Archive for April, 2017

A Big Flop

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

May 1, 2017

I am tempted to start this blog with, “Hey, hey, the first of May! Outdoor fucking starts today!”

But I won’t. Even though I agree with the sentiment.

Instead, judging by the open numbers and lack of responses, my recent blog, Big Ideas, was a Big Flop and I want to discuss that flop.

I shouldn’t be surprised. My email program, Constant Contact, counts only how many open the blog but can’t tell how many read it through or understand it. I can’t blame anyone but myself. I skip heavy emails too. The Big Ideas blog had a Fog Index of 12.4. In theory, you need 12-plus years of schooling to read and understand it. I realize many if not most who open the blog have a good deal more than that. But I also suspect that many if not most skim lightly over the heavy sections. Last week’s Heavens to Murgatroyd! had an index of 8 (average for most fiction, games, and comedy shows). Sure enough, it had more opens and more responses! This blog has a Fog Index of around 11.

The long and short of it is, like most serious writers, I can’t get enough response. Even, or especially, critical ones. I am still confident my Big Ideas and Bill’s Laws are major contributions and will have a long-running future. Alas, readers typically desert me now when I try to explain them.

Example: the one and only response to my blog on Big Ideas came from a family friend who claimed my views were “heartless.” I didn’t quote him the old chestnut, ”if you’re not a Liberal at 25, there must be something wrong with your heart. If you’re still a liberal at 45 there must be something wrong with your brain.” I did remind him, “considering the humiliating and bloody collapse of socialism in Russia, Germany, China, India, Spain, and many smaller countries if Marx were alive today he no doubt would apologize.”

I also pointed out, “All of these socialist countries (note that I include Germany’s “National Socialism”—Nazi for short—in the socialist camp) suffered terribly for many years with brutal but very popular rulers. The bigwigs (what I call the modern clergy, see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78, and 103) did fine but ordinary folks did not.

I also suggested, further along in that blog, that cash payments to all citizens (a basic minimum income) would be desirable, take the sting out of dependency, and show that libertarian ideas are not neccesarily heartless.

This is nit-picking though. Far more important is the historical fact that socialists (including democratic ones like Bernie Sanders), as well as major religious leaders, (like Catholic Popes and Muslim Mullahs) routinely ignore my argument that their rules have been colossal failures whenever and wherever tried in human history.

In another vein, I think many readers simply don’t get my claim that we are just in the infancy of the Modern Age. Most of the issues Progressives cite—sexism, racism, imperialism, wars, slavery, violence, and worker exploitation, as well as many that they approve of—charity, social justice and welfare programs, excessive tattoos and body jewelry, vulgar talk, free speech controls, loud but inaudible-lyric music and frenzied audience dancing—are all inherited memes from previous Ages. Like new parents dealing with tiny babies, more patience is called for.

Another example: when I review my Bill’s Laws (which I must say have been amply confirmed in years past): (1) bad ideas in Science—like sexism, racism, sterilization of incompetents, overpopulation, resource scarcity, GM crops, lead dangers, and yes climate change too—have a half-life of about ten years; (2) bad ideas in politics—like socialism, fascism, totalitarian control, and Progressive/Green politics— have a half-life of about 100 years; (3) bad ideas in religion—like exclusive monotheism, life after death, and political control by religious leaders—have a half-life of roughly a 1000 years.

I think many are confused because they don’t grasp the scientific meaning of “half-lives.” When I tried to explain it to one young friend he caught on when I related it to Chernobyl and Three-Mile-Island. (Should I give some credit to Greens for their scare tactics on radiation dangers?)

One Big Idea, not original with me, is a simple fact that the US is exceptional. Progressives attack this idea with other facts: we in the US have committed crimes and by no means are number one in worldwide statistics on health, education, science, sexual and racial equality, etc., etc. Former President Obama said in a reply to a reporter’s question, “Yes, I do think the US is exceptional.” Then he quickly undercut this claim by adding, “Of course if I were in France or Greece I would say the same about France or Greece.”

I say the US is exceptional not because we are in any way better than other countries. We simply got there first. We were the first country to be founded on ideas, not on tradition, ethnicity, conquest, or land. The ideas we did inherit from the Enlightenment. But we did lead the world into the Modern Age in 1776 when we claimed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I admit we have not always lived up to that creed but we still lead and are the most desired country in the world. Which is why there is so much concern about immigration and refugees today!

I have no idea how this blog is going over. Please let me know.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P,S. For more details and evidence see any of my three recent books—Twilight or Dawn: a traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs.”

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

April 24, 2017

My last blog was kind of heavy with big ideas. Here is an antidote.

