Monday, December 28, 2015

What to do if your co-worker self-identifies as a cow?

In order to avoid the wrath of the New York Commission on Human Rights, you should not insult him/her/it by attempting to communicate in anything other than "moos".  Cows are known to urinate and defecate where ever it is convenient, so if they happen to do this in your personal area, you must take any no notice.  Cow Identity is a serious self-image issue, and we cannot tolerate unlawful discrimination.  The commission can impose civil penalties up to $125,00 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.  See the above link for additional penalties.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

These pictures should be familiar to all Mac users now.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bajirao + Mastani

Resistance to The Force is futile, so I ended up at the theater anyway.  My wife wanted a distraction and wasn't wanting to be seen in a Star Wars movie, so we ended up in a very large auditorium as the only alien species present.  In fact this was the only time we can remember in 36 years of being together when we were both aliens at the same time.  The theater was entirely filled with Indians.  Fortunately we arrived 40 minutes early, because it sold out completely and we would not have gotten a decent seat otherwise.

Thus, we found ourselves watching a Hindi movie with English subtitles, Bajirao Mastani.  The Indians are taking over Fremont, California, and as the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them".

My sense is that the setting and story line were concocted for the more important aspects of the visual effects along with the singing and dancing.  The purported setting being the rise of a Hindu empire that was gradually reducing the Moguls.  The theme of the movie seems to be something like "love conquers religion", although there are some, um, minor snags along the way.  Like the first wife.  And the fact that a military general needs to spend almost all of his time in the field, rather than dallying around with his wives.  Then we need to explain how it is that the general, being married to an actual Miss Universe, becomes exclusively enamored with another woman.  But I am not Indian, so I won't pursue this line too far.  The ending seemed a bit Shakespearean to me.

What I wonder the most about this is the handling of polygamy vs monogamy.  The surface message is that monogamy is the only things acceptable, but some religions promote polygamy.  There is another part of the movies message that it is somehow cruel to suppress the true love that can only be realized in polygamy.  I tend to view love more as an issue of responsible commitment, so there is no question of polygamy.  But then again, I am not Indian.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Social Justice Empire Strikes Back?

I am still struggling to understand the hoopla around the latest warming over of the Star Wars brand.  Discussions at work have morphed into critiques of the quality of the films, and in what order a wannabe star wars noob might see the earlier films.  Then there is the other extreme of heated political commentary.  My advice is this:  Watch the films when you are too young to know the difference between good and bad, enjoy them, then get over it.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." - 1 Corinthians 13:11

But then again, I am not Paul and am known to periodically return to childhood temporarily.  Or maybe for extended periods.  The important thing is to not try to mix adult thinking into childlike fantasies, and vice versa.  Bipolar distinctions must be maintained.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

El Niño Watch

Marijuana growers are rejoicing.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Best Solution I Have Heard So Far

Although I would have appealed to God in the name of Jesus Christ rather than the Virgin Mary.  That is the difference between Christians and Catholics.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Happiness is completing a semester of Greek

The course was one on Greek syntax, which was irritating on the one hand but profitable on the other.  The challenge is figuring out what words go with each other as you sort out all the clauses and sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses in a sentence that runs on for a paragraph.  The word order of Greek is much looser than English, but the extra cases together with three forms of gender and greater distinction of singular/plural, together with more distinctive verb conjugations provide a lot of clues as to the ordering of things.

The third semester of Greek disappeared from the online course schedule, which has me a bit annoyed.  But not too much.  I will take a semester break.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

POTUS Speech on Terrorism: The denial will continue until the problem is solved

That is my interpretation of what I heard.  What we are in denial about is that the war is entirely about religion and ideology.  All the bombs and bullets that the US has together with NATO and Russia will not nearly be enough for us to prevail.  The reason is that the West is in the midst of a ideological civil war with the Leftists relentlessly trying to destroy Christian civilization, while Muhammedism is unified in its goal of reducing the world to slavery to Islam.  Since Leftist ideology only exists as a reaction to Christianity, it has no defenses against Islam, and in fact, it will always see Islam as a preferred ally in the principle war, which is the war against Christianity.  But the more the Left wins, the more young people will be tempted to choose Jihadism over the social chaos that always comes as a result of Leftist policies.

As always, I believe God is in control and that He will turn everything upside down in the end, so will continue to maintain my cheery demeanor:

"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 
'Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.'
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
'As for em, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.' ... " - Psalm 2:1-6

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Happiness is a big, red, juicy, slab of meat

I always knew that carnivores were happier than herbivores.  Now we have proof.

Monday, November 30, 2015

How to keep your cool in a world gone mad

We have had an early cold snap so that the lake temperature has fallen much more quickly this year than last.  This morning was a nice frosty one with a few people using scrapers on their cars and one student I saw walking to school fell on some ice.  When the mile swim was done, my coolness wasn't just some external show like most hypocrites do.  No, it was truly a cool that reached down into my core and took hold of my soul.  Winter swimming is the way to go for those who want a quality cool rather than some imitation.

During the last few swims there was a mob from #BlackCootLivesMatter.  This is a rather proud group known for walking on water, as can be seen here.  They generally stay close by me while I swim and note all of my micro-aggressions.  The other major players in the lake are the #BlackCormorantsWantToBeLeftAlone group.  Anyway, the cold seems to have dissuaded them from being in the lake just before dawn, so I no longer have the companionship that I was enjoying earlier, even if it was from groups that exclude me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

вот украина, не россия

A friend of mine introduced me to, which is a free foreign language study program.  It would have been nice to have had this a few years back.  Unfortunately the languages I want to study, such as Greek, Hebrew or Ugaritic, aren't in the system.  Russian is in the system and the Cyrillic alphabet is one that I have wanted to learn for a while, so ...

I must say of all the systems I have struggled with for learning languages, this is the most efficient.  Like Pimsleur, the language is thrown at you with no explanation, but this can easily be found now on the internet. The bigger headache with Russian is dealing with the Cyrillic keyboard.  With the Duolingo system, you must type back Russian words from memory, which is quite a challenge.  My hope is to persist for a time to see if I can develop some ability to make sense at least of the pronunciation of Russian text.

My main gripe about Duolingo is that the interface seems directed at about a 3rd grade level.  I would prefer something a little more, well, it is hard to describe.  Perhaps a heads-up display with cross hairs?  As for the type of phrases, I would prefer something more trendy, such as

"Boris, did you enter the coordinates into the missile targeting system?"
"Will Dimitri talk?"
"Yes, Dimitri will talk.  That is why we gave him the wrong information."
"They get virgins, but we get vodka."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flat Earth Revolutions

I should put in a link to this discussion with a young theology student, Ben, who wants to defend the idea that there really was a flat earth belief in the ancient world and that it wasn't just part of the same frenzy of academic malpractice kicked off by Washington Irving's hoax.  His basic method depends on interpretations of pieces of mythology that I had previously read, but had not seemed to me to be even discussing the shape of the earth, thus, I had not listed them in my collection of works discussing the flat earth.  I will thus direct someone who might follow my list of quotes to consider Ben's list, but I will not myself list them since none of his examples associate a shape to the earth, nor can we ascertain that anyone actually believed them to be discussing the shape of the earth, nor given that assumption do we know if they had other sources of opinion, thus, at best the arguments require many leaps of faith.

My main observation here is that modernists are infinitely resourceful in claiming that the Bible doesn't mean what it plainly seems to indicate by the language, while the mythological genre, being vastly less certain of meaning than the Bible, is to the contrary something for which modernists have no problem establishing certain meaning where I would not have even tried.

