I’m Short a Couple of Bob

Gaelic Storm restores the mood of the day. Yeah it’s still a grim mood, but if you can’t laugh at your own problems like this song does, then you really need to seek some counseling:

Gaelic StormShort a Couple a’ Bob – Oct 4, 2018

I just checked the bank accounts. Not even going there. The teenager is frustrated. I’m not going there either. The range is on the fritz. Re-queue that song, quick. I better finish quickly while I can.

…Still

…Finish

Postscript

One of those rare times that I talked about music and the emotional effect it can have on me on the blog. Meniere’s took most of my love of music along with the bass parts of my hearing. Music has become largely soulless for me. It is a select few songs that speak to me now, if I haven’t heard them and learned to love them already. If you already know the work, your brain will play it back for you provided you can still hear anything. Luckily I still can hear some parts of the music.

…and it’s music from Marc Gunn’s Irish & Celtic music podcast too. I’m glad. He needs more listeners. I knew I’d been listening to that for a long, long time. I hadn’t realized how long until just now.

The Brobdingnagian Bards serenaded me on my birthday at an Armadillocon one year, I forget which one. I have followed them, Andrew McKee and Marc Gunn, ever since that time. Their music, and the music that Marc plays on his podcast, are about the only music I try to follow any longer.

Spotify

The passion has gone out of it for me. I never did obsess about following trends like most people seem to do, and once I became detached from music what little I did catch that was trendy was lost. Now I’d rather hear Marc and Andrew sing Lily the Pink than I would try and understand what passes for music these days.

Indirect Prohibition

I was sitting in the car with the teenager the other day, listening to the latest news reports concerning a local bar being threatened with a revocation of their liquor license. They were accused of forcing a patron to drink to excess. As far as I know, they didn’t hold the guy down, so I’m not sure where force comes into play.

Teenage question: “So why is the bar owner in trouble?”
Dad answer: “Because someone was stopped drunk, and he said he had been drinking at their bar.”
Teenage question: “But isn’t that what the customer went there for? Why should the bar owner care if his customers are drunk?”
Dad answer: “Well, the law says that the bar owner has to be responsible for not getting his customers drunk. If he thinks one of his customers is drunk, he has to stop serving him. It doesn’t stop there, either. He can’t let the drunk stay in the bar, because if the TABC comes in and checks the place out the bar can be cited just for having people in it that have drank too much alcohol. So he’s caught in a very bad position if he mistakenly serves someone too much.”
Teenage question: “Are they trying to make alcohol illegal?”
Dad answer: “No. They did that before and it didn’t work out.”

Teenage conclusion: “Well, they must be trying to make it impossible to drink without making it illegal then.”

Sharp as a tack, let me tell you. I hadn’t really thought about it that much, but it makes perfect sense. Smoking, as another example, is slowly trending that direction as well. Soon there will be alcohol and cigarettes available for purchase (if you can find them) but there won’t be anywhere you can indulge in them, except maybe inside your own house.

Fireworks are already that way, if you live in the city. You can buy them, but don’t even try to drive them back into town. It’s always struck me as ironic that the celebration of independence can’t be done in the traditional fashion anymore because the state has laid down the law and excluded everyone but themselves from being able to indulge. I imagine they’ll soon be keeping all the smokes and drinks for themselves as well. It’ll be a regular animal farm then.

A Woman President

I’ve been watching Commander in Chief on the tube lately. Friends of mine who have been trying to get me to watch West Wing for years ask me “why are you watching that show?” Getting beyond the obvious political leanings of the star of West Wing, I just have to answer “If I want to watch a man play at being POTUS, I just have to turn on any news channel.” Talk about a bad actor.

I’ve always had a weakness for Geena Davis, I can’t help it. Ever since Earth Girls are Easy, I jump at the chance to see her in just about any role. When I heard she was going to play the President, I just had to watch. She’s been quite convincing in the role (even if some of the story lines are a bit far fetched) Hard edged without being brutal, skating the thin line between a leader and a tyrant.

