Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Protect Yourselves, Mexicans

InstaPundit links to a NPR piece titled Law-Abiding Mexicans Taking Up Illegal Guns, which, as Glenn notes, is “surprisingly positive,” considering the source of the story.

I would point out that NPR’s use of the scare word “illegal” legitmizes State control of firearms, and that Mexico’s firearms laws are most prohibitive, as I mentioned here, pointing to a Washington Post article detailing those prohibitive Mexican firearms restrictions, such as one, and only one gun store.  Is it any wonder, at all, that “illegal” gun sales in Mexico are so prevalent?

There is a more principled reason for owning firearms, and it has nothing to do with the State, whether it be Mexico, or America.

I have more principled reasons for my stand on owning firearms, and I don’t care one whit in the world for the Second Amendment. It means nothing to me. My rights have nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, and when it dawns on people that it has finally been erased—the principal danger of all political premises posed as “social contracts”—my rights will still validly exist, even if I die defending them. I own firearms because I have a right to private property. That is the First Thing.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 03:15 PM
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Addled Alain de Botton

The last time I mentioned Alain de Botton in these pages, I encouraged him to let go of his mommy’s hand and show some maturity, as he was waxing nostagically for being treated as a child, by the State.

In response to my mention, Alain dropped me an email stating the following.

I take it as a point of pride to have lots of immature sides. Indeed, it seems a basic definition of maturity to understand, accept, and not run away from sides of one’s nature which might offend a rigidly ‘adult’ view of the self.

I responded to Alain’s note this way.

Thank you for your note, unexpected though it was.

I, too, have immature sides, Alain, and fully understand their workings in my daily life.  Like you, I do not run away from my immaturities, but rather attempt to harness these immaturities, or grow out of them, in such a way so that I do not endanger myself, or others, relying on my reason, rationality and individual self-reliance rather than the state’s chains, which you seem to express a longing for in your article.

Though you intimate that I have a “rigid” adult view of myself, I fully realize that what abilities and strengths I have can be augmented by other individuals, by emulation and study of their abilities and strengths, or by discarding what I have come to understand as untenable rigidities.

The state cannot, and does not, protect me, or you, from any dangers, Alain, it only provides a false sense of security, a wonderland so to speak, not unlike Alice’s.

Respectfully, and with wishes for a fine day.

Alain did not respond to these thoughts, as they may have been too rigidly mature.

Alas, Alain seems to not only be susceptible to immaturity, but addledness, as he is now hawking the building of a temple, to atheism.

The atheist ‘philosopher’ Alain de Botton has undertaken a (literally) monumental project: he wants to create in the City a 150-foot-high temple to ‘new atheism’.

I wonder what they’ll use for their “scripture” books and hymnals?

We already have temples to atheism, Mr de Botton

Linked via SondraK who notes if you build it they will come to worship.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 01:32 PM
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Jury Box Impromptu

Via Bill St. Clair we are pointed to a post titled Adventures in Jury Duty, wherein a gentleman conscripted for jury duty is allowed by the presiding judge, who even asks for clarifications, to deliver an impromptu talk on why jury duty should be non-coercive, which received nodded approbations not only from fellow conscripted potential jurors, but the courtroom gallery and the baliff.  Interesting read.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 11:19 AM
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“Traitorous Trueness”

I was in one of my favorite neighborhood used book stores, last month, conducting a bit of trading with Clarence, a curmudgeonly old Dutchman.  As part of our back and forth bargaining, I offered to recite Clarence a poem in exchange for more favorable terms of purchase, to which he acceded, so I recited Carl Sandburg’s Prayers of Steel.

Upon finishing my recitation, Clarence reached under his desk and handed me a slim little black and red jacketed book, The Hound of Heaven, which is a poem penned by Francis Thompson, originally published in 1890, which I immediately sat down and read.

The poem is described, on the dust jacket of the book, as “A Wildly Romantic Poem About Spiritual Conversion,” and indeed it is, and not only for its representation of God as a mastiff tirelessly pursuing Thompson’s soul.  I especially enjoyed the descriptive of “traitorous trueness” employed by Thompson, which explains the title to this post.

Though I’d my eye on a couple of other volumes at Clarence’s, I came home with The Hound of Heaven, and I think I did alright, trade wise, as the copy Clarence dropped on me is a first edition, signed by the illustrator, Tim Ladwig, and I paid a mere $15 bucks.  The poem is my next memorization project.  Here it is in its entirety.

