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Archive for the ‘Miscillaneous’ Category

It was an old fashioned frame building, this headquarters of the great Danagger Coal Company. Somewhere in the hills beyond the window were the pits where Ken Danagger had once worked as a miner. He had never moved his office away from the coal fields.

When she glanced at the clock on the wall of the anteroom, she caught the secretary glancing at it at the same time. Her appointment was for three o’clock; the white dial said 3:03.

“Please forgive it, Miss Taggart,” said the secretary, Mr. Danagger will be through any moment now. Please believe me, this is unprecedented.”

When she raised her head to glance at the clock again, the dial said 3:06. Dagny looked at the closed door of Danagger’s office. She could hear the sound of a voice beyond the door, but so faintly that she could not tell whether it was the voice of one man or the conversation of two.

“How long has Mr. Danagger been in conference?” she asked.

“Since a few minutes before three,” said the secretary grimly. “It was an unscheduled caller.”

The door was not locked, thought Dagney; she felt an unreasoning desire to tear it open and walk in. She realized that she was thinking of Hugh Akston. She had emailed him at his diner in Wyoming. The email had bounced back from a new spam filter. She told herself angrily that this had no connection with the present moment and that she had to control her nerves.

Dagny asked the secretary slowly, as a demand, in defiance of office etiquette, “Who is with Mr. Danagger?”

“I don’t know, Miss Taggart. I’ve never seen the gentleman before.”

“Did he give his name?”

“No.”

“What does he look like?”

“I don’t know,” she answered uneasily. “He’s hard to describe. He has a strange face.”

They had been silent for a short while, and the hands of the dial were approaching 3:08 when the buzzer rang on the secretary’s desk — the bell from Danagger’s office, the signal of permission to enter.

They both leaped to their feet, and the secretary rushed forward, smiling with relief, hastening to open the door.

As she entered Danagger’s office, Dagny saw the back exit door closing after the caller who had preceded her. She heard the knock of the door against the jamb and the faint tinkle of the glass panel.

Ken Dannager (from Atlas Shrugged part II)

He did not rise when she entered — he looked as if he had not quite shaken off the reality of the prior caller and had forgotten the proper routine — but he smiled at her with such a sarcastic twist that she found herself smiling in answer.

“How do you do, Miss Taggart,” he said. “Forgive me, I think that I have kept you waiting. Please sit down.”

“I didn’t mind waiting,” she said. “I was exremely anxious to speak to you on a matter of urgent importance. I came to speak to you about your indictment.”

“Oh, that? Don’t worry about that. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to pay off the judge by making a big donation to one of his favorite ‘charities’.”

She sat still, feeling nothing. Her first movement was a sudden jerk of her head toward the exit door; she asked, her voice low, “Who was he?”

Danagger laughed. “I have no idea! Some sales guy I assume. He was apparently talking about some property he wanted me to invest in — Galt’s Gulch, can you believe that? Trying to cash in on that whole ‘Who is…’ meme? He had some kind of rationalistic morals appeal and said it was some kind of perfect Nirvana!”

“Oh God, Danagger!” she moaned.

“You’re wrong, kid,” he said gently. “I know how you feel, but you’re wrong. Oh, it sounded great — like most of those guys sound — but I told him it wasn’t ‘practical’. I have my business here and I’ve spent years building it up, I can’t retire now! I’ve almost paid off my condo and I want to buy that new boat next spring. And I have to think about my kids! I have to get them into the right schools after all!” And at that he laughed.

Dagny nodded.

“I wonder if he was the same guy Wyatt told me about. Some guy hit him up too, trying to get him to burn his oil fields and go to some remote place in Colorado for goodness sake! Wyatt said with his new fracking method he can pull out enough oil in North Dakota to make this entire country energy independent in just over 5 years — well that is if he can get that pipeline built and get the permission to drill in that national park where he says the big deposit is located. And of course, he’s dealing with all the red tape from the EPA and the BLM.  They’re giving him some song and dance about a rare field mouse in the area. But I’m sure they’ll come around, right?”