Our agreement is to stick to our original positions.  Ben to the belief that flat earthism was nearly universal due to primitive ignorance of science, so that the clear association of the flat earth belief by Aristotle to only three people, all of whom were scientific atheists, is totally unremarkable and irrelevant.  Me to the belief that anyone who spent significant time outside traveling before the invention of the street light would have considered the earth to be spherical, while only these three who boasted of scientific atheism were to be documented in all of history as being flat earthers.  Their belief system passed on to the hyper-gnostic, pseudo scientific Epicureans, where it became one of the most resilient belief systems of the classical world.  This "philosophy" was warmed over by David Hume in the 18th century, and - although not specifically believing in the flat earth - is today in total control of academia with its conceit of scientific enlightenment.  And one more irony, being that David Hume warmed over Epicureanism under the title of the polar opposite belief system, Skeptics which was a similar to the Academics.  Thus, today those who are gnostic Epicureans refer to themselves as agnostics, skeptics and academics.  It is all a complete mess.

The additional side to this is that Ben is quite respectful to academia.  I on the other hand view the brain of the brilliant academic as being the Devil's playground, just as Augustine had obsered.  What does puzzle me is how he plans to square worship of atheist academia above all with a theology degree, but that isn't my problem to worry about.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

POTUS: "... innocent civilians ..."

My initial knee jerk reaction to this phrase was something like, "Ha!  He clearly is not knowing his Christian theology, since there are none who are innocent".  It can only be that we are innocent with respect to crime A, but not that we are innocent on any absolute scale, unless you are a leftwing politician.

But then my Greek language syntax class lecture just offered up Romans 3:23 -

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Which in Greek is:

"πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ"

The verb for sin is "ἥμαρτον", which they have kindly pointed out is in the Aorist tense:

"The aorist is used here, leaving the action in some sense undefined.  However, it is an equally true statement that: "all sin" (present-customary) and "all have sinned" (perfect-past action with continuing results). Therefore, the choice of the aorist by Paul was used to emphasize one aspect or possibly to say less (or to stress the fact of humanity's sinfulness) than the present or perfect would have done.  However, any of these three tenses could have been used to describe the human condition.  an author's portrayal is thus selective at times and simply brings out the aspect that he wants to emphasize at the time rather than giving the full-orbed reality of the event."

Clearly I must have sinned since I have 90 pages of this to go through this weekend, along with the lecture and the homework.

So where are we?  Perhaps I should stop before I make too many more mistakes.

Monday, November 09, 2015

In Racism We Trust?

Periodically I make a hopeless attempt to process the apparent explosion of racism and condemnation of racism that is going on.  Part of this is just gathering data, but I can't help doing a little preliminary processing:

1. There is the recent frantic efforts to get rid of the Confederate flag as if it meant the same thing to African Americans as the Swastika did for Jews.  As a northerner who grew up in the south, I am somewhat mystified.  It wasn't my flag, but I had not viewed it as a symbol of oppression.  What is peculiar about this exercise is that the screaming is coming from the left, who don't seem to know that the Confederate flag was the flag of the Democratic party.  Isn't that a bit like the neo-NAZIs suddenly taking offense at the Swastika?  I am all for repentance and forgiveness, but this has a certain surreal character that I can't quite grasp.

2. Then there is the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri who doesn't seem to be able to bring the little racist incidents to a stop.  Now being a Christian, I certainly believe that "all men are CREATED equal", but Christian beliefs are unconstitutional, especially in a state school, so I would be reluctant to condemn a non-Christian for violating Christian teaching with his racism.  We must also note that these days every student at the school knows that every man, women, transgendered, queer, polygendered, xenogendered, ... did not EVOLVE equal" - no matter what the vice chancellor for diversity, inclusion and equity says - so maybe someone can explain to me what the secular principle is that is being violated?  In fact the students know these things because it is mandated by the government that all children be taught these things.  OK, so there is a law against racism, which we should certainly obey, but the law is in direct conflict with the teachings of the university regarding the origin of humanity/huwomanity so it will likely have no more force than marijuana laws, which are likewise in direct conflict with other university teachings.

There are more such things I could note, but will stop here.  As I said, my Christian theology compels me to examine myself periodically for any racist tendencies, even if they are merely in my thoughts, and eliminate them.  America, however, is not a Christian nation, nor do I understand the principles that it appears and/or claims to be following.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Swimmer's Itch

It is that time again.  Swimmer's Itch is due to a parasite that lives in lakes.  It is initially in snails, but then the snail releases the parasites which float towards the surface and then latch onto waterfowl, of which loons are a member of the targeted class.  The parasite then infects the bird, which eventually release more into the water which then seek out snails to infect and the process is complete.

What I have noticed is that most of the year these little critters aren't active.  Either the water is too warm or it is too cool, so I had no problem all summer.  In the fall, however, the water temperature is dropping so the month of November is when these little guys get busy again.  Water temperature now is probably in the mid-60's.  I got myself about 20 bites the last time I went swimming.  If I apply sunscreen over much of my body, the number of bites is greatly reduced.  Thus, I will probably reduce swimming for a few weeks and add the sun screen.  Each bite will be a bit like a mosquito bite in lasting two or three days and being a bit itchy.  Thankfully my body isn't reacting to them as badly as it did a few years ago, although I have by far the strongest reaction to these bites among those who swim with me.  For now, I am looking forward to the water temperature dropping to the 50's, since they will be too busy shivering to bother with biting loons.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

University of Tennessee, Tullahoma Space Institute

I grew up in Tennessee and went to the University of Tennessee, but have never been to the Space Institute.  My impression was that this had something to do with activities outside of Earth's atmosphere, but after the visit I have a different view.  It is because there is lot's of open "Space" around the campus.  If they want to grow they really need a football stadium.  But I like it the way it is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

A formal statement of The Doctrine of Errancy

"All religions have passed through human minds and human hands, and are therefore likely to abound with human errors; so that the man who believes in the infallibility of a book is but one step removed from the superstition of him who believes in the infallibility of a high-priest; he merely removes the idea of verbal inspiration from the broad daylight of the present, where its improbability would be too obvious, into the dim obscurity of the past, where difficulties become lost in the misty shadows of antiquity.  Whatever is true in religion will bear the fullest investigation and most searching criticism; it is only error that fears discussion." - Essays on The Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsis, by Martin Haug, Late Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology at the University of Munich, 1878

It is a good thing that modern science doesn't pass through "human minds and human hands"!

I believe that God has a sense of humor, and part of that is that he will condemn those who mock Him to believe their mocking.  That is, when contrary data comes in that is blindingly obvious and threatens them with extermination, they will still be unable to change course.

In this book professor Haug notes that the scriptures of the Avesta were in Old Persian, which was a dead language.  A very poor translation was made from Old Persian to Middle Persian, and then additional mediocre translations were made from Middle Persian to other modern languages, with the net result that the modern priests of the Zoroastrian religion were completely unable to comprehend their own scriptures.  Even today the Old Persian has not been very well decoded, so that text books on the language must presuppose a knowledge of the vaguely similar Sanskrit language and then rather than providing definitions for words, they provide potential cognates in Sanskrit, Middle Persian and Armenian, leaving it to the student to work out what makes the most sense.  The Doctrine of Errancy would thus be quite accurate regarding Zoroastrianism, yet completely in error for Christianity and Mohammedanism.

My reading between the lines indicates that Prof. Haug's attack is directed at Protestant Christianity.  But as I have pointed out, those who mock will cursed to believe their mockery, which is obscurely indicated in Isaiah 28, and many other places.  For example, the mock charity called the welfare state, which pays deadbeats, drug addicts and drunks along with the truly needy and does this through theft, this is now the vehicle for the army invading Europe.  But now they believe this insanity to be a moral necessity, and have completely lost view that the welfare state was merely intended to mock true Judaeo-Christian charity.  Then there will be the Saracen swinging a sword to remove the head of the enlightened intellectual, who will be completely unable to comprehend that there was nothing at all either "dim" or "obscure" regarding the behavior of their founder.  In the US, we have an enraged feral underclass having been raised with no experience of the human family, due to governmental policies, which were likewise driven by intellectuals mocking the family.