Yes I’ve heard the rumors concerning Commander in Chief’s creators. That’s why I’m not going to make an issue out of the obvious liberal (more aptly labeled socialist) leanings of those involved with West Wing. I would like to say one thing on the subject, though. If indeed they are trying to prep us for a woman president, I think they got the wrong actress to play the part. Perhaps Nichelle Nichols would be better suited to the role; I think that Condi has a much better chance of ever being president than Hillary does.

Prediction? Not really. Let’s call it an educated guess.

Postscript

I say liberal and socialist like it was a bad thing again and what is this thing I had for Condoleezza Rice back in 2006? What happened to her anyway? She disappeared without a trace after repeatedly lying for Bush the second. I must have been impressed with how she brazenly stuck to her guns on the subject of Bush’s blunders in Iraq. There is no other explanation for my obsession with her. Had the economy not crashed in 2008, things would have turned out much differently than they did for her and her Republican colleagues. I mean, Republicans don’t have a problem with liars, per se. Donald Trump proved that even if he didn’t achieve anything else. Republicans will happily support people who lie to them. They just won’t support women in leadership roles, apparently.

This article is proof positive that I was never a fan of Hillary Clinton. I was apparently a fan of Condi, though. Who knew?

Ideally There Would Be No Idealists

So I get a response from Mr. Bylund the other day to my Blog entry, and I keep meaning to write up my own reply, and just never get around to it. I am a man of many passions (as this blog should quite readily show) I once spent an (in hindsight) inordinate amount of time on politics and political thought, but those days are quickly receding into the past. Much like the message he sent me.

Then, lo and behold, I notice he’s added comments to the blog entry itself.

Hello Mr. Bylund! I’m not ignoring you, I just think that achieving the anarchist ideal ranks somewhere behind science fiction fandom and humor (and living in the here and now) on the importance list. I establish my own values, just like I know and uphold my own rights. I don’t look to government to maintain them for me, but to abstain from violating them in the process of doing its legitimate work.

I read your comments through several times. This is the paragraph which I feel the need to specifically address:

To minarchists, the anarchist position is utterly utopian, perhaps even idealistic, and they conclude it would not work. Such a society could quickly degenerate into chaos and misery since there is no final arbiter in conflicts and no power to leash or control the evils unavoidably existent in society. The reasoning is that there needs to be something larger, but external to the market, setting the basic rules and enforcing them. Without the enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

The key phrase here is final arbiter. Government is legitimate, in my estimation, when it:

  1. Violates no rights in maintaining its existence.
  2. Acts only as the final arbiter in a conflict.

While I don’t know of any government that meets this criteria that is currently in existence, I believe that it is possible to attain (I would refer to Nozick’s state as government because that is the word that fits the purpose being served) What I do hear from Anarchists that argue with me on the necessity of government is that they have a plan to substitute the structure that is government for another structure which does essentially the same job, but isn’t government. My counter argument will always be a rose by any other name. It is still government no matter what it’s called.

When I point out to them that anarchy is chaos by definition and that political anarchy, to be true to its definition, would require that there is no structure (which I will always call government) in order for it to be called anarchy,that the resultant society would be chaotic and prone to instability, which most likely would lead (and has lead in the past) to more repressive forms of government taking root, I’m told that I just don’t get it.

But I do get it. The anarchists want to use the word anarchy to serve as a figurehead for something that isn’t anarchy but will be different from the current government structure, a tactic which has and most likely will backfire again when acted upon. Which is why I bother to argue about this in the first place.

Utopian and idealist visions have lead to some of the worst hell holes on the planet. During the time of the Russian revolution, Anarchists and Socialists were brothers in the same cause; fighting to bring change to a Russian society that desperately needed it. The idealist Anarchists of the time thought that if they could just get rid of the Czar, the social utopia of Communism (which is a governmentless form of society, an anarchy; at least as Marx envisioned it) would soon follow. I think history will show it turned out differently.