Danagger just shrugged.

“OH, can you do me a favor. If you’re heading back to your office in the next few days, can you drop this check off in Washington?”

She picked up the check and could see the 5 zeros on the sum next to the words ‘Republican National Committee’.

“What is this?” she asked.

“Oh, just a donation to someone’s favorite ‘charity’ — I want to make sure they get it in time to make good use of it for Christie’s 2016 run against Hillary….

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ImageI’ll never forget when US Airways flight 1549 had to do an emergency belly landing in the Hudson river and no one was injured. Shortly following the event, a whole lot of people started clamoring about how it was ‘a miracle’ or that God definitely played a role in getting all those people to safety. My inbox was no exception.

Such things tend to frustrate me because it shows the blatant confirmation bias of the religious thinker. No one questions that ‘God’ steps in to do the ‘good’ outcome but they do not also apply that similar thinking to the ‘bad’ outcomes any more than they think the same ‘God’ would have played a role in causing or should have played a role in preventing the situation in the first place.

For example, do you suppose that anyone on board was ‘cursing’ God when they thought they were going to die? Or what about passengers or witnesses to crashes where no one survives? Well, obviously, that is just part of God’s plan then right? It’s a mystery!

Such thinking is not only inconsistent and intellectually dishonest, it distracts from the real heroes doing real things — real people! — who are contributing to great outcomes. To more than one person who sent me the ‘miraculous’ assertion, I had but one response:

Yes, I am sure that God personally intervened to make sure that all of those passengers and crew as well as the people on the ground were not harmed.
I’m sure that the years of training and calm headed, quick thinking of the pilot and the flight crew played absolutely no role in keeping the jet from crashing.
And the air traffic controllers using the world’s most advanced and coordinated air traffic system, radar technology, two-way radio communications and direct lines to multiple airports across the northeast didn’t have anything to do with it.
Nor did the years of development and advancement in aircraft design, technology and safety measures contribute in any fashion.
The flight attendants, their years of training and their similar cool thinking keeping the passengers calm and following safety procedures that have been practiced and rehearsed had nothing to do with it.
Not to mention the passengers themselves for following instructions and remaining so calm and working together.
No one on the ground in New York city with a cell phone, similarly developed through years of technology utilizing one of the most advanced telephone systems in the world calling upon seeing the plane going down did anything to help.
The 911 operators utilizing their refined network of emergency resources and vast network of trained emergency response procedures obviously did not contribute.
Nor did the quick response of the harbor authority and their rescue vehicles that rushed to the aid of the plane once it was safely upon the water.
Obviously it was all God’s work.

Now I’m sure you’ll probably say ‘well, God created all those things’ or that he had a hand in carrying them out. But I’m just curious. If God really wanted to make sure all of those people were safe, wouldn’t it have been far easier and less trouble in the long run….

…. if he had just moved the goose 3′ to the left?”

WSIDAirplaneGeeseinFlight

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I often get question on my methods and intentions as to how I tend to take an ‘in-your-face’ approach to addressing absurdities and things that I view as bad behavior. When describing such things, I am quick to point out that I do such things ‘when appropropriate’. What this means is not only do I judge whether a situation is worth (deserves) speaking out about, but whether it can be done in a manner that will not bring harm unto myself. (see my blog post on the Golden Rule) When pressed for an example of what I’m talking about, there is one particular story that always pops into my head.

When I was still living with my folks and going to college, I did a greater deal of my hunting at a small plot of old Dodge family donated land in NE Oakland county called simply “Dodge Park #10″ up off of Oakwood Road north of Oxford, MI. As it was not an official ‘park’ (with any facilities or a day use area) the bulk of the people using it were hunters in the fall. However, in that it was rather remote down the dirt portion of Oakwood road surrounded by undeveloped land on the north and a large aggregate gravel pit on the south, it was often a hangout for local high school kids outside of the hunting season.
One particular year, the state Department of Natural Resources was having trouble with kids ‘baha-ing’ off of the state access service road behind the main parking area. Initially they had up a rather basic locked swing gate. The kids broke off the lock. Then they bolted the gate shut. The kids unbolted it. Finally they brought in a whole dump-truck full of dirt and broken up concrete, put it across the entire service road making it inaccessible even to themselves and again put up the bolted gate.