Which is all to say that God is truly in charge, and the mocking of men will not cause Him to fail in His purpose.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers" - Psalm 1:1

Thursday, October 08, 2015

When the lawless write the laws ...

"Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" - Proverbs 27:4

The California government just passed a bill requiring equal pay for women in a way that was intentionally designed to make finding out relative pay easier along with litigating over that differential.  Yes, the women of California are oppressed!

What has me baffled about this bill is that it refers to the "opposite sex". If there were an even number of genders, then they could be divided up into pairs of "opposite sex", but the official number is 51, so I am not sure how this works, unless opposites now come in 3's and there are 17 sets of them, which wouldn't surprise me since it now takes 3 to produce a child here in California.  According to my older, simplistic strategizing, however, if another man is earning more than I am, I can just change my gender to female and then file a lawsuit.  What I am wondering is if a male can file a discrimination suit if the females earn more than him, such as for a waiter at a Hooter's restaurant.  Happily we can be confident that the lawyers will work hard to earn their gender neutral pay as they diligently litigate out all the nuances to this bill.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Dr. Strangelove

Given the current situation in the world, I thought it would be good to take a nostalgic trip back to a, more, um, sane era by watching Dr. Strangelove.  For example, there is Peter Sellers acting the role of a world leader who actually wants to limit the damage.  Then we get to ponder the difference between an exponential decay of radioactivity, vs the exponential growth rate of other phenomena based on a reversed sign of the half life.

Of course I should repent as a Christian for viewing the current world as some sort of Black Comedy, since the tragedies are real.  As always, I trust that God will bring about good through the chaos.  Yet at the same time, I expect mankind to eventually make choices of the destructive sort described in Dr. Strangelove.  This won't be the act of a single madman triggering events, but rather humanity in mass going off to destruction in a raving herd.  But for now I will enjoy things and do my best to make things better.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Obama's Religion?

The subject of the religion of a politician is always tricky.  One viewpoint is that it is personal and therefore none of our business.  This ignores the fact that the behavior of people and their policies often has a direct connect to their religion, and in a Democracy it is our business to choose politicians based on how we think they will behave.  Another viewpoint is that someone's religion is inherently unknowable, so why bother?  Then the cynics chime in and note that the only deity that a politician cares anything about is himself.  Another rhetorical angle is the "who are you to question his faith"?  Technically, I believe we all have a faith and I don't question that.  I just want to know "faith in What?"  Is it a faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster that drives atheists?  What is it?  From my perspective, a politician's religion does matter and we can list possibilities and impossibilities regarding the First Religion, but we must acknowledge that only at the final judgment will the nuances be made clear.

First we must consider the American context.  For the last century, if anything correct was taught about Christianity (or Islam) in the government schools, clerics would immediately start litigation alleging a violation of "the Constitutional separation of Church and State".  If anything wrong was taught, this would be defended by the same clerics as "freedom of intellectual inquiry" and that to become mature thinkers, students would need to be exposed to ideas they didn't like.  The result being that most graduates from Ivy League schools these days have notions of religion, history and philosophy that are completely garbled and divorced from reality.  To some extent both Obama and I are products of this same indoctrination program, as are just about all Americans.  To find out more about Christianity, we are typically shaped by the denomination we associate with - if indeed we do associate with one - or else we spend a lot of time investigating matters ourselves, which few do.  Then there is the Bible itself, which is the primary source of Christian teaching, unless you are a Papist or some other group that deprecates the Bible.

So one way to answer this question is to look at the religious organizations that people associate with.  Obama was famously with the United Church of Christ.  This is an extremist sect that uses the Bible, but negates most of the teaching.  For example, it was at the forefront of ordaining gay priests and promoting hyper-promiscuity as if the Biblical command to "love your neighbor as yourself" was primarily to be understood in sexual terms, in spite of all the more numerous commands to restrain your sexual impulses.  I listened to an Easter sermon from Obama's church (a Black congregation) which featured imagery of Christ and the Crucifixion, but then switched to imagery of a lynching, ignored the resurrection, and offered up a conclusion that was purely Victim Theology:  The belief that others have sinned against me, which is the only thing that matters.  Certainly the Black community has suffered, but the UCC has not only been useless in helping the Black family to recover, they have been actively working to make the problem worse by transferring the ownership of the concept of the family to the LGBTQ activists.

Then there was Obama's preacher with his famous "God Damn America" sermon, which has a similar ring to "Death to America".  One is tempted to think that the Mohammedans merely wish for America to die, but Jeremiah Wright wants America to burn in Hell forever.  This certainly reflects the view of a large portion of America.  The Bible teaches us to look at ourselves for the answer, but Victim Theology teaches us to look at others and assume that what ever they have, they got by stealing.  The result is that many who are richer and better off than 90% of the world's population are burning with rage about how they have been mistreated.  Another result is the White House's foray into the War on Cops.

The most curious Christian variant is that of the Social Justice movement.  Orthodox Christians are commanded to do good and charity with their own time and money.  Leftists have famously improved on this by doing charity with other people's time and money.  Just as taking out loans and investing in the stock market permits people to make a huge profit compared to the dumb heads who only invest what they can spare, so a penniless deadbeat can do charity that vastly exceeds what any Orthodox Christian can do.  The deadbeat along with the Pope can look down their noses at the churlish Christians who have constrained themselves by their depravity to never give more than 100% of what they have.

So where was I?  Obama's religion.  I don't see any evidence that his religion has any connection to Islam.  Clearly it is informed by Christianity and the Bible in some sense, but we must keep in mind that even Satan quoted scripture.  I think Obama's religion is simply a reflection of what is preached in the government schools by America's intellectual elite along with many of the modernist churches, which can be characterized as follows:

"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.  Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." - 2 Peter 2:1-3

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rise of the Machines

Human Friendly Robot: How can I help you?
Customer:  Disconnect service.
Human Friendly Robot:  You would like to add a sports package?
Customer:  No!
Human Friendly Robot: I didn't understand.  Would you like to add a sports package?
Human Friendly Robot: Let's start over.  What would you like me to do for you?
Customer: Dis-con-nect Ser-vice.
Human Friendly Robot: I understand.  You want our unlimited channels package.
Customer: No!
Human Friendly Robot: I didn't understand.  Would you like an unlimited channels package?
Customer: No! (growling)
Human Friendly Robot: Please stay on the line while we transfer you to a representative.

(10 minutes later)
Friendly Human: Sorry to keep you waiting, would you like to add a sports package?

(Note: The above has been abbreviated and is only a small portion of the ordeal.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Jaundiced View Of The World

Some say that it is not good for a newborn chick to spend a lot of time with a grumpy old loon.  The old loon, however, seems to be getting the worst of this as carrying around the 7 and a half pound weight for extended periods of time is putting a load on the back.  But being an aquatic animal, I shouldn't be surprised that I can swim much further than I can walk, especially when carrying junior.

Anyway, the doctors say that my grandson has jaundice, and if the jaundice doesn't go down they are going to put him under some lights to cure it.  Thus, I have the duty of walking him around in the daylight to get him some sunlight.  No need to worry about sunburn, since I am limited in my carrying time due to old age.  The last checkup indicated that he was doing fairly well, so hopefully this won't be needed too much longer.  It is certainly good news that jaundice is a curable condition.  And it is still a joy to do what I can with this new little one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Congratulations, you are now officially "Gramps"

They tell me that my first grandson made his entrance into the world early this morning.  I am certainly pleased and looking forward to giving him and my daughter and her husband a visit.  But I am also wondering how many rules of political correctness I am breaking by declaring that I am now a grandfather.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Natives vs Aliens

A note arrived that a nearby park which is part of my daily walking route will be closed so that the creek bed can be widened for flood control efforts.  The portion to be closed is a half mile long and unfortunately include a section of the park that is a conduit between parks.  The plan is to remove the existing trees, widen the channel of the little creek, reinforce the new embankments, and then, "One hundred twenty-one (121) native trees will be replanted towards the end of project construction in 2016".  The closure will continue for about a year.