The Hound of Heaven.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
  Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
            Up vistaed hopes I sped;
            And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
            But with unhurrying chase,
            And unperturbèd pace,
          Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
            They beat—and a Voice beat
            More instant than the Feet—
          “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

            I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
  Trellised with intertwining charities
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
            Yet was I sore adread
Lest having Him, I must have naught beside);
But if one little casement parted wide,
  The gust of His approach would clash it to.
  Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
  And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
            Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to dawn, Be sudden; to eve, Be soon;
  With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over
            From this tremendous Lover!
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
  I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
  Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
  Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
            But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
          The long savannahs of the blue;
              Or whether, Thunder-driven,
            They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
            Still with unhurrying chase,
            And unperturbèd pace,
          Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
            Came on the following Feet,
            And a Voice above their beat—
          “Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”

I sought no more that after which I strayed
          In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
          Seems something, something that replies;
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But, just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
          With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
“Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me,” said I, “your delicate fellowship;
          Let me greet you lip to lip,
          Let me twine with you caresses,
          With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses’
          With her in her wind-walled palace,
          Underneath her azured daïs,
          Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
              From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.”
              So it was done;
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
            I knew all the swift importings
            On the wilful face of skies;
            I knew how the clouds arise
            Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
              All that’s born or dies
            Rose and drooped with—made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine—
            With them joyed and was bereaven.
            I was heavy with the even,
            When she lit her glimmering tapers
            Round the day’s dead sanctities.
            I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
            Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
              I laid my own to beat,
              And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s gray cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
          These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
            Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
            The breasts of her tenderness;
Never did any milk of hers once bless
              My thirsting mouth.
              Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
              With unperturbèd pace,
            Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
              And past those noisèd Feet
              A voice comes yet more fleet—
“Lo naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
              And smitten me to my knee;
          I am defenseless utterly.
          I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
          I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
          Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
          Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
          Ah! must—
          Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
          From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
          Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mist confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
          But not ere him who summoneth
          I first have seen, enwound
With blooming robes, purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
          Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
          Be dunged with rotten death?

            Now of that long pursuit
            Comes on at hand the bruit;
          That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
            “And is thy earth so marred,
            Shattered in shard on shard?
          Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
          Strange, piteous, futile thing,
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught,” He said,
“And human love needs human meriting,
          How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay rhe dingiest clot?
          Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee
          Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
          Not for thy harms.
But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms.
          All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for the at home;
          Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”

  Halts by me that footfall;
  Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstreched caressingly?
  “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
  I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 08:56 AM
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cruise Control Note

380 miles in 5 1/2 hours, with two quick pit stops.  One included gassing up and grabbing a burger to go.  Average speed over those 5 1/2 hours, 69.09 mph.  Cruise control set at 74.75 mph (or as close to that as I could approximate) in Ohio, and at 79.75 mph in Michigan.  Blew by four troopers total (couple in OH and MI) without adjusting speed.  Maybe half-dozen folks passed me the whole time I was on the road.  Could not keep track of the folks I passed.  Not bad, but I’ve made a bit better time in the past.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 07:35 PM
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Faith in God is Not Tidy

Great quote from Rowan Williams’ A ray of darkness, via more than 95 theses via Vanderleun’s Sidelines.

The real question, John [of the Cross] suggests, is about what you are really after: Do you want ‘spirituality’, mystical experience, inner peace, or do you want God? If you want God, then you must be prepared to let go all, absolutely all, substitute satisfactions, intellectual and emotional. You must recognize that God is so unlike whatever can be thought or pictured that, when you have got beyond the stage of self-indulgent religiosity, there will be nothing you can securely know or feel. You face a blank: and any attempt to avoid that or shy away from it is a return to playing comfortable religious games. The dark night is God’s attack on religion. If you genuinely desire union with the unspeakable love of God, then you must be prepared to have your own religious world shattered. If you think devotional practices, theological insights, even charitable actions give you some sort of purchase on God, you are still playing games. On the other hand, if you can face and accept and even rejoice in the experience of darkness, if you accept God is more than an idea which keeps your religion or philosophy or politics tidy – then you may find a way back to religion, philosophy or politics, to an engagement with them that is more creative because you are more aware of the oddity, the uncontrollable quality of the truth at the heart of all things. This is what ‘detachment’ means – not being ‘above the battle’, but being involved in such a way that you can honestly confront whatever comes to you without fear of the unknown; it is a kind of readiness for the unexpected, if that is not too much of a paradox.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/27 at 10:28 AM
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“Collective Emotional Spasm” Explained

Brian Micklethwait reads through the intro to a BBC Radio Times program titled My Child the Rioter and his attention is drawn to the phrase “Caught up in ...”, which, as the phrase is used in that intro, is intentionally meant to be understood as being caught up in an event, for example an ocean’s wave as it crests and thunders ashore, due to no fault of an individual’s own actions except for the fact that said individual is standing in the ocean.  Brian’s response.