oakwoodOne particular fall during bow season, I show up at the main parking lot to find 3 cars of hunters – all standing around gawking, and a jeep full of high school kids in various states of industry. By the time I showed up, the kids had already unbolted the gate again and they were in the process (about 8 of them) of removing the concrete blocks one by one. I surveyed the scene and most of the hunters were looking at one another and shrugging. Reluctant to leave thinking they should do something, but the looks on their faces amounting to “what can we do?”
I wasted no time and quickly went about donning my hunting gear and feigning to be oblivious to what was going on as I listened to the conversations on both sides. The kids were content in ignoring the other hunters and myself, realizing they felt they could do nothing about it and taking advantage of that fact. The hunters kept making comments to one another quiet enough not to be heard by the kids along the lines of ‘what gall’ and again, ‘well, what can you do?’ (mind you, this was before wide scale use of personal cell phones)

I eventually finished getting my gear on, threw my bow over my shoulder and took one last look at the hunters with an attempt to put a very obvious ‘disappointed’ look on my face communicating ‘how pathetic you are!’ I locked up the back of the truck, went to the front and reached into the console where I always kept a pad of paper and a pen for just such events. (I should also point out that when I came into the parking lot, I backed into my space so my truck would be facing forward)
I then took the pen and pad and walked so as to be as obvious as possible up behind the jeep and scribbled something down. A couple of the kids looked up at me as I did this and I just gave them a wave and a sarcastic smile, walked back over to my truck, put the pen back in the visor and threw the still-open pad of paper onto the dashboard where it would be well within view of anyone that wandered over to look. I then re-situated my bow on my shoulder, tipped my camo wool stetson at the hunters with a look of ‘was that hard?’ then gave another sarcastic smile to one of the kids still watching me, tipping my hat again and proceeded to walk into the woods.

Knowing that there was going to be quite a spectacle going on behind me and guessing that no one would make a move until I was well out of sight, I headed for a thick spot in the brush, walked into it and proceeded to do a ‘j-hook’ so I could watch what resulted. Since I was in full camo and tend to be quite stealthy in the woods, I was quite certain no one saw me pull off this maneuver and since it was a thick stand of alders, I was also confident no one saw me looking on.

First one of the hunters came over and looked at the slip and threw his hands up turning to his buddies and laughing. “why didn’t I think of that?” he said – or something of the sort. Most of the kids had gone back to working on removing the blocks except for the main two who watched me writing. The one that continued to watch me then walked over to take a look at the slip himself.It was obvious he had a good idea what was on the slip already, but he then quickly went over to grab one of the larger boys (probably either the one who was driving or the one who had the bright idea to go out baha’ing that particular afternoon). They both walked over and looked at the slip again as the hunters started to laugh and grab there own things finally assuming the most likely result.
The two boys talked to one another briefly, took a look around to see if they could spot where I went but I was well out of sight, paused briefly, looked back at my truck, looked at the other hunters watching them intently then finally shrugged and told their friends to pack it in. They all loaded into the jeep and left and I never saw the jeep or the kids there again – and the bricks remained until I stopped hunting there years later.

What did I right down? Well in case you hadn’t figured it out all ready, just a couple of letters and numbers. I simply wrote down their license plate and a short description of the jeep.

The point being, that as long as the kids felt no one could – and no one would – do anything to stop them, they felt emboldened to do whatever they pleased. As long as it was obvious that the hunters were just going to stand there and do nothing, there was no problem with doing something that was obviously wrong. It wasn’t until someone ‘stood up’ and did ‘something’ that said – “no, not gonna happen – not on my watch – not without appropriate consequences” that they decided to give up their venture.

licenseI didn’t make a huge scene. I didn’t get in any arguments. I didn’t tell them what to do or what not to do. I simply made it clear that they were being watched, and that I had taken note of who they were and what they were doing with one simple gesture.