No, I’m not saying that Anarchists are Communists. The Wiki entry should plainly show, if nothing else, that Anarchists don’t even know what Anarchists are. Which is fitting, considering the definition of the word anarchy. Chaos is its own definition.

Every time I find myself butting heads with someone politically, I discover that the someone in question has some ideal vision in his head concerning what should be the way things work. A Utopia for which they just won’t accept any substitutions. Unfortunately reality doesn’t consult with us concerning it’s inner workings. In an ideal world, there would be no idealists. That’s my idea of utopia. You can thank your lucky stars that I don’t believe in utopias.

If we want structures to serve the purposes we intend for them, then we have to look at the constraints that reality places on us and design them to fit. Self-funding support bodies for essential government functions (i.e. the cost of police and fire departments being funded by the insurance companies and land owners that profit from their existence) is just one vein of thought on the subject. Government structures that don’t violate rights simply by existing in the first place.

Suffice it to say I’ve put some thought into this, and I doubt that there is much that can be said that will sway me from my opinion.

Generation Cusp Humor Conundrum

When I was reading Knappster today I ran across a reference to all the new buzzwords that the corporate geeks have come up with in the last few years. When the Wife was working for Dell, I remember a good many of those being spoken with a straight face.

Yeah, them Gen-Xers are funny, and I tend to think of myself as a Gen-X rather than as a Boomer (when I think about the meaningless labels that get affixed to indefinable groups of people that happen to have been born in particular years, that is) Having been born in the early sixties, I get the pick of which group I want to be in, since the generations that they claim to represent overlap in those years.

My wife, on the other hand, thinks of herself as a Boomer. Her parents grew up in the depression and didn’t have children until late in life; so she tends to see herself as being part of the post-war (that would be WWII for the knee biters out there) boom generation. It makes no difference when I explain to her that we were in grade school during the summer of love, she wants to be a Boomer.

Just so long as she doesn’t ask me to give up my unearned X-er angst, I won’t point out to her that women’s lib and tie-dye both had their time already (and it’s over. The women won, OK?) and I guess we’ll continue to agree to disagree on the subject.

These days I feel about as old as a Boomer should feel (at least in my estimation) Especially when visiting a site like I Was Your Age Twice (which I have been, for quite a few people out there, and that number grows daily) and laughing my head off at a good bit of the content there.

Gen-X I may be, but I can still rant with the best of them older farts.

Postscript

I have now lived long enough that infants born in the last years of Gen-X can be happy about being on the cusp of the next generation, which I understand they are calling Millennials. They are happy to be able to claim either generation as theirs, or neither if it suits them. Well isn’t that precious?

Allusionist 39: Generation What?

Which are you: Millennial, Generation X, Baby Boomer, Silent Generation, an impressively young-looking Arthurian? Or are you an individual who refuses to be labelled?

I will soon be seeing the third generation since the spawn emerged, and they are getting old enough to complain about the state of the world getting worse since they were children. I am beginning to understand how this can get tiring to witness.

Teaching People to Think

Hello, I’m Anthony. (Hi Anthony) …And I’m a Forum Addict.

This addiction started years ago with CompuServe forums and Usenet, not long after we got our first internet account back in ’94, through the local university. I started looking for people to talk with online in this new social experiment we had created with computer technology. At first the addiction seemed innocuous enough, just chatting with people who had shared interests. There was the occasional disagreement with the odd agitator who showed up just to argue, but all and all, a forum was a friendly place. I’m not quite sure when or how it happened, but as time progressed it seems that the forums became more about the disagreement, and less about the sharing of knowledge. Perhaps we are all looking for that emotional high that comes from being in a good argument.