But the phrase that really caught my eye in this was where it says that son Liam got “caught up in” the unrest. You hear this phrase a lot these days, to describe what someone did, in a way that suggests that what he did was really done to him, by a malign outside force. The Unrest, you see, forced him to go out looting. The Unrest called round, knocked on his door, dragged him out into the street and there compelled him to misbehave. Liam didn’t do rioting. The rioting “involved” him. There the Unrest was, catching Liam up in itself. How could Liam himself be held responsible for what Unrest did to him?

Truly, we do live in a Wonderland.

This explains the power of a “collective emotional spasm,” which, evidently, all are powerless to resist, I guess.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/27 at 09:07 AM
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Welcome, Finlay Anne

Well, it’s official.  The Lovely Melis and I are Grandma and Grandpa.  After 24 hours of non-productive labor, Finlay came into this world at 1:30 a.m. this morning via c-section, all 8 pounds and 15 ounces of her.  What a blessing.


UPDATE:  I thought Finlay deserved to be seen without Grandpa’s face hovering over her.


Posted by John Venlet on 01/26 at 03:20 PM
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sparrow Mourning

An article at the American Daily Herald is headlined as follows.

Sparrow Populations Crashing in Japan.

To which I say good, as the sparrow population which is crashing in Japan is the English or House Sparrow, at least that is what the photo indicates which accompanies the article, so they don’t belong there anyway.  Nor do these sparrows belong in my backyard.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/25 at 12:27 PM
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Typhoid Mary Tracking

If the U.S. government, utilizing research being funded by the U.S. Navy, considers the spread of “revolutionary” ideas as infectious, then I want to be just like Typhoid Mary.

With funding from the Office of Naval Research, a team at Aptima, Inc. is developing software that’d do more than just scan Twitter for trending topics. Instead, it’d mine the web, including news stories, social networks and blogs, to extract topics and phrases that are gaining traction online. Then, the software would keep tabs on how the conversations proliferate, both geographically and over time.

The software would use epidemiological modeling to chart the discussions and their trajectory…

Applied to online discourse, epidemiological models would essentially treat uprisings like illnesses. They’d pull apart a web conversation (the author of the post, the site where it was published, the comments that ensued) and try to figure out which parts contributed most readily to the spread of a revolutionary message.

Cairo Contagion: Military Tracks Uprising’s ‘Infectious’ Ideas

Linked via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/25 at 11:43 AM
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Same Ol’ Same Ol’

Unlike Chance, I don’t much like to watch, at least SOTU addresses.

Did Last Night’s Speech Sound Familiar?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/25 at 11:38 AM
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Splendor Found

An old friend, Greg Swann, has a blog called SplendorQuest, and on his “About” page one of the ways he describes splendor is as follows.

...untainted, fully-conscious jubilation…

Here’s a piece from The New York Times which I think fits the bill.  It is titled Uneasy Rider, a story of troubled pasts, the consequences of those pasts, and rising above.

Linked via Vanderleun’s Sidelines.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/24 at 05:35 PM
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Playbooks, Espionage and Collusion

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked to a James Pethokoukis post at The American titled 11 stunning revelations from Larry Summers’s secret economics memo to Barack Obama, which Pethokoukis was compelled to write after reading a piece written by Ryan Lizza for The New Yorker titled The Obama Memos, and the actual Larry Summers penned 57-page, “Sensitive & Confidential” memo (pdf of 57 pgs.) meant for Obama’s use, but in all likelihood not meant to be seen by the American public.

Glenn stated the following in regards to Pethokoukis’ post.

A stunning portrait of duplicity and irresponsibility, even for those who have been paying attention.