As an aside, I had already used this practice – most specifically against other hunters who were behaving badly. (it’s a subject for another blog, but I am far harder on other hunters behaving badly then I would ever be to ‘day users’ because, in a manner of speaking, those hunters represent me) In those cases, such as when hunters are shooting at anything that moves or at road signs, dumping trash, drinking beer, etc. I wait for said hunters to be well back in the woods and simply write down their license plate number and stick it – by itself – under their own windshield wiper. There’s nothing funnier but to watch than one of them coming back to the car and going through the chain of thought necessary to realize that if someone had the where-with-all to write it down once, that they could write it down twice – then to think back through their own mind to what they might have done to inspire it. It requires them to come to their own conclusions as to what they may have been doing to ‘inspire’ such a gesture, then make their own choice how to proceed.

Apathy sux! Pass it along…

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lightbulb-idea

A few absolutes about human ideas…

  1. If you can conceive of it, chances are someone has already thought of it before.
  2. If you try to do anything about it, someone will claim they thought of it first (whether they did or not) and try to stop you.
  3. If you try to build it, some union boss is going to say you need to do it with union labor.
  4. If you actually build it, some advocacy group is going to claim it is dangerous to the environment, harmful to children, unfair to minorities, etc.
  5. If it turns out to be beneficial, some religious group will say it’s a miracle and try to give the credit to their chosen god or gods.
  6. If it is cutting-edge, some other group is going to say it’s evil and try to get it banned, protest your workshop or declare a holy/social war against you.
  7. If it is useful, someone in the military is going to try to find a way to weaponize it.
  8. If you created it for a specific purpose, someone will eventually find a way to misuse it regardless of how many warning labels you put upon it. (See #7 & #12)
  9. If it can be used in any way to hurt somebody else (see #4, #7 and possibly #12) then someone will use it that way on others despite the labels and warnings in #8.  Refer back to #6 for the consequences.
  10. If you try to sell it, someone in China will quickly make a knock-off version of it for less.
  11. If it makes money, someone in government is going to find a way to tax it. If it makes people’s lives simpler and easier, someone in government will require 14 forms to get one and further regulate it to make it more difficult and complicated.
  12. If people buy it, someone will eventually find a sexual use for it.
  13. If you make it durable, someone will find a way to break it.
  14. If it makes you rich, some liberal is going to say you exploited your customers, workers or the environment getting that way.

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American-BuddhismImagine coming together for July 4th to sing the song “Vishnu bless America!”, reciting the words to the pledge as “one nation, under Allah” or picking up your money to see the words “In Buddha we Trust”.

For some people, these concepts or others like them are downright offensive and would even be considered as evil. Yet somehow the inclusion of the word ‘God’ on our money, in our pledge and in patriotic songs is considered entirely acceptable simply for the sake of tradition and by will of a majority. Yet the inclusions of these words should be equally as offensive for exactly the same reasons.

Granted, the word ‘God’ is somewhat more generic than say the word “Yahweh” or “Jesus”, but it is commonly understood to most that when the word ‘God’ is used (or at least as it has been used) it is meant to refer to the God of Abraham, i.e. YahWeh – and most specifically in a Christian sense.

One not even need refer to the letters of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson or the Treaty of Tripoli to understand that a government with a Constitutional amendment – it’s first amendment – prohibiting establishment of religion, should not include any references to it in any form what-so-ever. If this concept is offensive to you, I point you back to the first paragraph and suggest you ponder the establishment of a ‘non’ Christian form instead and how you might reject to it. Freedom of religion doesn’t have to mean freedom from religion, but it must mean freedom of government from religion – period!

Sharia-law-in-the-USA

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I resent Earth day. So I think it’s about time I had a good ole Earth-Day-Mirth-Day rant.274_cartoon_happy_earth_day_large

I resent Earth Day in part because I’ve been involved in countering animal “rights” and environmental extremist groups for over 2 1/2 decades and thus I am very familiar with both the green movement (and all of it’s predecessors) as well as Earth Day itself.  This nouveau populist pap  is a manufactured feel-good-bullshit day created by a bunch of ludite, anti-industrial marxists who perverted concern for the environment into a political cause to advance their own pet agendas and abrogate rights of free loving people around the world with one pseudo-science-crisis after another.