Got an email last week from a frequent reader, Andrea Battern, “Would you believe the email spell checker did not recognize the word Murgatroyd?”

She also trminded and regaled me with other long forgotten phrases and sayings like “Hunky Dory, Okie Dokie, jalopy, Don’t touch that dial, Heavens to Betsy, Gee willikers, Jumping Jehoshaphat, Holy moley, Carbon copy, Xerox, moxie, You sound like a broken record, in your best bib and tucker, straighten up and fly right, the life of Riley, saddle shoes and pedal pushers, oh my aching back, Kilroy was here, a nincompoop, a pill, not for all the tea in China, well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, etc.”

And then don’t forget, “Fiddlesticks! Going like sixty, see you in the funny papers, don’t take any wooden nickels, Hung out to dry, a fine kettle of fish, hey! It’s your nickel, don’t forget to pull the chain, and Knee high to a grasshopper!”.

It’s interesting the only word from my youth that has survived is “cool” as in “Barack Obama is cool; Donald Trump is not.”“

It reminds me of Meredith Wilson, the salesman Professor Harold Hill in the hit musical The Music Man, when he reminds the parents of River City, Iowa about the dangers their teenagers face,

“Are certain words creeping into his conversation?
Words like ’swell,’
And ‘so’s your old man.’”

And then there are the great songs of my youth. I really am not sure they were that great but I do think they had more wit and warmth than songs of later generations. An example is this children’s gem…

“On The Good Ship Lollipop.
It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop
Where bon-bons play
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.

“Lemonade stands everywhere
Crackerjack bands fill the air
And there you are
Happy landing on a chocolate bar.”

And this classic…

“Down in the meadow in a itty bitty pool
Swam three little fishies
And a mama fishie too.
‘Swim’ said the mama fishie,
‘Swim if you can’
And they swam and they swam
All over the dam

“Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
And they swam and they swam all over the dam

“ ‘Stop’ said the mama fishie,
‘Or you’ll get lost’
The three little fishies
Didn’t want to be bossed
The three little fishies
Went off on a spree
And they swam and they swam
Right out to the sea.”

Last is a tearjerker from WW2 (at least it always brings copious tears to this old codger’s eyes)…

“When the lights go on again
All over the world
And the boys are home again
All over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall
From the skies above
A kiss won’t mean ‘goodbye,’
But ‘hello’ to love;

“When the lights go on again
All over the world
And the ships will sail again
All over the world
Then we’ll have time for things
Like wedding rings
And free hearts will sing
When the lights go on again
All over the world.”

As Andrea writes, “Sad really! Words gone as fast as the buggy whip!” She ends her email with “See you later, alligator!”

I of course replied, “not for a while, crocodile!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. Andrea also points out, “Back in the olden days life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell?”

Big Ideas

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

April 17, 2017

After reading my blog, “My Obituary” one reader asked, “What exactly are these Big Ideas you keep talking about?

I am happy to oblige this Easter Monday.

One Big Idea, not original with me, is to divide all history into three parts, Hunting/Gathering, Agricultural, and Modern. Life in these three Ages was very different. In the 100,000-year Hunting/Gathering Age there were few people and life was “nasty, brutish and short.” In the 10,000-year Agricultural Age there was more food, more people, and life for some was more interesting, but for most people was still nasty, brutish and short. In the 200-year Modern Age–in Western countries at least–there was a huge increase in people and wealth, and most people lived longer, with less violence, and had healthier lives.

Progressives like Ken Burns and Oliver Stone (whom Jane and I enjoy streaming on Netflix) have different Big Ideas. They argue the Progressive view that slavery, racism, sexism, imperialism, wars, and worker exploitation, are flourishing in Modern Age Western countries. And they claim capitalism is the culprit and that some form of socialism is the best answer.

This is baloney.

Jane was impressed by the Progressive videos. She asked me a good question. “How come we have both have had such violence-free good long lives?”

My answer: we have been lucky. We were born in Western Civilization in an exceptional country that led others into the Modern Age.

We inherited memes of violence, sexism, racism, imperialism, wars, poverty, labor exploitation, perverse views of wealth, and other evils. These evils were all born in the 10,000-year Agricultural Age or the 100,000-year Hunting/Gathering Age when capitalism was not a factor. Writers tend to romanticize these previous Ages. Some even claim ideas, persons, or books from past ages are critical to solving modern problems.

This also is baloney.