The tendency toward forum addiction can be traced back much earlier than the internet, though. If you remember the charge you got the first time you knew something somebody else didn’t know, and you got to explain it to them, got to see their eyes light up with understanding, then you too are a potential forum addict. That’s where it starts. Then you discover the internet and how easy it is to share information. You join your first forum and you start posting. Before you know it you are spending days at a time trying to shove a few facts into another idiot’s brain, never realizing that you to are an idiot just for making the attempt.

Talk about a waste of effort.

At some point (if you are like me) you will probably also discover that you are in an adversarial relationship with everyone in your group and the one time that you can all pull together is when you are trying to single out some other agitator to get rid of. I tend to agree with a friend who observed that “it’s the nature of the medium.” For some reason the impersonal nature of text communication seems to make people more prone to misapprehend the meaning of a statement. There’s a multi-million dollar government funded study in there somewhere.

More and more often these days, that agitator turns out to be me. It seems I have this disgusting habit of making people think about things they’d rather not. Call me weird, but it’s kind of a point of pride with me. I figure if I don’t make someone go “Hmmm?” with each post, then I might as well watch the boob cube with the rest of the couch potatoes. Therein lies the rub. If you can’t impart a few simple facts to the unwilling, how on earth can you make them think?

Once again, can we say Waste of Effort? I knew that you could.

…This is why government schools don’t teach, they indoctrinate. No one wants to sit in neat little rows and listen to someone else lecture, and rote learning is boring to say the least. So we have schools full of the unwilling that can’t be taught even simple facts, much less be made to think for themselves. If it was understood that thinking for oneself was a blessing and that school was a place where this was facilitated, you might actually find children wanting to go to school just to learn instead of going just to escape from their parents.

…And that is why the Montessori method of teaching will always be superior to the typical attempt at teaching found in government schools. It stimulates the natural desire within the child to learn and to understand. This is also why you won’t find Montessori teaching in government school systems. Worse than getting children hooked on drugs is getting them to think.

The idiot that I am, I got kicked off another forum the other day (you might notice that it disappeared from my sidebar) I miscued on a post by another, who miscued on a (poor) attempt at humor on my part. The peanut gallery pounced at that point. One can rack up a lot of negative feelings when he’s trying to pound a little sense into the opposition. They offered to let me stay on if I would agree to be moderated, but I’m not interested in letting someone else second guess what I should post. So I’m outta there.

I’ve alienated friends and family members with this stupid forum addiction, this blind belief that I can somehow impart a little understanding to the (as someone else called them) “unwashed masses” by “getting the information out there.” Silly, really. Or is it?

Over time I’ve progressed (?) from knowing everything, but understanding very little (typical teenager) to knowing nothing, but understanding a great deal (hello mid-life) more than I can express in a blog entry. I wonder when I’ll learn to think…? And will it be before I hit ‘send’ the next time?

Postscript

Coded language. How quaint. I used the phrase government schools because that was the phrase that libertarians use to describe America’s public schools system. They aren’t really government schools, not in the way that the word indoctrination means when I apply it to public schools.

The scientific method is a valid lens through which to understand the world around us. It might well be the the only way to accurately understand the world around us. Science simply is in much the same way that existence simply is. You aren’t indoctrinated into it, you are introduced to it. If it sticks then you become an agnostic about things that you don’t know yet and then learn how to test for what is knowable about a thing. The development of the critical thinking faculty that science engages is a problem for people who want to tell you how to think and not help you discover what thinking is.

Government schools are not bad, per se. Government schools aren’t bad when they don’t indoctrinate. They aren’t bad when they impart real life skills. As long as government schools get the job done that needs to be done (teaching children to think critically) government schools are just fine.

It’s when the job they are doing is not serving the greater good, that’s when government schools, and all schools, fail. Montessori fails to educate those students with special needs, and it fails because a good portion of Montessori instruction is based on belief/ideology and not on tried and true best methods. Finding a school that teaches critical thinking based on best methods. That is the really hard part.