Looking at this from the positive side, the one year estimate is considerably less than the ten years that it took to build the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal, while the 61 mile long Kiel Canal took eight years.  The canal that Xerxes built across and isthmus in Greece took 3 years.  What has puzzled me more is the need to have native species replanted, since clearly I am not a native species here, nor are the Chinese and Indian Indians who frequent the park.  Why is it that invasive species are offensive in most cases, unless we are talking about homosapiens, at which point the more invasive the better?  But then if we talk about building housing for all the aliens, people start getting sour and grumpy again.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Getting Lectured

Fall semester is starting, so I have a second semester Biblical Greek class to do and separately a Machine Learning series of lectures on the agenda.  The Biblical Greek is on syntax and presumes mastery of basic grammar, which certainly is not where I am at.  To explain syntax, I will use an example from Aristotle: "I saw him being beaten with my eyes".  The challenge here is whether "with my eyes" is a modifier to "saw" or to "beaten".  Grammar doesn't tell us this, and instead we must look to syntax for guidance on the possibilities and probabilities.  The Machine Learning lecture series is from Caltech and follows some of my technical interests.  Eventually grammar and syntax will converge as I still need to follow up on earlier forays into compiler theory and implementation.  It is amazing to me how the scientific, technical and language worlds eventually interrelate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A new restaurant for Fremont

I am trying to figure out what to do as an altruistic citizen of this city.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Emergency Beer Delivery Service

Entrepreneurs are always coming up with something new here in Silicon Valley.  I like the telephone number since this gives it a quaint, retro look.

Mein Kampf wrapup

There is a lot more ranting against the RINOs Bourgeois politicians, the Jews, and many other targets, but at the same time it seems to me some clear analysis.  Hitler didn't get into power merely by being a mindless Trump.  Instead, he has some analysis of many topics, such as the various geopolitical actors.  For example, he contrasts the aims of England with those of France in their policies towards Germany just after The Great War.  England needs Germany as a counterbalance to France, whereas France wants a dissolution of Germany into smaller states.  What I was hoping to see in this work was more of the fascist economic program, but this didn't happen.  Instead Hitler takes the line that future policies will need to "evolve" according to the circumstances.

In this "evolve" theme we have another similarity with the communists.  They both consider it premature to map out a plan since whatever the future will bring is unknown.  A contrast is that the Marxists are more focused on destroying the present institutions, whereas Hitler has a more specific vision of where he wants to go in his Aryan agenda.  I have a sense that Hitler's eventually choice of gas to dispose of Jews relates to his experience of a gas attack during WW1 which let him nearly blind and which he blamed on the Jews.  The antipathy towards the slavs is spelled out in detail so that the Russians should never have had any doubt about Hitler's intentions.

Although Marx didn't provide much of a future plan, there are still some similarities in what was accomplished.  When the criminal classes rise up in Marxist revolt and overthrow society, the criminals will not want to leave things in a state of anarchy.  Instead, one will rise up as a leader and initiate a dictatorship.  The idea of common property than readily morphs into common property according to the whims of the despot, and the party organization becomes the new government.  In these general aspects Marxism follows Hitler.  Yet keeping in mind my earlier remarks of generalities vs specifics, Despotism can take on many forms so that individual implementation of communism can vary considerably while staying within the framework of Despotism.

This study will need to remain incomplete for now, since I would need to follow up with a study of the development of NAZI policies after 1924.  Maybe later, but I have other items clamoring for my time now.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Mein Kampf as Leadership Text?

Long ago I had subscribed to Harvard Business Review for a time.  They had case studies at the end in which a business situation was described.  Two experts would then comment on this case study to provide advice.  They would both "read between the lines" and double the number of facts in play, then provide a forceful recommendation on how to fix the business situation with a determined program.  The problem was that the expert's advice were usually completely different directions, and sometimes diametrically opposed to each other.  What I learned in the end was that it doesn't matter what decision you make, just that the decision must be presented and executed with bloody minded assurance of the absolute infallibility of the opinions of the leader.  The experts would also introduce additional "facts" which were contradictory, so I suspect that they came up with their solution first, then contrived the "facts" to pave a path from the solution back to the case study.

In Mein Kampf Hitler explains that political party leadership must be of the same sort, but his starting point for comparison is religious dogmatics.  "Religion" is too vague to inspire anyone, but the true strength of a religion lies in its theological specificity backed by authority that is above being questioned.  A suicide bomber never acts on the basis of "religion", but rather on a very specific set of dogmatic principles.  Thus, Hitler devises 25 points which he declares to be a "statement of faith", just as the Communists have their "statement of faith" in the Communist Manifesto.  The fussing over whether a point is correct or not causes people to have second thoughts about giving their life for that principle, so discussion of the points is prohibited.

The starting point Hitler chooses for his dogmatics is that Germans are the Chosen Race, albeit he uses evolutionary notions rather than attributing this to the work of God.  This is forcing a reevaluation of my prejudices with regard to his group.  I had known race was important to them, but not in this sense.  Hitler asserted that it wasn't Christianity that made Germans great but rather Germans who made Christianity and other cultural phenomena superior.  Cultural assimilation was thus deduced to be bad, since it would confuse Germans and they would be more likely to breed outside of their superior genetic line.

Everything else in Hitler's program seems to derive from his first principle of German racial superiority, backed by a ruthless campaign to help Survival of the Fittest do what it is supposed to do without any help:  Those who aren't genetically German can never be German, while physically or mentally deficient Germans should be prohibited from breeding.  Since he saw the genetic competition in mostly military terms, the emphasis was on promoting a militaristic nation.

A puzzle to me after reading this is how there could ever be a neo-NAZI group that isn't German.  Americans are mongrels.  Of course even Mongrels and Marxists can be racist, but as Hitler noted, it wasn't racism, but rather a particular dogmatic form of racism that was the foundation for his cult.  A diffused racism can never achieve focus.

It is important to note that Hitler was always devising his system to be in competition with Marxism.  By insisting on the unity of the German race, he was going into direct conflict with the Marxist who taught division of the German race based on class.  Hitler deduced that talent would be found throughout the German people, and that educators should seek out the best and promote them from whatever class they came from.   The ordinary would receive an ordinary and pragmatic education, but the extraordinary would receive more training.  This formula might be termed, "no talent left behind".

An additional point of interest were Hitler's Storm Troopers.  The communists of his time were in the practice of sending factory goons to non-communist meetings and beating any talented speaker to a bloody pulp.  Hitler's four and a half years on the Western Front didn't incline him to react timidly, so he organized some young men and made sure that they were sufficiently disciplined to deal with the communists according to the only methods the communists could understand:  Their own.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mein Kampf: The Science of Hope and Change

The history of scientific insulting is now becoming more clear to me.  It begins with Karl Marx.  Hitler advanced the science.  Then Gordon Ramsay brought the science of insults to perfection.  After having read a collection of 19th century histories and communist writings, it seemed fitting to follow up with this Mein Kampf.