Slavery, serfdom, peasantry, and compassionate charity were common for more than 110,000 years! This brute fact of history leads me to the radical view that charity, however compassionate, as well as its modern twins, social-welfare and social-justice spending, is basically a bad idea. Many will dispute this of course. Progressives and religious partisans claim ideas, books, or persons from past civilizations have special importance to Modern Age issues.

I think people are right to look to the past for wisdom but hey, all past civilizations, including our Western one, were built on rigid divisions of elite-rich and the peasant, serf, or slave workers. Ponder that for a moment.

As the old song goes,

“It’s the same the whole world over:
’tis the poor what gets the blame.
It’s the rich gets all the pleasure;
Now ain’t that a bloomin’ shame.”

Slaves, serfs, and peasants for over 110,00 years did the heavy work while the elite–kings, queens, nobles, clergy, and whatnot–did the thinking, creating, governing, entertaining and being entertained. Sometimes this was great. Other times not.

The bitter truth is that past ideas, books, or persons have only minor importance to a Modern Age only a little over two hundred years old. Just because Julius Caesar, Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, the Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, Adolph Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, or Mahatma Gandhi claimed we should believe or act a certain way that doesn’t mean we have to follow. Just because Karl Marx wrote in the 19th century thought socialism was inevitable, he too could be wrong. Considering the humiliating collapse of socialism in Russia, Germany, China, India, Spain, and many smaller countries, if he were alive today Marx might apologize.

All of these socialist countries suffered terribly for many years under brutal charity-minded rulers. The rulers benefited what I call the modern clergy, (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78, and103) but not the ordinary workers.

Does anyone in China, for instance, miss the famines and massacres of the “Great Leap Forward” or the “Cultural Revolution” of Mao? Do people in Russia miss the gulags and massacres of Lenin and Stalin? Do people in Germany miss the Concentration Camps and Holocausts of Hitler?Are we better off today from New-Deal type charitable laws?

Progressives of course will say yes to the last question. Even though I do benefit from social security I’m not as sure. The clergy has lived well but many workers have not. And entire countries have failed miserably.

It’s true some European countries have succeeded with a milder form of democratic socialism. So far. Europeans today rely on private profits to finance their welfare states. If the past is any guide they may not be able to maintain indefinitely that lavish spending.  I admit it has worked tolerably well for a relatively few years. Remember as late as 1960 seven out of eight immigrants to the US were from Europe.

Germany was also a leader in welfare spending in both the 19th and 20th centuries. “Social democrats” though proved feebly ineffective when the Nazis began to promote their “national socialism” panacea in the Great Depression.

Conclusion, one of my Big Ideas is that countries like Russia, China, India, and many smaller ones are trying to enter the Modern Age and desperately need market-based capitalism to do so. They also need freedom–freedom to inquire (science) and even more important, freedom to dissent (freedom of and from religion). We inherited these freedoms from the Western Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment with an assist from the American frontier.

Note that I deliberately and radically did not include charity or compassion as essentials for the Modern Age. These are indeed virtues and I welcome them. But even if they are not central to the Modern Age, I favor them but think it far better to dole out the charity in social security type cash forms than in the more expensive social-welfare and social-justice laws. The latter enrich the clergy while making dependent victims out of workers and clients.

Another Big Idea, again not original, is that the USA was exceptional in 1776 to lead Western Civilization in pioneering the Modern Age. I do claim (which is original) the three must-haves for that Modern Age are three–Science and Technology, Religious Freedom, and Free-Market Capitalism.

Policies follow from this Big Idea: compassion and charity are commonly overrated; the reigning clergy are often hypocrites; governmental laws and regulations to protect or enhance citizen’s lives often do more harm than good; in modern times that includes incredibly complex tax forms with many loop-holes, minimum wages, excessive bank, business, and environmental laws and regulations; subsidies to crony capitalists; and yes, excessive worry about climate change.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P. S. You can get a better understanding of the details of my Big Ideas by reading any of my three self-published books or viewing my science and history DVDs. (To find them simply enter my name on Amazon or YouTube.)

Hypocrisy

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

April 10, 2017

As Easter approaches, I remember how saddened and shocked I was as a former Catholic to learn of the string of sexual abuse cases—priests accused of molesting boys. It did not happen to me as an altar and choir boy but I guess it was widespread not only in the clergy but in the sports world too!

I have to admit that as a good Catholic child I wasn’t the least bit curious about priest’s or nun’s sex lives. Heck, I didn’t even wonder much about their finances.

Sex and money are the most private, sensitive, and hypocritical of human activities. For instance, many men (and women too nowadays) use Internet porn sites to masturbate more often than they will admit. You don’t hear about it in small talk, or in the columns of newspapers or magazines, or even on Facebook or Twitter, the most democratic and salacious of the media. (Come to think about it, masturbation may be the best solution for the sexual needs of nuns and priests.)