Blogspot archive for the month of January 2006

Liberty Dollar Basics

So, what is the Liberty Dollar? This is the forum where we hope to answer those types of questions. If you are new to ALD, take some time and read the many pages of information that can be found on the Liberty Dollar site. I’d start with the Introductory Essay. Don’t want to read about it? You might want to check out the History Channel special that is linked on the Libertydollar.org front page, or just click here. (download link)

Still too much information for you?

Short and sweet then. The Liberty dollar is money. Technically speaking, it is money based on one ounce of silver; a dollar value is attached to that ounce of silver that roughly equates to the Federal Reserve Note dollar value of the 1 ounce silver numismatic items currently in circulation.

Huh? Too short? Sorry. Once upon a time…

There was a time in the not too distant past when the US dollar was based on an amount of real metal, and you could trade paper dollars and checkbook dollars for real silver dollars if you wanted. (If you really want to know more about that go here) Even before that time, US money was based on a quantity of metal. From the very beginning of the US as a nation, the dollar was represented as being worth a certain amount of silver (371 4/16 grains) and it remained that way through most of US history until the Federal Reserve was established to regulate money. Since that time, the number of dollars in circulation has been increased to the point that what was once a dollar worth of silver is now (at this writing) nearly 10 dollars. The Liberty Dollar was created as a way to combat this growing problem. The Liberty Dollar is first and foremost based on a unit of silver weight (1 ounce .999 fine silver) The ounce of silver is then divided into the number of dollars that current market price for silver dictates, based on a formula that can be found here. What it amounts to is that the dollar value increases as the silver value increases, providing a store of value as money ought to be.

The liberty dollar is not just silver rounds, though. It is also available as certificates and as an online ‘electronic‘ currency, all fully backed by silver, and redeemable for silver.

Still have questions? Well, that is what we are here for. There are many other resources to tap at the liberty dollar site, including The Mother Lode of Information. Look around there, browse here; or just post a note. We’ll try to point you in the right direction.

Postscript

This is an introduction to the American Liberty Dollar that I wrote for the Liberty Dollar Online forums. Those forums are long gone from the internet and can barely be found in the Wayback Machine archive.

The one embarrassment that I have about this article is the numerous links to the Liberty Dollar site itself. Bernard’s notions of salesmanship have never been to my liking, and every one of those links goes to examples of his marketing. I have left them here for their instructional value alone. The title was changed at some point in the distant past from Reminting Fee.

Polluted Memories of Stage Fright

Any human being who doesn’t lean into you when you are scared is not a human being you want to be listening to you.

Mandy Patinkin

A friend sent me a link to a music and humor blog the other day thinking I would get a kick out of the references to days gone by, inside jokes that only us old people would find amusing. What they didn’t know was that the Janis Joplin  music that the blog was playing would remind me of Janis staring down on me from the wall of the Janis Room at Threadgill’s. Not a pleasant memory of my youth but of the location where we used to hold a weekly Libertarian Toastmasters (Politimasters) meetings and the terror I went through pretty much every week that I was expected to give a speech there. The kind of thing that should carry a trigger warning, if I believed in those kinds of things.

Anyone who’s ever tried to speak in front of a large group of people can probably commiserate with me here, if not completely understand what I’m talking about. It wasn’t just fear that I felt, standing there trying to speak, and stage fright is too dismissive to cover it. Perhaps topophobia would describe the feeling, if only I could get a definition that wasn’t the (current) generic fear of certain places or situations. But stage fright might explain why Janis (and so many other performers) resorted to numbing herself before getting onstage. I know the politimasters meetings went better when alcohol was served beforehand (at least they seemed to) How can you be expected to be entertaining when you can’t shake the feeling that you’re going to melt (or explode) at any moment? Heart racing, a feeling of the darkest dread, the desire to run away and never stop running? Is that entertainment?

