Monday, April 30, 2012

Mack Lake Fire at 11:15 p.m.

Thanks to my brother, The Wizard, for taking this photo of the Mack Lake fire.  1,500 acres burned, last Wednesday night (04.25.2012), and as the forest burned, 8 miles due east of my place, we noted its glow in the sky.  We first noted the glow at around 9 p.m. as we sat at the campfire, but not at the intensity we viewed at 11:15 p.m.  The photo is a 15 second exposure from my camp.


Posted by John Venlet on 04/30 at 09:38 AM
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I’m Here, But At Shep’s Bend

There’s a section of the South Branch of the Au Sable river which is known to certain anglers as Shep’s Bend.  Shep’s Bend received its moniker some years ago, in honor of Shep, who, after returning from the Korean war, set up a camp there as his home for a year or so.  The spot is about a 10 or 15 minute hike from the closest two track, and it is not visited regularly by most anglers as there are easier sections of the river to access.  There’s a seeping spring for fresh water close at hand, and, if you cast about, you can still locate Shep’s old firepit.  Shep passed away last year, but Shep’s Bend will remain for the angler willing to hike for a bit of seclusion and a chance at a nice trout.

I’m here, but at Shep’s Bend, still.


Posted by John Venlet on 04/30 at 09:20 AM
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Gone Angling

Northward I will go, well, after I drop the Lovely Melis at the airport, finalize a bit of business, and conduct one last inventory of supplies required for this venture.  I should return in a week.  At least that is the plan currently.  I leave you with some quotes of Izzak Walton.

And let me tell you that every misery I miss is a new blessing.

I have known a very good, fisher angle diligently four or six hours for a river carp, and not have a bite

[T]is not all fishing to fish.

You will find angling to be like the virtue of humility, which has a calmness of spirit and a world of other blessings attending upon it. (I’ve found this to be true - ed.)

That which is everybody’s business, is nobody’s business.

Let the blessing of St. Peter’s Master be . . . upon all that are lovers of virtue; and dare trust in His providence; and be quiet; and go a-Angling.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/23 at 07:27 AM
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Irregular Flow of Conversation

“Putting in a new lawn, Luke?”  - “Nope, a garden.  If I have to maintain it, it may as well be something I can eat.”


“Hand me that teguila, will ya?” - “Ya mean juice?”  -  “Yes, I think I do.”


“Euchre!  That was fun.”  - “Yeah, for you.”


“The recipe called for nuts on top, but I didn’t put any on because I know you don’t like that, John.”  -  ‘You’re a good friend, Pfeif.  Can I have another brownie?”


“I think the critter would eat that paper towel.” - sound of hysterical laughter - “I think I’ve gotten bacon stuck in my nose.”  “Dang, I did have bacon in my nose!”

Posted by John Venlet on 04/22 at 10:50 AM
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Just Walking Quote

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus

Posted by John Venlet on 04/21 at 11:11 AM
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Going to the Water Old School

Monday, I’ll head North for a week of wading some of my favorite waters, campfires, copious amounts of cigars and bourbon, and a testing of an old stick made new.  The weather prognosis for the next ten days, which is fluctuating wildly every twelve hours it seems, is tolerably conducive to some fine early season flyfishing.  The Fishing Report, which is updated weekly and thus lacks the wild fluctuations of the weather prognosis, is also tolerably conducive to some fine early season flyfishing, though, as the fishing report suggests, the catching of trout may very well also fluctuate wildly.

This time of year makes me feel quite a bit like a kid at Christmas, not only because trout season is opening, but because I’ve an old stick made new to take to the water, an 8’ Granger Victory Bamboo flyrod, which was made sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.  When the rod was given to me, last year at this time, it was sorely in need of some TLC, so off to RKP Cane Rods it went.  The rod’s stay at RKP was extended, I just picked it this past Wednesday, and it was worth the wait.

Here’s a couple of pics, which do not do the rod justice.