You do hear a ton of complaints from Progressive Democrats about the obscene wealth of Republican officeholders, supporters, and moneybags. The truth is Democratic officeholders, bureaucrats, and moneybags are at least as rich. Maybe more since, contrary to common opinion, Democrats regularly outspend Republicans in most elections. The Progressive clergy making the charges are also guilty of gross hypocrisy since they also only too often make a ton of money!

It’s true Republicans have the Koch brothers. But Democrats have George Soros, Warren Buffet, GE’s Jeff Immelt and other large corporation CEOs, the Kennedy and Roosevelt clans, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and California Senator Diane Feinstein. These folks are not exactly poverty stricken. Even poor Bernie Sanders had an income over $200,000 last year (and even when really poor he managed to take a few months off to work on a Stalinist kibbutz in Israel and spent his second honeymoon in the Soviet Union! You can’t do that on a poor or even an average middle-class income.)

Obama too promised not to raise taxes on the middle class. His definition of “middle class” was making less than $250,000 a year! The average family income in the US was $53,657 in 2014. Yipes! I have never made even that much so I don’t qualify as middle class, but I am middle class. I have always thought of myself as being in that class.

As I have written before, you would be surprised at how many local bureaucrats, consultants, college (even high school) teachers and administrators make more than $100,000 a year. This largess (and generous pensions) comes courtesy of me and other taxpayers. These clerical men and women are overwhelmingly Progressive, and almost unanimously Green. They are all terribly concerned about climate change. Believe you me not one of these high-earning professionals is much interested in the Pope’s advice that we should “significantly lower our consumption” habits in order to help the poor and prevent global warming. Instead, they are the prime audience for the firms that produce the dishonest but very politically correct ads you see today in magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and TV.

As for sexual peccadillos, Progressive and Green heroes are as guilty as right-wing guys like Donald Trump. In fact, Trump is right—he talked sexy (and apologized for it). On the other hand witty and charming Jack Kennedy, his brother Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, and yes even saintly Martin Luther King took no back seat to Republicans when it comes to sexual excesses with women (or men)—or actual abuse of women (and boys or men).

It’s the same the whole world over. Hypocrisy is everywhere and always. I remember reading a few years ago the case of an Archbishop (or was it a Cardinal?) who died in the loving arms of a prostitute in Paris. The Church claimed he was counseling her!

Greens though take the top prize when it comes to hypocrisy about conspicuous consumption. Clergy-minded men and women—young, middle aged, and old—seldom hesitate to travel long distances for business or pleasure. Almost all have second homes or at minimum a ski lodge, beach condo, or a cozy cabin in the woods. They don’t seem aware that one passenger flight (per person) across the country or ocean adds more CO2 to the atmosphere than an average family adds in a normal year.

I met an Audubon executive who was lecturing a group of high school students about the evils of a proposed new airport in Miami. I politely asked her, “Do you use airports?” ”Of course” she replied snipingly, ”I have to in my business.”

I asked a Green friend the same question about an “educational” trip to Egypt and he answered, “The plane would fly without me so it really doesn’t matter that much.” Another frequent green traveler said, “I would use something other than fossil fuel if it were available. I dearly hope it will be someday.”

I have some bright in-laws who routinely travel to distant climes in South America, Europe, the South Pacific, and Asia to trek. All are strongly and aggressively Green. Few notice the conflict between green theory and fossil fuel extravagance. Nor do leaders like Obama, Al Gore, and Pope Francis, judging by the ease with which they fly the world over in gas guzzling jets to play golf; give important reen advice in sermons and videos; visit lavish second homes, ski lodges, or beach condo for “conferences;” or attend to family or other important business. (At least Pope Francis makes an effort at humility and frugality.)

Let’s face it, hypocrisy is well nigh universal. I know it from personal experience with both sex and money. But then I am no longer a member of the Progressive/Green clergy (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 94. 78, and 103).

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P. S. You can get a better understanding of the power of my Big Ideas by reading any of my self-published books or from my many science and history DVDs. (To find them enter my name on Amazon or YouTube.)

My Obituary

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

April 3, 2017

Why not?

I remember when President Truman was bemused by the obituary editor of the NYTimes who came to interview him before he was dead. That may have been when he said, ”I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

Whatever—here is the obituary I hope to get. It’s good. I wrote it myself.

“Bill Stonebarger entered that final entropy at home in Madison. He was 91 and died peacefully in his sleep.