Public speaking is one of the most common human fears, and this was confirmed by my own experiences within the Politimasters group. The group itself died from a lack of participation. We just couldn’t get enough people. Ten people were all we needed. Ten people, and you can run an effective Toastmasters training group. We couldn’t even get 10 people in the city of Austin interested in meeting every week to practice their speaking skills in front of an audience. That is how prevalent the fear is.

Toastmasters and stage fright in turn remind me of my high school speech class and the dreaded speech class project, another instance (and another trigger warning) of getting up in front of an audience and performing in front of other people. The teachers decided to do a mock version of The Gong Show (this was the 70’s after all) in front of the entire school body as well as guests. To make matters worse they decided we would determine in advance whether we were going to be gonged or not (I think they missed the point of audience participation a key feature of The Gong Show) A friend of mine convinced me that we should try and do Abbott & Costello’s routine Who’s on First, and we (she) decided that we didn’t want to be gonged. I went along with the plan lacking even the slightest idea what I could possibly do that an audience would find interesting. [I’ve written a piece more recently, Coping with Dysgraphia. It might shed light on why it was that I was convinced I couldn’t be interesting.]

Abbott & Costello – Who’s on First?

I memorized the routine. I read it every day for more than two weeks. I performed it in front of family a number of times. I could do it backward by the day of the show. All that practicing amounted to nothing. It didn’t matter because when that curtain rose, I couldn’t remember word one of the entire thing. I am, to put it bluntly, speechless, in front of the entire auditorium. Both of us end up reading the routine from cards that we carried on stage with us. There is no other way to describe what we were doing other than bad, and we should be gonged for it. The audience wants us gonged, and can’t figure out why the judges don’t go along. I remember the feeling of thousands of people in the audience wanting my blood (although I’m sure the auditorium in Stinnett didn’t hold more than a few hundred; and ‘wanting blood’ is a bit of an exaggeration. Just a bit) when I walked off that stage I swore I would never do anything like that again.

…And Janis is looking at me from across the room. “You had a speech prepared for Toastmasters tonight, right?” Pure terror.

Postscript

I ran across another former citizen of Stinnett while looking for a link to represent Stinnett in the article. I’d never heard of Jim Foreman before, but he’s got some interesting stories printed on his site. I identified with the sentiment in The Graduation, which is where I found the picture.

He also had some photos of the old railroad station in this story about going home. I remember how my buddy John Thompson and I used to go prowling around the old cotton mills and grain silos near the station, and how we caught and raised pigeons that were nesting there. I wonder if it still stands?

March 2017. The website/blog that stimulated this trip down memory lane removed itself from public view a number of years ago. I searched for it using different text strings and even went to archive.org and looked for a record of the blog in the archive. Not even the URL was preserved. This gaping absence in the beginning of the story forced me to rewrite the opening paragraphs for this piece. Having then embarked on a major re-edit, I decided to do a few other wordsmithing edits while keeping the feeling of the piece that I had intended to communicate intact.

Well, that’s true as far as it goes. The real reason I’m editing today is because Chuck Barris died this week and as much as I hate to admit it he had a real impact on my life, as is partially related above. My family watched The Gong Show every day if my memory serves me right. The show was on in the hour after we got out of school and since we only had one TV and two channels back then, I cringed my way through most of the stupid on it. There were occasional gems to be found but I don’t think love or like are words I would apply to The Gong Show. The show was more like an inoculation for stupid than anything that I might remember with affection.

If you haven’t seen Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and you are a Chuck Barris or Gong Show fan, you might want to give it a chance. It is a very strange film about a very strange man. I personally would rate the film as meh. I know that is what I thought because it made so little impression on me that I barely recall it. The vast majority of films that I’ve seen rate a meh. So while that’s not a glowing endorsement, at least I didn’t gong it and send it back unwatched. There have been quite a few of those over the years. Too little time, too much to watch. The Wife and I wanted to see it because Sam Rockwell plays Chuck Barris, and he does a credible job of channeling​ the man and the madness that was the 70’s as seen through the rearview mirror. Personally, I’d rather look at the 70’s through the lens of Barris’ eyes than mine. He was always more charitable to the stupid than I could ever be. It was his saving grace.