I have a little time to read, but didn't want to spend money on Hitler's work, so pulled a .pdf version down to my iPad for perusal.  The first half of this 500 page rant has now passed in front of my eyeballs.  Hitler is mostly condemning everything, but he has not yet proposed any program.  Everyone knows he is anti-Jew and anti-Marxist.  What I had not known is that he is equally anti-Slav and a bit anti-French, but everyone is anti-French.  The part that for some reason is missed by Dr. Wiki is that Hitler was also vehemently opposed to "international capital" and stock corporations to the same degree that he was anti-Marxist.    Somehow he managed to confound the two, since Jews were prominent in both international capital and Marxism, so that he considered these to be part of the same conspiracy and was oblivious to the fact that they are mutually exclusive.  This error was related to a separate error, that the Jews were all of one mind, thus, he completely failed to understand that just because some Jews might be pimps and pornographers, they weren't all of this profession.  His single minded attribution of every evil in the universe to a grand Jewish conspiracy seemed to me as a conspiracy theory worthy of The Matrix.  Other groups that Hitler condemns are the monarchists, the parliamentarians and the bourgeoisie.  The bourgeoisie is condemned because they are wealthy, comfortable, and consequently unwilling to take a course of action that might be risky.  Clearly I am a bourgeois slug, although he would probably still be astounded at the degree of self-destructiveness achieved by our Republicans.  Other targets of his vitriol are the press, the pacifists and the sick perpetrators of "modern art".  Then there were the scum who married outside of their race, with me as a prime example.

The fun part of this is Hitler's take on marketing and motivational speaking.  The principles are universal and are as valid for selling tacos as for politics, but Hitler claims to having mastered the field by studying the Marxists.  This amounts to finding a message that is simple enough to be grasped by the average person, then pushing it relentlessly.  For some reason all this comes naturally to most Marxists.  Hitler mastered this and threw it back in their face.  He chose red as his party's symbol and introduced "socialist" into NAZI for the purpose of deliberately goading the Marxists.  He then targeted the proletariat and turned their techniques against them.  Part of Hitler's success was undoubtedly simply because much of the population was longing for someone to talk back to the Marxists.  It is tempting to wish that America's conservatives might learn from this, but only for a brief time.  Hitler knew where he wanted to lead Germany, but America's conservatives have no such agenda, whether it be for good or evil.

So much for the first half of this.  Diagnosing the ills of a fallen humanity is the easy part.  The second part of Mein Kampf is supposed to tell us what he intends to do.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Sikh Religion, Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors, by Macauliffe

Several years ago an elderly Sikh man who looked to be in his 80's started waving at me frantically as I was driving through the neighborhood.  I stopped and he jumped into my car and started saying something like "gudwara".  It was quickly clear that he didn't know a word of English, but was frantic to get somewhere.  I pondered the situation for a moment and decided that there should be some entertainment value to following this elderly gentleman's instructions, so started driving ahead and pointing different ways at the intersections to see if he approved.  After several miles we drove into a neighborhood that I wasn't familiar with and onto a "Gurdwara Road".  This quickly brought us to a Sihk temple where a number of other elderly Sikhs were waiting outside for my client.  I dropped him off and everyone waved, but I was almost as much in the dark when this was done as when I started.  My next door neighbor is a Sikh family.  Yet I know almost nothing about Sikhism. has this work on the Sikh religion which I though it good to listen to for my commutes.  So far I am into the introduction which has shed a little bit of light onto the subject.  The religion was started by Guru Nanak in the 15th century.  I learned that the English officers encouraged their Sikh recruits to be good followers of their religion, since this facilitated military discipline, bravery and loyalty.  Although we might argue about loyalty when discussing the assassination of Indira Gandhi.  There was also some discussion of the pre-Sikh history which begins with the Brahmins driving out the Buddhists, and later the Mohammedans forcing their religion into India with the most brutal techniques known to man.  

Macauliffe explains his goals of providing a text on the subject that was as accurate as possible, avoided slanders, and met the approval of the Sikh gurus of his day.  These goals seem to have been met in their entirety.  This has me pondering the modern intellectual who will do almost the exact opposite with Christianity:  To meet scholarly approval, a work on Christianity must slander, defame and twist, ideally along new directions that had not previously been considered.  Anyway, I am glad to have such an introduction to Sikhism.
Something that I have wondered about is regarding the exodus of westerners from Christianity.  Even the Pope is ashamed to be known as a follower of Christ and chooses instead to be publicly known as a disciple of Marx.  In this mad rush, westerners have settled into all kinds of religions, but I have yet to see one embrace Sikhism.  Why is that?

Macauliffe tells a little of his problem of bringing Sikhism to the Western reader.  This relates to the original gurus preferring the vernacular, which is now a dated version of Punjabi.  To this is mixed in Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic, with some special terms that only the gurus can explain.  This creates an extraordinarily complex linguistic problem that can only be addressed in India in careful consultation with the gurus.  A related problem is that the Sikhs themselves might not be terribly well informed of their religion.  The first volume of this is 14 hours of recording, and it seems that there are 6 volumes to the set.  If I survive this will I achieve nirvana?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Origins of Life: What is Life?

Lecture three goes over the difficulties of coming up with a clean definition of "Life" that separates the living from the non-living, while keeping in mind that there is the formerly living category or images of the formerly living as would be the case of fossils.  This is one area where all parties can agree there is a problem.  Helpfully, one of the definitions includes a notion of life being "that which can undergo Darwinian Evolution", which tries to achieve a definition of life by invoking a term which intentionally isn't defined.

Professor Hazen reiterated the method he intends to employ as he considers origins.  He intends to proceed step by step identifying the various parts of life and then considering how they might come about.  My reaction is that this is exactly the method that I use for doing complex engineering software projects.  Initially I can't see my way to the goal, so I start out by identifying a few steps that I deem necessary and program them.  A method for testing the subsystem is devised, then I find another step that takes me towards to final product and repeat.  Eventually a path clears through the fog and I have a few dozen algorithms strung together over thousands of lines of code that solves a difficult problem, although some rework and false starts are usually part of the process.

So the problem that I have with professor Hazen's proposed approach is that it doesn't appear to be in any way distinct from intelligent design as I do day by day in my engineering work.  From the other direction, it is also not distinct from the rhetoric of "Darwinian Evolution", since this is exactly the same process that Darwinists use.  All this brings me back to one of my assertions:  The human mind is wired such that it is only capable of thinking in Intelligent Design paradigms.  Even if Darwinian Evolution existed as a distinct mode of explanation, I do not believe that any professor could find a way to employ his mental faculties in a way that wasn't overwhelmingly based on Intelligent Design.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Origins of Life, by Robert Hazen

This is the new noon time series for work.  We are on the second lecture, which purportedly dealt with the classical notions of the origin of life that would be deemed "scientific".  Professor Hazen mentions Democritus in passing, whose atomic atheism is well known, but fails to note the crucial point (from Aristotle's On The Heavens) that Democritus was a Flat Earther.  The reason this is significant is that Professor Hazen implies that Democritus was operating independently of the religious views of the time, but the religious view held by the astrologers was that the earth was spherical.  In this the astrologers were obsessed with hard evidence, mathematics and theory and would exceed all others in their scientific detail for a thousand more years.  Democritus was almost undoubtedly developing his views with little serious reflection.  Instead, he was simply reacting to other views that he found unacceptable for theological reasons, although the pretense of science needed to be maintained, so this fundamental reactionary principle could not be admitted to.  Likewise, much of what academia puts out today is also "science" and "ethics" by reaction that is devoid of any inherent substance.

The much larger oversight in Hazen's discussion, however, was the Epicureans.  Their view of spontaneous generation by the interaction of countless atom types over an infinity of time and space was more developed than all the other classical philosophers that we know about combined.  As I have noted elsewhere, however, the modern intellectual has extreme difficulty facing the Epicureans, since their abuse of science in the name of science exceeded all others, and the result of their "philosophy" was endless sophistry and moral license.  To study the Epicureans fairly, the modernist finds a creature too much like himself staring back.

An important part of this introduction is the relationship of science to theology in origins.  Hazen cites Aristotle as an example of the science only view, but this fails because Aristotle in his Physics puts theology as a key part of any philosophy and would never have accepted such a distinction.  For origins, we are really only given two options:  There is Creation, and there is Spontaneous Generation.  There are no other alternatives, so that even space aliens planting life on Earth would simply move the question back further to the origin of the space aliens.  