Posted by John Venlet on 04/21 at 10:25 AM
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Dog Tired

Obama ate dog.  Big deal.  I’ve eaten dog, monkey on a stick, and balutLewis & Clark ate dog, 190 of them, and one wolf, too.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/20 at 08:09 AM
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Think, Don’t Rearrange

Some people never think.  When they think they only rearrange their prejudices.

Attributed to Bishop Naphtali Luccock.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/20 at 07:05 AM
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rhetoric on The Republic of the Mind

My friend, Jeff Baxter, or JB for short, has posted some comments on my recent posting of an excerpt of Lynn Harold Hough’s thoughts on freedom and intelligence which I titled Republic of the Mind.

JB’s post is titled John and the Wizard, and it is offered in the accurate sense of rhetoric, though as a rebuttal to Hough’s thinking.  It opens as follows.

John – great piece! I only wish it were true!

While we are in agreement that the Hough excerpt I quoted is a great piece, I must point out that I did not state the excerpt was true, but rather is an exquistely beautiful example of an individual utilizing their mind freely, which I think is one of the most important lessons individuals need understand.

So why aren’t the thoughts expressed by Hough true according to JB?

In short, we cannot grasp true freedom, either in this life, or in our minds. We are forever reaching for the shadows of freedom, imagining at times we have actually grasped it, but it has always, always, always proven to be a false, misleading dream. We have never known true freedom because we do not have full and complete and TRUE peace with God.

JB’s reasoning is echoed by another mutual friend with whom I’ve had a bit of correspondence in the past, Fr. Patrick Fodor, and JB shares Fr. Fodor’s thoughts in his post.

Both JB and Fr. Fodor approach Hough’s thinking as individuals of faith in God, as I am and do, and I fully appreciate their contribution.  But I approach this particular thinking of Hough’s without reference to Luther, Calvin, or any other individual’s specific doctrine.  In other words, I am approaching Hough’s thinking in freedom.

Both JB and Fr. Fodor are correct, I think, when they state that we cannot grasp true freedom in this life; history rather sharply chronicles this truth, the unattainability of perfection in man as we know him; but the obstacles which they note require surmounting, at least if you’re an individual with faith in God, have been undermined by Christ, and quite possibly we’re not taking full advantage of this.

I’ll close this with a thought of Thomas Jefferson, which is contained in a letter written to Richard Rush in 1813.

...on the subject of religion, a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved.  I have considered it as a matter between every man and his maker in which no other, and far less the public had a right to intermeddle.

That is freedom of the mind and intelligence in action from a member of the republic of the mind.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/19 at 10:31 AM
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Whose Fault Is It?

It’s the government’s fault!

How often do you hear that phrase uttered?  Democrats, Republicans, “we the people” state it with assurance and vehemence.  It’s the government’s fault!

I agree.

The point which must be remembered, but which is blithely overlooked, is, government is “we the people,” whom, by their votes, if they vote, elect governments.  So, when the phrase “It’s the government’s fault” is blithely uttered, and individuals peer accusingly around them in order to point their finger at government, they have no choice but to point that finger at themselves.


I’ve left my closing comment on this subject at Og’s place, but I will post it here also.  I want to thank all who provided their input in comments.

As posted at Og’s.

Pray more.

Og, I took your sound advice to pray more, regarding my stance on voting, and also picked up my Bible to plumb it’s wisdom.

I did that both last night, and this morning once again, and I arrived at the conclusion that when H.L. Mencken wrote, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”, he was channelling the prophet Samuel, who was channelling God, when he said this.

I’m not going to argue with Samuel, God, or you about it any longer.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/19 at 08:21 AM
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Republic of the Mind

My brother, The Wizard, dropped the following on me this morning via email.  What follows, is an excerpt from chapter one of Lynn Harold Hough’s book Free Men.  The chapter is titled Free Men and Intelligence.  I have highlighted a few portions of this excerpt, though I think it all should be highlighted.  Hough’s thoughts, here, are so exquisitely beautiful I want to scream this from the roof tops.  Bless you, Wizard, for sending me this.