September 2019. The Texas Standard ran a segment on Texas’ Woodstock a few days ago, an event that featured a Saturday night set performed by Janis Joplin. The webpage and the audio on it are all worth listening to. It was apparently quite an event; an event that the Texas of the time was embarrassed about and tried to make us all forget. Janis got the last word. Good for her.

On the first day, Sam and Dave and B.B. King got the crowd moving despite the heat. Chicago played. They were still called Chicago Transit Authority back then. But the act that got the crowd’s biggest ovation was one of their own: Janis Joplin. She closed out Saturday’s show with a set Hayner remembers as electric.

“Texas had been pretty hard on her and so what I remember her saying is that she had really felt kind of nervous about being there but we really made her feel like she was welcome and part of us,” he says.

And she was part of them. Janis Joplin had to leave Texas to become the Janis Joplin everyone now knows. For most of her career, she stayed away from her home state. Texas was a place where she was bullied, ostracized for who she was. That experience left her, like so many in the crowd, caught between worlds that were often at odds with each other. But now here she was – an icon of the counterculture. The crowd clapped her and the Kozmic Blues Band back on for two encores. And then, as concertgoer Billy Kirby remembers it, she had something to say.

“Her band was walking off the stage, she was walking off the stage. The lighters were up, people were screaming ‘Janis, Janis, encore, encore.’ Well she comes out and everybody goes crazy again and she just kind of quiets the crowd down a little bit with her hand movements,” he says. “And she leaned to the microphone and said ‘Thank you very much. But what I want to know is where the fuck were you motherfuckers when I needed you a few years ago?’ And left.”

Texas Standard

October 2019. A new book about Janis Joplin was published. Here are two interviews with the author of Janis: Her Life and Music, Holly George-Warren.

the Texas Standard

“She never talked about how hard she worked to get to where she was and become the musician she was. And suddenly, I hear her coming up with guitar parts, figuring out different tempos, new arrangements of the songs. She was really calling the shots.”

Holly George-Warren
New Janis Joplin Biography Reveals The Hard Work Behind The Heart

The Texas Standard segment and the Fresh Air episode linked above contain different interviews with the author of Janis: Her Life and Music, Holly George-Warren. If I was more of a Janis Joplin fan I’d probably take the time to read the book. I may take the time to listen to Janis’ discography back to back with Big Mama Thornton’s work just to get a feel for the two different approaches to the material.

I should have been paying closer attention to what Janis was singing about back in the days when it might have saved me more time. Freedom isn’t something that you conserve. Freedom is a state of nature that admits to no tomorrows.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Me and Bobby McGee

April 20, 2020. Threadgill’s is no more. The end of an era, and the end of my access to the food that I had grown to love over my decades in Austin. COVID-19 claims another victim.

Wilson opened a second location, Threadgill’s World Headquarters on Riverside Drive, in 1996. That space, also a music venue, closed in 2018, but Wilson kept the spirit alive at the original restaurant known as the Old No. 1, the walls papered with posters that told the history of the city and culture he loved.

The closing of the North Lamar spot, which Threadgill opened in 1933, marks the end of an era for old Austin, the traces of which can be hard to detect around town these days.

statesman.com

Blogspot archive for the month of January 2006

It’s Called Philosophy

This was an open letter to a local talk show that was being guest hosted by a local state representative (whose opinions I generally agree with, but not that day) a state representative who kept wondering, on air, how anyone could get by without religion to shape their moral fibre, and what a shame it was that the importance of religion in American society was failing, since we are a christian nation after all. You can have three guesses as to what set me off in the first place and I’ll bet you don’t need two of them.