And indeed, Summers’ memo is a “stunning portrait of duplicity and irresponsibility,” but evidently the portrait is not so stunning as to warrant much interest by the mainstream media, or the general voting American public.

As I considered why this may be, I thought of a loose analogy.

In the National Football League, playbooks are all important.  Every NFL team develops their own playbook for each game, and every opposing NFL team desires to get some type of intelligence on just what plays are in their opponent’s playbook.  Espionage is not unheard of.  But even if NFL espionage is succesful, when it comes right down to it, every NFL team is running the same type of plays; pass, run, screen, quarterback sneak, etc.; though the formations may be different for each individual team as they prepare to run the called play.  The plays and players in government are really no different.

Does anyone really believe that if John McCain would have been elected POTUS he and Congress would have taken actions much different than Obama’s?  Certainly, the form of the “stimulus” may have been different, but the play(s) would have been taken from the same playbook, whether it was put together by Larry Summers, or some other economic wank unable to keep their playbook under wraps.  Only the formation of the congressional and senate colluders would have been different.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/24 at 02:52 PM
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Molokai Now, and Then

The last time I was in Molokai was 1982, when I was stationed at Pearl.  That last visit was just an overnight trip with a few of my shipmates, Matt, Nevo and Joe, prior to departing on WestPac for six months.  It was a memorable overnight, and not just because we almost missed movement waiting for the plane which was supposed to take us back to Honolulu on the morning we were mustering to head out to sea for six months.

After reading a GoNomad.com piece titled Molokai: Hawaii’s Almost Empty Island, it appears that Molokai has not changed considerably since my last visit.  Still no traffic light in Kaunakakai, still not much night life, and still no real development.

Looking at the photos included as part of the article also seems to indicate that things have not changed considerably since my last visit, which I confirmed by digging out some of the photos I took and saved from other visits to Molokai prior to that night in 1982.  My old photos could be substituted for the author’s photos with nary a difference noted.

Here’s one photo that the author of the article should have considered getting a shot of in his story on Molokai, taken from the cliffs above Molokai’s leper colony, which rise 1700 feet above the ocean.  They really are quite spectacular.


Molokai now, is not much different from then.

Linked via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/24 at 09:44 AM
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Monday, January 23, 2012

It’s More Mainstream Than You Think

I finally got around to reading a Reuters piece, penned by Jim Forsyth, titled Subculture of Americans prepares for civilization’s collapse, which Drudge first linked to on Saturday.

One could think, based on that headline, that the number of Americans who are preppers, as the terminology is utilized, is rather small, a true subculture, with just a hint of criminality, as subculture is often defined and mis-understood.  But they would be wrong.

Forsyth describes preppers this way.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Forsyth’s description displays not only his lack of knowledge of history; does he not know that the early Christians were considered preppers? (the ancients were not familiar with the terms hippies, survivalists, or preppers) voicing some of the same concerns today’s preppers are; but his lack of being in touch with the concerns of everyday Americans.

I think of my old neighbor Wally, an everyday American, who passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 92.  I knew Wally for 16 years, and chatted with him almost everyday when he was strolling through the neighborhood, and one of the first subjects we ever discussed was the subject of secular and oppressive government and free and easy credit.  Without fail, in these conversations, Wally would say to me, “You think the Great Depression was bad?  When the next one hits, the Great Depression is going to look like a picnic, so be prepared.,” and he wasn’t a prepper.

Or how about my mother?  She’s an everyday American, 81 years old, who still retains a semblance of faith in government, even she articulates to me a grave concern for the world due to the machinations of politics and advises being prepared, and she’s far from being a prepper (that’s okay, she’s got six (6) sons who will take care of her).

Or how about some of my neighbors, everyday Americans once again, who in conversations regarding the current state of the world casually refer to where they would go in the event of an economic and societal collapse, which is commonly known in “prepper” parlance as their bug out spots.  These neighbors of mine are not “subculture” individuals, they are red blooded, mainstream Americans, attempting to live freely, though they realize the yoke of slavery is already chaffing their necks.

Individuals desiring to be prepared for possible economic and societal collapse are not members of a subculture.  They are mainstream.  It is those individuals who are not aware and who are unprepared who are subculture today.

UPDATE:  Forgot that this came up in conversation Saturday night.  Costco sells a survival pack.  Though it’s only good for two (2) weeks, if Costco is selling survival packs, prepping is not a subculture.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/23 at 02:20 PM
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