If there is a happy isle where regenerated philosophers meet to live in endless felicity, there will be a golden moment when all deterministic views of existence go down forever in gales of derisive laughter.  The truth is that a man can be a determinist and forever after cease to think.  But a man cannot be a determinist and continue to be a philosopher.  At least he cannot do it without surrendering to a process of self-stultification.  For the moment you really begin to think and move toward the creation of philosophic system, you find it necessary to use enough freedom to destroy any system of determinism.  In order to think at all you must assume that you have power to weigh alternatives, to distinguish between truth and error, and deliberately to follow a path of correct reasoning.  And when you attempt to convey the result of your thought to others, you must make the very same assumptions regarding their powers.  So thought is a matter of freedom at the first, at the last and, indeed, all the time.  The philosopher who uses his free mind in order to construct a process of reasoning by means to which to deny the existence of freedom is really the funniest man in all the world.  The philosophers on the happy isle at all events will never make this mistake.  And if they will not, why should we?

But it is not merely a matter of formal philosophy.  All use of intelligence is just an exercise of freedom thinking.  Freedom is the major premise of every conversation.  It is a hidden presence in every conclusion.  It gives significance to every speech, changing sounds into meaning.  It gives life to every book, changing queer marks on a page to carriers of definite meaning.  It lurks on the counter between every buyer and seller.  It lies at the heart of every attempt of persuasion.  It is true that there are limitations to freedom.  But it is also true that every time you think, and most of the times when you act, you are expressing freedom from limitations.  Grammar is freedom turned into a theory of speech.  Subject and object and verb express freedom in a formula.  Logic is freedom turned into a theory of mental action.  The syllogism is freedom inspecting its own briefest dialect.  Proof is freedom aware of its own power to detect the difference between truth and error.  Rhetoric is freedom turned into a gardener cultivating all the words in our wayward speech and teaching them to grow into power and beauty.  Science is freedom robbing nature of its secrets and classifying all obtainable knowledge about the world in which we live.  Philosophy is freedom battling with the ultimate problems of existence.  Art is freedom choosing between ugliness and beauty.  Politics is freedom manipulating human relationships.  Industry is freedom making use of the material world in which it finds itself.  Ethics is freedom inspecting its moral responsibility.  Religion is freedom choosing to be on the side of God.  Turn where you will in the human world and you find freedom in action.  Intelligence at its best is freedom on the wing.

When we speak lightly of freedom in the name of anything else, however attractive that other thing may be, it is like speaking with contempt of foundations as very unimportant things while we confess a great interest in the houses which would fall to earth without the foundations.  Freedom is the foundation of that house of the mind which every man must build.  It is the foundation of that house of the mind in which humanity must live.  Free men choosing are the citizens of the republic of the mind.

Freedom is the necessary assumption which makes all thought possible.  It is the basis of all argument.  It is implicit in all communication between the mind and mind.  This is why it is so important that we analyze with the most searching instruments of thought the whole implicit structure of our eternal life.  There are some things we can only deny if we are willing to face complete mental shipwreck.  And freedom is one of them.  Yet most men assume it so uncritically that they are actually willing to listen to argument denying its existence.  It is as if a logician should say, “If you will just deny the major premise, I shall assure you the validity of the conclusion.”

This is the point at which the guardians of civilization must be forever on guard.  For if freedom goes, everything which has the slightest value goes with it.  And if freedom remains, everything of genuine value sooner or later comes within our grasp.

The most disquieting thing about the whole situation is the fashion in which men who are seemingly intelligent and really thoughtful will admit the validity of the position we have been defending, and then will go forth and think and argue as if no such position actually existed.  In some way they are betrayed by the fact that when a position seems quite obvious, it is easy to suppose there is no real reason why we should think about its implications.  The thought of most men falls upon fallacy just at the point of failing to realize the hidden and far reaching implications which lie hidden at the heart of some distinction which seems so perfectly obvious when clearly stated that they suppose it to be quite unnecessary to think about it at all.  Indeed, no end of tragic mistakes in philosophic thought come from the fact that bright young men have gaily accepted important principles and then have laid them away on some shelf of the mind never thinking about them and never using them.  And that way philosophic madness lies.