With that in mind, Creation has generally been rejected on, um, theological grounds.  That is, intellectuals (and modernist theologians) find the notion of a God who is outside of nature and could or would do such creative acts offensive to their chosen theological notions.  Likewise, Spontaneous Generation was rejected on scientific grounds.  That is, if we mix silicon crystals, copper, lithium and glass into a blender, and run it for a trillion years, we are never going to get out a working iPhone.  The simplest biological life forms are simply many orders of magnitude more complex than could possibly occur unless there were an infinity of universes.  And even here, we are operating on speculation.  

But then we have the modern intellectual, who proceeds under the theological premise that everything he believes is automatically "scientific" since it does not explicitly invoke God.  He must return to Spontaneous Generation, because his theology compels it, yet he must likewise insist that it is science only that drives him to this, since his theology does not permit him to admit that he is motivated purely by theology.  This series will be fun!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Friday, July 03, 2015

Capital by Marx: End of Volume 1

Purgatory will not be so bad.  Marx goes on to project every evil of the last two centuries onto the capitalist, regardless of which continent it occurs on.  That petty tyrants of foreign nations were involved in the slave trade is noted, but it is the capitalist who is at fault.  The same goes for the massive transformation of Ireland both before, during and after the famine.  Listening to Capital does help clarify why it is that the only language Marxists understood was the language of the gun.  Marx's goal was to fill his followers with an all consuming and unquenchable hatred that would seek domination at all costs.  What Marxists lack to this day is any notion of forgiveness and reconciliation, which is a key component of Christianity.  They also had no notion about how they would improve on anything.  There was only a notion that if only they could grab all power to themselves, things would automatically improve.

As I have already noted, there is not a single crime of the capitalists that the communists didn't commit, and while the capitalist had the excuse of being too narrow in focus and blinded by capital to see the consequences, the communist can make no such claim.  The famines of the Ukraine, China, Cambodia, North Korea, ... all were man made, rather than the product of something like the potato blight.  Yes, there were mass migrations due to capitalism, but when the communists took over, it was the proletariat fleeing for survival to the more generous bourgeoisie, with the communist first putting up fences to stop them and later shooting them in the back.  Early capitalism was hard, but compared to the gulags, work camps and re-education camps?  Capitalism may facilitate prostitution, but where do we find a state like Cuba enticing pedophiles to engage in prostitution for foreign exchange?  When was there a tyrant in a third world country that was too vile for the communists to deal with for natural resources?

It is tempting to pronounce a curse on the Marxists.  This would be a wish that all the punishments that they had determined to be merited by the capitalists be given to them in eternity according to their standards.  But still, I must restrain myself since as Christians we are to ask for forgiveness of others and not vengeance.  May God bring some of these madmen to their senses.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Hegel's Constitution

In spite of the confusion in The Philosophy of History (1830-1831), there are a few things of interest.  One is the note on the gradual devolution of languages from their more pure and sophisticated grammatical form.  Another point that Hegel shares with me is that there are "rights" and there are "wrongs".  Today, both are placed under the heading of "Human Rights".  He considers the family - i.e. the human family according to the laws of nature - to be sacred.  Being a good German, Hegel is very much tuned in to the fact that different nations and cultures have different characteristics, a different spirit and a distinctive life.  Americans view everyone as being the same as us, but with some inexplicable peculiarities.

Hegel also is reluctant to embrace the Greek belief in the circular nature of government from aristocracy to oligarchy to democracy, and instead tends towards a view of humanity in a state of progress.  The Germany of his time might be a candidate for this belief, since the German people had been raised upon from barbarism to an advanced state by Christianity.  The idea that we are in a cyclic situation didn't seem to fit.

What really stuck out to me is the idea that the constitution of a country would necessarily be distinctive in that it reflect the religion and culture:

"We shall have to show further on that the constitution adopted by a people makes one substance — one spirit: — with its religion, its art and philosophy, or, at least, with its conceptions and thoughts — its culture generally; not to expatiate upon the additional influences, ab extra, of climate, of neighbors, of its place in the World."

If this is the case, the secularists attempt to decouple the constitution from religion and culture will have some complications:

"... for in secular matters only force and voluntary subservience are the principles of action; and the forms which are called Constitutions are in this case only a resort of necessity, and are no protection against mistrust."

My sense is that Hegel is doubly right as we apply this to our current era.  We haven't really succeeded to move beyond the principle that constitutions are derived from religion, but instead have embraced this notion to its fullest:  The SCOTUS has duly recognized that America has a new religion and culture now.  Before we were a Christian nation.  Now we each worship our lusts, desires and envy.  These are our gods.  Hard work was our former culture value.  Sloth is the new one.  Before we wrung our hands over slavery.  Today we have embraced slavery to vice sponsored by the government and available to all races.  Our art is the art of desecration.  Yes, our Constitution perfectly reflects our religion.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hegel and the Philosophy of Senility

This is embarrassing.  I am nearing the end of Marx's Capital, Volume 1, but wanted an interlude.  Since Marx and Engels were both reported to have had some connection to the German philosopher, Hegel, I decided to listen to the one work that was on by Hegel:  The Philosophy of History.  At about half way through the work I was reflecting on this missing author in my study of philosophy, and was beginning to research some minor details, when I noticed that a blogger by the name of Looney already posted on this topic on March 24, 2012.  Not only that, but this imposter did a very good job of imitating me and, per the comments section's discussion with Delirious, it appears that he had already connected Hegel to Marx.  OK, it was likely me, but somehow I completely forgot having posted on this topic, which does have me wondering how much of my blogging is simply repeating myself.  (Please don't enlighten me on this.)

Perhaps we can formulate an opposite principle to déjà vu for this:  ne l'ai pas déjà vu.  It is when you see something old and feel that it is entirely new to you.  Others might call it Alzheimer's syndrome.  From a metaphysical standpoint, it is proof that there is a part of you that didn't come from a former existence.

But back to Hegel, I still agree with my former post.  The only thing I would add now is regarding Hegel's ignorant worship of the Goddess of Liberty.  I tagree with the Greeks even more on this now, that the Goddess of Liberty will always, eventually reveal herself as the Demon of Licentiousness and Lawlessness.  Then she will proceed to devour her followers.

As to the connection between Hegel on the one hand and Marx and Engels on the other hand, a comparison can now be done.  All three were senselessly long winded so that only the mentally ill would try to listen through to the end.  But Marx and Engels rejected sophistry that revolved around theo-philosophical techno-babble, and instead pursued down-to-earth topics like the computation of profits for the factories.  Hegel's discourses were entirely pointless, whereas Marx and Engels never deviate from their point regarding the need to destroy civilization as we know it.

There is one quote from Hegel that I both admired and would like to highlight:  "Among us, the so-called 'higher criticism,' which reigns supreme in the domain of philology, has also taken possession of our historical literature.  This 'higher criticism' has been the pretext for introducing all the anti-historical monstrosities that a vain imagination could suggest.  Here we have the other method of making the past a living reality; putting subjective fancies in the place of historical data; fancies whose merit is measured by their boldness, that is, the scantiness of the particulars on which they are based, and the peremptoriness with which they contravene the best established facts of history." - The Philosophy of History

This is from the earlier chapters of this book which are coherent and sensible, unlike the later three quarters.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Taxing Experience

I never take taxis in the US, so an exception needed to be made.  This one put a television in front of my face and expected me to watch advertisements the entire way to the airport.  What kind of people take taxis these days?  I requested the driver to turn it off, for which he at least killed the sound, making it bearable.  This stands as one more reminder that I am an alien here in the US.

On the way to the airport my driver caught the attention of a policeman, and we got stopped.  He pointlessly explained to the officer that I was late for my plane, even though I had said nothing on that subject and I was actually an hour earlier than I needed to be.

