreements turning the USD into the world’s reserve currency.  They wanted the Fed to return their gold, for storage in their country.  The idea was that Germany’s gold was held as if in a safe deposit box; like a safe deposit box, the owner has every reason to expect if they want to empty the box, they can.

In a stunning move, the Fed refused, originally refusing Germany the right to inspect their gold, and finally offering to return the gold in installments, eventually completing the transfer by 2020.

The initial begrudged transfer of 37 tons of “German” gold back to Germany led to the following question being asked by a journalist following the story.

December 26, 2013

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am an independent financial journalist.

In connection with the transfer of 37 tons of Bundesbank gold from New York to Germany, I came across the news that the bars were a melted before the transfer. May I kindly ask you for the following information:

Why were the bars melted at all? And why couldn’t that wait until the bars arrived in Frankfurt?

Kind regards,

Lars Schall

Good question.  Silicon Graybeard’s post has a number of additional links imbedded within which take you to more detailed analyses of the question of the “German’s” gold which are worth perusing.

21st century alchemy, or Ponzi scheme?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/09 at 09:35 AM
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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Digital Life Commentaries

xkcd comic Photos

2:11 video I Forgot My Phone

Posted by John Venlet on 01/08 at 09:38 AM
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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Polar Vortex - Surfs Up in the Great Lakes

I see that winter surfing in Michigan has competition in Minnesota.

Freshwater surfers brave sub-zero temperatures at Stoney Point (MN - ed.)

Posted by John Venlet on 01/07 at 05:35 PM
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Expatriate Guide to Business and Living

With recent news that record numbers of Americans are giving up citizenship, I would guess that the number of Americans expatriating themselves is also on the rise, thus it is timely that I received an email from Derek Sivers, this morning, announcing that he, and 140 of his friends and associates, have compiled all 14 16 of his Entrepreneur’s Guides to Asia into one volume titled Asia 2014.  Buy one, or buy all as one, if you’re thinking of getting out.

I’m sticking around.  America is my home.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/07 at 11:47 AM
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Running Out of Snow Dispersal Space

Here in West Michigan, the snow which fell in December is still here, even with the thaw of a couple of weeks ago, and the snow which has fallen since then, and continues to fall now, is presenting me with the problem of where to go with the snow which will undoubtedly continue to accumulate.

Running out of snow dispersal space

My Armstrong snow blower is still running well, but it could use a break.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/07 at 10:13 AM
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Monday, January 06, 2014

Evil Capitalism and Love of Money

One of the enduring, though misled, arguments against capitalism, and capitalists in general, is that capitalism is all about the love of money, and therefore is evil.  Oh yeah?

A Utah-based gun manufacturer has turned down a $15 million deal to supply Pakistan with precision rifles, citing concerns they could eventually be used against U.S. troops…

It was a difficult decision because of the amount of money involved, he said, and the sale of rifles to Pakistan would have been legal.

“We don’t know that those guns would’ve went somewhere bad, but with the unrest we just ended up not feeling right about it,” Davis told KTVX-TV.

The company, based in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City, was founded in 2007 on the principle of keeping America and its allies safe, he added.

I say good on Mike Davis and Desert Tech.

Utah gun maker turns down $15M deal with Pakistan

Posted by John Venlet on 01/06 at 03:41 PM
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Liberty/Freedom - Not Up To Code

There have been a few interesting discussion threads over at Gerard Vanderleun’s blog American Digest over the past few days, in which the comments shine a light on the subjects of liberty and freedom, and, by extension, which political party one aligns themselves with in the attempt to retain liberty and freedom.

In one post, titled “Learned Helplessness:” Comment of the Month at the Turn of the Year [Bumped + 3], a number of commenters hold in scorn individuals of more Libertarian political leanings, for allegedly sabotaging Republican political candidates’ election chances, equating said libertarian leaning individuals, foolishly, as enemies almost worse than Democrats.  To which I respond with this thought, which I posted in comments at Radley Balko’s The Agitator back in November 2003.

Why is there such a confounded need to label yourself or align yourself within a group? Can we not just be men with like minded ideas of liberty and sovereign individuality? Even if some of your political ideologies differ in regards to the size of government, as compared to other labeled individuals, does the group label offer you any kind of safety, or is it just a need to belong that is being fulfilled by the label? The group mentality, in most instances, only provides a bludgeon to use against other groups.

But it was a portion of a comment on another post at Vanderleun’s, which consisted of a mere photo, titled January 3 2014: So, how cold is it tonight inside some random hotel in Minnesota?, which is the actual impetus for this post and this post’s title.

…AND, the light switch is on the hinge side of the door - I’m pretty sure that is a code violation…

That comment, addressed to an aspect of a photograph, a photograph for pete’s sake, is indicative of just how enslaved Americans have become to the government and its bureaucracy.  Is that light switch not to “code?”  Heaven help us, how can we survive without the state and their mountains of code?

Americans’ liberty and freedoms are indeed in jeopardy, and hearing what I believe is a conservative individual commenting that a light switch is not to code, after viewing one, single photo, does not bode well for American freedom and liberty overall.  Americans are being conditioned to be complete slaves to the state, and the conditioning appears to be working.  America’s liberty and freedom is not up to code.

UPDATE 01.10.2014: Updated permalink to “Learned Helplessness” post, which is now archived.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/06 at 11:02 AM
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Friday, January 03, 2014

Inglorious Cuba

It is not unusual to hear politicians praising Fidel Castro and Cuba, nor is it unusual to hear movie stars and media mouthpieces praising Fidel Castro and Cuba, nor even an occasional baseball player praising Fidel Castro and Cuba, which makes one wonder how these useful idiots would survive actually living as a Cuban.  Not a Cuban with connections to Cuba’s commie power holders, but as a regular old Cuban individual with a ration card.

Patrick Symmes wondered about this and actually gave it a try, living in Cuba for 30 days as a Cuban, and in reading Symmes’ account of those days shows that Cuba is no commie paradise.  Symmes’ account of those days is titled Thirty Days As A Cuban (pdf of 13 pages).

There is nothing paradaisical about living in a commie country, and Cuba is no exception.  It is, inglorious Cuba.

Link to Symmes’ piece via Otto Odecker.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/03 at 10:21 AM
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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Whose Fault Is It?

Compliantly lining up

The above photos showing Jews compliantly lining up to register themselves as Jews in Weimar Germany in 1942, and Connecticut residents compliantly lining up to register themselves as weapons owners in 2013, at the order of the government, are juxtaposed as an alleged indictment on the evils of government.

Indeed, governments are often evil, but, I think the actual indictment this comparison should elicit should be leveled at “we the people” for sheepishly complying.

Oh, congratulations by the way … now your gov’t knows where all those firearms are.
This will be useful when they eventually decide to confiscate ‘em;
and that registration form will be probable cause for a search, with or without a warrant.
If you’re lucky, they’ll knock first.

Image source.

Quote source.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/02 at 10:08 AM
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fadeaway Girls

I recently stumbled upon the book A Gallery of Girls by Coles Phillips, for far less than the price listed at that link, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorite illustrations from the book.

In order of their appearance, they are titled “Hoot Mon,” “Her Move,” “The Midshipmite,” and, my personal favorite, “Corn Exchange.”

Hoot Mon

Her Move

The Midshipmite

Corn Exchange

This is one book I think that I will break down into individual prints to frame, there are a total of 39, so that they can be enjoyed daily in my home, though I am open to selling the complete book.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/31 at 10:50 AM
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