The other reason I despise the sentiment of Earth Day is because it gives all the lazy assholes who couldn’t give a flying rat’s butt what happens to that McDonald’s wrapper or the pop can they hurl out the car window during rush hour, an excuse to think because they ‘think green’ on and off a couple of times during the 18 waking hours of one day out of the year, that they are being environmentally friendly and responsible.

I have been involved in conservation and responsible use efforts since I was old enough to tag along with my father when he did the same. I am watching out for the environment every single day out of the year.

But these pompous, self-righteous, pretentious fuck heads more-often-than-not will curl their nose up at me when I tell them I actually hunt and fish rather than buying plastic windmills (made from oil byproducts) and synthetic clothing (made from oil by-products) and eating tofu (made from soy beans grown on land that could be used for habitat instead of growing their god damn tasteless bean paste), etc.

So every day for me is earth day bitches! Ya don’t like? Well guess what, on your precious Lenin’s birt… er I mean ‘earth day’….  that will now be my one day out of the year where I don’t do jack squat dick bupkiss, when I won’t stop to think about doo-wah-diddly-dip, and shall not think for a second about not making a big ass mess of anywhere I go!

In fact, I think I’ll take my gas guzzling SUV, drive a bigass long way tomorrow to go to public land, catch as many fish as I can stuff on a stringer, clean them right there in the lake and splay the fish entrails all over the futha mucking dock!

Natural? Ya want Natural? There’s a little bit of #($)@( “NATURAL” for ya !!!! that’s as #@()#($() natural as it gets mutha @(#!@#$@!

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Last night I had a dream. I was sitting in a park minding my own business when up walked none other than President Barack Obama. Before I could say anything, he began to speak.

“I understand you don’t like me young man,” he said reaching out his hand.

I just sat nonplussed and responded, “To be more accurate I disapprove of you.”

Seeing I was not going to shake his hand, he held it out a moment longer than eventually pulled it back with a slight ‘hmm’ sound then resumed speaking with his political smile.

“Well, I would like to try to change your mind. As President of these United States I would like to offer you anything you desire that is within my power to grant.”

I looked up at him a second to see if he was serious, then looked around to see if perhaps it was some kind of hidden camera prank, then looked back at the President. He seemed quite in earnest. After I pondered his intentions a bit longer, he finally asked again, “Well, what would it be?”

I took in a deep breath and said simply, “No.”

“No?” he asked, “You mean to say I offer you anything you want, anything that is within my power to grant you and your answer is no?”

“Yes,” I said, “my answer is no. But if you are sincere in your desire for me to have such a favor, I will tell you what…,” and I reached into my pocket and pulled out a pen and a small pad of paper I carry around for scribbling down writing ideas.

As I started to write, the President tried to peek out of curiousity, but catching my attention and causing me to pause in my writing, he quickly resumed his smiling stance patient but curious to see what I was up to.  I eventually finished writing and tore off the sheet and handed it to the him. It read as follows:

To whom it may concern:

Today I offered a young man by the name of Scott Webster Wood a favor of anything I had within the power of my office to bestow upon him for the purpose of trying to gain his favorable regard of me and my administration. This young man refused my offer.

He refused it on the grounds that he does not approve of my administration, it’s policies or even my holding this office based on the nature of those policies. Therefore he considered me neither worthy, nor holding the appropriate authority to grand such a privilege onto him in the first place.

But it was my sincere intention to grant this favor. So should this man ever return to the capital seeking fulfillment of this favor, I would like to ask humbly that you take it under consideration should any of my successors be found sufficiently worthy by this young gentleman after my term of office has expired.