I wasn't much into photography for this trip, so will just leave the one picture below.  The young lady at the hotel desk tried to interest me in paying a higher fee to get a room with a better view, but I refused, so this is from the lowest floor.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Capital, Volume 1 by Marx: Onward Luddites!

This section I am listening to now touches on the concept of machine depreciation.  A problem of industrialization is that the return on capital is maximized in machine intensive operations by running the machines 24 hours a day.  We have three 8-hour shifts now, but this was arrived at in an uneven manner.  The power of machinery also had the wonderful affect of equalizing women and children with men, thus, turning natural relations upside down.  Each new improvement to machinery resulted in workers being thrown out of work, while the amount of excess value attained by the free portion of the laborer (i.e. the labor beyond what would have resulted in zero profit) necessarily increases, thus, increasing the degree of blood sucking that the capitalist is doing.  In our era we recognize that only through a net improvement in productive efficiency can living standards be improved, but Marx only sees evils in this.  He goes on and on and on chronicling the improvement in efficiency of the factories, as if this were self-evident proof that the factories were evil.

Marx has repeatedly come back to accusations of genocide, which has been expanded to the accusation that factory work caused women to lose their natural instincts leading to infanticide.  Of course infanticide (i.e. abortion) has been universally decreed by his followers as being a moral imperative.  This gets into the big problem with all this howling:  The population of England doubled in the 18th century and quadrupled during the 19th century while life expectancy improved and surplus population was exported to America and Australia.  There was also net immigration to England from elsewhere in Europe, due to better conditions.  Certainly there were plenty of horrors to document in the 19th century factory system of England, but the observation remains that Marx has not offered a single opinion on how to make things better, nor has he done this indirectly through the many quotes he includes.

Update:  Marx clarifies a bit later that while the fury of the workers at the machines is understandable, it is misplaced:  The true crime is that of the capitalist who employed the machine and the machine is actually innocent.  I would really like to know what Marx would think of The Terminator.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Capital, Volume 1, continued

The first 11 hours of listening to this work were a rehash of classical economics, whereby Marx successfully proves that money exists, along with capital, labor and profits.  At the end of this section we have the notion that the worker spends a certain amount of his time working for himself, and another part doing free labor for the capitalist.  This reminds me a bit of our "tax freedom day", which is the initial part of the year that we spend working exclusively for the government followed by the part that we get to work for ourselves.  As noted in the last section, Marx quibbles here and there, but he has neither contributed to economics nor contradicted anything of substance.

The work transitions to a narrative similar to Engels writings about the laborers in England during the first half of the 19th century.  There is a lot of rhetoric directed at capitalists, who are likened to vampires and everything else evil.  With all the documentation and detail, it is notable that there is almost nothing in the way of comparing the English laborers lot to those elsewhere.  Would life have been easier in Africa?  Since the situation got much better for the English laborer in the latter half of the 19th century, this all seems dated now.

The section I am at now is about 20 hours, of listening and Marx is now giving us a brief history of the machines of the industrial revolution after having spent considerable time discussing the difference between a machine and a tool, which is a subject of interest to me.  It is good to be a bit more than half way through this.  So far I don't recall a single instance of Marx making a recommendation about how to make anything better.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Capital, Volume I, by Karl Marx

The full name of this work is Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production.  Engels adds to the preface, which is really the first of three volumes, that "Capital" is the "Bible" for the working class.  This raises an eyebrow, because Engels complains elsewhere that workers don't even know who Samson was, and this "Bible" of Marx, being a lengthy discourse on economics, has so far never risen above the dryness of the most dry portions of the Bible, plus, the length of Marx's volume one at 40 hours of listening is the same as for the entire Bible.   Clearly only the mentally ill would read Marx's work through, or if they had not already been mentally ill, then they certainly would be if trying to read and follow all his arguments from beginning to end, which I must keep in mind as I proceed!

At this point I have listened to a few hours of discussions of how many yards of linen is worth a coat as Marx tries to develop the concept of value.  Marx has now sensitized me that my last sentence used both the Latin word "value" and the Teutonic word, "worth", indicating my conflicted capitalist upbringing that resulted from a blend of the passionate Irish with the calculating Anglo-Saxon.  This eventually proceeds into the concept of money and price, which still needs a few hours of clarification.

One feature of any economic discussion is that it can never be sufficiently caveated and remain finite in size.  Thus, Marx finds cause to quote and quibble with everyone, but I am in doubt as to whether or not any of Marx's quibbles put at risk the content of an argument.  Mixed in with this are a number of remarks going back to classical writers such as Homer and Aristotle.  So what I see so far is that Marx is discussing capitalism, coming to descriptions that are essentially identical to capitalist economists, while having left a record of quibbles.

Having gone through several of the works of Marx and Engels, I am now leaning to a viewpoint that is quite different from the one that I held before I started.  Namely, that Marx and Engels never defined a system and to speak of "Marxism" is nonsensical.  All that was proposed by Marx and Engels is that capitalism should be overthrown.  Marx has the notion that social circumstances change over time, necessitating different political conditions which should naturally evolve, but capitalism has thwarted this process.  Capitalism stands in the way of this natural evolution.  I tend to an opposite viewpoint, that capitalism is the natural process of evolution, whereas intellectuals forever desire to impose themselves, creating chaos.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two Short Pamphlets by Marx

The first of the was Eleven Theses of Feuerbach.  He is dismissive of Feuerbach for thinking abstractly, whereas reality is only concrete.  I know nothing of Feuerbach, so can't comment, beyond the point of noting that the man who has the grandest of all unifying abstract "sciences" should find fault with someone for talking abstractly.

The second is Wage Labour and Capital.  This work was originally by Marx and brought into an updated edition by Engels.  There is much that corresponds simplistically with economic views of supply and demand.  Marx seems to be making the case for a "living wage", since the fact that a wage can be insufficient for a family to survive is highlighted.  Engels adds a preface to this edition because it was produced after Marx's death from previous articles.  In this preface, Engels explains that the point to be noted is that, whereas the fair price should go to the value of the labor (errr, labor power) + the inputs, there always seems to be a markup, which is related to the corruption of the Bourgeoisie.  Marx notes that the markup can be negative as well as positive, so it isn't clear to me that Engels and Marx are on the same page.  This work was originally a series of articles published in the Rheinische Zeitung, which was closed by the government before the series was completed, so we really aren't in an easy position to say what Marx's aim was.

I haven't been keeping score, but will note that Marx, along with Burke and Paine who I have read recently, all use "Jew" as an insult.  Or so I have heard each one of them do this at least once.

Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844, by Frederick Engels

This is 12 hours of listening to the itemizing of the social ills of England, Scotland, and Ireland over a ten year period.  For reference, Dickens work, A Christmas Carol, was written a year earlier in 1844.  The discussion covers a large amount of territory, beginning with the long, hard work in the factories, the accidents and diseases, and ailments such as asthma from inhaling metal dust.  The pay amounts to barely enough to cover an existence, which is of the most horrid sort, given that masses of workers are thrown into common housing.  The result is stunted growth, whether it be physical or mental.  Added to this are the social problems caused by women and children working, destroying family relations, encouraging prostitution and leading to illegitimacy and the spread of STDs.  It is a painful bit of listening, and no doubt there is much truth to it.  Compounding the problems were about a million Irish immigrants looking for work, but we must note that the Irish Potato Famine doesn't occur until 1845.

Mixed in with this longwinded description is a large quantity of vitriol directed at the Bourgeoisie and Christianity.  More specifically, he was hostile to capitalism, Christian education and monogamy.   One argument that caught my attention was his rejection of the possibility of Bourgeois charity.  His  argument is that if the Bourgeois hadn't cheated the Proletariat, they should have had no money to give, while also noting the Proletariat are more generous among themselves and the Bourgeois charity is negligible.