The word you are struggling to find is philosophy. Philosophy, even amongst the religious, is where morals come from. I say this as an Objectivist, Americans ignore the importance of establishing and maintaining a personal philosophy at their own peril. It is the short-cutters, the people who turn to religion and superstition to answer their metaphysical questions, those people are to blame for the degradation of the morals in our society, not a lack of faith or prayer in schools or whatever imagined slight the christian right (Christianists. -ed.) wants to whine about today.

We have not moved away from christianity in the United States. Contrary to popular opinion, the founders where not christians, they were Deists:

The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, “Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom.” Freemasons took seriously the principle that men should worship according to their own conscious. Masonry welcomed anyone from any religion or non-religion, as long as they believed in a Supreme Being. Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Hamilton, Lafayette, and many others accepted Freemasonry.

EarlyAmerica.com

One of the most religious men in the continental congress was John Adams, and he was a Unitarian.

This is my answer to the question you posed why has America given up on the christian faith? I only wish I could have called in to set you right in your confusion. Religion is a curse that will betray America to ruin, and it will do that very soon now that conservatives have embraced evangelicalism. Philosophy needs to be taught to children as a part of their school curriculum, it is every bit as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Economics also needs to be taught, but that isn’t what this letter is about. Only with the mental tools for judging and abiding by morals of their own creation will our children be able to stop the moral decline that this country is in if it is in moral decline at all.

Like many other complainants that aired their grievances after the show today, I had to turn off the program before it was over. One more holier than thou phone caller trying to tell me how I needed to go to church would have sent me over the edge and I don’t need the extra stress in my life.


These days I just point to the study published in the Journal of Religion and Society titled Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies, that shows the impact of fervent religious belief on society as a whole is negative. I don’t know what else needs to be said on the subject of how we can get by without religion other that to observe that we might well be better off without it at all.

Postscript

I wish the founders had all been deists as I erroneously claim above. We’d be better off now if they had been. The blight of Christainist dogma would not have been inculcated into our social psyche if three quarters of the founders hadn’t been adherents to various flavors of christianity that have since evolved into evangelicalism and the Prosperity Gospel.

My error doesn’t mean that the US is a christian nation. The point that debunks this claim isn’t the faith of the founders (an erroneous argument that I simply repeated at the time) but rather that there is no thing called christian that all christians can agree on and want enforced as the religion that everyone should follow. You can thank the protestants for that social benefit. If they hadn’t broke from the mother church we would probably still all be Catholics and subject to papal dictates.

This was the first of a repetition of encounters with average people who seemed baffled by the fact that other people do just fine without church or religion to guide them. It’s almost as if they’ve never done any moral thinking for themselves. Perhaps they should give it a try. They might discover that their religion didn’t invent the concept of morality. I humbly suggest that the interested reader look into creating a human-centric philosophy and morality as opposed to continuing to believe in a god-centered one:

Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. It considers human beings as the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry.

Wikipedia

The show that I was being so coy about naming was the Jeff Ward Show and the guest host was representative Suzanna Hupp. I carried a lot of water for her over the years thinking that she had an inside road towards a deeper understanding of loss. This show was the first speedbump on the road that lead to my distancing myself from her.

This article as it appeared on Blogspot in 2006 when I wrote it. Featured image: The Death of Socrates.

Mid-Life Crisis? Not Yet.

Stated flatly at lunch today:

Not jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, no bungee jumping, not letting someone cut on my eyes and reshape them with lasers (Lasik) just so I can ‘look cool’ without glasses. After lunch one of my buddies jumped on a motorcycle and tooled out of the parking lot. Make that item number four: distinct preference for four wheels and a solid cage of steel around my personal space, thank you so much.

So much for that mid-life crisis at least so far. The wife on the other hand is deep into hers. She’s been wanting a mini so bad that she’s already designed hers at the site. She insists that our recent purchase of a Kia proves that I’m not being truthful. We’ll see. I wonder if it’s contagious?