Sincerely,

X______________________________
President Barack Hussein Obama

When it appeared he had finished reading, I told him, “Now all you need do, if your offer was in fact sincere, is sign your name down there at the bottom and shove that somewhere in the drawer of that big HMS desk that you love to put your feet up on all the time.”

Obama just scoffed, then began to laugh, crumpling up the piece of paper and throwing it on the ground before walking away spouting only the word “Fool!” I went back to minding my own business.

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What is in a word? Apparently a lot of the recent hullabaloo over Rush Limbaugh‘s use of the word ‘slut’ in describing women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke.

Some time ago, I ran into a usage of the word ‘slut’ that I hadn’t previously been aware of. I tried to find the reference, but the Fluke/Limbaugh/contraception story is so out of control at the moment, any searches I try to do on google either bring up that story or a whole slew of pornography. The essence of the usage was akin to that of ‘bitch’. The references I had seen attributed the use of the word ‘slut’ also to that of breeding classes of animals. i.e. on a farm, a female animal considered to be well suited to mothering more animals of the breed was referred to as ‘the slut’ in much the same, non-negative manner that we call a female dog used for breeding ‘the bitch’.

Cow Slut

The etymology of the term is a bit cloudy, it’s origins most likely pointing to a word meaning something akin to ‘mud’ or otherwise un-pure liquid. And it appears it’s usage in application to women of ‘loose sexual morals’ (as defined at wikipedia) goes back about as far as it’s usage when referring to farm breeding stock or dogs – possibly farther. But the term appears to have parallel usage in both aspects going back at least as far as most etymological sources I can find can speak for. It would be my guess that the existence of one usage helps support the usage of the other and vice versa.

So let’s examine the usage of words like ‘slut’ or ‘bitch’ in relation to breeding stock. What would be considered the most desirable traits of an animal you wish to breed. It should have desirable attributes — attributes consistent with what you want from that particular type of animal. If it’s a cow, you might want an ability to produce lots of milk or perhaps to produce the best cuts of meat. For a sheep you might instead prefer an animal capable of producing a thick coat of wool. On a pig you might want the biggest backstrap to make bacon. But all-in-all, it boils down to ‘desirable characteristics’, whatever they may be.

Another big requirement of a slut or bitch, is a lack of resistance to sexual activity. If you are going to be breeding an animal, you aren’t going to want to go through a lot of fuss any time you seek to sire the female. Any good slut would not be resistant to the advances of the animal you bring to ‘stud’ her with or from.

Thus is why I think these two usages support one another. When applied to a female, it applies to a woman who is generally presumed to not be too resistant to having sex with anyone. In essence, to quote an old musical, “she’s just a girl who can’t say no!”

So no everyone is getting offended because ole Rush, a radio talk show host, said something sensational! Isn’t that kind of like getting upset because the sun rises? OH MY GOODNESS, a person who makes their living by being sensational was BEING SENSATIONAL!!! Call out the national guard!  But was what he said really ‘offensive’?  Was what he said, a response to something equally or of greater offensiveness?  Well, why should I say anything, Rush is more than capable of speaking about such things for himself:

Listen to Rush Limbaugh“What is she 30 years old? Thirty years old, a student at Georgetown Law, who admits to having so much sex that she can’t afford it anymore.

And thus, a new welfare entitlement must be created so that society will pay for it. You know, somebody asked me, “Why are you so insulting?” Me? Can anybody understand that a whole lot of us are insulted by this? Here we are, we’re minding our business one day. We’re bothering nobody. We can’t anyway! We can’t inspect your kids’ lunch box. We can’t raise your taxes. We can’t send your kids off to war. We can’t make you buy a certain kind of car. We can’t do anything. And all of a sudden we’re told that people who want to have sex without consequence, sex with no responsibility, and we have pay for it! We’re told we have to pay for it — and if we object, that somehow we’re Neanderthal. Just out of nowhere this comes up.

Now, that, to me, is insulting.

It’s no different than if somebody that I don’t know knocked on my door and said, “You know what? I’m outta money. I can’t afford birth control pills and I’m supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.”

“Well, why are you coming to me?”

“Well, because you’ve got the money.”