My response to all this is that yes, there were a lot of horrors in the early stages of industrialism, which were largely rectified over the decades.  We cannot say the same for his communist children, however, as these horrors all live on today in Communist countries.  Yes, the Bourgeois can be unfeeling, but communist leaders have been even more brutal and callous over time than the Bourgeois.  And besides this, there have always been poor in every country and every age, thus, this work had shock value only to the naive.  After all this fist shaking at the Bourgeoisie, I am finally wanting to ask him in return, "What about you, Fred?  What do you propose?  After you burn everything down, what would you put in its place?".

Monday, June 15, 2015

Marx and Engels continued

I am on travel, so there is plenty of time to listen to windbags.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution, or Germany in 1848, outlines the communist reaction to a tepid revolution(s) that didn't succeed.  These events correspond to the transition from feudalism (Lord-Surf) relations to capitalist (Bourgeoisie-Proletariat).  The main lessons drawn by Marx and Engels are that revolutions must be all out and there must be no scrupling about legalities and niceties of any kind.  Even a suicidal revolt that leads to a defeat is beneficial, since those who survive will be permanently harboring feelings of revenge.  Finally, they see a middle class revolt as being that of useful idiots who are clueless in the unlikely event that they actually get power, since they will set up a system of checks and balances and seek a consensus.  Instead, the communists don't seek a revolution, but to revolt against the revolution.  All this helps me understand much better what Trotsky was ranting about in his works.  So what is it that they want to accomplish?  Stamping out religion, monogamy, and classes are clearly stated, but what are they to be replaced with?

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, by Engels, 1880.

This is a short history of the invention of industrial machines, and how they transformed manufacturing in several waves.  That productivity increased by orders of magnitude in the weaving industry is noted, but Engels is one to note that the glass is half empty.  Billions of yards of cloth were produced employing thousands of people, but the output apparently was exported out of the galaxy, since we have no idea who benefited from the cheap product.  Some things are noted in passing that beg to have Engels stopped for some cross examination.  For example, he notes that a factory requires an officer core in the same manner as army.  Yet he only leaves rooms for a bottom class and a top class that is idle.  There are no traders nor are there agents looking for markets nor are there sailors or trains or ships in his "scientific" socialist analysis.  All Engels sees is that there is a wage given to the worker who adds value, and an idle industrialist who sells that work at a higher price.  Subtracting the two prices, we obtain the exact value of the oppression, according to communist accounting.

We must also consider boom and bust cycles, which have continued into our current era.  When there is an over supply, factories clearly need to be shut and workers cut.  This is an oppression too, even if the industrialist goes bankrupt.  The only solution proposed is to confiscate the property of the rich and give it to the poor.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Communist Manifesto, by Engels and Marx, 1847

I spent a long time going through European histories as a prelude to going through the works of Marx and Engels.  The Communist Manifesto is a shorter rant from 1847 that I vaguely remember some reading of when I was young.  It is good to go through it again.  The observations of social upheaval associated with the industrial revolution are noteworthy, although it would hardly need a communist to observe the obvious.  As I am writing this, I have also started "Revolution and Counter-Revolution, or: Germany in 1848", by Engels and Marx.  The social changes were causing upheaval in social structures and politics, with the main change being the old aristocracy being superseded by a Bourgeoisie (i.e. a prosperous middle class).  The give and take associated with this messy process was certainly great fodder for rabble rousers.  Marx seems to think that the trend would eventually lead to some international brotherhood of oppressed workers who were mutually sympathetic and supportive.

One thing that sticks out is the fact that the communists wanted to abolish the family on the grounds that it was invented by Bourgeois capitalists for the purpose of exploiting women.  Fast forwarding to our own day, much of America - particularly the black underclass - lives in a family-less dystopia that is the inevitable consequence of such behavior.  Meanwhile, intellectuals continue enraged at the institution and desperately pushing for change which is quite literally "for the hell of it".  But back to women.  In the process of identifying class and class struggle, it seems that the class of women is one more to be indoctrinated with exploitation theology.

Universal, government supplied education is proposed in here, which is hardly novel.  I am wondering how Marx would view our current age where class struggle and exploitation indoctrination is spoon fed to the indigent classes through the Bourgeois designed, government schools.

So what remains?  We can always divide people up into categories based on different features, then compare their relative prosperity.  If the contrast of situation is great enough, we can then exploit these differences for the purpose of stirring envy and riots - and - if we happen to be a well positioned Bourgeoisie, we can profit from the chaos.  But Marx and Engels noted this as well, as they observed that the clever wealthy classes quickly jumped onto the socialist bandwagon.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Escape from San Francisco?

It didn't go quite as I had planned, but then I again, I am not as capable as Snake.  A heat wave has finally come through the East Bay and I had plans of taking my beloved to the ocean to cool down in the fog.  Household chores took up our morning, so it was early afternoon before we commenced with our "escape".  We got onto Highway 17 headed for the redwoods and Santa Cruz, only to be caught up in a jam that went for miles.  Eventually it became apparent that the highway was likely jammed all the way to the coast, so I took an exit at Los Gatos and made my way down to Saratoga, then up Saratoga Gap road to my old bicycling haunts where I know all the secret routes through the redwoods.  This went without too much trouble, and I was having visions of ice cream and fresh berry pies at the country store in Pescadero, but then the unexpected happened as a highway patrol car blocked the road and I came to a stop where an officer was waiting to chat.  He informed me that a motorcyclist had gone down, and they were doing an accident investigation, and that we would need to wait a half hour or more since they had sent for a coroner who would need to complete his work before the road was re-opened.  My condolences to the family of the man who died.  Since we had already passed the top of the ridge between Silicon Valley and the Pacific, we had gotten a nice view of the cool fog along the coast.  Disappointed, we turned around and retraced our path to Saratoga, although perhaps we had the consolation that we did all this safely and weren't in an accident.  I wasn't willing to make any further attempts to drive out to the ocean, even though there were more routes to the coast, so instead we went to a little shop for some iced coffee, lemonade and chocolate cake.  Then back home for a nap.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Donner Expedition: Living with the consequences

Having finished The Expedition of the Donner Party and its Tragic Fate, by Eliza Donner Houghton (1843-1922), the book is not at all what I expected.  The story of the Donner Party's tragedy is just the first quarter or so of the book.  The remainder is about the Donner daughters being scattered as orphans who would not be together again for many years.  Eliza and her youngest sister end up at a German family, where they are raised speaking German, dressing like little German girls, imbibing a German work ethic and eventually translating German correspondence.  The German mother speaks to her Swedish neighbor in French.  Later the girls are sent to boarding school where they have Spanish speaking classmates, while one of the Spanish nuns was formerly engaged to a Russian officer who died before their marriage.  News of Eliza's father's grave is brought to her by a Cherokee Indian (from the East Coast of America), so we have a story of displaced peoples from all over being thrown into the California crucible during the Gold Rush.  This is entertaining and informative in a completely different way from the story of the wagon trains pushing west.

Yet it is still about the Donner Party, because these girls are tormented by the awful rumors of what happened in the snowy mountains in '46-'47.  They hope to be anonymous, but can't escape, because someone always lets out the secret about their past.  The worst of the rumors is from the last "Relief" effort that was sent to rescue those from the wagon train.  Actually it was a salvage operation in which those who went were promised half of what they brought back, and they were disappointed to find a lone survivor, having made no provision for bringing back any survivors.  This was the man who saw Eliza's mother last, and he was accused of killing and eating her.  He was accused by those who were engaged in the salvage operation, and it was their testimony that made it into the papers.  Later in life Eliza was finally able to meet the poor old man who had been accused and who went through the rest of his life as a pariah.  Eliza went through all the documents and testimony that she could, and finally convinced herself and another writer that the old man was innocent and the accusations falsely made by those who lusted for the wealth of the Donner family, since they brought considerable sums of money and valuable goods with them to California.  What the complete truth of the matter is will remain a secret until the final judgment.