It is really a terribly responsible thing to accept any position as a part of our personal philosophy.  That position is sure to involve sanctions which touch the most remote matters.  Any assertion involves denial of the opposite.  And this is a most difficult thing for a young thinker to see, especially if the opposite assertion comes above the surface of his mind a day or so after the original assertion was made.  And then in philosophy an assertion about any great matter has a living force and goes forth to change all sorts of things in every direction.  It is a simple fact that the conception of freedom is the most important conception in philosophic thought.  And it is equally true that its corollaries are the least understood.  When we have once seen that the mind is the arsenal of freedom, that no mental action is possible without it, that we must assume it in order to deny it, that any argument against its validity must be based upon the assumption of its presence in the mind of the man who constructs the argument and in the minds of men who listen to it, when we have come to understand that a negative conclusion concerning freedom involves a mental process which may be phrased, “I have now used my freedom to arrive at the important conclusion that I am not free” – when we have seen these things,  we begin to have at least a dim idea of the fundamental place of freedom in the existence and the use of intelligence.  And we are then ready to go on and think of its vast and outreaching ramifications.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/17 at 08:35 AM
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Happy 50th Mort

Happy 50th birthday to my brother Mort.  We remain as close the below photo suggests, in a time when a hoodie was a more practical item of clothing.  We seldom hold hands any longer, well, unless we’re helping each other out of a trout stream.  Happy Birthday, Mort.


Posted by John Venlet on 04/17 at 07:53 AM
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Monday, April 16, 2012

“Man Alive!” - “Say WHAT?!”

I received an email, a week or so ago, from Greg Swann.  Greg was one of the first individuals I had some back and forth discussion with when I initially ventured into blogging cyberspace courtesy of Blogger.  Greg’s email read as follows.

Libertarianism is the politics of egoism. Rand sells. Hayek doesn’t. The path back to individual freedom requires a better defense of the self. This free book does that job. I’m hoping you can help it find its readers.

The title of Greg’s book is Man Alive! A survival manual for the human mind., and I finished reading through it yesterday afternoon.

The gist of this little online volume, I think, can be condensed down into these points.  All individuals are philosophers, whether they know it or not.  Individuals’ understanding of philosophy have been muddled, or led astray over the years, by errant teachers, “thought-leaders,” of various stripes and robes.  The most important question in philosophy is “What should I do?”  You are all alone, but you do have recourse to the knowledge accumulated over the years by our human ancestors due to language, or what Greg refers to as “Fathertongue.”  The idea of selflessness has risen to evil prominence in society.  You should love yourself.

While Man Alive! presents the ideas and arguments in support of the gist of the book, mentioned above, in a straightforward manner, in referring to this work as “a survival manual for the human mind” I must respond with “Say WHAT?!”

Posted by John Venlet on 04/16 at 01:53 PM
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Values - An Important Fact

On the level of institutions or values, it is possible to distinquish between end and means.  On this level only, the traditional distinction holds up.  Institutions exist only for and through men.  But while institutions are always the erection of human beings, and whether they are just or unjust, effectual or ineffectual depends entirely on the people who use them.  Values have no meaning except as they are lived by man!  Everything depends on how man relates to man. (bold by ed.)

Jacques Ellul, Violence - Reflections from a Christian Perspective, The Seabury Press, New York, 1969, pg. 113

Posted by John Venlet on 04/15 at 11:31 AM
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

“Trayvon Martin & Black Slaves”

Go and watch a video posted at Theo Sparks titled Trayvon Martin & black slaves (3:27).  A white man would not be able to say what the gentleman in the video so plainly articulates.  Be sure to read through the post, also, to learn what skittles and tea are called on the street.

Posted by John Venlet on 04/14 at 05:56 PM
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