“Well, have you ever thought maybe you shouldn’t? If you can’t afford it, you can’t do it.”

Where is it written that all of a sudden, if you want something and don’t have the money for it, somebody else has to pay for it. I think the whole notion of being insulted here is misplaced. There are a lot of us insulted by this whole idea that is growing throughout the Obama administration, that the people who make this country work are somehow not doing their fair share. Not paying their fair share. We’ve gotta be punished even more. And here’s the latest example of it.”

(From Transcript)

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(excerpt from a non-rationalist’s journal)

December 25th: Today someone gave me a smart phone for Christmas. A delightful thing it is, and so full featured. I imagine it will take me quite some time to figure out all this thing does.

January 2nd: Still nursing my New Year’s hangover, still trying to figure out this phone. I was reading today about all the intricacies involved in how the touch screen works.

January 3rd: Went to the mobile app store online. Holy bajeezuz are there a lot of apps! There are things that will do everything short of the dishes on there!

January 8th: I got down into the internals on my new phone this morning. Was amazed to learn that the operating system alone in this thing takes over 250 characters of memory to store. This is unfathomable!

January 12th: I am utterly overwhelmed by my new phone. I have concluded that it is far too complex to have ever been designed by man! There is just far too much complexity in the totality of this thing to ever have come to exist as in it’s current configuration through individual effort. I can’t fully determine how it came to be, but it must have been aliens or super beings of some sort.

January 13th: I informed my friend Bob of my theory about my phone. He became incensed, called me incredulous, and started ranting on about research and development processes spanning hundreds of years and other such nonsense. I pointed out many details of the phone and it’s so-called ‘technology’ and asked him point blank how such things could all manage to come to be in just such a way as to be so well suited to a device like my phone. He had no significant answers. Ha!

January 18th: Bob came over today with a video. He thought it would break me of my designer theory about the phone. The video seemed to show people in Korea (or maybe it was China) assembling devices such as my phone. It was interesting, but I argued that even if it was legitimate, just because man could learn to construct such a thing in no way explains how it’s complexity originated! It only proves man can reproduce the design.

January 24th: Bob tried to be sneaky today and took me to some computer company today when we were supposed to just be having lunch. He had some systems analyst guy drone on for over an hour about development process and showing me articles on wikipedia about the history of something called ‘compilers’ and ‘object orientation’. He said some nonsense about things called ‘open source communities’ that he alleged made small additions and changes to something called ‘code libraries’ over large spans of time.
It made little sense to me but I had been reading in more detail about the screen in this thing and stumped them both when I asked them to explain how all the interactions of laminating and ‘material composites’ and matrix-wiring networks, internal clocking, plasma bubbles, LED arrays and all the rest could come to exist just as they are to produce a single pixel on a screen that responds to just the touch of a finger! They had no answer, of course!

February 3rd: Ugh, Bob was back again. He shows up with three young college kids and a stack of books and papers that would fill a small library.

He tells me that he paid the three undergrads to look up any and all information they could on the process and chain of technologies that led up to any facit of smart phone technologies that they could find. He claims that he still didn’t find it all but now I have twenty, 4′ high stacks of books and papers cluttering up my Foyer. Like he expects me to read that? As if!
I think he’s just trying to obfuscate the issue. I told him as much! And to get out of my house at once and take his refuse with him. He grabbed my smartphone from my hand and hurled it at me hitting me right in the eye before stomping out of the door leaving all of the stuff! I guess I’m going to have a lot more for the trash man this week…

February 8th: I was trying to avoid Bob but couldn’t help passing him today on the way to the market. I told him I tossed out all the stuff. He just looked at the bandage over my eye and said something about “hmmm, it suits you!” I have no idea what he meant and he walked away before I could ask him to explain himself.