“Bill bragged that he was a man of big ideas. He was also emotional. He cried at the least excuse, a patriotic or sentimental song, a literary or television tearjerker, or putting down an old dog. He was also a man not much interested in chit chat. personal and technical details. Unlike Ken Burns, whose videos he liked and resembled a little in his own work, Bill’s videos stressed the big ideas and did not dwell overlong on details.

“Bill had a history of missed opportunities. A priest told his younger sister in her college days, ‘Bill is the smartest man I have ever met.’ That judgment may or may not have been true but Bill did have a very hard time deciding what he wanted to do with his smarts and life. He often turned his back on success as a: poet, writer, journalist, chemist, physicist, frame maker, teacher, camp director, dean, social worker, engineer, cab driver, factory worker, actor, director, playwright, philosopher, historian, salesman, and corporate boss.

“For instance: Bill had a chance to be a star in NYC poetry circles but blinked out when some laughed at one of his favorite poems; he quit a well-paying job as an AT&T engineer because he was bored stiff; he was offered a job writing for a new magazine while working in a job at the Overseas Press Club on Times Square, but turned it down to stay in college; he worked at a Pittsburgh Jewish Settlement House in in an all-black neighborhood where he learned to be color-blind and ethnic-blind; quit his first teaching job in Colorado for the life and tips of cab driving; came close to a PhD in philosophy from NYU—had the course credits but never finished his thesis; and while teaching physics at a Quaker high school in Brooklyn was offered a headmastership of a prestigious Quaker school on Long Island but declined it for a science teaching job at a new school in Wisconsin.

“While teaching there Bill founded a professional summer theatre that produced several of his plays, but abandoned playwriting just when the theatre was getting good reviews in a prominent national magazine; he was a decent science teacher, better in classroom theory than in the hands-on and grimy details of the laboratory; he continued writing poetry along with teaching science, and when he did get a book of his poetry published by the Wisconsin Press and a reviewer for the Milwaukee Journal compared it favorably to Gerald Manley Hopkins—he stopped writing poetry altogether!

“Bill got a year off from teaching with a fellowship to develop new ways to teach science. He used most of that year to have a scandalous affair that ended his teaching career but led to a new business (Hawkhill) that was profitable enough to pay for many interesting trips inside and outside this country for him and his lover and new wife (Jane). Both business and marriage lasted fifty years or so. Over that time Bill slowly changed his political views, moving from the left-liberal clergy to the conservative libertarian bench.

“Perhaps he really did have a guardian angel (though he continued to be a devout humanist [atheist] after college) who saved him from choices that would have kept him from producing his major contributions as an old man in blogs and three books–-Twilight or Dawn: a Travelers Guide to Free Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, andBill’s Blogs.

“In truth, he may owe his long life itself to this guardian angel. As a 17-year old Navy recruit, in an orgy of patriotic guilt, Bill did everything he could to get a watery grave in WW2. He deliberately flunked out of an Officer Training College. He reasoned it was scandalous to be studying in college while his buddies from high school were dodging bullets in Germany. He requested active duty as an ordinary seaman near the end of WW2. His angel must have convinced the Navy brass though to drop him off for easy duty at a remote Hawaiian radio station rather than duty on a risky ship in the South Pacific.

“What was this vital work that he did in his old age?

“According to Bill it was exploring a revolutionary big idea like evolution, genes, memes, or entropy. Bill claimed he found a key to the evolution of cultures from the 100,000-year-long Hunting/Gathering Age, the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age, to the just 200-plus-years of the Modern Age. Combined with the science of genes and memes Bill’s theory and Laws (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 8-22) his theory explained many knotty issues today and offered hinrs on solving them. Most people didn’t quite “get it” when he explored the idea in his blogs and self-published books. A few did see that this big idea was certain to outlive Bill.

“Bill is survived by his wife, Jane Denny, an ex-marine and loving helpmate for fifty years, along with her four children from a previous marriage—Kate, Ravi, and James of Colorado, and Samuel, who lives alternately in Hungary and Madison. Bill is also survived by his first wife, Virginia Stonebarger, an artist in Tucson, Arizona; and their two sons, Michael, musician and composer in Titusville, Florida, and Andrew who owns and runs a bookstore and art gallery in Baltimore, Maryland. Also by his two sisters, Mrs. Pat Otten in Coldwater, Ohio, and her many talented children and grandchildren in cities across the country and Mrs. Judy Cerar in Dayton, Ohio and her many talented children and grandchildren in cities across the country.”

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P. S. You can get a better feel for the power of Bill’s Big Ideas by reading some of his three self-published books or from his many science and history DVDs. (To find them just type his name on Amazon or YouTube.)