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After hearing of the passing of two of my teachers this week, I was again considering something I learned from the movie ‘Big Fish‘. At the end of the movie, after struggling with his relationship with his father, the son says of him:

“… a man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories.  They live on after him.  And in that way, he becomes immortal.” – Will Bloom, Big Fish
  (written by Daniel Wallace (novel), John August (screenplay))

I am a story teller, a skill I learned by watching my father. My father is also a school teacher. I would say ‘was’ a school teacher, as he is retired. But I don’t really think that good teachers ever stop teaching and they don’t even necessarily need to seek that as a profession to be a good teacher.

After hearing of the most recent passing of professor Ron DeRoo, whom served as an accompanist and co-clinician for a music group I was involved with in High School and from whom I also took jazz piano instruction later on while attending college, I got to pondering those words from the movie again.

Specifically, I got to thinking about what kinds of pursuits in life are most prone to fit with the nature of the Big Fish ‘story telling’. I came to the conclusion that the three that most stick out in my mind are those of teachers, writers and philosophers.

Teachers

More so than any other life pursuit or profession, (good) teachers will influence the most lives. The nature of teaching is to influence others. To provide them with information to help form their thoughts and ideas. Of all the teachers I can think of, those who influenced me the most were those that did not simply provide me with information in a given subject but instead provided insights in a way that they could be applied to any subject.

A truly good teacher, whether by vocation or their very nature, will lead you to look at life and reality in a different way. They will not simply provide you with information and knowledge, but will help you to formulate how you absorb such knowledge and further teach you how to continue to do so when you are no longer benefiting from their direct tutelage.

When you watch others speak fondly of people they have known, people that have had the greatest impact on their lives, they more often than not speak of people that taught them things or gave them insights that helped improve their minds, their lives or there way of approaching any variety of circumstances.

Writers

I originally considered ‘artists’ in general for this grouping, but decided instead to focus just on the art of writing. Writing consists of using words that represent concepts to convey ideas. Even if writing fantastic fiction, the author above any other art form, has the most direct connection to specific concepts and manners of creating and influencing thoughts.

The practice of any art form that is well mastered will require that the artist puts a great portion of their heart and soul into the results of their art. But where an actor can only show you their skill in portraying a role, a painter can only show you their mastery of creating images with their pallet or a dancer can only express ideas through motion, the writer has to convey those concepts and conceptualizations that they possess through combinations of words directly representing those concepts.

Other mediums fall short of passing along such vivid combinations of ideas. The use of words, word phrasings, combinations of perceptions and circumstances, and the ability to portray all of them only through the written form requires a direct link into the mind of the artist writing the words.

Philosophers

The category of philosopher is actually a bit of a redundancy when included with the other two, as the best teachers and writers generally will also require a foundation built upon a good philosophy. Actually all of them are somewhat redundant, as they all tend to overlap — even someone who’s primary means of communicating their ideas is through telling them directly must create those ideas not-unlike a writer does. Even if they are doing so in-the-moment.

Philosophy, directly translated, means the ‘love of knowledge’. As a branch of scientific examination, it is the study of knowledge as it relates to reality.  As Ayn Rand (the philosopher who has had the greatest influence on me) once said (paraphrasing), everyone has some kind of philosophy – a way of living, dealing with their surroundings and making choices – whether they choose to see it that way or not. Some of us  spend more time and effort defining and examining our philosophy, and some arrive at distinct conclusions that they communicate to others who find them worthy of consideration.

So whether they are formal or informal philosophers, it is those who help us to form our way of interacting with the world that will ultimately influence us enough to spread on part of their own essence and way of thinking in us. Thus, I am reasonably certain that those who will live on the longest after they perish from this world will be the teachers, the writers and the philosophers.

As a final thought, I’d like to re-post my statement in the guestbook for my beloved teacher:

… I remember Mr. DeRoo fondly from my [many years of knowing him.] It is quite sad to hear of his passing, but he was the sort who touched many lives and inspired many smiles. He shared his love of life and his joy and knowledge for music with many and will be remembered by all.

Whenever I hear of someone passing, I reflect on a lesson I learned from the movie ‘Big Fish’ – those people who touch the most lives, live on forever in the hearts and minds of those they influenced and never die so long as people speak of them or share and pass on what they gained from knowing them.

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